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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: noallawshe on September 24, 2013, 04:53:53 PM

Title: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 24, 2013, 04:53:53 PM
i recently brewed my 1st Belgian strong ale. the OG was 1.098. it fermented aggressivly for 7 days, then slowed. after 14 days i racked to secondary and the  gravity only droped to 1.040.  i used the trappist high gravity 3787 from wyeast. i did not do a started, i pitched 1.5 pack  to each 5gal carboy. how should i go about getting the gravity down to 1.010 or lower?  thank you in advance.          nl
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: AmandaK on September 24, 2013, 04:59:51 PM
Did you take a gravity reading before racking?
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 24, 2013, 05:01:25 PM
Gravity is 1.040 when i racked to secondary
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: brewmasternpb on September 24, 2013, 05:01:47 PM
A couple of things:  1st, I still don't think you pitched enough yeast for that gravity.  2nd, did you aerate or oxygenate?  3rd- I would check your hydrometer, just to be sure.  60 degree water should read 1.0.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 24, 2013, 05:06:03 PM
A couple of things:  1st, I still don't think you pitched enough yeast for that gravity.  2nd, did you aerate or oxygenate?  3rd- I would check your hydrometer, just to be sure.  60 degree water should read 1.0.
+1.   Also, was this an all-grain beer or did you use extract?  Please post your recipe.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: morticaixavier on September 24, 2013, 05:07:59 PM
+1 to brewmasternpb as a starting point.

For future batches I would skip the move to secondary. Even if you had pitched enough yeast you then moved the beer away from the bulk of that yeast before it was done.

This is assuming you used a hydrometer and not a refractometer to take your final reading. If you used a refract and did not adjust the reading for the presence of alcohol you are closer to 1.007.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: svejk on September 24, 2013, 05:17:03 PM
If it does turn out that this batch is truly stalled, restarting fermentation can be tricky.  If it were me, I would pull a sample of the beer (at least a hydrometer jar's worth, maybe a bit more just to be sure) and pitch a pack of Nottingham dry yeast in it.  Leave that sample warm and shake it several times a day.  Check the gravity with a calibrated hydrometer after a few days and see what it stopped at.  If the gravity didn't change, then it won't go any further no matter what you do so you can then decide what to do with it (maybe it could be used for blending). 

If the sample did finish at your target FG, then there is hope and you will need to pitch a LOT of yeast to finish the job.  Your beer is already over 7.5% ABV and completely lacking oxygen, so you will get very little if any yeast growth if you pitch packs of yeast in it.  What you really want is a massive slug of yeast to finish the job, so you could grow up a batch of healthy yeast by brewing a batch of low gravity table beer (OG ~1.040) and racking the stalled beer onto the yeast cake from the small beer.  You may need a couple of batches since you are doing this with 10 gallons. 

Another option would be to find a local brewery or brewpub that would give you a bunch of slurry to pitch into the beer.  I have done this same thing with Belgian beers before, and the first yeast I pitched provided the "Belgian" character, and I finished the beer by pitching over a quart of 1056 from a local brewery.

Good luck with the brew!
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: AmandaK on September 24, 2013, 06:55:04 PM
Gravity is 1.040 when i racked to secondary

What I meant was did you take a gravity reading then rack it OR rack it then take a reading.

In the future, I would recommend taking a gravity reading first. If it hasn't reached your expected terminal gravity, do not transfer it off the yeast and into a secondary.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: Joe Sr. on September 24, 2013, 07:26:52 PM
In the future, I would recommend taking a gravity reading first. If it hasn't reached your expected terminal gravity, do not transfer it off the yeast and into a secondary.

This is important.  Also, with a beer that big you need to have patience.  Patience and no need for a secondary.  Racking to secondary at 14 days seems arbitrary especially with the gravity reading being so high.

My last tripel started at 1.11 or so and took around a month to reach a steady final gravity (1.020 IIRC).

FWIW, I've had limited success in pitching additional yeast.  Even with a large pitch of fresh slurry.  You can do it, but don't expect the beer to take off and ferment out quickly.  However, since you've already racked off the majority of your yeast, it may be all you can do.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 24, 2013, 08:28:48 PM
i racked all the yeast with it
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: morticaixavier on September 24, 2013, 08:31:54 PM
i racked all the yeast with it

you didn't leave anything behind in primary? there was no big cake of sludge on the bottom? In that case there was really really no reason to rack. The idea behind racking in the first place is to remove the beer from potentially old and unhealthy yeast that might cause off flavours. This is rarely an issue with the healthier yeast we have access to today.

Alright then, Let's have the recipe details.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: Joe Sr. on September 24, 2013, 08:44:02 PM
i racked all the yeast with it

You'll have to explain that further.  Was all the yeast still in suspension?  If so, why rack?  Don't set a schedule for the beer.  Let it do it's thing.

FWIW, I do not use secondaries and have not for several years or more.  Saves a step and no harm to the beer.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: duboman on September 24, 2013, 11:00:57 PM
Not to beat a dead horse but you definitely racked too early.

That being said, assuming the yeast was still in suspension and was racked hopefully the beer will continue to fully ferment out but it's important that you be patient and allow the yeast to finish now in secondary. Keep the temp a little warmer than it was as Belgian strains prefer warmer temps and you don't want to shock them anymore than they already have been!
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 25, 2013, 12:50:48 AM
 i feel like i have been spanked. i disturbed the yeast cake in each carboy trying to blend both together and keep the yeast cake.the beers are still fermenting, but very slow. i was half way through racking before i checked the gravity. remember, first Belgian strong or any Belgian for that matter. normally a apa, ipa guy. don't ever need to ferment longer than 2 weeks. i will call this a learning experience. i never stop learning.
thanks to all for your input, a lot of info i already knew and some i did not.

i will let you know how it all turns out.

I know i know i have made some big time rookie mistakes

25#german pils
1# german wheat
1#special B
2# amber candi sugar
3#tubinado
2oz magnum 12.5aau@60
1.5oz styrain3.5@30
1.5oz styrain3.4aau@3
3pk 3787

mash @148 for 75min
ferment for ? i will let you know

FERMENTING:
Belgian Strong 10g
Chocolate Porter
Orange Porter
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 25, 2013, 01:02:33 AM
ps: if no one is using a secondary, where do you age beer. you do not want to leave on the yeast cake forever? wont dead yeast cells affect the product after time?
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: dmtaylor on September 25, 2013, 01:11:35 AM
Based on your recipe, I think you're going to be fine.  Just needs a lot of time to finish up.  It's not realistic to expect an FG of 1.010, but you should be able to achieve 1.020-1.025 which won't be too bad.  Give it time, and warm it up, and it will be fine.  If it seems to stall, throw in some yeast energizer and watch it take off again.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 25, 2013, 01:19:17 AM
Nope no spanking, just constructive help  ;).  As mentioned, it looks like underpitching and lack of enough time on the yeast were definitely setbacks to attenuation, as was lack of sufficient aeration. I use ~ 2 minutes of oxygen through a wand for beers this big. Mr Malty is a good yeast calculator to get you in the ballpark of pitching the right amount of yeast.  As far as yeast autolysis, I've left beers this big on the yeast for a month or more, with great results. You wouldn't want to leave it for a really extended time on the cake, but a month or 2 at fermentation temps won't hurt and will help the yeast finish and clean up after itself.  Hang in there - we've all been there !  A beer this big is a different animal, with additional things to consider in order to get a well attenuated fermentation. 
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on September 25, 2013, 02:03:46 AM
this beer has  Humbled me :-[
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: morticaixavier on September 25, 2013, 02:57:43 AM
this beer has  Humbled me :-[

don't be too humbled. that's a solid recipe. no fat.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: jamminbrew on September 25, 2013, 04:39:16 AM
  i will call this a learning experience. i never stop learning.
I never stop learning, either.
+1 to using yeast energizer. Did you add any yeast nutrient and/or energizer during the boil? I always add some yeast nutrient to the wort during boil, both at home and in the brewery.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: jeffy on September 25, 2013, 11:29:50 AM
Autolysis is more of a concern in very large, tall commercial fermenters where there is significant pressure on the yeast, not so much in carboys or buckets.
I leave my beer in the primary until the fermentation is finished, then rack to a keg or rack to dry hop or rack to fruit.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: AmandaK on September 25, 2013, 12:05:28 PM
ps: if no one is using a secondary, where do you age beer. you do not want to leave on the yeast cake forever? wont dead yeast cells affect the product after time?

If I'm doing a normal beer (e.g. not sour or something meant for aging), I usually do a 3-4 week primary. If I am doing say, a Belgian Golden Strong, I primary it for a month - by then it has dropped clear on its own - take a gravity reading/taste test then secondary for 2-3 months. I can rush this process along for smaller beers, but it's all done by feel. There is no set timetable for the fermentation in my brewery, it is all done by sight (gravity readings), taste and smell.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: Joe Sr. on September 25, 2013, 01:47:21 PM
As others have said, that's a solid recipe and it just needs time to finish.  It will go slowly but it should keep fermenting.  Most of my beers are bigger beers (1.07+) and they sit on the yeast for three weeks at least.  No harm will come from that.

FWIW, I've never seen fermentation take off again after adding yeast energizer but I could be doing it wrong.  I've tried just about everything to get big beers to finish faster (warmer temps, rouse the yeast, rack to a fresh yeast cake, add yeast energizer) and what I've found is that while each of those may help you really do need to be patient.

And don't be humbled, I'll bet it tastes awesome when it's done. The tripel I tapped last weekend is one of the best I've made in ages and it took forever to finish.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: majorvices on September 26, 2013, 01:21:16 PM
The most important thing you can take away from thus is: racking isn't really necessary in most cases but racking before beer is finished can totally screw up everything. I'm not totally convicted the beer will finish out completely unless you really did remove all the yeast and put in 2ndary ... And then I have to wonder why in the world you would do that?
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: klickitat jim on September 26, 2013, 04:17:19 PM
Don't lose heart. All of us have botched a batch. Maybe your beer will be fine but if not, lesson learned and move on. Jump right back in and brew up another one.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: reverseapachemaster on September 26, 2013, 05:16:24 PM
I very rarely secondary beer. Even beers I age tend to get left in primary. When dry hopping I cold crash and move to the bottling bucket where I add the hops in a bag. Yeast will strip out some of the hop compounds and I don't have a good way to rack out of a fermentor after dry hopping that won't result in rousing the yeast and defeating the purpose of the cold crash.

I've had beer sit for months and months in primary without autolysis destroying the beer.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: ynotbrusum on September 27, 2013, 01:57:32 AM
For sure don't sweat it and don't be so hard on yourself.  This beer will need a little TLC to coax it to attenuate as much as possible, but it will likely be fine with enough time.  Good luck and keep up the brewing - and reading here;  there are a lot of very knowledgeable brewers here.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on October 02, 2013, 11:31:20 PM
UPDATE!!
 I made two  starters( one for each carboy) with Danstar Nottingham yeast  slightly more the 1/2 gal each with an OG of 1.050 . i let them spin on the stir plate for 2 days, then pitched directly into the carboys. i had a noticeable increase in the fermentation in about 2 hrs. after 2 days they continue to have active bubbling of the airlock. more updates to follow

Frementing:
well you know
In The Keg: 2 Carbonating
Chocolate Porter
Orange Porter(aged on Grande Marnier Light toast Oak Chips for 1 week)(chips soaked for 8 weeks)  ;D
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on October 16, 2013, 07:45:54 PM
UPDATE:

fermentation continues, at last check the gravity had come down to 1.028
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: noallawshe on December 13, 2013, 08:49:28 PM
update: after 3 months the beer has finished @1.018 and is very tasty. ageing 5 gal on med toast oak spirals and 5 gal straight to keg for carbing and drinking.
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: morticaixavier on December 13, 2013, 09:03:44 PM
glad to here it worked out
Title: Re: Fermentation not finished
Post by: ynotbrusum on December 13, 2013, 10:49:03 PM
I bet you don't feel like you got spanked now!  Congrats on a successful first big beer.  They require a little TLC and time, but in the end they are worth it.  Next up, try a sour!  Brett is really something....