Stuck fermentation, or what?

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Summerbythelakeside

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So I brewed up a batch on Thursday night, using the Brewer's Best Weizen kit, with the addition of some coriander, grains of paradise, a smidgen of zest from an organically grown orange, and a pinch of ginger root. Just experimenting. Just as I was reaching the end of the boil, I turned around to grab a sip of water and when I turned back, a moth had appeared in my wort. Stupid thing wasn't looking where it was flying or something. I plucked it out and continued the boil for an extra five minutes figuring it would sterilize the wort from anything the moth might have infected it with. (Damned if I was going to waste an entire batch over some stupid insect.) Then I proceeded according to the instructions that came with the kit. After I'd chucked my wort into the fermenter I took a starting gravity reading (1.043) and pitched the packet of Munton's yeast that came with the kit. I airlocked the fermenter and it went into the basement, as that's the coolest part of the house. By this time it was somewhere between o-exhausted-thirty and 3 AM so off I went to bed. (Yes, I keep crazy hours. At the moment, I work at home, and I'm an insomniac nearly all the time anyway.)

Around 11 AM the following day (Friday) I went downstairs and saw the airlock merrily bubbling away, so I figured no problems and went about my day. I checked it again late in the afternoon, and found to my chagrin that there was no activity. Giving the fermentation bucket a small kick released a couple of bubbles but that was all. I checked the temperature in the basement and it was 79F. Our basement is never that warm! But it had been a hot, humid day, more so than usual. The directions with this kit said to keep the fermenter at between 68F and 72F, so I figured maybe my yeast had crapped out due to the higher temperature. So my next stop was the brewing supply shop up the block (great neighborhood we live in, eh?) to ask the advice of an expert. After searching for a yeast among his current stock that could tolerate temperatures into the upper 70's and only coming up with stuff he didn't have and would have to order, I decided upon Plan B and got FutureHubby to carry the bucket back upstairs for me and put it in our spare room, and put our window air conditioner - which we usually don't even bother to install for the short Cleveland summers - into a window in there, and shut the door. Took the temp back down within the recommended range and waited to see if anything happened, but nope. Nada. (Nor was anything happening with the three gallons of experimental honey-apple-cherry-pomegranate metheglin now keeping the weizen fermenter company... it's been stuck for even longer... :confused: ) So I went back to the brewing shop again on Saturday, and I came home this time with a vial of White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast, on the recommendation of the guy who runs the shop. Got some more Lalvin 71B-1122 to dose the metheglin too, while I was at it, hoping the more hospitable temperature would help. Yeah, right. Zip. Zilch. Not a bubble to be seen, even though I added yeast nutrient and everything.

So tonight I took a gravity reading again, and the weizen's at about 1.016 (near as I could tell without my glasses). According to the kit directions, it should have started at between 1.048 - 1.052 and finished between 1.010 and 1.014 so it's been a tad off-kilter all along. It looks pretty dark, somewhat viscous, though it smells beery. Tomorrow I'm going to take another gravity on the metheglin, though I'm a little less worried about that as it tastes okay, just really sweet and had only about 5% alcohol as of the last reading, but I can cut it with vodka if I have to and get a reasonable product in the end. But the weizen worries me. It appears to have only fermented for 12 hours at absolute most, 13 hours being the time between pitching the original dry yeast and the time I noticed it had ceased activity.

Thoughts? Conjectures? Advice?
 

Brett0424

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Think about becoming a novelist maybe?

If your fermentation temp kicked up to 79 the yeast is more likely to speed up fermentation rather than get stuck. Keep in mind, however, that airlock bubbling is not a great indicator of fermentation. If you're using a bucket some c02 will seep out the sides of the lid. They'll usually only bubble when the fermentation is really active. Also, it's possible to have a high temp fermentation happen so fast that you just miss most of the activity. So you may just not be seeing your fermentation, or it may have happened real quick. A stuck fermentation would be my last guess but is possible. If it fermented warm them you'll just have some esters and alcohol flavors but it should be drinkable beer.
 

paul_h

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Agree, beers don't get stuck because of a high temp, they ferment faster but ofter have slightly off flavours.
Also sometimes just no airlock activity is not an indication of a beer getting 'stuck', sometimes you don't get bubbles even though it's fermenting well. Normally if you notice bubbles but then they die out too early, take an sg sample, then come back in 2-3 days and recheck. If it's the same, then panic if it's not in the correct bottling range for the brew.

Your beers might have got 'stuck' if you boiled the wort and didn't aerate it enough before pitching. It's happened to me, the yeast just don't mulitply enough due to lack of nutrients and oxygen, the small amount that does mulitply can't finish the job and die out at about 1020 SG.

Adding more yeast at this stage often doen't work because there's still no nutrients for them to muliply, what little there was the first pitched yeast have used. Also aerating the wort is a bad thing to do after the first yeast has started so there's no point aerating it after the fact, even moving the brews around during fermentation isn't that good a thing to do.

edit: If repitching a suspected stalled brew, making a starter with some malt extract and getting the new yeast powering through that before pitching is the best course of action.
 

Bob

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While brewing is easy to take to obsessive levels, there's no reason to obsess over .002 points of specific gravity. If you just relax and wait a week or so, the beer may very well attenuate further. Put the lid on the bucket and stop mucking around in it! Stick it in a cool corner and leave it alone for at least a week.

Have yourself a beer, and just be patient. ;)

Bob
 
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Summerbythelakeside

Summerbythelakeside

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Brett0424 said:
Think about becoming a novelist maybe?
*chuckle* Did you peek at my profile? I do write, though none of my fiction's been published yet. ;) Sorry for the overlong post, though. I'd been writing all evening, so I think I was still in "storyteller" mode.

Revvy said:
Use your Hydrometer!!!! It's the only way you'll know.
Oh, I know that. I'm going to take another reading tonight and see where we are. Gonna take a taste, too.

Paul_h: Yeah, I'm hoping I aerated well enough before the first pitch, but it's hard to be sure. And I know it did get re-aerated with the moving about and the second yeast pitch, etc. :( I'm worried about that, but hopefully my taste test will allay those fears. I'll let you know what I find out.

BobNQ3X: I can let it be for a bit, but I'd like to get it all done by the end of the month, as after that I'm going to be out of town for a while. Some of this batch is intended to go along with me as a gift, if it turns out okay.
 

Revvy

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*chuckle* Did you peek at my profile? I do write, though none of my fiction's been published yet. ;) Sorry for the overlong post, though. I'd been writing all evening, so I think I was still in "storyteller" mode.



Oh, I know that. I'm going to take another reading tonight and see where we are. Gonna take a taste, too.

Paul_h: Yeah, I'm hoping I aerated well enough before the first pitch, but it's hard to be sure. And I know it did get re-aerated with the moving about and the second yeast pitch, etc. :( I'm worried about that, but hopefully my taste test will allay those fears.

I'll let you know what I find out.
You should never repitch until you use your hydrometer....Most people who think they have a stuck fermentation are those that believe that bubbles in an airlock mean anything...Most of the time they are wrong, their fermentation wasn't stuck (it's really a rare occurance, except in high gravity beers, or where there's a significant drop in temperature....Yeasts know what they're doing) it just meant that there was no bubbles in the airlock...
 
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