Author Topic: Fermentation not finished  (Read 2189 times)

Offline noallawshe

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Fermentation not finished
« on: September 24, 2013, 09:53:53 AM »
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

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 09:59:51 AM »
Did you take a gravity reading before racking?
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Offline noallawshe

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 10:01:25 AM »
Gravity is 1.040 when i racked to secondary

Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 10:01:47 AM »
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.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 10:06:03 AM »
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.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 10:07:59 AM »
+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.
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Offline svejk

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 10:17:03 AM »
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!

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 11:55:04 AM »
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.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 12:26:52 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.
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Offline noallawshe

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 01:28:48 PM »
i racked all the yeast with it

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 01:31:54 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.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2013, 01:44:02 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.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 04:00:57 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!
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Offline noallawshe

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 05:50:48 PM »
 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

Offline noallawshe

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Re: Fermentation not finished
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2013, 06:02:33 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?