Author Topic: Losing Brain Cells  (Read 921 times)

Offline Carek

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Losing Brain Cells
« on: May 09, 2017, 03:26:19 AM »
First post so bare with me, couldn't find much on this.
After going through my notes I am at a loss. So, here is the details. Brewing a spin on a Russian Imperial Stout.
 
Target OG= 1.135
FG = 1.030
Target ABV 13.8%
 
I decided the day before brew day to put a pack of Whitelabs WLP001 (high ABV tolerance) into a starter pitch The starter was going well and I wanted to make sure of this because Ive know with a high abv beer you need a lot of activity. Day of, I added it to my Carboy along with another pack of the same. Brewing went great and so did the transfer. The next morning I went to check it and it was going great, nice and cozy in 4 towels. I get home from work and it has sprayed through the airlock and hit an 8 ft ceiling. House is sitting anywhere from 67-70 degrees and about 5400 ft or so here in ABQ. I then made my own upgraded airlock into a bucket of water and let it sit. I moved it into my secondary so that I could add my bourbon oak and other ingredients. After another week or so, I noticed that little to no activity was taking place. I tasted it, and decided to bottle. I know ABV isn’t everything, and it tasted great, but my hydrometer readings for this brew:
 
Actual OG = 1.100 (15 or so potential Alcohol)
FG= 1.050
Which would be less than 7%....
 
It tastes great, just really odd. I brewed an Imperial IPA not too long ago and got a low reading too, however one bottle and you can feel it for sure. Not to mention I have a pretty high tolerance.
 
So, good fermentation with high yeast activity, oxygenation, and starter pitch. Good Oxygen besides the initial airlock spew. Good temps. Bourbon taste was there but not over powering. This is my 5th beer and I haven’t had much trouble in the past until I decided to make more changes to the kit. Everything was sanitized and although quick to bottle, FG wasn’t changing. End of the day I think it will still be a good beer, just really confused with the hydrometer reading.
 
April 23- Brew day
April 30- Fermentation had dropped to about 5-9 times a minute. Moved into secondary and added last ingredients.
May 6- tasted and checked FG after little to no activity in airlock.
May7 (24 hours later) FG hadn’t moved so I went ahead and bottled.
 
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout type clone.
10lbs Light DME (One went into the starter pitch)
3.3ish  lbs Munich LME
1lbish black malt
1lbish chocolate malt
1lb ishcaramel
1.2 ish lbs Roasted Barley
2 oz hops
4 oz of cocoa nibs baked and put into secondary
2 oz of dark oak soaked in bourbon into secondary
***Couple of extra added ingredients but nothing that would cause a big change. thanks all!

Offline ethinson

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 12:02:54 PM »
The only thing I can think of is that even if it seems like a small "mess" that you lost a lot of yeast when it spewed out the top.  I had a 1.100 beer finish around 1.040, but in my case I grossly underpitched.  That doesn't seem to be the problem here, although I've also never heard of adding a starter and fresh yeast at the same time, but I can't imagine any reason why that would be bad.  Was the starter at high krausen and still churning or had it settled down? Highly active yeast, plus the extra boost of sleeping yeast could have caused the spew. 

I feel like it has to be a yeast issue, but it sounds like you had a healthy pitch, which is why I lean towards just lowering your cell count when it spewed and so then you're "underpitched".
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Offline cdawson

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 01:27:10 PM »
+1 for the lowered cell count from the blow off. I also leave my beer in primary for at least 2 weeks. Its possible the beer could have finished lower but your transfer to secondary pulled the beer off a lot of yeast. As of lately I have been ramping my temp up at the end of fermentation to high end of the yeast tolerance. Seems to help things finish strong and clean.

Offline mainebrewer

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 04:35:22 PM »
My experience with WLP001 is that it really takes off at around 24-30 hours after pitching. If you don't have enough head space, you will have a blow off, lose yeast and make a mess. I've done it more than once.
I think, as noted, the biggest problem here is that you transferred to a secondary vessel before the beer was done. I gather that you were counting bubbles in the airlock to gauge the status of fermentation. The only way to know if the beer is done is by pulling samples over 2-3 days. If the gravity doesn't change, then the beer is done. A 100 point beer is unlikely to be done in 7 days.
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Offline denny

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2017, 04:53:38 PM »
Between the extracts and the dark/caramel grains you have a lot of unfermentables in there.  That will either cause or contribute to your problem.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 12:14:16 AM »
Are you using a refractometer or hydrometer?

Offline ethinson

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 11:48:46 AM »
Between the extracts and the dark/caramel grains you have a lot of unfermentables in there.  That will either cause or contribute to your problem.

I had that thought as well, but wasn't thinking it would be so bad as 1.050.  My beers (extract + steep) all finish between 1.018 and 1.022, so it doesn't help for sure.  His estimated FG was 1.030, which is pretty high. 

I also agree with Dawson and Maine.  I didn't notice the 7 day primary at first, that's not nearly enough time.  Basically it just wasn't done.  You transfered/packaged too early.  That's good that it tastes good, but hopefully you don't end up with bottle bombs.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 11:54:22 AM »
Between the extracts and the dark/caramel grains you have a lot of unfermentables in there.  That will either cause or contribute to your problem.

I had that thought as well, but wasn't thinking it would be so bad as 1.050.  My beers (extract + steep) all finish between 1.018 and 1.022, so it doesn't help for sure.  His estimated FG was 1.030, which is pretty high. 

I also agree with Dawson and Maine.  I didn't notice the 7 day primary at first, that's not nearly enough time.  Basically it just wasn't done.  You transfered/packaged too early.  That's good that it tastes good, but hopefully you don't end up with bottle bombs.


I agree with you and Denny - lots of unfermentables and extract doesn't exactly help attenuation, but transferring a beer that big @ 7 days is just not a good practice. I leave RIS and other big beers in primary for 3 weeks before I even verify FG. The last few points obviously go pretty slowly.
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Offline Carek

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Re: Losing Brain Cells
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 03:39:05 PM »
Thanks Gents!
-Rookie mistake. I don't know what made me decide to take it out of the primary so early. I haven't done that any other time in the past. Lowered cell count from the blow off makes a lot of sense, and the fact that I transferred early doesn't help. The spew from the airlock covered the walls and ceiling so it was very healthy. I think that's why I was so thrown off that it almost came to a stopping point after 7 days. I thought being stationed out here in ABQ and the high elevation may have changed something.
-I'm using a hydrometer Steve. I've heard mixed reviews on the refractometer.
-Yes, a lot of unfermentables, which didn't help my case. Yes, it tasted great but doesn't mean it will after it carbonates. And the whole "bottle bomb" is new to me so Ill be sure to keep an eye out. I am going to chock this up to being a new brewer and a little needy to want have another good brew. I just entered my first local competition and got 1st place for my category...I think that gave me even more of an itch to get working on something new, but slow is fast... Do you see any issues besides "bottle bombs" with this brew attempt? Or will this possibly be a semi ok beer with a low abv? Looks like I'll be on here a lot more and taking notes. Thanks for the input.