Author Topic: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?  (Read 4275 times)

Offline lazydog79

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« on: July 24, 2012, 08:44:47 AM »
Brewed up a a Robust porter two weeks ago.  OG. 1.065.  Fermented with WLP013 London Ale at 67 degrees.  It has been in the primary for twelve days.  The fermenter has been quiet for a couple days, so I pulled a gravity/tasting sample to see where I was.  I was expecting a FG somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.017, but I have 1.022 (insert favorite swear word(s) here  >:( ).  It tastes like the cloyingly sweet mess you would expect finishing five points high.  I haven't had a stuck/under-attenuated brew in quite a while.  What is my best course of action to save this batch?  Throw in some yeast energizer or run to the store to get some S-05 and dump it in?  As always, thanks for the advice.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 13823
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 09:00:52 AM »
Maybe it's finished, not stuck.  What was your recipe and technique?
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline svejk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
  • Seattle, Wa
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2012, 09:01:17 AM »
I've tried pitching packs of yeast on stuck fermentations before, and it hasn't worked for me - there just wasn't enough yeast to get the job done.  My only luck getting things to start up again has been to go to a local brewery and get a mason jar of slurry and pitch it into the beer.  You might want to try taking a sample of the beer first and pitching a packet of dry yeast in it.  If a whole packet doesn't change the gravity of the small sample, you can be sure that the beer is completely done fermenting so you don't need to go through the trouble.

Offline DrewG

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 359
  • Thread Killer
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 09:01:30 AM »
You can try rousing the yeast, thats helped me shave a couple 3 points off in the past
"Well, the Mexicans got a saying - what cannot be remedied must be endured."

-Barbarosa

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4172
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 09:01:42 AM »
I think rousing the yeast and bumping up the temp a few degrees should pretty much always be the first step with a stuck fermentation. Next step would be US-05, or even better a starter of something fairly clean and attenuative (i.e., WLP001) at high krausen.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline DrewG

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 359
  • Thread Killer
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 09:02:50 AM »
+1 on the temp increase with rousing
"Well, the Mexicans got a saying - what cannot be remedied must be endured."

-Barbarosa

Offline morticaixavier

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7462
  • Underhill VT
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 09:10:35 AM »
you only took one sample? how do you know it's not just being slow? rouse, raise the temp a degree or two, wait.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
-A Einstein

"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
- J Joyce

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 7956
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 09:14:34 AM »
I agree, rouse, warm and wait. Doubt adding extra yeast will help unless you get a big, fresh slurry.
Keith Y.

Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline davidgzach

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1659
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 09:49:56 AM »
+1 for bringing it up to 70F and letting it sit a few more days.
Dave Zach

Offline lazydog79

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 09:58:54 AM »
Well, good to hear I did the right thing, then  ;)  I roused and and took it out of the freezer (basement is ~ 71).  I threw a little energizer in for good measure.  I'll see if that gets it going.  If not, well, I guess I have lots of porter to cook with  ::)

Denny - I really don't want to admit to all of the technical screw-ups that happened on this brew.  Let's just say it started with a way higher efficiency than planned and ended with a faulty thermometer probe in the thermowell (threw that out!).  I think if it comes out, I will call it "Cluster F*$K" ale.  Step 1: I have got to get some consistency to my efficiency.

Thanks for the help all!

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 7956
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 01:36:28 PM »
Honestly, at 1.022 it's not that terribly high for a 1.065 porter. I could see why you would want it a few points drier psychologically but realistically you should taste it once it is carbonated and make a decision then. I've had beers finish high before that I considered dumping but once they were carbonated I fully enjoyed them.
Keith Y.

Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3026
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 01:51:14 PM »
Honestly, at 1.022 it's not that terribly high for a 1.065 porter. I could see why you would want it a few points drier psychologically but realistically you should taste it once it is carbonated and make a decision then. I've had beers finish high before that I considered dumping but once they were carbonated I fully enjoyed them.

The only thing that would worry me there is the possibility of bottle bombs if the beer is being bottled not kegged.

However, if after rousing, warming and waiting there is no change go forth and carbonate.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline gordonstrong

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1355
    • View Profile
    • BJCP
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2012, 06:06:08 AM »
You could do a forced fermentation test to see if you've reached the limit of your wort's fermentability.  But warming and rousing is likely much easier.

I agree with the comment about carbonation.  If you think it's too sweet, you can try carbonating it higher.  If it's too sweet, you could also blend in a little bit of a more bitter beer to help balance that sweetness.  You could also add other ingredients like hot peppers or oak that would balance sweetness.  Just don't pick all these things at once.  It may turn out fine on its own.

RDWHAHB, wait a week, and then decide if it needs tuning up.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline lazydog79

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2012, 11:08:06 AM »
Good advice, all.  Thanks again.  After rousing, warming, and adding some energizer, I'm not seeing a lot going on.  I think that's about all she's got, but we'll see.

Not I just need to diagnose the problem.  This was my first dance with WLP013, but I'm not jumping to blaming the yeast.  I had several holes in my process including a dramatically higher efficiency than I expected which I remedied with dilution and a mash temp (155) that I am now second guessing in hindsight (especially given my higher than planned OG).  Still, I'm not inclined to fall in love with this yeast either.

Offline DrewG

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 359
  • Thread Killer
    • View Profile
Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2012, 11:19:46 AM »
Quote
and ended with a faulty thermometer probe in the thermowell (threw that out!).

Just curious....was it reading low or high?
"Well, the Mexicans got a saying - what cannot be remedied must be endured."

-Barbarosa