Stuck? lager yeast ferment

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Hotmamma

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Hoping someone has a solution. I have brewed lagers in the past without problem, so this has me and my son stumped. We are geographically separate and use separate equipment but we are both having the same problem getting our larger yeast to complete fermentation.
I started an OktoberFest, pitched a strong fermenting starter and fermented at 50 degrees F for three weeks. At week one fermentation was perking along. Took it out for a diacetyl rest after 3 weeks and checked the gravity, which was 1.038 OG was 1.057. Not too worried, but all other lagers ferment out to close to completion by this time. After a week of 60-70 degree temps no fermentation occurred and gravity remained at 1.038. Pitched a second batch of lager yeast starter along with nutrient and it promptly settled to the bottom with no fermentation. Only thing I possibly did different was a longer boil time to reduce volume before I added hops. I am now considering adding a champagne yeast to see if I can get it to complete fermentation. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

SoCal-Doug

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Are you using a refractometer or a hydrometer? If refract, you are actually more like 1.024 and about 4.2% ABV. Refract's aren't accurate with alcohol in the solution being measured. But that's still a bit high.
 
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Hotmamma

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Are you using a refractometer or a hydrometer? If refract, you are actually more like 1.024 and about 4.2% ABV. Refract's aren't accurate with alcohol in the solution being measured. But that's still a bit high.
I use a refractometer but have a hydrometer. So will check that. I also should mention that I test bottled some of the "1.038" brew with a couple conditioning tabs to see if it would carbonate. Just opened the bottle and it was nicely carbonated! So I'm thinking my gravity readings are off, like you said. Appreciate your help. I'll post gravity results when I take them. Again, Thank you
 
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Hotmamma

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as per SoCAl-Dougs suggestion I used a hydrometer to measure the SG and it read 1.012! This is much better! Now my question is: is the OG of 1.058 most likely accurate since there is no alcohol in the pre-femented wort?
 
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Hotmamma

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This ^

What Lager yeast did you use?
Champagne yeast won't do much or anything. It can't ferment higher/larger sugars.
Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager.
I think that SOCal-Doug has solved my dilemma. For accurate specific gravities in liquids containing alcohol use a hydrometer instead of refractometer!
 

IslandLizard

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as per SoCAl-Dougs suggestion I used a hydrometer to measure the SG and it read 1.012! This is much better! Now my question is: is the OG of 1.058 most likely accurate since there is no alcohol in the pre-femented wort?
Yes, it is.

On most refractometers the Brix side is correct, but the printed SG scale is a bit off, most noticeable at higher gravities. Above 8 Brix the SG reading starts to slowly deviate from the actual SG.

For most brewers' purposes either is fine. We make beer and when SG is in the ballpark we're happy. As long as the instrument is calibrated (reading 0.00 Brix with distilled water) and working properly, the Brix reading is correct and you could use a table or calculator to convert to true wort SG.

I use the refractometer during fermentation to note gravity changes, as it only requires one drop, and beats using a hydrometer.
 
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Hotmamma

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I doubt there's anything wrong with the yeast, I'd harvest (some of) that cake for a few more batches. Beats making starters.
Have you ever harvested and froze the yeast. I have frozen cake yeast that i use to make bread and it does fine. Any thoughts on this?
Also, thanks for your input and suggestions. Much appreciated.
 
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