scotch ale slowing down fast

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scotch ale slowing down fast

Postby bodiggity » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:14 am

hey all,

as the title says, my scotch ale seems to be all but coming to a stop weeks faster than i thought it would. i'll list the recipe i threw together to give a better base idea of what i'm dealing with.


2# caramel malt
1# pale ale malt
.25 # black malt
7# amber liquid malt extract
.5# 'golden light' dry malt extract
1 oz. nugget hops pellets
1 oz. liberty hops pellets
6 gal filtered water
1 wyeast scottish ale package

steeped grains for 30 min at approx 155 degrees in 3 gal of h20, brought to a boil and added DME, LME, and hops. boiled for 60 minutes, sparged and added to the primary fermemtor already holding another 3 gal cool h20.

i had been drinking(not drunk but buzzzzzed) and forgot to take a specific gravity. oops.

also, let the wyeast package warm to room temp for a couple hours, then popped it and let it sit for about another 3 hours maybe 4, till swelled.

i read a in a few different places that with a heavy scotch ale this was very advisable.


all went great for the first 3-4 days or so. had a blow off tube hooked up and it netted me around 2.5 quarts of bitter liquids before i was able to throw on a fermenter lock.

it was pretty much right after applying the lock that it seemed to be slowing down really fast. like a regular ale fast, and i was expecting to take 10 days in the primary, 2 weeks in the secondary, and around that time be looking to bottle. its already releasing a bubble every minute or so....shouldnt it still be fermenting hard?


brewed on 4/4/11. noticed the slowdown on the 3rd or 4th day, so i re-racked it into the secondary, just to see if that would keep it going healthy, but there has been no change in fermentation since. just the same.

does this sound right to any with heavy scottish ale experience?

thanks to all in advance,
B


and i'm thinking i put this in the wrong part of the forum, i thought i was in the 'problems' area....too early i guess. would a mod move this for me? thanks!
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Re: scotch ale slowing down fast

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:02 pm

bodiggity wrote:...forgot to take a specific gravity. oops.

The OG was probably about 1.065-1.070.
also, let the wyeast package warm to room temp for a couple hours, then popped it and let it sit for about another 3 hours maybe 4, till swelled.

i read a in a few different places that with a heavy scotch ale this was very advisable.

For such a big beer, 2 packs of yeast or a 1-2 liter starter from 1 pack would have been a more advisable quantity of yeast.

Did you remember to aerate the wort?
all went great for the first 3-4 days or so. had a blow off tube hooked up and it netted me around 2.5 quarts of bitter liquids

...i was expecting to take 10 days in the primary
...on the 3rd or 4th day, so i re-racked it into the secondary, just to see if that would keep it going healthy, but there has been no change in fermentation since. just the same.

How warm did you ferment? I suspect it was a little warm since you had so much blow-off. Warm beer will ferment faster, so it might just be done. Either way, I would expect most of the visible fermentation to be done within a week, in most cases. That doesn't mean that the beer might not still take 10-14 days to really finish, as you can see the yeast is still slowly bubbling away, so it isn't done yet.

However, under-pitching, losing a lot of yeast to blow-off, racking the beer off the yeast after only 4 days can stall the fermentation. You should probably consider taking a gravity reading (you could wait until the obvious bubbling stops) then another one a few days later to determine if the beer is fermented out.

One warning, this beer has a lot of unfermentables in it, between the high mash temperature, the large amount of Crystal Malt (both the caramel malt and the amber extract, which contains Crystal Malt, and the relatively high starting gravity), so it will probably have a high FG. Maybe as high as 1.025.
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Postby bodiggity » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:47 am

first off, thank you for the detailed response.


I had read about making a large liter starter with this type of brew, but i had kinda thought the wyeast package itself made up for the volume of starter, gonna make a note of this.


no, i did not aerate the wort, i didnt think i had to do that with beer. i do it with mead all the time. the books i have dont really cover heavy scotch ales(need some new books probably) this is by far the heaviest beer i've ever tried to make. i'd really like to make something similar to 'belhaven's wee heavy'. one of my favorite scotch ales. it was poured and strained from the brewing pot to the primary, so some aeration happened, but not as much as a forced. also, some had taken place im sure in the tansfer process as well. it was kinda why i had decided to do an early transfer. should i think about forcing aeration at this point?


i'd say temps were approx 75 degrees on the high end when i pitched the yeast. i ice-bathed the brew pot a few times, apporx 30+minutes before i addded it to the primary. the room temp is appox 63 degrees, maybe with a 3 degree daily swing.


at this point with info i have, i'm going to give it more time, and see if i just made the fermentation process slow down, really hoping i didnt stall it. will see how the beer is acting today, and see about getting a reading on it as well.

thanks again rob, dont know anyone personally to ask these kinda questions to, much appreciated.

B
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scotch ale

Postby slothrob » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:51 am

Wyeast makes a great product, but the package is really just a "proof" of yeast health and doesn't replace a starter. When fresh, it's a passable cell number for a low OG beer or a small batch, but it is less than ideal for most 5 gallon batches of beer we make.

Even then, the yeast requires that the wort for every beer be aerated to some extent, at yeast pitch. I make average to low gravity beers, so I use simple shaking to aerate the wort, but a lot of brewers use methods to get more oxygen into the wort. I'm sure the straining added some oxygen to the wort, but you want the oxygen at or above saturation for larger beers.

I wouldn't aerate this far into fermentation, though, you would be running a strong risk of oxidation. After all, your fermentation is probably finished.

I'm not sure how sensitive the Scottish Ale yeast is to temperature. But it's best to pitch the yeast at, or just below, fermentation temperatures. Some beer yeast really don't like a temperature drop after pitching, and can drop out. Also, high temperature at the start of fermentation can cause odd flavors in the final beer.

63°F sounds like a good fermentation temperature for this beer. The yeast character is usually pretty gentle in a scottish ale, so a cool pitch and fermentation are probably best. Raising the temperature up to 68°F, or so, late in the fermentation can help the beer finish without risking weird flavors.

From what you've said about your aggressive fermentation, though, it sounds like you had healthy yeast and it just finished most of the fermentation quickly. Then, blowing off a lot of the yeast, the early transfer, perhaps the low oxygen and temperature drop, might just be dragging out the finish. I think you are right to just wait it out, at this point.

The beer will probably be fine. Good luck, and ask any questions you like! I love talking about beer. I was lucky to have a talented brewer nearby when I started and I've made plenty of mistakes since to learn from.
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