final gravity always about 1.02

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Bfrail
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final gravity always about 1.02

Post by Bfrail » Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:35 pm

Hello all,
I've been brewing a few years now, just for fun and trying different beer. I have brewed mostly extracts or small grain/extract combo 23ltr batches. When I started I used a hydrometer but just fell into the routine of letting the yeast work for 5-7 days then secondary for about a week or 2. The beer always turned out good but a few years ago I decided to get more technical with the intent of getting to all grain (still haven't got there yet). I bought a refractometer and it's so much easier to check sugars so I monitor them much more now. I've been doing mainly extract Mangrove Jack or my own extract/grain designs and my sugar readings never go below 1.02. I've checked the refractometer and it is calibrated fine. I use either a bucket and glass carboy or fermentasaurus and still 1.02. I've done a couple festa brews thinking maybe it's my water causing the higher sugar but still the 1.02 final gravity. Last week I bought a fermentasaurus jacket for my fermentor and it worked excellent to hold the heat and I just checked my gravity today on a mangrove jack kit and still 1.02. I did a second home creation in a bucket and it is 1.02. I typically just sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort so I'm wondering would hydrating the yeast help with the finish gravity? I'd love to be able to get the sugars down to the 1.005 where most of these kits recommend and get something with more than 3-4% ABV when my S.G. is 1.045 to 1.054. I've done ciders with Nottingham yeast and get the same end result....1.02.
I welcome your thoughts.

Side note, I like the fermentasaurus but I have to get my wife to help clean it because I can't fit my arm in the opening. I like the brew jacket for it also. I find the only advantage over bucket brewing is not transferring to a secondary and not having to siphon as I just use a hose and gravity.

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oceanic_brew
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by oceanic_brew » Sat Jan 26, 2019 3:18 pm

there’s a lot of threads online of people getting stuck at 1.020 when using extracts. I’m still surprised that it’s consistent for you.

You are right to think that hydrating the yeast will help, it certainly will. Just make sure you do it exactly to the manufacturers recommendation since you’ll do more harm than good if not.

What’s your fermentation look like in regard to temperature? I mean the actual internal temp of the beer not the ambient temp of the room. I would be interested to see if you are perhaps fermenting at too low of a temp or perhaps too high.

Too low and the yeast may stall out, conversely too high and the fermentation may be too rigorous at first driving the fermentation temp high and then after things settle down the temp drops way too much and the yeast stall.

You have several options for fermentation control depending on your situation but you also have some recourse for when a fermentation stalls; it’s possible to add a secondary yeast or rouse the existing yeast to kick off fermentation. If your fermentation was too cold then you’ll need to warm it up a little and then slowly swirl your fermentor to get the yeast back into suspension, or you can make what’s called a ‘Yeast Starter’ from a preboiled 2l flask or similar of 1.040 gravity wort made from LME or DME, chill it to room temp, add the yeast, and pitch the whole thing when the fermentation reaches High Krausen which is the most active point of fermentation when you see the most visible yeast (Krausen) on top of the flask anywhere from 6-18 hrs in likely.

You’ll find that switching to all grain, controlling fermentation temps, and rehydrating yeast as well as using various other strains of brewing yeast to be all great ways to improve your homebrews and they are all quite easy really.

Good luck hope this helps



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oceanic_brew
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by oceanic_brew » Sat Jan 26, 2019 3:26 pm

One thing I forgot, do not transfer anything to “secondary”. Secondary is a misnomer and is left over from misinformation in old homebrewing techniques. It’s still on a lot of beginner homebrewing kits because they seem to want to appease newcomers anxiety to always be screwing with something.

Some of us still use it for adding fruit, bulk aging in a carboy to reduce headspace etc.

You want to keep your beer on your yeast cake for much longer than 5-7 days. I highly refute the opinion that this leads to stalling but I have to mention it since it’s common “knowledge” however the yeast cake will continue to help the beer mature if left alone. Beyond that, transferring to secondary is a great opportunity to oxidize your beer, and contaminate it.

You are safe to leave the beer in primary for up to even a couple months, I’ve gone much much longer.


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John G
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by John G » Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:54 pm

Does the beer taste sweet, like 1.020 sweet or do they seem fine? Are you adjusting your refractometer for the OG + alcohol produced? Straight refractometer readings any time alcohol is present need to be adjusted based on the alcohol content. Brewing software have tools to do this correction based on reading + OG at time of yeast pitch. You can probably find calculators online if you don't use brewing software like Beersmith. If all that's too much to do, go back to using a hydrometer for FG readings - it will not have this same issue.

If you are aware of the above and taking it into account, consider whether you are brewing in a cold room and as the fermentation slows down it is cooling slightly, causing the yeast to drop out (flocculate). Yeast produce heat during fermentation, and when they slow down the heat production does as well. You said you have used external heating, so that shouldn't be an issue, but you don't mention the yeast you're using or the temperature you are holding your fermenter at. Some yeasts will drop out if the fermentation temperature drops, even slightly, near end of fermentation. English and Belgian yeasts are known for this as will others. Any yeast should have data on it from the manufacturer describing flocculation potential.

If it's not that, maybe it's the extracts, although it seems odd that you get this with all of your extracts and kits.

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Beert
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by Beert » Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:56 pm

I’ll bet it’s the refractometer alcohol correction...

elreplica
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by elreplica » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:45 am

Yup...refrac correction...even the Festa at 1020?and yeast management helps but likely not an issue...I just kegged a beer that was on the yeast for eight months...hop and flavour mellowed but still good...
At Bat: several Czech Pils
On Deck: Cream Ale
In the Hole: Kolsch
Clean Up: Tall Ships Ale clones
On tap: Propeller Pils, Festa Cream Ale

RossBee
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Re: final gravity always about 1.02

Post by RossBee » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:44 pm

Refractometers are inaccurate once alcohol is present in the solution.
Why brew beer I can buy?

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