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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2008 * Archive through March 01, 2008 * Help: I Think I Screwed Up Big Time < Previous Next >

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Brett Bayless
New Member
Username: Bhb

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2008
Posted From: 72.67.37.21
Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 11:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi all, this will be a long first post.
I've had something happen with my last brew that has never happened before and I am looking for answers, even though I think I know what the answer is.
A little history first. I've been home brewing for 15 years, 14 of which have been AG. I normally brew between 20-30 gal. batches at a time and use everything from single infusion to tripple decoction methods depending on what style of beer I want.
Almost 3 weeks ago I brewed a 30 gal batch of a North English Brown using (what was suppose to be) a single infusion. I calculated my strike temp too low and hit 10*F lower than I planned (144F instead of 154F). My grain bill was so large that the grist was at the very top of the mash tun and there was no way to add boiling water to raise the temp. So I thought,"no big deal, I'll pull a pseudo single decoction to raise the temp". I pulled a little over 1/3 mash and brought it to boil in a half hour not seeing a need for a sac. rest because the mash was already @ 144F to start with.This is where I think I screwed up. After adding it back to the mash the temp hit 154F on the nose and I let the mash rest another 1 hour then sparged, boiled, cooled, and pitched (WLP005) as normal. By the next morning I had great fermentation activity going with krausen starting to come out of the blow off tubes. After 5 days fermantation had slowed way down and the krausen was about a 1/2 inch thick so I racked into secondary before the head settled and any remaining oils and resins fell back into the beer. I made sure to pick up some of the yeast bed when I racked to insure it would ferment out and it did continue to ferment and developed another krausen about 1/2" thick for another week before it fell. When I took the gravity reading it showed .026 (from an OG of .046) this had me scratching my head because I had expected a much lower reading based on the fermentation activity. Today I took a Gravity reading and it was only at .020. WTF! It's been 18 days since pitch and there's been little to no activity.
Did I screw this brew up by pulling 1/3 of the mash and bringing it to boil before letting it sacrify @ 144F? I'm usually pretty good at hitting my strike temp and this was the first time I've ever tried this to quickly raise the mash temp.
Damn, I sure would hate to throw uot 30 gallons.
 

Tony Legge
Intermediate Member
Username: Boo_boo

Post Number: 336
Registered: 05-2005
Posted From: 142.162.77.158
Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 11:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I wonder if you just racked too early, and the yeast you picked up with the racking wasn't up to a complete ferment? I would have left it in primary until done.

I never taste any off flavours from my brews by letting the krausen fall back completly.
 

priorm
Junior Member
Username: Priorm

Post Number: 61
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 69.142.68.242
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 03:37 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't see anything wrong with the conversion process. I would suspect that your decoction spent enough time below 160F to convert sufficiently. The decoction process should not have impacted your final gravity in this way.

Your OG seems normal for a brown ale. What did you predict the OG would be? How about your grain bill? Was it unusual in any way. What % of specialty grain did you have?

From what I've read, you are an experienced brewer. How is your yeast health and volume? Did you pitch a large enough volume of healthy active yeast? Did you oxygenate your wort sufficiently?
 

Brett Bayless
New Member
Username: Bhb

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2008
Posted From: 72.67.37.21
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 05:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the quick replies guys
priorm, my predicted OG was .044 so I almost hit that right on. The recipe I got off of Home Brew Talk which was a Newcastle clone, that I've never tried before, and scaled up from 10gal to 30gal. Here was the grain bill:
34lbs Maris Otter
9lbs. Crystal Malt
5lbs. Flaked Corn
1.5lbs. Chocolate Malt
1lb. Cara Pils
The yeast was healthy and I used a 1 gal starter divided between the 6 carboys and aerated with a stone for about 5 minutes each.In fact, right now there is a good 1/2" yeast bed in the bottoms of the secondarys. After the dough-in, which took about ten minutes, I took the temp and discovered I was 10*F short (144F), that's when I pulled the decoc. What I'm thinking is that it never got a chance to convert before it went to boil, I don't know if that matters or not. After the boil it went back into the mash and rested for another hour, however, I never did an iodine test to check conversion.
This one is really puzzling me
 

Steve Jones
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevej

Post Number: 456
Registered: 08-2001
Posted From: 76.7.146.246
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 03:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It seems that 18% crystal malt could be the culprit. I'd normally expect a 1.044 wort to become a 1.011 beer - 75% apparent attenuation. But with almost 20% of the malt bill being mostly unfermentable, you might only get a 55-60% aa. With an SG of 1.020 you're at about 55% now.

Forgot to mention ...
I don't think the decoction had anything to do with it. Even if the decoction didn't go thru a sacc rest, there should be plenty of enzymes in the main mash to convert what was in the decoction - especially since boiling tends to free up more of the starch for conversion.

(Message edited by stevej on February 29, 2008)
 

David Lewinnek
Intermediate Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 433
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 198.51.251.205
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 03:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If you think there are unconverted starches, you can do an iodine test on a beer sample removed from your fermenter, and know for sure. I've heard this technique recommended to diagnose starch haze.

However, I don't think the decoction was the problem. I think your low fermentability was a combination of mashing high, a grain bill with 23% crystal, chocolate and car-pils, and racking to the secondary early (with only 2/3 of the way to the gravity you wanted).

(Message edited by davelew on February 29, 2008)
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 160
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 71.33.29.202
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 04:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brett,

Most of the conversion takes place in the first ten minutes after dough in. In the time it took to remove the decoction and get it heated to above the mid 150's it should have pretty much converted.

Even if the entire decoction had been brought to a boil so quickly that conversion didn't take place, the remaining portion of the mash has enough active enzymes to complete the job after the decoction was stirred together with the main mash and rested for an hour.

Have you tasted the wort/beer? Is your hydrometer in calibration?

I look at my hydrometer from time to time and wonder about calibration. The rolled up paper inside must be adjusted for calibration by a good thump at the factory to move it up or down to the proper location.

Also is your choice of WLP 005 a yeast that can be a somewhat unreliable fermentor? Wyeast 1338, European Ale Yeast, can be a bit of a problematic yeast.

Is the Maris Otter known to be in good condition?

Good luck with figuring out the problem. Be sure to let us know if you find the solution.
 

Hophead
Senior Member
Username: Hophead

Post Number: 2730
Registered: 03-2002
Posted From: 167.4.1.41
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 04:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Please don't let this restart the magic conversion in 10 minutes thread.

Please.

Please...

The only thing I would have done differently is not moved it to secondary while there was krausen activity. Perhaps raise yer secondary ferment to 70F for a few daze and agitate if possible (ringwood likes to flocculate).

Or as I like to say, falls out of solution easily...

Let us know how low ya get!
 

priorm
Junior Member
Username: Priorm

Post Number: 62
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 162.44.245.51
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 06:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with the theory that the high percentage of crystal malts may have caused a lower attenuation. I've experienced this as well.

Also, it looks like your pitching rate was low for the volume of beer you were making. According the the pitching rate calculator at http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html, an ideal pitching would have been about 4 vials in ~12.33 liters of wort. With 2 vials, the recommendation would be for a ~30.5 liter starter. I'm thinking you pitching rate was something like 1 vial in 4 liters.

I don't like to transfer while the beer is active either.

The bottom line is how does the beer taste. Throw out the numbers! You weren't brewing a strong beer. It's all about flavor. Do you like the taste?
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 162
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 71.33.29.202
Posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 11:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brett, I found this on White's web site.

Comments: I generally use WLP002 for most of my beers, but I switched to WLP005 exclusively for my oatmeal stout. This yeast is a bit cranky, and sometimes requires rousing, but it really punches up the maltiness and is excellent for malt-forward styles. Be aware that this yeast is VERY flocculent and if you're used to using WLP001 or other American strains, you'll probably think this yeast acts and looks weird or is messed up. It's not, just be patient. Aerate well, use a starter, and rouse it if you think you aren't quite at your desired FG yet. It's worth it, this yeast has a very distinct and rich flavor profile.

FAQ for this yeast
Read other FAQs

I am a homebrewer and currently I am fermenting a Mild Brown Ale. The yeast that I'm using is White Labs British Ale yeast. This is the second time that I have brewed this recipe. I had problems with the first 5 gallon batch because the fermentation was never vigorous. With this current brew, I appear to have the same problems.

This is normal behavior for the British yeast. You don't see that much activity because it doesn't rise to the top at all. It ferments from the bottom, unusual for ale yeast but becoming more common as many UK ale brewers have switched to conical fermentors. You should still be getting good CO2 generation, however, and that should be strong. Sometimes people rack off after a day or so, which in the case of this yeast, it would leave it all behind. It's best to leave it and not rack the beer until approximately 24 hours post terminal gravity, at the earliest. If you didn't rack, it would be very unusual for fermentation to not be complete with 70 F constant temp and good aeration.
 

Brett Bayless
New Member
Username: Bhb

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2008
Posted From: 72.67.37.21
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 12:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks again ya'll for the responses. Since it sounds like the decoc isn't the culprit I'm suspecting the high percentage of speciality malts. Like an idiot I didn't take the time to analyse the grain bill and just took the recipe on faith because of the reviews it got.
Cory, thanks for the tip on the yeast. I'll rouse the yeast tonight and see if I can get any reaction.
BTW, an iodine test showed complete conversion. The beer actually tastes great at this stage, although it's a bit sweet as you can imagine. I was thinking, if this beer is fermented out, then what if I brewed another batch and omitted most all the speciality grains, fermented, and then combined the two. Hmmmm, something to think about. I'd then probably would have enough brew to last me till June ;)
 

Brett Bayless
New Member
Username: Bhb

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2008
Posted From: 72.67.37.21
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 03:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Question: since I've never had to rouse yeast before, what do you think the best way to do it would be? A sanitized long handled spoon or a sanitized tube off my Co2 tank stuck in the carboys? Also, if I wanted to try re-pitching new yeast with a new starter, how does one aerate without introducing oxygen, or is it necessary?
 

priorm
Junior Member
Username: Priorm

Post Number: 63
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 69.142.68.242
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 05:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brett,

When I rouse yeast, I usually tilt my carboy on it's edge and roll it in circle gently. This forces the yeast solids off the bottom and back into the beer. No sanitation required. Most times this is late in the fermentation cycle, the beer is clearing and it I can see the yeast lifting off the bottom and resuspending. I typically do this with a very strong beer when I am trying to help the yeast finish. I roll the fermenter once or twice a day and often see a noticeable increase in the size of the krausen.

Regarding aeration with a new starter. I would recommend oxygenating the hell out of the starter, but not the stuck batch at this point. The yeast should be ready for action if there is anything that can be fermented. I would not oxygenate the stuck batch. It is uncertain what the yeast will do at this point. I am not sure if the yeast would absorb the extra oxygen if it was not able restart the fermentation. I would also recommend using a different, more attenuative strain of yeast that is more likely to remain suspended and complete the fermentation.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 163
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 71.33.29.202
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 05:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brett,
Long answer... If I were in your position I would consider pitching a rehydrated dry yeast that is highly attenuating in one carboy and see if it meets with your expectations.

I would begin by rehydrating the yeast in a small amount of warm spring water for a about ten minutes. (Don't let the yeast sit for more than a few minutes without a food source or it may decide to reverse course and go dormant.) Sprinkle a little DME in the mixture to temporarily feed it and bring the "baby starter" down in temp untill it is close to the same temp as your wort/beer. Pitch the mixture and gently stir it in to prevent oxidizing at this late stage of fermentation. This should take maybe thirty minutes or so but might be worth the extra effort to repair a "broken beer".

Short answer.... Try a champagne yeast or maybe Notingham if you want to stay with an ale yeast. Open the package, pour it in, hope for the best.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 8572
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.225.170
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 07:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A package of dry yeast will not do the job. It requires *a lot* of yeast to restart a stuck fermentation. The easily fermented simple sugars have already been metabolized; what remains is stubborn indeed. If you're really interested in doing the job, rack the beer onto the primary yeast cake of your next batch. Also add half a pound of white sugar.

However, before I resorted to that, I would rouse the yeast sediment (the long end of a sanitized spoon or paddle does a good job) every couple of days for a week or so and see what happens.
 

Brett Bayless
New Member
Username: Bhb

Post Number: 5
Registered: 02-2008
Posted From: 72.67.37.21
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 09:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you kindly gents.