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Old 03-22-2010, 08:20 PM   #1
gubby
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Default Using champagne yeast to lower FG

I have a strong dark belgian beer that started at 1.093 which I used WLP500 to ferment. After three weeks it was at 1.027 with little to no signs of continued fermentation while sitting at about 62F. I would like to get it down to the 1.018-1.020 range. Someone suggested using champagne yeast to finish it out. What are your experiences doing this? Does it work? Should I make a 1 liter starter or just pitch the vile?

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Old 03-22-2010, 09:02 PM   #2
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I'm in a similar situation with a high gravity witbeer. My LHBS guy suggested pitching a pack of S-05 to see if it will restart.

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Old 03-23-2010, 05:37 PM   #3
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You need a LOT of yeast to restart a stuck fermentation...more like a qt. of slurry instead of a single pack of 05. And the question also is "is it stuck or is it done due to the level of unfermentables?". Let's see some recipes....

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Old 03-29-2010, 04:18 AM   #4
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Here is my recipe for the Belgian strong dark ale:

Grain/Extract/Sugar
% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
65.2 12.75 lbs. Pilsener Germany 1.038 2
12.8 2.50 lbs. Munich Malt Germany 1.037 8
5.8 1.13 lbs. Cane Sugar Generic 1.046 0
5.1 1.00 lbs. Aromatic Malt Belgium 1.036 25
4.2 0.81 lbs. CaraMunich Malt Belgium 1.033 75
4.2 0.81 lbs. Special B Malt Belgian 1.030 120
1.9 0.38 lbs. Chocolate Wheat Germany 1.040 400
1.0 0.19 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt 1.033 2


Hops
Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.75 oz. Hallertauer Pellet 4.60 31.2 60 min

I mashed at 152F for 60 min. I checked the gravity again after 4 weeks in primary and it's down to 1.025 (72% AA). Again, I would like it to get down to the 1.018-1.020 range. I would have expected it to have achieved more attenuation given that 6% of the fermentables were from cane sugar. I think the attenuation problem is due to poor wort oxygenation. Will champagne yeast help, and if so, how should I go about using it?

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Old 03-29-2010, 04:36 AM   #5
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I had the same thing happen with a sweet stout, the yeast crapped out way to early. I used a half gallon starter of ec1118 and it finished up nicely.

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Old 03-29-2010, 05:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friday View Post
I had the same thing happen with a sweet stout, the yeast crapped out way to early. I used a half gallon starter of ec1118 and it finished up nicely.
Did you pour in the whole starter? One half gallon of starter wort seems like it would dilute the beer and maybe even affect the flavour.
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gubby View Post
I have a strong dark belgian beer that started at 1.093 which I used WLP500 to ferment. After three weeks it was at 1.027 with little to no signs of continued fermentation while sitting at about 62F. I would like to get it down to the 1.018-1.020 range. Someone suggested using champagne yeast to finish it out. What are your experiences doing this? Does it work? Should I make a 1 liter starter or just pitch the vile?
I had a dark stong belgian 1.104 OG that stalled out at 1.064..that really sucked. I let it get to warm to quick. I quickly added an actively fermenting 2 quart starter to the fermenter and the beer finished at 1.022 or so. ....

Here is what I would do, make an actively fermenting starter of the same belgian strain you originally used. Pitch that into the fermenter, warm it up and then add some sugar...powdered dextrose should be fine. The yeast will go nuts on the sugar, ferment that out and will continue to dry out your beer...especially if you rais the temp...jack that baby up to near 80...it's a belgian!

Your recipe looks nice, but i think you could double the sugar. In the future I would discourage you from adding sugar to the boil. Let the primary maltose fermentation start to wind down in the low 70's or so...then crank it up past 75 degrees and add your sugars a pound at a time a day apart...it will dry out like magic. It is not uncommon using this method to get attenuation over %90.
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Old 03-29-2010, 04:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gubby View Post
Here is my recipe for the Belgian strong dark ale:

Grain/Extract/Sugar
% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
65.2 12.75 lbs. Pilsener Germany 1.038 2
12.8 2.50 lbs. Munich Malt Germany 1.037 8
5.8 1.13 lbs. Cane Sugar Generic 1.046 0
5.1 1.00 lbs. Aromatic Malt Belgium 1.036 25
4.2 0.81 lbs. CaraMunich Malt Belgium 1.033 75
4.2 0.81 lbs. Special B Malt Belgian 1.030 120
1.9 0.38 lbs. Chocolate Wheat Germany 1.040 400
1.0 0.19 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt 1.033 2


Hops
Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.75 oz. Hallertauer Pellet 4.60 31.2 60 min

I mashed at 152F for 60 min. I checked the gravity again after 4 weeks in primary and it's down to 1.025 (72% AA). Again, I would like it to get down to the 1.018-1.020 range. I would have expected it to have achieved more attenuation given that 6% of the fermentables were from cane sugar. I think the attenuation problem is due to poor wort oxygenation. Will champagne yeast help, and if so, how should I go about using it?
6% isn't all that much...I would have gone more like 15%. In addition, you have a fairly high level of unfermentables from the aromatic, CaraMunich, chocolate, and Special B.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny View Post
6% isn't all that much...I would have gone more like 15%. In addition, you have a fairly high level of unfermentables from the aromatic, CaraMunich, chocolate, and Special B.
That's what struck me.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:46 PM   #10
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i did a high gravity wit last year using one of the Belgian wheat strains (forget which). The gravity wasn't where i wanted it so i let it ferment 2 weeks and finished it off with champagne yeast. It ended up nice and dry, just like i'd wanted it to. SG was about 1.08x closer to 1.090 and got down to about 1.010 or thereabouts. Not sure if it was the orange, grapefruit, cayenne, coriander, or camomile, but it had the aroma of cotton candy.

i think i'm gonna crack one of them badboys open tonight. I love that beer.

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