Wherry woes.

Discuss making up beer kits - the simplest way to brew.

Wherry woes.

Post by Steeev » Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:27 pm

OK. I'm doing something wrong. Don't know what, but that's why I'm here..

My Wherry kit is my first batch of home brew, and it suffered a stuck fermentation.
Following Daab's advice I stirred the trub, than when the gravity didn't lower, added a pack of safale. All the time the beer tased lovely, even though the fermentation process hadn't finished.
FINALLY it came down to an acceptable SG, and I barrelled it. The barrel was primed with 100g glucose (boiled in the microwave with a little water, and brought down to room temp) and isinglass finings (what came with my kit).
I spent over an hour sterilizing, cleaning and rinsing out all my equipment, and made sure as to minimise any splashing when transferring the beer from the tapped fermenter into the barrel (sealed the lid with a blob of Vaseline).
I left it where the fermenter was for a couple of days per instructions, then put it in a cool place. That was over a week ago.
Curiosity got the better of me earlier, and I thought I'd just check how it was coming along.
Sadly when I turned the tap on, I got a 10ml dribble of sweet (almost caramelised) tasting juice. I didn't slosh the barrel when I moved it, and I'm at a total loss.
Is it drain-fodder or rescuable?

Thank you for reading my essay in shoddy home-brew ;)

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 10050
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: Washington, UK

Post by Jim » Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:19 pm

Well, it's difficlut to diagnose this at a distance, but clearly the yeast hasn't liked the conditions it's been trying to work in! Possiblities include:

-Poor yeast to start with (unlilkely as you added a second yeast)

-Temperature to low

-Insufficient rinsing after sterilisation

-Poor quality wort (lack of nutrients), though again I would have thought that unlikely.

If you can work out which one it is, rescue may be possible, as long as no spoilage bacteria take hold first.


Post by Steeev » Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:37 pm

I'll stick it back in the warm again.
I'm a bit worried, as the second one I have going.. A Woodforde's Nelson's Revenge seems to have got stuck on the same SG as the Wherry... I've added some Safale and we'll see what happens.
I don't think it's anything to do with the temperatures. I have a max-min thermometer on top of my fermenter at all times, and it's always within 18-20 degrees, which is per instructions, and the cooling area never drops below 15 or rises above 18.
I really don't understand why the fermentation stops. This time I aerated like crazy, and it got off to an absolute flier!
Do you reckon it could be because the CO2 can't escape from my fermenter? It doesn't have an airlock, as apparently the gases can escape from the lid, but the lid was blown out a couple of times with this brew.

Thanks for your advice Jim and DaaB. I guess I'll keep hold of it, unless it goes acetic. It's a Brupaks Almondbury Old next. If that goes wrong, it's DEFINITELY me... :unsure:

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 10050
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: Washington, UK

Post by Jim » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:25 am

Steeev, for what it's worth, I don't think this can be down to you. It sounds like you're doing things right, so try the other kit and see how it goes.

Incidentally, I always leave the lid tight on my fermenter; it doesn't affect yeast activity at all; after all, yeast works under pressure in a bottle or barrel.


Post by James » Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:22 am

QUOTE (jim @ Apr 23 2006, 07:25 AM)Steeev, for what it's worth, I don't think this can be down to you. It sounds like you're doing things right, so try the other kit and see how it goes.
Yeah, it doesn’t sound like you steev, it can be just sods law, it does happen. Sounds like you are hitting all the right buttons when it comes to cleaning, prep, etc. A lot of homebrewing is about process and understanding, so the more you brew the more you learn, but the learning curve can be a little steep and cruel. :(

Something seems a bit odd in that you say the beer reached an ‘acceptable’ final gravity, then you added 100g of glucose, waited a week and sampled a sweet tasting juice, it shouldn’t be terribly sweet at this point, even with the glucose. What was the ‘acceptable’ final gravity?

I’d say it was a yeast problem – the lack of activity in the secondary tends to suggest this. Although you did pitch a second packet of yeast, sods law says that that too can be a duff packet.

If it were me, I’d leave the barrel until mid-may, with no tasters! See what it tastes like then. The yeast is probably working, just very very slowly, so a good few weeks should allow it to eat the remaining sugars and provide a bit of C02.



Post by Steeev » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:18 am

Thanks for all the input guys. And good point Jim about the yeast working in pressure vessels.. Didn't think of that :blink:

It was between 1016 and 1014 when I racked it James btw. And the wort was at 20 degrees when the yeast was pitched.

As luck would have it, I'm on holiday from early to the end of May, so there will be less opportunity to tinker too much.

Anything else, and I probably would've given up, but seeing as how I like beer lots, and really enjoy making the kits up, I'll keep pluggging away. At the moment, it's just an expensive hobby :D

Now I'm pretty sure it's not going to leak everywhere, I've stuck it in the bedroom, which is a couple of degrees cooler than where it was.

User avatar
Under the Table
Posts: 1351
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 6:00 pm
Location: Shropshire

Post by johnmac » Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:31 pm

I have been brewing on and off for 25 years. I rarely use a hydrometer to decide when a primary fermentation is finished.

It may be heresy to say it here, but can I suggest that without the hydrometer you wouldn't have this "problem"? As Daab says, this kit may have a lot of unfermentable/slow fermenting sugars. A good thing IMHO.

The more you take hydrometer readings, the more you risk infection. The yeast thinks it's finished, so stop fretting, barrel it, wait a while drink it, enjoy it!


Post by mr.c » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:31 pm

yes im with mr.johnmac too "barrel it, wait a while drink it, enjoy it!"


Post by Steeev » Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:45 pm

It was at 1020 for 4 days before I added more yeast..
I'll give it as long as it needs.. ;)


Post by Steeev » Mon May 29, 2006 8:14 pm

Well, went to Thailand for 3 weeks - just to give the beer time to mature ;)
Got back, tried to pour a pint - same thing, a trickle of cloudy liquid.
What with the jet-lag, didn't have the guts to taste it.

Decided to open the barrel - no hissing, and the smell from the barrel was reassuring, I think.. Smelt like beer. Reckon it might have been due to a poor seal.
Slopped a load of Vaseline on and tightened again. I'll have to invest in a CO2 injector.

I have a King Keg top-tap.. Is the float supposed to sit proudly on top of the beer, or is it OK just plopped on it's side floating?



Post by eskimobob » Mon May 29, 2006 8:57 pm

From my experience, the floats tend to 'float' lopsided pretty much as you describe althought I would have said near to 45 degrees. You can dismantle the float for cleaning so is it possible that some cleaning solution was left inside the float chamber?


Post by Steeev » Tue May 30, 2006 7:37 am

Thanks Daab, it did!
I wouldn't recommend going in May, though.. Weather is a bit crappy - mid 30's when it's pelting down (nearly every day) and hotter when the sun comes out.
Still a few ice-cold Singha beers solves that problem ;)

About the beer.. I think there's something wrong in the way I installed the floating mechanism. The beer I pulled from the tap smells different from the beer in the barrel (which looks and smells mouthwatering.) maybe it got stuck in there, or something.. Heaven knows.

I think I'll don a pair of sterile gloves, detach, sanitize and reattach the float, and then pump with CO2. Assuming that's possible without splashing the hell out of the beer.

I thought about re-priming, but I'd like to get this drunk, and another on the go before the hot weather kicks in.

Cheers again.

Great Kit Instructions BTW!

User avatar
Virtually comatose but still standing
Posts: 8716
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:00 pm
Location: Ash, Surrey

Post by Andy » Tue May 30, 2006 8:16 am

I always find that the first half or so from a King Keg (after conditioning) is always a bit cloudy and can taste odd. I've put this down to the sediment present in the pipe from tap to float which has settled down inside the pipe as the beer has cleared. Once this first half has been poured off then all is well. Perhaps this is what tainted your first pint ?

User avatar
Virtually comatose but still standing
Posts: 8716
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:00 pm
Location: Ash, Surrey

Post by Andy » Tue May 30, 2006 9:24 am

QUOTE (Daft as a Brush @ May 30 2006, 09:00 AM) You mean half pint and not half the keg right ? :huh:

Sorry yes, half as in half pint!


Post by Steeev » Tue May 30, 2006 10:09 am

Got a total of 1/10th of a pint out.
I think you're right. probably just stuck in the pipe from racking.
Reckon there must've been an error on my behalf either from attaching the float (lurching on it's side), or sealing the barrel, or both, (may use Daab's trick of washing liquid around the seals) as no hissing when I opened again, thus no CO2 pressure. But the smell of the beer in the barrel is great, and has that same gassy hint to it that you get from cracking open a bottle/can of beer.
I'm sure that the beer is drinkable, just need to get my grubby mitts on it ;)

Post Reply