Stuck Fermentation

After 100+ brews with my Grainfather I thought I had encountered every problem possible.   Well, I was wrong 🙂  Last weekend I set out to brew one of my favorite styles of beer, a Scottish Export Ale.   I carefully chose my grain, hops, yeast, and determined my mash schedule.

My brew day starts with determining strike water volume and temperature.  I typically set the strike temp to about 5ºF higher than mash-in.  For this brew that meant strike temperature of 157ºF for a 152ºF mash-in.   It seemed to take longer than normal to reach strike temperature.  However, I was busy cleaning brewing equipment so I didn’t really care.

For the majority of a my brews I have a very simple mash schedule.  I mash for 60 minutes followed by a 10 minute mash out at 170ºF.   With mash out and sparging complete it was time to bring the wort up to a boil.   Again it seemed to take longer than normal to get to a boil, but I didn’t mind the wait.  That was until I glanced over at my Grainfather is noticed the hot-break spewing out the top of the kettle.  I was rather confused since the controller was only reading 180ºF (hot break happens at boiling temp).  That’s when I realized what was wrong.   The temperature probe was only partially inserted into the well and thus was giving false readings.  I fully seated the temperature probe and continue my brew day without additional drama.

With the wort chilled and transferred to my Fast Ferment i dumped in WLP028 and my trust Tilt Hydrometer.  

As you can see fermentation got off to a good start but quickly stalled on the second day.  This is when I realized the  temperature probe was probably not fully seated during the mash as well.  I suspect I was really mashing in the 160-170ºF range which would result a much less fermentable wort.   What to do?   I was wasn’t really interested in a 3.5% ABV Scotch Ale with an FG 1.022.

Off to the Maryland Home-brew where I told my story to the staff and they suggested I pick up some Glucoamylase.   One tsp of that, some fresh yeast (probably wasn’t necessary), and yeast nutrient and I was off the races again:

Now the beer is at 1.010 which is about where I want it.  I’m a little concerned the Glucoamylase will dry it even further so I may transfer to keg and cold crash it before waiting for the SG to stabilize.

If you need to dry out a beer.   I highly suggest looking into Glucoamylase.  This stuff is magic.

2018 Harvest Pale Ale

I may do two Harvest Ales this year.  I haven’t decided what to do with my Blackberries and Grapes so for now I’ll focus on a brew for my Cascade and Centennial hops first.   Here’s the basics:

Grain Bill

lbs Grain
10 Brewer’s Malt 2-Row (Briess)
1 Caramel Malt – 40L (Briess)
1 Flaked Oats


Temp Step
160F Pre-heat strike water
154F Mash In – 60 mins
170F Mash Out – 10 mins
170F Sparge


  • 2 tsp Irish Moss T-15


  • 7.5 oz whole cone wet Cascade hops @ flame out, whirlpool
    while chilling to 175F.
  • 2.5 oz whole cone wet Centennial hops 4 days into primary


  • 3/8 tsp lactic acid
  • 1 tsp gypsum

This beer has been keg’d and is conditioning now.   I’ll provide an update when it goes on tap!

PGB Session IPA

I’m a big fan of Session IPAs.   Unfortunately finding a good one isn’t so easy.   My goto is All Day IPA by Founders.   I could buy this beer all the time, but I also like variety.   During Philly Beer Week I found Hops Hands by Tire Hands to be another delicious sessionable IPA.

I’ve made Session IPAs in the past but they always seem to creep into the IPA category for ABV wise and haven’t been very balanced.   Typically a Session IPA is below 5% ABV.   So really Hop Hands is in the regular IPA category at 5.5%, but it’s so light and easy drinking it’s certainly a session beer in my book.

So for this brew I reduce my malt bill to a total of 8.5 lbs of grain as I was targeting less than 5% ABV:

Even with this small malt bill I still managed to produce something north of 5%.   Between my refractometer, Tilt, and hydrometer this between is somewhere between 5.2-5.5%.   I’m currently drying hopping this beer under pressure in a corny keg with 1oz of Amarillo whole leaf at room temperature.   Not sure yet, but I may decide to do a second dry hop.  Hopefully I will be conditioned and ready for tasting in a week or so.

8/17/18 Update:

I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m having a problem measuring specific gravity.  For whatever reason that past couple brews I’ve noticed quite a difference between the SG reported by the Tilt and my refractometer.  I assumed the Tilt needed to be calibrated, but now I’m thinking something funky is happening with my refractometer.   So believe this brew is closer to 5.1%.

On these hot/humid Maryland summer days this Session IPA really hits the spot.

It’s Cryo Time

I admit to being rather concerned that this beer would not turn out very well.   When I tasted it from the fermenter I was underwhelmed by the hop aroma and flavor.   I did notice that the dry hops had floated to the top of the fermenter; which was a concern.   Next time I’ll have to make sure they get submerged for better hop aroma/flavor extraction.

One week after being in the keg I still wasn’t every excited about the beer.   However, now that’s it been in the keg a little over two weeks I’m happy to report it’s a very nice drinking beer.   The hop aroma is still not what I was hoping for, but the hop flavor is really quite amazing.   Maybe it just takes more time for Cryo Hop’d beers to develop?

Here is the fermentation chart for this beer.   Note the temperature swings.   Some day I’ll acquire I temperature controlled fermenter 🙂

Final product is a highly drinkable 6.2 % light bodied IPA with plenty of hop flavor.   While the hop aroma is not intense you can detect the Simcoe and Cascade hops.

I feel like this beer would have benefit’d from a slightly more complex malt bill. Next time I’ll had some Carapils and/or Wheat.   Or maybe split the base malt up with between two varieties.   I’ll also make sure the dry hops stay submerged…


Hop Update

Second year hops

This is the second year for my hops.  The front row is Cascade and the back is Centennial.   I feel like they aren’t growing as well as they should this year.   Maybe I was a little too aggressive trimming them, or maybe I just need to give them more room to grow.   That front row has progressed considerably more than than the back.

Next year I’ll divide up the rhizomes and plant them all in a single row.   So I should have a total of at least 16 plants next year 🙂

Anyway as you can see from the following photos the hop cones have started to form.

Centennial Hops

Cascade Hops

Now I just need to start thinking about the Harvest Ale I’m going to make with these…   I have about a month to decide as I hope to be picking these hops in late August…

Cryo Adventure

Until recently if you wanted a super hoppy beer you had to consume something north of 6% ABV or something well north of that mark.   Like a Double IPA, Imperial IPA, or a stupid strong IPA (think Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA).

I enjoy hoppy beers, but I’d like to have more than one or two.   Founder’s All Day IPA weighing in at a mere 4.7% is probably may favorite.  It’s delicious and something you really can drink all day.

The Columbia Crew recently went to Philly Beer week (see my bud Warren’s Blog for the details).    One of the highlights was a visit to Tired Hand’s Fermentaria where I had many awesome beers, but one beer really stood out for me.   That would be their Hop Hands Pale Ale weighing in at 5.5% which is hopped like crazy with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial.   This is an absolutely crushable beer.   I love it, maybe more so than All Day IPA (that’s saying a lot).

So that brings me today’s brew day.   I’m not sure what distinguishes a Pale Ale   from a Session IPA these days or whether what I’m making should be considered a straight up IPA so I’m going to refrain from using those terms.   Today’s beer while be called “Cryo Time”.

The goal with this brew is to feature hops so I decided to go with a simple malt bill consisting of nothing but Briess Brewer’s Malt.   The hops added to this beer will be considerably more interesting.  Here’s the Beer Smith profile:

So as you can see I’m using a total fo 3 oz of Cryo hops.   What’s a Cryo Hop you ask?   It’s a concentrated form of a hop.   Hop manufactures have figured out how to extract the Lupulin power from hops and pelletize them.   The net effect is a pellet that packs about twice the hop power of a normal hop pellet.

There are some conventional hop pellets in this brew as well.   I’m using a 1/2 oz of Warrior as a First Wort Hop for bittering and will be using 1 oz of Cascade pellets along with the Cryo Hops for dry hop ( the idea is to have something for the Lupulin powder to cling to).

So in all there is the equivalent of 7.5oz of hops in this brew which has a SG of only 1.058.

It’s fermenting now so I’ll report back in a couple weeks 🙂


What’s with the domain name?

Long before I realized “God Save The Keg” was a Ritchie Blackmore song I was exposed to the phrase at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.   This is where Hack and Slash would perform their Ale Extravaganza routine (among others).   Unfortunately they no longer perform together, but you can see what I’m talking about via this link:

They used the phrase during their sword play and sold “God Save The Keg” T-Shirts (of which I have several). These guys were always the highlight of the MD Rennfest for me.

Anyway…  That’s where the inspiration for the “” came from.   I’m also a homebrewer so it just seemed like a good fit.

So on this spot of the web I plan random posts on all things related to beer but mostly homebrewing.