First Brew. Gravity Issues

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

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First Brew. Gravity Issues

Postby KC Kid » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:52 pm

I'm totally new at this. During the past year my girlfriend and I have talked about brewing our own beer. So naturally on my birthday she had got us a 5 gallon glass carboy, the plastic bottles and keg from a Mr. Beer kit, a 5 gallon pot, Alexander's Sun Country Pale Malt Extract, Ironmaster American Light, a packet of dry yeast, Easy Clean sanitizer, priming sugar, directoins, and a zymurgy magizne.

We cleaned and sanitized the brew pot. Brought 3 gallons of purified water to a boil and added the Alexander's Sun Country Pale Malt Extract and the Ironmaster American Light. Brought it back to a rolling boil for an hour. While it boiled we read in the Zymurgy magizine about adding the yeast to a small amount of water to help disperse when pitched? After an hour of boiling we put the pot in ice water in the sink to cool. While it cooled we cleaned and sanitized the carboy and a funnel. Once cooled we poured the pot into the carboy using the funnel and added 2 gallons of purified water. Then we pitched the yeast. After a day foam started coming out of the airlock. Everday for about 5 days we removed the airlock from the stopper and cleaned the foam out and replaced the water with sanitized water. After about 5 days the foam stopped coming out of the airlock. We've read about transferring to a secondary after a week to clear the beer. So we bought a 6.5 gallon carboy to use to ferment for next time and used it this time for a secondary. We also purchased a hydrometer and got a reading of 1.018 when we racked to secondary. I don't think much but when racking to secondary we did get a little air. It sat in the secondary for 2 weeks now and I still get a gravity reading of 1.018. The homebrew store told me not to bottle untill the gravity is 1.010 or lower, but it hasn't changed in two weeks.

Any help would be appreciated. This is my first experience brewing my own beer.

P.S. After this batch is done and bottled I'd like to try a Spiced Pumpkin Ale for Thanksgiving. Any good recipes?
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Postby slothrob » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:32 pm

Since the gravity hasn't changed in 2 week, the beer is most likely done. It's not uncommon for beers made from extract to end a bit high, so I'm not surprised to see it end in the teens.

I worry a little bit because the small fermentor meant you were removing yeast every time you had to clean up, so there was less than the ideal amount of yeast through much of your fermentation. With good prefermentation aeration and good yeast activity it might have gone lower, but I think it would have dropped at least a point or two in secondary if there were still sugars to ferment. So I think it's done.

As a percaution, you might want store the newly bottled beer in a plastic box, or a cardboard box lined with a garbage bag. That way, if there is too much sugar left in the beer, so you get bottle bombs, the mess will be somewhat contained. You should open the first few bottles carefully, as well.

By the way, you only need to sanitize things that contact the beer after the boil, as the boil sterilizes the wort. Therfore, don't bother sanitizing the kettle, it's a waste of time. On the other hand, sanitize the top-up water by bringing it to a boil for 5 or 10 minutes, then cooling it to pitching temperature.
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Postby billd220 » Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:40 pm

I wouldn't worry about it too much. I've had a couple brews that stopped fermenting at over 1.024 Rather than just throw it out, I bottled some of it to see how it tasted. I have not had any issues....they weren't very good (in my opinion) but the bottles didnt break or anything like that. Your gravity reading is still much lower than mine was so give it a try....and enjoy. Don't give up though...just keep reading these forums, magazines and whatever else you can.

Good luck.
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