I’ve been very patient with Beer two. On the first day it nearly exploded. By day 5 fermentation seemed to have stopped, but the hydrometer read around 1020 (not the 1012 it should read when done).

But last night I started to panic!

Day 7 and the hydrometer still reads the same. What is going on?

I decided to pitch more yeast, from another Black Rock kit. So I opened the lid and sprinkled the yeast on top. When I noticed little bubbles starting to form, I closed the lid again – not wanting the beer to be exposed to oxygen for too long in case it causes oxidation.

Ten minutes later and the lid started to bulge up, and a smile started to form on my face. Yeah! We have fermentation again!

Or so I thought. Before I went to bed I pushed the lid down, hoping to see it bulging again this morning from Co2. But it wasn’t.

I don’t really understand it. Taking a sample last night, I could taste the sweetness – and since the reading is supposed to go down to 1012 using malt, that should be fermentable.

So I’m analysing what went wrong.

Last night? This site (which I should have read properly last night before adding the yeast, rather than going from memory!) has some pointers on restarting a stuck fermentation. I sprinkled the yeast in and once I saw it was working, I resealed – but the site advises leaving the lid off for 20 minutes and then giving the yeast a gentle stir. The point of aerating wart is to give the yeast oxygen to work with – by putting back on the lid and not stirring, I probably cut off the yeast’s oxygen supply so it couldn’t get started. Doh. I was too scared of causing stalling.

But why did it stick in the first place? Well that I’m stumped about. If I had not aerated enough, the yeast wouldn’t have been active enough to almost explode, right?

Maybe it’s the yeast with the wheat malt? The Muntons site says “Substitute two packs (1 kg) of Spraymalt for all the sugar recommended in the beer kit recipe. Important note: when using this recipe you must use Muntons Premium Gold yeast as you will be producing a beer particularly rich and full-bodied requiring the improved fermentation characteristics of the Muntons Premium Gold yeast.” Before I got started I mailed Muntons and asked whether it’s OK to use the kit yeast. They replied back “sure” – but maybe I really do need better yeast to get that down that last 8 gravity points?

Of course there’s always the possibility that 1020 is “right” and that it is “finished” rather than “stuck” – but that seems unlikely.

At the moment I’m quite demoralized. The first bottle tasting of Beer one wasn’t great, and right now, Beer two – which was supposed to be a wheat marvel – tastes as sweet as Beer one and isn’t settling to the proper final gravity.

At least – I have to remind myself – the beer didn’t get infected and completely ruined, but I was counting on Beer two turning out nice.

So what do I do now? Buy better yeast and rehydrate myself? Just leave it and hope the final gravity will go down? For how long?

Most likely I’ll leave it until I can get a secondary (hopefully this weekend) and then put it into the secondary with some orange peel and coriander. Maybe the time in the secondary will cause the final gravity to fall a little, and the slightly sweet taste will go well with the fruit.

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