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Old 07-21-2007, 09:14 PM   #1
Yuri_Rage
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Default Another stuck fermentation thread

Dammit...I have my first stuck fermentation. My first lager has been in the fermenter for over a month, and it doesn't want to finish...at all!

The facts:

The recipe can be found here.

OG: 1.056

Current gravity: 1.042 (reached after one week)

I do not have a hydrometer problem - it's proven fairly accurate in the past, and all readings are taken at 60 degrees - the calibration temperature.

I do not have a conversion problem - an iodine test shows zero color change.

I aerated the wort for about 3 minutes with pure O2 through a stainless stone.

The fermentation temperature has been a constant 60 degrees F (warm, I know...but that's as cold as I can maintain given the DAMN HOT ambient temperature outside).

I pitched a WEAK starter. My yeast arrived from AHS after a lengthy delay with a melted ice pack. It barely woke up when I made a 2L starter, and I probably should've stepped it up at least twice...but I was on a brewing schedule, so I pitched what I had available on brew day.

I have done my best to RDWHAHB.

The good news:

My sanitation seems to be in good order. Even after a month of sitting rather dormant, it smells and tastes good...just REALLY sweet.

I have a conical fermenter.

The (possible) solution:

I think I'm done relaxing, having homebrews, and patiently waiting for this beer to finish. After a month with zero activity, I think it's time to do something.

Since I don't seem to have a conversion problem, I'm not going to use Beano...at least not yet.

I just boiled up some more starter wort. I'm going to dump the trub from the fermenter, hopefully separating any break material from the yeast. Whatever yeast I can salvage is going into the starter and onto the stir plate for a few days. With any luck, I'll revive it and pitch a much healthier batch of yeast.

Anybody have any better ideas?

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Old 07-21-2007, 09:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage
I just boiled up some more starter wort. I'm going to dump the trub from the fermenter, hopefully separating any break material from the yeast. Whatever yeast I can salvage is going into the starter and onto the stir plate for a few days. With any luck, I'll revive it and pitch a much healthier batch of yeast.

Anybody have any better ideas?
My suggestion would be to start with new fresh yeast. Go ahead and make your monster starter- you definitely need it. I'd even suggest chilling the starter to just below your primary temperature before pitching, since I've had great luck getting a good fermentation pitching slightly cooler yeast into the wort.

I would only do the "salvage" method if you had no other choice at all- you've got some overstressed flocculated yeast and I don't think you'll be too thrilled with it. Still, it's time to do something.
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Old 07-21-2007, 09:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper Chick
I would only do the "salvage" method if you had no other choice at all- you've got some overstressed flocculated yeast and I don't think you'll be too thrilled with it. Still, it's time to do something.
Well, I don't really have much choice...ordering more yeast isn't really an option in this heat, and I don't have a local supplier. If the yeast doesn't revive, I'll pitch a huge batch of English Ale yeast that I've been saving.

EDIT:
Some dry lager yeast might work. If I can get some Saflager, I'll use it if the salvage plan fails. The starter is already churning away with the salvaged yeast.
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Old 07-21-2007, 09:49 PM   #4
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I might try raising to 65 degrees to see if this will get it going. Used might because 60 degrees seems like a warm enough point to overcome a stuck fermentation with lager yeast but raising it a few degrees does not require a lot of effort. Repitching appears to be the next step but requires work.

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Old 07-21-2007, 09:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PT Ray
I might try raising to 65 degrees to see if this will get it going.
Forgot to mention...I already tried that...
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:03 AM   #6
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A few hours later...the yeast in the starter appear to be working. Here's the plan now:

I'm going to let the starter ferment for at least a day. After the activity slows, I'll allow the yeast to settle and pour the starter beer off. Then I'll fill the flask with some of the "stuck" beer, put it on the stir plate, and see how it behaves. If it takes off, I'll allow it to propagate a bit more yeast for me, then add it to the fermenter. I may repeat the process, leaving a small amount of yeast in the flask each time, attempting to build a very large amount of yeast (seeing as I only have a 2L flask, and I'm fermenting 15 gallons of beer).

Decent plan?

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Old 07-22-2007, 02:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage
A few hours later...the yeast in the starter appear to be working. Here's the plan now:

I'm going to let the starter ferment for at least a day. After the activity slows, I'll allow the yeast to settle and pour the starter beer off. Then I'll fill the flask with some of the "stuck" beer, put it on the stir plate, and see how it behaves. If it takes off, I'll allow it to propagate a bit more yeast for me, then add it to the fermenter. I may repeat the process, leaving a small amount of yeast in the flask each time, attempting to build a very large amount of yeast (seeing as I only have a 2L flask, and I'm fermenting 15 gallons of beer).

Decent plan?
Sound like a sound plan to me! Good luck with it. It's probably going to be your best beer ever and you'll spend the rest of your days trying to duplicate it.
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Old 07-26-2007, 01:30 AM   #8
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Well, my yeast is alive. I can propagate it, and it actually appears to be pretty healthy. Overnight I can go from a few drops of yeast residue in the bottom of the starter to about a 1/2" yeast cake that covers the bottom of the flask.

But...no good results yet. Still at 1.042. I'm giving it a last ditch effort:

I'm raising the temp to 65...and keeping it there. I'm aerating again with pure O2. I figure it can't hurt at this point...the beer has barely started fermenting, so what have I got to lose?

Frustrated. Sad. It's about to be my first dumper. Dammit, the wort tasted SOOOOOO good.

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Old 07-26-2007, 01:32 AM   #9
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Don't aerate. You -will- wreck the beer if you do this.

I speak from experience. It didn't do squat for the stuck ferment and made the beer taste like awful.

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Old 07-26-2007, 01:37 AM   #10
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yeah...aerate your starter and get a good amount of yeast in there, but over-aerating can destroy your yeast. you only need to aerate for reproduction, so just do this in the starter.

if you're worried about it sitting too long, rack it to a secondary BEFORE you pitch your yeast.

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