Stalled or Finished Very High?

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mrwho1999

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I have a honey american wheat beer that has been in primary for 2.5 weeks. The expected OG was 1.047 but I ended up getting a couple points higher at 1.052. The expected FG is 1.009. I used US-05 and didn't see any bubbling at all. After a week, I checked the gravity with a refractometer and saw that it was actually fermenting at 1.027. I must have a leak in the bucket lid. But, at the end of 2 weeks I checked again and it was still at 1.027. I moved it upstairs and got the temperature up to 65 F (it was cold the week before so I thought a little temp increase would help) and pitched another packet of US-05 to see if my yeast fell out due to the cold. Half a week later and still no change. Do you think the yeast is just stalled or has the beer really reached its final gravity?

Batch: 2.25 gallons
0.4 lbs Golden Light DME
2 lbs Bavarian Wheat DME
0.27 lbs Munich LME
0.27 lbs Gambrinus Honey Malt (steeped 30 min at 160 F)
 
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mrwho1999

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Yup I just looked into it and see what you mean. Used the calculator and things look MUCH better now. Thanks for the help. And I'll definitely use a hydrometer tomorrow to confirm that it's where I want it to be.
 

IslandLizard

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Here's my suck-siphon method to take a hydrometer, or taste sample, from a bucket fermenter without lifting the lid. It prevents losing the CO2-rich headspace by leaving the lid on.
  1. Sanitize the airlock area, then remove airlock
  2. Snake one end of a 2-foot long piece of (skinny) sanitized 5/16" OD tubing down the airlock hole until it's under the beer surface (about a foot down)
  3. Point the other end of the tubing down, along the bucket side, and suck on it until beer flows, then point it into a (plastic) container
  4. When enough has siphoned over for a hydrometer/taste sample, pull the hose out of the bucket, quickly, in one smooth action, while keeping the outer end low so no beer can flow back
  5. Re-sanitize and replace airlock
When in doubt about the techniques and process involved, train yourself with a bucket of water.

Alternatively you could use a large syringe to suck on the hose, or pull out a sample directly through the airlock hole with a shorter piece of skinny hose fastened to its spout.
 

IslandLizard

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Yup I just looked into it and see what you mean. Used the calculator and things look MUCH better now. Thanks for the help. And I'll definitely use a hydrometer tomorrow to confirm that it's where I want it to be.
A refractometer reading is handy because it only takes one drop, which you can retrieve through the airlock hole, similarly to what I described above, but without the need to suck, just put your finger on top of the tubing when retrieving, as if it were a pipette.

Once you correlate today's refractometer reading with the hydrometer reading tomorrow, you have a much better idea what correction factor (%) you can apply to get the refractometer to match the hydrometer reading.
Apply the percentage to the Brix values or to the points of an SG reading (e.i., using the last 2 digits, such as using 12 in 1.012).

Note: Take the hydrometer reading as being the most accurate.
Provided you have:
  1. Calibrated the hydrometer in distilled or RO water. You only need to do that once, should be good until it isn't anymore ;)
  2. is at the calibration temp (it's printed on the scale, usually toward the bottom and at typically at 60°F, but double check) and
  3. read at the bottom of the meniscus.
  4. Your beer sample is also at that same calibration temp (or close)
  5. has been degassed (to remove the CO2) by stirring it hard in a glass or plastic beaker. Then pour it into the hydrometer testing jar along the side to prevent foaming.
Alternatively you can tweak the Wort Correction Factor (WCF) in Sean Terrill's formula to get a match, but the WCF changes with wort composition, so it may not transfer to every beer the same.
 

VikeMan

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It sure seems like a sticky on refractometer correction would be a good thing. I'm not sure a day goes by without having a "stuck fermentation" question answered with "use a calculator to correct your refractometer readings."

I'd volunteer to write it if that would help.
 
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