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Old 12-04-2012, 11:45 PM   #1
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Default Is our beer... dead?

My husband and I are on our third homebrew batch and having an issue, that I think is due to the cold.

We're making a Belgian Double, using the Ballast point recipe, and visible fermentation took about a week to begin and went for two weeks even though the temp dropped to close to sixty for a while and then below. After two weeks, with no visible fermentation for 24 hours or so, and a temp of 58 we took a specific gravity reading and it was 1.031. The OG was 1.044 so this seemed wrong to us.

The yeast we are using is WL trappist ale yeast which according to their website does best at 65-72 degrees so we figured we had it too cold for the last week. For the past 48 hours we have warmed it up and shook it a few times and its still not doing much. A few bubbles right after we shake it, that's it.

Did we kill this yeast? Is it possible to wake it up through heating shaking? Will it just take another couple of weeks?

Also wee live in Japan and have pretty terrible insulation and high energy costs so its cold in our house - any non electric ideas to warm it up this beer would be really appreciated too!

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:16 AM   #2
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At what temp did you pitch the yeast? Did you make a starter?

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:18 AM   #3
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We didn't make a starter...and we pitched it at 69F. It was liquid yeast (I have no idea if that matters)

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:22 AM   #4
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Sounds like you've got it right. The yeast got too cold and slowed down. There are plenty of options, but do need to warm it up for sure. Would a heating blanket be acceptable, energy-wise? Otherwise you could take it to bed with you!

As far as getting the fermentation re-started, you can rouse the yeast. With some highly flocculent strains (e.g. Wy1968) I have had to stir the yeast back into suspension to get a fermentation past 1.025. I assume your yeast have mostly flocculated out by now. The bubbles you see are likely just residual CO2 off-gassing from the agitation. If you can't get the yeast to get active again, you could re-pitch. And there are more extreme measures you can take too.

Something else seems wrong here too. You said 1.044. I'm not sure exactly what recipe you used, but some I see online with that name would have a much higher OG than that (as a Belgian double should). It's possible that the OG measurement was off because of a common stratification problem with measuring topped off extract batches (need to stir really well before measuring)

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:24 AM   #5
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Your not going to see anything. Just keep it warm, and check back in a week or more to see if the gravity dropped any more. Unless you froze your fermenter, or boiled it, you didn't kill your yeast. All dropping temp does is make it go dormant, do you die when you go dormant every night? No, you wake up the next morning and get back to work Let the yeast warm up, it may take a few day for them to get up to speed, and let them do their thing.

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:29 AM   #6
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Oh I'm glad its sleeping and not dead

Thanks for the good advice guys! So I'll just keep it warm and let the yeast keep at it and if that doesn't work I'll repitch it. Hopefully just warming it will work.

I think a heating blanket would work for us too.. thank you!

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:42 AM   #7
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I accidently dropped an ale (Safale-05) into the low 50's for a week and the yeast took a nap. I warmed things back up to 65 and gave them a gentle swirl. They got back to work and finished the beer out in a week. You should be okay.

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:42 AM   #8
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I have no useful comment on your post, but I'm picturing (in my head) the conversation that would happen if I tried to take an electric heating blanket off the bed to wrap around my beer fermenter.

The wife is a good sport, but that might be a stretch.

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:46 AM   #9
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Haha! I love this beer as much as my husband but this beer would need to have her own blanket!

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Old 12-05-2012, 04:18 AM   #10
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I'm actually using a normal blanket (non electric) with mine to just kind of shield it from the colder temps. I wrapped it up in the blanket after I finished brewing and so far so good. I actually need to take the blanket off my first fermenter and wrap my currently bubbling fermenter.

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