Stuck fermentation occurs when your beer fails to
ferment to completion. This can result from the
use of old yeast or poor ingredients. The best
way to take care of this problem, is to prevent
it from starting. To do this, you should:
1. Re-hydrate the yeast by adding it to
some water and adding wort to the yeast an hour
or more before you pitch. This will help ensure
that your yeast is still active.
2. Use an all malt or a recipe that has
a lot of it, as yeast needs nutrients to stay
alive. Corn and sugar lack these nutrients. If
your yeast still fails to survive, it cannot
reproduce. For this very reason, distilled water
shouldn't be used when making beer.
If you've used the proper amount of priming sugar
and your beer is still flat, it's probably due
to the fact that you didn't properly rise the
sanitizing solution from the bottles. If too
much sanitizer is left in the bottles, it can
kill the yeast, which results in flat beer. The
only way to prevent this is to stop it from
Over carbonation can cause your beer to turn into
a foam disaster. It can result from these causes:
1. Too much or uneven priming sugar. You
should measure your primer carefully and dissolve
it thoroughly in boiling water and allow it the
proper time to cool. Before bottling, make sure
to stir this into your beer.
2. Bottling your beer too early can also
result in too much carbonation.
3. Poor sanitization is also a cause. If
you allow your beer to come in contact with wild
yeast, it can result in over carbonation and
possibly even off flavors.
4. Bottles that are under filled can
also contribute to over carbonation. You should
allow 1/2 inch of head space to allow your
beer time to pressurize.
By taking the proper time to fix problems, you'll
ensure that your brew comes out great every
time you brew it. If you happen to run into a
problem, always take the time to rationalize it
before you rush into fixing it. If you rush into
fixing a problem, you may start another one.
From everything I've read, the biggest issue that
most homebrewers run into is sanitation, or lack thereof.
Meaning, do everything in your power to have your buckets
clean, your bottles clean, anything that touches the
wort clean, the brew pot clean, any utensils must be clean,
etc.... Otherwise you risk the possibility of your beer
turning out with an "off" or rancid taste.
You should expect problems, especially if this
is your first time brewing. Even for expert home
brewers, problems can occur from time to time -
which is something you'll learn to deal with.