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Old 10-01-2007, 02:25 PM   #1
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Default Stuck Fermentation - Anything additional that I need to do?

So two weeks ago I brewed an IIPA (OG-1.092) using Wyeast 1056. I made a two qt. starter 48 hours prior, pitched the whole thing at high Krausen. Oxygenated the hell out of the wort, and put it down to let the yeasties work. Fermentation was the most vigorous that I've seen in my short time brewing (since April) and was "finished" after about 6 days (no bubbles in airlock). I left it in primary for another 8 days, and went to transfer to secondary yesterday, and the SG was ~1.030. Target was 1.021. Still way to high. So I stopped transferring, put it back in the fermenter, put the lid back on (w/ airlock) swirlled vigorously (being careful not to aerate) and put it back in the cellar. As of this morning, the bubbler in the airlock is not resting on the tube, so there has been additional fermentation overnight.

OK, so that's the story. From reading the myriad other posts similar though this over the past few months, I feel that I am troubleshooting this pretty well on my own by doing the above steps, but moreso by not flipping out. But I still wanted to get some input from all y'all here.

So here are my questions:

1: Should I continue to rock the fermenter about every 36 to 48 hours to keep the yeasties in suspention?

2: If, by let's say Thursday, I'm not seeing a significant drop in SG, should I pitch more yeast (would be Safale-04 dry English Ale Yeast), or is this unnecessary?

2A: If I were to pitch more yeast, should I get more 1056, make a starter, and pitch that??

Any other information that all y'all have would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

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Old 10-01-2007, 05:25 PM   #2
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I think if the main fermentation is done, you should probably get it off the old yeast and into a secondary. Sometimes this kicks up more activity. I have an ale that used that same yeast and it rolled hard for 3 days then slowed, transferred to the secondary after one week and added dry hops. It has been SLOWLY finishing fermentation for over two weeks now. If there's still bubbles on the surface of the wort then it's still fermenting, just really slow. Rack it and let it be. I think 1056 tops off at around 8 or 9% ABV. What do you figure it's at now? What are your fermentation temperatures? 1056 should be used around 65 to 70 F.

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Old 10-01-2007, 09:40 PM   #3
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you're confusing 'fermentation' with 'CO2 coming out of solution'. just because the airlock has bubbled doesn't mean fermentation is still active. you need a hydrometer for that.

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Old 10-01-2007, 10:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
you're confusing 'fermentation' with 'CO2 coming out of solution'. just because the airlock has bubbled doesn't mean fermentation is still active. you need a hydrometer for that.
Ya, but how can you be sure that it has finished when final gravity is almost always greater than one? My Holiday ale has been slowly bubbling for weeks. There is still a small amount of foaminess around the sides of the carboy. Also in regards to my mead, fermentation has been very slow, but I'm pretty sure there is still plenty of sugar to ferment (SG~1.015). I guess you just have to know how to calculate final gravity unless you are using a kit or recipe that already specified what it should be. BUT my honey amber ale went several points below the stated FG, so stated final gravity isn't that reliable either and you are not always provided FG with the recipe.

How can you tell the difference between a slow finishing fermentation and CO2 releasing from the solution?? The bubbles originate from the bottom of the carboy...

Didn't mean to hijack, but I'm assume the thread poster can learn from this too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beerdad
The best time to rack is when the gravity doesn't change for 3 days. This means fermentation is complete.
This would be a better answer.... but then again, how do you know that the fermentation isn't just stuck? Especially with batches with higher stated FGs??

Also checking gravity daily can be a pain and increase the chance of infecting your brew. There's gotta be a better way, especially in a glass carboy where you can actually see whats going on in there...
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Last edited by simplecj; 10-01-2007 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 10-01-2007, 11:13 PM   #5
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you calculate attenutation...you don't want your beer to get down to 1.000! it'll be far too dry. most beer will get greater than 70% apparent attenuation, so that's what you're looking for.

you should wait until the fermentation hasn't changed in a few days AND it is within the desired range of attenuation.

look at the range for your yeast and you can use my calculator to find out the attenuation: Brewing Calculator

oh and as long as you have proper sanitation and don't take too many samples, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. There is no better way and there is definitely no visual way.

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Old 10-02-2007, 12:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplecj
Ya, but how can you be sure that it has finished when final gravity is almost always greater than one? My Holiday ale has been slowly bubbling for weeks. There is still a small amount of foaminess around the sides of the carboy. Also in regards to my mead, fermentation has been very slow, but I'm pretty sure there is still plenty of sugar to ferment (SG~1.015). I guess you just have to know how to calculate final gravity unless you are using a kit or recipe that already specified what it should be. BUT my honey amber ale went several points below the stated FG, so stated final gravity isn't that reliable either and you are not always provided FG with the recipe.

How can you tell the difference between a slow finishing fermentation and CO2 releasing from the solution?? The bubbles originate from the bottom of the carboy...

Didn't mean to hijack, but I'm assume the thread poster can learn from this too.



This would be a better answer.... but then again, how do you know that the fermentation isn't just stuck? Especially with batches with higher stated FGs??

Also checking gravity daily can be a pain and increase the chance of infecting your brew. There's gotta be a better way, especially in a glass carboy where you can actually see whats going on in there...
First, as DeathBrewer stated, I don't know why anyone would want a beer to go below 1.000. Secondly, you can always find a terminal gravity, by the attenuation method put forth by DB, or, looking up a style in a book and getting a range for a particular style. Or get some brewing software. In any event, once the SG is within that range for multiple days, then the beer has finished fermenting. You stated above that 1.015 is still a lot of available sugar to ferment. This is only partially true. If you are making a style with a FG range of 1.008-1.012, then yes, this is still a bit high, where as there are many styles where this is right about the target. The IIPA I asked about in the original post has a FG of 1.021.

At any rate, as the original poster, I'm a bit more interested in how to unstall my beer, rather than arguing about how to tell if a beer is done. I'm pretty ok at that. No offense, y'all can keep going. Just my .02.

Cheers,
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Old 10-02-2007, 01:08 AM   #7
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Well, I'd check the sg again in a few days, and if you're still at 1.030 or so, pitch some more yeast! The problem is what kind of yeast you'd need. 1056 is a pretty well attenuating yeast, hitting around 75%, more or less. Even at 1.030, you're at 65%. Still, 1.024 would be realistic I think. It doesn't seem like your yeast should be all flocculated and done, since you oxygenated well and made a starter. I'm guessing that it's going to drop a few more points quietly and the next time you check it, it'll be lower.

If not, I'd think of a well-attenuating neutral yeast that can tolerate the relatively high ABV you're already got. (You're over 8% and some ale yeasts just won't do more than that)

I wouldn't keep rousing/shaking. The yeast know where the sugars are.

To cj, the only way to know if fermentation is done is to check sg. If the sg is within the expected fg and it's been stable for 3 days or more, it's done. No one can tell by looking at the bubbles. I've had wine finish at .990 (done) and there is still plenty of bubbling going on from the bottom of the carboy. Co2 coming out of solution is NOT fermentation. Wines and meads finish dry as a rule, depending on the og. Beer does not and should finish above 1.008 (depending on recipe- some are finished at 1.024 or so)

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Old 10-02-2007, 01:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper Chick
Well, I'd check the sg again in a few days, and if you're still at 1.030 or so, pitch some more yeast! The problem is what kind of yeast you'd need. 1056 is a pretty well attenuating yeast, hitting around 75%, more or less. Even at 1.030, you're at 65%. Still, 1.024 would be realistic I think. It doesn't seem like your yeast should be all flocculated and done, since you oxygenated well and made a starter. I'm guessing that it's going to drop a few more points quietly and the next time you check it, it'll be lower.

If not, I'd think of a well-attenuating neutral yeast that can tolerate the relatively high ABV you're already got. (You're over 8% and some ale yeasts just won't do more than that)

I wouldn't keep rousing/shaking. The yeast know where the sugars are.

And of course, the only way to know if fermentation is done is to check sg. If the sg is within the expected fg and it's been stable for 3 days or more, it's done.
That was what I was thinking, Yoop, just needed some reassurance. To update, I checked the batch before dinner, saw that the bobber wasn't resting on the tube, roused it so that it fell, checked a few hours later, and it was back floating. So there's been enough CO2 released to fill the top of my bucket again, which I'm taking as good news. I think we'll be ok in a few days. If I can get it down to 1.024 like you said, I'll be happy, but I think, hope is more the word, that it'll get just a couple points lower.

Thanks,
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndyPABrewGuy
First, as DeathBrewer stated, I don't know why anyone would want a beer to go below 1.000.
Cheers,
I didn't say I wanted it to go below 1... anyhow, I just wondered if there was a way to tell visually rather than cracking it open and sticking a wine thief in there every day. I'm a bit paranoid of infections...

At any rate, this thread has convinced me it's probably time to bottle my Holiday Ale and probably my mead. BTW, my mead is a sweet mead, so I'm guessing 1.015 is probably good enough. Also, my first two ales finished at around 1.004 with 1056, a bit lower than your stated 1.008... I learn new stuff every day!!
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplecj
I didn't say I wanted it to go below 1... anyhow, I just wondered if there was a way to tell visually rather than cracking it open and sticking a wine thief in there every day. I'm a bit paranoid of infections...

At any rate, this thread has convinced me it's probably time to bottle my Holiday Ale and probably my mead. BTW, my mead is a sweet mead, so I'm guessing 1.015 is probably good enough. Also, my first two ales finished at around 1.004 with 1056, a bit lower than your stated 1.008... I learn new stuff every day!!
I appologize for suggesting that you wanted to have an FG below 1.000. That was an inference on my part, and I'm sorry.

As for it being time to bottle your Holiday Ale and Mead, you should make sure that the FG that you have is within the style guidlines for each. Don't just assume its time. That leads to bottle bombs. And for the "state 1.008", that was an arbitrary number, consult the link above concerning each style, and see how close you were to the suggested FG range.

Again, there are ways to calculate FG (I use brewing software when writing my recipes, so I'm not to saavy on the actual math, though I know its pretty basic) by using the attenuation of the yeast and your Original Gravity.

And most importantly, as long as you enjoy brewing, and more importantly your final product, this topic is of little relevance. As long as bottles aren't exploding in your basement.

Cheers,
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