Stuck Saison

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

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Stuck Saison

Postby highwaytoale » Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:40 pm

Howdy,
I'm hoping for some advice regarding a saison I brewed. I used Wyeast 3724 for the first time and from what I've read is known for it's potential for stuck fermentation. My OG was 1.059 and I just racked to a secondary after a little over two weeks in the primary. I took a reading and it's only down to 1.030 at this point. I'm fearful that it might be stuck and am wondering if anyone might have some suggestions. Is this yeast just slow or should I possibly pitch another smack pack? Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks.
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stuck saison

Postby slothrob » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:36 pm

A lot of brewers find that this yeast works in two bursts, bringing the SG down about half way, stalling, then kicking in and finishing a week or so later. Maybe a month total fermentation time. It can help to warm the fermentation up a bit.

It would have been better if you left the beer on the yeast, but there might be enough left in suspension to finish the job, eventually. So you could just wait a couple weeks and see what happens. Alternately, you could pitch some of the yeast cake back into the beer.

My brew buddy had no patience for this yeast to finish, so he chose to pitch a pack of the other Wyeast Saison yeast, 3711, which is a more enthusiastic fermenter and finishes the beer quickly. It doesn't have quite the character of 3724, but that doesn't matter as much when the beer is half finished.
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Stuck Saison

Postby highwaytoale » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:47 pm

Thank you for the suggestions, I don't think I've seen the 3711 before, so I'll check on that. I was wondering if temps may be playing a part as well since it's winter now and a bit cooler. I'd say it's been averaging in the 63-65 F range sitting up off the floor in my house. I was considering buying one of those warming belts that I've seen, have you tried those before? Just wondering if it's worthwhile...
Cheers.
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Postby bobcat_brewer » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:14 am

That yeast definitely works better if you warm the temperature up. Those temps are very low for that yeast. There's nothing wrong starting it at those temps, but when the fermentation begins to slow you want to begin raising the temperature until fermentation is complete. reaching the mid 70s is a good way to get this yeast to finish.

For future batches, it is a better idea to check you gravity before racking. This way, you'll have more options when things aren't as you expect them to be. :)
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Postby slothrob » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:21 am

highwaytoale wrote:I was considering buying one of those warming belts that I've seen, have you tried those before? Just wondering if it's worthwhile...
Cheers.

Unfortunately, I've never used one of those belts, so I can't vouch for them.
I have a small room that I can close off and make a little warmer than the rest of my house when I need to warm a beer above the low 60's. My buddy uses a space heater in a small room to do the same thing. I've also heard of brewers using a box and a light bulb to do the same thing, but you need to protect the beer from the light.
bobcat_brewer wrote:For future batches, it is a better idea to check you gravity before racking. This way, you'll have more options when things aren't as you expect them to be. :)

Checking the gravity before racking really is best practice. I have to admit to skipping this when I know the yeast I'm working with is reliable, but for a yeast like this, it is crucial.

So you might want to invest in either a wine thief, for taking an hydrometer sample, or a refractometer, for taking a reading from a single drop that you can retrieve with anything sanitizable and long enough to touch the beer.
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Stuck Saison

Postby highwaytoale » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:35 pm

Big thanks to both of you for the input, I'd buy you a beer if I could.
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Postby bobcat_brewer » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:56 am

I did forget to comment on the heater belt. They do work. I don't use a belt, I use a wrap I got from Northern Brewer and many of my friends have used the belt we can get at our local HBS. The belt has a warning on it stating it shouldn't be used on glass. My wrap does not. The wrap applies less heat to a larger area, where the belt is applying more heat to a smaller area. If there are any flaws in the glass, there is the potential for the belt to cause a fracture due to thermal stress.

If you are using a plastic fermenter, the belt is safe and usefull. If you are using a glass fermenter, the wrap is safe and useful.

Both of these are meant to be used with a temperature controller. Northern Brewer sells the wrap, controller and a thermowell to use with a glass carboy as a kit. It works great. I'm coaxing a barley wine to finish with it right now.
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