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Old 11-30-2009, 03:13 AM   #1
knownikko
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Default Advice on fixing a beer stuck at ~1.040 after 2+ weeks

All,

I recently brewed up a slightly modified version of the bourbon vanilla porter posted in the recipes area and appear to have a fermentation stuck at 1.040 after a couple weeks.

I made a partial mash version of the recipe, substituting all of the 2-row malt for LME. All of the other grains were mashed at ~152 for 60 minutes and then batch sparged. I hit a starting gravity of 1.082.

Here's where things got fun. I know that I drastically underpitched by using a single smack-pack of Wyeast 1056 without making a starter. I had every intention of making a starter, but made the mistake of not buying some DME when I was at the LHBS with which to make one (thought I had some at home). The brew store is about a 35 mile trip for me, so I decided to just pitch it and see how it went.

I started the fermentation in my garage, temp was about 62 degrees. After 9 days I took a gravity reading, 1.040. Fermentation activity appeared to have stopped at that point, so I took the carboy inside, brought it up to ~74 degrees and gave it a swirl to get things going again. It appeared to pick back up, but apparently it didn't as a week later I'm still at exactly 1.040.

So I've been doing some reading about stuck fermentations and one of the suggested remedies was to make a second batch (this time with a big and proper starter of course), and then rack ~5% of the new beer onto the old one at high krausen to get things going again. Anybody have thoughts on or experience with this method? This seems like my preferred approach at this point, as finishing up with 10 gallons of what seems to be a fantastic beer wouldn't exactly be a bad thing.

I do have a packet of montrachet wine yeast in the fridge, but I'm worried that's just gonna funk up my beer and won't get the gravity down low enough anyway.

Any and all advice would be appreciated.

Thanks

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Old 11-30-2009, 06:32 PM   #2
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Buy two packets of Safale-05 online and pitch. Your ferment will start very quickly and your batch will be saved for around $5 plus shipping. Be very careful with your sanitation at this point. High gravity ales also need more oxygen. Consider buying a carb stone and some O2 if you continue to brew high gravity.

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Old 12-01-2009, 01:47 AM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestion. I purchased ingredients today for a second batch and got a couple S-05 packs just to have around in case this sort of emergency arises again.

My thoughts at this point are to brew a second batch with a proper starter, and then pitch the old batch onto the new yeast cake, as suggested here:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/psa-...t-fixer-72072/

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Old 12-01-2009, 02:24 AM   #4
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Improper aeration of a high gravity beer is the number one cause of stuck fermentation.

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Old 12-01-2009, 02:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher View Post
Improper aeration of a high gravity beer is the number one cause of stuck fermentation.
Has that been proven? I would say that underpitching is a large cause as well.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher View Post
Improper aeration of a high gravity beer is the number one cause of stuck fermentation.
I still employ the "shake the hell out of the carboy before pitching" method, which fits well with my budget if you know what I mean. This is a big beer for me, and not something I'm likely to make very often... was more of a special occasion holiday beer. Guess I should look into more proper oxygenation methods.

I'm sure that combined with the underpitching is what got me where I am now.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:28 AM   #7
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Just start with two packets of dry yeast such as safale and make a slurry. The new dry yeast are great and have HUGE cell counts compared to liquid yeasts, eliminating the need for a starter. The O2 system is not that expensive and the tanks last for several batches. A cheaper option is to us a plastic aerator (http://morebeer.com/view_product/157...y_Wort_Aerator). Shaking the carboy once it's shut doesn't do a whole lot.

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