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Old 01-22-2013, 12:41 PM   #1
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Default stuck ferment 1.030 after 2 weeks, help me get better.

I have a dark belgian strong ale in primary right now. it was a partial mash recipe. it has been kept at a very steady 70 degrees for the entire two weeks. using heat pad and sleeping bag. I had 149 Deg. 90 minute mash. the yeast was used once for a beer of about 10% ABV, Trappist Ale Yeast WLP500. i did a 2 step starter in a growler over the course of 2 days. i didn't decant any of the beer off, i just poured the entire starter in 12 hours after high krausen. it tastes boozy and delicious. OG was 1.096 current Gravity 1.030. 8.66%. what steps can I take to get the gravity down a few more points. it tastes good but I want it to be closer to 1.020.

options i'm thinking

1. I have another fresh trappist ale yeast. i can make another starter from. i was thinking of doing the starter and adding some of the beer from the primary slowly to the starter over the course of 5 days

2. adding Nottingham dry to the top and keeping the 70 degree temp

3. nothing, but if this is the case I want to know what i possibly did wrong to get better at reaching my desired FG

let me know if there is anything else i need to let you know to get my procedure better. thanks

here is the grain bill

6.6 lb Liquid Malt Extract - Pilsen 35 2 44.3%
3.5 lb Belgian - Pilsner 37 1.6 23.5%
2 lb Belgian Candi Syrup - Amber 32 40 13.4%
1.6 lb Belgian - Munich 38 6 10.7%
1 lb Belgian - Biscuit 35 23 6.7%
0.1875 lb American - Midnight Wheat Malt

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Old 01-22-2013, 01:12 PM   #2
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I could be wrong but I think it all has to do with the initial fermentation and is it possible you underpitched??

I know my failure regarding big beers and lower gravity is my failure in using a yeast calc to make sure I pitch enough yeast. Once it's done it's done and I've never been able to get it lower even with more yeast.

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Old 01-22-2013, 03:38 PM   #3
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I used yeast calc, I had a huge slurry to start from. that may have been the issue, but I can't see why. I appreciate your input though. What can I do now to get the FG down to 1.020

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:50 PM   #4
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I know that sometimes racking to a secondary and picking up some sediment from the primary can get more fermentation going again.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:21 PM   #5
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Personally, I'd start by bumping temp to 73-74 and as soon as it's done, I'd swirl the whole thing to put the yeast back in suspension (wait for the temp to be up before the swirl). There's a good chance you'll reactivate some of them and get several gravity points down.

At this point of fermentation, it shouldn't result in off flavors and it's actually a pretty common practice for belgians.

Consider adding fresh yeast before bottling though, looks like yours are getting tired... ;-)

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Old 01-22-2013, 06:04 PM   #6
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thanks for all your help guys, I appreciate it. I got a response from the white labs guys. I thought I would share it with you. he gave me some of the same info you guys did.

What is the beer doing now? Is it still bubbling or has the gravity been unchanged for 3 days? If it's still bubbling slowly, it may still be working on the more complex sugars. If it's not doing anything, sometimes rousing the yeast by swirling the carboy/bucket can get the yeast into contact with the sugars and get you a few more points of attenuation. One thing that has worked for me in the past is to rack the beer into a secondary vessel for conditioning. Sometimes, the rousing and slight oxygen contact causes the yeast to attenuate a little more, so it might be worth a try.

I wouldn't recommend adding the dry yeast at this point, since it will try to rehydrate itself in a highly alcoholic environment and that will be very bad for the yeast. If the rousing doesn't work, you can make a starter with the fresh vial of WLP500 (or something more neutral like WLP001) and pitch it once it seems active (after about 6 hours). Yeast that is actively fermenting will be able to withstand the alcohol better and since it will have been through the lag phase it will go right to work on the remaining sugars.

Of course, it is possible that all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed. If you did a long boil, you could have some kettle carmelization which creates unfermentable sugars. The darker candi syrups can also contain a large percentage of unfermentable sugars due to carmelization.

Lastly, since you used the yeast previously for a high gravity beer, it might just be stress that caused it to finish early. High gravity fermentations are very stressful on yeast, so it's better to do a low gravity fermentation first, then pitch that yeast into a higher gravity wort. Doing 2 high gravity beers in a row is going to be very hard on yeast; it's like running 2 marathons in a row, you're completely spent!

I hope that helps. Good luck and happy brewing

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Old 01-22-2013, 07:19 PM   #7
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If you do end up pitching more yeast, prepare an "adaptation protocol"...

Mix it with cooled boiled water first, then add a little part of your beer sample, let it sit for 20 minutes or something, then add more, wait, add more, then pitch the whole thing in the fermenter. This will minimize the chance of your yeast getting killed instantly by the high alcohol content....

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Old 01-22-2013, 08:19 PM   #8
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That’s what I was thinking of doing. Appreciate the assistance. I think I’m just going to follow what some of you said, along with White Labs. Rack to secondary. Then if the final gravity still sucks in a week pitch, my other vial with a starter and then introduce my yeasties slowly to the high gravity. wish me luck

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Old 01-22-2013, 10:03 PM   #9
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If I were you, I'd definitely try to swirl before racking. The problem I see with racking first is that you drastically reduce the number of cells present in the container.

Absolutely not saying it works everytime, but the process I described allowed me once to "dry out" my tripel from 1.014 to 1.007 in 2-3 days... Again, it's only n=1 so statistically, it's not worth much... ;-)

Either way, good luck to you! B-)

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