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Old 02-12-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
sillyburt
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Default Issues with fruit beer, cherry wheat, secondary not fermenting after adding cherries

Well Ive got 20+ batches under my belt so I thought Id try to work a fruit beer..the ubiquitous cherry wheat.

Recipe was 4.5# 2-row, 4.5#wheat 1# munich 1 oz williamette 60 min
Mashed at 158, double batch sparge

I pitched us-05, hydrated, and fermentation was going ~24 hrs later (the usual when I pitch us-05). Fermentation went well for 3-4 days. It started slowing at like 3 days and more. On day 5 from pitching there was no movement of wort in the carboy. I dropped temps from 65 to 63 (ambient to where I would store it as ferm chamber would be used for another batch). I transferred to the secondary on top of 2 cans of unsweetened cherries (local grocery store).

Since then my yeast seems to have fallen out big time. I had a layer of cherries on the bottom with flocculated yeast. The cherries floated to the top and I have what looks like oxygen bubbles in the mix on top??? I brought the temps up on the carboy to 68* (house ambient) in hopes that Id wake u pthe yeast to get this going.

My questions are
-do I need to worry about not having a second fermentation?
-Or should I just go with it and wait for the cherry taste to apply itself ?
-Do I need a fermentation to get the cherry taste anyway?
-should I pitch more yeast to get some type of secondary ferm going? (I have the yeast washed)
Ive read about how so many people have complained about a wine taste when having a secondary fermentation happen. I was trying to avoid that. I figured the sugars in the cherry mixz would get them going in no time since they were in the end of their phase.


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Old 02-12-2011, 01:06 PM   #2
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-do I need to worry about not having a second fermentation?

No. The fermentation of your beer (ales anyway) is usually complete in approx 2-3; the only time a second fermentation is required is when you're carbing a beer (in bottles or kegs w/ priming sugar).

-Or should I just go with it and wait for the cherry taste to apply itself ?

I've not made a fruit beer like this before, but I'd guess that it should sit on the cherries for maybe a week or so. Take a sample and see if it's to your liking; you'll likely get cherry characteristics even though it's not fermenting for a second time.

-Do I need a fermentation to get the cherry taste anyway?

No.

-should I pitch more yeast to get some type of secondary ferm going? (I have the yeast washed)

No.

The "secondary" is generally used for clearing (see brite tank) or when people can't bottle/keg right away and they want to age the beer, but don't want it to sit on the yeast cake for too long. You may get some airlock activity after transferring to your secondary, but this is just gas escaping the liquid. A true second fermentation won't occur unless you're adding an abundant amount of new fermentable sugar or some fresh yeast.

I've never been a fan of the term "secondary fermentor", it just makes things confusing for newer brewers. By no means is it a required step, but when dry hopping or adding fruit, it defiantly helps with clarity and removal of any particles.

Your beer will be fine even though it didn't ferment for a second time after adding the cherries.


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Old 02-12-2011, 01:13 PM   #3
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You may find this useful:

Brewing Fruit Beers at Home, Part 1

Brewing Fruit Beers at Home, Part 2

Cherries Traditionally used in many Belgian beers. Ripe, sour cherries are best as they blend well with the malt flavors. Generally a lot of cherry is needed, as much as 2-4 lbs per gallon of beer, which is why many cherry based Belgian beers are expensive. Also, cherry beers sometimes need extensive aging.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:57 PM   #4
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Pitch more yeast. And probably should be from an active starter.

I suspect that when you took the beer out of your fermentation chamber and placed it in a 63 F location, the yeast went dormant and dropped. It is my experience that floors are colder than the air temperature. Temperature exchange from a floor to the wort is greater than from the air, and the wort will take on the temperature of the floor.

When you racked to secondary, you left all the good yeast in the primary fermenter, and now you have very few yeast left to work on the cherries.

When adding fruit, yeast usually go crazy. That didn't happen for you, so I assume you just don't have much yeast left ........ there is some, but not enough. The only way to really know what is happening is to take a gravity reading and compare it to the gravity when you transferred to secondary. If it is the same or lower, then everything is fine. If it is higher, it is stuck.

You also need to make sure it is completely fermented out before bottling, otherwise you will have lots more sugar/fermentables in the bottles. Although there is very little yeast left, it will keep working very slowly, and you could get bottle bombs.
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:18 PM   #5
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yeah lots of yeast dropped. I had a layer of white yeast on top of the cherries. when they floated to the top the yeast stayed in clumps in the bottom. I've tried to swirl the carboy and figured the raised temp would get them going but that's not working.

and it seems like I have conflicting info on here
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:46 AM   #6
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Your best bet would have been to transfer on day 3 when you saw a decrease in activity. If I'm not mistaken, US-05 is a very high flocculent yeast and by the time you transferred most of the yeast may have settled out.
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:50 AM   #7
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I thought about that (on day 3) but most of the info I've seen on here mentioned a wine like taste from the second ferment. I was trying to avoid that but I truly avoided it

-now the question is should I repitch?
-do I have to worry about bottle bombs due to the added sugar (56 g is what I'm gathering from the nutritional label from the can(s)).
-or should I readjust my sugar when bottling

everyone has claimed an almost massive refermentation when adding a fruit.....
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
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really nobody else...... ?
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:56 PM   #9
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Why would you need to pitch more yeast??? You don't need fermentation to pick up flavoring from fruit. Unless the gravity isn't as low as you need it to be, I cannot see any reason to pitch more yeast.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:12 PM   #10
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I was worried about bottle bombs


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