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Additional yeast to finish high ABV batch?

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Mickey Lane

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Need advice on adding a little yeast to finish the ferment and to bottle condition. Yes? No? What kind?

I made a 5 gal batch using a recipe from the local supply house for a Delirium Tremens clone. It was mostly DME with a couple of grains to season.

They were out of their preferred yeasts so I wound up with 2 packets of Wyeast 1388. I made a HUGE yeast starter out of one of them in a couple of half gallon pickle jars w/air locks using about a pound of DME and a couple of days to get going. It was my 1st attempt with a starter but it behaved exactly like I expected. I left the wort and the starter next to each other overnight to temperature equalize.

Final volume (wort + starter) was exactly 5 gal. The OG was 1.106 (higher than I expected) and fermentation took place in an SS Brewtech 7 gallon conical (1st use, like it a lot) for about a month. I just racked to 2 x 3.5 gallon glass carboys where I intend to let it sit for another month or so. (I use 2 bottles for size and weight reasons. I'm an old fart and I don't feel like schlepping a 50 pound gallon glass bottle around.)

The FG at racking was 1.028. Doing the arithmetic, the ABV was/is 10.5 to 11.5% depending on the formula and the attenuation appears to be 72%. It tastes awesome even though it's only half done.

I've read that beers like this need a very long time in both the fermenters and the bottles - up to a year - and I'm OK with that. I plan to bottle in 750 ml/25 oz. Belgian corked bottles and I plan to use plain cane sugar for priming because I have a bunch on hand.

Since going into the secondaries, it doesn't appear to be doing anything at all. Did the yeast run out of 'gas'? Did it get overwhelmed by the 11%? Am I overthinking this?

Current name candidate is "Green Swamp Tripel" since I live in/near that feature in central Florida (Zephyrhills).

Regards,
 

Qhrumphf

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That strain is STA1 positive- ie a diastaticus strain. Given Wyeast saying it's prone to a 1.035 stall, I would assume it behaves akin to the Belgian Saison strain- warm it up and give it time and it'll drop.

Diastaticus strains secrete an enzyme that breaks down higher saccharides (dextrins, etc) into fermentable sugars, and they will all highly attenuate. Some new research suggests that some strains (like Belgian Saison and perhaps this one) are relatively inhibited and can take a while. Others like French Saison or Belle will drop like rockets.

The point is, you've already got a high attenuator with high alcohol tolerance. There aren't many yeasts that'll handle it better.
 
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Mickey Lane

Mickey Lane

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Also you don't want to airlock starters. You want air exchange to max out the yeast growth.
https://imgur.com/a/EpjCFvk
I'm really careful about contamination. There's lots of air in the bottles and I slosh it around a bit. I also pour into the wort so it picks up as much air as possible. I'm looking to using a aerator for the next batch.
 

IslandLizard

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https://imgur.com/a/EpjCFvk
I'm really careful about contamination. There's lots of air in the bottles and I slosh it around a bit. I also pour into the wort so it picks up as much air as possible. I'm looking to using a aerator for the next batch.
Air only gets you around 8 ppm of dissolved O2. Now after you pitched yeast you continue bubbling air for another 18-24 hours, and and stop before it starts producing alcohol. Oxygen is bad from there on (oxidation).
For fermenting high gravity beers, using pure oxygen is the better ticket.

As to your yeast starters...
You're in good company, I use the same 1/2 gallon pickle jars for my starters. ;)
But they go on an orbital (lab) shaker for a few days, while loosely lidded/tented with aluminum foil.

What was the gravity of your starter wort?
How long were they fermenting like that?
Did you see any krausen forming?
I like the grommets you're using, are they silicone? Do you have a link for them?
Are you reusing those lids? If so, be mindful about rust developing over time around the cut hole.

Starters really benefit from somewhat higher temps, for faster growth, say 70-80F. But if you're not cold crashing then decanting the (spent) starter beer, just pouring the whole lot into your main batch of wort, there's a small chance you may be able to taste some off flavors due to the starter's higher ferm temps. That starter beer is also oxidized. Most of us claim we cannot detect it, but we also don't test them side by side.
 
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Mickey Lane

Mickey Lane

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I like the grommets you're using, are they silicone? Do you have a link for them?
Are you reusing those lids? If so, be mindful about rust developing over time around the cut hole.
Amazon. Search for "12 QRP PLASTIC LID AIRLOCK GROMMETS 1/16" Groove White Food Grade Silicone for fermenting in Mason Jars." $8.

https://imgur.com/a/6Pjslh1

There's a considerable air gap around the grommet so I used a hot glue gun to seal it. Made sure to squeeze it under the grommet. It doesn't look very pretty in extreme closeup.
 

brownni5

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Back to original question, the yeast will almost certainly ferment further - I don't see why it wouldn't. That Will probably be fine for bottling too, unless you leave it in secondary for a long time (more than 4 months I would say), and then you would benefit from fresh 1318, champagne yeast, or a conditioning strain like CB-1.
 
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Mickey Lane

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What was the gravity of your starter wort?
How long were they fermenting like that?
I didn't measure the gravity. Here's the cut 'n paste from my notes doc below. I didn't discard any of the top wort as noted, I added all of it because I wasn't sure where the viable yeast was. In suspension? In the bottom? I also didn't record times but the photo above was probably taken 18-20 hours before the starter went into the wort so no, no krausan. I think the starter was in the pickle jars for 3 days maybe.

Yeast Starter – Two step
Using one Wyeast package to make a 1 million+ cell/ml/P

Went to Brewer’s Friend: https://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/

Calculator says first starter should be 3.3 qt (13 cups) water and 24 oz of DME to make 0.67 million cell/ml/P

Second starter should be 1.5 qt (6 cups) water to bring it up to 1.1 million cell/ml/P

1. Take 1 package of Wyeast out to warm

2. When warm, smack the inside packet in the yeast package and wait for package to swell

3. Put first starter water + DME in large pot. Boil

4. Cover well and cool to room temp using ice bath in sink

5. Sanitize yeast package

6. Add yeast package contents to cool wort in large pot. Stir well.

7. Divide pot between 2 sterilized pickle jars. Seal with gas traps.

8. Periodically shake jars until activity slows down

9. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 7 using second starter water + DME

10. When activity slows again, remove some of the top wort and add contents of both pickle jars to wort in fermenter. Make sure all the slurry at the bottom goes in.

Saw: https://www.brewersfriend.com/2009/08/19/how-to-make-a-yeast-starter-og-1040/

(I hope I got this right)
 

IslandLizard

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Amazon. Search for "12 QRP PLASTIC LID AIRLOCK GROMMETS 1/16" Groove White Food Grade Silicone for fermenting in Mason Jars." $8.

https://imgur.com/a/6Pjslh1

There's a considerable air gap around the grommet so I used a hot glue gun to seal it. Made sure to squeeze it under the grommet. It doesn't look very pretty in extreme closeup.
Thanks for the link!

It looks much better than from what you described. ;)
The hot glue will seal that gap nicely, possible also preventing the hole from rusting, at least from underneath. Now the dab of hot glue itself (or the matings with the lid and grommet) may not be easy to sanitize.

Although a relatively small surface here, silicone is very O2 permeable, OK for starters, not so good for keeping O2 out of fermentations to prevent oxidation.

Again, as others have said, yeast starters need oxygen for the yeast to propagate efficiently. That means growing in numbers with sterol reserves for healthy cell walls, allowing her to bud again and again. It's a different process from fermentation in which we want alcohol being produced. Although there's a 3-5x cell increase, mostly due to the beer's volume, it's not the main goal.

Here are 2 yeast pitch/starter calculators to get an idea:
BrewUnited's Yeast Calculator
Mr. Malty (needs Flash activated, just click on it when asked; it should work until the end of the year).
 
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Mickey Lane

Mickey Lane

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Followup...

After a few days in the glass bottles, I noted small bubbles forming on the surface. The yeast has started to work again. Slowly. Exactly like I want it to do.

Thanks. Your "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" advice was right on the money.

Regards,
 
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