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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Wort has surprisingly high OG - worried yeast might not be able to handle it
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:11 AM   #1
whahoppened
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Default Wort has surprisingly high OG - worried yeast might not be able to handle it

I just pitched and took measurements for my first batch of stout (extract). The recipe I used said the original gravity would be 1.060-1.064. I used a larger can of LME than the recipe called for (4.0 lbs instead of 3.3). The actual original gravity of my wort is 1.070. I pitched one 4.25oz package of Wyeast 1084 (Irish Ale) liquid yeast. It was definitely fully active when I pitched, but still I'm a little concerned that it might be overwhelmed by my heavy wort and I'm in for a problematic fermentation this week. Any thoughts from people more experienced with higher-gravity worts?

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Old 01-04-2010, 04:23 AM   #2
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A six point difference won't be that big of a deal to the yeast. And before I go on, assuming you did everything else well, it will ferment and you will have beer.

1 smack pack in a 1.060+ wort is underpitching, though. For optimal results for a wort that big, you need more yeast.

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Old 01-04-2010, 04:31 AM   #3
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Your beer could have some trouble reaching a low FG. Would it be possible to pick up another pack tomorrow. At this point, I think that's your best option.

Edit: I almost forgot. In the future, use this pitching rate calculator to make an appropriate sized starter for every batch: http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

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Old 01-04-2010, 04:43 AM   #4
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Unfortunately the nearest brewshop is about 60 miles away and the earliest I could get more of the same yeast I pitched is Saturday*. However, the LME I used (Mountmellick Stout) came with a packet of dry yeast that I didn't use. I'm assuming it isn't the quality of Wyeast, but still totally suitable for fermenting stout. Should I just throw it in now or wait until it appears the Wyeast isn't getting the job done? On a related note, if the fermentation temperature is low 70s, what would the timeframe be for a healthy fermentation? When should I really start to worry?

Thanks.

*If it were a life-or-death situation for this batch, I'd be willing to overnight some more Wyeast.

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Old 01-04-2010, 04:47 AM   #5
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If you used an extract and put in the right amount of water, the recipe gravity is correct and your reading is off. The most common reason (almost every time) is that the wort and the top off water do not mix thoroughly enough for an accurate reading.

Don't do or add anything. Your beer will turn out just fine as is.

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Old 01-04-2010, 05:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurmey View Post
If you used an extract and put in the right amount of water, the recipe gravity is correct and your reading is off. The most common reason (almost every time) is that the wort and the top off water do not mix thoroughly enough for an accurate reading.

Don't do or add anything. Your beer will turn out just fine as is.
I hope you're right, but if my sample is off I'd be surprised if the reason is insufficient mixing. To aerate the wort after topping and chilling I poured it back and forth between two sanitized buckets about fifteen times, so it's definitely not as though the top-off water was just sitting unincorporated on the heavier stuff from the boil when I pulled the sample. What else can I do to ensure a thorough blend?

I did use 0.7 lb more LME than the recipe specified. This novice brewer would be bummed if a minor modification to a basic recipe led to failure.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurmey View Post
If you used an extract and put in the right amount of water, the recipe gravity is correct and your reading is off. The most common reason (almost every time) is that the wort and the top off water do not mix thoroughly enough for an accurate reading.

Don't do or add anything. Your beer will turn out just fine as is.
He didn't add the amount of extract the recipe called for, so no, you can't say it was an incorrect reading. Also, that is pretty severe under pitching. I would definitely add more yeast. BUT, you don't need to add more immediately - wait until you get a chance to make it out to the LHBS on Saturday or rehydrate and pitch the packet of dry yeast when the Wyeast starts to stall out...or you could just order more yeast and pitch it when it arrives. Ideally, you would just pitch another packet of Wyeast ASAP.

Also, under pitching will add stress to the yeast causing them to produce more fermentation by-products like esters, etc., especially at the temperature you are fermenting at. Taking this into consideration, you might want give this beer more time than normal - at LEAST a month in primary. Then give it some time to bottle condition - if it were me, I would wait a minimum of another month before I opened one to taste it. This batch isn't ruined, but it might take some extra time and work to get it to finish out and taste as good as you want it to. Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:46 AM   #8
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I kinda did the same thing on saturday. I overshot my efficiency ( never thought i would dislike that) and ended up with a 1.087 IPA, guess i made a double IPA. I did make a 2.5 quart starter so I chose to just roll with it and see what happens. I probably would have diluted it if I had sterile water on hand which wan't the case. It did take off in 6 hours though. I made a stout the same day and hit the gravity right on and it didn't start until 20 hours later with about the same process....who knows.

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Old 01-04-2010, 03:15 PM   #9
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I'd wait on using the dry yeast. Yeah, you under-pitched slightly, but it isn't the life-or-death problem as some people present it.

Check the gravity in a week.

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Old 01-04-2010, 04:04 PM   #10
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Let it ride. I did the same thing several times when I was first starting out and it worked out.

I wouldn't plan on the beer being finished based on a time given in the instructions. The hydrometer reading is the only accurate way to make sure fermentation has finished. And for extract 1.020 was finished most of the time for me.

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