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Old 07-18-2010, 03:11 PM   #1
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Default Amylase enzyme helped a stuck/stalled fermentation, but I have questions...

Greetings,

I'm hoping that some homebrewers with experience using amylase enzyme may be able to provide some feedback on their experience, and whether it is close to mine...please read on...

On 6/19, I brewed a winter warmer w/spices, thinking that if I brewed early in the year, I would be able to let it age sufficiently before the winter. Everything went well with the mash/boil/etc, but the fermentation stopped at 1.030 after about 4 days of fermentation and didn't budge after about 2 more weeks in the primary. (OG=1.087, est. FG=1.020). I had a previous beer (imperial stout) that also stopped at 1.030 as well. On that one, I bottled it at that point. It was good, but very thick and sweet. I was hoping not to have this one to turn out quite like that.

So, I conducted the typical ministrations...roused yeast, pitched more yeast, brought to a warmer room, all to no avail. Still stuck at 1.030. I know many will say it's best just to chalk it up as a learning experience and bottle at that point. Perhaps another option would have been to let it sit for another month or so to see if it kicked back in. I did that the last time, as mentioned above, and so I wanted to try something different on this one. I then started reading some posts on amylase enzyme, and decided to give it a shot (no, I did not use beano).

So, with beer temp at about 70 deg. F, I swirled in 1/2 tsp of amylase enzyme and let it sit. About 24 hours later, I had some action on the airlock. This was on 7/9. Lo and behold, it kept going...and going...and going. I measured gravity on 7/14, 1.024...wow...noticeable improvement! So I let it keep going. I was getting a burble in the airlock at about every 5-6 seconds at this point. Another reading today measured 1.016. This is well below the estimate. My winter warmer is now at about 9.3% abv ...oh my!

Now, for me, the abv increase isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm pleased that the gravity is getting down to a more desireable range. The airlock is slowing down (yes, I know this isn't a substitute for the hydrometer, but it's a quick visual sign of activity), so that's nice to see. I imagine I'll need to leave it alone for another couple weeks or so just to make sure it's finished before bottling.

What I'm most concerned about is what might happen to the flavor, mouthfeel, etc... since fermentation has been so active after this addition. I really didn't expect FG to get this low. I didn't see in my forum searches that there was an outcry regarding negative experiences with adding this enzyme, so hopefully I didn't miss anything. Has anyone had a similar experience? If so, how did the addition of amylase enzyme affect the end result? Any unwanted flavors? Did it require a longer time to mature? If not, then I suppose I'll just wait and see for myself in a few months

Thanks in advance...

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Old 07-18-2010, 05:23 PM   #2
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I've used amylase a couple times when an IPA or IIPA finished higher than I wanted. In all cases, I got between 5-10 extra gravity points and it finished around 1.010, which is where I wanted it. In these cases the premature FG was around 1.018-1.022.

All of these beers turned out great, but in my case, the amylase took them down to the FG that I wanted, not past it in your case.

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Old 07-18-2010, 05:37 PM   #3
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Different temps of mash water result in different amalayses being selected for in a way.

Beta-amylase - 140 - 149*F -> more fermentable wort
Alpha-amylase - 149 - 160*F -> less fermentable wort
*above taken from Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher

Could that have lead to the residual sugars that were not being digested and the gravity stalled at 1.030 even with new yeast pitched as well? What amylase did you add?

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Old 07-18-2010, 07:40 PM   #4
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Well for starters, I mashed at 154, so I know I should expect a bit higher FG from that already, but not 1.030. As for the amylase, the bottle says "Amylase Enzyme Formula" from Crosby and Baker. It doesn't state whether it's alpha or beta....maybe it's a blend of some sort, hence the word "formula".

I don't know how much it would matter, if at all, but I did add 2 lbs of honey toward the end of the boil (this being a spiced winter warmer and all...). I assumed the yeast would eat through that like crazy, but I could be wrong. I guess that begs the question of "why did amylase work so well in this instance"?

@ damdaman - glad to hear that it worked out for you....I don't mind if the finished product has a low FG...I just don't want it to taste like crap.

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Old 07-18-2010, 08:18 PM   #5
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check out this page http://brewery.org/brewery/library/enzymes595.html

From my limited understanding, amylase enzymes help break down unfermentable long chain sugars and starches into simpler sugars that are more easily utilized by the yeast.

It's possible mashing didn't convert all the sugars leaving to many unfermentables. That page also mentions that adding to much easily fermentable sugar can effect the yeasts ability to process some higher sugars, so the honey may have added to the problem.

Unfortunately, the amylase will burn through those drying the beer out and taking some of the body/flavor with it.

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Old 07-18-2010, 08:39 PM   #6
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Thanks for the post...great article. I also added some honey malt to the mash, so hopefully not all of the honey flavor will be burned up.

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Old 07-18-2010, 08:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulf View Post
Thanks for the post...great article. I also added some honey malt to the mash, so hopefully not all of the honey flavor will be burned up.
I think it's going to end up pretty "hot" and dry and thin, since it's going to finish much lower than intended. Since it's a winter warmer, though, you've got plenty of time to age it.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:15 AM   #8
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Agreed....smelled rather hot when I took the lid off to take a gravity reading. If it turns out that way, hopefully it'll simmer down a bit after a few months of aging. I'll post the results...

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Old 07-19-2010, 01:19 AM   #9
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I suspect that the honey ferments more per PPG than barley sugars, so 1.016 would be closer to the expected FG than 1.020.

Anyway, give it some time

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Old 07-19-2010, 11:56 AM   #10
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That's what I'm hoping is the case. I'm not sure that Beersmith considers the different permutations of additions like honey. I also notice that it doesn't seem to change the FG as I adjust the mash temp. Perhaps 1.020 was not an accurate estimate. Oh well...regardless, I'm in no rush...

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