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Old 10-12-2010, 03:19 PM   #1
Ichthy
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Default Chimay Yeast Attenuation

Hi all, hope you can help me out.

For starters, I'm NOT panicking. .

I cultured some yeast from a bottle of chimay red and pitched it in a starter for two days before pitching in my Dubbel.

The OG of my dubbel was 1.072.

I pitched the yeast at 65 and let it rise to 70F where I held it for the rest of the ferment. Fast forward to now, 3 weeks later, and I'm stuck at the dreaded 1.020. By my calculations, that's 72% attenuation which isn't bad, but I was expecting the beer to finish dryer.

I don't have the recipe with me, but it was roughly 12lbs of malt (~1-1.5lb color malts) and 1 lb of dark candy sugar (that I made). I mashed for 60 min at 148F.

Interestingly, when i pull the hydro sample and try to de-gas it, the bubbles that form look like they are coated in a brown liquid syup.

So, my questions:

Is 72% attenuation what most of you normally get with this yeast?
If not, should I try running the normal gammet (sp?) of measures to un-stick the fermentation?
Is it possible I messed up when making candi sugar and it didn't ferment out very completely?

Thanks in advance


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Old 10-12-2010, 04:23 PM   #2
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When I use the Chimay strain, I get great attenuation. About 9 months ago I made a Chimay Blue clone with 17 lbs of grain mashed at 149F & 2 lbs of homemade dark candi syrup. It started at 1.089 and finished at 1.011 for 86% attenuation. This beer was pitched on a yeast cake from a smaller 1.045 beer.

My suspicion is that you didn't get such great attenuation because you significantly underpitched. Every time that I've harvested yeast from a bottle, I've had to build that culture up over at least 3 increasingly large starters to get a volume of yeast I was comfortable with. Bottle harvesting, then 2 days later pitching it into your beer is just way, way, way too little yeast, especially for a 1.072 beer.


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Old 10-12-2010, 04:45 PM   #3
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I used a two quart starter on a stir plate. It was at high krausen when I pitched. Even if it was underpitched a bit, you think attenuation would be that 'bad'?

Any suggestions on where to go from here?
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:10 PM   #4
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In some sense, it doesn't matter how big your starter was. You were limited by the amount of yeast that was in the bottom of the bottle. Now a White Labs yeast vial contains 35 ml of yeast. The dregs from that bottle might have contained a a couple of ml at most. In two days, that might double maybe even triple, but you still probably had yeast that was the equivalent of one-fifth to half of one vial. Given it was a big beer, yep, I do think underpitching would decrease attenuation a lot. If with optimal pitching for this beer, you would have got ~1.013-1.015, then yep, I do think underpitching by that much would decrease your attenuation a lot.

How long has it been at 1.020? If not too long so the yeast haven't really gone to sleep, you could gentle rock your carboy or bucket to get the yeast back in suspension. However, if the yeast are already asleep, this may not do anything & could result in introducing oxygen (which would be very bad). So if you rock, do it gently.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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I recently had a similar problem, stuck at 1.019. went through the gammet with no success. I kegged it up and it tastes great, ABV a little lower than expected, but just drink an extra one to accomidate.

I have to agree w/ mkling that 2 days seems like a stretch to step up from bottle harvest. I don't know enough about yeast growth to give you an educated guess, but I would have stepped that up over 4 or 5 days to feel comfortable. I probably would have started w/ a cup, moved to a pint, quart, 2 quarts over several days.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:20 PM   #6
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It's been at 20 for about a week now. I thought about giving the fermenter a rocking. The beer tastes fine, I just wanted it to be a touch drier.

Maybe I'll reevaluate my bottle harvesting procedure. Like I said, the starter was at full krausen so I assumed (probably incorrectly?) that there was no more yeast reproducing in the starter.

Any thoughts to boiling, cooling and adding 1/4 lb of sugar to fermenter to get the yeast going again? Maybe they would go ahead and pull the gravity down more?? If not I may just bottle and chalk this up as a learning experience - it's still good beer.

Thanks so far!
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ichthy View Post
It's been at 20 for about a week now. I thought about giving the fermenter a rocking. The beer tastes fine, I just wanted it to be a touch drier.

Maybe I'll reevaluate my bottle harvesting procedure. Like I said, the starter was at full krausen so I assumed (probably incorrectly?) that there was no more yeast reproducing in the starter.

Any thoughts to boiling, cooling and adding 1/4 lb of sugar to fermenter to get the yeast going again? Maybe they would go ahead and pull the gravity down more?? If not I may just bottle and chalk this up as a learning experience - it's still good beer.

Thanks so far!
You're right that it was done reproducing for this starter. This is why both me & phatuna were advocating stepping up your starter instead of making one big starter. Like phatuna said, a cup, a pint, a quart, 2 quarts gives you more opportunity for more reproduction than one big 2 quart starter.

I think adding the corn sugar to the fermenter is a good idea and will likely help some, too. 1/4 to 1/2 lb ought to help out nicely.

And you're right, it'll be good beer no matter what!
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Fermenting and Conditioning: Pseudo-Decoction Munich Dunkel, Left Hook Bitter
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:29 PM   #8
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Thanks a bunch guys I'll give 'er a shot of sugar tonight and see what happens.

I guess I'll stop being lazy and will start stepping my starters!


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