Rescuing a stuck fermentation, is beer worth saving?

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MarkMarine

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I've been trying for a couple weeks to rescue a beer (a mosiac IPA with a ton of late whirpool hops) that just wouldn't get to final gravity, there were a few problems mashing that I will correct for next time, but my main question is should I bother saving this beer? The reason I ask is I've done a number of things that probably wouldn't give it optimal flavor, and I've got another 30$ worth of dry hopping to do, and I'm not sure I should use the hops.

My beer started at 1.062 going into the fermentor, with 9 gallons, and I probably underpitched WLP090, using 1 very very fresh vial on a stir plate to create a 3L starter, but in retrospect that probably wasn't enough. Anyway, I had some energetic bubbles for the first 3-4 days, and at 7 days I checked gravity with a hydrometer and it was at 1.024, so I let it sit for 3 days checking each day and it was stuck at 1.024.

So I bumped the temp on my brewpi up from 66 deg, slowly over 3 days, to 72 and started rousing the yeast every few hours by swishing the fermentor. I direct heat and cool my fermentor with a chiller coil and cone heater on my spike conical, and the temp probe is a direct reading inside the container at the 6 gal mark. It's been very stable and accurate in the past.

Anyway, after a week of rousing the yeast and 4 days at 72 deg, I re-checked and gravity was still at 1.024. Bummer. Ok, I planned for this, I'd made a stepped starter with 3 vials of WLP090 and pitched it on the second step at high krausen (4L) on the 14th day of fermentation. There was almost nothing from the fermentor, bubbles or smell, but I just kept rousing the yeast every couple hours and kept the temp at 72 for another week.

Rechecked gravity and it's still at 1.024 so I made a big starter of WLP099 (3 vials, started at 1L just to wake them up, then stepped up to 3.5L) and now pitched that in at high krausen. Now the airlock is bubbling again (thank god) but I'm trying to figure out if I should continue here.

The beer doesn't have that fresh hoppy smell this last time I opened the fermentor, and even if it makes it to FG, I pitched in almost a gallon and a half of oxidized, un-hopped starter beer off a stir plate. Should I just take my lumps and drain it, or should I see what the WLP099 does, possibly add some dextrose to get closer to FG, dry hop and chill and see what it does? I don't want 10 gallons of crap beer hanging around.
 

HB_ATL73

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woah.. you pitched 3 starters into a beer. Even with 10 gal wort that seems far and above the amount of yeast you should have in a 1.062 beer. Even with that FG you ABV is around 5%. you will likely end up with too much residual sweetness for an IPA- but then again what IBUs did you calculate? What was your mash temp?
Don't toss the beer.. definitely don't add anymore yeast. I would save the dry hops as well- youre right adding in 1.5 gal of starter after fermentation was complete will likely lead to oxidation. Chill that beer and get all of that yeast out of suspension before you keg/bottle and see how it turns out. You could also try blending the beer with another on hand if the flavors don't turn out as you like.

Side Note: I don't know how you did your starter?- but some of the calculations I ran through brewers friend have you hitting yeast cell count or coming very close to proper pitching rates.
 
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Jayjay1976

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Whats the recipe, how many IBUs? I'd use that along with your FG to calculate your GU:BU ratio; if your recipe had enough bittering charge it might balance out the sweetness. Otherwise I'd say save the expensive hops and instead dry hop with something cheaper and fruity to up the juicy koolaid factor, it might end up being a really good beer! I really like Rakau but there are lots of choices; order a pound of last year's harvest to save some coin and give it a go. The dry hops may kick up a small secondary fermentation as well, and use up the oxygen from the starter you threw at it thereby reducing the oxidation.
 
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MarkMarine

MarkMarine

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This should be:
ABV 6.72% OG: 1.062 FG: 1.012
IBU 69.5

I definitely not adding any more yeast now, but I did want to see if the WLP099 could finish the beer due to the rumors that it can chew on some otherwise un-fermentable sugars and dry this out a bit. I was also hoping that if the WLP099 started back up and ate through the last 12 points, it would take some of the dissolved oxygen out of the beer. It does seem to have started again, it was bubbling when I left this morning.
 
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She was telling you she was done at 1.024 and you ignored her. Mistake. Never ignore.
But seriously, I guess I would determine what to do next by what it tastes like now. If it tastes somewhat like you were expecting, then go ahead and finish it. Otherwise do as Jayjay suggests. We feel for you. We've mostly all been there at one point or another.
 
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MarkMarine

MarkMarine

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Side Note: I don't know how you did your starter?- but some of the calculations I ran through brewers friend have you hitting yeast cell count or coming very close to proper pitching rates.
I did my yeast starter calculations with Beersmith, but I just accepted the 1 vial + starter on stirplate, for a 10gal beer, I should have at least started with 2 packs.

A bunch of things went wrong when I was making the wort, my scale didn't tare properly when adding my water additions so I had way too much epsom salt, ph was way low so I tried to add some baking soda but couldn't find any data anywhere about how much to add and I added too much (1 heaping teaspoon was too much) so ph shot up to 5.9 so I had to add some acid. The strike temp was way off because of the way beersmith calculates strike temp for the BrewEasy (BIAB doesn't work for strike temp because half the water is in the bottom), so my mash started at 130deg instead of 151 and I was trying to catch up the whole mash by flowing 175 deg water through the system until my mash temp was right... it was a whole host of errors.

Here was my mashing profile, no where near as stable as usual. I think this plus the ph/water problems left a lot of the wort in a less than perfect place.
 

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RPh_Guy

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She was telling you she was done at 1.024 and you ignored her. Mistake. Never ignore.
But seriously, I guess I would determine what to do next by what it tastes like now. If it tastes somewhat like you were expecting, then go ahead and finish it. Otherwise do as Jayjay suggests. We feel for you. We've mostly all been there at one point or another.
I second this.
 

Jayjay1976

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Ugh. The sodium may be waaay too high. I hate to say it but this comedy of errors might be a dumper. Cut your losses friend and try again. You lived to brew another day, and that's worth something.
 
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MarkMarine

MarkMarine

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It’s actually bubbling pretty well now and has already dropped 4 points. Hopefully it makes another 8. I’m just going to dry hop and see how it goes. The WLP099 is pretty impressive.
 

Comfort_Zone

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Yeah, don't fiddle with it so much next time. Even at 1.024 you probably had a perfectly tasty beer. There's so much more that goes into perception of flavor than most a gravity reading.
 

Beerwildered

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...The strike temp was way off because of the way beersmith calculates strike temp for the BrewEasy (BIAB doesn't work for strike temp because half the water is in the bottom), so my mash started at 130deg instead of 151 and I was trying to catch up the whole mash by flowing 175 deg water through the system until my mash temp was right... it was a whole host of errors.
I have the same problem with my BrewEasy. You did the right thing - it seems odd, but you did.

For next time, if you haven’t already, the article below was extremely helpful for understanding the BrewEasy process. There’s an accompanying video, too, for those of us that are visual.

http://www.greatfermentations.com/brew-day-tips-blichmann-breweasy/
 
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MarkMarine

MarkMarine

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I have the same problem with my BrewEasy. You did the right thing - it seems odd, but you did.

For next time, if you haven’t already, the article below was extremely helpful for understanding the BrewEasy process. There’s an accompanying video, too, for those of us that are visual.

http://www.greatfermentations.com/brew-day-tips-blichmann-breweasy/
I had read this, and I brewed again by first setting my mash type as RIMS/HERMS in beersmith, getting the values for amount and temp, and that worked really well, then I switched back to BIAB for the mash in the program. I hit my temp almost right on this time, all though possibly had too much water in the mash tun
 
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