Fermentation Stopped

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comicsandbeer83

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i just brewed my first batch this past Monday evening. It is a brown ale and I let it cool over night and pitched the yeast Tuesday morning when the temperature in my bucket read 69 degrees. I sealed it and air locked it and went out of town until this afternoon. Well, when I came home the air lock was not bubbling in the slightest. I noticed that the bucket was pretty chilly so I took off the lid and sanitized my thermometer and hydrometer and took readings to see what they said. Thermometer read 52 degrees, which is of course well below the necessary temp to ferment properly. I had my thermostat down lower since we left for a few days and I guess it got too cold. But it had definitely fermented some because there was a ring of crud around the inside rim of the bucket and the hydrometer reading dropped quite a bit from its initial reading. So i turned up the temp in the house and moved the bucket upstairs where its warmer after i resealed and air locked it again. My question is: Will it start to ferment again properly once it warms up or is my batch a lost cause?
 

wmcc75

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Did you take a gravity reading? It is possible your beer is done fermenting.
 

BigFloyd

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No worries. It's not ruined. It may possibly be done fermenting, but go ahead warm it up to around 65-68*F and let it sit at that temp for a week. After that, take a hydrometer sample to see what's what.
 

flars

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Remove a sample of your wort from the fermenatation bucket for the hydrometer reading. Use the tube your hydrometer came in as the sample holder. Not only does this make the hydrometer easier to read accurately, but you get to taste the beer as it progresses.
Your beer may be done since the krausen has fallen. You won't be sure until you warm it up again and take hydrometer readings after another week has gone by.
Attach a thermo strip to the outside of your bucket. This will make tracking fermentation temperatures so much simpler.
 
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comicsandbeer83

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I took a hydrometer reading when i saw it had stopped fermenting. The reading was somewhere between 1.010-1.020 (I started at 1.044-1.045). So it had definitely fermented some while I was away. I shook the bucket to help kick start the yeast as a suggestion and it started back up earlier, though it seems to have stopped again in the last several hours, so you may be right that it's just done fermenting. I gave it a little shake again tonight just now and it has started to release gas again through the air lock. So we'll see. If it is done that just seems awfully quick to be finished.
 

BigFloyd

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I took a hydrometer reading when i saw it had stopped fermenting. The reading was somewhere between 1.010-1.020 (I started at 1.044-1.045). So it had definitely fermented some while I was away. I shook the bucket to help kick start the yeast as a suggestion and it started back up earlier, though it seems to have stopped again in the last several hours, so you may be right that it's just done fermenting. I gave it a little shake again tonight just now and it has started to release gas again through the air lock. So we'll see. If it is done that just seems awfully quick to be finished.

The release of gas through the airlock when you agitate it is very likely just off-gassing, not new fermentation activity.

Most of the fermentation process is probably done. Sometimes the drop to FG happens in 4-5 days, but you still need to let it go a while longer so the yeast can clean up their by-products. Could you be a bit more specific on the FG reading? There's quite a lot of territory between 1.010 and 1.020.

You might ought to leave it completely alone for 7-10 days then take another reading. If it hasn't changed from now, it's OK to bottle.
 
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comicsandbeer83

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From the time I pitched the yeast to yesterday was just over 72 hours. Is that really long enough for fermentation to complete? Especially since I didn't notice much activity before we left town early Wednesday morning. My girlfriend heard the air lock gurgle once during the day Tuesday but that is all of the activity we even noticed that day. As for the reading, I don't recall it specifically. I forgot to write it down yesterday when I took it.
 

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