Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Need suggestions on currently fermenting beer

On August 10th, I brewed a tripel that had a OG of 1.081. First week had great fermentation activity. Today, 20 days later, it is at 1.030. Great progress but still not at the goal of 1.017.

This is the first big(er) beer I have brewed. So my question is…

Do I just let it continue in the carboy for a couple more weeks?
Should I rack to a secondary since it might be sitting for a while longer?
Or should I just go ahead a bottle and condition there for some months?

I have Palmer’s book and have read other similar posts, but there just seems to be no great consensus on matters like this.

So… what do you think?

Thanks in advance!
-glueslug

Gently rouse the yeast and give it at least another week.

The beer is toast. Toss it down the drain.

OK, seriously, recipe, yeast…

:roll:

Sorry, I definitely should have included that from the beginning. It was a Brewers Best Extract recipe. I am trying to find a smart way to copy and paste the recipe/ingredients so I dont have to retype them. Not perfect, but a start…

Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)
Malto-Dextrine (Mash 55.0 mins)
LME Golden Light (Briess) (4.0 SRM)
LME Pilsen Light (Briess) (2.3 SRM)
Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)
Northern Brewer [8.50 %] - Boil 55.0 min
Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min
SafBrew Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-33) [23.66

Is this the kit you are brewing?

http://brewersbestkits.com/pdf/1044_Belgian_Tripel.pdf

FERMENTABLES
3.3 lb. Light LME
3.3 lb. Amber LME
3 lb. Pilsen DME
1 lb. Light Candi Sugar
8 oz. Maltodextrin
SPECIALTY GRAINS
4 oz. Aromatic
HOPS
2 oz. Bittering
.5 oz. Aroma
YEAST
1 Sachet

Yup, thats the one!

Here’s the somewhat heartbreaking real answer, in my experience:

Extracts have variable degrees of fermentability based on who manufactured them. You have no control over their mash time or temperature or how much unfermentable sugars (e.g., crystal malts) they put into the extract. With amber and dark extracts, the amount of unfermentable sugars is much greater than the extra-light, due to the crystal malts contained in the darker extracts. So anyway…

When I was brewing with all extract about 10 years ago, I could NEVER get a batch to finish below 1.018. For a standard beer of 5-6% ABV, the final gravity would most often be between 1.020-1.022. But with an OG of 1.081, I’d expect the final gravity to finish much higher at 1.025 to 1.030.

So if that’s where you are at, then I am afraid the fermentation is most likely complete. This is ESPECIALLY true given that you added a half a pound of maltodextrin, which is 100% unfermentable. In conclusion, whoever designed your recipe (BB?) is old-school and needs to update their recipes. We know better now in the 21st century.

The fermentation is complete, and there’s little you can do to change it now other than to add more 100% fermentable sugar to effectively bring the OG up way higher and jack up the alcohol level to where you expected it to be. But the final gravity ain’t coming down any lower unless you water it down. Which, I guess is another option if the body is too thick and syrupy. But it would obviously reduce the alcohol level, as well as water down the delicious beery flavors. It’s up to you if you decide to do one or both.

Afterthought… well, okay, maybe that’s all a little too harsh. Probably right, but the previous advice to swirl the yeast back in and give it another week is great advice. And THEN, after another week or two when the gravity doesn’t go down much more if at all, you’ll know why. In future, it’s up to you but you might want to post your recipe in advance and let this forum critique it before running into similar problems again.

What Dave said…

Thanks Dave, and everyone else. I had sort of figured that if the yeast was going to be able to do it, it would have likely happened by now… Well, we will see where it ends up in a couple of weeks and nothing is lost (the kit was a gift and a great learning opportunity). Thanks again!

I did a big face palm when I read the 8oz Maltodextrin also. :oops:

Brewers Best should be embarrassed with this kit. A triple with Maltodextrin?

Thanks, Nighthakwk Thats interesting to know. Obviously, I am pretty new to brewing. I had no idea about maltodextin. And again, there is nothing lost; this kit was a gift and I had a great time brewing it. No love lost!

So if we can turn this into a learning opportunity, what are the top items to know about maltodextin?
Number 1 is that it is not fermentable.

Who would like to add an additional lesson learned?

You might want to pick up kits from Northern Brewer, and avoid Brewer’s Best. NB consistently makes pretty good kits, and BB consistently does not.

Here are a few more tips:

Always use fresh extract or fresh kits. Don’t buy a kit thinking oh maybe I’ll brew this one next year. Get it fresh and use it right away. Stale ingredients can give excessive flavors of caramel and banana and an odd “twang”.

Always use 100% distilled or RO water with extract beers. The extracts contain concentrated salts as part of the manufacturing process. If you use tap water or spring water on top of that, then you are essentially doubling all the salts in the beer, which can lead to strange twangy and minerally flavors in the finished beer.

Stick with dry yeast if you can help it. It is cheap, high quality, and very reliable. If you must use liquid yeast, learn how to make a yeast starter. Pitching enough healthy yeast is a critical factor in making better beer. You can get help at http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html.

Always control the temperature of your fermenting beer below 70 F. If your whole house is higher than that, then stick your fermenter into a tub with a couple inches deep of water at the bottom, and drape a wet t-shirt over the top with a fan blowing on it, to reduce the temperature inside the fermenter by about 5 degrees. The t-shirt will wick up the water and provide evaporative cooling. The water is easily replenished if/when it runs low.

You can safely skip racking to a secondary fermenter. There are few advantages. It is usually better to leave the beer on the yeast cake so that they can finish the job themselves without interference from us silly humans.

Use a little bit less priming sugar than the recipe recommends. They always give you a little too much, which can lead to gushing carbonation. If a kit gives you corn sugar, fine, just remove a tablespoon and go for it as normal. If you design your own recipes, you can skip the corn sugar and just use regular cane or beet sugar in the amount of about 5/8 cup per 5 gallons.

Finally… learn patience, especially when it comes to fermentation times. Give the yeast enough time to do their job. Don’t rush things. Relax. Give it time. It will all come together in time, and the time is often longer than the recipe says.

Oh, and uh… read. A lot. Stay on the forums. We’ve got millions of hours of experience that we can share with you, and we usually have smart folks reply within an hour or two.

Adding or amending to Dave’s statement, weigh your sugar instead of measuring it. Purchase a kitchen scale from a big box (Walmart/Target) or local kitchen supply store. Get one that measures in oz and grams. Should be able to get one for $25-$40.

It comes in handy for portion control of snacks I take to work.

Thanks again, Dave and Nighthawk. Those are great tips. Fortunately (with the exception of this Tripel), I am able to follow these great tips. The one I have not though, is regarding distilled water. I have well-water and have no idea of its characteristics. Perhaps its time to find out…

Best place to get your water analyzed is www.wardlab.com. Get test W-6. The extra info in the “Brewer’s Test” is unnecessary. W-6 will save you some $$ while giving you all the info you need.

Great, thanks! I will check that out.

I emailed LD Carlson last week. They responded that the Maltodextrin should not be in that kit.

If anyone has brewed the kit with the Maltodextrin, email them for a replacement kit or PM me for a specific email address.

PM’d the OP.

Much appreciated, Nighthawk!

The post from Dave two slots above is absolutely Golden. I think we all should print it out and post it in our Brewing notebook. You do have a brewing notebook, right? If not, start one. Everything you plan, and do goes in it. Include notes on your brewing day, notes on the fermentation, notes on appearance and taste. That way if you do something right and come up with an awesome beer, you can duplicate it. AND, if you screw up, like we all do sometimes, you’ll know what to avoid in the future.
Keep practicing. Practice really does make perfect. Enjoy! :cheers:
oops, I’m a slow typer. Dave’s post is 7 above.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com