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Help appreciated!! Will I need to dump?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Graeme24, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    Hi all,

    I've just bottled a small batch of Belgian Golden Strong Ale. It has been in primary for 3 weeks and I went ahead and bottled assuming I reached terminal gravity (I know!!!). It is this assumption that may cost this batch. Because it is a small batch and I was not taking gravity readings...

    I have primed at 3.4 volumes of CO2 and bottled it. I took a sample during bottling and the FG came in at just under 1.030. Is this going to leave me with 12 bottle grenades or is there any way of salvaging?

    Never had a FG this high so any help would be appreciated. I used WLP570 and made a healthy starter.
  2. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    I have also used robust bottles - A mix of Duvel and Orval bottles
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,855) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That sure does seem high assuming you had a fermentable wort. Can you please provide more details on how you made your wort. If you mashed what was your grain bill and at what temperature did you mash?

  4. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    Thanks for your response. Recipe was 80% pilsner, 5% carapils, and 15% table sugar (added at the end of the boil).Mashed at 65.5C for 1.5 hours
  5. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (440) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    It's unlikely they will explode in the next 24 hours. But there is a real chance the sugar could kick the dormant yeast back into gear causing a lot more carbonation than you would like. It's possible to monitor the bottles as they carbonate. If bottles are clear enough you can see the trub sediment when you invert them . . . more trub being a sign of more bubbles. But that's pretty subjective. Don't be afraid to chill and open a bottle after a couple of days and just see what's in there, can re-cap if pressure is low (or just right). Maybe repeat every few days.

    Duvel bottles are PDS, but an FG of 1.030 is up there . . . potential for too many bubbles is high. IMO you are more likely to have "cap" failure than a bottle catastrophe, but a mess either way. You'll want to store these in a sturdy container while waiting for the verdict.
    GormBrewhouse and Graeme24 like this.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,855) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, 65.5 degrees C is 150 degrees F and that should have resulted in a fermentable wort.

    The only aspect of your fermentable which would add dextrins (unfermentable sugars) is the carapils but at 5% that is not much.

    I hate to say it but it seems to me that you should have reached a final gravity way lower than 1.030. I personally would be concerned here about overcarbonation.

    The most conservative thing you could do here is dump the batch. An option is to regularly monitor the carbonation process and place the remaining bottles in the refrigerator once you have reached the proper carbonation level but given that you only have 12 bottles you may 'use them up' during this monitoring process?

  7. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (206) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    How did you measure the gravity? If you measured with a refractometer, bear in mind that you have to adjust the readings with a calculator (here is the one I favor). Properly adjusted, the FG might be much lower.

    If you measured with a hydrometer, then yeah, it seems very likely that the fermentation hadn't finished. I would uncap the bottles immediately because they would be a safety hazard.
  8. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    I used a hydrometer from my FG reading so I think it's pretty accurate. I have to say I am quite concerned. I'm willing to dump this over the possibility of destroying my apartment!
  9. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    Thanks allot for your response! Yes, should be way lower. Being in an apartment with limited space I'm not so sure I would be able to take the 'monitor' approach. And as you say, it's not a large volume of beer, so it may not be fruitful. I think I'm gonna bite the bullet and chuck it. Entirely my own fault for not taking earlier readings.
  10. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,319) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Did you taste the beer during the bottling process? Was it a bit sweet? Let the result of that tasting help you determine your course of action. The beer can be salvaged with some safety precautions by you.
    Graeme24 likes this.
  11. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (206) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Yeah, personally I would dump this batch (although taste it, if it's really good maybe it's worth trying to salvage in some form). You can always make malt vinegar with it by the way.

    Now that said... I wonder what went wrong here. This doesn't really add up. Although it's certainly good advice to measure gravity before bottling, I'll be honest and say that I haven't always done it, particularly back in the days before I got a refractometer. In fact there's a very low chance I would have been willing to give up such a high percentage of a 12-bottle batch.

    And that's because honestly the risk just isn't that high if you've got healthy yeast and you're fermenting at a reasonable temperature. Yes, there are yeasts that take their time, but to my knowledge WLP 570 isn't one of them. And you made a starter for a ~1 gallon batch! The yeast should have knocked out that fermentation in no time, and yet they didn't.

    About what temperature was the beer held at during fermentation? That's the only thing I can think of that could have brought this about.

    [edited to fix error]
    Graeme24 likes this.
  12. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    It's definitely very sweet. I'm not so sure it is worth salvaging such a small batch at the risk of bottle bombs. I have limited space and don't really have the means to stick them away in a sealed container and monitor
  13. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    My fermentation temps were between 18C - 20C consistently. Whilst it was vigorous for a few days it wasn't anywhere near what I expected. I even went with a blow off tube from the get go and really didn't need it.

    Whatever the reason for this it's unfortunate but it's just can't take the risk on this one!

    Appreciate your responses and insights, thanks allot!
    minderbender likes this.
  14. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,319) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Yeah, it sounds like a good bit of unpredictable fermentation has yet to occur. It's your call, and it sounds like you'd prefer not to mess with it, so dumping sounds like a good choice.
    Graeme24 likes this.
  15. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (206) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    This is nearly an insoluble pancake. Everything about your process should have easily resulted in a fully fermented beer after three weeks (really after even one week, although many would prefer not to bottle that early). It's a complete mystery to me why the beer didn't ferment. If you care to walk through it, we might identify some hidden flaw in your process, but understandable if you just want to move on.
    PapaGoose03 and Graeme24 like this.
  16. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    I'm always eager to learn and great appreciate any advice you guys can give me. I've learned so much from this forum!

    I recently started doing stove top BIABand this was brewed in that manner. I used the Mr Malty and Brewer's Friend calculators to determine the viability of my yeast based on the manufacturing date. It was a couple of months old so I couldn't pitch straight in. I made a small starter (1/2 litre) to bring me up to the correct pitch rate. Mashed for 1.5 hours at 65.5C, boiled for 90 minutes and collected just over 4L of wort at 1.080. I decanted some of the liquid from the starter after it had been sitting in the fridge for about 24 hours. Used the remaining liquid to swirl up the yeast that had compacted at the bottom and pitched straight in. I had activity within 12 hours and that's where I assumed everything had gone to plan.

    Only thing that jumps out is my mash temp. My thermometer. It is a digital probe and I've used it for some time. I'm honestly not 100% comfortable with it and was considering a replacement anyways. It takes a long time to come to a steady reading. that being said, it has served it's purpose up to now without issue!

    Is 18C on the low side for this yeast? I was thinking of ramping it up a little bit by moving it to a warmer room but in the end I left it as I figured it was a degree or two warmer inside the demijohn. I had an IPA fermenting alongside this and it finished out fine.

    It's a strange one. If anything jumps out to you I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks again man
  17. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (128) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    A couple things caught my attention
    Test your thermometer with boiling water to see if/how much it's off.
    Sounds like your yeast was pitched much straight from the fridge except for decanting and swirling. I'd guess maybe about 45°F (7°C) tops. Does that sound about right?

    If your thermometer was reading low (meaning your wort was warmer) and you pitched cold yeast, could that account for a slow start?
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,777) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I recently had concerns that I may not have been paying attention and overprimed a kriek. My response? I put the two cases of beer in covered tote bins, to contain the blast should they spontaneously burst. I don’t have the space to keep two cases chilled, but I do keep several bottles chilled and as I drink one, I rotate another to the fridge. At room temp, the beer gushes forth immediately, but chilled beers are fine. The unchilled bottles in the bins are maintaining their integrity so far. The key difference between my brews and yours may be that mine are fairly attenuated (of course, the bugs in the beer can ferment break down dextrins). Your beer finished considerably higher. I don’t know why your yeast crapped out, but if they wake up, there is a lot of fermentation to complete. If you are forced to store warm, maybe follliw my lead and bin your beer, and chill before opening. Hopefully the bottle integrity holds.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,855) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    While researching another ongoing thread (WLP029 vs. WY2565) I found this:

    “Interestingly, WLP570 (Beer085) also seems to be unable to use maltotriose. This should be the ‘Duvel’ strain, and based on this information, it should only be able to produce bone-dry beers in worts supplemented with sugars (as Duvel is, if I’ve understood correctly).”


    I wonder if this is the explanation for you high final gravity reading? Maybe your wort was rich in the sugar maltotriose and as a result you have a lot of residual maltotriose in your finished beer?

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  20. Bryan12345

    Bryan12345 Zealot (509) Mar 17, 2016 Texas

    It blows my mind how quick some people are to dump a batch. I can only speak for myself, but it takes a lot of time and a bit of money for me to make a batch of beer, even a small one.

    My advice is to never dump a batch until you have taken it through the entire process. In this specific case I would suggest putting the bottles in a Rubbermaid box with a lid and waiting it out. Pop one open every few days and if the carbonation is getting higher than you’d like, pop them all, recap, and continue monitoring. Will the beer be amazing like it would have been originally? No. But it will likely be good.

    In any case, you’ve learned a valuable lesson about brewing high gravity beers :slight_smile:

    RDWHAHB :slight_smile:
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  21. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    Cheers for your input. I didn't take the decision lightly but these were almost certainly going to be a ticking time bomb with a FG that high and the amount of priming sugar I used. Not worth the risk or time over 1 gallon of beer.

    I've brewed lots of high gravity beers. Never had a yeast crap out on me ever. I'm just glad it was a small batch to be honest with you!
  22. Graeme24

    Graeme24 Initiate (168) Dec 16, 2008 Ireland

    Could be Jack. Also, I've since read allot of posts about people finding WLP570 being sluggish in the lower temperature range.