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Competition Advice

Dave I threw down a bunch of thoughts too. And I was impressed with the judge credentials on those sheets as well. Couple of Nationals and a Master. I don’t know if too cold will stress an ale yeast, certainly the altbier yeast and US05 can take 60F just fine. I’ve had British ale yeasts go pretty slow down that low though. I’ve never identified a problem but wasn’t looking either.

You seem to be doing everything right, so its a little perplexing. Its liable to be something small, but this kind of issue is annoyingly tough to diagnose and fix. I usually start from scratch and change a number of things rather than try to dissect and change one thing at a time. Maybe get a new autosiphon, a new bucket or two and/or a long soak in strong PBW, and hit your bottles and bottling bucket hard with PBW. That’d rule out infection. Then doublecheck thermometers and go from there. Since you mostly keg and enjoy your beer, it seems possible that its an issue associated with bottling.

Good luck.

I likewise recommended replacing buckets and hoses and anything rubber, for fear of contamination issues, as well as calibrating thermometers.

I also wondered if it’s an extract thing – I still haven’t heard if he’s an extract brewer or all-grain or someplace in between. If he’s using a lot of extract, this might explain the sweetness thing as well. Might be time to change brands of extract, or perhaps even move to all-grain. If he’s all-grain, then mash at a lower temperature.

He told me he’s doing AG, and checking thermometers. He’s doing a lot of things right that you’d suspect would contribute to the issue.

Unfortunately I’m thinking this has got to be a contamination thing with the plastic buckets. Or perhaps a water/salts thing. This is tough.

Thanks guys for genuinely trying to help. Here is my latest thinking:

  1. It could be contamination, but I doubt it unless it was related to bottling, which is what was judged. Usually I am scrambling to figure out what to do with 2-6 beers worth of extra fermented beer that won’t fit in a keg. Plus I use carb drops.

  2. I think I am not vorlafing enough. I visually wait till it starts to clear and then start runoff. Guessing I only collect 3/4 of a quart and I am guessing I need to do much more.

  3. I might try to ferment a few degrees warmer and see what happens.

Pretty confident in my temps, yeast pitching and sanitation in general.

Thanks again guys

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]I wonder if it is possible to ferment ales too cold!? I’ve never had a problem with fermenting ales at 60 F myself, but I suppose it might be possible?? I really don’t think this is your issue, I really don’t, since you say you are pitching good big starters. Unless it’s a thermometer calibration issue. Maybe your thermometer is way off and you are actually trying to ferment those ales at 55 F, and it’s stressing out the yeast too much because they prefer 65 F?? I guess I’ve never really heard of anyone fermenting every ale at 60 F before. Personally I shoot for 65 F for most ales, occasionally lower for alts and kolsches, maybe Scottish ales and whatnot, but that’s about it.

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I ferment in my basement, and had some spells this past winter where the ambient temp. dropped a bit lower than usual - down to 58 range. I had several ales that did not turn out as they should and I think it was largely due to the cool temps. In particular, they just did not seem to finish out the way they should and ended a bit sweet … just unfinished. I used good starters, built on stir plates, 3 week primary, no secondary. But I think the yeast probably just sort of petered out toward the end as the temp. dropped while fermentation slowed. So, I definitely think - from my experience - that you can have some problems when you hit the low fringes of fermentation temp. I usually do ferment a bit cool (60-64 degrees) on most ales.

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