Stuck at 1.030

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ploppythesausage

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I have a smoked porter that's been fermenting for 6 days now and is stuck at 1.030.
It is still fermenting, bubbling slightly but the hydrometer reading isn't getting any lower. I just leave the hydrometer sitting in the bucket.

I have a couple of theories why this may happen. I may have pitched the yeast on the warm side, using s33, but fermentation did take off. It may then have gotten on the cold side which caused it to slow. I've pitched some fresh yeast and some sugar and it took off again and I swirl the bucket a few times a day to keep yeast in suspension.

There is trub settling in the bottom of the bucket and it is bubbling slightly so I don't think anything is up.

What I think may have happened, correct me if I'm wrong, is that I'd did two mashes to get enough wort. The first was the base malts of smoke and Munich, first boiled and in the bucket. On top of that the boiled wort of a little Munich, chocolate, crystal and roasted barley was added. I didn't really mix them up os is it possible that the unfermentables from these malts are sitting on the top of the beer giving a false reading? Not to mention the unfiltered hops floating on the top too.
 

Wirk

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Tell me about your boil. Was it a strong boil?

Also what was your mash temperature? did you squeeze your grains?
 
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ploppythesausage

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The first boil from the first mash was pretty vigorous, a good rolling boil for 60mins with 3 hop additions. The second one was around 45 mins, again a decent rolling boil, hops added at 20 mins to go.
Mash temps for both mashes was around 65c, first mash was overnight for about eight hours didn't lose much heat. Second mash with the crystal, choc and roast was about an hour, same temp. Squeezed the grains for both mashes and spathes bybdunking the bag into a second batch of water.
 

Bensiff

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The action of the fermentation should keep the wort mixed up well enough, but having a bunch of solids floating around in there can screw readings up some. Most all fermentation issues come from: inadequate yeast pitching, lack of yeast nutrients, inadequate oxygenation, temperature control issues, or poorly fermentable wort. Probably somewhere in there is your issue; but, then again sometimes you can do everything correctly and still have a stuck ferment. I had it happen last year on a quad, made no sense, I felt like the episode of Brew Masters where the Dogfish Head 90 minute stalled out and they had to dump it...of course I'm a homebrewer which meant I went and bought a couple bottles of lambic and dumped the dregs and now 8 months later will be disrupting my nice pellicle with a bunch of raspberries from my garden and hopefully somewhere inbetween Thanksgiving and Christmas will have a nice funky brew.
 

Wirk

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If you squeeze the grains hard enough you can liberate more tannins.

Tannins are unfermentable so your density will "stuck", but it also can be because your fermenter got cold, so I'd move it to a slightly warmer place, give it a good swing and then let it rest for one week.
 
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ploppythesausage

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Thanks guys - I've given it another swirl, it's still gently bubbling, and moved it to a warmer place. It smells fantastic - if it finishes a bit higher that'll just add to the mouthfeel anyway. I've added a pound or so of sugar already anyway to the abv shouldn't be too affected (not that it matters but i find when i make sessionable homebrews they don't last a lot - alcohol certainly slows down the drinking of them).
 
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We could tell you more if you actually posted the amounts of grains used, mash temps, type and amount of yeast pitched, and your method of aeration. Also, actually fermentation temps would be helpful. Without knowing those things, we're all just guessing here.
 
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ploppythesausage

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Guessing is fine - I've no idea of ambient temps or anything like that. Grains were 4kg smoked malt, 1kg munich, 250g crystal, 125 choc, 125 roasted barley (roughly). I didn't take any notes. Yeast was one pack of s-33, pitched too warm most likely, and then got too cold after a day or so. Then I added some brown sugar and some generic cheapo which didn't really do much but the s-33 seems to have kicked in again. I BIAB. Method of aeration is that I give the bucket a swirl. I'll have beer at the end, but I most likely won't be able to make the same one again (but where's the fun in that?).
 

crazyworld

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Silly question. Have you given your hydrometer a spin? The hydrometer has the ability to act as nucleation sites for CO2 and you may be getting small CO2 bubbles sticking to your hydrometer thus giving you a false reading. Try getting in the habit of spinning the hydrometer before you take readings.

 
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crazyworld

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Also, did you ever rehydrate your yeast or just pitch directly into the bucket? Was it refrigerated and if so, did it have time to come to room temp before you pitched?
 
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Guessing is fine - I've no idea of ambient temps or anything like that. Grains were 4kg smoked malt, 1kg munich, 250g crystal, 125 choc, 125 roasted barley (roughly). I didn't take any notes. Yeast was one pack of s-33, pitched too warm most likely, and then got too cold after a day or so. Then I added some brown sugar and some generic cheapo which didn't really do much but the s-33 seems to have kicked in again. I BIAB. Method of aeration is that I give the bucket a swirl. I'll have beer at the end, but I most likely won't be able to make the same one again (but where's the fun in that?).

OK, my recommendation PtS, would be to let it ride for several more days days and take another reading. Try to keep temps steady, and in the high 60s-low 70s (middle of the road-ish for that strain). Temp fluctuation stresses yeast and can make them work oddly (too slow) or not at all.

From the Fermentis website:


Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), rehydrating agent
A very popular general purpose yeast, displaying both very robust conservation properties and consistent performance. This yeast produces superb flavour profiles and is used for the production of a varied range of top fermented special beers (Belgian type wheat beers, Trappist, etc.). Sedimentation: medium. Final gravity: high.
Also recommended for bottle-conditioning of beers. Excellent performance in beers with alcohol contents of up to 7.5% v/v but can ferment up to 11.5% v/v.
50 g/hl to 80 g/hl in primary fermentation. 2.5 g/hl to 5.0 g/hl in bottle-conditioning.
Re-hydrate the dry yeast into yeast cream in a stirred vessel prior to pitching. Sprinkle the dry yeast in 10 times its own weight of sterile water or wort at 27C ± 3C.(80F ± 6F) Once the expected weight of dry yeast is reconstituted into cream by this method (this takes about 15 to 30 minutes), maintain a gentle stirring for another 30 minutes. Then pitch the resultant cream into the fermentation vessel.
Alternatively, pitch dry yeast directly in the fermentation vessel providing the temperature of the wort is above 20C (68F). Progressively sprinkle the dry yeast into the wort ensuring the yeast covers all the surface of wort available in order to avoid clumps. Leave for 30 minutes and then mix the wort e.g. using aeration.
Recommended fermentation temperature: 15C – 24C (59-75F)
Store in cool (< 10C/50F), dry conditions.
Opened sachets must be sealed and stored at 4C (39F) and used within 7 days of opening. Do not use soft or damaged sachets.
Refer to best before end date on sachets. 24 months from production date under recommended storage conditions.

Please note that any change to a fermentation process may alter the final product quality. We therefore advise that fermentation trials are carried out prior to using our yeast commercially.

Note the underlined parts, as I think that may be your issue here. And remember, whereas most fermentations are finished or finishing in ~6 days, not all are. Give it time and RDW. :mug:
 
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ploppythesausage

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Thanks for the great advice guys. I'm fairly sure at the end of this I'll have something resembling beer, lessons will be learned, and I may or may not apply them next time round :) It's all good! Cheers!
 
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ploppythesausage

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I may grab some more yeast actually and rehydrate it before pitching. But i definitely think its too cold.
 

BrewinHooligan

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I'm sure you have plenty of yeast that are viable. They suggest rehydrating in 27C water, but many dry yeasts say to add to water that is almost 37C so pitching warm shouldn't be the issue other than possilby creating some undesirable esters. Once the yeast gets too cold, it gets lazy so if you can bring up the temp to 20C or a little higher I bet it will get going again. I had a 1.080 OG Porter take almost two weeks to hit FG.
 

MotorcycleMatt

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If you squeeze the grains hard enough you can liberate more tannins.

Tannins are unfermentable so your density will "stuck", but it also can be because your fermenter got cold, so I'd move it to a slightly warmer place, give it a good swing and then let it rest for one week.

Im sorry but thats not correct. Squeezing will not release tannins into the beer, and they wont cause a stuck fermentation.
 
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ploppythesausage

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Took a taste today. Very grainy. As in there are small particles of grain floating in it. Combined with the hops floating on the top I think these are leading to an incorrect hydro reading. It's been going only 6 days now at slightly cool temps. I'll give it another week and likely bottle it then.
 

crazyworld

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Just make sure you don't rush to bottling. Take a hydro reading once you get close to 2 weeks and then wait 3 days to see if it changes (make sure you correct for temperature both times). My general rule of thumb is 3 in the fermenter and 3 in bottles. This will help too to ensure any bits of grain or hops you say you have will have some time to settle out. Stirring it up to get the yeast back in suspension will only slow this process of it settling.
 

eastoak

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Took a taste today. Very grainy. As in there are small particles of grain floating in it. Combined with the hops floating on the top I think these are leading to an incorrect hydro reading. It's been going only 6 days now at slightly cool temps. I'll give it another week and likely bottle it then.

bits of grain and hops in the sample will not affect your gravity reading at all.
 
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ploppythesausage

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So it's been slowly fizzing away with no change in gravity. Tasted more - smoked malt and grains make it taste slightly tanniny, but should be nice when carbed and it all comes together. Added some coffee, cocoa and cherries and raspberries and some more sugar and fermentation took off again. Dont' see the FG coming down but that's okay. Will have a nice thick chewy mouthfeel, the extra sugar should dry it out a smidge.
 

pabloj13

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So it's been slowly fizzing away with no change in gravity. Tasted more - smoked malt and grains make it taste slightly tanniny, but should be nice when carbed and it all comes together. Added some coffee, cocoa and cherries and raspberries and some more sugar and fermentation took off again. Dont' see the FG coming down but that's okay. Will have a nice thick chewy mouthfeel, the extra sugar should dry it out a smidge.

How do you know fermentation took off again?
 
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ploppythesausage

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Because its fizzing and bubbling like a fizzy bubbly thing, I get a faceful of CO2 when I take a peak and the hydro reading is coming down ever so slightly.
 

pabloj13

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ploppythesausage said:
Because its fizzing and bubbling like a fizzy bubbly thing, I get a faceful of CO2 when I take a peak and the hydro reading is coming down ever so slightly.

Just keep in mind that adding things will provide nucleation sites for co2 to bubble out of solution. The gravity dropping sounds good though.
 

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I brewed a big braggot last month, OG was ~1.098, est. FG was ~1.024 (from recipe calculator I used),but it stopped at ~1.030 and just as you said earlier, it just had a bit more mouth feel and it was a bit more malty sweet than I would have preferred but ended up very drinkable and I liked it alot!
 
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ploppythesausage

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It's down to 1.026 now and the temperature has increased due to fermentation of the fruit and extra sugar. I think this rise in temp is helping ferment the wort. We shall see what happens :) I'll probably give it another week, maybe two before bottling.
 

Bamsdealer

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Be aware too that the gravity dropping may be a result of the few additions of sugar/fruit depending on the amount you added, not additional fermentation of the wort. Sugars are completely fermentable.
 

kwingert

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Like Crazyworld was saying, you may have a lower SG then you think because it is in your fermentor. The CO2 in the beer will hold the hydrometer up. When you take hydrometer reading after starting fermentation, you need to degas it by pour back and forth between two glasses about 10-20 times.
 
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ploppythesausage

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Thanks kwingert that makes sense. I ended up bottling at 1.022 - it is very good. A bit cloying at the moment but when carbonated it should have a nice thick mouthfeel. The raspeberries and cherries at a very slight tartness. If this turns out well i'll never be able to get it right again, but oh well, i'm not one to make the same recipe twice anyway :)
 
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ploppythesausage

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Thanks kwingert that makes sense. I ended up bottling at 1.022 - it is very good. A bit cloying at the moment but when carbonated it should have a nice thick mouthfeel. The raspeberries and cherries at a very slight tartness. If this turns out well i'll never be able to get it right again, but oh well, i'm not one to make the same recipe twice anyway :)
 

Braufessor

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Some thoughts for your next brew -

I think you would be a lot better off just ignoring your beer for 2-3 weeks. Our job is to crush grains, mash grains, boil, cool, make sure we have made a good starter, or used adequate amounts of yeast, and provide a good temperature range for fermentation.

If we do all of that, the yeast will do their job perfectly, 99% of the time. In fact, yeast almost never screw up their part of the deal(unlike us - myself included:) And, on the extraordinarily rare occassion where the yeast don't do what they are supposed to - there is not a whole heck of a lot you are going to do to fix it, other than dump in a pack of dry yeast.

6 days is WAAYYYY too early to be declaring something is wrong with your fermentation (unless it just never started). If you pitch your yeast and there is a good steady fermentation, just leave it alone. Don't take gravity readings, don't taste it, just let the yeast do their job. Floating a hydrometer in your fermenter for the full time is not a good way to take gravity anyway. All sorts of debris will get clumped onto your hydrometer and you will not get accurate readings. And then, if you are getting faulty readings and doing things to your beer because of it..... you could cause actual problems where there were none. Also, if you are constantly messing with your beer and putting things in and out of it, you are just asking for problems at some point.

My strategy -
*Brew beer
*Chill beer to low 60's (ales)
*Dump in a good, healthy, 1 liter yeast starter
*Put the lid on my bucket
*Keep beer somewhere that is in the low to mid 60's
*Do nothing at all for 3 weeks
*After 3 weeks, plan to bottle/keg
*Draw off a sample just to make sure it is ready, taste, gravity reading (it always is ready).
*Keg/bottle

This is definitely the hardest part of brewing when you get started - patience and leaving your beer alone. The best cure (IMO) is to get a few more fermenters so that you can get a good rotation of brewing, fermenting, bottling/kegging, tasting going - that allows you to ignore the beer that needs to be ignored.

Enjoy - it is a great hobby:)
 

FATC1TY

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I'd suggest getting a hydrometer testing tube as well. Leaving your hydrometer in the primary isn't going to give you an accurate reading. Not to mention it's hard to read, and all the crap in there will cling to it.
 

kwingert

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Some thoughts for your next brew -

I think you would be a lot better off just ignoring your beer for 2-3 weeks. Our job is to crush grains, mash grains, boil, cool, make sure we have made a good starter, or used adequate amounts of yeast, and provide a good temperature range for fermentation.

If we do all of that, the yeast will do their job perfectly, 99% of the time. In fact, yeast almost never screw up their part of the deal(unlike us - myself included:) And, on the extraordinarily rare occassion where the yeast don't do what they are supposed to - there is not a whole heck of a lot you are going to do to fix it, other than dump in a pack of dry yeast.

6 days is WAAYYYY too early to be declaring something is wrong with your fermentation (unless it just never started). If you pitch your yeast and there is a good steady fermentation, just leave it alone. Don't take gravity readings, don't taste it, just let the yeast do their job. Floating a hydrometer in your fermenter for the full time is not a good way to take gravity anyway. All sorts of debris will get clumped onto your hydrometer and you will not get accurate readings. And then, if you are getting faulty readings and doing things to your beer because of it..... you could cause actual problems where there were none. Also, if you are constantly messing with your beer and putting things in and out of it, you are just asking for problems at some point.

My strategy -
*Brew beer
*Chill beer to low 60's (ales)
*Dump in a good, healthy, 1 liter yeast starter
*Put the lid on my bucket
*Keep beer somewhere that is in the low to mid 60's
*Do nothing at all for 3 weeks
*After 3 weeks, plan to bottle/keg
*Draw off a sample just to make sure it is ready, taste, gravity reading (it always is ready).
*Keg/bottle

This is definitely the hardest part of brewing when you get started - patience and leaving your beer alone. The best cure (IMO) is to get a few more fermenters so that you can get a good rotation of brewing, fermenting, bottling/kegging, tasting going - that allows you to ignore the beer that needs to be ignored.

Enjoy - it is a great hobby:)

Words to brew by.
 
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