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Is my fermentation stuck - Barleywine

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KayBeer

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I've been a homebrewer for nearly 4 years. I brewed a Barleywine with an OG of 1.102. I used Omega Yeast - British Ale I - OYL-006. I made a starter that doubled in size. I used a blowoff tube because my 5.5 gallon batch became a 6.25 gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon fermenter. At day 3, I checked my gravity because I saw no airlock activity. 1.048. I also realized my temp was at 74, so I moved it to 68. At day 5, I checked again because I still saw no airlock activity. 1.039. I just checked again at day 9 and I'm at 1.038.

I realize this is a big beer, but I don't usually brew big beers. Should I be worried about a stuck fermentation yet, since its been 5 days with minimal change in gravity? If so, how could I fix it? The final gravity is supposed to be 1.026.

Also the yeast tolerance is 10% so that shouldn't be an issue.
 

Kent88

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I'd raise the temperature back up, and if it doesn't do much after a few days, pitch more yeast, and pitch a strain that tolerates a higher ABV.

But you might be able to get the existing yeast to wake up and get back to work with warmer temperatures.
 

hottpeper13

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If you didn't use pure O2 at yeast pitching time there might be little you can do except learn from it. I give 1.112 (my biggest) a 5 min. blast of O2 at 1/8L per min. It makes a world of difference in FG and flavor, and for mine at 13.6% abv the alcohol is smoother. I also make a small beer 1.050 and use that as a starter to make sure I pitch enough yeast.
 

myndflyte

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Those are some good suggestions to try to get it going again, although I wouldn't hit it with O2 now. What was your mash temp? Because a higher mash temp could result in a higher FG.
 

kh54s10

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Leave the beer alone for another week or two then start taking gravity readings. It is still fermenting as noted by the drop in gravity. I would let that one ferment for at least 3 weeks. For a Barleywine I would probably rack to secondary and let it bulk age for about 4 months, bottle it and let it condition for another year.
 

snowtiger1987

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Depending on your fermenter type (I use a conical) you could take the yeast off the bottom and put it back in the top, then gently stir or swirl around to get it back up into solution again.
 

Comfort_Zone

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You're still making progress, but 1.038 isn't a bad finishing gravity for a barleywine....... Just be patient. If you wanna do a big beer fast use hornindal if you have access to it.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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agree, try raising the temp back up to the low 70s and let it sit for another week or two. It should finish.

its generally best not a good idea to lower temperature until you reach final gravity. Lowering the temp could cause stuck fermentation and diacetyl formation.

my normal schedule for a barleywine would be to pitch at the low end of the temp range and keep it there for the first 3-4 days until activity slows. Then I let it rise to the high end of the range. This allows the beer to finish quickly and also serves as a diacetyl rest. High temps are only bad during the first 2-4 days of activity...aftet that they are good. So in this case I would have fermented at 64 first few days then let it rise to 72 until finished.

If you don't have temperature control this might be challenging. The temps I'm referencing are fermenter temp, not ambient temp. Fermenter temp can get much higher than ambient in a high gravity brew. (I duct tape the probe of my temp controller to the outside of my carboy)

Also, I generally pitch a sh*t ton of yeast and aerate with pure O2. Unless your married to a particular yeast strain that only comes in liquid form...I would just use 3 packs of dry yeast on your next attempt which will give you a huge cell count. I wouldn't add more yeast to this batch though.
 

Kent88

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A few people have brought up the idea of using pure oxygen when you pitch yeast. For a beer this strong, that would probably have been a good idea.

I don't use pure oxygen, personally. For big beers I use a fishtank-style aerator to aerate immediately before pitching and again 12-18 hours later, and I pitch a lot of yeast. I've made a barleywine and a couple Beglian dark strong ales using this method, the latter reaching an OG of 1.105ish. They all fermented to completion. It just takes time for some big beers.

That is more of a 'next-time' kind of thing anyway. Too late to mess with oxygenating the fermenting beer now.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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I’ve recently made two fairly big beers and don’t use any sort if oxygenation except allowing the wort to splash into my fermentors. My most recent Wee Heavy stalled around 12% ABV. The calculator I use says that for beers above 6% the alternate formula is more accurate. My yeast said it was good to 12% and did as advertised but not more. When I put in the values that you shared I get 10.8% ABV for your beer, so I think that perhaps you have gone above the limit of your yeast. As with my Wee Heavy I think you will have a hard time carbonating your beer if you are bottle conditioning. If it was me, I might consider rehydrating a couple packets of Nottingham which is advertised to go up to 14% ABV.
 
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KayBeer

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Update***

I decided to just let it sit and see what happens. I'm making progress. I checked the gravity again today and while its not much, it is progress. I checked today, day 12, and I'm at 1.037. My plan is to let it go for another week or two, hopefully to get below 1.030. Then I'll raise the temp back up around 72, as a diacetyl rest, of sorts, and let it sit for another month or two in secondary before kegging it.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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Update***

I decided to just let it sit and see what happens. I'm making progress. I checked the gravity again today and while its not much, it is progress. I checked today, day 12, and I'm at 1.037. My plan is to let it go for another week or two, hopefully to get below 1.030. Then I'll raise the temp back up around 72, as a diacetyl rest, of sorts, and let it sit for another month or two in secondary before kegging it.
You should just raise the temp to 72 now. It will finish much quicker. All esther and phenol production is already done. No good reason to keep it at lower temp now
 

Comfort_Zone

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Yeah, just raise the temp. There's no point in trying to keep it cool at this point.
 

RM-MN

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Update***

I decided to just let it sit and see what happens. I'm making progress. I checked the gravity again today and while its not much, it is progress. I checked today, day 12, and I'm at 1.037. My plan is to let it go for another week or two, hopefully to get below 1.030. Then I'll raise the temp back up around 72, as a diacetyl rest, of sorts, and let it sit for another month or two in secondary before kegging it.
Let me save you some work and possibly save your beer. Don't secondary. It isn't needed, it doesn't really help the beer, and it offers a chance for oxidation and even infection. Just let the beer warm to room temp now right in the primary fermenter and leave it. It will be fine there for at least a couple months.
 

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