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Old 03-14-2011, 07:37 PM   #1
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Default Slow fermentation with Safale US-04?

I put together a cyser with 8 cans of apple concentrate, 5 lbs. of honey, topped of with a bit more than 4 gallons of apple juice for a 5 gallon batch. The starting gravity was 1.080. I pitched the Safale US-04 yeast nine (9) days ago and it is now down to 1.045. I continue to see bubbles rising in the carboy and what appears to be fermentation movement but it seems very slow.

Previous similar batches were fermented with Lavlin EC-1118 champagne yeast and they got down to 1.005 in seven (7) days. Is the speed of the ale yeast that much slower? It never really developed a crausen like previous batches either.

I'm just wondering if there is anything I should do such as add more yeast or nutrients to get this to ferment on out to 1.010 which is my target for sweetness.

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Old 03-14-2011, 08:34 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar enough w/ us-04, but if its a more common ale yeast, which I think it is, that may be a bit too much alcohol for it to work on. The champagne yeast is able to work to much higher levels of alcohol before petering out. You may just be at the limit that yeast can handle. If not, maybe that yeast strain isn't as efficient at working on complex sugars and is just going to be slow. You'll know for sure by retesting gravity a few more times and if the gravity is still going down, its working, just slowly, maybe you underpitched. If its staying, then the yeast can't work anymore in that level of alcohol.

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Old 03-14-2011, 08:44 PM   #3
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According to the abv calculations, it is currently at 5% abv. I've read it will work up to 8.5-9 abv which is the target. Maybe it is just going to be slow. I did pitch it dry like we typically did the champagne yeast.

Would it be bad to repitch with a slurry to let it continue on down?

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Old 03-15-2011, 12:59 AM   #4
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Leave it alone. It's the honey. Takes a long time to ferment. Check it again in a few weeks.

Based on your ingredients, I would have thought your OG would have been higher; somewhere around 1.100. Are you sure all the honey was mixed into he sample you checked?

Honey is about 36 points a pound, so 5 lbs = 180 points.
Juice is about 1.048, so 4 gallons = 192 points.
1 can concentrate = 3 pints of juice = 18 points. 8 cans = 144

Total = 516 points.

In 5 gallons = 1.103. Obviously this is only an estimate, but indicates your 1.080 may be low. If you did start at 1.100, you would be at 7% abv; the yeast would still be chugging along, but going slow.

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:15 AM   #5
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How many packs did you pitch? If it was one, you way underpitched making what's there overworked

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Its not terrible, but i get an armpit armoma and flavor.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:58 AM   #6
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I pitched a single packet of S-04. I didn't model out the recipe for total OG, and yes, it is possible some of the honey may not have been fully incorporated. I just created a new batch today, no yeast yet, and worked much harder at mixing in the honey. The new batch didn't have the added concentrate but did have 2.5 lbs. of crushed blueberries. I'm thinking of going with Nottingham this time. How much should I be pitching for a 5 gal. batch?

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Old 03-15-2011, 02:35 PM   #7
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You will really need your starting gravity. Then go to mrmalty.com and use their pitching calculator to see exactly how much. Also, make sure you rehydrate the yeast before pitching and it will go much smoother this time

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Old 03-15-2011, 10:50 PM   #8
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The gravity of apple juice varies, but I suspect you have about 385 points, which would give you an OG in the region of 1.076.

The Blueberries do not add much sugar. Most soft fruits are around 10% sugar, so 1 lb only adds 4 to 5 points to the total, or an additional 0.001 to the gravity for 5 gallons.

My bet is that 1 pack of S-04 will do it.


Don't worry about the honey not mixing. It only affect the gravity reading. The yeast should still get to it.

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Old 03-16-2011, 04:45 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the feedback. I'm gonna be patient and RDWDAHB that I happen to have on tap. I can still see fermentation action in the carboy so I know it is still going. It is going to be interesting to see how far the yeast will go before giving up.

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Old 03-21-2011, 03:43 PM   #10
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An update for those interested...

The cyser defined in the original post has gotten down to 1.020 from a measured SG of 1.080 (but apparently was higher because I confirmed honey was not fully mixed). That calculates to at least 8.5% abv. It tastes quite good, but still a bit sweeter than I would like it to end up. I'm going to let it keep going in hopes of getting down under 1.015. This was basically the Drop Them Panties Again recipe but exchanging 5 lbs. of honey for the sugars and Safale S-04 yeast.

My other batch of cyser with crushed blueberries and Nottingham yeast is now down to 1.042 from an SG of 1.075. It has been a troubled fermentation because blueberries float and they like to work their way up into the blowoff tube and clog it up, resulting in a blown off cap. I just racked off into another carboy to resolve that problem. The lesson to learn is squeeze the juice from the blueberries, or other fruit that is going to float, and add only the juice.

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