Stuck Fermentation Help

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Prospero, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Prospero

    Prospero Savant (983) Jul 27, 2010 Colorado
    Trader

    Brewed an English Barleywine ~12 ABV

    Refractometer readings:
    OG: 1.115 (27 Brix)
    Current: 14.8 Brix

    1) I got mixed calculations saying my gravity is at 1.040-1.045 which seems high
    2) Using this calculator - https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/refractometer-calculator I'm getting 1.025 which seems in range as the final beer should be in (~1.029)
    3) Verified gravity with a hydrometer at 1.045

    So first question is - is the beer done? Hydrometer should be the most accurate correct?

    My process thus far:
    Began with fast fermentation at 67'F with Wyeast 1968 London ESB pitched with yeast starter close to 1.0-1.25 pitch rate - high flocculation.
    After a week it seemed done, it wasn't. Swirled carboy a few times a day in an effort to keep yeast in suspension due to high flocculation. Raised fermentation temperature to 72'F
    Still no points or airlock movement.
    After 3 weeks, I racked to secondary, picked up some WLP007 Dry English thinking I needed a higher ABV tolerant yeast. Started a yeast starter, pitched at 0.75 at high-krausen.
    Still no points or airlock movement.

    Options?
    Add a starter of WLP099 High Gravity Yeast?
    Add more calcium? (I'm not sure I started with enough)
    Add yeast energizer at this point? (trying to stay away from yeast nutrients)
    Add amylase enzyme?
    Add alpha galactosidase? (again, hoping not to dry it out)
    Add O2 (I prefer not to add oxidation as this beer is already fermented)
    Would CBC-1 work? I heard this only works with simple sugars, hence for bottle conditioning only.

    My guess is the wort is not hospitable for yeast at this point. It's either out of O2, or out of nutrients. The yeast I've pitched has been extremely healthy.

    Trying to avoid Champagne yeast at all costs. No I'm not going to use Brett. No kegging equipment. I really want to bottle this beer. It tastes really great, I just DON'T WANT bottle bombs!
     
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    You heard right.


    Good, because champagne yeast won't fix a stuck fermentation. It can't eat maltotriose and isn't particularly good at eating maltose, which are the sugars that are likely remaining.

    What were your grain bill, mash temp, and mash length?
     
  3. Prospero

    Prospero Savant (983) Jul 27, 2010 Colorado
    Trader

  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Yeah, Given an OG of 1.115, I would expect that to end a lot lower (with the WLP007), probably even below the 1.027 you mentioned as the target. (I'm not surprised that the 1968 would quit).

    I would be tempted to add some yeast nutrient at this point. The question in my mind is... what's the state of the WLP007 that has been sitting in a 9+% beer (possibly) depleted of nutrients. I hate to hazard a guess.
     
  5. Prospero

    Prospero Savant (983) Jul 27, 2010 Colorado
    Trader

    What do you mean the state of the yeast? I did pitch it at high-krausen and with a starter concentration of 1.060 to try to minimize the shock to it.

    I didn't start with the WLP007, I started with the 1968 for 3 weeks, racked to secondary (to get off of yeast & trub while I'm on vacation). Then I added a 0.75 pitch rate of WLP007 and it's been on that ~1 week. I'll check it again in another week and see if it did anything.

    I may take (2) 4oz. samples and try the following:
    1. Add yeast energizer and/or alpha amylase enzyme to see if that helps with the ferment-ability.
    2. Aerate really well to see if it was an O2 problem.
     
    #5 Prospero, Jul 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    I mean you added WLP007 to a possibly nutrient depleted, 9%+ beer, which would not be the ideal environment. If it's not eating, it's dying (to some extent).
     
  7. Prospero

    Prospero Savant (983) Jul 27, 2010 Colorado
    Trader

    Yea, I get your point, hence why I tried the kräusening technique.

    After further review, this beer *might* actually be done fermenting (assuming hydrometer would be off? Is that possible?) -- based on refractometer here are my readings:

    Original Gravity: 29.6 Brix
    FG - (Brix WRI): 14.9 Brix

    https://www.brewersfriend.com/refractometer-calculator/

    OG - Corrected: 29.60 °P, 1.127
    FG - Corrected: 6.07 °P, 1.024
    Alcohol By Volume: 12.95%

    ORIGINAL GRAVITY READING:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,654) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Why don't you check it: place it in water (at 60 degrees F) and see if you read 1.000.

    Cheers!
     
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Or 68F, depending on the hydrometer. But either way, the error (from using the wrong cal temp to check) would only be about 1 point.
     
  10. Prospero

    Prospero Savant (983) Jul 27, 2010 Colorado
    Trader

    I checked it, I just didn't think it was possible to be off, so I'm not sure what these 'recalibrated' refractometer formulas are doing....
     
  11. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Any time a calibrated hydrometer gives you a different gravity than a refractometer calculation, I would trust the hydrometer.
     
    Eggman20, MrOH and Prospero like this.
  12. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (78) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    I've used both of those refractometer calculators and in my experience they are usually a bit higher than the actual final gravity. I would think that your beer is done and something was off with the hydrometer reading. Have you tried tasting it? If you're an experienced drinker you likely would be able to pick up the thicker body and additional sweetness of a 1.045 FG barleywine.

    I agree with VikeMan on usually trusting Hydrometers more but sometimes the easiest explanation is what is actually going on.
     
  13. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,244) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Going by readings, you're pushing the upper limits of 1968. at 9.4abv. I know you pitched some WLP007, but it was going into a hostile environment. You say that you don't want to use brett, but dropping some Brett C in there and ending up with a strong old ale sounds like a better option than bottle bombs or dumping a batch.
     
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,654) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    FWIW that sounds like a intriguing idea to me.
    If the beer has reached its final gravity then you shouldn't have to worry about bottle bombs. Note: this assumes that you do not add new yeast to the bottling bucket.
    I personally would not dump the batch. I would just enjoy drinking my 'chewy' Barleywine.

    On a related note I annually brew a Robust Porter (my version of Hill Farmstead Everett) and I choose to use Lallemand Windsor to ferment this batch since I desire for the beer to have a higher FG value. My stats for this beer:
    • OG: 1.087
    • FG: 1.032
    • AA: 61%
    I am of the opinion that the 'extra' body is a great feature of this beer.

    Cheers!
     
    #14 JackHorzempa, Jul 31, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    Eggman20 likes this.
  15. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I think @Prospero checked it and got 1.000 (or close to it) with water. It would take a seriously deranged hydrometer design to be good at 1.000, but off 20 points at 1.025.
     
  16. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (78) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    That's true. I'm assuming there has to be some level of error somewhere along the line and most of the time when you see these stuck fermentation posts its usually a measurement error. Though it does sound like multiple measurements have been taken so maybe that's unlikely. Even in a hostile environment I'd expect some yeast activity pitching at high krausen with wort that has remaining fermentables even if just a couple of points. A taste of it should give a decent idea on where its actually at.
     
    Applecrew135 likes this.