Author Topic: Fermentation never started  (Read 623 times)

Offline BP79

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Fermentation never started
« on: November 15, 2013, 12:03:11 PM »
I brewed the Imperial Stout recipe below 6 days ago, pitched a big starter of WLP007 per Mr. Malty - then adjusted it according the advice of several people here (thanks Mort, Jim!).  Aerated with an aquarium pump and obtained an OG of 1.090 (target of 1.099), then pitched @ 62 and was going to let it warm up.

After less than two hours the airlock was bubbling away, and there was a good 1/2" of krausen too.  But overnight activity died, and since then nothing.  The krausen has collapsed and the my gravity only fell a few points.  The weird thing is the surface is 'clean', i.e. no bacteria (at least to the naked eye), and it smells nice and chocolaty. 

I soaked the glass carboy overnight in PBW and remember washing it out very thoroughly since this was the first time I used a glass one and thought it was a good arm/shoulder workout given how heavy it was.  And I even let my 2.5 yr old daughter put in the Starsan b/c she likes seeing bubbles.

I pitched another starter after 4 days of nada as a Hail Mary and still nothing.

Any thoughts as to what I could have done?

14.43   2-row pale
1.99   floaked oats
1.54   chocolate malt
0.93   15L crystal (used 20)
0.90   black malt
0.90   roasted barley
0.82   Carapils mal

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 12:14:50 PM »
did you mash at 180 degrees?

** EDIT TO ADD **

 ;D ;D ;D ;D

what were your OG and Gravity last measurement? what device did you measure it with? And a few more details about your mash process?

oh, and your temp control process. Is it possible it got too cold overnight or something?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 12:20:07 PM by morticaixavier »
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Jonathan I Fuller

Offline BP79

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 12:41:14 PM »
Haha, yeah I was trying something different! 

I mashed 90 mins @ 148 using 21.5 lbs of grain with about 6.3 gallons of water, batch-sparged, then did a 90 min boil, yielding 5.5 gallons in the carboy.  OG was 1.090, last check was 1.084.  I use this refractometer, which I'm starting to get the feeling is garbage:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RSG-100ATCc-Black-Brix-Beer-Sugar-Wine-Wort-SG-0-32-Refractometer-HOME-BREW-/370899538292?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item565b55d174

I have a 60-quart square igloo cooler that I use as a swamp cooler that holds temps pretty well... but I don't have a thermowell so I have to measure the outside water temp instead, hence the pitching 5 degrees so on the cool side.  Temp has been at 64 since Sunday. 

I've read stories that brewers have found crayons and other kid toys in their carboys, but I have a hose clamp around the carboy clamp to prevent that. 

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 01:12:13 PM »
You need to adjust your refractometer readings - once fermentation has started they are no longer accurate.  If you have a hydrometer try using that.  Track it for a few days and see if it is dropping.  And try warming it up a bit, that may help.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 01:49:25 PM »
Tom is correct on needing to adjust the readings.  What were your readings in Brix from the refractometer?  Sean Terrill has an on calculator I use that seems to work well.  http://seanterrill.com/2012/01/06/refractometer-calculator/

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 02:03:26 PM »
Unless he has changed it, it doesn't work very well for high gravity beers.  You can trust the refractometer reading for your OG, after that it is best to stick to the hydrometer if you want it to be accurate.  If you are just using it to track fermentation activity then it's fine.
Tom Schmidlin

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 02:18:05 PM »
Unless he has changed it, it doesn't work very well for high gravity beers.  You can trust the refractometer reading for your OG, after that it is best to stick to the hydrometer if you want it to be accurate.  If you are just using it to track fermentation activity then it's fine.

according to that calculator the current gravity is actually 1.126 so it's -6% alcohol right now.

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Jonathan I Fuller

Offline BP79

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 02:24:10 PM »
-6%?  I suppose that would sharpen my senses?

Ever since I bought the refractometer I started to use Sean's calculator.  My original brix was 21.2, and it only dropped to 20.2.  I use it mostly to see when fermentation is done. 

I'll take it out of the swamp cooler and let it sit in my apt @ 70 and see if it finally takes off. 

Offline duboman

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 02:51:42 PM »
I would suggest grabbing a hydrometer reading, I'd bet it's dropped a lot more than what the refractometer is telling you;)

I would also raise the temp a bit and rouse the yeast to be sure it's still active and working
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Offline BP79

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2013, 09:15:56 AM »
Despite krausen never forming and no tornado of stuff ever appearing in the carboy during the fermentation process, somehow the beer has turned out to be a nice 9.8% stout, at least according to

http://www.northernbrewer.com/refractometer-calculator/

It's smelt nice and chocolaty the entire time, so hopefully it comes out great.  I'll let it sit for another 2-3 weeks before bottling.  So weird...

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 09:24:54 AM »
Did you ever take a hydrometer reading?  An added bonus is that you get to taste the sample, which will also let you know if the sugars are/have fermented out and lets you use all of your sense to track the progress of fermentation.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline BP79

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Re: Fermentation never started
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 10:13:11 AM »
I haven't owned a hydrometer in about 2 years, so I had to use my refractometer again.  I plan on going back though.