Can't take readings

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

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Can't take readings

Post by MichaelHarper » Tue May 28, 2013 3:27 pm

I brewed a Strawberry Blonde over two weeks ago (May 12) and made two (what I believe could be crucial) mistakes.
First, I mis-measured my honey additions and ended up dumping in double the amount I wanted, 2 pounds total in a 10 gallon batch.
Then I pitched my yeast at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, a little hotter than the Wyeast 1272 American II generally likes, 60-72F.
Realizing my mistakes, I pitched another packet of American II two days later hoping to get enough viable yeast into the beer to eat up all the extra sugar I put in there.
My target OG (before screwing up the honey) was 1.040. I was able to take a reading two days later and the OG was at 1.042. Target FG is 1.010.

Enough back story, here's the problem.
Since the second day, I haven't been able to pull a clear sample out of my 15 gallon Blichmann fermenter. I've tried on four different days now, and each time my samples look like straight, cloudy yeast. Thinking maybe this yeast is fermenting at the top, I even tried taking a sample from the bottom, but that was straight yeast. (Duh.)
It's been sitting at a consistent 67F the entire two weeks. I'm not too worried about it sitting too long in the primary, but I am growing impatient and would like to check the progress of the beer so I know when to pull the yeast and move to secondary.
Is this normal? Did I just give my yeast too much to handle/pitch more yeast than necessary?
I'm attaching a picture of my recipe, minus the extra honey additions and American II yeast, if that helps.
Any advice would be thoroughly appreciated, thanks everyone!
Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 2.04.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 2.04.48 PM.png (140.13 KiB) Viewed 7873 times

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Re: Can't take readings

Post by slothrob » Wed May 29, 2013 6:16 am

First, your beer is probably fine and this is all normal. The only real concern is the warm pitch, not because it will have hurt the yeast, just that it may have resulted in the production of off-flavors such as fusel alcohols ("hot" alcohol flavor) and excess esters. If you continued to cool the beer after the pitch, these should be minimized, but you may have slowed the yeast down a little.

Typically, fermentation remains very active for anywhere from 3-10 days. After that, the yeast will continue to work finishing the more difficult sugars and cleaning up some of the fermentation byproducts. At your temperatures, this is usually done in about 2 weeks. A lot of brewers simply let the beer sit in primary for 3 weeks.

Beer is always cloudy with yeast while it is fermenting. The "top" or "bottom" fermenting yeast descriptions are misleading, the yeast is fermenting throughout the beer. When it is finished fermenting, it will start to drop.

The most accurate way to determine if the beer is still fermenting is to take gravity readings. When the gravity stops dropping, as determined by an identical gravity reading on one day and again 2 days later, fermentation is nearly done. The beer then should just need 2-3 more days to finish cleaning up. You can also taste it to look for butter or apple flavors that are common indicators that the yeast still needs more time to clean up.

Towards the end of fermentation, the yeast will start to drop, but that can take some time, especially if warm. This particular yeast usually drops pretty well though. Once the beer is finished, you can move the fermenter somewhere cold, if you want to speed dropping of the yeast. The beer probably won't be crystal clear at that point, but it will get much clearer. Getting perfectly clear beer is a bit of an art, but 2-3 weeks in the fridge usually does the job.
BTP v2.0.* Windows XP

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