Author Topic: Stout fermentation question  (Read 1319 times)

Offline jeffy

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2020, 10:03:49 PM »
The paper inside the tube that has the SG scale on it can come loose. if it slides around, it could give different readings.

Ya know, that's what I've always heard, but in 23 years of brewing with hydrometer I've never had it happen.  Have any of you had personal experience with this?

YES.  I have been using the same hydrometer since 1999, never broke it.  Calibrating in plain water, it has in fact changed several times over the years, a point up or down here & there every few years.
Just today I picked up my flask and flung the turbid liquid onto the lawn.  I forgot it still had the hydrometer in it.  But, hooray!, it didn’t shatter and still reads correctly in water. 
A few minutes later the hose came off the liquid-out post of a beer I was carbonating and sprayed beer all over the inside of my shed.
I’m gonna have a whiskey now.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2020, 10:11:05 PM »

Just today I picked up my flask and flung the turbid liquid onto the lawn.  I forgot it still had the hydrometer in it.  But, hooray!, it didn’t shatter and still reads correctly in water. 

A few minutes later the hose came off the liquid-out post of a beer I was carbonating and sprayed beer all over the inside of my shed.

I’m gonna have a whiskey now.

Sounds like one of my brewdays. Cheers!


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Offline santoch

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2020, 01:05:08 AM »
One other thing to check is to swirl your hydrometer in case co2 bubbles build up on it, raising the bouyancy.   That will make it appear to have a gravity higher than it actually is.  Spinning it like a top in the sample will help remove any bubbles sticking to it and thereby produce a more accurate reading.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2020, 01:08:13 AM by santoch »
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Offline Hopspringseternal

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2020, 10:59:09 PM »
Thanks once again everyone for all the suggestions. I checked the hydrometer and it doesn't look like the paper has moved. And, yeah, I always spin it while dropping it in the brew to free it from the suds.  I'm going to do a test in water and sugar water to see if it's still accurate.  If I need to buy a new hydrometer, any recommendations on make and model?
Hopspringseternal

Offline Semper Sitientem

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2020, 01:33:30 AM »
Thanks once again everyone for all the suggestions. I checked the hydrometer and it doesn't look like the paper has moved. And, yeah, I always spin it while dropping it in the brew to free it from the suds.  I'm going to do a test in water and sugar water to see if it's still accurate.  If I need to buy a new hydrometer, any recommendations on make and model?

Consider a refractometer. I switched from a hydrometer to refractometer about 6 months ago and find it easier to work with. YMMV.
Confidunt in cervisia nobis

Offline ravenwater

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2020, 04:52:34 PM »
Thanks once again everyone for all the suggestions. I checked the hydrometer and it doesn't look like the paper has moved. And, yeah, I always spin it while dropping it in the brew to free it from the suds.  I'm going to do a test in water and sugar water to see if it's still accurate.  If I need to buy a new hydrometer, any recommendations on make and model?

Consider a refractometer. I switched from a hydrometer to refractometer about 6 months ago and find it easier to work with. YMMV.
I'd venture that there's a correlation between reliability/stability of readings and cost on a refractometer - i.e., you get what you pay for. I use a refractometer for readings on the fly pre- and post-boil but have found I have to recalibrate my refractometer on a regular basis or it's not reliable, but admittedly I got a cheaper one. I consider it a ball park reading then always confirm with a hydrometer for my OG into fermenter and use a hydrometer during and after fermentation. I'm curious - with the suggestion of using only or primarily a refractometer because it's easier (which it is), how much do folks feel like one would need to spend to get one that is good enough quality to lean on this heavily?
Shawn Crawford  -  Rio Rancho, NM.  
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Offline Semper Sitientem

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2020, 01:26:27 PM »
Thanks once again everyone for all the suggestions. I checked the hydrometer and it doesn't look like the paper has moved. And, yeah, I always spin it while dropping it in the brew to free it from the suds.  I'm going to do a test in water and sugar water to see if it's still accurate.  If I need to buy a new hydrometer, any recommendations on make and model?

Consider a refractometer. I switched from a hydrometer to refractometer about 6 months ago and find it easier to work with. YMMV.
I'd venture that there's a correlation between reliability/stability of readings and cost on a refractometer - i.e., you get what you pay for. I use a refractometer for readings on the fly pre- and post-boil but have found I have to recalibrate my refractometer on a regular basis or it's not reliable, but admittedly I got a cheaper one. I consider it a ball park reading then always confirm with a hydrometer for my OG into fermenter and use a hydrometer during and after fermentation. I'm curious - with the suggestion of using only or primarily a refractometer because it's easier (which it is), how much do folks feel like one would need to spend to get one that is good enough quality to lean on this heavily?

My first refractometer was a “budget” purchase of $15. However, I always seemed to have a problem with holding it at the right angle or there was a lack of sufficient light which make it tough to read. I subsequently jumped to a digital, which was $125. That’s probably extreme for most people. But, you can buy refractometers with their own LED light source for around $35-$45 on Amazon, which is reasonable.
Confidunt in cervisia nobis

Offline ASLO

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2020, 09:54:16 PM »
You mentioned keeping the beer at a steady 64F. Probably too late for this brew, but for the future, you might try slowly raising the temperature over the course of the fermentation to promote more attenuation (if you can). I like to start at the low end of the yeast strain's range and then begin raising the the temperature 1 degree per day starting 24 hours into the fermentation. I like to be at the high end of a particular strain's range by around day 7 and then leave it there for another week or two while it finishes out.

Offline Hopspringseternal

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2020, 02:49:30 PM »
Thanks for the comments about the accuracy and reliability of refractometers.  In the $45 range, is there a make and model someone would recommend?  Assuming I might need to invest in a better hydrometer, I have a similar question about recommendations for a good one.  I'll check the brewing equipment section of the forum to see if either has been a topic of discussion in the past.
Hopspringseternal

Offline Hopspringseternal

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2020, 02:55:10 PM »
You mentioned keeping the beer at a steady 64F. Probably too late for this brew, but for the future, you might try slowly raising the temperature over the course of the fermentation to promote more attenuation (if you can). I like to start at the low end of the yeast strain's range and then begin raising the the temperature 1 degree per day starting 24 hours into the fermentation. I like to be at the high end of a particular strain's range by around day 7 and then leave it there for another week or two while it finishes out.
.

In my last post I meant to also express my appreciation for this suggestion. I use a Grainfather conical fermenter, so I can increase the temperature without difficulty. I've seen similar recommendations from others in the past so I'll try this approach next time.  I bottled the RIS yesterday.  My unreliable hydrometer indicated the same, likely distorted, level of 1.028.  But the brew tastes good--although still "young"--and I'll be interested in how it tastes in about a month or so.
Hopspringseternal

Offline denny

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2020, 03:50:03 PM »
You mentioned keeping the beer at a steady 64F. Probably too late for this brew, but for the future, you might try slowly raising the temperature over the course of the fermentation to promote more attenuation (if you can). I like to start at the low end of the yeast strain's range and then begin raising the the temperature 1 degree per day starting 24 hours into the fermentation. I like to be at the high end of a particular strain's range by around day 7 and then leave it there for another week or two while it finishes out.
.

In my last post I meant to also express my appreciation for this suggestion. I use a Grainfather conical fermenter, so I can increase the temperature without difficulty. I've seen similar recommendations from others in the past so I'll try this approach next time.  I bottled the RIS yesterday.  My unreliable hydrometer indicated the same, likely distorted, level of 1.028.  But the brew tastes good--although still "young"--and I'll be interested in how it tastes in about a month or so.

FWIW, I use the same fermenters.  My tupicaoo fermentation schedule is 4-5 days at 63-65F, then 3-4 days at 70-72F before crashing to 35F.  Of course, those times are not hard and fast and depend on the actual status of the beer, but thats the way it ususally works out for me.
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Offline goose

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2020, 04:06:45 PM »
Here is your problem:

The estimated ABV is 8.5%, which would require a FG of 1.010 or less.

This is very unrealistic.  In my experience, S-04 has an average attenuation of about 78%, which with an OG of 1.074 would give an FG of 1.016 at best.

Warm it up for a few days to make sure it's done fermenting.  Then if it's done, it's done.

I am a bit late to the party on this one but my stouts always finish above 5 degrees Plato (~1.020) because of all the specialty grains. I agree with Dave on this.  Warm it up and see if you see a change in FG, but I would be willing to bet that it is done.

FYI, I never trust the "estimated FG" numbers that BeerSmith or any other brewing software predicts.  I get close but never hit them.  When  the beer is done, it's done.  I also look at past brews of the same beer to see how the measured FG tracks with previous batches.  Obviously here are a lot of variables that effect FG and unless you can replicate everything exactly (which is nearly impossible) from batch to batch, you will see differences.
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Offline denny

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2020, 04:51:51 PM »
Here is your problem:

The estimated ABV is 8.5%, which would require a FG of 1.010 or less.

This is very unrealistic.  In my experience, S-04 has an average attenuation of about 78%, which with an OG of 1.074 would give an FG of 1.016 at best.

Warm it up for a few days to make sure it's done fermenting.  Then if it's done, it's done.

I am a bit late to the party on this one but my stouts always finish above 5 degrees Plato (~1.020) because of all the specialty grains. I agree with Dave on this.  Warm it up and see if you see a change in FG, but I would be willing to bet that it is done.

FYI, I never trust the "estimated FG" numbers that BeerSmith or any other brewing software predicts.  I get close but never hit them.  When  the beer is done, it's done.  I also look at past brews of the same beer to see how the measured FG tracks with previous batches.  Obviously here are a lot of variables that effect FG and unless you can replicate everything exactly (which is nearly impossible) from batch to batch, you will see differences.

Goose, you raise an important point.  Attenuation is far more dependent on grist than yeast attenuation rating.  Thats mainly for comparing one yeast to another.  You may or may not get that attenuation depending on recipe and process.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Hopspringseternal

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2020, 08:48:43 PM »
Thanks for the great advice and counsel, Denny and Goose!
Hopspringseternal

Offline Hopspringseternal

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Re: Stout fermentation question
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2021, 09:58:49 PM »
You mentioned keeping the beer at a steady 64F. Probably too late for this brew, but for the future, you might try slowly raising the temperature over the course of the fermentation to promote more attenuation (if you can). I like to start at the low end of the yeast strain's range and then begin raising the the temperature 1 degree per day starting 24 hours into the fermentation. I like to be at the high end of a particular strain's range by around day 7 and then leave it there for another week or two while it finishes out.
.

In my last post I meant to also express my appreciation for this suggestion. I use a Grainfather conical fermenter, so I can increase the temperature without difficulty. I've seen similar recommendations from others in the past so I'll try this approach next time.  I bottled the RIS yesterday.  My unreliable hydrometer indicated the same, likely distorted, level of 1.028.  But the brew tastes good--although still "young"--and I'll be interested in how it tastes in about a month or so.

Well, a little more than a month in the bottle and this RIS tastes fine, but it doesn't hold much of a head.  I'm wondering if this might relate to having been held perhaps too long in the fermenter (one month), or if it will have more long-lasting effervescence in another month.  I'd appreciate any and all ideas about this question.  Thanks in advance.
Hopspringseternal