High FG than expected.. what to do?

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iclim_brock

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First off.. hello, just joined but have used this site for lots of information so far. Thank you! I'm pretty new to the hobby... I have 26 gallons under my belt... most extract or partial-mash.

A few weeks ago I brewed a Denny Conn Bourbon Vanilla Imperial porter from a kit. I ended up with a lower OG than expected (and a not too happy wife) due to floor spillage of a cup or two of wort after the mash due to a larger than previous experienced grain bill (~8.5 lbs) and some strainer overflow, etc.

OG was 1.083 (recipe expected 1.086). I fermented in a bucket for one week then racked to a glass carboy (1.026 at racking) (adding Vanilla Beans). Two weeks later (today) I transferred to my keg and am at 1.025 (pre-Bourbon addition). Recipe expects 1.020....

So, here are my questions...

Reading this forum lots of people state 'patience' as the best thing they've learned...

Should I have just taken the reading and, seeing it was still high, kept in in the secondary for more time? Could the high OG have caused this and should I have over-pitched the yeast as a precaution? (The kit came with a dry yeast I've never used/seen before. I think it was unrefrigerated by my LHBS swapped it for a newer packet from their fridge.) I didn't measure any intervals or watch the airlock.. so I don't really know if there was any activity at the end or not.

What to do now?

Should I keep the keg at fermenting temperature and hope it keeps going, or should I just assume it's done and stick it in the keezer under pressure to carbonate and be happy with what I have?

Any and all thoughts are appreciated...

Thanks!
 

Stillraining

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Not a worry in the wold if your kegging..go for it..
If bottling and it was still fermenting then you could have bottle bombs..but I doubt it..its quite common to have a .003 variation from what is a predicted OG and or a predicted FG...I dont even use a hydrometer for 1/2 of my batches anymore as I make them so may times I know what they are going to be. And I know my yeast..so I can pretty much visually tell if fermentation has had any problems or not. We single vessel ferment and condition so there is a min of 2 weeks for the yeast to have opportunity to work. Lack of Krazen would be a good indicator something went wrong. I'm not recommending not taking readings until you have way more experience just telling it like it is.

But I have beers all the time that finish slightly higher then calculated attenuation...pretty normal...your just fine IMO
 

McGarnigle

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OG was 1.083 (recipe expected 1.086). I fermented in a bucket for one week then racked to a glass carboy (1.026 at racking) (adding Vanilla Beans). Two weeks later (today) I transferred to my keg...
You didn't have to do this. Perfectly fine to dispense with the secondary.

You are under-attenuated a bit. At this point, I don't think gravity is going down any more (it's been 3 weeks). And I can't think of anything that would eke out a few more points.

What caused under-attenuation? Could be the yeast itself, temp controls, aeration... it's hard to say.
 

BlueHouseBrewhaus

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If this was a 5 gal brew and you pitched a single packet of yeast, that's the likely source of your underattenuation. At 1.083 you need 2 packets at least. That said, 5 points high osn't that bad. You're fine to keg and carb.
 

schokie

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Why did you move it to secondary when you did? Was that based on time or gravity reading? Possible that it wasn't done before you racked to secondary and that process cause the fermentation to stall out.

Worst case, 5 gravity points isn't a big deal. You probably wouldn't even notice the difference between them if they were served side by side.
 
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iclim_brock

iclim_brock

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Thanks everyone for the quick feedback!

Why did you move it to secondary when you did? Was that based on time or gravity reading? Possible that it wasn't done before you racked to secondary and that process cause the fermentation to stall out.
I just waited a week. Looking back at the recipe it says "once the bubbling action in your airlock slows to 4 to 4 bubbles a minute, rack your beer into a secondary fermenter"

I probably jumped the gun... I was just too eager to get it onto the vanilla beans (again, the patience lesson...)

I feel like I read somewhere that bucket for primary, carboy for secondary is the way to go... is there any better guidelines for when/if a secondary is needed?

The one thing I feel comfortable about is my fermentation temperature .. I rigged up my SmartThings outlet controller and temperature sensor, a seed germination mat and large cooler to hack together a fermentation chamber for my cool basement:

 

John Eberly

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Primary in a bucket is how I started 20 years ago. The main advantage is that you can get in to clean the bucket without having to wrestle with a carboy brush. If you are only in the primary for a week at high krausen you don't really have any worries about oxygen permeability of the plastic.

Carboy for the secondary is because the glass is a true oxygen barrier and there's less mess to clean up afterwards so it's not so bad to work it out with the brush.

I still prefer to do a secondary for most batches - you can skip them in my opinion if you don't care if the beer really drops clear, say for a hefeweizen.

I would not worry at all about the gravity readings you are seeing, they are well within normal homebrew accuracy and the limitations of an accurate hygrometer reading.
 

McGarnigle

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Looking back at the recipe it says "once the bubbling action in your airlock slows to 4 to 4 bubbles a minute, rack your beer into a secondary fermenter"
Instructions still say things like this, but most of us don't agree. Yeast can fall out just as easily in your primary vessel. Why move it at all?

I feel like I read somewhere that bucket for primary, carboy for secondary is the way to go... is there any better guidelines for when/if a secondary is needed?
The shape of carboys - tapered at the top - make them suitable for secondary, where you won't as little airspace as possible. Ale pails are also usually too big to secondary (6.5-7 gallons).

I don't think plastic vs. glass matters for our purposes.
 

schokie

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Regular secondary fermentation made sense 20 years ago with crappy yeast. With modern practices and new, fresh yeast there's no need. I ferment in primary, dry hop in primary, age in primary, cold crash in primary, then rack directly to the keg and enjoy crystal clear beer.

Not only is secondary not needed, but it is in fact harmful. Reference the above points regarding oxygen. There's also the increased risk of infection each time you move the beer.

That being said, I will secondary if I'm aging for a couple months, such as an oaky imperial stout. But that's because I'm trying to minimize oxygenation, not because I feel the need to get it off the lees or arbitrarily move vessels.

Next time, just leave it in the bucket for 3 weeks, add the vanilla to primary, wait another week, call it good, then keg. Add the bourbon either at then end of the boil, or sometime during primary.

However, great job with the the temp control. That's an awesome improvement that will go a long way towards quality beer.
 
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