HELP! S.G. Too High!!

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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HELP! S.G. Too High!!

Postby BobbyK » Thu Nov 07, 2002 5:31 pm

I'm making a simple extract Stout. I had it in my primary for 4 days at 70 degrees and in my secondary carboy for 4 days at 70 degrees. O.G. was 1.048 I took the S.G. reading tonight as I was about to bottle it, and the reading was 1.020!! That's too high, right? I swear it's higher now than it was when I transferred it to the secondary fermenter. I didn't bottle it. What could be going on?
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Check Again In a few Days

Postby BillyBock » Thu Nov 07, 2002 7:33 pm

Bobby: How much different are your readings? If it's small it could be due to CO2 bubbles clinging to the hydrometer, lack of temperature correction, or parallax. Remember to spin the hydrometer in the test jar to knock the bubbles loose and adjust for temperature. Check the reading again in 2-3 more days and if the reading hasn't changed then it's time to bottle.

Your FG may be a little high, but it's not going to ruin your beer--it'll just have a slightly sweeter finish (ie. sweet stout vs. dry stout). There are many factors that could've influenced your FG--from extract fermentability to aeration and yeast selection. I used to use John Bull extracts and would always end up w/ slightly higher FG than the recipe suggested. If you post your recipe, we might be able to pinpoint some areas for you to look at next brew. On this one, I wouldn't fret it.

Cheers!
v/r
Bill
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Basic Beginner's Stout

Postby BobbyK » Fri Nov 08, 2002 5:21 am

3.5 lbs. Mountmellick Irish Stryle Stout
2.5 lbs. unhopped malt extract
2/3 oz. Fuggle pellets(30 min)
1/3 oz. Fuggle pellets(5 min)
1 pkg. Cooper's Special Ale yeast
1 pkg. Bru-Vigor

4 days in primary at 70 degrees
4 days in secondary at 70 degrees

OG 1.048
FG 1.020
Both adjusted for temperature.

I was very careful taking the hydrometer reading and I'm confident that it is accurate.

Assuming it doesn't change much, with this sugar content, should I cut back on my priming sugar?
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Seems early to me

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 08, 2002 9:34 am

Eight days of fermenting doesn't seem like long enough to me. I usually give a batch at least 14 days before bottling. I would let the beer sit a while longer. There may not be signs of vigorous fermentation anymore, but the yeast is most likely still at work seeing as it has only been eight days since you pitched.
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Thanks Jay

Postby BobbyK » Fri Nov 08, 2002 1:02 pm

I thought the same thing, but I was following the recipe to a 'T' since it's been almost 20 years since the last batch I brewed. However, at the suggestion of my local brewery supply folks, I added a half package of Bru-Vigor today. Based on the reaction I got when I introduced it, there are plenty of live yeast in there!

How long do you leave it in each fermenter? One week each, assuming there is no activity in the primary at that point? Please let me know.
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Hey, no problem.

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 08, 2002 1:43 pm

I have been at this brewing deal for a year, and over that year my techniques have evolved quite quickly. What I do now for fermenting (I picked this up from other forumsters posts) is:
- chill wort and transfer to primary bucket and pitch yeast (don't forget to aerate the snot out of it)
- transfer from this bucket to another fermenter (glass or plastic, whatever is availible) within 24 hours, ideally after 12 hours. This takes the beer off the trub which speeds conditioning and gives overall better flavour. If you pitched enough yeast (have a good starter) there should be enough healthy yeast in suspension by then to assure good fermenting. The yeast in suspension do most of the fermenting.
-I then leave it in this fermenter no longer than five days, but seeing as there is no trub in the fermenter I am sure you could get away with 7 days. Some folks will transfer earlier before the krausen (foam from fermenting) subsides
-After transferring to secondary I give it at least 10 days, usually 14. I have never let a batch go longer than 14 days in the secondary because I usually need to bottle to replace my dwindling inventory.

At first I thought all this transferring business was a little over the top. But I realize now that it does yield better flavour. Remember, primary fermeting is a stage of fermenting, and there is no rule that says all primary fermentation must be done in one vessel. When transferring at any stage be very strict about sanitation and always perform careful, quiet transfers to prevent aeration of the beer. (Aeration of beer, or hot wort = stale beer; aeration of cooled wort = happy yeast.) One of the biggest things I strive for with brewing is to minimize the "crap factor". The less time the beer is in contact with undesirable crap (ie trub, inactive/dead yeast) the better the beer.

I have also started to use yeast nutrient, about 1 tsp per 6 gals. It has done wonders for the yeast. For the last 3 batches, primary fermenting was done in 3 days. All beers achieved great (some a little too great) attenuation.

I hope this helps. Anymore questions, just holler.
Chris
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Thanks, but 2 questions...

Postby BobbyK » Fri Nov 08, 2002 1:51 pm

Sounds like great advice. Everything makes sense, but I need to get a couple of clarifucations if you don't mind.

1) What is a traub?
2) Is the vigorous aeration before or after you pitch the yeast? Before or after you introduce the nutrient?

I guess that's three. Sorry.

Thanks again!

Bob
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Trub and other brewing byproducts

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 08, 2002 3:27 pm

Trub: this is the assorted protein matter that was formed during hotbreak and coldbreak. Here is a definition from the "Homebrewers Companion" by Charlie Papazian: "trub is a mostly tannin (polyphenol) and protein compound precipitated out of solution during the vigourous boiling of wort or cooling of wort. Its formation is the direct result of boiling malt (with its proteins) and hops (with its tannins, though malt has tannins too). The heat and vigourous boiling action causes precipitation of the trub. The trub formed during boil is 'hot break', and trub formed during cooling is called 'cold break'."

This is why people add "irish moss" to beers. This type of seaweed has an opposite charge to wort proteins and attracts and binds with them to help precipitate more protein out of the wort. I didn't start adding irish moss until I started all grain.

You can tell trub from yeast when you rack out of the first bucket your wort was in. It tends to be stuck to the sides of the fermenter, that brown gooey stuff, or coagulated on the bottom mixed with the yeast.

2)I aerate during transfer from kettle to primary. There are many ways to do this. If you don't have a method, let us know. They range from simple shaking to injecting O2 directly in to the wort. The rule of aeration is: Only aerate after the wort has cooled to pitching temp (maximum 25C, go lower if possible as fermenting yeast raises temp of wort). You can aerate and then pitch, or pitch and aerate, it doesn't matter. The key thing is that you aerate once, and aerate well. The purpose of aeration is to supply oxygen to the developing yeast colony that will soon take over the wort and turn it in to beer. The yeast will absorb this oxygen, thus removing it from the beer. The yeast only require oxygen during their "respiration" phase. Fermenting (the production of alcohol) is anaerobic, that means it occurs in the absence of oxygen.

Aerating after or during fermentation will introduce oxygen, but these oxygen ions will bind with the compounds in the beer in an oxidization reaction. Oxidization is what happens when metal rusts. The metal, if exposed to air, takes in an O2 ion and releases an electron, thus degrading the metal through oxidization. The same thing will happen to beer if you aerate it after fermentation or before cooling, the only difference is the beer will taste stale instead of rusting. Hot side aeration (HSA) occurs if you aerate the mash (for all grain) or boiled wort (for any style of brewing). Hot wort takes in oxygen more readily. Think of how sugar dissolves better in hot water. The same thing happens with oxygen, it dissolves in to hot water easier than cold. Oxygen absorbed through HSA will bind to the wort compounds and is not affected through boiling, or so I have heard. I have read various things about HSA, some say don't worry about it, some say avoid it at all costs, so I take the middle path.

Bottom line is don't freak out about this stuff. Just aerate when the wort is cool, whether the yeast is pitched or not. If you happen to splash a little when you transfer, just try not to next time. If trub is a concern, transfer the beer off of it. If not, just don't let the beer sit in the primary for to long. You will be fine. Visit www.howtobrew.com or go to the library and pick up some brew books. Having a basic understanding of the processes and science behind them helps out a lot when it comes to wondering about what to fret over and what not to. Oh yeah, keep asking questions if you got them.
Have fun
Chris
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Wow! Great Stuff!

Postby BobbyK » Fri Nov 08, 2002 3:41 pm

And I thought all that crap on the bottom was spent yeast.

Will using a 'smack pack' eliminate the need for any yeast nutrient or is it still a good idea?

You've gone over and above the line of duty for me. Thanks ever so much.
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Keeping the tradition alive

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 08, 2002 4:36 pm

Hey, don't sweat it. I have received so much great info from this site that I am more than willing to pass it on. The more informed we are, the better the beer.

Good to see you are interested in using liquid cultures. I hope you are ready for another lengthy post.

I use Wyeast "smack packs". You don't have to use nutrient, but it helps. You should also make a starter of close to 1 quart in volume before pitching the yeast. To do this, smack the pack about 3 to 5 days prior to brewing. I have never been able to time this perfectly as no two packs react the same. Some swell to the desired size quickly, some take an extra day or two. After the pack has swollen to 1 inch (as per the instructions on the pack), open the pack and add it to a boiled and cooled mini wort of 1/2 to 3/4 quarts. You want the SG of this wort between 1020 and 1050; use the higher SG range if you are brewing a high gravity beer, or the lower SG range for standard gravity beers. To prepare the starter you need to boil between 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dried malt extract (DME) in your desired volume of water (throw in some hop pellets to if you want). You will also need a large jar to hold the starter while it kicks in to action. Don't forget an airlock. Make sure there is enough room remaining in the jar for a small head of foam to develop on the starter. I use a 1 litre milk jar or an old spaghetti sauce jar. Increasing the pitching rate will help with bring a good fermentation.

I add my yeast nutrient to the boil. I am not sure if this is standard practice, but I do not see any harm in doing this. I am sure you could add it at any time during the boil without worry. Some folks add a little to the starter, but I do not. It is up to you.

With the starter and smack pack it is a good idea to shake/stir it up regularly. You do not need to worry about over aerating as the yeast colony will be continuing to grow after pitching, thus taking up the oxygen.

The advantages to using these liquid cultures are many. First off, you are using high quality, pure yeast strains. All strains have their own fermentation profiles and help to hone the flavour of your beer.

Also, you can use these cultures again and again by reculturing. The easiest way is to save the yeast in your secondary after transferring the beer out and add a new batch right on top. You get a great pitching rate and there is no need for a starter. You want to time this right so that the yeast cake does not dry out. I transfer out the same day/night that I brew so the yeast cake is fresh. Do not worry about the residual beer left on the bottom of the yeast cake after transfer unless the new beer is significantly lighter than the previous.

The second method is to harvest the yeast sediment rom a bottle. Start this about 4-5 days in advance of brew day. Make a starter like above, open a beer with desired yeast, pour of 3/4 of the beer (don't forget to drink it). Stir/shake the bottle around so that the yeast sediment is taken up by the remaining beer. Then quickly transfer this to the jar you use for starters and add the cooled mini wort. You can use the yeast from two bottles of beer to speed things up. Be patient. The yeast you have just added has been dormant for a while. It will take a few days for them to wake up. After a while you will see little bubbles percolation throughout the wort as the yeast begin to get active. Again, do not be afraid to shake/stir the starter jar. When I say stir, I mean spin the jar with your hand so that the wort inside moves around in a circular way. Do not open the jar and stir with a spoon or anything.

Some people take yeast from their fermenters and wash it (seperates yeast from trub) and then start new cultures. I have no experience doing this, but it is a practised technique.

If you thought you were diligent on sanitation during transfer of your beer/wort, think again. Re/culturing is very susceptible to contamination. It would be horrible to prepare a starter full of bacteria and unknowingly pitch that in to your beer. Be very, very careful when you are dealing with yeast starters at any stage.

By reusing the yeast you can cut costs. Invest in some strains that suit your tastes, and then just keep reculturing them on your own. I haven't bought yeast in 4 months, but I have brewed at least 10 batches. I will only go back to dried if my brewing arrangements change and I need the convience.
Git brewin
Chris
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