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Old 11-20-2009, 09:10 PM   #1
sorisi
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Default Stuck fermentation for Belgian Strong Ale?

Hello all,

I am trying to find out if the fermentation is stuck (or getting close to being stuck) and, if yes, how I should go about solving the issue.

Here's some info on this beer:

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Malt: Extract (70%), Specialty Grain (10%), Inverted Sugar (20%)
Yeast: Wyeast 1388 - Belgian Strong Ale (Activator Pack)
OG: 1.072
Fermentation temperature: 66 - 68 deg.

After fermenting for one week the gravity was 1.030. I measured it again on the 12th day and it was down to 1.024.

There still krausen on top of the fermenter, but it is not the usual frothy type I'm used to. This one has larger bubbles and is shinier.

It seems like the fermentation is still going, but at a much slower rate. Should I consider it stuck and do something to it, or will it still ferment down to the expected range (1.005 to 1.016)?

Cheers and thanks in advance.

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Old 11-20-2009, 09:16 PM   #2
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dont panic till you get at least 3 SG readings each 3 days appart that are essentially the same and above your target FG.

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Old 11-20-2009, 09:25 PM   #3
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The two times I added sugar to the boil of a Belgian Strong Ale, the fermentation took forever (one of them actually got stuck at 1.046 and wouldn't move until I repitched). Take gravity readings once a week to make sure it's still going, it sounds like it will eventually get there if you're at 1.024 now and it sounds like you still have activity.

Next time you brew a Belgian, leave the sugar out of the boil and let it ferment for 3-7 days. Then bring the sugar to a boil (2 cups of water per pound is a fine ratio), chill it down to your fermenting temperature and pour it into your fermenter. It's a lot less stressful on the yeast and will probably ferment quicker than having it in the boil.

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Old 11-20-2009, 09:25 PM   #4
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We are very close in posting the same condition.

See my post.... he he he...

I am starting to believe that the yeast is just a slower yeast type that is still capable of living in a High ABV beer, and due to this it's just taking longer for our beers to ferment fully.

I went from the same/similar OG to 1.035 then today to 1.018.

Mine looks the same on top, 1/2" 3/4" Krausen on top and lots of yeast floculant in the beer. Seems that it's still working.

Mine will be 20 day's or so in Primary by T-day w/e. I'll move to 2ndary then and Dry Hop. hopefully move to keg by mid Dec for New Years First Brew...

Fingers crossed for mine and your Belgian Strong ales.

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Old 11-20-2009, 10:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for responses. I'll keep an eye on it.

FxdGrMind: Yes, the situation is very similar. Good luck with yours.

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Old 11-21-2009, 07:25 AM   #6
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I've used 1388 for a number of beers and while tasty, they're all a little under-attenuated even after extended fermentation (4 weeks). I attributed that to doing extract brewing and high OG's (1.080+). Still, the beers we haven't screwed up typically ended between 1.021 and 1.025...no bottle bombs, thankfully.

I have also apparently done an experiment with this yeast that suggests it is slow. On the 11th of November, I made a 3-qt starter at 1.050 OG and pitched one smack pack. On the evening of the 13th (+48 hrs) I threw the starter in the fridge to crash. On brewday I moved 2+ quarts of relatively clear liquid into a gallon jug and let that finish fermenting for 6 days. The last <1 qt had lots of yeast and got that day's beer hammering the airlock in 2 hours (OG 1.090).

I oxygenated the original starter wort and it seemed to take off, and the smack packs supposedly have enough yeast fertilizer for a 5-gal batch. Fermentation temps were about 66 F (my kitchen temp this time of year). That's in the recommended range for that yeast but on the low end. The batches that made it into the low 20's fermented anywhere from 66 to 74, depending on the batch.

I crashed the 2 quarts of non-starter yesterday (the 19th, 9 days in) and repeated the decanting tonight to save ~12 oz of slurry for bottling later on. I checked the gravity for kicks and it was 1.015 (65% apparent attenuation, which is about where yours is at, Sorisi). It's tasty, though, even without hops.

Adding sugars after a couple days is pretty common when people are trying to make really strong belgians, and I know now that I should have done that on the two I got stuck in the 40's.

As an aside, I'd resist the temptation to tap that one too early, Fxdgrmind. Most of the beers I've made with 1388 (all bottled) have been ok at 2 or 3 months but still hot, *much* better at 6 months, and a totally different beer at 1 year. If nothing else, bottle some when you keg it up and try it next summer.

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Old 11-21-2009, 01:43 PM   #7
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I've got a batch fermenting with Wyeast 1388 right now.

Grain bill:

12 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 83.33 %
4.0 oz Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 1.67 %
4.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 1.67 %

Mashed at 150F

OG was 1.065
Pitched 1L starter at 59F
Let temperature rise to 78F

The gravity at the end of week 1 was 1.016. I added 2 pounds of cane sugar to fermenter at this time. That made it a cumulative OG of 1.084.

The gravity at the end of week 2 was 1.010.

I'll be measuring again at tomorrow, but so far my attenuation is 88%.

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Old 11-21-2009, 02:37 PM   #8
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I had the same thing happen to me too with a Belgian Golden Strong which called for 3 pounds of sugar. Next time I will use half in the boil and the other half I will feed during fermentation.

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Old 11-21-2009, 03:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brew-boy View Post
I had the same thing happen to me too with a Belgian Golden Strong which called for 3 pounds of sugar. Next time I will use half in the boil and the other half I will feed during fermentation.
Why add any of it to the boil?
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Old 11-21-2009, 03:53 PM   #10
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Because a pound and a half is not problem for a healthy pitch of yeast to consume. I wanted to try and feed it along the way but not spend lots of time doing it or dumping too much in at one time.

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