Is my fermentation stuck?

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marckovach

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Brewed a Belgian with an OG of 1.073. I used Safale BE-256. The temperatures in my basement dropped lower than usual at this time of year to 58F. Fermentation stopped at 1.020. I moved the fermenter, gently shook it and got it up to 68F and still at 1.020. Beersmith estimates FG to be 1.012. Any advice to whether this is a stuck fermentation or just a beer that finished a little high? I am contemplating throwing another pack of yeast in. I should also mention that I brewed this beer two other times and ended up at 1.010 and 1.012, but the temperatures did not drop below 62F. Thanks!
 

AlexKay

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Are you measuring with a Tilt, by any chance? Tilts can read way high when they’ve got crud stuck to them (and way low if the crud is stuck somewhere else.) If you’re concerned about the absolute value of the FG, double check with a hydrometer or (calculator corrected) refractometer reading.

And if you pulled a sample to check it, how did it taste? If it’s not overly sweet, the number doesn’t matter that much — you’ve just got more unfermentable sugars than you planned for.
 

Dland

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How long since you warmed it up? If you give it time, it will probably work out, & give it time for temp to raise in whole fermentor. Sometime the internal temp overall is not same as by ones measuring device. Adding another pack of yeast would be OK also, but be careful not to let the beer oxidize at this point.
 
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marckovach

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Are you measuring with a Tilt, by any chance? Tilts can read way high when they’ve got crud stuck to them (and way low if the crud is stuck somewhere else.) If you’re concerned about the absolute value of the FG, double check with a hydrometer or (calculator corrected) refractometer reading.

And if you pulled a sample to check it, how did it taste? If it’s not overly sweet, the number doesn’t matter that much — you’ve just got more unfermentable sugars than you planned for.
I am measuring with a tilt. I have had off readings with it by usually jostling the fermenter a little corrects it. I plan double checking with my hydrometer tomorrow. I became a little paranoid when the temperature dropped in the closet so early this year. I usually brew ales until Christmas and then move to lagers until Easter.
 
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marckovach

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How long since you warmed it up? If you give it time, it will probably work out, & give it time for temp to raise in whole fermentor. Sometime the internal temp overall is not same as by ones measuring device. Adding another pack of yeast would be OK also, but be careful not to let the beer oxidize at this point.
3rd day. I was hoping to see a little action in the air lock by now. I try to avoid opening until I am ready to keg/bottle so trying to be patient.
 

AlexKay

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I am measuring with a tilt. I have had off readings with it by usually jostling the fermenter a little corrects it. I plan double checking with my hydrometer tomorrow. I became a little paranoid when the temperature dropped in the closet so early this year. I usually brew ales until Christmas and then move to lagers until Easter.
Cool. Double check with the hydrometer, and don’t forget to drink the hydrometer sample!
 

RM-MN

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3rd day. I was hoping to see a little action in the air lock by now. I try to avoid opening until I am ready to keg/bottle so trying to be patient.
Yeast only produce CO2 for the first few days, perhaps stopping that production on about day 3. Any CO2 that comes out the airlock after that is simply excess dissolved in the beer that is coming out of solution. Since you really need at least 2 matching hydrometer readings before botting, now would be a good time to take the first. Highly hopped beers like NEIPA's are very susceptible to oxidization. Others are much less so. While opening the fermenter is going to introduce oxygen, if you don't keep it open you won't lose all the CO2 immediately.
 

AlexKay

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Yeast only produce CO2 for the first few days, perhaps stopping that production on about day 3. Any CO2 that comes out the airlock after that is simply excess dissolved in the beer that is coming out of solution. Since you really need at least 2 matching hydrometer readings before botting, now would be a good time to take the first. Highly hopped beers like NEIPA's are very susceptible to oxidization. Others are much less so. While opening the fermenter is going to introduce oxygen, if you don't keep it open you won't lose all the CO2 immediately.
He’s got matching hydrometer readings galore from the Tilt. They’re probably all wrong, but gravity is steady.
 

hout17

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I've had my Tilt be as much as 4 points off at FG. I would take one sample and see what the gravity actually is. That is the great thing about the Tilt though is knowing when your gravity has stabilized.
 

RM-MN

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He’s got matching hydrometer readings galore from the Tilt. They’re probably all wrong, but gravity is steady.
Because the Tilt sits inside the fermenter its readings are only an approximation as it can have a bubble attach to the bottom to buoy it up as the alcohol level goes up so the reading appears stable. Take a hydrometer reading to verify.
 
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marckovach

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1.016 with a standard hydrometer. Not an overly sweet taste, but need additional time in the fermenter to clean up before kegging. I imagine finished a little higher than in the past because of the lower temperature. Next year if the temperatures drop early again, my Christmas Belgian will be a Christmas Bock. Thanks for everyone's responses!
 
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