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My fermentation seems to be going too fast

I am relatively new to brewing. I have done about 3 batches all from extract. After reading around on forums I decided to try a few techniques to kick start my fermentation. Namely I did a yeast starter using NB fast pitch, purchased an O2 Aeration kit, and built a temperature controlled fermentation chamber. I am brewing NB’s White House Honey Porter with the Wyeast #1056 strand. My Original Gravity was a little higher than expected the kit instructions stated it would be 1.054 my refractometer showed 1.067. I pitched the above yeast with a starter I had made using fast pitch 48 hours ahead of time, and placed the fermenter in a chamber at an ambient temp of 65°F. Fermentation started much sooner than I am used too. The airlock was bubbling away nicely within 12 hours or so. Out of curiosity I pulled a sample and checked the gravity after 3 days and it was 1.032. This seems to be going much quicker than I had expected and I am worried that I have ruined the beer. At this rate I would hit my expected F.G. within a week of pitching the yeast. Is it possible to ferment too fast, or will the yeast peter out and slow down as the fermentation gets closer to end of primary. Also if it is a problem any ideas on where I might have gone wrong?

Welcome to a fun hobby! There are many talented brewers here that are willing to help when you have questions!
Relax… Sounds like you did just fine… Your gravity could have something to do with “stratification”… Meaning, it may not have been mixed well… No need to worry…
A starter WILL start quicker and perhaps finish quicker…
Sneezles61

Ok, I take my samples from the spigot at the bottom of my fermenter, and it was quite cloudy so it looks like a lot of stuff had settled at the bottom. I have read of people shaking up the fermenters every couple of days during fermentation to get things equally distributed. Is that something that you would recommend?

I absolutely would NOT start shaking the fermenter after the yeast has been added… Once you’ve been brewing for a while… You’ll get to taste a brew that was spoiled by O2… Cardboard flavored ick…
Its amazing how gravity pulls stuff down to the bottom of the fermenter…
Sneezles61

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Ok, Thanks for the info and the warning.

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DO you know what the temp of the wort was when you pitched the yeast? The kit says cool to 100° add 2 gallons cold water to the fermenter, pour the wort and top up. Cold water from the tap depends on where you live. Where we are it’s about 75° Your fermentation chamber at 65° is good to ferment ales but would take a long time to drive down the temp from higher so it could have taken off quickly.

No worries though. It will come out beer. Good beer and your beer will only get better as you go.

I had it at about 78° before pitching. My thermometer is analog so with parallax maybe ± 3°. The Wort spent almost an hour in an ice bath before pitching. I am looking forward to buying a wort chiller to drop that time down some. I am in the pacific northwest so my ground water temp from the well is closer to 50°.

So first of all … Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Homebrew…

Gravity drops fast, then levels out and takes a while to finish… honestly differential equations were never my thing, but I learned enough to recognize fermentation is one of those sciency-mathy things.

Here’s a picture that helps tell the story …


In 2 days it looked almost finished, but then took another week to actually finish.

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I’m an Electrical Engineer so I appreciate that. Also what program did you screen grab that from because it makes my geeky side happy.

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Oh this is definitely super geeky. I use a Tilt Hydrometer (Here is NB’s page, but others sell them too.)

  • The Tilt floats in the fermenter.
  • Raspberry Pi runs their TiltPi software. One Pi can monitor multiple Tilts via Bluetooth.
  • TiltPi periodically adds Rows to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. Every 15min IIRC.

The screen grab is from the spreadsheet.

Anyway, I don’t know that the Tilts are super accurate, there is a whole calibration process but the calibration gets stored in the reader side, not pushed to the Tilt, so you can get different readings from the same device depending on whether you’re on the local TiltPi page, or from the app on your phone. I don’t use the Tilt readings to judge my efficiency, but I do use them for ABV calculation. And obviously to answer, “have I hit FG?”

I decided to plot my gravities in excel to mimic the graph you have. Looking at it now I can see the gravity leveling out over time. I have about a week left in my planned primary so that checks perfectly with what you had in your graph.
I have seen the Tilt on NBs website. It seemed cool but I am just getting my toes wet at this point. I remember years ago when I first tried to get into this a similar idea called a brew bug, or beer bug. I don’t seen anything about it on NBs site anymore so Im guessing it went the way of the dodo and the $1.0 per gallon gas prices.

It was “Beer bug” you can still find the listing from Midwest on Amazon. Very poor reviews. On NB, PLAATO seems to be the next generation model. I’m not sure I get the concept, it measures escaping gas, so I presume your fermenter needs to be very well sealed. That is, i presume it pretty much won’t work with a bucket.

The Tilt’s operating theory is at least directly related to specific gravity. I also prefer Tilt’s implementation as an iBeacon versus a WiFi connected device; it’s Bluetooth, but multiple devices can access it without pairing. And I REALLY don’t like giving IoT devices my WiFi password.

The ambient temperature affects the speed of fermentation

The ambient temp in the chamber is about 68° plus or minus a couple degrees. The Fermentation looks like it has slowed way down like jmck said it would. It is basically moving about a gravity point a day now, so it should coast to a final gravity of about 1.019-1.021 depending on how the trend goes. That would put it right at the expected attenuation of 72%. It looks like I just panicked for no reason. I appreciate every ones input on this though. I will update with how the beer tastes after bottling.

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68 degrees Fahrenheit is at the low end for yeast to work at some point the yeast simply goes dormant

His ambient temp was 68° so I bet the wort was higher. Wyeast 1056 temp range is 60-72° so it would have been in that range, maybe. mid 60’s would be better but it will come out beer.

I’m finding 5-6*F above what my freez-mentor sez… Thats why we try to keep the temp below a bit…
Sneezles61

A thermal well is on my list of equipment to purchase next time specifically to try and account for that issue.

I don’t think the stick on thermometers work too bad. I have used them on a SS conical and glass carboys.

Ironically after nearly two weeks my gravity seems to have stalled out at 1.024. This would put the efficiency at about 64% which seems really low. I had expected about 70%-72% or a gravity of 1.018-1.020. I could leave the beer in the fermenter and see if I can get it to drop a little bit but it has been a steady 1.024 for a few days now. Should I wait or just go ahead and bottle?

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