Hate to do this, but am stuck fermenation?

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PenPen

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When I started reading this forum, I told myself I'd never be that guy.

Guess who's that guy? I've searched and read about stuck fermentation but still don't know whether I'm fine, should stroll down the gas isle for some beano or chalk this one up to experience.

Last Saturday was my first brew. It was an irish red ale (extract with sp. grains) from AHB. The brew went great, hit the est. OG of 1.052 pitched white labs yeast (no starter...I know, I know but is seems like such a PITA) and had great fermentation in about 6 hours. After fermentation, I moved to a water bath to stabilize temps and the yeasties ran wild for two days. Lots of krasuen, sediment swirling, etc. I'm thinking this is textbook. Throughout fermentation, temp has stayed between 67-70, optimal range for this yeast is 65-70.

After 2 days, things slow down. Took a hyrdometer reading on Wed (4 days after ferm starts) and I'm at 1.02 (trying to get to 1.012). I was thinking about racking tomorrow, so took another reading tonight and I'm still at 1.02 two days later. I'm still getting bubbles every 30 seconds or so, so I know it's still working. I just thought that after a really quick and active fermentation that I had good yeasties and would be gravy. Not so much.

So am I good? Do I need to do the RDWHAHB thing or is a stable FG a sign that I need to intervene to get it finished. It's been there for at least two days, but the airlock is still popping every 30 sec or so.

Also, and have NO idea if this is relevant, but in an effort to stablize the temps of my primary, I put it in a big water bath...up to the krausen, and monitored water bath temp with an external temp sensor. I've read/heard/scene that a water bath or wet towel will have the effect of lowering temps up to 5 degrees in the carboy. Any chance that the yeast is just a tad to cool and need to warm up a bit to get finished? I took it out of the water bath tonight to get it ready for racking.
Thanks.
 

feedthebear

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I'm facing my first stuck fermentation too. I don't know if mine is stuck or just extremely slow. I'm not getting very much activity in the airlock, but I can see that bubbles are still forming on the beer surface. I'm repitching yeast to see if I can get it to pick up speed.

You could try moving it to a warmer spot to see if it picks up speed. Or you could try repitching.
 

McKBrew

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PenPen

You still have bubbles, so you still have fermentation. Using the general guideline of 1 week in primary, 2 in secondary, I recommend waiting a minimum of 7 days before you rack. (Saturday or Sunday for you). Wait until then, take a hydro reading and evaluate from there.
 
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PenPen

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Thanks. I'm only concerned because my gravity reading hasn't changed since Wednesday. I originally planned to rack it off tomorrow but will give it till the middle of the week to see what it's doing. If, at that time it's still stuck, is pitching more yeast even an option or is it just a 4% beer? I've read that yeast tend to die off with that much alcohol present. And what's this carboy swirling to get things going I've read about? Is it just waking up the yeast on the bottom by swirling the beer around a little. Do I need to worry about oxyidizing it as it's largely an anaerobic environ. at this point? Thanks again.
 
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PenPen

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feedthebear said:
I'm facing my first stuck fermentation too. I don't know if mine is stuck or just extremely slow. I'm not getting very much activity in the airlock, but I can see that bubbles are still forming on the beer surface. I'm repitching yeast to see if I can get it to pick up speed.

You could try moving it to a warmer spot to see if it picks up speed. Or you could try repitching.
That's the kicker here. I had a pretty active fermentation, which has me wondering why my gravity has been stuck since the fourth day after fermentation began. I know it's only been stuck for two days, but it has to eventually get from the rest of the way down from 1.02 to around 1.012. Crossing the fingers and toes.
 

feedthebear

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You're only about 60% attenuated. I'd worry that if you bottled now, you'd have bottle bombs. You should be getting down to around 1.013 unless you used a large amount of unfermentable sugars.

The % ABV shouldn't be bothering the yeast until it gets around 8%.

Rocking the carboy is an attempt to resuspend some live yeasts that have settled out. The risk of oxidization should be minimal because the headspace of your carboy should be almost all CO2.

I don't have a lot of explation why mine stuck this time either. Not mixing enough oxygen into the wort before pitching is probably the most liketly for me.
 

McKBrew

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I'm not going to offer anymore advice only because my last stuck fermentation ended in a dumped batch. If you wait a full week and your FG doesn't change please continue to keep us informed because someone will be able to help. One of the first things you should do is post your full recipe in this thread so one of the more experienced brewers can take a look at it. They'll be able to figure out quite a bit just by looking at that.
 
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PenPen

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Thanks. Here's the recipe.

Irish Red Ale (AHB Kit)

7lbs Munich LME
.5lbs 2-2row
.5lbs Caramunich
.5lbs Crystal 120L

1.5 Hallertau 3.7 (60 min)
.5 Cascade 5.8 and Hallertau 3.7 (15 min)
.5 Cascade 5.8 (5 min)

White Labs Irish Ale #1084

Here are my brew notes. It's surely a lot to wade through, but maybe I'm not mentioning something pertinent.

Brewing Notes:
3/31/07 Noon to 4 p.m. -- First homebrew. Used 6 gallons of “Our Family” (Fulmers) spring water. Added all six gallons. Steeped specialty grains at 150 degrees for 30 minutes. Removed grains and brought wort to boil, then took off heat and stirred in LME. Returned to heat and had a few boilovers in beginning and adjusted heat down. “Full blast” is too much heat once the wort is boiling. Once got control of boilovers, added hop schedule and Whirloc. Wort chiller inserted 15 min before the end of boil and quickly cooled wort to 75 degrees. Once at 75, strained wort into primary, strained much of hops and sediment out. Then aerated for 15 minutes by shaking in carboy with closed stopper, added yeast, and aerated an additional 15 minutes in the same fashion. All the shaking left an incredible head on the wort (4 inches on top, 2 inches of sediment settled to bottom). 42 proof gin used in 3-piece airlock. At 4 p.m., placed in garage at around 74 degrees to get fermentation started. Special note about the yeast. Got the yeast on 3/30 and it was still cold in ice-pack from shipping. Placed in refrigerator when it arrived but took it out for about 5 hours the night before per AHB instructions stating to let it rest at room temp for up to 24 hours before brewing to get a good fermentation. Wasn’t sure, about that, so put it back in the fridge overnight and took it out about 7:30 a.m. the next morning, about 8 hours before it was pitched.
Primary Fermentation:
3/31 at 4 p.m. – Yeast pitched to primary.
3/31 Midnight – No activity. Airlock back fed some of the gin in the primary. Re-sanitized, refilled and replaced airlock.
3/31 12:30 a.m. – Another gin “suck back”. Re-sanitized airlock and switched to boiled water because worried about off-flavors from the gin. Also switched from a 6.5 to 7 stopper as the 6.5 is too easily pushed through carboy opening. Airlock started occasional bubbling at this point.
4/01 9 a.m. – Airlock bubbles after every 3 seconds or so. Confident fermentation has started so moved carboy to water bath on top of table in downstairs. Water bath temp around 68-69 degrees. Checked throughout the day and krausen beginning to form and lots of activity under the krausen with copious amounts of sediment swirling to the top and falling back down.
4/01 11 p.m. – Krausen really forming. Still lots of activity and airlock bubbling every 2 seconds.

4/02 7 a.m. – Fermenter water bath temp crept up to 70 degrees. Closed vents in that side of the room as the furnace had turned on and caused increase. Still bubbling every 2 or 3 seconds.
4/02 5:30 p.m. – Fermentation slowing now. Airlock bubbling every 6 or 7 seconds and see less sediment swirling. Krausen subsiding a bit. Water bath is 69 degrees.
4/03 7 a.m. – Very little sediment moving and krausen shrinking and breaking up almost enough to see through to beer below. Airlock bubbling every 10 seconds or so. Water temp is 69.
4/03 11 p.m. – Bubbling every 20 to 30 seconds. Krausen all but gone. Temp around 67-68. Took a hydrometer reading and it was at 1.02, around 4.1% abv, needs to get to 1.012. Tasted good, hops and sweet balanced, but seemed thin. Much more time to go. Also put on a bubbler airlock with gin. Covered with a towel as well to make sure there is no light damage. Blinds have been closed throughout fermentation, so don’t think it’s a problem, but wanted to make sure.
4/04 8 p.m. – Bubbling every 35-40 seconds or so. Will take another reading on Friday and Saturday and will rack to secondary on Saturday if it’s stable and at target FG,
4/06 9 p.m. – Bubbling every minute or so. Temp at 68. Gravity is still at 1.02. Don’t know if it’s stuck, or just slow. Swriled the carboy a bit to try to stir up some yeast, but not much. Deathly afraid of oxidizing.
4/07 2 p.m. -- Bubbling every minute or so. Temp at 67.

Thoughts?
 

BierMuncher

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It happens to all of us.
One of my situations was a very active krausen the first 12-24 hours. Blow off, churning, everything. But my gravity was only dropping like 2-3 points a day.

I noticed that I had a ton of rich, creamy krausen residue riding the top of the carboy. A notion hit me to gently swirl the beer around...thinking that a lot of yeast might have been blown up onto the carboy wall and that is why my fermentation slowed down.

When I swirled the carboy around, all of that nice cream started to gently float down, back into the beer and within about 15 minutes, my bubbling went from 1 every 10-12 seconds to 1 every 3 seconds.

That's been 7 hours now and it's still going like crazy.

Just a thought.
 

AleHole

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one piece of advice I can give from my experience is if you still have some good fermentation after 7 days don't rack it to secondary just because its been 7 days. Leave it sit on the primary yeast cake for another week and let the yeast do their thing and drop the gravity a few more points. I made the mistake of racking one of my beers off the primary yeast cake too soon and it took nearly 5 weeks to ferment out.
 
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PenPen

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Thanks. I'll do a little swirling of the carboy and ride it out. Patience is a virtue, right? It's tough, but I'm glad I found this forum. Everyone's advice has been a big help....helping me do what I should do, and more importantly, what I shouldn't do. Thanks.
 
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