Stuck Fermentation (Chocolate Espresso Stout)

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

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Stuck Fermentation (Chocolate Espresso Stout)

Postby jjhandl » Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:36 pm

Hi All,

I brewed a chocolate espresso stout 8 days ago and the gravity hasn't dropped in a few days. I prepared a yeast starter with 15 grams of dry yeast 3 days prior to the brew. After pitching, there was lots of activity. The OG was 1.050, then when I checked 3 and 5 days later the gravity was at 1.021. At that point I added an additional 6 grams of dry yeast. 3 full days later after adding the yeast the gravity hasn't changed (8 days after the original start). I transfered to a secondary and added another 6 grams hoping that somthing will get going. I also added yeast nutrient (2 tsp) at the start of fermentation and another 2 tsp after 5 days.

Here's the recipe specifics:
1/2lb Black patent malt
1/2lb Chocolate malt
3lbs Plain dark DME
3lbs Extra dark DME
1oz norther brewer
1oz fuggle
30 oz brewed espresso
1 cup dark bakers chocolate

Thanks in advance for any advice,
Jeff
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Postby slothrob » Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:24 pm

You seem to have reached the attenuation limit of your yeast.
Which yeast are you using?
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yeast type

Postby jjhandl » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:04 am

15 grams coopers brewers yeast
6 grams Muntons Ale Yeast
6 grams Muntons Ale Yeast

I didn't prepare a starter for the second two times I pitched it though.
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Same Problem

Postby billd220 » Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:30 am

I have a very similar situation...with a very similar recipe.

My recipe also includes 1/2 lb Chocolate Malt, 1/2 lb black patent and 6.6 lbs of Dark Extract....along with a pound of oats (Im making an Oatmeal Stout)

This is my first partial mash.

My O.G. was 1.051
On day 5 I racked to a secondary and was at 1.027
On day 10 i was only at 1.021
I sprinkled in some dry brewers yeast and have some activity but not a lot.

I'm starting to think this batch is lost. Maybe I jumped the gun and shouldn't have transfered it to the secondary so quick.
Its very disappointing because i was really looking forward to it.

I too would love some advice.

Thanks
Bill
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Champaign Yeast?

Postby jjhandl » Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:39 am

Bill,
Maybe we could try a little stronger yeast. I've heard of people using 1/2 tsp of Champaign yeast. Maybe it has that extra kick that we need.

Hopefully the batch won't be lost,
Jeff
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Postby akueck » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:00 am

dark extracts seem to be less fermentable than light extracts, so that could be part of the problem as well. if you want to maximize your attenuation, use light extracts and add color & flavor with specialty grains.

also, dropping some dry yeast into a mostly finished beer probably won't do anything. all the sugar and alcohol that rushes into the yeast as they rehydrate will kill most of them. if you want to repitch yeast, make sure to rehydrate it in plain water first.
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2 thoughts

Postby jjhandl » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:16 am

Is too much yeast a bad thing? At this point I have 27 grams of dry yeast in this batch. I hope that won't result in any off flavors.

Also, Should I try the dreaded "beano" and maybe drop one tablet. I only need the Gravity to go from 1.020 to 1.010. Considering it is a dark beer maybe it won't mess with the flavor as bad as it could with light beers. If do use the "beano", Would I need more yeast?

Thanks,
Jeff
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Postby slothrob » Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:08 pm

You have plenty of yeast in there, but perhaps a more attenuative yeast would help. Muntons and Coopers yeasts are only medium attenuators, I'd try a high attenuator like Nottingham or US-56, before I go to something radical like Beano or Champagne yeawst. You don't need to add a whole pack, though. Essentially you're trying to ferment a 1.020 beer, so you only need about 1/4 of a pack. You can sprinkle the yeast on top, you don't need to rehydrate it first.

You probably won't get more than another 3 points drop, so it'll be a sweetish stout, but reasonable.
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Beano/More yeast =No gravity Movement

Postby jjhandl » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:08 pm

Hi everyone,

Still having problems with the Chocolate espresso stout. I added a higher attenuating yeast (Nottingham). I put 3 grams in on Friday before I left town and I started to see some activity. I got back today and the gravity hadn't even dropped a point. I also added 3/4 of a tablet of the dreaded "beano" on Wed of last week. It is amazing to me how the gravity on this beer is so reluctant to drop.

Should I bottle at 1.020 (w/ 3.9 ABV)? Or will I run the risk of coming up with an explosive stout?

Preplexed,
Jeff
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Postby brewer13210 » Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:03 am

Have you calibrated your hydrometer? Just double check that water reads 1.000.

Otherwise, it sounds like this beer has reached its terminal gravity.

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Hyrdometer

Postby jjhandl » Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:53 pm

Todd,

Just checked it yesterday because I thought that might be the problem. It sat at 1.000 in 5 gallons of water. It just seems extremely high for any final gravity (1.020), that's why I'm having a hard time considering whether to bottle or not.

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Postby brewer13210 » Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:01 pm

No doubt, it's high, but if an extra dose of yeast didn't bring it down, it's doubtful that once bottled, the yeast would suddenly find it more interesting again.

I would bottle as normal and see what happens.

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RE: Stuck Fermentation

Postby Camper » Tue Mar 13, 2007 11:41 pm

I lot of the extracts out there, especially the dark and amber ones have greater percentages of unfermentables in them.

Was your yeast or wort aerated before you pitched it? I once brewed an extract stout the was not aerated enough and it finished with a high gravity.
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Aeration

Postby jjhandl » Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:42 am

Yes, I stirred it well and shook the yeast starter before I pitched. Plus I have been stirring it frequently.

What are some good techniques of aeration?

Anyways, I finally got a tiny drop in gravity. It's down to 1.018. I'm going to check again this evening and if I get the same reading, I'll bottle this batch and move on to more fermentable horizons.

Thanks for all the help
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Why is it a problem?

Postby lgtg » Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:53 pm

Maybe I missed something along the thread but my "light" research on this style is showing that the ABV is something like 3.2% to the middle fives.

Beer Judge Cert Program - http://www.bjcp.org/styleguide16.html/

If I understood you OG and most recent reading (1.018)? your sporting in the range of ABV for the style...If there was chocolate or coffee added to the recipe at any juncture, there is the unfermentable. Your reading will stay on the higher end because there isn't much (if any) starch to sugar conversions for chocolates or coffees, so true to it's intended purpose, the hydrometer is measuring the densities of these other ingrediants that will never change.

Your brew sounds like it's about 4.0 or 4.1& ABV which is pretty good for that "big beer" stout.

Enjoy! If your looking for high fermenting, high alcohol beers, brew the pale styles or add higher fermentables with teh same recipe (check Papazian's book for highly fermenting, alcohol enhancing sugars)
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