I seem to have a recurring problem in my brewing. Hopefully someone can shed a little light on what I'm doing wrong... I apologize for the Wall O' Text.
I've been brewing for a little less than a year, and I have 7 batches under my belt. Three batches ago, I got a hydrometer and have been monitoring my gravity. Each of the last three batches had an OG of ~1.070 and each of them have stalled out at 1.020. I do a full boil in a turkey fryer, with a copper IC for cooling. I pitch yeast at ~65 degrees.
Cursed Batch The First:
Used 2 cans of Alexander's Pale LME and one pound of Rice Syrup Solids (DME). Split this batch into two Mr. Beer fermenters (2 gallons each). In one fermenter I used a packet of US-05 (rehydrated in 80 degree water for 10 minutes), in the other I used a packet of Coopers yeast (also rehydrated in 80 degree water for 10 minutes). Both fermented at 68 (as measured by a stick-on thermometer strip thingy) for four weeks. Took gravity readings at 2 weeks, and 20 days, both reading 1.020. Took the fermenters upstairs to warm up to ~72F, and swirled the fermenters a bit to get the yeast off the bottom. After a week, measured the gravity again, still at 1.020. Went ahead and bottled them. Resulting beer was too sweet. Frowntown.
About this time, I thought maybe the hydrometer was off, so I calibrated it with 60 degree distilled water. Perfect 1.000 reading. I figured I just needed to aerate more, and also that Mr Beer fermenters are sucky. Ditched those and picked up a 6.5 gallon bucket from the LHBS, and also an O2 aerator.
Cursed batch the second:
This one was a kit from the LHBS. All DME, with about a pound of specialty malts, and some dark rock candy sugar. Steeped the specialty malts in a grain bag in 1 gallon of water at 155 for 30 minutes, rinsed the grain sack with boiling water. Proceeded with the boil, adding the candi sugar in the last 15 minutes. After cooling, I measured the OG at 1.070 and aerated with O2 for 1 minute. Pitched a packet of US-05 and fermented at 68 degrees (as measured by the stick-on thermometer). Two weeks later, it was at 1.020. I left it alone (at 68 degrees) for another two weeks, still 1.020. The kit said this should get down to about 1.010-1.015. Despite that, this one actually tastes pretty okay.
Now I figured that maybe I need to pitch more yeast. So I bought some stuff to make a starter for my next batch. I also thought maybe my fermentation temperatures were swinging too much. so I bought a tub to put the fermenter in.
Cursed batch the third:
On Thursday before brewday (I brew on Sunday), I made a 2 liter starter (1.040) and pitched two vials of WLP001. On Saturday night, I put it in the fridge. I didn't measure the FG on the starter because I forgot (plus, if it said 1.020, I might have broken something).
This batch was 4 pounds Briess Amber DME, 5 pounds Briess Light DME and 1 pound of Crystal 40L. Steeped the crystal at 155 for 30 minutes, then rinsed the bag with boiling water. Boiled, chilled, measured OG (1.068), aerated w/O2 for 1 minute. Decanted the beer off the starter and pitched the slurry. Put the fermenter in the tub and filled the tub a little over half way with water. Over the next ten days, I swapped out frozen 1-liter bottles of water twice a day. Fermentation stayed around 65 degrees, near as I can tell. On the 10th day (this would be last night), I measured the gravity, and wouldn't you know it, 1.020.
I really hate 1.020.
So, any ideas on what I could be doing that is causing these things to stall out early? Any suggestions on things I can do to get it going again? I thought about pitching a packet of US-05 into the beer that is currently in the fermenter. Will that help?