Author Topic: 12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next?  (Read 438 times)

Offline jmeade

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next?
« on: October 27, 2018, 10:36:39 AM »
Reaching out for some opinions...

My plan was a Mocktoberfest with California Lager yeast. The supply store was out of the Cali yeast so I moved to White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch yeast. I just purchased a "CoolBrewing" cooler to keep it into the low 60's while fermenting (I've since read that WLP029 does not do well below 65 degrees, great timing). So after 12 days in the primary I check gravity on a new refractometer, because I broke my hydrometer, and the new hydrometer I bought is apparently a dud (it floats way beyond all of the readings in water and in beer), and I'm at 1.035. OG was 1.056. I should be around 1.012. Temp for the first 12 days was averaging 61 degrees. It started bubbling on day two with the wort temp around 68, then I placed it in the cooler, the temp dropped to 61 and bubbling slowed to nothing after that.

Is there a way to drop my final gravity or am I toast?

EDIT: Here's the final answer to my problem above, if you don't want to read the rest of the thread. Being a new refractometer user I didn't know that you had to convert your readings after the wort turns to beer! And secondly, I learned there is a "clear alcohol" hydrometer sold that will NOT work with your beer, make sure you buy the right one.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 07:57:26 PM by jmeade »

Offline jverduin

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2018, 11:24:26 AM »
If you took the reading with your refractometer, did you adjust it? A refractometer can be used on beer, but needs adjusting due to alcohol presence.

I ran your numbers through Sean Terrill’s calculator and it comes out around 1.015.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: October 27, 2018, 11:33:25 AM by jverduin »

Offline jmeade

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: 12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2018, 10:50:31 PM »
I did check the refractometer, zeroed it out with distilled water. I also used it to check another beer that was due to go into secondary, and that beer also gave a high reading of around 1.030. In this second beer I was more confident that fermentation was in good shape so I no longer had any confidence in the refractometer readings. So, off to the supply store I went for another hydrometer. In the end, the second beer measured with a hydrometer came in at 1.010 (refractometer said 1.030). As for the original beer in question from my first post, I went ahead with the move to a secondary earlier today figuring I had nothing to loose. The taste seemed okay too. Fingers crossed.

As a side note, the first hydrometer purchased that I thought was broken, well it seems it was an alcohol hydrometer (Proof/Tralle Scale?). Wish the guy at supply store #1 would have mentioned that while I was buying a beer recipe!
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 10:29:52 AM by jmeade »

Offline Robert

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4001
Re: 12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2018, 11:14:42 PM »
As jverduin said, there's nothing wrong with your refractometer.   Your 1.030 is a raw, uncorrected number.  Refractometers are calibrated to measure a sugar solution, so they give an accurate reading on unfermented wort.  Alcohol has a different refractive index, so once alcohol is present (fermentation has started,) you need to apply a correction formula.  Calculators are available for free at sites like Brewer's Friend and seanterrill.com.
Rob Stein
Akron, Ohio

I'd rather have questions I can't answer than answers I can't question.

Offline jverduin

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: 12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2018, 11:20:58 PM »
I hope this is helpful ... a refractometer is useful with wort before any fermentation occurs. However, it will not read fermented beer properly without a correction. It has something to do with alcohol and how it influences the original task that refractometer a are designed to do, which is to read sugar in water.

So you can measure fermented beer with a refractometer, but you have to know the original gravity (which you do) and you have to recalculate the reading you get. Whatever the refractometer says on fermented beer is off; by a lot.

Use http://seanterrill.com/2012/01/06/refractometer-calculator/

It will show you that your refractometer reading is much higher than the real FG.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline jmeade

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: 12 Days Into Primary / Temps Too Cold? / What Next
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2018, 10:26:23 AM »
Well hallelujah! Sorry jverduin, I didn't get that explanation from you the first time. It wasn't until I read Robert's attempt to explain it that the fog lifted from over my head. Lol. Thanks to you both.

7 years of brewing and I always used the same style hydrometer. In one frustrating weekend I learn about a refractometer and the existence of a clear alcohol hydrometer. Whew! Cheers to better beer.