Slowest NEIPA fermentation ever?

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theSliver

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Hey guys,

Need some advice on how to proceed.

Adapted a Heady Topper clone recipe and brewed it using WLP095 Burlington Ale yeast w/ 2L starter (looked healthy). Brew day went very well until it was time to pitch the yeast. I counterflow chiller'ed the wort into the fermenter and thought the wort was at 72f and safe to pitch. After pitching, I realized the themometer I was relying on was out of the thermowell and reading ambient temperature... oops. Actual temp was closer to 86f. I didn't think this would be too bad, I though, as I was able to get the temp down to target 69f within 15 mins using my FTSS chiller.

OG: 1.080
Predicted FG: 1.013

It took about 50 hours for fermenation to start (after a vigorous fermenter shake). And then it did - but very slowly. Barely any airlock activity - but I could see gravity changes with my TILT (with a couple of hydrometer checks to make sure it was accurate). After 7 days (at 1.033) I pitched a packet of US-05 to try and get it going faster. Didn't work lol.

It's now been almost a full month and gravity is at 1.017... but still going very slowly. I'm seeing it go down a gravity point every 3 days (see attached). I've never seen a ferment take so long.

I still have a 3 day dry hop to do but I wanted to time that with the end of the fermentation ideally. What should I do? Continue waiting this out or dry hop/package now? Thoughts? Am I just being impatient?
 

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IslandLizard

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It's a real bummer from what you describe, but if it's still fermenting, it's not done yet. Let it be.
21-22C is fine at this stage in the process, you can bump it another degree, or even 2 to keep her engaged.

1.080 is quite a high gravity, but a 2 liter starter should yield 200-300 billion cells, depending on the age and viability of the pack of yeast your used.
You can see that here for yourself: Homebrew Dad's Online Yeast Starter Calculator

using WLP095 Burlington Ale yeast w/ 2L starter (looked healthy)
On a stir plate? How do you know it was healthy?

Your aeration/oxygenation method was definitely abysmal, that could have something to do with the tardy fermentation. Proper oxygenation is paramount, as the yeast needs ample growth first, before it can ferment (lag phase) and finish out. That may be part of your problem.

Did you pitch the whole 2L starter, or only the slurry after cold crashing and decanting?
Was the yeast at room temps when pitching?
 
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Jtvann

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Final gravity is a prediction. Unless you’ve brewed this exact same batch using the same process a few times and know that 1.013 is where it will finish, you’re not guaranteed to get there. It could finish higher or lower.

At this point, if it were me, I’d dry hop now. I’d hope any O2 introduced, along with hop creep and any left over final points to eek out will scavenge any O2 introduced. You might finish that low, but you might not.
 
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theSliver

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Your aeration/oxygenation method was definitely abysmal, that could have something to do with the tardy fermentation. Proper oxygenation is paramount, as the yeast needs ample growth first, before it can ferment (lag phase) and finish out. That may be part of your problem.
I guess it was. Previously, I've relied on suspending the counterflow chiller output like 3 feet above the fermenter to get lots of bubbles going... but I think I need to do some proper stirring in the future. Never had a problem this bad though.

I tossed the entire starter in (which looked great and healthy).
 

IslandLizard

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I think I need to do some proper stirring in the future.
For high gravity worts (>1.060) merely stirring is not gonna do it.

There is a certain "spray nozzle" you can clamp to the end of your siphon hose, that helps with aeration.
You can shake (but never do it in glass carboy!), use a whisk, pump air through an air stone for an hour or so, etc. Or apply pure oxygen.

With (very) high gravity worts, even aerate oxygenate a second time, 6-18 hours after pitching, but before fermentation has started.
 
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theSliver

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I like the whisk idea.

Thank you! I'll incorporate that next time I do a big brew like this.

So I guess I'll just keep riding this one out until it's stable for like a week? lol
 

CascadesBrewer

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So I guess I'll just keep riding this one out until it's stable for like a week? lol
Are you kegging this beer? If so, then I would taste it and move forward if it seems okay. There is a chance that dry hopping will cause a little more fermentation anyway.

I am not positive of the root cause. Were you using a stir plate? I would think that pitching a well-aerated and active 2L starter would be enough for this batch. I have read some say that cooling the wort after pitching can cause stress on the yeast, and some say that is false. Any time I pitch a starter, the starter is almost always 10F above my wort temp.
 

ejf063

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i think 1.017 on a NEIPA is a great final gravity. Even on west coast style IPA's some of my favorite beers have gravities of 1.018 (Anti hero) and higher.
I say soft crash and then dry hop. It'll be fine.
But I am also very impatient so I give you tons of credit for waiting.
 

couchsending

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Wlp095 is notoriously bad.

You probably underpitched and didn’t add nearly enough Oxygen. You really need a stone and some o2 (ideally with a cheap flow meter) especially for beers of this gravity. It’s not that expensive and your beers will be much better for it I guarantee you. If you don’t have oxygen stick to dry yeast for high gravity beers. Dry yeast doesn’t need oxygen.

Personally I’d dump it. I wouldn’t waste the dry hops on this beer. It was clearly a very unhealthy ferment. Unhealthy fermentation’s can create all sorts of off flavors and aromas that only krausening might be able to fix. Cut bait and try again. I’m sure the dry hops you’re gonna add aren’t cheap.
 
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theSliver

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Dump it!? I brew infrequently enough these days that I'll deal with a few off flavors and power through the keg... I just won't share it with the homebrew club lol. I tasted it and it seems OK.

I think a combination of potential temp shock and poor oxygenation technique contributed to a crappy ferment. Lessons learned here for sure. Thank you all for your suggestions.

SG moved to 1.016 today so somehow it's still going lol. I've decided to move forward with the dry hop today and package after 3 - 4 days. A couple of gravity points off the predicted FG is probably the least of my concerns at this point with the potential off flavors!
 

Bobby_M

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1.080 is a pretty tall order. The main statistic that has been left out of the whole thread is how old the pack of yeast was. There is a huge difference between a 2L starter made with week old yeast vs. one made from 5 month old yeast. The starting cell count can vary by 80%.
 
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