Yeast inactive after transferring to secondary

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Hi everyone, this is my first thread so please don't be mad if I didn't post it to the correct forum...

I'm currently fermenting a Smoked Imperial Stout (extract plus grains) with an OG = 1.100+ (the plus sign is because my densimeter just arrives at 1.100, it really went off scale).
This was not the only thing that went off scale, as you can already imagine. I experienced a monster fermentation, losing nearly 5 L coming out as foam through the bucket lid border (yeah, krausen actually opened the lid a bit instead of going out through the blowoff hose), but it calmed down the day after and the fermentation went well, without any more splashes or volcanic eruptions. I guess I learnt the recipe limit volume the hard way :D

So, here comes my problem..

After 9 days fermenting (total, madness included) I transferred it to my secondary. The FG was still 1.038. Everything went ok except for one "small detail": It's stucked!
The bubbler (or airlock, excuse me but I don't really know the proper word in English) didn't bubble at all since transfer since the liquid level is equal on both sides (though when it was in the primary it did every 4 minutes or so at the moment of the transfer), and today I measured the FG and was still at 1.038.

Peeking through the airlock I don't see a compact, unique foam in surface but instead litte foam dots / spheres, sparged individually (and not in a very big number). The beer temperature also went down to 19°C, when during primary it had been stable at 22°C. It's in the same room as the one before, at the same room temperature (21-23°C).
So my question is: should I add more yeast (safale-04)? Should I wait?
The temperature decrease and lack of internal pressure drives me to think that the fermentation has stopped and maybe there is no viable yeast at all..
This is driving me crazy... Please, I need your help.
 

mtyquinn

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Unfortunately transfering the beer into secondary after only nine days was not a great idea. You can try and add more yeast, but I would suggest making a starter and get the yeast going real good before you dump it into the alcoholic beer.
 

m1batt1

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OK to start with was there any signs of active fermentation when you moved to secondary? If so I've seen it kill the fermentation process in the past.

Also how did you prepare your yeast? I ask because you're saying your starting gravity was well over 1.100 and with a gravity like that if you didn't have a good starter going it could be a problem to. Also the wrong yeast could cause issues once its at this point there's a lot of alcohol and some yeast are less tolerant of high alcohol content than others.



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Hi guys, thanks for the replies!
Well, there was an active fermentation before the transfer, it was still bubbling , there was foam on top and the temperature was stabler. It surely wasn't just the attenuative one, as it was rather slow (one bubbling every 4-5 minutes)..
I prepared the yeast as every other one I've used so far: dry yeast, took it out of the fridge 2 hours before, safale 04 (ale yeast). I've never used an starter so far but never had any problem.. also the fermentation went VERY strong (I hope no fuse alcohol problems..)
So maybe it's a problem of alcohol tollerance, as now the alcohol in the beer is about 8% vol? should I try us05 now or even champaigne yeast? Or should I jump into the starter world already? This is my 4th beer so far, maybe I was a bit arrogant...
 

m1batt1

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I'm not an expert but I'm going to lean toward alcohol tolerance. If that is the case making a starter of the same yeast and pitching it won't really do any good. If you want it to finish out lower another more tolerant strain will be needed but I don't personally know what. I will say a starter of whatever you use will be needed.

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IvanBrew

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If you were over 1.1, the yeast may have been done at 1.038. You describe a very vigorous fermentation, and in those cases 9 days is enough to be complete.

A beer or wine will continue to off-gas C02 after fermentation is complete. Transferring the beer to another fermenter will also knock C02 out of suspension. In other words, you may have been getting bubbles in the primary from off-gassing and now there's no more C02 left to off-gas.

What malts did you use? Did you have a lot of unfermentable sugars?
 
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I've seen around that safale 04 arrives at most at 10% (recipe ABV is about 10,4), and safale 05 or us05 arrives at 12%. Definetely, I'm trying to make an starter of us05 and see what happens! I don't want to risk with champagne and create a dry ultra alcoholic smoked stout, I think it could be awful... Thanks for your advice.
 
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If you were over 1.1, the yeast may have been done at 1.038. You describe a very vigorous fermentation, and in those cases 9 days is enough to be complete.

A beer or wine will continue to off-gas C02 after fermentation is complete. Transferring the beer to another fermenter will also knock C02 out of suspension. In other words, you may have been getting bubbles in the primary from off-gassing and now there's no more C02 left to off-gas.

What malts did you use? Did you have a lot of unfermentable sugars?
I used black patent, smoked german malt, chocolate, roasted barley and 7kg of dry malt extract. The estimated FG by beersmith is aprox. 1023.. Could the yeast have been knocked out by alcohol? should I try to add a us05 starter?
 

kanzimonson

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It's not going anywhere - you can turn your beer into one big experiment but at best I think you'll only shave off a few more points. High OG, lots of specialty malts, questionably attenuative malt extract, and a lower attenuative yeast all point to it being done.
 

IvanBrew

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Since you're using Beersmith, what was the predicted OG and what's the percentage of your grain bill that's malt extract (the entry in the %/IBU column in Beersmith for your malt extract)?


It certainly can't "hurt" anything to pitch more yeast and see what happens.

In general, you don't want to make a starter with dry yeasts. Instead, by multiple packs, re-hydrate for 15-30 minutes, and pitch.
 
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Since you're using Beersmith, what was the predicted OG and what's the percentage of your grain bill that's malt extract (the entry in the %/IBU column in Beersmith for your malt extract)?


It certainly can't "hurt" anything to pitch more yeast and see what happens.

In general, you don't want to make a starter with dry yeasts. Instead, by multiple packs, re-hydrate for 15-30 minutes, and pitch.

Predicted OG was 1104, and percentages are the following ones:
-Dark DME: 74,3 % (6 kg)
-Extra light DME: 12,4 % (1 kg, I just used one I had left instead of buying another dark one)
So in total 86.7% extracts

-Smoked Malt: 1,9 % (0.15 kg)
-Black Patent Malt: 6.2 % (0,5 kg)
-Chocolate Malt: 4.3 % (0.35 kg)
-Black Barley (roasted): 1% (0.08 kg)
Step for 30 min at 75°C

I'll try to rehydrate some us-05 and pitch it.. Thanks for the advice so far!
 
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It's not going anywhere - you can turn your beer into one big experiment but at best I think you'll only shave off a few more points. High OG, lots of specialty malts, questionably attenuative malt extract, and a lower attenuative yeast all point to it being done.
So... if I got it right... next time maybe I'd better use a more attenuative yeast?

Such a big experiment... my wallet's not so happy though :D
 

IvanBrew

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Predicted OG was 1104, and percentages are the following ones:
-Dark DME: 74,3 % (6 kg)
-Extra light DME: 12,4 % (1 kg, I just used one I had left instead of buying another dark one)
So in total 86.7% extracts

-Smoked Malt: 1,9 % (0.15 kg)
-Black Patent Malt: 6.2 % (0,5 kg)
-Chocolate Malt: 4.3 % (0.35 kg)
-Black Barley (roasted): 1% (0.08 kg)
Step for 30 min at 75°C

I'll try to rehydrate some us-05 and pitch it.. Thanks for the advice so far!

One thing to consider for future brews:

Since you're already steeping specialty grains, skip the dark extract. If you stick with the same light extract batch to batch and adjust body, color, etc., entirely with specialty grains, you'll develop a better feel for fermentability

I'm with kanzimonson on this one. I tend to think you probably have enough unfermentables that you're finished out.

OTOH, except for costing you money, you won't do any harm by pitching more yeast and seeing what happens.
 
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One thing to consider for future brews:

Since you're already steeping specialty grains, skip the dark extract. If you stick with the same light extract batch to batch and adjust body, color, etc., entirely with specialty grains, you'll develop a better feel for fermentability

I'm with kanzimonson on this one. I tend to think you probably have enough unfermentables that you're finished out.

OTOH, except for costing you money, you won't do any harm by pitching more yeast and seeing what happens.
So you think fermentation is complete? I'll try to pitch some yeast anyway, but how much time would you reccomend me to leave it in the secondary? I was thinking about two weeks or so, and a couple of months bottled... I really have no idea, as it's an experiment and never brewed anything heavier than 1051..
 

IvanBrew

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So you think fermentation is complete? I'll try to pitch some yeast anyway, but how much time would you reccomend me to leave it in the secondary? I was thinking about two weeks or so, and a couple of months bottled... I really have no idea, as it's an experiment and never brewed anything heavier than 1051..
1.038 is pretty high... Even with an OG of 1.104 it's 8.8% ABV and only 60% attenuation. I'm torn on what to think. A bubble every 4 minutes doesn't sound like fermentation to me. It sounds like off-gassing. In that case, whatever happened did so in the primary.

I say go ahead and pitch more yeast and see what happens.

As far as leaving it, your 2 week timeframe is fine as long as you're happy with the flavors you're getting. You 'can' leave it for months, if it's in glass, but sometimes you start to lose some of your roasted flavors.

I say make sure it's stable for 3-4 days (hydrometer/refractometer) and then wait another week to 2.
 
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1.038 is pretty high... Even with an OG of 1.104 it's 8.8% ABV and only 60% attenuation. I'm torn on what to think. A bubble every 4 minutes doesn't sound like fermentation to me. It sounds like off-gassing. In that case, whatever happened did so in the primary.

I say go ahead and pitch more yeast and see what happens.

As far as leaving it, your 2 week timeframe is fine as long as you're happy with the flavors you're getting. You 'can' leave it for months, if it's in glass, but sometimes you start to lose some of your roasted flavors.

I say make sure it's stable for 3-4 days (hydrometer/refractometer) and then wait another week to 2.
Yesterday I pitched some rehydrated US05,this morning there were some other bigger bubbles on top but no foam layer.
As to maturation time, both my fermenters are plastic, that's why I was worried about oxidation, but so far I didn't notice any off flavours or smells so I'm not worried about that. I'm going to wait 24h since pitching to measure density, and wait till no changes to start counting the two weeks.

In any case, when bottling.. should I consider the CO2 produced during fermentation as completely gone? Is there maybe some correction factor to apply? You know, so far, every beer I've made I've transferred to secondary because that's what I was suggested. But I realized that this beers weren't very carbonated even though they were APA's with both 2,6 and 2,8 vol... They felt really mild, english style (not a real problem but I like IPA and APA to be quite more carbonated, that's all). I was thinking about 1,8 to 2 vol max for this beer, as it will probably have a very tough body.
Also, when do you think the bottles will be ready? I was thinking about 2-3 months and leave some 6 and 12 to see if there are some changes. You know, once I'm improivising everything what the hell, go on! :D

Thanks a lot for all your help, and excuse me for being annoying! :mug:
 

Hopinista

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1.038 is pretty high... Even with an OG of 1.104 it's 8.8% ABV and only 60% attenuation. I'm torn on what to think. A bubble every 4 minutes doesn't sound like fermentation to me. It sounds like off-gassing. In that case, whatever happened did so in the primary.

I say go ahead and pitch more yeast and see what happens.

As far as leaving it, your 2 week timeframe is fine as long as you're happy with the flavors you're getting. You 'can' leave it for months, if it's in glass, but sometimes you start to lose some of your roasted flavors.

I say make sure it's stable for 3-4 days (hydrometer/refractometer) and then wait another week to 2.
So you're saying plastic wouldn't be okay? I use both glass and plastic, and have never had any issues leaving beer conditioning in better bottles for extended periods of time.

The general consensus on here actually is that there's no difference really.
 

IvanBrew

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So you're saying plastic wouldn't be okay? I use both glass and plastic, and have never had any issues leaving beer conditioning in better bottles for extended periods of time.

The general consensus on here actually is that there's no difference really.
I have neither the personal experience nor technical knowledge to make a strong statement on this.

Glass and stainless are "known-goods" for long-term aging. There appears to be a growing body of support for PET, so maybe that's good as well.

I got rid of all of my glass carboys after nearly severing the nerve in my index finger and tendon in my thumb when one broke. I use PET for most of my beers, but if I'm going to let it sit a while, I use stainless. Do I need to? Good question.

I think I'll keep reading. Thanks for the nudge :)
 

Hopinista

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Yeah I'm phasing out all my glass as soon as I can.

Not really anything as fun as trying to clean 6 gallons of beer/glass shards up at 3 am :(
 
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