help with fermentation problems

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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help with fermentation problems

Postby Sally Fessler » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:33 pm

Hi! Am making an old ale, partial grain, and after fermenting for over a week, my finishing gravity ended up at a very high 1.030 (down from an original of 1.078). I sloshed it around while transferring to the secondary fermenter and after 2 weeks in the bucket, it was still up there at 1.028.

I then went to our local brewing supply store and was advised that the alcohol content of the beer might be too high for the the danstar yeast i used (either windsor or nottingham, and yes, i know I should write these things down but I didn't!) Anyway i was advised to use 1/2 tsp of lalvin winemaking yeast 71B-1122.

I added that two days ago after aerating my 5 gallons into yet another bucket, proofing the yeast as suggested on the label, and letting it sit. So far nothing has happened (just checked the gravity yet again and no progress) and I'm getting worried about contamination with all these transfers and no fermentation going on!

I am keeping it in the main room of the house and I'm in NC so temp shouldn't be a problem. I have been brewing for 12 years and have never had this problem before (but i also haven't done such a high alcohol beer either.) The batch is pretty tasty, but still too sweet for my liking so i'd like to get it down more. I also worry that if I bottled it now it wouldn't carbonate.

do I
-add more lalvin
-try a different yeast
-and/or add Crosby and Baker yeast energizer or amylase enzyme etc etc?

And what to do when it is time to add priming sugar and bottle?

Thanks for any advice you have to offer :!:
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RE: help with fermentation problems!

Postby wottaguy » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:19 pm

Hi Sally!

As we don't know what your recipe details are it will be difficult to tell what you should do. What FG does your recipe state? Also, I would stay clear of the Champange Wine Yeast altogether...but I understand that it may be too late for that. If there is no change in SG in 72 hours, and if your current FG is a deal higher than what the recipe calls for, then maybe your yeast is spent out. (we're talking about an alc content of about 7.1% by vol). If you would want to make it dryer, you could try a Belgium Strain of yeast that is high alcohol tolerant such as White Labs WLP 530 Abby Ale Yeast. make a pint or 2 starter and aerate the starter...not the wort...equlize the wort and starter temp to around 70 degF then pitch the yeast. Wait 7 days then take a SG reading..it may take 3 or 4 weeks to get that dryness that you are seeking. Then prime and bottle as usual. Please let us know how you make out with this and what you decided to do to try to remedy this problem.
Hope this helps!
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help with fermentation problems

Postby Sally Fessler » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:13 am

Thanks Wottaguy for your reply! Good question. I was using Charlie Papazian's chart "Guidelines for Brewing 5 Gallons of Traditional Beer" from his first book New Complete Joy of Home Brewing and the OG is supposed to be 1.060-1.070 and percent alcohol by volume is 6.5 to 7. When I look at those numbers it may mean that my batch did what it was supposed to (which ends up now at about 7% alcohol). I just have never made a beer with such a high FG.
I know that Old Ales are suppose to take longer but I just dont know when to bottle and whether I should do something to assure that I get carbonation (without having the bottles blow up!). It would seem that the yeast has plenty of sugar already but isn't continuing to ferment and that adding more for priming would just make the beer sweeter if the yeast is spent.
So pitch more yeast?
or bottle now? and if so, how to get it to carbonate that last little bit?
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RE: help with fermentation problems

Postby wottaguy » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:25 am

Hi Sally!
I would say that if your SG has not moved at all in 3 or 4 days in a row then it is probably finished. I know that when brewing the high gravity styles of beer and ales, espicially the Belgium styles, they recommend that you pitch a vile of yeast (no starter, just the yeast) into the finished beer 3 days before priming and bottling. This should ensure that you get a very well carbonated beer! Don't forget to use a high alcohol tolerant strain of yeast for this last step. Also if you don't want to do all that, at this point just prime as usual and bottle. It should carbonate ok but may take up to 6 weeks to do so. Keep us posted on how you make out.
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