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AK-brewgirl

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I made a Belgium brew on Sunday - pitched dry yeast at 70 degrees and I still do not have any activity. Saw one bubble yesterday but nothing seems to be happening. Any advise ? Should I just be patient. I have never had this problem before.
 

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Is there no foam in the fermenter either, or is it just no activity in the airlock?
 

IslandLizard

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Yes there is foam in the fermenter
That's a good sign, she's alive and working.

OK, so I am in AK, so yes the temp in the house does go below 70 at night- usually around 68
68F is OK, as long as it doesn't drop below that. Belgian yeasts benefit from slightly higher temps than most other yeasts.
Is there a place in the home where temps are more stable or a touch warmer all the time?

If your fermenter is directly placed on a cold floor, put a 1" foam pad or a 2-3x folded-over towel underneath. You can also wrap the fermenter up for the night with a sleeping bag or thick (moving) blanket. Anything to keep it a few degrees warmer and reduce temp drops overnight.
 
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68F is OK, as long as it doesn't drop below that. Belgian yeasts benefit from slightly higher temps than most other yeasts.
Is there a place in the home where temps are more stable or a touch warmer all the time?

If your fermenter is directly placed on a cold floor, put a 1" foam pad or a 2-3x folded-over towel underneath. You can also wrap the fermenter up for the night with a sleeping bag or thick (moving) blanket. Anything to keep it a few degrees warmer and reduce temp drops overnight.
Thanks - it is sitting in a tub and that is on a folded towel. I will wrap it at night -
 

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Used a dry- I think it was Safbrew T-58
Temperature
Ideally 18-26°C (64.4-78.8°F).
She'll be fine if you can keep her in the 68-70F range.

Thanks - it is sitting in a tub and that is on a folded towel. I will wrap it at night -
That may help.
Floors are huge heat drains, so keep something thick and lofty in between.
 
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Ok, so the airlock wasn't tight and I fixed that but i still don't have anything working....ios there anything I can do to save this batch of beer?
 

IslandLizard

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Is there any foam forming on the top of the beer?
That would be an indication the yeast is working.

Have patience... the yeast knows what to do, it's in her genes.
 

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You said there is foam on the beer. We confirmed that means it's ok, and the gas is leaking out somewhere. Don't dump the beer. I've had many batches where the co2 leaked out before causing bubbles. If I dumped every beer where I didn't see bubbles because the co2 from ferm leaked out, I would have quit long ago.
 

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The active fermentation is probably over. Now you can just let it work on the last few gravity points, but it won't be exciting, even if you have fixed all the leaks.
 
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There was never any visible active fermentation. I got one or two bubbles and then nothing. It has been sitting since Sunday. I did fix the leaks, at least I think I did. I opened the fermentor to check and there was foam and bubbles on Monday but I have checked since and I am not seeing anything. Not sure what to do now? In all my 20+ years of brewing I have never had this problem.
 

IslandLizard

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There was never any visible active fermentation. I got one or two bubbles and then nothing.
Never judge lack of fermentation by lack of bubbles in the airlock. Many fermenters leak around the stopper or lid seal. CO2 comes out where the resistance is the lowest.

A krausen (foamy layer on top of the beer) is the best indicator of fermentation taking place. Any brownish-tan (krausen) residue clinging to the sides, above the beer line is an indication active fermentation has taken place. Krausen may have fallen but that does not mean fermentation has completed.

There are 3 phases in fermentation and they overlap, sliding from one into the next: Lag phase > active fermentation > conditioning phase.

You're almost a week in, let it be for another week. Keep it warmish, 70F or a few degrees above.
 
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AK-brewgirl

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OK, so my brew has been in the fermentor for 2 weeks. i never saw any bubbles, or indication that it was working, so early on lifted the lid and as mention before saw foam. Yesterday (13 days into the brewing) I opened the lid and there are some bubbles on top but no longer do I see foam. Should I wait or can I bottle it or toss it?? It is in a plastic fermentor so I have to open the lid to see anything.
 

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While you had the lid off, did you take a gravity sample? If so what is the current gravity, and what did you use to measure it?

Also, did you take a gravity sample around the time you put that batch into the fermenter? That would be your Original Gravity (OG).
 
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Sadly I did not take a gravity sample....truth is in all the years I have brewed I have not done gravity samples. I know it is something that many brewers expect and do but I haven't.
 

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In all my 20+ years of brewing [...]
in all the years I have brewed I have not done gravity samples.
During those 20 years, how did you determine those brews were done? Were they beer?

Seriously, having a hydrometer is not a luxury when brewing or making other fermented beverages you want to bottle.

Once the big event is over, the most compelling reason for taking 2 gravity measurement a few (3-5) days apart is to determine that gravity is stable , which is an indication that fermentation has indeed completed. If you bottle before that it's completed you may risk bottle bombs, as fermentation continues or may resume, usually slowly, causing over-carbonation.

Since it's been fermenting for almost 2 weeks (pitched yeast on the 19th) it may very well be done. Or not quite, due to temp variations, especially early on. But how'd you know without some gravity indication?

How about leaving it for another week, then bottle? How's that sound?

BTW, what kind of fermenter is this in? I gather it's opaque. Is it a typical white brew bucket with a large plastic snap lid? Airlock through a small rubber grommet hole in the lid?
 

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Hydrometers are inexpensive. Even when bought at the LHBS and even less online. Mine was under 5 bucks back when I bought it. But I think under $10 is still realistic.

They'll let you know if your beer fermented and when it's done. Bubbles and other stuff is just a guess and borders on mysticism. :bigmug:

I usually check SG sometime after the wort is cooled but before pitch. Then I'll wait the 2 weeks, get another SG and then another 3 days later to see if it confirms that fermentation is finished. Which it usually is after 2 weeks.
 
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AK-brewgirl

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During those 20 years, how did you determine those brews were done? Were they beer?

Seriously, having a hydrometer is not a luxury when brewing or making other fermented beverages you want to bottle.

Once the big event is over, the most compelling reason for taking 2 gravity measurement a few (3-5) days apart is to determine that gravity is stable , which is an indication that fermentation has indeed completed. If you bottle before that it's completed you may risk bottle bombs, as fermentation continues or may resume, usually slowly, causing over-carbonation.

Since it's been fermenting for almost 2 weeks (pitched yeast on the 19th) it may very well be done. Or not quite, due to temp variations, especially early on. But how'd you know without some gravity indication?

How about leaving it for another week, then bottle? How's that sound?

BTW, what kind of fermenter is this in? I gather it's opaque. Is it a typical white brew bucket with a large plastic snap lid? Airlock through a small rubber grommet hole in the lid?
Thanks for the advice, I may leave it for another week. Yes I am using the large plastic bucket with the plastic snap lid. I actually have hydrometer, probably used it once or twice. Guess maybe I should start using it....again thanks.
 

IslandLizard

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I may leave it for another week.
You'd be better of taking a gravity reading now, and compare with one a week from now.* If they are the same AND close to your expected FG, it's likely safe to bottle. It's advised to fill a 12-16 oz plastic (soda) bottle too, so you can monitor carbonation (it gets hard). Or detect over-carbonation if that happens.

Belgian yeasts can be tricky, they may resume fermenting, slowly, for a long time, especially when the main fermentation was not steady.

* It's best not to open bucket lids until ready to package. If you do you lose the rich CO2 atmosphere in the headspace that protects your beer from unwanted invaders and oxidation.

Instead of opening the lid, you can perform a suck-siphon with a skinny hose through the airlock hole, to siphon out 6 oz for your hydrometer test. As a bonus, you'll have the sample to test/drink.

If you have a CO2 tank you can push that sample out, keeping the headspace filled with CO2.
 
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AK-brewgirl

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That is with the hydrometer. Don't know the OG. This is the 3rd time I have made this beer- no issues before. I attached the recipe
 

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hotbeer

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My software says that would give me an OG of 1.105 and finish around 1.012
If that's the case, fermenting down to 1.012 will be a apparent attenuation of 88% and 12.2% ABV.

Might be a little much for Safebrew (Safale) T-58 yeast which is advertised as typically achieving 72-78% attenuation and an alcohol tolerance of 9-11%.

So the 1.020 the OP states might indeed be their FG with that yeast.

That's 80% attenuation and 11.2% ABV.
 

hotbeer

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OK, so should I still wait a few days and take another reading or just bottle it ? I was thinking of bottling it on Thursday.
The only thing you do want to be certain of is that it is indeed finished fermenting. Otherwise you might over carbonate the beer and if bottling, that potentially might be bad. Though I've never had the bottle bombs that some speak of.

If you keg your beer, I wouldn't imagine that is as much of a problem whether or not it's fully fermented.

Most of us agree that if the SG reading is the same when taken 2 or 3 days apart, then it's done. Though knowing the expected FG helps with that determination too. But expected FG compared to actual FG can be way off sometimes for reasons of how you mashed, yeast used and other things.

IMO, there is no need to be in a hurry to bottle a beer. So you can leave it as long as you want or care to. For me, beers left longer in the FV are cleaner, clearer and taste better more often than not. Though that's not to say I haven't been happy with those I've bottled at 2 weeks. But more of the shorter time in the FV beers have been less than what I was expecting them to be. Usually just clarity though. Sometimes taste.
 

IslandLizard

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So, I will wait a little long and take another reading. Thanks
Give it a few more days, keep it warm. Then remeasure gravity and if the same, bottle it. Chances are it's done but it gives more peace of mind when those last 2 readings are the same.

That's a big beer! Did you taste the hydrometer sample, and if so, how is it?

Hints for next time:
  1. Take an OG reading from the fermenter.
  2. If you used water to top up your brew in the fermenter, make sure it's mixed well before taking the sample, or it won't be accurate. Wort and water tend to stratify, hence the need for a good mixing. Using a long brew spoon to mix well should suffice.
  3. Stop lifting the lid until you're ready to bottle. Although aerating/oxygenating beer when pitching yeast is good, once it's fermenting, you want to prevent any additional air exposure as it may cause oxidation, which is bad.
  4. If you need to look inside, remove the airlock so you can look through the grommet hole. Use a strong (flash)light along the side of the bucket at a height a little above the (inner) beer surface. Re-sanitize the area and replace the airlock.*
  5. To take gravity samples at the end of fermentation, learn doing suck-siphons. Use a 2-2.5 foot long skinny hose going down the grommet hole where the airlock normally is. Use that bucket with some water to train yourself with the method. Key is to pull the hose quickly out of the fermenter once you got enough beer for your sample, so the beer doesn't flow back. It's really easy.
* If you use a 3-piece airlock, and you want to remove it from the fermenter, first take the cap off, then pull the shuttle (dome) out with a pair of tweezers, before pulling the body out of the grommet hole. That prevents the liquid (Starsan) inside the airlock from sucking back into your beer.

Keep us posted!
 
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AK-brewgirl

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Thanks for all you help and yes I did taste the beer and I love it. It's smooth and full bodied. I typically don't brew anything but Belgiums and Scotch Ale although I have brewed some stout, and different beers around certain holidays and special occasions. i will follow your suggestions above. Again, thanks for all your help.
 
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AK-brewgirl

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If that's the case, fermenting down to 1.012 will be a apparent attenuation of 88% and 12.2% ABV.

Might be a little much for Safebrew (Safale) T-58 yeast which is advertised as typically achieving 72-78% attenuation and an alcohol tolerance of 9-11%.

So the 1.020 the OP states might indeed be their FG with that yeast.

That's 80% attenuation and 11.2% ABV.
So, I just did another reading -4 days from the last one- - and it is now 1.013, so I think I will bottle it today.
 

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Never judge lack of fermentation by lack of bubbles in the airlock.
Just jumping in late to the party, but this statement cannot be overstated. In fact, I would add to it that "do you smell anything in the brewing space in which you have the fermenter?" because leaking gas not going through airlock escapes around lid or airlock attachment and if you smell beer, it is outgassing, just not through the airlock.

And finally,
it is now 1.013
I would hesitate and take another reading if the last time you measured 1.020 Tuesday, and 1.013 today (Satruday) I would at least wait a couple days to see if it stabilized. One random stranger's opinion of course.
 

IslandLizard

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I would hesitate and take another reading if the last time you measured 1.020 Tuesday, and 1.013 today (Satruday) I would at least wait a couple days to see if it stabilized.
Exactly! Dropping gravity tells us the beer is still actively fermenting!
Although it does look odd, dropping 7 points in 4 days at a time that's considered to be the end of fermentation...

It's definitely not safe to bottle at this point. Only bottle when your beer has proven to be stable.
Wait a week and get another reading.
 
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AK-brewgirl

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Exactly! Dropping gravity tells us the beer is still actively fermenting!
Although it does look odd, dropping 7 points in 4 days at a time that's considered to be the end of fermentation...

It's definitely not safe to bottle at this point. Only bottle when your beer has proven to be stable.
Wait a week and get another reading.
So, I thought it odd that it dropped that much so I just did another reading it is about 1.019. Not sure what I or if I just read it wrong the first time. 1.019 pretty close to the 1.020 last time.
 
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