First Porter - Fast and Furious and Now Stuck?

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Berube05734

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I brewed my first porter on Tuesday. As like all my beers before, it happily took off without delay and appeared to be fully active within 9-10 hours. As this was my first time using Imperial Darkness yeast and not really finding much information online about how it acts during ferment, I erred on the side of caution and hooked up a blow-off tube assuming it'd be needed as it's been on most, if not all, my past brews. Well, I didn't need it. About 15 hours later I had 2" of foam and everything looked good, but by 30 hours, the foam had subsided and signs of activity quickly subsided. My SG at 30 hours was 1.024 (OG 1.054). I took another reading today (Thursday) and I'm still at 1.024. Full fermentation should have it around 1.018.

The yeast - I began a yeast starter on Monday as I was working with a yeast that had a June date stamp on the package. Beersmith and my favorite calculator "yeaststarter.com" indicated I'd have sufficient yeast count with a single starter (2L).

Below is my grain bill from BeerSmith - BIAB. I pitched at 68 degrees and fermentation has been kept between 66-68 degrees. Imperial Darkness indicates 62-72 for temps, so I don't see an issue with my temperature. OG was 1.054. It should have been 1.057 and I think that was because, for the first time, I didn't open the bag and rinse the grains when mashing was complete. I normally do and my OG is customarily right on target.

It smells like a porter...well, correction, it smells like a porter in the making. I don't detect any hydrogen sulfide order. I don't have yeast energizer...only yeast nutrient.
I can raise the temp a bit and I have S04 & S05 on hand, so I can add more yeast.

However, I wanted to get some thoughts about porters and issues with porters, before I go tampering with it...and if there's anything in the grain bill to suggest that could be the issue.

Mash Ingredients
  • 7 lb 10.5 oz - Pale Ale, Finest Maris Otter (Simpsons)
  • 1 lb 3.1 oz - Chocolate Malt (Bairds)
  • 13.6 oz - Munich I (Weyermann)
  • 9.6 oz - Carapils Malt (Briess)
  • 5.6 oz - Caramel Malt - 60L (Briess)
  • 4.0 oz - Roasted Barley (Bairds)
  • 15.7 oz - Oats, Flaked
 
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Berube05734

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How does it taste? If the gravity is stable and it tastes good (though still green), you're done,
It tastes like a porter. Surprisingly, it doesn't taste sweet...and it's a bit harsh (bitter) at the back of the palate. I can't tell if that's the hops or from the darker roasted grains.
 
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hottpeper13

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A few things:
1- Don't decant starters unless clear,the cloudy appearance is the yeast calls that finish the fermentation
2- Beers with a lot of dark malt and flaked grains need a low and slow mash,like 148* for 120 min.
3- If it tastes good I'd Beatle it, ya know Let It Be
4- if you must repitch make sure to make a starter and pitch at high krausen.
5- It's important to have a mash pH of 5.5 or so on black beers,to me they just taste smoother
6- I set up my water profiles to have a minimum of 70 ppm calcium
7- My black beer water profiles are 250 ppm alkalinity or a little less if not squid ink black
8- Putting the grains that don't need sacrification in a cold steep or during vorlouf generally makes achieving mash pH easier.
8a- more as I think them up!
 

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Mash temperature? And are you sure of it (actual vs. hoped for)?

If it was in the mid 150's or even low 150's and for say an hour (vs. 1.5 or 2 or something), I wouldn't be surprised it didn't attenuate too low.

Given how you described the fermentation, it went very well, and I agree you are done.

If it is good beer, go with it. Don't get hung up on the numbers or the calculators. If you decide you wish it were a lower OG for any reason, next time mash lower and longer.

I'm sure a "stuck fermentation" is a thing but I think we read about it and assume we have it when we really don't. I think you did it right and it's done.
 
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Berube05734

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A few things:
1- Don't decant starters unless clear,the cloudy appearance is the yeast calls that finish the fermentation
2- Beers with a lot of dark malt and flaked grains need a low and slow mash,like 148* for 120 min.
3- If it tastes good I'd Beatle it, ya know Let It Be
4- if you must repitch make sure to make a starter and pitch at high krausen.
5- It's important to have a mash pH of 5.5 or so on black beers,to me they just taste smoother
6- I set up my water profiles to have a minimum of 70 ppm calcium
7- My black beer water profiles are 250 ppm alkalinity or a little less if not squid ink black
8- Putting the grains that don't need sacrification in a cold steep or during vorlouf generally makes achieving mash pH easier.
8a- more as I think them up!
Hi, Thanks for your thoughts on this.

So, here's my water profile. -Ca: 50.3 ppm, Mg:10.9 ppm, Na: 27.4 ppm, SO4: 69.3 ppm, Cl: 54.3 ppm, HCO3: 89.6 ppm. I adjusted my water to match this Beersmith's "Balanced Brown" water profile...which is, if memory serves correctly, the exact water profile on the Bru'n water spreadsheet for a 'balanced brown.'

I did select a porter for the style and the recommended mash temp was 156* I thought that ok as I was looking for a fuller bodied beer. My favorite is a Founders Porter and, to me, it has a really 'luscious' mouthfeel that I was hoping to duplicate.

I always wonder and worry about a yeast starter and when it's completely finished, so I just shut the stir plate off at high krausen and let the yeast settle out and then pitched it into the wort as I didn't want to add the starter liquid. And, I can only assume that the wort went into the carboy well oxygenated since I transfer my wort from the kettle to the carboy using a circulating pump...I just detach one hose from the kettle and turn the pump on and it's splish - splash into the carboy.
 
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Berube05734

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Mash temperature? And are you sure of it (actual vs. hoped for)?

If it was in the mid 150's or even low 150's and for say an hour (vs. 1.5 or 2 or something), I wouldn't be surprised it didn't attenuate too low.

Given how you described the fermentation, it went very well, and I agree you are done.

If it is good beer, go with it. Don't get hung up on the numbers or the calculators. If you decide you wish it were a lower OG for any reason, next time mash lower and longer.

I'm sure a "stuck fermentation" is a thing but I think we read about it and assume we have it when we really don't. I think you did it right and it's done.
Hi, thanks for your thoughts - it's appreciated.

I mashed at 156*...it did sneak up to 158* a few times. 60 minute mash & 60 minute boil. And, yes, regarding 'stuck fermentations.' I just couldn't see why I would have experienced it...the mash should have had enough nutrients to see the fermentation through and my fermenting temps were smack-dab in the middle of what Imperial Darkness indicates and I thought I had a nicely active yeast starter.

If it's truly done, do you think it could benefit from sitting on the yeast/trub for a couple more days? It just fermented so fast, I worry that it'll taste 'thin' if I keg it immediately. I'm amazed at how clear it is and how already clearly delineated the yeast is at the bottom.

Thanks,
 

PCABrewing

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Hi, thanks for your thoughts - it's appreciated.

I mashed at 156*...it did sneak up to 158* a few times. 60 minute mash & 60 minute boil. And, yes, regarding 'stuck fermentations.' I just couldn't see why I would have experienced it...the mash should have had enough nutrients to see the fermentation through and my fermenting temps were smack-dab in the middle of what Imperial Darkness indicates and I thought I had a nicely active yeast starter.

If it's truly done, do you think it could benefit from sitting on the yeast/trub for a couple more days? It just fermented so fast, I worry that it'll taste 'thin' if I keg it immediately. I'm amazed at how clear it is and how already clearly delineated the yeast is at the bottom.

Thanks,
With a dark beer like a porter it can definitely benefit from time.
I have made several stouts and porters that tasted borderline bad at two or three days but after two weeks they cleaned-up very nicely.
Case in point, I have one in the fermenter that we brewed three weeks ago. It started at 1.063 OG and is finished at 1.024.
I'm not particularly happy with the FG but I know why it happened. I typically get my FG down to 1.011 to 1.014.
Anyhow, the taste at three days was pretty harsh, not much redeeming it.
However, at two weeks it started to really come around and I am now looking forward to putting it into the keg to age and carbonate this afternoon.
 

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Hi, thanks for your thoughts - it's appreciated.

I mashed at 156*...it did sneak up to 158* a few times. 60 minute mash & 60 minute boil. And, yes, regarding 'stuck fermentations.' I just couldn't see why I would have experienced it...the mash should have had enough nutrients to see the fermentation through and my fermenting temps were smack-dab in the middle of what Imperial Darkness indicates and I thought I had a nicely active yeast starter.

If it's truly done, do you think it could benefit from sitting on the yeast/trub for a couple more days? It just fermented so fast, I worry that it'll taste 'thin' if I keg it immediately. I'm amazed at how clear it is and how already clearly delineated the yeast is at the bottom.

Thanks,
I think you answered the attenuation question - high mash temp. It' snot a problem at all, but it's likely the cause.

It won't hurt to leave the beer a few more days, but if it's done fermenting, it's done fermenting. Giving it some time will have it tasting better but if it's done fermenting then you give it that extra time aging in the fermenter or in the keg (or in the bottles). That said, I'd leave it a while if you can but I net if you had a side by side taste test of each way, you couldn't tell the difference.
 

TheCache

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Agree with @tracer bullet. The attenuation level is due to the higher temp. You'll get a malty, full bodied beer, but the FG will be higher. I tend to mash porters between 152-154.

I'd definitely leave it a bit longer, maybe even gently roust the yeast up and raise the temp to 69-70 to help things clean up well. You might even pull another point or two out of it. I'd go a minimum of 7 days regardless of FG, I usually ferment for 10-14 days.

I am about to bottle a porter today. The OG was 1.056. FG was 1.013, actually lower than I anticipated. Mash temp was 152.

The visibly active fermentation was done in less than 48 hours. Pitched 1 pkg WLP013 into 3 gallons of wort at 67˚. Krausen started forming in 8-10 hours. Built up to around 2" and was nearly gone in 48 hours. I did not check the FG at that point, but let it set another 10 days before crashing. In the last couple of days it dropped from 1.014 to 1.013.

Looking
 

AlexKay

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More time on the yeast allows for uptake and re-processing of acetaldehyde and diacetyl. If you don't taste either of those, you could go ahead and package it, but ... I usually leave beer in the fermenter for two weeks, even when it's done long before that.
 
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It tastes like a porter. Surprisingly, it doesn't taste sweet...and it's a bit harsh (bitter) at the back of the palate. I can't tell if that's the hops or from the darker roasted grains.
I've been brewing nothing but porters and stouts for almost 2 years now. In my admittedly limited experience that harsh bitterness is from the beer being green or young. The longer you wait after bottling, or kegging I assume, the smoother it'll get.
I'm currently fighting with a stout that didn't hit my target gravity. Yesterday I transferred to a secondary, which I don't typically do, and moved it from the fermentation chamber to the house. I'm hoping that the transfer roused the yeast and the slightly warmer temperatures will knock the FG down a couple more points. I'll measure it again in a couple of days and bottle it up.
 

hotbeer

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However, I wanted to get some thoughts about porters and issues with porters, before I go tampering with it...and if there's anything in the grain bill to suggest that could be the issue.
Why would/will you tamper with it?

Just let it be and see what the results are. If you go to messing with it then you start introducing a bunch of other variables. Some that won't be intentional or even known to you.

Assuming this is a recipe that someone else created and other's enjoyed then just follow the recipe as best you can by the information given in it.

I haven't done any porter's yet. But I do like them very much. My son does a lot of porter's.

Like any beer, time and patience in the fermenter and giving it proper time to condition after bottling or kegging go a long way to making it a enjoyable beer.

I can say that the beers I rushed to bottle by various means were the least enjoyable and had the oddest flavors.
 
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I brewed my first porter on Tuesday. As like all my beers before, it happily took off without delay and appeared to be fully active within 9-10 hours. As this was my first time using Imperial Darkness yeast and not really finding much information online about how it acts during ferment, I erred on the side of caution and hooked up a blow-off tube assuming it'd be needed as it's been on most, if not all, my past brews. Well, I didn't need it. About 15 hours later I had 2" of foam and everything looked good, but by 30 hours, the foam had subsided and signs of activity quickly subsided. My SG at 30 hours was 1.024 (OG 1.054). I took another reading today (Thursday) and I'm still at 1.024. Full fermentation should have it around 1.018.

The yeast - I began a yeast starter on Monday as I was working with a yeast that had a June date stamp on the package. Beersmith and my favorite calculator "yeaststarter.com" indicated I'd have sufficient yeast count with a single starter (2L).

Below is my grain bill from BeerSmith - BIAB. I pitched at 68 degrees and fermentation has been kept between 66-68 degrees. Imperial Darkness indicates 62-72 for temps, so I don't see an issue with my temperature. OG was 1.054. It should have been 1.057 and I think that was because, for the first time, I didn't open the bag and rinse the grains when mashing was complete. I normally do and my OG is customarily right on target.

It smells like a porter...well, correction, it smells like a porter in the making. I don't detect any hydrogen sulfide order. I don't have yeast energizer...only yeast nutrient.
I can raise the temp a bit and I have S04 & S05 on hand, so I can add more yeast.

However, I wanted to get some thoughts about porters and issues with porters, before I go tampering with it...and if there's anything in the grain bill to suggest that could be the issue.

Mash Ingredients
  • 7 lb 10.5 oz - Pale Ale, Finest Maris Otter (Simpsons)
  • 1 lb 3.1 oz - Chocolate Malt (Bairds)
  • 13.6 oz - Munich I (Weyermann)
  • 9.6 oz - Carapils Malt (Briess)
  • 5.6 oz - Caramel Malt - 60L (Briess)
  • 4.0 oz - Roasted Barley (Bairds)
  • 15.7 oz - Oats, Flaked


Can't hurt. You're only adding the enzymes that were meant to be in there from the mash. If you do add alpha enzymes, just be sure to wait till they are done, which might take several weeks at fermentation temperatures.
 
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Berube05734

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Why would/will you tamper with it?

Just let it be and see what the results are. If you go to messing with it then you start introducing a bunch of other variables. Some that won't be intentional or even known to you.

Assuming this is a recipe that someone else created and other's enjoyed then just follow the recipe as best you can by the information given in it.

I haven't done any porter's yet. But I do like them very much. My son does a lot of porter's.

Like any beer, time and patience in the fermenter and giving it proper time to condition after bottling or kegging go a long way to making it a enjoyable beer.

I can say that the beers I rushed to bottle by various means were the least enjoyable and had the oddest flavors.
Hi, when I said tampering with it, I meant pitching some new yeast into it if fermentation was, in fact, stuck. Or, adding a yeast energizer if, for some reason, my yeast weren't up to the task.

I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to add a yeast different from what I'd started with to bring it to finish. Someone suggested giving it a few stirs to see if that might reactivate the yeast enough to get me to my estimated FG and I I think that might do it for me. I roused the yeast off from the bottom and there's some activity in the bubbler...slowly but surely it's plugging away again. Haven't checked SG yet, but I was going to leave it in the carboy for at least 7-10 days and that's a few days away, so I will on day 7.
 
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Hi, when I said tampering with it, I meant pitching some new yeast into it if fermentation was, in fact, stuck. Or, adding a yeast energizer if, for some reason, my yeast weren't up to the task.

I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to add a yeast different from what I'd started with to bring it to finish. Someone suggested giving it a few stirs to see if that might reactivate the yeast enough to get me to my estimated FG and I I think that might do it for me. I roused the yeast off from the bottom and there's some activity in the bubbler...slowly but surely it's plugging away again. Haven't checked SG yet, but I was going to leave it in the carboy for at least 7-10 days and that's a few days away, so I will on day 7.

Stirring the fermentor just releases CO2 in there, fooling you that fermentation has restarted.

Did you look at that link I posted above?
 
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Berube05734

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Stirring the fermentor just releases CO2 in there, fooling you that fermentation has restarted.

Did you look at that link I posted above?
Ah, so maybe I have been fooled by the renewed, albeit much slower, activity. I'll be curious to see the outcome in a couple of days.

Yes, I did look at the link. I saw that you didn't recommend adding the enzyme unless "...your mash is hopelessly stuck at a cloying level." I didn't think my SG taken a couple of days ago was at a 'cloying level.' It appeared by my hydrometer readings that I was stuck at 1.024 and my target FG was 1.018. Plus, I don't have that enzyme on hand and I'm in an area where it's order online or two hours spent on the road to the lhbs.

Since I mashed at a higher temp, I primarily targeted the 'alpha' amylase and I missed the 'beta' amylase enzymes...? (Enzymatic breakdown / mashing temps is still a learning curve for me). Is there a cut off time in the fermentation for adding this enzyme? All of my previous brews have been IPAs where I've mashed in the lower-temp range.

I imagine that assuming just mashing in the middle temp range would be a situation of wanting your cake and eating it too...you can't have both.

Thanks,
 
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Ah, so maybe I have been fooled by the renewed, albeit much slower, activity. I'll be curious to see the outcome in a couple of days.

Yes, I did look at the link. I saw that you didn't recommend adding the enzyme unless "...your mash is hopelessly stuck at a cloying level." I didn't think my SG taken a couple of days ago was at a 'cloying level.' It appeared by my hydrometer readings that I was stuck at 1.024 and my target FG was 1.018. Plus, I don't have that enzyme on hand and I'm in an area where it's order online or two hours spent on the road to the lhbs.

Since I mashed at a higher temp, I primarily targeted the 'alpha' amylase and I missed the 'beta' amylase enzymes...? (Enzymatic breakdown / mashing temps is still a learning curve for me). Is there a cut off time in the fermentation for adding this enzyme? All of my previous brews have been IPAs where I've mashed in the lower-temp range.

I imagine that assuming just mashing in the middle temp range would be a situation of wanting your cake and eating it too...you can't have both.

Thanks,
OK, got it.

Enzymes are permanently damaged ("denatured") at our typical mash temperatures, and definitely in the boil. After the boil, there is no enzymatic activity. However, if you add enzymes after cooling, you'll get continued activity - in fact, the enzymes will (slowly) continue to break down wort starches to the limit of attenuation- usually between 85-90% (see http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.ph...ciency_in_single_infusion_mashing#Temperature). So 1.054 would result in FG of 1.005. That might be too far of course, which is why I say don't do it unless the beer is undrinkable. I find that adding AA in the fermentor is a dependable remedy in some cases, though I've only done it a few times (I intentionally add to light lagers to ensure they are dry).

See this link for info on enzyme denaturing (skip down to Temp and Time): http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Starch_Conversion#water_to_grist_ratio. You see there that pH and mash density also play a factor on mash performance - so there's a few things here that can go wrong.

Also, note that leaving a lot of unfermented starches in your beer will result in some gastronomical fireworks later. Those starches WILL break down in your stomach, perhaps lower intestines, and you'll be jet-powered later. The monk brewers worked hard to avoid this, preferring their beers to be more "digestible", and consequently their beers are typically fermented to low FG.
 

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How about some dry hops? Give them some time to work on the beer and they'll drop the gravity a bit. Not quite as aggressive as enzymes and some historical precedent to boot.
 
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Berube05734

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OK, got it.

Enzymes are permanently damaged ("denatured") at our typical mash temperatures, and definitely in the boil. After the boil, there is no enzymatic activity. However, if you add enzymes after cooling, you'll get continued activity - in fact, the enzymes will (slowly) continue to break down wort starches to the limit of attenuation- usually between 85-90% (see http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.ph...ciency_in_single_infusion_mashing#Temperature). So 1.054 would result in FG of 1.005. That might be too far of course, which is why I say don't do it unless the beer is undrinkable. I find that adding AA in the fermentor is a dependable remedy in some cases, though I've only done it a few times (I intentionally add to light lagers to ensure they are dry).

See this link for info on enzyme denaturing (skip down to Temp and Time): http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Starch_Conversion#water_to_grist_ratio. You see there that pH and mash density also play a factor on mash performance - so there's a few things here that can go wrong.

Also, note that leaving a lot of unfermented starches in your beer will result in some gastronomical fireworks later. Those starches WILL break down in your stomach, perhaps lower intestines, and you'll be jet-powered later. The monk brewers worked hard to avoid this, preferring their beers to be more "digestible", and consequently their beers are typically fermented to low FG

Thanks for the links and information!
So, possibly, by adding a very small amount of the amylase enzyme - what I lost in my final gravity could have been made up through the use of the enzyme. I see that the dosages is 0.25oz (7g) per 5 gallons. But, rather than adding the full 7 grams, it might be reduced to, say, 2 grams...not too much because the objective would to be to meet target gravity, not a higher gravity as you'd forfeit the 'fuller body / mouthfeel' that was the original intent. I'm just hypothesizing here...
 
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Berube05734

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How about some dry hops? Give them some time to work on the beer and they'll drop the gravity a bit. Not quite as aggressive as enzymes and some historical precedent to boot.
Hi,
Well, I was brewing a porter so I was forgoing any dry hopping. 😊
 
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Thanks for the links and information!
So, possibly, by adding a very small amount of the amylase enzyme - what I lost in my final gravity could have been made up through the use of the enzyme. I see that the dosages is 0.25oz (7g) per 5 gallons. But, rather than adding the full 7 grams, it might be reduced to, say, 2 grams...not too much because the objective would to be to meet target gravity, not a higher gravity as you'd forfeit the 'fuller body / mouthfeel' that was the original intent. I'm just hypothesizing here...

I don't think you will be able to control the enzymes that way. I'd guess that ANY measurable amount will be enough to finish the porter dry. But I don't really know for sure - I'm no chemist, and it's anybody's guess what's in that white powder besides enzymes.

So, you have to choose between the following.
  1. Don't add enzymes, live with the higher FG and midnight trumpet sounds in bed, or
  2. Add enzymes and get a "digestible" beer that potentially will end up thinner, and higher ABV, than intended
My wife says add the enzymes.
 

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Haven't used this yeast before, but 1.024 isn't that terribly high to end, yes it is higher than the numbers say it might should be, and one thing to research is where this particular yeast ends. I just brewed porter and used windor yeast. 1.064 and yeast stopped entirely at 1.027. 5.5% alcohol, but windor doesn't ferment certain sugars. Fermentation lock is bubbling once every half hour.... its stopped. Oh well, it is mouthfeel for sure. And for sure, you have to let a stout or porter sit for several weeks to let all the sediment hit bottom and clear, just like any other beer. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't floating. I taste mine when I take a sample reading, but you always have extra bitterness from the sediment.... let it sit a few more days, keg or bottle and drink next month. It'll be great. I sure would NOT try and restart with another yeast. I thought about mine for 2 minutes.... but nope.
 
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