I have a little situation that I’m looking for help on. Please excuse the long story, I’m new to this…
As a wild b-day present, my friend got me the patersbier kit back in March. I finally took the plunge a week ago and batched it. It was my first attempt with a legit beer kit and I felt pretty good about the whole process vis a vis sanitation, steeping/boiling, cooldown (I bought a wort chiller) and temperature control throughout. I’m not at all knowledgeable or technical about this yet, but I at least feel I followed the instructions to a T and I have also read up with some materials… How To Brew for one and respect the basic principles essential to a successful brew.
Anyway I pitched the yeast (Wyeast 3787) at 75 F into a 6.5 gal PET bucket and put the airlock on half full with vodka. I planned on keeping my basement room between 70-75 F and about 36 hours later I was seeing a bubble every 5 seconds or so which was very promising. That only lasted for about 48 hours though. A week later with no sign of activity, now I am worried that the yeast either died due to temperature fluctuation, (using a space heater I changed it between 65 and 75 a few times) or were not active enough to sustain the fermentation. My main reason for concern is that when I activated the smack pack, it did not swell hardly at all, even though I left it out overnight at room temp. Since I’ve never used one before, I assumed a little swelling was enough.
Well this last Sunday, I wanted to have another go and I picked up the Tallgrass Halycon clone kit, a partial mash kit. I activated the yeast immediately (in the car on the way home!) and literally in an hour it was ready to burst. Completely different from the other pack, which showed very slight signs of inflation after a whole 24 hours. I suspect that the pack must have been left out after my buddy bought it and gave it to me. So that leads me to believe I will have to repitch the patersbier if I want it to live. Fortunately I again had a flawless brew process with the Halcyon. I pitched into a glass carboy Sunday eve. On Wednesday eve, 3 days later the batch was just rolling. Lots of activity showing no signs of slowing down.
I have a few questions:
Assuming the yeast for my patersbeir was indeed not activated thoroughly when pitched, what can I do to save it? Based on some research, I’ve heard that using the leftover cake from a recently bottled/kegged batch is the best way to “revive” another batch’s fermentation. If that’s advised, could I just siphon the Patersbier into the Halcyon carboy after I move that to a secondary fermenter, or should I try to pitch a new wyeast pack into the current bucket? I was initially thinking of maybe moving the patersbier to my other glass secondary and pitching new yeast, seeing what happens. Does that work?
Unfortunately, I was not diligent enough to take hydrometer readings, I was pretty pooped after both brews and didn’t want to risk contaminating anything. So my other question is: will it benefit me to take measurements of these batches with my hydrometer at any point, and if so what kind of readings am I looking for? I suppose there is a chance that the patersbier is OK (im fairly confident there would be no rogue yeast or bacteria and I know my temperatures have not caused issues because of the huge range that 3787 strain is capable of thriving within) but could a hydrometer reading confirm that and let me know I just need to give it more time, even though I don’t have an initial reading?
A last question, for my Halcyon batch, I’m worried about it having a LOT of sediment and unwanted matter in the wort. The main reason for my concern is that I definitely spilled a little of the grains into the wort kettle as I was rinsing them before the boil, and I rinsed them VERY thoroughly, mashing them against the strainer to drain out every ounce of water I could. Then when I transferred the wort into the glass fermenter, i didnt have a lot of matter at the bottom of the kettle. Now I have about an inch of very heavy looking stuff at the bottom of the fermenter and I can see tons of sediment floating around the rest of the carboy as it bubbles (yes, I am keeping it covered when I am not peeking at it occasionally like a giddy kid on christmas eve…). So even though the instructions don’t mention a secondary fermentation, I kind of want to do that. Or possibly try some kind of filtration before bottling. What would my options be, and are my concerns unfounded? Again, I a new to this, and just looking for some possible strategies to make these brews successful so I have something to show for the $400 investment I’ve made so far. …And because I want to imbibe some good stuff this summer! Thoughts anyone?