Barleywine blues

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norsemanjpa

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HEEEEEELP MEEEEE :-O

First time poster here

I Have been brewing for 20+years and have never had a bad batch. (Well there was the time I forgot to wash thr bleach out of the carboy before filling it but that was wine) So I put together a barleywine with extract (feelin lazy, extract on sale) OG was 1.090+. All malt with the exception of a little molasses, honey and a jar of lingonberry preserves (its a Norwegian thing) I used liquid yeast which seemed to work OK. Primary ferment was brisk and apeared normal. The problem is it stopped fermenting at 1.060 sg. I pitched champagne yeast and nothing much hapened. I may pitch champagne yeast again with some nutrient/energizer. ANY THOUGHTS?
 

fsr_racer

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How long has it been? I recently tried my first barleywine, Old Guardian clone. After 3 weeks it's slowed down considerably, but I still get a bubble through the airlock every 30sec +/-, and as long as there is some activity I'm not taking any readings. I am trying to be patient as the recipe said to let it sit in secondary for 4 months. I'm cranking out a rye ale followed by a wheat ale to keep me busy so I'm not tempted to keep checking the barleywine.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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It's been a good two months in the secondary.
 

TheZymurgist

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I just pitched the pack
There's your problem, unless this is a very small batch. You should have done a starter or pitched multiple packs.

Since this is extract, it's going to finish pretty high anyway, I'd guess around 1.025, but not much lower. Here's what you need to do: purchase a vial of WLP099 Super High Gravity yeast, and make a starter, or purchase two vials if you don't do the starter (although the starter is good for waking the yeast up and getting them ready.) Add some yeast nutrient when you dump the yeast in, and you should be good to go.
 

kombat

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Multiple problems here.

The big one was that you wildly underpitched. You should have made a huge starter (4+ liters) for that beer. Another mistake was using extract. A beer that big, you want to maximize fermentability, and extract recipes have a reputation (deserved or not) for finishing high (the "1.020 Extract Curse"). Yours obviously finished much higher than that.

Did you oxygenate the wort? What temperature did you ferment at? I'm afraid it's likely done, as any yeast left in it now have exhausted the supply of nutrients, oxygen, and fermentable sugars, and they're probably exhausted. I would expect an "interesting" flavour profile to this beer.
 

TheZymurgist

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I had the same thing happen to me back when I first started, and was able to fix it with WLP099. It probably be pretty sweet, though. Mine was pretty gross...
 

solbes

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I would pitch an active starter. So make up a 1.5-2L starter, maybe add some hops to the starter boil (as you will be pitching the whole thing, no decanting). Pitch the whole thing about 12-18 hours after the starter reaches high krausen. The fact that they are actively fermenting when they are thrown into a high sugar/high alcohol environment will allow them to keep their legs under them and get munching. Usually just pitching more yeast will not work.

I'm not sure you need to get the 099 high gravity stuff, but you will need some yeast that has high alcohol tolerance.

Also +3 to needing big starters for big beers. With my barleywine, I pitched about 2/3 of a yeast cake and she crunched right through all those sugars down to where I wanted it.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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Many thanks for all the good info, I will let you know how it goes, as far as taste it was.fine, kinda like malt candy.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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OK got the starter going today, no one had the WLP099 so I went with EC-1118. Starter is progressing nicely, will probably pitch late tomorrow. Any thoughts on how much I should shake up the barleywine after I transfer it into the carboy?
 

TheZymurgist

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No need to shake it, the fresh yeast will find whatever sugars are available. Also, for future reference, no need to do a starter with dry yeast, just rehydrate in water.
 

solbes

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I wouldn't shake the barleywine at all. Stir in the yeast as best you can without oxygenating.

Most cases I would agree that you don't need to make a starter for dry yeast. In this case I think you want an active starter that gets pitched into the barleywine. Simply pitching rehydrated yeast into the cauldron of sugar and ethanol makes it a pretty tough start.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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So I pitched the first starter and there was a little activity, I immediately ordered the wlp099 (no one had it, it arrives today) and a stir plate. I plan to give it a try with that starter. First I will check SG to make sure a fermentation miracle has not occurred. And if not. Off we go. A homebrew shop owner spoke about diluting with plain water as an option, any thoughts, sounds odd to me.
 

TheZymurgist

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So I pitched the first starter and there was a little activity, I immediately ordered the wlp099 (no one had it, it arrives today) and a stir plate. I plan to give it a try with that starter. First I will check SG to make sure a fermentation miracle has not occurred. And if not. Off we go. A homebrew shop owner spoke about diluting with plain water as an option, any thoughts, sounds odd to me.
Personally, that would my LAST resort. It would have to be undrinkable for me to consider that. However, it is definitely doable. I say once you've exhausted all of your options, if you're considering dumping it, then try diluting it.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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UPDATE :D The starter appears to be working. There is regular activity as indicated by the airlock consistently bubbling every few seconds. so hopefully things will work out. Anything else I should do? how long do you estimate this tertiary fermentation will take?
 

solbes

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UPDATE :D The starter appears to be working. There is regular activity as indicated by the airlock consistently bubbling every few seconds. so hopefully things will work out. Anything else I should do? how long do you estimate this tertiary fermentation will take?
Awesome, glad it is working for you. Give those yeasties some legs to stand on and they will reward you with hard work, ethanol, and gassy byproducts.

I would keep slowly stepping the temperature if possible. Maybe increase by 1 degree every 2 days or so until its where you want the FG. It will take as long as it takes, which is hard to predict based on how many yeastie friends are back to work.
 

bestbuds

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Pitching yeast after EC1118 might present an issue: EC1118 is a "killer" yeast, producing a toxin that many other, non "killer" yeasts are susceptible to. This includes the vast majority of ale yeasts such as WLP099. Is WLP099 now fermenting in the beer itself, or just in the starter?
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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Would racking a few times help with the EX 111A issue?
 

solbes

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Did you end up pitching the WLP099 as well, or just the Champagne yeast (EC-1118)? Either way if it is crunching away, I would not rack it. Racking will knock a lot of yeast out of suspension which is the opposite of what you need right now.
 
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norsemanjpa

norsemanjpa

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Yes I pitched the WPL099 after the EC118 starter did not show any activity increase.
 

signpost

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If it stalls out again, you could try pitching some Brett. That would definitely eat through the residual sugars.
 
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norsemanjpa

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Not sure if any one will see this, but, the beer fermented down to 1.010 and I bottled it yesterday. Happily there were no off flavors. Thanks again for the help.
 

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