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Ach! Sweet beer!!

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rockjones73

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Alright, so a number of weeks ago I made a breakfast stout. I knew the OG was gonna be big (I hit 1.082) so I made a yeast starter...problem was, I didn't know much about starters (I used an airlock, didn't shake etc...since I've switched to foil and a stirplate). After a couple of weeks in the secondary, I decided it was time to bottle. My SG was still 1.030!! This beer was at my friends house, and I really had to bottle it then, even though I think I had a stuck fermentation (the beer was at a buddy's house, and he was leaving). So, somehow I got talked into priming the bottles with Cooper's drops. So: Will this carbonate, since the yeast were already toast? Will it just turn unbearable sweet? Will the extra sugar give me life-threatening hangovers? Will the bottles explode?!!? I was planning on just blending the bottles, one at a time, with a dry stout I made and kegged, just to get some mileage out of an extrememly expensive batch of beer. Thanks in advance!
 

ArcaneXor

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After a couple of weeks in the secondary, I decided it was time to bottle. My SG was still 1.030!!
This is more likely to be the cause of your stuck ferment than the yeast starter. By racking to a secondary prematurely, you essentially leave it up to <5% of the yeast to complete the most difficult part of the job in an environment that is increasingly toxic to them - so they quit.

As to how the beer will turn out, you'll just have to wait and see. There's little you can do to fix any problems now anyway. I'd put them in a bomb shelter (just in case) and let them condition and age for a couple of months or so.
 

Mencken

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This is more likely to be the cause of your stuck ferment than the yeast starter. By racking to a secondary prematurely, you essentially leave it up to <5% of the yeast to complete the most difficult part of the job in an environment that is increasingly toxic to them - so they quit.
Hm, I just brewed a 1.081 beer yesterday, and definitely don't want to fall into the same situation with my beer. How do I know when to rack it to the secondary?
 

ArcaneXor

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Hm, I just brewed a 1.081 beer yesterday, and definitely don't want to fall into the same situation with my beer. How do I know when to rack it to the secondary?
What style of beer are you brewing? For most of them, a secondary won't really produce any benefits whatsoever.

If do you want to secondary, it's best to wait until a few days after the beer has reached its final gravity, allowing the yeast to complete processing of fermentation by-products.
 

Mencken

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It was originally a hefeweisen dunkel, but kinda got skewed into something that I don't even know. I keep hearing about the two camps for primaries and secondaries. What's your take on it?

Also, my understanding was a plastic primary was good for fermenting, then condition in a glass carboy, cause glass doesn't leak in oxygen like plastic does.
 

ArcaneXor

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I usually decide whether or not to do a secondary while the process is well underway, depending on "what the beer is telling me". For instance, if it refuses to clear on its own after several weeks, I may decide to add finings, in which case I may rack to a secondary first so that the finings won't gum up the yeast in the primary that I want to harvest for reusing in a future batch. It also depends on the style - I'd be much more likely to rack if I am brewing a Koelsch or a Blonde than, for instance, for a Witbier or an IPA. But my default is "no secondary".

I primary and secondary in Better Bottles, so oxygen permeability isn't a concern for me. My personal opinion is that doing a primary in a transparent fermenter has lots of benefits in terms of allowing for a visual examination of the beer throughout the process that way offset the somewhat higher cost of the vessel. But many great beers have been made in bucket primaries, and many people will argue that they are perfectly adequate for anything but extended conditioning.
 
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