Is There Hope?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BethanyB, Jul 29, 2013.

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  1. BethanyB

    BethanyB Zealot (569) Jun 20, 2013 New York

    Used two of Brewferm's Diabolo kits to brew a five gallon batch of golden strong a few weeks ago. Didn't realize these kits call for additional sugar to be added during the boil. Fermentation was hard and heavy within just two hours. Then my airlock stopped bubbling less than 48 hours later. Like a moron, I completely forgot to measure my SG. I took a reading when the airlock stopped a d it read 1.020. 2 days later, 1.020 again. That's when I found out about the sugar from a brew shop employee. He told me I'd need to add two pounds, so I boiled 2 lbs. of malt extract (his recommendation) and added it to the mix. A week later, and my hydrometer was still reading 1.020. FG should be around 1.010. I figured whatever, I'll move out of primary and maybe I'll still end up with a drinkable batch, just with a lower ABV. I skipped over secondary and went straight to adding priming sugar and bottling. Beer tastes a little green, but no off-flavors or smells. However, I seem to have a lot of yeast in suspension. Does this mean it's still alive and I should have done more to wake it up? I'm pretty worried about bottle bombs at this point. A day after bottling I saw what looked like a sort of membrane hanging off the surface in one of my bottles. "Yeast raft?" I thought. Poured the bottle and noticed there was already a good amount of carbonation. Still no off flavors or smells, but also, still tasted like it had some work to do. Very estery, apparent alcohol smell but nothing astringent. Now I'm seeing the film on some more of my bottles. I'm nervous. Not sure where I went wrong (other than forgetting the sugar during the boil and not measuring my SG), but not sure I should keep these bottles. Thoughts? This "membrane" is thin and yellowish in color. It isn't just a film though. It clings to the top but kind of folds downwards when I turn the bottle on its side. It doesn't cover the whole top, no fuzziness to it. It looks slick. Any thoughts?
  2. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I assume this was an extract kit to begin with? Then you boiled and added two more pounds of extract? And got no change in gravity after another week? But clearly you have live [yeast] inside the bottles?

    Possibly that extract has a lot of non-fermentable sugars, and your FG just settled back to 1.020 after the second batch of extract was fermented.

    The film sounds infection-y. How picky were you on bottle cleanliness? When I save bottles, I rinse in hot water multiple times, let dry upside down, and if there's even a speck of crud, rejected. Then, once dry, I cover with tinfoil squares until bottling day. Sanitize with starsan. I've had the occasional bottle get an infection from not being careful enough accepting bottles from friends, so I started being much stricter on my bottle standards. If it needs a bottling brush to get the crud out, I simply won't use it. And if it's not perfectly dry and covered with tinfoil, rejected.

    If it's drinkable, I would move the bottles into a strong, sealed container for the remainder of conditioning. Those plastic containers with a lid should be fine. I would condition growlers in these containers the few times I bottled with growlers (growlers may have a higher chance of exploding). You definitely don't want possible bottle bombs to continue conditioning un-contained. If the beers are both drinkable and well carbonated, refrigerate and drink soon. They probably won't asplode once cold. :rolling_eyes:
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,383) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    First, the guy at your LHBS who told you to use extract in place of the sugar in your BSG is a nimrod. Anyway...

    Regarding your FG, what was your total extract and grain bill, including the extra extract you added? And what was your total actual volume of wort (after the extra addition)? And what yeast strain did you use?

    As for the membrane thing, it does sound like an infection.
  4. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Regardless of the possibility of infection or not, I would dig a hole and bury these bottles quickly because they are getting ready to turn into ordinance. You introduced a large amount of fermentables that weren't fermented, then bottled it. A good amount of carbonation after one day? Wear protection (I'm not joking) and get rid of those things.
    cavedave and MLucky like this.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,383) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    The 'good amount of carbonation' after one day would be a little concerning, but really, if there was significant unfermented sugar (from extract) left over in a beer this big (presumably, because it's a BGS), I wouldn't expect that to carbonate much faster than just priming sugar.

    We do not know the OG or the grain bill (though it sounds like it was all/mostly extract), or the final wort volume. Depending on those factors, and the yeast strain, 1.020 may not be far off from what would be expected. It would be a really good idea for OP to tell us those things very soon.
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  6. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I agree with this. If I understand correctly, and you had an extract beer that was supposed to finish around 1.010 and you bottled it at 1.020, you still had a lot of fermentables in there. And then you added priming sugar on top of that. The fact that you already had carbonation after one day shows the yeast is still active.

    Get rid of these things now, as carefully as you can! Wear goggles, etc.
  7. udubdawg

    udubdawg Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2006 Kansas

    I'm hoping no one is could be confused by the "...still reading 1.020."
    This makes it seems like the gravity hasn't moved.
    The yeast ate most of the sugar and the gravity went back to 1.020 as a couple replies mention. It doesn't necessarily mean there are still fermentable sugars in there (well, fermentable by the yeast the OP pitched, at least...)

    ...having said all that, it does sound like a couple infections I've seen. I would move to somewhere they cannot cause harm or make a mess and monitor very closely. I'd be chilling and opening a bottle every day at least to see if the carb was growing to dangerous levels/anything "off" was developing.

    good luck--
    rocdoc1 likes this.
  8. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Can you take some pics of the yellow film? It doesn't sound healthy.
  9. BethanyB

    BethanyB Zealot (569) Jun 20, 2013 New York

    Okay, so I read everyone's posts and did a little internet research on this all-malt pre-hopped extract (Diabolo by Brewferm) and I'm feeling both foolish and pissed off. I found out that I could either use two cans of this stuff for a 5 gallon batch, or one can and the additional malt extract I mentioned above as an alternative. I had started with two cans, not knowing there was this second option. After fermenting seemed to stop according to my hydrometer readings, my husband went back to the brew shop as a favor to me while I was at work and that's when the guy there said I needed to add the additional extract. I actually got on the phone with him and told him I had already used two cans of extract, but he kept insisting that I needed more...we went round and round and things were getting a little heated (and my husband was getting a little embarrassed). Finally, I just decided to go with what the guy said. Wow. I now know I need to trust my instincts (and logic) more, and take care of the ingredient gathering myself. Should be obvious lessons. Boy, do I feel like an idiot. So, going to dump this batch. :slight_frown: Live and learn. I'm still wondering what caused my fermentation to stop, however. Apparently, OG was supposed to be 1.075.
  10. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Don't get discouraged. I think just about everybody here has had to dump a batch before. I certainly have. Do be careful, however. They're called "bottle bombs" for a reason!

    There are a number of reasons your fermentation might have stalled. You might not have had enough healthy yeast: I highly recommend making a starter, if you didn't do it this time. The temperature might have gotten too low. You might not have aerated the wort adequately. These are all common problems for new brewers.

    In addition to making a properly sized starter (there's plenty of info on how to do this online, if you need it), I would recommend brewing a relatively "small" (ie, lower OG, something 1.060 or less) next time. Getting up into higher gravities (and 1.075 is getting up there) complicates things somewhat--aeration becomes more important, starters need to be bigger--and there is some benefit to keeping things simple in the beginning, when you're still learning your equipment and getting your system down. Good luck!
    BethanyB and cfrobrew like this.
  11. BethanyB

    BethanyB Zealot (569) Jun 20, 2013 New York

    Thank you! I appreciate everyone's advice so much!
  12. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,383) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    The fact that your OG was 'supposed' to be 1.075 is irrelevant at this point, because you didn't follow the recipe.

    So how many lbs of extract did you use all together? And was it liquid or dry? And what was your final wort volume? And what yeast strain?

    Honestly, if one more person tells you that your FG of 1.020 is abnormal, underattenuated, or otherwise diagnoses the 'problem' without knowing those things, I'm going to turn red and shake my tiny fist.
    OddNotion, cavedave and premierpro like this.
  13. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    I'm sure I don't know as much about these things as you, but any beer that is showing signs of carbonation after 1 day in a bottle has the propensity to become a problem, regardless of any of those elements that you want to know more about.
  14. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,076) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I have had a Belgian strain on an extract recipe (with sugar added) stop at 1.020, no uncommon. Then again it took nearly 5 months to carb up properly.

    The film in the bottle sounds like Brett. Is it actually yellow, or could that be the lighting? If it looks kinda like an oily slick or like a dusting of powdered sugar you probably have a Brett pellicle. If so, don't just dump it all out. Get some Fermcap and a sanitized carboy. Cool all the bottles as cold as you can get them. Pop the caps off one by one and pour into the carboy gently letting it flow down the sides of the carboy. Add some of the Fermcap to keep it from foaming up too much. After all the bottles are emptied, put an airlock on the carboy and put it in the closet for 6-9 months or so. If you find it in 6 months with a large powdered sugar bubble farm on top, congrats, you have a BGS with Brett, check the FG after 6 months, then again at 7, then again. If you are down under 1.008 at that point (or the FG doesn't change from 6-7-8 months at all) rebottle it. Might turn out to be a great beer.
  15. udubdawg

    udubdawg Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2006 Kansas

    I don't really disagree with what it SOUNDS like, ONE day after no signs of infection in primary?
  16. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,076) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I know it is anecdotal, but I've done 2 Lambics with lots of commercial and homebrew dregs tossed in after a primary fermention with yest cultured from fresh fruits. Neither of them had a pellicle even at one year. A bubble here or there that never popped, but no fuzzy toppings, no oil slick that I could see (dark wort since it is covered in a shirt to keep light out), no powdered sugar, nothing like my soured blonde with blackberries. If anybody looked at the batch I have, they would never know that it was a wild beer until I told them. It is possible that the original batch was already infected with signs that a new brewer didn't pick up (I seem to remember seeing the OP post a "I'm new to brewing" thread a month or so back) and transferring it to the bottling bucket and putting it in bottles caused it to be seen since Brett pellicles typically form in the presence of oxygen creating a barrier between the beer and atmospheric air.
    cfrobrew likes this.
  17. BethanyB

    BethanyB Zealot (569) Jun 20, 2013 New York

    6.6 lbs. pre hopped and spices liquid extract and 2 lbs. dry extract on brew shop employee's advice.
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,383) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    That would get you about 1.066 OG in 5 gallons. But what was the actual wort volume post-boil? Or in the fermenter? And yeast strain?
  19. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Supposedly its for 2.375 gallons and includes unspecified yeast:
  20. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Shit happens, then you die. But you try to drink as much homebrew as you can in the meantime. So don't sweat it, one measly little ol' batch ain't shit. Most of us have dumped far more than that. :rolling_eyes:

    Honestly I would stop taking advice from the LHBS. You will learn a TON of great stuff here, and there are other places that you can learn a lot online too (AHA being one worth mentioning, but certainly not the only one). I like it here tho. There are a lot of really knowledgeable people that post here. LHBS employees seem to be more notorious for not being able to find their own ass with two hands an a mirror more than they're known for being real good at offering great homebrewing advice. But if you know what you want and need, you can shop with a purpose and ignore any bull-pucky that comes spewing forth in your direction, no matter what the source.

    Here's what I would do if I were you...

    Get ready to make another batch. Formulate a recipe here. What kind of beer do you like? Any particular commercial beer you think is great? I guarantee you someone else or myself can come up with a recipe in five minutes. Others can help hone it to perfection, if needed. Or you can make your own recipe and have us help you with it. Then brew it.

    Make sure to learn from any mistakes you made on this batch. Improve your process. Make a checklist and have a procedure. My early blogs have full procedures. Here's one from back in my extract brewing days, elderberry wheat. It's a great beer to make, easy as pie, came out great. I 'm fermenting my 4th version of it right now (plus I brag on it a lot, but hey, if it's good, don't be shy about saying so). You should have something similar for a procedure, tho probably not exactly the same, because your equipment and ingredients will be different than mine. We can help you develop a procedure too, but details, details, details will be needed. Here's a more complex procedure from my partial mash days, Al's Red-Eye Ale**. It had steeping grains, plus extract, and lots of hops. It came out really good (very hoppy!).

    When designing your own recipes, generally most of us recommend you use dry, light or extra light extract, and adjust the color using steeping grains or a mini-mash/partial mash. You have the most control over your final product this way. Also, dry extract generally has a longer shelf life, and you may not have any way to know for certain if a given supplier of liquid extracts has fresh extracts, or if it sits on the shelves for six months at a time or more. That's not to say liquid extracts are bad, I've used them with great results. Nor are amber/dark extracts bad. But to start with, I would also recommend using dry, light or extra light, steeping grains/mini-mash, and adding your own hops (i.e. use un-hopped extracts).

    Basically just stick with us, spew forth as much details as you can possibly type, and you will be drinking delicious homebrew very soon. :grinning:

    **you know, I think I'll make that one again, all grain this time****

    ****I like to use a lot of footnotes :rolling_eyes:
    sjverla likes this.
  21. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Personally I don't adhere to any of this. You'll have to judge the usefulness of your own LHBS, and you should take everything that everybody here says as only suggestions. There are no absolutes.
  22. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,383) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    AlCaponeJunior had a lot to say in that post. Do you really disagree with all of it?

    That's true. In OP's case, her LHBS (at least the one guy) has failed. Like most, she'll probably figure out who is knowlegable and who is full of shit.

    Not sure what you're trying to say here. That there are no facts? There are plenty in brewing. There are also plenty of opinions. Sometimes the distinction is unclear. Or do you mean there is no God? (A discussion for a different forum.)
  23. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I'm not sure whether you're disagreeing with me or not. Don't mind if you do. However, if you disagree, it's probably best if you elaborate a little as to what you disagree with, and why you feel that way.

    And yes, there are no absolutes. My own LHBS has several employees who are both pretty knowledgeable and quite helpful. It's just that this doesn't seem to be universally true.
  24. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Disciple (347) Feb 28, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    I agree with what alcaponejunior said. I personally use my LHBS for supplies and rarely ask questions. The employees are hit or miss and the owner seems to care more about sales then giving good info. The majority of what I have learned has come from books, websites and this message board. There are a handful of people on here that I really trust their advice. And most of the people that post regularly know what they are talking about from experience. But even then I still try to research as much as possible. If I get an answer here I will still research it elsewhere. The more sources I can find the better.

    If you want to make your own extract recipes I suggest the book Brewing Classic Styles. It will give you proven recipes for any style you can think of. Either brew them the way they are or tweak them depending on what you want to do. And google everything. If I want to do an Ipa with Citra and Galaxy hops I google it. More than likely I will find multiple sources that have done it before and have some information that is helpful for me.
    barfdiggs likes this.
  25. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    What if I want want to brew a chardonnay barrel aged boysenberry hop-bursted imperial milk stout with essence of horse-taint and pinto beans wild ale? :rolling_eyes:
    ipas-for-life likes this.
  26. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,076) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    You do it, then post it on your blog so others can google it :grinning: .

    ps, is that dry beaned, boil beaned, or mash beaned?
    AlCaponeJunior likes this.
  27. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Shit you're behind... I've been sitting on my bottles for a couple months now, although they were cab barrel aged, not chard. Horse taint and apollo hops (same thing kinda) just comes through in the finish and is balanced by the creamy sweetness from the lactose and tropical fruit notes from the late hopping and 100% Brett Trois fermentation.
    AlCaponeJunior and ipas-for-life like this.
  28. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Aspirant (202) Nov 16, 2010 Washington

    Ward, when he said it tasted like horse taint you didn't have to take it to that level!
    sjverla, barfdiggs and AlCaponeJunior like this.
  29. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Glad you caught that. I was hoping someone would.
    sergeantstogie likes this.
  30. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Ah. I meant to reference the 2nd paragraph about the LHBS. Some are better than others, some employees are more knowledgeable than others, but I certainly wouldn't tell someone to write them off this early in the game and get all their information from this forum. There is quite a bit of misinformation floating around these threads also.
    jbakajust1 likes this.
  31. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Fair enough. It seemed she was off to a poor start with that particular store, so in that case, I'd refer to the most knowledgeable people here, at least as a comparison or 2nd opinion, before going back to that same employee at that same store for further advice. While some misinformation does get posted here, it's usually challenged or corrected quickly.

    Part of learning about beer is learning to recognize good advice from bad. Reputations of particular long term and knowledgeable posters, and consensus of opinions amongst the most obviously knowledgeable posters, are often what makes distinguishing between good and bad advice most apparent.

    That's something you'll probably not have the luxury of doing at a homebrew store, as you'll likely have one person to talk to who may or may not be willing to admit their true level of knowledge, and may have sales as a higher priority than good advice. Forumites don't thrive on sales that result from their advice, so no conflict of interest is likely to occur on a forum.

    Thus, while no single source should ever be considered the final word on anything, a little research and some reading and you should quickly be able to distinguish between who's full of shit, and who knows what they are talking about when it comes to beer.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
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