Author Topic: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???  (Read 2338 times)

Offline mswilliams1975

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First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« on: May 12, 2011, 01:57:28 PM »
So I brewed my first batch of an American Pale Ale from a recipe from my Uncle and it finished sweet and with only 3.5% ABV.

My OG was 1.051 with a gravity of 1.024 when I moved it to secondary fermintation which did not change over the 7 days spent in secondary. So I bottled at 1.024 and will open the first bottle tomorrow.

So my question is what could have caused my beer not to ferment properly? I am worried that I did not activate my yeast properly as well as being concerned I could have had contamination that could have had an effect?

Any advise would be apreciated since I am brewing a new batch tomorrow night and would like to know what I can do to correct my problem.

Thanks
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Offline denny

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 02:02:22 PM »
Can you post the full recipe and what you did?  "Activating" the yeast really does nothing more than prove it's alive.  I can tell you that IMO you didn't pitch enough yeast, but let's save that until we see your recipe and hear your technique.
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Offline mswilliams1975

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 02:12:50 PM »
6.5 #      American Pale Ale Liquid Malt Extract
 
1 #          Crystal Malt 60L
 
½ #         Victory Malt
 
.5 oz       Centennial Hops               9.4 AAU                60 min
 
.5 oz       Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                30 min
 
1 oz        Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                15 min
 
1 tsp      Irish Moss                                                           5 min
 
.5 oz       Cascade Hops                    6.6 AAU                0 min
 
.5 oz       Centennial Hops               9.4 AAU                0 min
 
I used California Ale Yeast WLP001

I put the cracked grains in a mesh grain bag and placed in the pot of 2 gallons of water. Heated the water with the cracked grains until almost boiling. Removed the grain and added the liquid malt. Once it boiled added the first hops. After 30 minutes of boiling added the second step of hops. After fifteen more minutes added the third step of hops. After 10 minutes added the Irish Moss. After 5 mins add the finishing hops.
After bringing the temp down to 68 degrees I added the wort(?) to the other 3 gallons of water. I then used warm tap water to activate the yeast and dumped it into the beer. Put the lid on the bucket and put it away in my closet which was around 74 degrees.
I never really saw activity in the airlock but I was using a bucket and was told sometimes those aren't air tight which would allow for the gas to escape that way. I have replaced the bucket with a glass carboy for the next batch.
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Offline JKL

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 02:24:00 PM »
How long was it in the primary fermenter?

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Offline mswilliams1975

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 02:31:28 PM »
It was in the first bucket for 7 days then in the second for 7 days then bottled and tomorrow will be 14 days in the bottle.
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Offline JKL

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 02:39:36 PM »
White Labs yeast is said to be pitchable right out of the tube and does not need to be "activated".  Next time you really need to make a yeast starter. If you can't you could always pitch another tube.   
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Offline denny

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2011, 02:41:20 PM »
It was in the first bucket for 7 days then in the second for 7 days then bottled and tomorrow will be 14 days in the bottle.

OK, that's enough for a few things.  7 days in the first fermenter was too short a time.  I'd recommend at least 2 weeks next time.  Lots of experienced brewers neither use nor recommend using a second fermenter.  You can leave it in the first one up to a month, which will help make sure the beer finishes fermenting and clears up.  In spite of what the yeast companies say, neither a vial nor a smackpack alone contains enough yeast.  Your options are to pitch more than one container of yeast, make a yeast starter (see mrmalty.com for details) or use a dry yeast.  I'd recommend the last option for now.  There is much more yeast in a pack of dry yeast than in either a smackpack or tube, so you don't need to make a starter.  A bucket is fine and I actually prefer them to carboys.  And although it likely didn't have anything to do with the poor fermentation this time, your beer will be much better if you keep the temp under 70.  I prefer mid 60s.  Don't give up...practice makes perfect!  I just brewed my 399th batch and I assure you it gets easier!  Just keep at it and keep coming back and asking questions.
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Offline mswilliams1975

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 02:42:35 PM »
So question is what is a yeast starter? I thought that is what I was doing by adding the hot water to the dry yeast?
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Offline denny

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 02:44:34 PM »
So question is what is a yeast starter? I thought that is what I was doing by adding the hot water to the dry yeast?

I'm confused...you said you used WLP001.   That's not a dry yeast.  And even if it was, you have to be careful that the water you rehydrate dry yeast in isn't too hot (over about 114F) or you'll kill it.  So, what yeast did you use?
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Offline timberati

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 03:01:29 PM »
I agree with Denny (about most everything he posts); dry yeast is the way to go for now (use two packets...see Sean Terrill's article on yeast in this month's Zymurgy). Lots of brewers who win awards use dry yeast (I use Safale 05 for my IPAs and Pale Ales). If you really want to go with vial yeast (and don't want to do a yeast starter) pitch two vials.

You used an extract so non-fermentable sugars shouldn't be too much of a factor. That might be another possibility that the yeast simply couldn't eat the sugars if it wasn't in a form they needed.

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Online tschmidlin

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 03:23:22 PM »
Put me in the corner of those who think you should stick to dry yeast for now, since US-05 is great for American style beers and has lots of cells.  When you use dry yeast, you can rehydrate it in warm (not hot!) water before adding it to your beer.  But you can also just sprinkle it on top.

If you want to use liquid yeast, just dump it in the carboy.  Use two packs, unless you make a starter.  A starter is a weak wort you use to grow more yeast for your batch.  You can find details at mrmalty.com.

I also agree you probably racked it too soon.  Do you have a hydrometer?  I wouldn't bother with a secondary for this type of beer, better to leave it in contact with the yeast for a bit longer.

How are you aerating the wort?
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Offline a10t2

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 03:33:24 PM »
Obvious things first: Are you measuring gravities with a hydrometer, or a refractometer?
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Offline timberati

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 03:39:49 PM »
I sprinkle two packets of dry Safale 05 yeast onto the cooled wort and don't bother with rehydrating the yeast. It's simple. It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."
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Offline denny

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 03:43:17 PM »
It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."

There ya go....what more do you need?
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline timberati

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Re: First batch of beer ever and had 3.5% ABV???
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 03:58:26 PM »
It works well. And, guys at my homebrew club have tasted it and said, "Wow." Gordon said, "Mmmm."

There ya go....what more do you need?
Me? Nothing. It made my fortnight.
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