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A bit of background:

  • This is my second beer batch. My first beer batch turned out well as an Irish Stout, using the Midwest Brewing kit and recipie
  • I just started a White House Honey Ale I'm currently brewing a White House Honey Ale using this kit. I started this brew a week ago, 4/21, and opened it up for the first time today. I used dry yeast per the recipe. I have the following observations and questions:

    1. There is no layer of krausen on the top of the fermenter. Is this normal/expected in some cases? Because of this, should I re-pitch yeast into the primary fermentation?
    2. My original gravity reading prior to fermentation was 1.020. The recipe sheet mentions an SG of 1.058-1.060 - so was something wrong to begin with with this batch of beer?
    3. The reading on my hydrometer today is 1.010, which is within the range of the expected final gravity on the recipe sheet.

The big question. Based on this evidence, my first inclination is to say that fermentation did happen, and I should move the beer into a carboy for further fermentation. Is this what you would recommend in this sitauation, or would you suggest a different course of action?

A final note: in both the Irish stout and this batch of beer, I didnt see any bubbling in the airlock. From what I've searched on this website, this may be "normal" as some of the 5 gallon food grade containers or seals dont have very good seals, so my first impression is that fermentation probably did happen, I just dont see the fermentation because i'm dealing with leaky equipment.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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1.020 is extremely low for a target of 1.060. Can you go over the process you used? Did you add all the Malt Extract Provided? Did you dilute the batch too much? –  DougEdey Apr 28 '13 at 21:41
    
@DougEdey - Yes, I did add all the malt extract provided (both liquid and dry malt). I suspect Tobias below was correct and I had not fully mixed prior to the original gravity measurement. –  CrimsonX Apr 29 '13 at 22:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The original gravity reading was probably low due to insufficient mixing. Unless you stir the wort vigorously for a good while, it will stratify with sugary wort at the bottom and thin wort at the top.

See this question for more details about why your starting gravity might be low.

The final gravity reading is probably correct. Did you taste the beer that you used to take a hydrometer reading? If it tastes like beer, then fermentation is complete. Leave the beer for a another week to let the yeast clean up (or rack it to a carboy, if that's what you do), and then bottle or keg.

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I did taste the beer, and it seemed less alcoholic than I expected it to be. I think you're right that the reading was due to insufficient mixing. Thank you for the link to the other question about original gravity. I ended up adding about 4 more pounds of honey with some champagne yeast for a second fermentation - worst case scenario is I create a barleywine style beer instead of a honey ale. Thanks for the advice! –  CrimsonX Apr 29 '13 at 14:34
1  
What you're making now is called braggot –  Tobias Patton Apr 29 '13 at 16:34
    
Very kind of you to follow up on this. Thanks for your help! Hopefully I'll be able to make a traditional white house ale another time :-). I never expected to customize while brewing my second beer. –  CrimsonX Apr 29 '13 at 22:01

Upon brewing another beer today and looking at the hydrometer carefully (this one), I believe I made an error in measurement and read off of the Brix scale, not the and measured using the brix scale, not the gravity scale. 20 brix is about equivalent to 1.080 hydrometer - this doesnt make complete sense, but I am guessing a higher measurement of 1.080 was measured due to incomplete mixing (I added 1 gallon extra water to the batch). This is my theory at least. Tobias still deserves the credit for the answer, I'm posting this for completeness in case someone else ends up with the same situation.

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