Yeast hates Me!

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Holmesbrewer

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Aggravated, put out, sick of it.
I have been doing AG's for a month or so, now. I have really enjoyed it and hit my OG's nearly every time. All is good.
EXCEPT, my freaking yeast keeps letting me down.
Over the last 4 brews, I have had one Ale make it to 1.011, the rest stopped around 1.020! And Beersmith estimated FG around 1.013 for all.
I have learned from many of my earlier mistakes regarding temperature and aeriation, so what gives?
I have calibrated my hydrometer and checked it with a spare hyrdo and all is good there.
I have been primarying for at least 10 days and in the secondary for about 2 weeks.
The last few batches, I have used S-05, S-04, Nottingham and WLP 001. And no, I have not been making real starters. Some I just pitched straight in. Others, I used leftover runnings to start the yeast with while the wort boiled. Yes I cooled it to 75 or below before pitching (both the last runnings and the wort).
The WLP I used Monday has not produced the first bubble. I just checked the gravity and it IS down .20 but no bubbles.
I just made my first starter tonight for another batch on Monday, that had better work!
But any clues as to why this is happening? My fermenting area is kept at 70 degrees and is very constant.
 

Gordie

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Maybe yeast just hasn't gotten to know you yet?

The first thing I would look at is nutrients. After that, make sure your starters are with boiled wort, not just runnings, and pitch it when it develops a healthy krausen. After that, I'd look at your mashing temp to see how much dextrine-like chains you're developing in the wort. Finally, remember that the SG reading is only a reflection of the density of the wort in relation to distilled water. Particulates that are not fermentable and just floating there can give you an elevated SG reading even though the yeast have attenuated like they were supposed to.
 
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Holmesbrewer

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I have been keeping close watch over my mashing temps, and have kept them in the 154to 158 range depending on batch.
Goride, you are right, perhaps the fore-play of a starter will make her like me better. My starter I made tonight was for a 2.5 gallon batch; used 1 1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup of DME, cooled, aeriated and added S-05. Put on air lock and hoped for the best. Is that a decent starter?
 

Lou

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Maybe yeast just hasn't gotten to know you yet?

The first thing I would look at is nutrients. After that, make sure your starters are with boiled wort, not just runnings, and pitch it when it develops a healthy krausen. After that, I'd look at your mashing temp to see how much dextrine-like chains you're developing in the wort. Finally, remember that the SG reading is only a reflection of the density of the wort in relation to distilled water. Particulates that are not fermentable and just floating there can give you an elevated SG reading even though the yeast have attenuated like they were supposed to.
particulates??
your gravity will only be based on things that are in solution.:mug:
 

Lou

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I have been keeping close watch over my mashing temps, and have kept them in the 154to 158 range depending on batch.
Goride, you are right, perhaps the fore-play of a starter will make her like me better. My starter I made tonight was for a 2.5 gallon batch; used 1 1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup of DME, cooled, aeriated and added S-05. Put on air lock and hoped for the best. Is that a decent starter?
i'm no AG brewer, but 154-158 is certainly the higher end of the mashing temp scale. you're going to get a lot of alpha-amylase activity at 158 with less beta-amylase (which makes maltose).
 
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Holmesbrewer

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BTW, the beer from Monday that isn't bubbling off was a Dogfish 60 clone with an OG of 1.071. This beer is not lacking sugar! I have swirled the bucket several times. Is aeriating now a bad idea?
 

Yooper

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I have been keeping close watch over my mashing temps, and have kept them in the 154to 158 range depending on batch.
Goride, you are right, perhaps the fore-play of a starter will make her like me better. My starter I made tonight was for a 2.5 gallon batch; used 1 1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup of DME, cooled, aeriated and added S-05. Put on air lock and hoped for the best. Is that a decent starter?
If you're mashing in that 154-158 range, you're lucky they are even getting to 1.020! That's really high.

How accurate is your themometer? If you think you're mashing at 158, and your thermometer is off even 2 degrees, you might be mashing as high as 160.

What happens if you mash at 152? For most beers, 152-153 is a good middle ground. I mash many of my beers high, but I have a real problem with over attenuation. I've had nottingham and WLP001 ferment my APAs (mashed at 152) down to 1.007! so I mash higher now to try to keep them at 1.010-1.012 or so.
 

Lou

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i just reread your initial post.

you're down 20 points in 2 days and haven't seen a bubble? is this in a carboy or bucket?
 

Yooper

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As far as a starter goes, you'd like to make the wort 1.040 or so. That is about 1/2 cup DME to 1 pint of water. Any higher, and you stress the yeast before you begin. To have a good healthy fermentation, you need good healthy yeast.

With dry yeast, though, a starter is not recommended. Just rehydrate according to package directions and pitch. For higher OG beers, you should pitch two packages but check the pitching rate on the pitching calculator at mrmalty.com to get the correct amount of yeast for each batch.
 
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Holmesbrewer

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Lou,
Its a bucket and I just changed the lids thinking maybe it's leaking air.

Yooper, I will post the Beersmith recipe.
 
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Holmesbrewer

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Dog Fish 60 AG
American IPA


Type: All Grain
Date: 3/23/2009
Batch Size: 4.00 gal
Brewer: Holmes
Boil Size: 4.58 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: My Equipment
Taste Rating(out of 50): 50.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 69.00
Taste Notes:

Ingredients

Amount Item Type % or IBU
5.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 45.45 %
5.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 45.45 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 9.09 %
1.20 oz Simcoe [12.90 %] (60 min) Hops 54.3 IBU
1.20 oz Amarillo Gold [9.30 %] (60 min) Hops 39.1 IBU
0.40 oz Simcoe [12.90 %] (Dry Hop 14 days) Hops -
0.80 oz Amarillo Gold [9.30 %] (Dry Hop 14 days) Hops -
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale



Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.070 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.071 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.10 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 7.45 %
Bitterness: 93.4 IBU Calories: 321 cal/pint
Est Color: 10.1 SRM Color: Color


Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 11.00 lb
Sparge Water: 2.46 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge Step Time Name Description Step Temp
45 min Mash In Add 13.75 qt of water at 170.5 F 158.0 F



Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Corn Sugar Volumes of CO2: 2.5
Pressure/Weight: 3.4 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 65.0 F Age for: 14.0 days
Storage Temperature: 70.0 F
 

Yooper

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Well, 158 is way too high a mash temperature, especially with a pound of crystal, so this will probably leave you with a pretty high FG.

You did a four gallon batch?
 

illinibrew04

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154-158 are higher mash temps that would give you a higher FG. Also, you may be doing yourself more harm than good by making a yeast starter with dry yeast. Check out this website and click on the pitching rate calculator and the essential questions about yeast starters:

Mr Malty

Cheers
 
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Holmesbrewer

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Well, 158 is way too high a mash temperature, especially with a pound of crystal, so this will probably leave you with a pretty high FG.

You did a four gallon batch?

Yes my MLT will only handle 11 pounds of grains, so I backed off the size of the batch.
Oh, and to answer an earlier question, I have recently calibrated my thermo, it was 12 degrees off.

I don't understand why BS would give me that mash temp if it's too high, I was just following directions, so I thought.
 
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Holmesbrewer

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To recap for clarity.
Use MrMalty for pitch rates
Don't do starters for dry yeast
Mash temps is (usually) best at 150?
and I should not blindly trust Beersmith?
 

HenryHill

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Yeah, yeast isn't really all that into you, man.

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 11.00 lb
Sparge Water: 2.46 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge Step Time Name Description Step Temp
45 min Mash In Add 13.75 qt of water at 170.5 F 158.0 F
You may want to select light body with mashout. You should see a mash temp of about 150*F IIRC.
 

illinibrew04

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To recap for clarity.
Use MrMalty for pitch rates
Don't do starters for dry yeast
Mash temps is (usually) best at 150?
and I should not blindly trust Beersmith?

1. I have had great success using Mrmalty for pitch rates with liquid yeast
2. It just probably doesn't help you that much
3. depends on what style...if you want it to attenuate a little better, then 148-150 is ideal
4. I wouldn't say that, but you have to figure out what works best on your system...beersmith is an excellent all around program, but I just don't know many people who have had much luck doing extra infusions to do a step mash

Good luck with your future brews!
 
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Holmesbrewer

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I'm not sure I understand your reply to #4.

Also, as I was turning off the PC, I noticed a somewhat familiar gurgling sound. Hey, guess what, the beer from Monday night is blowing like a banshi as is the starter I made tonight.:ban:
Ironically, I had turned up the space heater an hour ago and the room is now at 74 degrees, wonder how much that had to do with it?

Also just ordered a yeast starter kit from Austin.

Maybe we are rounding the corner on this!:D
 

Yooper

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I use Beersmith all the time- but remember, it's a computer program. It only spits out the information you put in. If you go into "mash profile", you can choose different profiles like "medium body", etc. If you choose "light body" like for most IPAs/APAs, you'll get a totally different mash temperature. Ideally, you'd mash a stout at 154-156, a cream ale at 148-150, an APA at 151-154, for example.

Mashing at a high temp causes a more dextrinous, less fermentable wort. Lower temperatures favor higher attenuation and a "thinner" bodied beer. That's really important in AG brewing. If you want to just go "middle of the road", 153 is a good place for most regular beers.

If I brew a malty beer, like my Dead Guy ale, I'll often mash as high as 156 or so. But, this is some thick malty stuff with lots of residual sugar and finished at about 1.017. I once did a rye IPA (Brewpastor's recipe) that I mashed at 147, and it finished at 1.006!

If your themometer is off even by two degrees in the mash, it can make a huge difference. Make sure it's accurate, and calibrate it often.
 
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Holmesbrewer

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Thanks for the info guys, much appreciated!

Good mash temp info Yooper. I have leaned toward fuller bodied mashing after making a IPA that had no mouth feel. It spooked me and I have been mashing at Full Body temps ever since. Good stuff, will adjust!
 

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