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Old 02-03-2013, 01:22 AM   #1
JCrazy84
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Default Stuck Fermentation Belgian Strong Dark/Quad

Okay, so first let me say, I screwed up. Yes, I know I did, now I just want to know the best way of fixing it.

5 gallon batch-

4# Belgian Pilsner
4oz Flaked Wheat
Mashed at 149 for 60m, BIAB Sparged with 172 for 5m

12# Light DME
2# D-180 Candi Syrup.
90m boil, 1/2 dry malt at 90m, 1/2 at 15m
1# candi at 15m, the other at flameout

WLP530 Abbey Ale

So, here is where I screwed up I used an online calculator to determine my OG, it told me 1.116 (385B cells needed), turns out it was 1.126 (415B cells needed).

I did use a yeast starter, I took a Belgian-style Blonde I made (5.1%, 20IBU), made an Abbey (7.1%, 16IBU), and then rinsed again. I estimated I had approximately 115B cells after in the fridge for 2 days, I stepped that into a 2L starter (w/ agitation), where I estimated I had approximately 200B, decanted stepped that into a 4L starter (w/ agitation) that I pitched at high krausen. (should have been about 400B).

I aerated with a stone for 90s, pitched at 68, the fermentation heated it up to 72. After 15 hours, another aeration was done, as per advice in the White/Zainasheff book. The vessel was then placed in a water bath with a fish tank heater to get the temperature to 74 after 36 hours, and a ramp to 78 after 96.

The yeast kicked off for about 6 days, threatening with the blowoff tube all the while, but never going above and into it. Then, silence. I waited another 8 days before taking a gravity reading, it was 1.040. I shook it, to get some of the trub/possible yeast off of the sides along the top, and shook it up, without taking the airlock off. It has now been 12 days since then, all the while at 78 degrees, and it is 1.037. Other than being sickening sweet, it is very good tasting.

I normally have 4 week primaries (would mean 2/4), before bottling or aging, but I don't see that as an option here.

Here are three options I see:

1. New Starter-Take some bottles of my Blonde, drink them, and step up from a 100mL starter to a 1L starter (or maybe larger?), and pitch that into a new fermenter, and rack the beer onto it. While this would oxidize things slightly, it is not completely incorrect to style, not to mention the yeast would need some oxygen to reproduce. The dilution can be determined, and at a beer this strong already isn't a big deal to me.

2. Amylase Enzyme- Not beano, as I don't want alpha-galactosidase shredding everything. If I did this, I would see where things were after a week, and if needed, I still may need to do option one if I have killed/stressed the original yeast to the point of no return.

3. Yeast Cake- Make a brand new beer, probably with a slightly different style (light Belgian golden? Duvel clone maybe? WLP570/Wy1388), that I could just rack this beer onto the cake for the new beer.

Now, I throw myself onto the mercy of the community. I thank you in advance for any advice or guidance, and if you have any questions, I will answer to the best of my ability.

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Old 02-03-2013, 02:30 AM   #2
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I think your measure of 1.126 is low.

In 5 gallons, the extract and sugar will give you about 1.122. With the grains, you were probably closer to 1.140.

Fermenting down to 1.037 will give you about 13.5% abv. I think the yeast has just reached it's limit. To move it further, you probably need to use a high alcohol yeast like WLP099 (I think that is the number - I may be wrong). Make a starter, and add some of the beer to the starter before adding it to the bulk of the beer.

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Old 02-03-2013, 02:50 AM   #3
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While possible, I normally average about 85% for efficiency, when I calculate out efficiency by hand on this one, saying it is 85% gets me a gravity of 1.128. The candi syrup is 32 ppg, rather than 46 ppg straight dextrose offers. I am not discounting it, I just am saying that my history of numbers say otherwise at the moment.

I thank you for the WLP099 suggestion, I will look into it. I see that my local store does carry it. Should I add just the beer to the starter instead of DME? I mean, the straight beer itself is within the optimal starter range for gravity. It may not have as much sugar as needed due to the 1.020 extract problem though.

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Old 02-03-2013, 12:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCrazy84 View Post
While possible, I normally average about 85% for efficiency, when I calculate out efficiency by hand on this one, saying it is 85% gets me a gravity of 1.128. The candi syrup is 32 ppg, rather than 46 ppg straight dextrose offers. I am not discounting it, I just am saying that my history of numbers say otherwise at the moment.

I thank you for the WLP099 suggestion, I will look into it. I see that my local store does carry it. Should I add just the beer to the starter instead of DME? I mean, the straight beer itself is within the optimal starter range for gravity. It may not have as much sugar as needed due to the 1.020 extract problem though.
More time is needed. 2 weeks elapsed, correct? This is a 6 month beer in the whole process.

If you add enzymes to the fermenter, how will you stop them before you end up with watery, brown, hooch? You can't.

You might try this: wait a few weeks. If no progress, obtain another 3787, or maybe 1388 yeast. Make a proper starter with DME. Transfer the monster quad to a new vessel. When starter is going well, pitch at high krausen.

That's my suggestion. You just need to get down to the 1.020s.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCrazy84 View Post
While possible, I normally average about 85% for efficiency, when I calculate out efficiency by hand on this one, saying it is 85% gets me a gravity of 1.128. The candi syrup is 32 ppg, rather than 46 ppg straight dextrose offers. I am not discounting it, I just am saying that my history of numbers say otherwise at the moment.

I thank you for the WLP099 suggestion, I will look into it. I see that my local store does carry it. Should I add just the beer to the starter instead of DME? I mean, the straight beer itself is within the optimal starter range for gravity. It may not have as much sugar as needed due to the 1.020 extract problem though.
I just used my software (BeerSmith) and plugged in your numbers with 85% mash efficiency and came up with 1.146 for 5 gallons.

If I change the DME to LME, it comes out at 1.127.


Test:
Brew Type: Partial Mash
Style: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency: 85.00 %

Ingredients Amount Item Type % or IBU
12 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry Extract 65.75 %
4 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 21.92 %
4.0 oz Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
2 lbs Candi Sugar, Dark (275.0 SRM) Sugar 10.96 %

Beer Profile
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.146 SG
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.036 SG
Estimated Color: 42.2 SRM
Bitterness: 0.0 IBU (22.0-35.0 IBU) Alpha Acid Units: 0.0 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 14.57 %


If you go with another yeast, I'd go with the WLP099 due to it's high alcohol tolerance. Your flavor profile is already set. You will need to make a proper starter, to get the yeast active and reproducing. When the starter is going, add some of the beer to the starter (aclimatizing the yeast to the alcohol), and finally when that is going, add all of it to the main batch of beer. The only thing that should be aerated is the initial starter.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by highgravitybacon View Post
More time is needed. 2 weeks elapsed, correct? This is a 6 month beer in the whole process.
Right now, 27 days have elapsed. I realize this beer takes a long time, but I don't think after the yeast stops it would get started. I wasn't going to bottle, I was going to let it sit in a secondary for a long time.

Since my flavor profile is set, I would probably go with WLP099 at this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post
I just used my software (BeerSmith) and plugged in your numbers with 85% mash efficiency and came up with 1.146 for 5 gallons.

If I change the DME to LME, it comes out at 1.127.
I get by hand:
Light DME- 45ppg*12#=540/5gal=108
Belgian Pils- 35ppg*4#=140/5gal=28
D-180 Candi Syrup- 32ppg*2#=64/5gal=12.8
Flaked Wheat- 34ppg*.25#=8.5/5gal= 1.7

108+28+12.8+8.5=150.5*.85=127.925~ 128ppg= SG~1.128

Nevertheless, next time I am at the homebrew store, I will pick up 099, and make a 2L starter with it. Depending on its production date/viability I should have about 150-175B cells, which should be good to chew through 17-20 points.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCrazy84 View Post
I get by hand:
Light DME- 45ppg*12#=540/5gal=108
Belgian Pils- 35ppg*4#=140/5gal=28
D-180 Candi Syrup- 32ppg*2#=64/5gal=12.8
Flaked Wheat- 34ppg*.25#=8.5/5gal= 1.7

108+28+12.8+8.5=150.5*.85=127.925~ 128ppg= SG~1.128
But, and forgive me if I'm missing something, you're going to get 100% from that DME, right? So, that's: (28+12.8+8.5)*.85+108=1.149.9
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCrazy84 View Post
Right now, 27 days have elapsed. I realize this beer takes a long time, but I don't think after the yeast stops it would get started. I wasn't going to bottle, I was going to let it sit in a secondary for a long time.

Since my flavor profile is set, I would probably go with WLP099 at this point.



I get by hand:
Light DME- 45ppg*12#=540/5gal=108
Belgian Pils- 35ppg*4#=140/5gal=28
D-180 Candi Syrup- 32ppg*2#=64/5gal=12.8
Flaked Wheat- 34ppg*.25#=8.5/5gal= 1.7

108+28+12.8+8.5=150.5*.85=127.925~ 128ppg= SG~1.128

Nevertheless, next time I am at the homebrew store, I will pick up 099, and make a 2L starter with it. Depending on its production date/viability I should have about 150-175B cells, which should be good to chew through 17-20 points.
While not really applicable to your current situation, any yeast still left in suspension will continue to do their thing while those who retire to the bottom will not. It's not uncommon, especially for this yeast, for it to work furiously for the first while and then take an eternity for the remaining reduction in sugars. I made a 1.084 beer the other day that went from 1.084 to 1.014 in the first week, then it took another 3 weeks to go from 1.014 to 1.006. This was with a different yeast than you used, but I'm talking generally.

There are some Brewing Network podcasts on Brew Strong, four of them actually, talking about high gravity brewing, which this certainly is and some tips to avoid frustrations like you experienced. Just search the archives for "high gravity."

Then complicating it is the rapid death of the yeast due to the alcohol. There's a person who posts here that has a wonderful blog, http://http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com that did some experiments on yeast die off in varying alcohol concentrations vs. time. Basically when you get into the extremes of alcohol levels, you start having big time longevity issues with your yeast.

The thread talking about the Dog Fish Head 120 minute double double double IPA clone has some good tips in it for general high gravity brewing.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/dfh-120-minute-clone-259314/

Yes, it's a massive thread. But the first few pages are the most interesting.

I don't think you screwed up, it's just a really big beer and making them is not easy. I applaud the effort but it's not going to be easy.

Here's another link that has an interesting approach to ultra high attenuation using only normal grain enzymes.
http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2013/02/02/kaipa2/
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GinSlinger View Post
But, and forgive me if I'm missing something, you're going to get 100% from that DME, right? So, that's: (28+12.8+8.5)*.85+108=1.149.9
The candi sugar would also be 100%, so by JCs own numbers he would have:

(28+8.5)*.85+108+12.8 = 1.152

I think it was higher than JC originally calculated. Now he is at 1.037, he has about 14.5 to 15% abv. I think the original yeast is done due to the alcohol; and that's a pretty heroic effort they did.

Assuming an OG of 1.148 (because it is an easy number to work with), the beer is currently at 75% attenuation. WLP is supposed to have >80% attenuation, so it may be possible to bring it down into the 1.025 range.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:36 AM   #10
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But, and forgive me if I'm missing something, you're going to get 100% from that DME, right? So, that's: (28+12.8+8.5)*.85+108=1.149.9
DME is only about 75%-80% fermentable under normal circumstances. Briess describes on its own website that it is typically 75% fermentable. http://www.brewingwithbriess.com/Assets/PDFs/Briess_PISB_CBWPilsenLightDME.pdf . I would not have made it more fermentable, as I did not mash it, and by the time it was thrown in, the enzymes from the pils malt would have been denatured from the temperature.
So, it could be (28+8.5)*.85+(108)*.75+12.8=31+81+12.8=124.8. Or an OG of 1.125.

Nevertheless, it doesn't matter all too much at this point if my numbers were right or wrong.

@highgravitybacon

Thanks for the helpful links! I read them all, and they were rather informative! I know what I can do to help myself next time, and if I ever wanted to make 120, I could! (But, I need to get to another state, damn 12% max laws in Ohio...)

@Calder

Yeah, nevertheless, the real issue is yeast death/laziness/giving their all and being done. It is worth it to pick up the WLP099 and get down 10-20 points. I would be okay with 10, happy with 15, and amazed at anything over 17. When I make the starter I might add a bit more nutrient than usual, and maybe some energizer if I can find a good number.

Also, I should remember to post for posterity purpose in this thread. It always seems nice to follow up, if it stops just one double post, it is worth it, haha.
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