Help I Have Stuck Fermentation!

You know that time when things aren’t going as planned and you wish you would’ve known better before getting into such a mess? It happens to me too, so don’t feel bad and by all means, don’t hesitate to seek help… the best thing I’ve ever done for myself is drop my ego and tell myself that as smart as I think I am, I don’t know it all and there are people who know more about other subjects than me…

See not long ago I had a blog reader send me this email… (and my response)

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Jorge,

I need your help ASAP. I brewed the recipe found on —name of forum— called —name of beer—

I am approaching the bottling mark of 3 weeks in primary only (per recipe), and gravity reading is only at about 1.030. I initially pitched 2 smack packs of Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast, and 2 days into it, fermentation was pretty violent, so I know something happened.

Should I pitch more yeast? Advice?

O.G. was 1.097
F.G. is supposed to reach 1.015
Primary fermentation: 3 Weeks @ 65 F

– Paul
San Francisco, CA

Dear Paul,

I need to know a bit more about your recipe to give you more exact details on what is going on here, but you may just be freaking out for no reason…

If your original gravity was 1.097, then and you had a violent fermentation… then assuming you kept the temperature at 65 F, your recipe probably has a lot of fermentables and there is nothing wrong with a violent fermentation… you just have lots of food for the yeast and they are going to town fermenting your beer.

If on the other hand your temperature was higher than 65 F and that’s the reason why fermentation was violent, then you may get Acetaldehyde  and other Alcoholic flavors. Again, I would need to know more about your recipe to tell you exactly what it was…

Also, if your original gravity was 1.097 then 2 smack packs alone are not enough yeast. You should have used a yeast starter to increase the yeast cell count and ensure good fermentation. I don’t know why you are using Scottish Ale yeast with a beer with such a high gravity, but hey, if it tastes like beer, I’m sure it’s good. It doesn’t help your cause that the Scottish Ale 1728 Wyeast Activator Pack is a high flocculation yeast which often times will stick to the bottom before fermentation is complete. That is something some brewers look for to get low levels of Diacetyl, but their O.G. is usually lower around the 1.035-1.045 range for the same reason…

All I can say is that you don’t have stuck fermentation (that’s a different problem altogether), you just underpitched your yeast and may have incomplete fermentation. You’ll probably get solvent-like flavors in your beer.

I would rack to a secondary, give it time and hope for the best.

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Well, hopefully others learn from this mistake and please don’t forget to comment if you have a better answer or if you have any more questions on this…

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