High SG, Wait, Rouse, Re-Pitch or Rack?

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vickeryj

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Hi everyone. I started my first batch last week and everything went pretty smoothly. The batch went into the primary Sunday (the 3rd) and the airlock was going strong by Monday morning. By Wednesday all the airlock activity stopped so I figured I would take a gravity reading. Correcting for temperature, I got a reading of 1.021 (down from an OG of 1.052). Since then I've taken gravity readings daily and they have remained at 1.021. On Friday (the 8th) I gave the bucket a swirl thinking the yeast might need to be "roused." No change on the gravity yesterday (the 9th), so I gave it another swirl, and still no change today (the 10th).

The kit lists the Beginning Gravity at 1.049 - 1.051 and the Final Gravity at 1.012 - 1.014.

So, my question is what should I do now? Should I wait a while? Should I give it another swirl? Should I pitch more yeast? Should I go ahead and rack to the secondary?

My two concerns at this point are that they yeast is worn out and won't carbonate after I bottle, and that fermentation hasn't really finished and I'll make bottle grenades. My dad was a homebrewer when I was growing up and I still remember bottles blowing up in the back of the station wagon on a road trip, so I'm a little bit paranoid about that.

The beer is from a True Brew Nut Brown Ale kit consisting of 1 can Hopped Light Malt Extract, 1 lb Light Dried Malt Extract, 1 lb Amber Dried Malt Extract, 1 lb Dark Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Dark Crystal and Roasted Barley specialty grains, 1 oz of Fuggles hop pellets and 1 packet of Muntons dry yeast.

I re-hydrated and proofed the yeast (with 1 tsp sugar) prior to pitching, and it foamed a bit, but didn't go crazy.

The bucket has been in a room that has varied from 64° to 68° F, and the stick-on thermometer on the bucket has ranged from 72° to 66°.
 

Chriso

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The simplest thing to try is to gently rouse the yeast, as you mentioned, and then move it to a slightly warmer room, shoot for 69-70f. Let it warm up for 24-36 hours and "do its thing" - this may allow the yeast to reawaken, and munch a few more sugars.

If it still doesn't kick in after another 36 hrs in a warmer location, repitching may indeed be necessary. Munton's isn't exactly Superman in terms of yeast quality - if you have to go to the LHBS anyways to get more yeast, I would look for Fermentis Safale S-04, or Danstar Nottingham. I'd also buy 1 extra packet to tuck safely in the fridge for any future stuck batches, it never hurts :D (I have 11 packs of different kinds of dry yeast in my fridge right now!) Everything in your process that I can see looks very good, I'm confident you did this "right" - the yeasties may just not be cooperating.

And by the way, thanks for writing a very clear post. It made it much easier to answer your question, and I appreciate your effort!
 

the_bird

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+1 on chriso's advice. Get yourself some S-04, that's a good yeast for this style and it's very high quality. FWIW, you don't need to proof the yeast, FWIW; in general, you don't want to introduce your yeast to simple sugars before they are introduced to maltose (more complex) - but I don't think that's why your fermentation got stuck.

Temperature's the big reason why fermentations get stuck, but it sounds like you're in the right range. A little warmer would be better, though.

Welcome to the forums!
 
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vickeryj

vickeryj

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Thanks for the advice chriso and the_bird. I gave the bucket another swirl and brought the temperature up to 70°. I then went out and bought two packets of Safale s-04 just in case I don't see a drop in the gravity by tomorrow night.

If I do need to re-pitch do you have any suggestions on doing so? The Safale packet just says to sprinkle it into the wort.

Thanks again!

Josh
 

9/9

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vickeryj: I don't know how much you will check back here, but I sent you a PM.
 

eddie

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Take 2 cups of water and boil it for ten minutes then cover it and put in the fridge or in a water bath to cool it down below 80F. Once you've reached this temp, take your yeast packets and add them to this water and let it sit on the counter, covered, for ten minutes to rehydrate. After ten minutes, without removing the lid, give the pot a gentle swirl and you're ready to add it to your beer.
 

Chriso

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To be fair, Safale does indeed say sprinkle directly. I rehydrate Nottingham(?) which says to do so on the label, but the Safale's I direct pitch, since I figure manufacturer knows best! ;)
 
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vickeryj

vickeryj

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After no change in SG I re-pitched on Monday the 11th. I took another reading today (Wednesday the 13th) and it's still at 1.021. I'm thinking at this point either I didn't aerate enough and there is no more oxygen left for the yeast, or something else is wrong.

On the other hand I drank the sample I extracted today and it was pretty good. Lightly carbonated, good bitterness and not unbearably sweet. My plan is to let it sit till the weekend, and then, assuming the gravity hasn't changed, rack to secondary. I figure I'll take a gravity reading two weeks after that, and if there is still no change, bottle it up. Do you think I'm risking bottle bombs? I figure I can put the bottles in rubbermaid containers and after a few weeks I can check the gravity (assuming non have exploded) and if it is still at 1.021, call it good enough.

Josh
 
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