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10/09/08 10:33 PM  
Stuck fermentation
I'm new to brewing high gravity Belgians.

I brew a lot of all grain I.P.A.s up to 1.075 or so.

Here is the recipe of my stuck beer.

16 lbs. Pils

1 lb Cara Munich

.5 lb aromatic

.5 lb biscuit

.5 lb special B

.25 Chocolate

.5 lb clear candi sugar

1 bottle dark candi syrup

157 deg. 60 min.

168 deg. mash out

5.25 gal @ 1.106

W.L. 530 yeast in two 1/2 gal starters

Started fermenting in 8 hours

Held @ 65 deg.

1 wk 1.056

2 wk 1.048

3 wk 1.044

I pitched another 1/2 gal starter at week 2.

I also raised temp. to 74 and stirred carboy.

The beer tastes amazing but sweet. Strong plum flavor.

Any ideas?

Al B
10/10/08 07:41 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
Two questions Lukin,

1- Were the starters well-aerated?

2- did you aerate the wort upon pitching initially?

David M
10/10/08 08:10 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
157 deg. 60 min.

This may be your culprit, you may have a lot of unfermentables.

10/10/08 09:31 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
Al B

Yes the starters were well aerated.

I rocked the carboy vigorously for quite some time after pitching. I may have to buy a stone and pump.

What temp would you have mashed at?

10/10/08 10:29 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
It's all personal preference but for a traditional Belgian I'd go less than 150 if doing single temp mash. But even with 157 you should get lower than that. I'd add a neutral dry yeast from Fermentis and pray.
10/10/08 11:08 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
Your fermentation temp is a little low for that yeast as well.
10/10/08 11:15 AM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
There are a lot of rules of thumb that suggest how much yeast you should pitch, and how much you probably grew in your starter. Without getting into specifics, it looks to me like you pitched at a level that's low-ish but which might work with some combinations of yeast strain, wort makeup, and aeration (about 0.5 M cells/ml/P).

Unfortunatley, with your particular combination of yeast strain, wort, and aeration, it didn't. Continuous aeration of your starter is one approach--you will grow much more yeast and it will be in much better shape. Oxygenation of your starter wort and your batch wort is another thing that will help. A larger starter will help, but only if you really aerate it (and the batch) well. Adding a pack of neutral dry yeast along with the Belgian yeast will cheaply and easily boost the cell count also.

As for how to rescue it, I agree with Arutha. To give yourself a better chance, rehydrate the yeast in 90F water, then pitch it into a pint of DME wort FOR ONLY AN HOUR OR TWO to get it going, then pitch that into your beer.

10/10/08 12:11 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
I agree that a single step of 157 is far from ideal, but I doubt it is to blame. How sure are you that the temp did not drift or that the temp was consistant throughout your grain bed? Do you do iodine tests?
10/10/08 12:27 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
I am guessing that it was the lack of massive oxygenation of your wort. Shaking just doesn't help enough. In big worts, less O2 is also soluble which means that multiple oxygen shots over the first 24 hours can certainly help.

Brewing to >1.100 is much different than <1.080.

I rarely use starters even 1/2 gallon ones for big beers like you made. Prior batch slurry and oxygen is the way to go. You really want to maximize your yeast.


10/10/08 12:43 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
Thanks for all the suggestions.

I'll try the dry yeast and pray.

10/10/08 07:14 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
Right or wrong here is what I did.

First I opened a 4 year old bottle of Westy 12 for inspiration.

Then I pitched 2 packs of Chamapagne yeast (couldn't get Fermentis) mixed in yeast nutrient and the last of the WL 530 yeast from a 1/2 gal starter and made it into a two quart starter.

I aerated the starter every 1/2 hour for two hours. Then I pitched it.

Next time I will pitch a lot more in the beginning.

10/11/08 08:09 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
... and do an iodine test if you don't already.
10/17/08 01:16 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation

The yeast are still active and the gravity is down to 1.032. I have it in a water bath but it's hard to keep it above 68 deg. here in Seattle. But it seems to be working and it still tastes great.

Steve- I bought some iodine and will be testing future batches. Thanks.

I also made a stir plate and O2 wand. I have read that most breweries don't like to use a yeast more than 6 times. Does this come into play when building up a yeast starter? And how long of an O2 feeding should I do in a starter, and in the carboy?

Al B
10/17/08 01:47 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
<<I have read that most breweries don't like to use a yeast more than 6 times. Does this come into play when building up a yeast starter?>> Not for a starter.

If you're using pure O2 from a cannister, then 30sec/5gal is sufficient for gravities under 1070-ish (see WY web site).

However, for starters, use the sir plate at the highest speed possible to create a strong vortex - this can be a very effective aeration method. You want to maintain a CONSTANT vigorous stirring, if not you can supplement with an aqurium pump (filtered), or intermittent pure O2 (say once every hr @ 10 sec or so). Why?

Because too much pure O2 can be detrimental for a starter. When all of the proteins are taken up by the cells, they will then utilize the glycogen reserves needed for the wort. Starters should be supplemented with yeast nutrients for this reason, as well as, others. The stirring also keeps all of the cells free-wheeling around in the nutrients.

For my starters, I use a stir plate with a 2micron stone. Attached is an aquarium pump with a 0.22micron filter. The pump has a T where I'll attach the O2 cannister for an initial burst of O2 ofr a few secs (sometimes the extra pressure is also needed to initially purge some water through the stone) - (the water is from boiling the stone & hosing).

10/24/08 03:55 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
I made another beer along with the one that had the stuck fementaion. This one fished fine and is ready to be oaked.

I tried to find a way to keep the oak chips submerged but still be able to get them out when I think it's oaked enough. I had two rare earth magnets left from making my stir plate so I put one in a hop sock with the chips and one on the outside of the corny keg. I can move the sock up to the top for retrival by sliding the outside magnet up the keg. This should work for dry hopping too. I boiled everything to sanitize.

I don't know if anyone else has tried this or knows of any side effects from the magnet. They appear to be coated.

10/24/08 05:42 PM  
Re: Stuck fermentation
After posting I started to get worried so I sanitized a small zip lock bag and put the magnet in it, just for good measure.

Any suggestions on oak time? I was thinking two weeks.

10.80 og, Med toast American Oak chips.

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