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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: BrewQwest on March 25, 2010, 11:20:08 PM

Title: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on March 25, 2010, 11:20:08 PM
Ok, I have searched under 'stuck fermentations' and after an hour I have decided to post this. Please forgive if a duplicate. I normally make my beers no more than a 1.068 in gravityand use O2. Well, I made my first BarleyWine at 1.120 and I forgot to use the oxygen. I still shook the beejeezus out of it but after 10 days of really slow bubbling (slow fermentation?), it has ceased and desisted... I used a blend of WL001 and S-05 (1 pint jar of each from harvested cakes but NOT a pint of slurry each) and am now only at 1.050 and I need to get to 1.020... what are my options and how do I get there. I have only been brewing for about 15 months so please don't go too far over my head with your responses... cheers!!
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: tygo on March 26, 2010, 12:42:56 AM
What temperature are you fermenting at?  How long were the harvested cakes sitting in storage before you pitched them?  Did you make a starter?
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bluesman on March 26, 2010, 01:52:06 AM
What temp is your beer at now? Try rousing the yeast and warming up the beer to 72ish.
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on March 26, 2010, 03:50:26 AM
What was your recipe and mash profile including temps and times.  To properly respond I need to see if you have the fermentable sugars to get down to 1.020, that is 83 to 84% attenuation and you need to modify your normal procedures to achieve those levels.

Based on a "normal" mash (whatever that is) I would expect something in the 1.035 range, If your mash was warm and/or short I would expect something around 1.050 for a FG.

Fixes depend on your end goal and your mash profile.  You may need an enzyme addition to produce more fermentable sugars, I do not recommend this except in extreme circumstances.

Finally the best way to unstick a stuck fermentation (not a completed fermentation, and I don't know which this is) is to add a growler FULL of thick slurry, the best is from your friendly neighborhood brew pub.  Any clean ACTIVE yeast will do.  The idea is to add a full working population of yeast (you don't want to GROW yeast at this stage) so adding a starter is IMHO not sufficient.

Fred
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on March 26, 2010, 01:02:18 PM
What temp is your beer at now? Try rousing the yeast and warming up the beer to 72ish.
The interior center of the carboy is holding steady at 68F..Once the beer cools to 67F, heat is applied to the fermentation chamber until the center of the wort reaches 68F once again.(temp probe is inside a SS thermowell inserted through the stopper reaching the center of the carboy). Please forgive but I forgot to mention that the BarleyWine was pitched on top of a combination WL001 and S-05 yeastcake (a 1.050 pale ale was racked to secondary to free up the yeast cake for the BarleyWine).  The pints of WL001 and S-05 were made into a starter and pitched into the BarleyWine as my first attempt to rouse the incomplete fermentation. Since that was unsuccessful, I figured I better ask some questions before I really mess up the beer.

What was your recipe and mash profile including temps and times.  To properly respond I need to see if you have the fermentable sugars to get down to 1.020, that is 83 to 84% attenuation and you need to modify your normal procedures to achieve those levels.

For a 6 gallon batch:  Mash was single infusion at 152F for one hour, no mash out, 7 pounds of pale liquid extract, 11 pounds of 2-Row, 2 pounds of various Crystal malts, 8 ounce white wheat, 1 pound of various darker specialty malts (for mouthfeel and for color), and a pound of sugar.
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on March 26, 2010, 02:17:48 PM
A couple of points
because you do not have control of the fermentability of extract I do not recommend it in beers over 1.100 OG a way around this would be to mash the extract thus allowing for further reduction of the complex sugars.
For a 1.120+ beer you really want to mash to maximize fermentability of the wort. You are adding enough to the beer so getting A full body is not a problem.

If I were brewing this on my system I would expect a 1.035 - 1.040 FG which is significantly lower than your results. I would ask you to check the calibration of your thermometer used in the mash

you can gain several points with a long mash say 2 hrs
I would have mashed at 148f and for 2 hrs to maximize my fermentability and attentuation.

Before you try anything else pitch the growler full of slurry I suggested and see if that helps

Fred
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: denny on March 26, 2010, 03:27:44 PM
I also wouldn't get too freaked out at only 10 days....
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on March 26, 2010, 03:28:43 PM
I also wouldn't get too freaked out at only 10 days....
I missed that,  thanks Denny
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: denny on March 26, 2010, 03:31:18 PM
I also wouldn't get too freaked out at only 10 days....
I missed that,  thanks Denny

Figured you had or you would have mentioned it!

BrewQuest, just leave it alone for another week or 2 and let us know what's going on then.
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on March 26, 2010, 11:34:05 PM
I also wouldn't get too freaked out at only 10 days....
I missed that,  thanks Denny

Figured you had or you would have mentioned it!

BrewQuest, just leave it alone for another week or 2 and let us know what's going on then.
thanks for your help guys.. Actually tomorrow will be the end of the 3rd week in the fermentor (21 days).  I noticed the ceased bubbling activity after the 10th day timeframe......I will be taking another reading in the next day or two as I rack this into a long term secondary as I need the fermentor for a new batch.  I will let you know the gravity again at that time...
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: SwashBuckling Drunk on March 27, 2010, 10:47:58 PM
I would buy another bucket for $10 before I'd move that sucka to secondary
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on April 02, 2010, 03:01:08 PM
ok, no change in reading since my first posting a week ago.. still sitting at 1.050 and tastes sickeningly sweet...with my computations I figure only a 58% attenuation so far...I have never made a barley wine before, but this tastes like a batch waiting to have yeast pitched into it to eat the sugars...Would anyone recommend rehydrating champagne yeast and pitching it?..I do not have access to a microbrewery for obtaining a growler full of yeast...Any help would be appreciated...thank you....
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: denny on April 02, 2010, 04:01:29 PM
I don't think champagne yeast will do ya any good...you're not looking at an alcohol tolerance issue as far as I can tell.  Even though you've got a lb. of sugar in there, the extract, 2 lb. of crystal and 1 lb. of dark grains are working against you.  If you repitch, I'd recommend either about 3 packs of US-05 or a qt. or so of an actively fermenting starter.
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on April 02, 2010, 04:24:58 PM
Assuming the beer is stuck and not finished.

Make a small beer (5 gallons) with any clean yeast.
Rack to a secondary when it slows down (a few days), (a rare case of racking early)
Rack your BW onto the yeast cake (or dump your yeast cake into your BW)

I do NOT see this beer coming in less than 1.035-1.040 without an enzyme addition.

Fred

Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on April 02, 2010, 07:04:34 PM
I don't think champagne yeast will do ya any good...you're not looking at an alcohol tolerance issue as far as I can tell.  Even though you've got a lb. of sugar in there, the extract, 2 lb. of crystal and 1 lb. of dark grains are working against you.  If you repitch, I'd recommend either about 3 packs of US-05 or a qt. or so of an actively fermenting starter.

denny, to educate me further, is that because of the UNfermentable sugars the crystal, and dark grains, and extract add to the wort?

Assuming the beer is stuck and not finished.

Make a small beer (5 gallons) with any clean yeast.
Rack to a secondary when it slows down (a few days), (a rare case of racking early)
Rack your BW onto the yeast cake (or dump your yeast cake into your BW)

I do NOT see this beer coming in less than 1.035-1.040 without an enzyme addition.

Fred

Fred, I have an English Bitter on some S-04 fermenting away now.  The temp will begin to reverse (cool below the 68F I am holding it at) when the fermentation begins to subside. Would that be the approximate time to pitch the barleywine onto the the yeastcake of the Bitters?  Can you elaborate what an enzyme addition is?  If indeed, the beer is done, will it always have this sweet of a taste to it or will it subside in a few months or years?  thank you...
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: denny on April 02, 2010, 07:18:24 PM
I don't think champagne yeast will do ya any good...you're not looking at an alcohol tolerance issue as far as I can tell.  Even though you've got a lb. of sugar in there, the extract, 2 lb. of crystal and 1 lb. of dark grains are working against you.  If you repitch, I'd recommend either about 3 packs of US-05 or a qt. or so of an actively fermenting starter.

denny, to educate me further, is that because of the UNfermentable sugars the crystal, and dark grains, and extract add to the wort?

Yep, that's exactly it!  And pay attention to Fred's advice...he's a master of big beers!
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on April 02, 2010, 08:02:43 PM
One trouble with extracts is that we, the brewer, have no control over the fermentable/non-fermentable mix of sugars, and in fact they are usually somewhat less fermentable than a similar AG batch.  No big deal and very easy to compensate for with normal strength brews.

enzymes in the mash work on breaking down the starches and complex(non-fermentable) sugars into simpler (fermentable) sugars.
If you did not get enough enzyme action there is nothing that will allow the wort to become more fermentable.  Beer yeast is capable of fermenting a simple sugar solution (with nutrients and aeration) down to near 1.000 or lower, and does so in mead fermentations where the OG is not too high.  (I'm not proposing beer yeast for most meads). 

adding enzymes (beano) or other diastatic enzymes (see your LHBS, they may carry some) post boil will shift the sugar balance toward being more-fermentable.    I normal brewing we have an easy and effective waay of stopping this action, the boil.
The issue in adding post boil is how to stop it.  Some brewers say you don't need to.  I do not add enzymes as part of my brewing process so I can't help there. 

The S04 yeast cake will be fine to use.  Most of the yeast character (or lack thereof) has allready been impartted to the beer, so you will see minimal flavor contribution from the yeast.

You have what should be a very good full bodied English Barleywine going on.  One of my best has a 1.065 FG in a 17.5% English BW (National winner of the COC Imperial Anything competition) so don't be afraid of a high FG.

Read this http://beerdujour.com/Howtobrewabigbeer.htm (http://beerdujour.com/Howtobrewabigbeer.htm)

Fred
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: BrewQwest on November 26, 2010, 05:03:38 PM
After over 200 days in the secondary, the Barleywine's gravity was finally taken again.  It is sitting at 1.036 !!  A huge thank you to Fred and everyone else who offered support on this. Of course, the fun of taking hydro readings is tasting the sample afterwards. This tasted like a completely different beer than when I was panicky and started this thread (see above). I am now looking forward to what this tastes like when carbonated and chilled.  My beersmith software computes this to be an 11.2% beer. I would like to bottle this beer.  Do you suggest a higher alcohol tolerant yeast such as rehydrated T-58 (or something similar?) be added at bottling? Again, Fred, Denny, and all, thank you for your troubleshooting assistance on this.  Cheers!!
Title: Re: stuck BarleyWine
Post by: bonjour on November 26, 2010, 07:22:01 PM
At 11% you can still bottle carbonate, I would add some us05 because of the length of time.

much bigger and the only option becomes force carbonation in a keg and bottling from there.

Fred