Is my ginger brew taking too long?

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mrblenny

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This is my first ever brew and I was wondering if I should be worried at the time it is taking for fermentation to complete? Currently I am sitting on day 19 and I just measured a specific gravity of about 1.018 and it bubbles through the air lock every 15-20 seconds or so. I didn't measure the initial gravity reading but it was about 1.034 on day 5. It is a 20L brew with 2kg of caster sugar and the average temperature has been sitting at 18 degrees (It is colder down here in Tassie!) with 4-5 days over 24 degrees.

I realise it should take longer with the temperature being so low and twice the sugar of a 'normal' brew but the instructions suggested 5 days for 1kg at 25 degrees and it seems like I am only half way through (if I need to get it to about 1.004 or so). Should I be worried? How long can you let it ferment before bad tastes start developing?

Cheers,
brew noob!
 

Deep End

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It might not be able to get through 2kg of sugar, the yeast may knock itself out trying, just bottle when you get consistent hydrometer readings over a couple of consecutive days, I'm in Tassie too and the lager I have down at the moment is a little slower than usual, had to get the heating belt out for a few days there.
 

bum

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Assuming kit yeast with decent viability, OG would need to have been around 1.108 for the yeast to crap out due to alcohol content with an "FG" of 1034 (based on the standard ~10% tolerance for ale yeasts).

The brew is not done. Do not bottle.

If you have another fermenter, try racking the batch across and it might wake your lazy yeasties up.
 

Pirate Pete

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Mr Blenny

I had the same problem. I added a bit more yeast and it finally dropped to around 1005 after being stuck at 1025 for a few days.

Peter
 

mrblenny

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After waiting another week the bubbling has stopped and the hydrometer has measured 1.014 two days in a row. Worried about how high this is I spoke to the local brew shop and they told me it can finish at this reading due to the extra non-fermentable sugars in the syrup. Apparently I also made a rookie mistake of leaving air in the barrel, I didn't realise you are meant to fill right to the top. Apparently there is a good chance it has gone bad so will check the surface for a white,waxy look. If this the case I will just bottle the lower 2/3 of the barrel and see what happens.
 

bum

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mrblenny said:
Apparently I also made a rookie mistake of leaving air in the barrel, I didn't realise you are meant to fill right to the top. Apparently there is a good chance it has gone bad so will check the surface for a white,waxy look.
I am sorry to say but your LHBS is completely full of shit. You do not need to fill your fermenter to the top. It isn't even particularly advisable. If you ever do get an infected brew it will not be because you failed to top up the batch to the lip of the fermenter.
 

mrblenny

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I did think it strange that the instructions never mentioned the air gap if it was so important. What about the hydrometer reading? I was going to bottle tonight seeing as the reading has been steady for 2 days but can the syrup explain a reading of 1.014?
 

bum

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Conceivably but I've definitely had Coopers GB goop go lower than that. What brand did you use?

1014 is a tad high but not unbelievable. Really depends on exact ingredients.
 

mrblenny

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The brand is morgans. Well if it isn't out of the question then I guess it might be worth bottling. Perhaps just wait till tomorrow and re-measure..or should I add some more yeast? Note I used 2kg of sugar..

I guess worse case is some bottles burst....
 

bum

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No, worse case scenario is a bottle bursts into someone's eye.

There's no rush. Wait for feedback about the FG from someone who has brewed a Morgan's GB before. That kit could be really dry for all I know and FG of 1000ish might be normal.
 

mrblenny

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OK, So I did some googling and it seems that other people with Morgans have had it finish at ranges from 1.010 to 1.000. So assuming my brew measures 1.014 tomorrow (making it 3 days in a row at same reading) what should I do? Add more yeast and nutrient, or bottle it up?
 

bum

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If a lot of people get your exact recipe down to about 1000 then I would advise against 1014, personally. I'd rouse some yeast (swirl the fermenter without splashing) and warm it up and check again in a week.
 

mrblenny

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OK, sounds like a plan. Just to clarify do you mean to just swirl it (and *not* any more yeast or nutrient)?
 

bum

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I would definitely swirl before I decided extra expense was required. It usually works for me.
 

Deep End

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So...hows it getting along?

I bottled my lager today, after three weeks in the barrel, it went to 1014 which was around what I expected with the solubles I added. Have not had a beer in the barrel that long before, combination of a busy three weeks and some cold nights. I guess I'll find out soon enough if it's any good. Also racked a few fruit wines today as well, had a lot of brewing catch up to do.

2kg of sugar is gunna make it a wild ginger......sorta like my wife :D

Agree with Bum about the filling the whole vessel up, we've got two options for LHBS down here, makes me wonder which one told you that?? Carbon Dioxide from the brewing process forms a protective barrier on top of your brew. I make 18L or 23L brews in my fermenter, there is always a minimum of 3L of air space.

Eager to find out how yor GB ends up anyway!
 

mrblenny

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Hi Krausen,

Well the swirl and heat has helped - it started bubbling not long after and I have kept it at around 24 degrees throughout the week. I was going to measure yesterday but it was still bubbling through the airlock every 5-10 minutes and today it is still going (although I suspect it has slowed down). So I measured and got 1.016, which means it has definitely fermented some more but not as much as I was hoping (was 1.018 last week). If you bottled at 1.014 though then maybe I won't have much to go...will repeat a double reading once the bubbling stops anyway which hopefully will be next couple of days.

I tasted the sample as well, it was pretty much what I expected, ie flat and warm so wasn't really that nice but it had no off flavours or anything else either so being the barrel for this long has not seemed to do any damage anyhow.

Cheers!
 

Deep End

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I bottled a beer at 1.014, just to clarify, and it had some unfermentables in it, which is why I bottled at that density. Beer is generally denser than GB's and cider's. Your ginger beer will probably go closer to 1.000 as bum has suggested. Patience is a virtue in brewing, one I have yet to completley grasp. But I'd just keep it warm and wait till it"s finished doing its thing. Bottle Bombs are not drinker friendly in any case.
 

mrblenny

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Just an update: Measured 1.014 today. So it is going down about 0.002 a week. At this rate it will be another 6-7 weeks before it is ready to bottle. I am not *that* concerned but it would be nice to bottle shortly. Is it worth the risk of briefly opening it up to put some more yeast and nutrient in?

On a related note, I acquired a 200 litre plastic drum for $20 and a 50W aquarium heater for $18 on ebay. I filled the barrel about 1/3 with water and placed my brew container inside. For the same financial outlay as a 'heater belt' I have a much more energy efficient way to maintain temperature control, and as a bonus it can fit a case or two worth of bottles as well (overnight temp in my house can get to 2-3 degrees). Might not be suitable for everyone but it seems to me a fairly cheap way to keep everything at a constant temperature and if I get a burst bottle it will be fully contained.
 

mrblenny

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I did eventually bottle this (at just over 1.001) , and the final taste was pretty good with a nice alcohol content (*feels* like ~5% to drink). However not all bottles fizzed properly which is a shame. Considering they took 4+ months to get down to 1.001, not surprising they are a bit flat after 1 month in the bottle. If this happens again I think I will put fresh yeast in rather than wait. Patience is a virtue and all that but virtue ain't filling my bottles with beer! On the plus side, I am still keeping the bottles warm so they should get more bubbles over time as I drink my way through them!

Next stop, a simple black rock cider brew. It is still cold in Tasmania though, so will be putting it in my custom barrel to keep warm and hopefully should not take another eternity to brew :)
 

EvilTwin

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mrblenny said:
I did eventually bottle this (at just over 1.001) , and the final taste was pretty good with a nice alcohol content (*feels* like ~5% to drink). However not all bottles fizzed properly which is a shame. Considering they took 4+ months to get down to 1.001, not surprising they are a bit flat after 1 month in the bottle.
Just wanted to ask the dumb question - how did you prime the bottles ? Sugar, carb drops or bulk priming ?
 

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