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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: mswilliams1975 on May 12, 2011, 08:57:28 PM

Title: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 12, 2011, 08:57:28 PM
So I brewed my first batch of an American Pale Ale from a recipe from my Uncle and it finished sweet and with only 3.5% ABV.

My OG was 1.051 with a gravity of 1.024 when I moved it to secondary fermintation which did not change over the 7 days spent in secondary. So I bottled at 1.024 and will open the first bottle tomorrow.

So my question is what could have caused my beer not to ferment properly? I am worried that I did not activate my yeast properly as well as being concerned I could have had contamination that could have had an effect?

Any advise would be apreciated since I am brewing a new batch tomorrow night and would like to know what I can do to correct my problem.

Thanks
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 12, 2011, 09:02:22 PM
Can you post the full recipe and what you did?  "Activating" the yeast really does nothing more than prove it's alive.  I can tell you that IMO you didn't pitch enough yeast, but let's save that until we see your recipe and hear your technique.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 12, 2011, 09:12:50 PM
6.5 #      American Pale Ale Liquid Malt Extract
 
1 #          Crystal Malt 60L
 
½ #         Victory Malt
 
.5 oz       Centennial Hops               9.4 AAU                60 min
 
.5 oz       Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                30 min
 
1 oz        Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                15 min
 
1 tsp      Irish Moss                                                           5 min
 
.5 oz       Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                0 min
 
.5 oz       Centennial Hops               9.4 AAU                0 min
 
I used California Ale Yeast WLP001

I put the cracked grains in a mesh grain bag and placed in the pot of 2 gallons of water. Heated the water with the cracked grains until almost boiling. Removed the grain and added the liquid malt. Once it boiled added the first hops. After 30 minutes of boiling added the second step of hops. After fifteen more minutes added the third step of hops. After 10 minutes added the Irish Moss. After 5 mins add the finishing hops.
After bringing the temp down to 68 degrees I added the wort(?) to the other 3 gallons of water. I then used warm tap water to activate the yeast and dumped it into the beer. Put the lid on the bucket and put it away in my closet which was around 74 degrees.
I never really saw activity in the airlock but I was using a bucket and was told sometimes those aren't air tight which would allow for the gas to escape that way. I have replaced the bucket with a glass carboy for the next batch.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: JKL on May 12, 2011, 09:24:00 PM
How long was it in the primary fermenter?

-J.K.L.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 12, 2011, 09:31:28 PM
It was in the first bucket for 7 days then in the second for 7 days then bottled and tomorrow will be 14 days in the bottle.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: JKL on May 12, 2011, 09:39:36 PM
White Labs yeast is said to be pitchable right out of the tube and does not need to be "activated".  Next time you really need to make a yeast starter. If you can't you could always pitch another tube.   
-J.K.L.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 12, 2011, 09:41:20 PM
It was in the first bucket for 7 days then in the second for 7 days then bottled and tomorrow will be 14 days in the bottle.

OK, that's enough for a few things.  7 days in the first fermenter was too short a time.  I'd recommend at least 2 weeks next time.  Lots of experienced brewers neither use nor recommend using a second fermenter.  You can leave it in the first one up to a month, which will help make sure the beer finishes fermenting and clears up.  In spite of what the yeast companies say, neither a vial nor a smackpack alone contains enough yeast.  Your options are to pitch more than one container of yeast, make a yeast starter (see mrmalty.com for details) or use a dry yeast.  I'd recommend the last option for now.  There is much more yeast in a pack of dry yeast than in either a smackpack or tube, so you don't need to make a starter.  A bucket is fine and I actually prefer them to carboys.  And although it likely didn't have anything to do with the poor fermentation this time, your beer will be much better if you keep the temp under 70.  I prefer mid 60s.  Don't give up...practice makes perfect!  I just brewed my 399th batch and I assure you it gets easier!  Just keep at it and keep coming back and asking questions.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 12, 2011, 09:42:35 PM
So question is what is a yeast starter? I thought that is what I was doing by adding the hot water to the dry yeast?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 12, 2011, 09:44:34 PM
So question is what is a yeast starter? I thought that is what I was doing by adding the hot water to the dry yeast?

I'm confused...you said you used WLP001.   That's not a dry yeast.  And even if it was, you have to be careful that the water you rehydrate dry yeast in isn't too hot (over about 114F) or you'll kill it.  So, what yeast did you use?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: timberati on May 12, 2011, 10:01:29 PM
I agree with Denny (about most everything he posts); dry yeast is the way to go for now (use two packets...see Sean Terrill's article on yeast in this month's Zymurgy). Lots of brewers who win awards use dry yeast (I use Safale 05 for my IPAs and Pale Ales). If you really want to go with vial yeast (and don't want to do a yeast starter) pitch two vials.

You used an extract so non-fermentable sugars shouldn't be too much of a factor. That might be another possibility that the yeast simply couldn't eat the sugars if it wasn't in a form they needed.

Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: tschmidlin on May 12, 2011, 10:23:22 PM
Put me in the corner of those who think you should stick to dry yeast for now, since US-05 is great for American style beers and has lots of cells.  When you use dry yeast, you can rehydrate it in warm (not hot!) water before adding it to your beer.  But you can also just sprinkle it on top.

If you want to use liquid yeast, just dump it in the carboy.  Use two packs, unless you make a starter.  A starter is a weak wort you use to grow more yeast for your batch.  You can find details at mrmalty.com.

I also agree you probably racked it too soon.  Do you have a hydrometer?  I wouldn't bother with a secondary for this type of beer, better to leave it in contact with the yeast for a bit longer.

How are you aerating the wort?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: a10t2 on May 12, 2011, 10:33:24 PM
Obvious things first: Are you measuring gravities with a hydrometer, or a refractometer?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: timberati on May 12, 2011, 10:39:49 PM
I sprinkle two packets of dry Safale 05 yeast onto the cooled wort and don't bother with rehydrating the yeast. It's simple. It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 12, 2011, 10:43:17 PM
It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."

There ya go....what more do you need?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: timberati on May 12, 2011, 10:58:26 PM
It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."

There ya go....what more do you need?
Me? Nothing. It made my fortnight.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: gordonstrong on May 12, 2011, 11:51:13 PM
I like it when people bring me beer. I like it even more when it doesn't suck. Makes me go 'mmmm'.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 13, 2011, 01:52:51 AM
Man you guys are a wealth of information. I did use dry yeast on the first and will try using 2 packets on this next batch. I do not know the brand of yeast as it was one that the guy at my local suggested.

I am going to try and answer some of the other things that came up on this. I use a hydrometer to measure my gravity. Also if I can not control my fermentation temp for this next batch and it stays around 74 in my closet should I let it ferment a longer time than 3 or 4 weeks?
Also the only way I knew to aerate was to just stir the wort vigorously with a spoon. Ideas for cheap?

Also the recipe I had called for WLP001 but I used the dry yeast so sorry for the misinformation on the original post.

In case I have not already I would like to thank you all for the feedback and the help. I am really excited about home brewing and creating my own beer.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: jamminbrew on May 13, 2011, 02:09:33 AM
Also if I can not control my fermentation temp for this next batch and it stays around 74 in my closet should I let it ferment a longer time than 3 or 4 weeks?
Also the only way I knew to aerate was to just stir the wort vigorously with a spoon. Ideas for cheap?.
To help keep temps down, I have used a plastic tub with water, and used old water bottles that were filled and frozen. 2-3 bottles in the tub, with your carboy or fermenter, help keep the temps down in the 60's.
Cheap aeration: cap your carboy (or cover your bucket tightly) and shake the holy crap out of it for 3-4 minutes. I use this method everytime, and along with a starter, get active fermentation within 8 hours.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 13, 2011, 02:21:02 AM
OK so just to clarify I shake the holy crap out of it right before adding the yeast or right after I add the yeast?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: jamminbrew on May 13, 2011, 02:24:35 AM
OK so just to clarify I shake the holy crap out of it right before adding the yeast or right after I add the yeast?
Just before pitching the yeast.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: Hokerer on May 13, 2011, 02:34:42 AM
I am going to try and answer some of the other things that came up on this. I use a hydrometer to measure my gravity.

It's not terribly important just starting out but, once you start really figuring out what you're doing, you'll probably want to calibrate your hydrometer.  Go to the grocery store and get some distilled water.  Your hydrometer should read that as 1.000.  If it's off, you'll know what you'll need to add/subtract to correct any other readings you take.  Also, don't forget to use the temperature correction table that should have come with your hydrometer.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: tygo on May 13, 2011, 02:40:16 AM
OK so just to clarify I shake the holy crap out of it right before adding the yeast or right after I add the yeast?
Just before pitching the yeast.

If I'm using the "shake the holy crap out of it" method I like to do that after I pitch the yeast.  Get's everything nice and stirred up.  Probably doesn't really matter one way or the other though.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: tschmidlin on May 13, 2011, 03:59:43 AM
I don't think it matters, before or after.  Maybe even both.  With dry though, if you sprinkle it on top you might want to do it before so you don't leave yeast clinging to the top/sides of the fermenter.

Also, yes, calibrate your hydrometer.  I don't think you have to use distilled, use whatever water you use to brew, it'll be fine.  If it doesn't read zero, just figure out how high/low it reads and adjust all of your measurements by that much.

And, yes, get the beer cooler while it's fermenting.  This is really important if you want it to taste good.  Controlling your temps is huge.  The water bath / frozen bottle method described above is an inexpensive and very effective way of doing it.  Warmer ferments faster, but speed is not your goal.

Let us know how it goes.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 13, 2011, 04:31:41 AM
I like it when people bring me beer. I like it even more when it doesn't suck. Makes me go 'mmmm'.

So, you tasted it and had face-to-face feedback with the brewer. What feedback did you give him?

My guess, based on the information provided so far, is that the brewer might just have a calibration problem with his hydrometer. Sometimes if you get too much trub, or whatever, in the sample, the hydrometer can read high, even though the beer has fermented out.

The recipe looks sound. 7 days in primary (assuming no other problems with yeast or fermentation temp.) is about right for an ale. Techniques described so far sound OK. The top-ranked BJCP judge thought it was good. Other than instrument error, all I can think of is yeast management problems, but a 1.027 F.G. would be incredibly underattenuated; hardly "mmmm"-worthy, unless Gordon has a huge sweet-tooth that we don't know about.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: tschmidlin on May 13, 2011, 04:41:58 AM
I like it when people bring me beer. I like it even more when it doesn't suck. Makes me go 'mmmm'.

So, you tasted it and had face-to-face feedback with the brewer. What feedback did you give him?

My guess, based on the information provided so far, is that the brewer might just have a calibration problem with his hydrometer. Sometimes if you get too much trub, or whatever, in the sample, the hydrometer can read high, even though the beer has fermented out.

The recipe looks sound. 7 days in primary (assuming no other problems with yeast or fermentation temp.) is about right for an ale. Techniques described so far sound OK. The top-ranked BJCP judge thought it was good. Other than instrument error, all I can think of is yeast management problems, but a 1.027 F.G. would be incredibly underattenuated; hardly "mmmm"-worthy, unless Gordon has a huge sweet-tooth that we don't know about.
Two different people.  mswilliams1975 had the beer that finished at 1.027.  timberati brought the beer to Gordon.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: Will's Swill on May 14, 2011, 01:33:27 AM
I just brewed my 399th batch...

Nice, Denny!  Doing something special for 400?
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 14, 2011, 03:08:02 PM
I just brewed my 399th batch...

Nice, Denny!  Doing something special for 400?

Something big and Belgian.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: jamminbrew on May 14, 2011, 03:59:59 PM
I just brewed my 399th batch...

Nice, Denny!  Doing something special for 400?

Something big and Belgian.
Nice!  I'd love to trade Belgian recipes with you, Denny! 
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: denny on May 14, 2011, 04:52:20 PM
I just brewed my 399th batch...

Nice, Denny!  Doing something special for 400?

I started a Belgian quadrupel thread in the recipe section.  When I decide what I'm gonna post I'll post the final there.  I have some candi syrup samples coming and I'm waiting to see what they send me before I finalize anything.

Something big and Belgian.
Nice!  I'd love to trade Belgian recipes with you, Denny! 

Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 16, 2011, 03:25:50 AM
OK so based on the feed back from everyone I pitched 2 packs of the Safale US 05 yeast and I built a cooler. So my OG was 1.050 and am fermenting at 60-63 degrees. So to all of you thank you for the help. I will let you know how this turns out in a few weeks.

Now I would have posted the pics but apparently I can not figure that out so here are the links instead.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62926422@N02/5724595799/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/62926422@N02/5725152888/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/62926422@N02/5724595925/
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: a10t2 on May 16, 2011, 05:01:58 AM
Now I would have posted the pics but apparently I can not figure that out so here are the links instead.

You just have to grab the URL of the photo (from the download link) and enclose it in IMG tags:
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3532/5724595799_0f1cdd93f5_z_d.jpg)

Pretty sweet looking fermentation chamber.
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: punatic on May 16, 2011, 05:36:21 AM
Now I would have posted the pics but apparently I can not figure that out so here are the links instead.

You just have to grab the URL of the photo (from the download link) and enclose it in IMG tags:
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3532/5724595799_0f1cdd93f5_z_d.jpg)

Pretty sweet looking fermentation chamber.

Great photo!  Looks like the core to an antimatter reactor!
Title: Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
Post by: mswilliams1975 on May 16, 2011, 05:19:05 PM
Thanks guys.