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Old 02-26-2013, 03:08 AM   #1
MidlleBrotherBrewer
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Default Belgian strong fermentation woes

I made a Belgian strong (2.5gal all grain, with 1lb clear candi sugar at flame-out) on 2/15.

She had a starting gravity of 1.090, and was active as all get-out this first 6 days (blew through the airlock, and was burping like crazy through the blow-off tube for 5 straight days nonstop).

All was quiet for a couple of days (2/22-2/24) and so I went ahead and racked to secondary on 2/24, pretty much the same schedule I've done with all of my beers for the past two years.

I took a gravity reading as I was racking, and it had only dropped ~.02 to 1.070 (1.068-1.070). I was shocked! Absolutely shocked. I figured I would have been well on my way to my expected FG of 1.022 by now.

I used a stepped up 1.5L starter from a the dregs of a bomber of Blanche de Chambly, and like I said, it took off like crazy right after I pitched.

I counted 1 bubble in the airlock about an hour after racking to secondary after watching for one minute. Doesn't seem to be doing a whole lot. Ambient temperature is 68F (20 Celsius).

Should I do another starter and re-pitch, wait it out? Any suggestions are appreciated. This is my first big beer and first beer with bottle-harvested yeast. :

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Old 02-26-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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What temperature is it at?

How are you checking gravities?

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Old 02-26-2013, 03:47 PM   #3
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Sounds like you might be checking with a refractometer but not compensating your fg for the alcohol? If not it will give you a false reading.

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Old 02-26-2013, 09:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GinSlinger View Post
How are you checking gravities?
I took a sample of the wort/beer when I was racking to secondary and put it in my hyrdrometer. It came in at ~ 1.068-1.070, and when I tasted it was a pure sugar water. Extremely sweet. Still wort.

The ambient temperature is 68*F (20*C).
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:20 AM   #5
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You racked far too soon. You will need the yeast to reproduce a lot at this point . . . without oxygen. It's going to take a long time if it happens. You shouldn't rack based around the calendar, but based on gravity readings.

You may get the yeast a little more active by boosting the temperature a little. Belgian yeasts are usually treated to a gradual rise in temps as they progress. There are quite a few threads hereabouts on that topic.

I'm not familiar with the yeast you're using, or how strong the culture was you grew, so I'm afraid I can't offer you any specifics. I suspect you're not going to see much action for a week or so as the yeast reproduce--if they can at this point. You may be forced to pitch a healthy starter at some point, but right now raise the temps to the low 70s gradually and wait to see if you start getting any action.

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Old 02-27-2013, 04:28 AM   #6
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Stepping up yeast from the dregs of a single bottle would take a very large number of steps.

Big beers require more yeast, more O2.

I would "start over" re-aerate, pitch a fresh starter at high kraeusen. Fortunately, belgians are complex and clean up well, so it should still turn out fine.

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Old 04-13-2013, 04:34 PM   #7
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OP, any updates or progress to report?
i ask b/c i had a strong dark start at .088 and "stall" at .024 - it would have been ok at this abv (8%ish) but i still wanted to reach the target dryness, so i aerated, pitched another pack after a quick starter... nothing happened after a day so i added a pound of candi sugar i happened to have, then the airlock started and i can see some good activity via co2 bubbles. the quick math shows a 46 point gain, so my 5 gal batch should get 8 pts off the final.. or more, with age? that will be what i am looking to do here, get down to .014 or lower.
btw, i used safbrew t-58 for both pitches. started at 67 and raised one degree per day until i got to 72. now it's in a second fermentation at 77. this is my first belgian strong dark so if anyone has tips.. do tell!
mike

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