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Old 02-24-2014, 01:04 PM   #1
johnny_hophead
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Default Yeast inactive after transferring to secondary

Hi everyone, this is my first thread so please don't be mad if I didn't post it to the correct forum...

I'm currently fermenting a Smoked Imperial Stout (extract plus grains) with an OG = 1.100+ (the plus sign is because my densimeter just arrives at 1.100, it really went off scale).
This was not the only thing that went off scale, as you can already imagine. I experienced a monster fermentation, losing nearly 5 L coming out as foam through the bucket lid border (yeah, krausen actually opened the lid a bit instead of going out through the blowoff hose), but it calmed down the day after and the fermentation went well, without any more splashes or volcanic eruptions. I guess I learnt the recipe limit volume the hard way

So, here comes my problem..

After 9 days fermenting (total, madness included) I transferred it to my secondary. The FG was still 1.038. Everything went ok except for one "small detail": It's stucked!
The bubbler (or airlock, excuse me but I don't really know the proper word in English) didn't bubble at all since transfer since the liquid level is equal on both sides (though when it was in the primary it did every 4 minutes or so at the moment of the transfer), and today I measured the FG and was still at 1.038.

Peeking through the airlock I don't see a compact, unique foam in surface but instead litte foam dots / spheres, sparged individually (and not in a very big number). The beer temperature also went down to 19°C, when during primary it had been stable at 22°C. It's in the same room as the one before, at the same room temperature (21-23°C).
So my question is: should I add more yeast (safale-04)? Should I wait?
The temperature decrease and lack of internal pressure drives me to think that the fermentation has stopped and maybe there is no viable yeast at all..
This is driving me crazy... Please, I need your help.

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Old 02-24-2014, 01:10 PM   #2
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Unfortunately transfering the beer into secondary after only nine days was not a great idea. You can try and add more yeast, but I would suggest making a starter and get the yeast going real good before you dump it into the alcoholic beer.

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Old 02-24-2014, 01:18 PM   #3
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OK to start with was there any signs of active fermentation when you moved to secondary? If so I've seen it kill the fermentation process in the past.

Also how did you prepare your yeast? I ask because you're saying your starting gravity was well over 1.100 and with a gravity like that if you didn't have a good starter going it could be a problem to. Also the wrong yeast could cause issues once its at this point there's a lot of alcohol and some yeast are less tolerant of high alcohol content than others.



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Old 02-24-2014, 01:39 PM   #4
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Hi guys, thanks for the replies!
Well, there was an active fermentation before the transfer, it was still bubbling , there was foam on top and the temperature was stabler. It surely wasn't just the attenuative one, as it was rather slow (one bubbling every 4-5 minutes)..
I prepared the yeast as every other one I've used so far: dry yeast, took it out of the fridge 2 hours before, safale 04 (ale yeast). I've never used an starter so far but never had any problem.. also the fermentation went VERY strong (I hope no fuse alcohol problems..)
So maybe it's a problem of alcohol tollerance, as now the alcohol in the beer is about 8% vol? should I try us05 now or even champaigne yeast? Or should I jump into the starter world already? This is my 4th beer so far, maybe I was a bit arrogant...

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Old 02-24-2014, 01:47 PM   #5
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I'm not an expert but I'm going to lean toward alcohol tolerance. If that is the case making a starter of the same yeast and pitching it won't really do any good. If you want it to finish out lower another more tolerant strain will be needed but I don't personally know what. I will say a starter of whatever you use will be needed.

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Old 02-24-2014, 01:48 PM   #6
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If you were over 1.1, the yeast may have been done at 1.038. You describe a very vigorous fermentation, and in those cases 9 days is enough to be complete.

A beer or wine will continue to off-gas C02 after fermentation is complete. Transferring the beer to another fermenter will also knock C02 out of suspension. In other words, you may have been getting bubbles in the primary from off-gassing and now there's no more C02 left to off-gas.

What malts did you use? Did you have a lot of unfermentable sugars?

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Old 02-24-2014, 01:52 PM   #7
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I've seen around that safale 04 arrives at most at 10% (recipe ABV is about 10,4), and safale 05 or us05 arrives at 12%. Definetely, I'm trying to make an starter of us05 and see what happens! I don't want to risk with champagne and create a dry ultra alcoholic smoked stout, I think it could be awful... Thanks for your advice.

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Old 02-24-2014, 02:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanBrew View Post
If you were over 1.1, the yeast may have been done at 1.038. You describe a very vigorous fermentation, and in those cases 9 days is enough to be complete.

A beer or wine will continue to off-gas C02 after fermentation is complete. Transferring the beer to another fermenter will also knock C02 out of suspension. In other words, you may have been getting bubbles in the primary from off-gassing and now there's no more C02 left to off-gas.

What malts did you use? Did you have a lot of unfermentable sugars?
I used black patent, smoked german malt, chocolate, roasted barley and 7kg of dry malt extract. The estimated FG by beersmith is aprox. 1023.. Could the yeast have been knocked out by alcohol? should I try to add a us05 starter?
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:54 PM   #9
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It's not going anywhere - you can turn your beer into one big experiment but at best I think you'll only shave off a few more points. High OG, lots of specialty malts, questionably attenuative malt extract, and a lower attenuative yeast all point to it being done.

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Old 02-24-2014, 02:56 PM   #10
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Since you're using Beersmith, what was the predicted OG and what's the percentage of your grain bill that's malt extract (the entry in the %/IBU column in Beersmith for your malt extract)?


It certainly can't "hurt" anything to pitch more yeast and see what happens.

In general, you don't want to make a starter with dry yeasts. Instead, by multiple packs, re-hydrate for 15-30 minutes, and pitch.

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