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Gravity - Did I Jump the Gun?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BrittEBurke, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. On 11/23, I brewed a Milk Stout with 1 pound of lactose and pitched Wyeast 1084 (no starter, but added yeast nutrient to the boil and had a fully swelled smack pack). It's been fermenting in my kitchen, which is kept at around 65 degrees. Tonight (12/9), I transferred the beer over to secondary fermentation to add cacao nibs and vanilla bean (aiming for a "cookies and milk stout" if you will). When I took a hydrometer reading, my gravity was only down to 1.038 (OG was 1.060). This seems way too high after two weeks of fermentation and I'm kicking myself for not checking it prior to transferring (rookie mistake).

    My question is - how likely is it that the gravity will continue to fall (hopefully significantly) in secondary? If not very, can I salvage this by re-pitching the yeast or doing something else? Any/all input would be greatly appreciated as this is only my 10th batch of homebrew and third of all grain. For now, I'm struggling with RDWHAH.

    Thanks!
  2. In my experience you should be fine, there should be enough yeast left to finish the job. If not then Re pitch, and if that doesnt work, I would throw some lacto, brett etc in there and let it sit for a while :) (probably not your goal however)
  3. Thanks! I'm hoping to give it a few weeks in secondary to see if the gravity gets closer to where I want it to be. Is there a cut off point where it may be too late to re pitch?
  4. You know, the more I think about it, the more intrigued I am with adding lacto to the milk stout. Wonder how that would taste? I could call it a Yogurt Stout :)
  5. Without seeing the recipe it's hard to know for sure why it stalled. Could have been the underpitch (what was OG?) caused a stuck fermentation. Could just be a high FG due to the lactose.
  6. itsjustzach

    itsjustzach Aficionado (190) Ohio Oct 23, 2006

    I just bottled a chocolate milk stout with a pound of lactose. The FG ended up being 1.021. I want to say the OG was around 1.050 or so, but I'm at work and don't have the recipe in front of me. I would think your gravity should drop more with a few weeks in the secondary.
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    If your gravity was such that you would need to increase the cell count to get to your desired pitch rate, then you should have made a starter. Yeast nutrient is not a substitute for yeast cells, and neither is a fully swelled smack pack.

    Pretty likely.
  8. NiceFly

    NiceFly Savant (375) Tajikistan Dec 22, 2011

    You are at 37% attenuation after two weeks, so this fermentation was fuct at birth.
    Even if you left it in the primary it was only moving at 1.5 points per day on average, and fermentations do not follow a straight line.
    I think the best, and only, way to finish this one is to make a proper starter and pitch at high krausen.

    edit: provided fermentation is the real problem here.
  9. premierpro

    premierpro Savant (290) Michigan Mar 21, 2009

    I would get a pack of Nottingham or Windsor and repitch with one of them. I am not sure why your fermentation stalled. I would not transfer a beer off the yeast after 2 weeks and I would not transfer without taking a gravity reading first. I have not used that yeast in 5 years so I am not familiar with it's tendancies. Normaly with a stuck fermentation you should swirl your primary fermentator to rouse the yeast. If that does not work re pitch. Good luck.
  10. Thanks so much for the speedy and helpful responses! My original gravity was 1.060 which, according to the smack pack, was the upper gravity limit for the pack. Lesson learned, I'll be making a starter from now on.

    My next question is, can I leave it in secondary for a few weeks to see if the gravity falls at all and then, if it does not, repitch? Or, should I repitch ASAP?
  11. NiceFly

    NiceFly Savant (375) Tajikistan Dec 22, 2011

    I would repitch ASAP. Like I said, this ferment was not going anywhere from the start so why would it now?
    inchrisin likes this.
  12. Naugled

    Naugled Savant (455) New York Sep 25, 2007

    aside: what's floating on your head in your avatar?
  13. NiceFly

    NiceFly Savant (375) Tajikistan Dec 22, 2011

    Hops. On brewday I have been know to crush up about 2 cones and dry hop the IPA I am drinking. Works best if you really open them up and it lasts about 2 glasses. Laying them on the head was just for the pic, they were immersed immediately after. Do not get lazy and drink the cones :eek:. I injested an unknown quantity of hop cones one day and had quite the heat spell, which is why they are toxic to dogs I believe.
  14. Since lactose isn't fermentable, how many gravity points should one expect from 1#? I realize this is a recipe-dependent question, but alas I do not have the software to play around with it myself.
  15. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Lactose contributes about 45 Points per Pound per Gallon (PPG), so in a 5 gallon batch, one pound would add 0.009 to both your OG and your FG.

    (45 PPG / 5 G) * 1 Pound = 9 points
  16. I've come to expect responses from you to questions like this--thanks as always!
  17. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Since we are talking equations, how about the equation used for actual attenuation? Its the one that has left a glaring hole in my brewing notes. ;)
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Do you mean Apparent Atenuation or Real Attenuation? Apparent Attenuation (the one brewers normally use) is easy...

    (OG - 1) - (FG - 1)
    -----------------------
    OG -1

    Calculating Real Attenuation is a major pain in the ass.
  19. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (425) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    Pitch some 05 to finish the job. It'll be fine after that hopefully.
  20. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Thank you! I had to take my copy of how to brew back to the library. :(
  21. Thanks everyone! I'll pick up some yeast and repitch ASAP.
  22. Alas, I'm still struggling with the gravity. On 12/18, I repitched Wyeast 1084 with a starter. I checked the gravity a week later on 12/27 and found that the gravity had barely dropped (went from 1.038 to 1.034). I repitched again on 12/27 with two packets of dry Nottingham Ale yeast. When I checked last night, the gravity was only down to 1.030. I've rocked the carboy and warmed it up to 68 degrees. Is there anything more I can do to help this along, or is time my only ally right now? I plan on bottle conditioning this beer, so I'm worried about having bottle bombs on my hands. I'm not in a rush for this beer, so I plan to let it sit in secondary for at least another month. Thanks again for all of the helpful advice previously, and for any more that you can offer up!
  23. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    I just had a stout that came out with a higher fg than expected as well. Do you have a recipie? Was it a kit? Extract? I had a mini mash that didn't have enough diastatic (sp?) Power to convert the startches in my specialty grains. Maybe you mashed too high? Maybe the LME was oxidized and old leading to lower fermentability.
  24. It was an all grain recipe brewed Brew-In-A-Bag style The grain bill (tweaked from a Left Hand Milk Stout Clone) was:

    7 lbs. Maris Otter
    1 lb. Roasted Barley
    12 oz. Caramel 60
    12 oz. Black Patent
    12 oz. Chocolate Malt
    12 oz. Munich I
    10 oz. Flaked Barley
    10 oz. Flaked Oats
    1 lb. Lactose

    I aimed to mash in at 154 F, but I was using a new brewing software (the iBrewmaster ipad app), and the calculations for the temp on my strike water ended up being a bit high. (Alas, my art school degree has rendered my math skills a bit rusty. I may have overly trusted technology.) I ended up mashing at 158. Too high, but would it have that much of an impact?
  25. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) California Dec 31, 2008

    between the high mash temp and the lactose, that seems to be why you have the high FG. Since it seems to be slowly going down I would just let it continue to sit for another week (unless it continues to slowly drop) and then bottle. At this point I think you may encounter worse results in trying to "revive" the beer rather than bottling as is.
  26. premierpro

    premierpro Savant (290) Michigan Mar 21, 2009

    Next time your mash temp is too high add cold water.
  27. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Savant (420) California Mar 22, 2011

    Re. what nanobrew said, your beer is probably done. Lactose, flaked oats, flaked barley and a high mash temp mean a lot of unfermentables, suggesting your beer is probably done. One thing worth noting, some brewing programs do not treat lactose as a non-fermentable sugar, so your calculated FG estimate could be low because of this (Can't remember points per lb of lactose). YMMV, but most of my milk stouts finish out around 1.025-1.030.
  28. This is incredibly good to know! That's what I get for not doing enough research (and for not doing enough/any math on my own)

    Still learning the ins and outs of all grain. I did this and the past few batches on a Brew-in-a-Bag system. I got a 10 gallon cooler and a Home Depot gift card for Christmas, so I'll be building myself a mash tun this weekend.

    Thanks so much to everyone for the helpful replies!

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