Will re-yeasting for carbonation HURT?

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Gunpowder

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OK I seem to be getting a LOT of different answers here regarding this. I've been asking "Should I add yeast for carbonation" for a beer that has to ferment for 9 months in primary. Some people are saying "Yes, add a whole packet" others are saying "No, the yeast will live in suspension if the alcohol is low".

Here's my problem: I don't want to bottle 5 gallons of beer just to find out the yeast are dead and the beer is un-carbonated. I also don't want to screw up the flavor by adding new yeast or worse, creating beer grenades.

Also, if I have to re-yeast before bottling, I don't know if I have to use the exact same yeast as I originally did, or if I should use a different strain. I don't know how MUCH yeast to pitch. So let me ask a NEW question regarding this...

Is it SAFE to throw about half a packet of Safale US-05 into the fermenter maybe a day before bottling? Assuming the original yeast manage to survive 9 months in the carboy, is this going to result in over-carbonation? And assuming the original yeast is dead, will the Safale affect the flavor? So if I decide to add some yeast to be on the safe side, will it actually HURT anything?

Better yet, as I get closer to September, is there any way to TEST the beer to see if the yeast is alive? Maybe take a small sample out, put it in a small jar, add some corn sugar, see what happens over a few days?

Any insight on this would be appreciated.
 

Golddiggie

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It all comes down to the batch. I'm pretty sure that there will be at least some yeast still in suspension (even if it looks clear, you'll have some unless you filter it out). Depending on the ABV of the brew, it could take a significant amount of time to bottle carbonate the batch. If you're at the limit of the yeast (or gone over it) then it could take a very long time to carbonate (if it does at all). If you have even 1% or .5% left, chances are it will carbonate, it will just take longer.

IF I was to treat a BIG beer with additional yeast (for a batch that's gone above the listed ABV tolerance of the yeast) I would use something neutral, like EC-1118.

A few days, in a jar, won't tell you squat. You could be looking at 6+ months to bottle carbonate the batch.

Without knowing more info about what you'll be brewing, it's virtually impossible to give any real guidance.
 
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Gunpowder

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Thanks, Golddiggie! I apologize, I should've specified: It's the Tart of Darkness from MoreBeer.com
 

Golddiggie

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I've not made any sours, and probably never will. From what I've heard, I don't think you need to give it more yeast to carbonate. But you might want to check with people that have made sours before.
 
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Gunpowder

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I've not made any sours, and probably never will. From what I've heard, I don't think you need to give it more yeast to carbonate. But you might want to check with people that have made sours before.
Sadly, I got different answers from MoreBeer. I emailed them, and one guy replied with:

Thanks for the inquiry. I would bottle at least 6 weeks ahead of time to ensure carbonation. You would have to add back yeast for bottling. I would rack to a secondary on any beer that is planned to be stored for longer than a month in a carboy. You would rack after primary fermentation to get the beer of the trub if storing longer than a month. Other than that it should be pretty straight forward. Unfortunately you can't rush a beer like this and have to go off taste to determine when it's ready. Let me know if you have any additional questions.
And I also posted here, and one of their staff replied with:

I would leave it in primary for the entire time, and bottle it when the taste is to your liking. It will get more sour the longer you let it go, but 9 months should be a good amount of time. May might be a little early for the oak, but again, how much oak you'd like is personal preference. I'd let it bottle condition for a month at least, but after a couple weeks you could try opening one to see where it stands. Let me know if you have any other questions!
So I don't know what the hell to think :(
 

Golddiggie

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Well, the fact that the guy racks for anything over a month is one sign. IME, it's not needed, at least not with the brews I've been making with ale yeast.

Doesn't sound like you'll need to add more yeast though. I would just give it the amount of time it needs to become great and go from there. See if there's a homebrew club in your area that you can ask about this batch. IMO/IME, that will give you better 'real world' information. Since the MoreBeer people are posting opposite ends of the spectrum, it's a coin toss.

Personally, I wouldn't transfer a beer for aging until it's done all it can on the yeast. For my 12.5% wee heavy, it went about three months in primary before I moved it to an aging vessel for an oak addition. It sat there for several months before I kegged it up.
 
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Gunpowder

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OK I emailed "TheBruery", the people that invented this beer in the first place, and got an immediate reply. Here's what they had to say:

1. Given that it has to be drink-ready by October, when should I bottle this?
2. 7-9 months is a long time to spend in a carboy. Do I need to re-pitch the yeast before bottling? If so, when do I re-pitch the yeast, what yeast should I use, and how much of it should I use?
3. Should I do a secondary fermentation?

1. Probably 1 to 2 months before you want to drink it.
2. Yes, add fresh yeast right before you bottle. I would use a Belgian Golden Strong yeast strain. We use 2.5 x 10^6 pitch rate for most of our sours.
3. By secondary do you mean racking it to another carboy after primary fermentation? If so, yes.
 
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Gunpowder

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Also, I contacted Wyeast at the same time (thinking at least one of them would reply) and they just did, with this:

"I recommend adding some bottling yeast. 4021 is an excellent strain for this application. It has a high tolerance to low pH and high alcohol."

And that's from one of Wyeast's microbiologists & brewers, according to the signature. I think I'll trust that girl... lol
 

Golddiggie

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Also, I contacted Wyeast at the same time (thinking at least one of them would reply) and they just did, with this:

"I recommend adding some bottling yeast. 4021 is an excellent strain for this application. It has a high tolerance to low pH and high alcohol."

And that's from one of Wyeast's microbiologists & brewers, according to the signature. I think I'll trust that girl... lol
You could probably get away with Lalvin EC-1118 as well (another champagne yeast strain). It would cost far less than the pack of Wyeast. I used that early in my brewing life trying to get a bit more out of an old ale. Didn't do anything for the brew, but it carbonated nice and fast (within the normal 3 week span). It's also flavor neutral, so it won't impact the brew. :D
 

homebrewdad

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I still hold that you probably won't need any extra yeast, but you're not going to hrt anything by adding a neutral strain (save some extra sediment).

I don't know that you need as much as half a pack; the yeast only have to eat a miniscule amount of sugar. But this is your beer, make a choice and go with it.
 

Golddiggie

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I still hold that you probably won't need any extra yeast, but you're not going to hrt anything by adding a neutral strain (save some extra sediment).

I don't know that you need as much as half a pack; the yeast only have to eat a miniscule amount of sugar. But this is your beer, make a choice and go with it.
A single, 5g, pack of EC-1118 rehydrated and poured into the batch a few days before will leave enough in suspension, but a decent amount will also settle out. I didn't get excess sediment that way. Of course, chilling for 1-3 weeks before opening (after giving it time to carbonate) would be advisable.
 

DSmith

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I've developed this simple calculation/procedure for reyeasting with dry yeast for 1 million cells / 1 mL of finished beer (scale up pitching rate if desired). I've used Larvin EC-1118 yeast without it changing the final gravity of fully fermented beer. The result is fast carbonation when stored around 70F, professional yeast cake in the bottle and less wasted flat beer trying to figure out when it's carbonated. It doesn't speed-up aging though.

Re-yeasting Procedures:

Yeasting dosing rate: 1 million cells/1 mL of finished beer.

20.0e9 yeast cells/gram of dry yeast.
5 gal = 18,927 mL
1.0e6 = 20.0e9*x/18,927, x = 0.9 grams of dry yeast

Boil 4 oz of Spring Water in 4 qt measuring cup in microwave, cover with plastic wrap and chill to 80F in water bath.
Sprinkle 1.8g (0.9g X 2) dry yeast on water surface and cover with plastic wrap, let sit for 15 min.
(Note: Measure by weighing full package and add gradually and keep weighing)
Stir (swirl) yeast, pitch 50% of prepared yeast into bottling bucket during the transfer.

EDIT: I double the prepared yeast & water to make the measurements a little easier and only pitch half.
 

Bamsdealer

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I recently went through this with a high gravity Belgian. I ended up with almost 6 gallons total. After primary fermentation, I racked the usual 5 gallons to a carboy where it sat for 3 months. The rest went into a gallon jug. After a month I bottled the gallon, but after 8 weeks I had absolutely zero carbonation. Not sure that was a result of the alcohol content or very little yeast in suspension, but that prompted me to add a quarter packet of hydrated champagne yeast to the bottling bucket when it came time to tackle what was in the carboy. 3 weeks later I tested a bottle and it was fully carbonated.

If you're unsure, that's the route I'd take...

Good luck
 

cfbugsbunny

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Same here. No carb in a Belgian. Rehydrated champagne yeast and used a sanitized medicine dropper to put about 1ml yeast solution in each bottle. Recapped and waited a couple weeks in warmer area (70 F) and voila. Case solved... and drank!! :)
 
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