PSA: Foolproof Stuck-Ferment-Fixer

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Evan!

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I get stuck fermentations here and there. It's just in the course of business. Not often, but once in a good while. Doesn't matter how big the starter is, how much I oxygenate the wort, sometimes the yeast will just poop out a little too high. Dumping dry yeast on it never helps. Even making a starter from a liquid culture and dumping it at high krausen has never worked for me.

So couple months back I ended up with a Saison that finished at 1.017...way too high. I tried raising the temp, rousing the cake, nothing. Just by happenstance, I had a Forbidden Fruit cake from a witbier sitting there waiting to be washed and harvested, so I dumped the Saison on that cake. Bam, a couple days later I was at 1.010!

So last weekend I brewed a Southern English Brown with a nice healthy starter of WLP002. It pooped out around 1.020 3 days later. Well, I thought, now's a good time to test out my hypothesis. So I had a batch of a very simple ale that I fermented with S-05 and it was highly attenuative (will one day be a kriek) that was ready to be racked. Last night, I racked it off the cake and racked the SEBA onto it. As expected, this morning, there's a nice little mini-krausen and some airlock activity.

So there's my PSA. You got a stuck fermentation? Just wait until you have a healthy cake (meaning, that beer attenuated fully with it), and dump the stuck beer right on top of it. I'm batting 1.000 so far...and I'll keep updating this thread if I have any future experiences with the technique.

EDIT: I'm not taking credit for this technique, it's nothing new, I just wanted to start a PSA thread for everyone to see. Credit for giving me the idea in the first place goes to ColoradoXJ13!
 

Glibbidy

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Nice tip. I'm presently dealing with my very first stuck fermentation myself.
Anyone got a nice healthy yeast cake I can dump my imperial pilsener on?:(
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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do you really get stuck fermentations that often?
Not that often, but yeah, here and there, like I said. I'd say 95% of my beers finish fine, but there are just those times when it happens. No rhyme or reason. I use big 2L starters, I oxygenate correctly with pure 02, it's just, sometimes, the yeast says, "ah, screw this, I'm going to sleep".

That's a great technique I've used before as well

But did you really consider it stuck after only 3 days or did I read that wrong?
You read correctly, sort of. Fermentation pretty much stopped after 3 days. It was going strong, then the krausen dropped, airlock activity subsided, and I took an SG reading. 1.020. Took another one last night (3 days later) and it hadn't changed. The yeast had flocculated into a compact cake (you know, that nice, highly-defined line between the cake and beer), the top of the beer was smooth as glass, and it was done. I've lorded over enough fermentations to know when they've finished, but my SG reading confirmed it.
 

bradsul

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You read correctly, sort of. Fermentation pretty much stopped after 3 days. It was going strong, then the krausen dropped, airlock activity subsided, and I took an SG reading. 1.020. Took another one last night (3 days later) and it hadn't changed. The yeast had flocculated into a compact cake (you know, that nice, highly-defined line between the cake and beer), the top of the beer was smooth as glass, and it was done. I've lorded over enough fermentations to know when they've finished, but my SG reading confirmed it.
Gotcha, thanks for the clarification! :mug:
 
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Evan!

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MrFebtober

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I'm not sure I understand how this is different than making a new starter of S-05 and re-aerating the beer. Isn't that all that you are doing by dumping onto a yeast cake: aerating and introducing a new healthy yeast population? Or is there some cakey goodness aspect I'm missing? I guess it would introduce less water to use a cake over a starter, but also introduces more oxygen because of the transfer technique (unless you didn't literally mean "dump").
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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I'm not sure I understand how this is different than making a new starter of S-05 and re-aerating the beer. Isn't that all that you are doing by dumping onto a yeast cake: aerating and introducing a new healthy yeast population? Or is there some cakey goodness aspect I'm missing? I guess it would introduce less water to use a cake over a starter, but also introduces more oxygen because of the transfer technique (unless you didn't literally mean "dump").
First off, unless you make a 5-gallon starter, then it's going to be less than your cell count here. I think it's the high amount of viable, ready-to-roll cells in one place that makes a restart much more likely. And no, I don't literally mean "dump", I rack of course. Reintroducing that much oxygen at this point will almost certainly give you problems with oxidation.
 

MrFebtober

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First off, unless you make a 5-gallon starter, then it's going to be less than your cell count here. I think it's the high amount of viable, ready-to-roll cells in one place that makes a restart much more likely. And no, I don't literally mean "dump", I rack of course. Reintroducing that much oxygen at this point will almost certainly give you problems with oxidation.
Gotcha. that makes sense.
 

WBC

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Evan,
Do you always stay within the yeast fermentation recommended temperatures? Do you control temperature in a refrigerator?
 

ColoradoXJ13

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Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that I came up with the idea, I'd forgotten that you'd suggested it...I just wanted to put a PSA thread out there to help people who didn't happen to see my Saison thread.

Duly noted, duly changed. Thanks, brother! :mug:

hey, no worries, just bustin' your balls.

I think the fact that the yeast cake is already acclimated to alcohol is a big factor too, whereas the yeast in a starter (usually pretty low SG) isn't all that used to it, that and cell count as you mentioned matters. Usually one is going to get a stuck ferment due to:

1) poorly attenuating yeast in a big beer (the 'saison' issue)
2) too small a starter for your beer
3) temperature problems
4) poor fermentability of extract/wort

the poor attenuating yeast problem can certainly be overcome with a nice hearty strain, as can issues 2 and 3, you are basically f'd if your problem is 4.
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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hey, no worries, just bustin' your balls.

I think the fact that the yeast cake is already acclimated to alcohol is a big factor too, whereas the yeast in a starter (usually pretty low SG) isn't all that used to it, that and cell count as you mentioned matters. Usually one is going to get a stuck ferment due to:

1) poorly attenuating yeast in a big beer (the 'saison' issue)
2) too small a starter for your beer
3) temperature problems
4) poor fermentability of extract/wort

the poor attenuating yeast problem can certainly be overcome with a nice hearty strain, as can issues 2 and 3, you are basically f'd if your problem is 4.
Good points...though, at least with #4, if you're bottling, you won't end up with gushers or bombs, right?
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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UPDATE: Not 2 days later, the SG is at 1.015, exactly where the FG for a SEBA should be.

triumphant again!
 

ColoradoXJ13

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Good points...though, at least with #4, if you're bottling, you won't end up with gushers or bombs, right?
in theory...my first saison finished at 1.028, I bottled it, had no problems other than it being really sweet...
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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I've got a sort of old Rasputin clone sitting in a primary after 2 weeks(In know that it's only 2 weeks but the krauzen dropped and it looks done) the SG is 1.036. The OG was 1.114. I pitched 2 packets of US-05 dry yeast and was questioning if it was going to be enough.

Think I should try a starter tomorrow? Leave it for a couple more days then sample again to see if it moves? Or leave it, brew another small batch and rack on that cake?

This is the largest brew that I have done so I am just thinking I wasn't prepared with my measly 2 packets of dry yeast.

what do you think?

Edit: I have this sitting around 65-64 degrees
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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I've got a sort of old Rasputin clone sitting in a primary after 2 weeks(In know that it's only 2 weeks but the krauzen dropped and it looks done) the SG is 1.036. The OG was 1.114. I pitched 2 packets of US-05 dry yeast and was questioning if it was going to be enough.

Think I should try a starter tomorrow? Leave it for a couple more days then sample again to see if it moves? Or leave it, brew another small batch and rack on that cake?

This is the largest brew that I have done so I am just thinking I wasn't prepared with my measly 2 packets of dry yeast.

what do you think?

Edit: I have this sitting around 65-64 degrees
Don't bother with the starter at that alcohol level. I'd bet a hunned dollas it'd do nothing.

What you need to do is brew a small, neutral ale with a yeast that has a high alcohol tolerance. Try an OG around 1.040. Ferment it out, let it clear, then rack this RIS onto it. Warm it up into the low 70's. See what happens. If nothing happens, then you just have a really high FG stout...with an RIS, that's okay.
 

neumann

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Sorry to rouse a dead thread, but I just wanted to add another +1 to this tip. My Holiday Spiced Ale quit at 1.040 and I was ready to toss it. I had a Pale Ale that just finished. I gave this a shot and 24 hours later my gravity is down to 1.020 and falling. So, ya, just my little +1.
 

neumann

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Go for it. What I had wasn't worth drinking so I had nothing to lose. Don't know about you.
 

Broncobum

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I know this is an older thread, but I have to say it worked for me. I had a red ale that went in about 2 weeks before a stout. They were both brewers best kits with notty yeast. The red ale finished up, and the stout started slow, barely had a krausen, and then flatlined at 1.030. I bottled the red, racked the stout onto the red yeast cake, and it is going way stronger than it ever did. I purposely brought some of the original yeast thru the siphon, just to get a little more yeast in the action.
Thanks for the tip to whoever originally started it, and the op of this thread, because it comes up quick when you search stuck fermentation. :mug:
 

eurc51

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This sounds like a great method. I have a winter warmer with an OG of 1.08 and it got stuck at 1.035. The primary was in a cold part of the house, so I racked to the secondary and moved it to a 68-69 degree spot. No response, so I made a starter (LHB said it would work) of US-05 dry and pitched. Still no response. I thought that maybe it ran out of oxygen? The airlock bubbled for a few days and I got some foam, but the gravity only dropped to 1.03. I've been busy with school, so the beer has basically been sitting at 70 degrees with no activity and no drop in gravity. It's been in the secondary for about 2 months. Do you think there's still hope for this beer? If so, I'm brewing next week and in about two weeks I'll have a healthy cake of ale yeast.

Thanks,

E
 

r_flagg

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I recently made a robust porter which was my 2nd all grain batch. My efficiency was 63%, so not great. My OG was supposed to end up near 1.057, but only got to 1.050. My FG was supposed to be 1.017, but ended up sticking at 1.022. It was stuck there for 10 days so I figured it was done. That really sucked for my 2nd AG. I read this thread here, but didn't have a cake I could rack onto, so I just racked it to secondary and threw in the dry hops. I wondered if it might help to just suck up as much yeast as possible and get it back into suspension. I did that and threw the hops in and let it sit for another week. When I went to pull the hops out, I took a new reading and found the gravity had dropped to 1.011! What a friggin relief that was! Sure, not the greatest batch on the planet, but it was nice to see that just putting it in the secondary and sucking up yeast will also help with a stuck fermentation. Give it a try and post results with and without hop additions.
 

Grasslands

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I'll be the next in line to revive an old thread. I don't currently have evidence of a stuck ferementation - only the fear that it will be.

I brewed Yuri's Thunderstruck Pumpkin ale (extract) this past weekend and as it was a spur of the moment thing, I didn't have time to make a 1L starter and pitched the WLP002 @ 69. It took about 24 hours before I had evidence of the fermentation starting - since then the krauzen came up about an inch and a half and has since subsided. Much like Evan's first scenario, it looks like I'm heading down that alley. With an OG of 1.053, I expected a more rigorous fermentation...even without a 1L starter.

I suppose my question is this...I've got a summer ale (w/Notty yeast) presently fermenting that only needs about 2 weeks in the primary. I could rack onto that yeast cake (I need to secondary the pumpkin anyways), but I'm concerned about one thing - I brewed the summer ale with about 2-3 oz of orange zest.

Would racking a pumpkin ale onto a citrusy Notty yeast cake be alright? This is definitely a first for me and I'd greatly appreciate any/all input
 

surferdrew

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I know this is an old thread, but thought I'd go here instead of starting a new one.

My dubbel konked out at 1.030 and has been there for the last week. I followed chemnitz's Vespers Abbey Dubbel exactly and was right on with mashing temps, etc.

My question is, can I dump this onto a kolsch yeast cake? Its the only available yeast cake I have available (that is from a sub-1.060 OG beer) and is ready to bottle.
However, dubbel on kolsch yeast seems odd to me...would I be better off brewing a lower OG beer with a similar yeast strand to the dubbel?
 

sfrisby

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If there is anyone still out there following this....

Dumb question of the day....drum role please....

I have never used a yeast cake before. When you describe this method, are you taking your second beer and racking it to a secondary and then just directly racking the stuck beer into the carboy of the "second" beer, right onto the leftover sludge (yeastcake) or are you doing something with the sludge first to form a yeast cake to rack the stuck beer onto?

Thanks and when you are done rolling your eyes, I look forward to hearing from you.
 

jbrookeiv

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If there is anyone still out there following this....

Dumb question of the day....drum role please....

I have never used a yeast cake before. When you describe this method, are you taking your second beer and racking it to a secondary and then just directly racking the stuck beer into the carboy of the "second" beer, right onto the leftover sludge (yeastcake) or are you doing something with the sludge first to form a yeast cake to rack the stuck beer onto?

Thanks and when you are done rolling your eyes, I look forward to hearing from you.
Same question.
 

wyzazz

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As stated above, just rack right on to the cake right after you transfer that existing beer to another vessel.
 

Broken

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I have a stuck fermentation on my imperial stout. Used WLP060. OG = 1.103. Gravity is stuck at 1.036 for a week now. My buddy is going to be racking off his pale ale yeast cake and he used the same WLP060 strain. Will racking on to his cake have any taste effects? It seems the perfect situation for racking onto an existing cake to fix a stuck fermentation. I didnt read anywhere that racking on to a different yeast cake would alter taste or not.

I have already tried adding a yeast nutrient/Dextrose, swirling the yeast on bottom and warming up the wort.

Thanks
 
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