My first batch is giving me trouble, please help if you can

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tuffstuff152

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My first stab at brewing hasn't quite turned out as planned. I used the Coopers Pilsner extract kit. The book I was using has a "how to" told me that 3.3lbs would be fine for a "light" lager, but if you like full body and taste I should double it. Well I was too anxious to brew my first batch to make another trip to the home brew supply store, so I went with just the 3.3lbs of extract(this might have been my first mistake). I also acted on, what i think might have been, bad advice. Someone told me I would not have to add the dextrose that was called for in the recipe on the coopers can. So I omitted that.

A BIG mistake I made was not using thermometers. After I had cooled the wort with 3 ice baths, and added 2 gallons of cold water to the fermenter, I just assumed it would be between 60-80 degrees(I know really dumb). I pitched the yeast and decided to let nature run its course. The OG reading I got was 1.028(but at about 115degreesF), which according to Papazian is appropriate for light lagers.

After 5 days no bubbling, so I decided to make a new batch(2nd batch ever) and try to correct some of the mistakes I had made on the first. I used 4lbs. of John Bull light extract, 1 cup of dextrose, and 1lbs of honey. Cooled the wort to 75 degrees, rehydrated the yeast, and pitched it. This batch immediately started to ferment like a devil. It was bubbling about 30-40 times a minute. OG of 1.040

So seeing the MUCH improved results with my second batch I decided to repitch the yeast into myfirst batch, wich im certain i killed the yeast the first time with scortching temperatures. After repitching it started to ferment, but slowly. I bubbled slowly(1 bubble every 1-2 minutes) for about 3-4 days and now has stopped comletely for the last 3 days.

My question is THIS: Should I try to repitch the yeast again? Is the slow short fermentation due to the fact that the only fermentable sugars are from just 3.3lbs of extract and no dexrose? If that is the case, can I add sugar now this far into the process, and how much should I add?

Any information or tips you guys can give me would be REALLY appreciated, I'd hate to waste 5 gallons of beer. Even if the beer it yeilds isnt good, ill drink anything. Thanks!
 

Brewmasters Warehouse

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The only way to know if fermantation is complete is to check the gravity. If your gravity is in the range of the FG for your recipe then you are safe to bottle it and it does not need to be repitched. Personally, I think it is probably just done fermenting.
 

Brew_MU

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Hopefully it will work out. It may be bad though because it may have sat too long and bacteria had a chance to take over. I had that happen to me on my first try as well.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you on the first batch! Keep us posted.
 

The Blow Leprechaun

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Pilsener is a lager style of beer, was the kit yeast a lager yeast and did you lager it?

Personally, I don't know why they even sell lager kits, lager making is hard!
 
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tuffstuff152

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I took a hydrometer reading and its at 1.000. So it went from 1.028 to 1.000 so im just going to assume that it did ferment and that its done. I drank the sample, and it didnt taste too appauling. It reminded me of bud light thats been sitting in the sun in a plastic cup for a few hours. I think once it gets carbonated and chilled it will be drinkable. Even if its not drinkable, I will choke down for my ego's sake :). If you guys have anymore feedback that would be great, otherwise thank you for all your help.
 

TheFlatline

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I took a hydrometer reading and its at 1.000. So it went from 1.028 to 1.000 so im just going to assume that it did ferment and that its done. I drank the sample, and it didnt taste too appauling. It reminded me of bud light thats been sitting in the sun in a plastic cup for a few hours. I think once it gets carbonated and chilled it will be drinkable. Even if its not drinkable, I will choke down for my ego's sake :). If you guys have anymore feedback that would be great, otherwise thank you for all your help.
1.000 is the SG of water.

If you took your hydrometer reading at 115 degrees, check your hydrometer, and see what the temperature is calibrated for. Mine is at 60*. It is very likely your OG wasn't 28. If I remember in my reading, every 5 degrees or so of temperature difference between where your hydrometer is calibrated at and the temperature of the wort will throw off the OG 3 or 4 points. When I made my first batch and took an OG reading of 60 it seemed high, but I realized I was at 75 degrees, and had to knock down the reading around 9-12 points, which put me right in the zone I had wanted.

I'm imagining if you put no other sugar, just 3.3 pounds of LME into the wort with some hops, it was probably closer to 1.010 or less. You're not going to have a very alcoholic brew.
 

Teacher

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I took a hydrometer reading and its at 1.000. So it went from 1.028 to 1.000 so im just going to assume that it did ferment and that its done. I drank the sample, and it didnt taste too appauling. It reminded me of bud light thats been sitting in the sun in a plastic cup for a few hours. I think once it gets carbonated and chilled it will be drinkable. Even if its not drinkable, I will choke down for my ego's sake :). If you guys have anymore feedback that would be great, otherwise thank you for all your help.
Even if it isn't great, you could still use it for cooking.
 
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tuffstuff152

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Im no physicist, and I'm probably wrong here, but if the density(specific gravity) of water at 60degrees, which is what my hydrometer is calibrated at, is 1.000 wouldnt water at a higher temp. 75 in your case be LESS dense(below 1.000), because as water furthers itself from freezing temperature it becomes less dense(and vis-versa the closer to freezing the more dense). So I figured a reading of 1.028 at 115 degrees was low because theoretically the water in the brew is less dense at a higher temperature. I believe this is the reasoning behind the higher OG in brews with more solid dissolved into the brew, because it makes it more dense RAISING the OG. I think i need a little more clarification on this one.
 
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tuffstuff152

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"Because liquids are less dense at higher temperatures, it is important to take the initial reading at the same temperature as the final reading."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_(beer)

Just answered my own question with some research. The colder the liquid becomes, the more dense it becomes, the higher the number on your gravity reading. If my initial reading was taken at 115*(1.028), the wort was less dense than it would be at 60* so once the wort cooled it is safe to assume the OG was higher than 1.028. How much I'm not certain.
 

malkore

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"Because liquids are less dense at higher temperatures, it is important to take the initial reading at the same temperature as the final reading."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_(beer)

Just answered my own question with some research. The colder the liquid becomes, the more dense it becomes, the higher the number on your gravity reading. If my initial reading was taken at 115*(1.028), the wort was less dense than it would be at 60* so once the wort cooled it is safe to assume the OG was higher than 1.028. How much I'm not certain.
There are calculators for this.
http://www.rooftopbrew.net/abv.php - has a temperature field that'll adjust your gravity pretty accurately.

It shows your OG was probably more like 1.035
 
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