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Thread: Stuck fermentation?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    51

    Stuck fermentation?

    I've got a pale ale sitting in a carboy. It's acting differently than any other beer I've made, and I'm curious to know if anyone else has seen this.

    First, there is sediment formed on the sides of the carboy (on the inside). I can't remember seeing that before. It started pretty soon after pitching the yeast.

    Second, it's been in the carboy over a week, and there is still a thick covering of skunge on the top of the beer. Not really foam: it's more solid-looking than foam. It looks like normal yeast activity, except it's been over a week. Usually this head forms in the first day or so, and by the fourth or fifth day it's all sunk to the bottom. But it's been nine days, and it's still there.

    We've been having a heat wave, and I'm fermenting at ambient temperature. But I've done that before, and I've never seen something like this.

    I should mention too that the beer looked completely normal for the first couple days, except for the sediment on the walls. There was lots of airlock activity, and I could see the chunks of goo circulating in the carboy. Bu the airlock has been still for days, and head is still there.

    Has anyone seen something like this before? If so, is this a big deal? Am I looking at dumping it on the lawn, or is it salvageable?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    51
    I decided to go ahead and bottle the beer. Of course I smashed my hydrometer before I took a gravity measurement, so I have no idea what was going on in there. The final beer wasn't sweet, and it seemed to pack a punch, so I decided the fermentation was "successful".

    The "head" on top looked like a gruesome tangle of Irish moss, fermentation by-product, and some yeasty crap. It was actually kind of disgusting, but the beer I siphoned out of the carboy tasted fine. So I'm still not sure what happened there. I did notice it felt solid when I poked at it with the racking cane.

    The beer has been in the bottle a week now, I'll try it in another week and see how it tastes. If it turns out good, I'll just shrug and drink it.

    But I am still wondering in the back of my mind what that stuff was, and why I've never seen it before.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    505
    Sorry for the late reply. I've had that kind of crud on many of my beers in the past and never had a problem with it. Keep on brewing!
    Two ciders please, I'm thirsty!

    On deck: Soon Cider
    Fermenting: None
    bottled: Old and dusty something rathers
    Secondary: None
    Kegged: Carbonated Water (enjoying home made soda syrups)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,985
    Agreed. I've had the sediment on the sides of mine plenty of times. I would be more worried about bottle bombs in the event you bottled too soon since you couldn't check it. But with ambient ferment in a heat wave, I would assume it was done. With a carboy, once your 3 piece airlock has stopped bumping, you can switch to a bubbler airlock and you can see the pressure level inside to get a better idea if there is still anything going on. Sometimes you can't see it, but there is still stuff happening. Leaving your brew in the primary a little longer (say 3 weeks) helps the beer taste cleaner too.
    On Tap:
    Bottled:
    Kegged: Founders KBS Clone Brewed in '09 - might not be good anymore
    Primary:
    Secondary:
    Next brew: Not sure yet...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    51
    Thanks, guys! I opened the first one yesterday (in the bottle two weeks), and it tasted fine. In fact, it was good enough I brought in some more from the garage and put them in the fridge to chill.

    The head on it is particularly thick and foamy. Truth be told, it's one of the better pale ales I've made.

    I, too, was concerned about bottle bombs. I left it in the primary three weeks, but I was still worried. But the one I opened yesterday was pretty close to perfectly carbonated, so I think it's all fine.

    So this was definitely a case of RDWHAHB.

    I did snap a picture of the carboy before I siphoned it into the bottling bucket:

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    51
    I just looked at the dates on my earlier posts: apparently it was in the carboy closer to four weeks. I should probably check my brewing notes before posting.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    505
    You should see some of the crap I've found after fermentation. I had one that was almost black on top and white underneath. Bizarre. Nice flavor though. Congrats on your beer! Enjoy the fruit of your labor
    Two ciders please, I'm thirsty!

    On deck: Soon Cider
    Fermenting: None
    bottled: Old and dusty something rathers
    Secondary: None
    Kegged: Carbonated Water (enjoying home made soda syrups)

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