Fermentation in primary stopped way too fast

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rockout

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Okay, I've done about 15 batches in 2 years, all of them extract brews, and in the process of our current "Mystery Beer" (see https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/making-mystery-brew-would-you-mix-these-extracts-111072/ if you care about the details)

It's pretty high-gravity, OG was measured at 1.087. Because this was a beer made of our leftovers, I used a dry yeast packet that I had in the fridge, no starter. Fermentation didn't start until 36 hours after pitching, which didn't freak me out too much because I've had that happen before and no big deal, beer turned out fine.

Here's the twist - 12 hours later (48 hours after pitching), all airlock activity stopped. Not good, I figure. I haven't taken a reading yet, waiting till tomorrow morning, but what do I do if I take a reading and it says 1.065 or something like that? Pitch some different yeast? Make a starter, THEN pitch some different yeast? I have not had this problem before.
 

carnevoodoo

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airlock activity is not a sign of fermentation.

how warm was it when you pitched the yeast?

I would give it time. If you had activity, it is likely your lid is not on all the way.
 

slomo

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x2 give it time. Even small activity on your hydro is still activity. Its fermenting. Is the area that your fermentor in cold? If so try moving it to a warmer place.
 
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rockout

rockout

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No, it's at about 68 degrees, room temp.

When it started fermenting, at about the 36-hour point, within an hour of that it was rocking. Bubbles every 2 seconds. I left the house for a few hours, later on, and when I got back, everything had stopped. I am hoping it's just a leak in the lid, so should I take a hydrometer reading tomorrow, or wait a few more days?
 

homebrewjapan

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Wait a few days, take a hydrometer reading, wait a few more days, then take another hydrometer reading. If they are the same, it has probably stopped.

I had this happen to me recently and I'm currently dealing with it. You can read posts about it on my blog.
 

notwoohoo

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Its probably either a leaky lid or a stuck fermentation. I'd lean towards the lid as a stuck fermentation would probably not occur until later in the fermentation process due to O2 or nutrient depletion.
 
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rockout

rockout

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Cool. So let's say I wait a few days, take some readings two days apart, and it's stuck fermentation - what can I do about that?
 

ifishsum

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It's way too soon to worry about a stuck fermentation, give it at least another week and check the gravity. Chances are you're not going to bottle or secondary before then, so there's not much point in even taking a sample this early IMO. Pay no attention to the airlock, you probably just have a small leak that's letting out the pressure.
 

McGarnigle

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One packet of dry yeast is under-pitching a bit for this (assuming an 11g package), so this may be a problem. Usually the first step is to gently swirl, try to lift yeast up off the bottom.
Pitching more yeast can be tough when the beer has partially fermented, as yeast likes wort, not beer. Still, I wonder if you shouldn't think about this. I don't have a great answer for you, other than to say the under-pitching may be to blame.
 

Homercidal

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I'd stir up the yeast and see what happens. Also, you could have a leak somewhere, or possibly the airlock got plugged and is ready to burst wort all over your ceiling.
 
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rockout

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Thanks guys.

just one minor clarification, gently stir it up now or wait a few days and then stir it up?
 

Pappers_

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Hmmm . . . without knowing any info about the yeast you used, I'd be concerned that one packet of the mystery yeast is not enough for this big of a beer. That's a lot of sugar for the yeast to work through, and a lot of alcohol for it deal with it.

+1 on the advice above that airlock activity isn't a helpful measurement.

If you're going to stir it up, I'd do it now. I'd consider adding more yeast for a beer this big, one that you know is tolerant of higher alcohol levels. Best wishes,



Jim
 

CouchFarmer

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I like the kitchen-sink approach to your beer, I cook in much the same way...

In the spirit of the mystery brew and the fact that you may not have enough yeast in there, I'd think about making a starter of something in case it is a stuck fermentation or the yeast in there just doesn't finish the job. You can always use the starter for your next batch if you don't use it on this one. I've had multiple kinds of yeast in previous batches and the beer was still good.
 
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rockout

rockout

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Well, the "kitchen-sink" approach was just for this one brew, to get rid of all the extra ingredients we'd accumulated over the last two years. That's why we weren't too concerned about which yeast goes in there. So if it's ok to put in another batch of yeast, I'll gladly do that.

Meanwhile I guess I'll stir it up a little.
 

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