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Stuck Fermentation??

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mmehawich

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Hi-

I've been homebrewing (mead) for about 4 years now. Mead is really easy to brew, but the ingredients are expensive and it is time consuming to make (wainting 9 months for your mead to age is like waiting for a baby to come along!). Anyhoo, I decided to try my hand at brewing beer. I started my first batch last Monday. Here is what I did:

Ingredient for 2.5 gallons:
Fermentables:
2.5 #'s amber malt syrup
1 # dark DME
1 # xtra dark DME

Grains:
1/2 # victory malt
1/2 # chocolate malt

Hops:
1/2 oz cascade (bittering)
1/2 oz hallerteau (aroma)

Yeast:
Danstar Nottingham (6gm pkt.)

Steeped grains @ 140F for 1/2 hour (removed grain bag), added malt syrup and extract and bittering hops and brought to a boil for 1 hour. Turned off heat, added aroma hops. Cooled in sink with ice water, added to primary (6 gallon brew bucket), topped with 75F H20, pitched yeast (rehyrated according to packet instructions).

I'm not sure, but I think I may have a stuck fermentation. Yeast activity picked up about 6 hours after pitching, with the tell-tale signs of a healthy fermentation. 36 hours later, however, the airlock stopped bubbling. It is the middle of winter in Chicago (and our apartment has a 90 year old heating system). I think that the temperature may have dropped to suddenly when the radiator cut out the other night. Sometimes with mead, the must/wort ferments so quickly that it finished in 24 hours. Does this ever happen with beer? What are my options here? Should I be concerned, or just rack the beer this weekend and see what happens?

Any insight you could give would be greatly appreciated!
 

NUCC98

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mmehawich said:
I'm not sure, but I think I may have a stuck fermentation. Yeast activity picked up about 6 hours after pitching, with the tell-tale signs of a healthy fermentation. 36 hours later, however, the airlock stopped bubbling. It is the middle of winter in Chicago (and our apartment has a 90 year old heating system). I think that the temperature may have dropped to suddenly when the radiator cut out the other night. Sometimes with mead, the must/wort ferments so quickly that it finished in 24 hours. Does this ever happen with beer? What are my options here? Should I be concerned, or just rack the beer this weekend and see what happens?

Any insight you could give would be greatly appreciated!
I've actually had fermentation stop after a cuople days. Do you have a thermometer on the side of your fermenter?
 
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mmehawich

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NUCC98 said:
I've actually had fermentation stop after a cuople days. Do you have a thermometer on the side of your fermenter?
Nope. Its about 60-65F in the apartment right now. (Low side for this yeast)
 

uglygoat

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i've had three batches of ale ferment with ale yeast at lager temperatures this winter in my indiana basement. none have risen above 52 degrees F and the yeast has done it's thing, just takes me a bit longer, the foam on the last batch is just starting to dissapate thurdsay i pitched the yeast sat afternoon... i wonder what kind of flavor that will produce.... ;)

maybe you got bad yeast? but i think i read in this forum of someone placing a heating blanket under the carboy got the yeast jumpstarted when their fermentation got stuck cause of the cold.
 

Dark_Ale

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t1master said:
i've had three batches of ale ferment with ale yeast at lager temperatures this winter in my indiana basement. none have risen above 52 degrees F and the yeast has done it's thing, just takes me a bit longer, the foam on the last batch is just starting to dissapate thurdsay i pitched the yeast sat afternoon... i wonder what kind of flavor that will produce.... ;)

maybe you got bad yeast? but i think i read in this forum of someone placing a heating blanket under the carboy got the yeast jumpstarted when their fermentation got stuck cause of the cold.
If you think its stuck, and sure its not done, you can add a package of bru vigor and give your ferminter a shake. I have also had batches get done in 3 or 4 days. I guess a hydrometer would come in handy this time. I started making yeast starters about a month ago, by doing this you can prepare your yeast for the big job, and you will know if you got bad yeast. Mabe you alcohol content is high and the yeast is working a little slower, let it sit a while, it wont hurt, then prime and enjoy.
 

uglygoat

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Dude

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t1master said:
btw, anyone know what harm you do to ale yeast if you ferment it at lager temps? does it effect flavor or strength of the conversion to alcohol, or does it just require longer times?

I believe it will be fine, it will just take longer to complete. If its TOO cold, that's bad, but colder than optimum temps will just take longer....right experts? ;)
 

ChrisKoivu

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It sounds like you have alot of malt in your brew, which will take longer to ferment. I would just heat up the fermenter before I would add more yeast. Don't want yeast bite. Try wrapping an electric heating blanket around your fermenter and crank it until it feels like the same temperature as your forehead. Then let the yeast work. It probably is in a dormant state.
 

ChrisKoivu

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The strain of yeast your using is recommended for fermentation at
14° to 21°C (57° to 70°F) fermentation temperature range.
 

Janx

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Well, for one thing, it started 6 hours after pitching, which is pretty darn fast. So, it could be done if it's a super aggressive yeast. The chilliness will slow it but not stop it.

Before adding or shaking anything, I'd taste it. Is it sweet?

I'd also say, let it sit for at least a week after it seems to stop. Even if it's done, it'll be better to let it sit around for a while.

Janx
 

Brewman

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It should be fine, like said above it gets slower with the temp drop. If the fermenter is pressurized then I would not worry......

One time I had used Wyatts yeast about a year old and nothing happend at all in the first 36 hours..... never even started the yeast was dead. That time I just added more yeast and it bubbled away.
 
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mmehawich

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First of all, thanks for all the great advice. I ended up relaxing and not worrying, and everything was fine. When I opened up the fermenter, I got hit in the face with alcohol, so I knew the yeast were doing their job. Transfered the results to glass and saved a sample to taste. Not bad for my first attempt. Its porterish, with a coffee edge, a little carmel, and not a lot of hop bite, but some good aroma. I can wait to see how it finishes!
 

Janx

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mmehawich said:
First of all, thanks for all the great advice. I ended up relaxing and not worrying, and everything was fine. When I opened up the fermenter, I got hit in the face with alcohol, so I knew the yeast were doing their job. Transfered the results to glass and saved a sample to taste. Not bad for my first attempt. Its porterish, with a coffee edge, a little carmel, and not a lot of hop bite, but some good aroma. I can wait to see how it finishes!
Hey good deal! Glad it all worked out (it usually does :) ) You must be stoked! :D
 
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