Coopers Vintage Ale kit - stuck fermentation

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thejez72

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Hello folks,

I was looking for some advice as I'm at a bit of a loss here. I brewed the Coopers Vintage 21 recipe (https://www.diybeer.com/au/recipe/coopers-vintage-ale-21.html) but my fermentation is stuck at 1.028 - according to the recipe expected FG is 1.010 - 1.015. I used a yeast slurry of Coopers commercial yeast from previous batch - calculated to be enough with an online calc. However, I misread the recipe and didn't add the packet yeast - "Add the Coopers Commercial Yeast Culture &/or sprinkle the brew can yeast, then fit the lid."

Here's the process I followed:
1. Brewed as per the recipe. I didn't check the OG as I had some chunks of DME and knew it'd be inaccurate.
2. Fermented at 18c
3. Added dry hops after 7 days. I didn't realise you should check gravity before dry hopping.
4. Moved to a room with temp of 20c.
5. Checked gravity after 2 weeks - at 1.030. Removed dry hops. Raised temp to 24c with a heat belt. No change to FG after a couple of days
6. Added Coopers packet yeast to restart fermentation. No sign of fermentation. Gravity at 1.028 after 2 days
7. Made a 1L starter with Nottingham yeast. Pitched entire starter after 48 hours. I wanted to pitch at high krausen but missed the window because I was at work.
8. After 2 more days, gravity still at 1.028

Should I just give up on this batch? Any help would be appreciated. I'm a bit disappointed as I spent $60 on ingredients and really enjoyed the 21 vintage ale.

Cheers.
 

philrob

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How are you measuring your gravity?
 

MHB

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There is no DME in the recipe so no idea what you really did.
If you did what the recipe said I get an OG of ~1.0673 that at 21L as per recipe. Which means you need to get it down to 1.01-1.011 (well 1.01075 if you want precission).
Really the only thing that makes a lot of sense is that: -
Your OG is way higher than you think, you have added a lot more than you are saying or the volume is too low.
Your yeast pitch wasn’t as big or healthy as you think. Adding more yeast later rarely works as well as people hope. The initial pitch is a seed, the yeast reproduces 5-10 fold (that’s doubled, doubled, doubled... 5-10 times as is in 2,4,8,16...) makes any later additions look pretty small. Even at 5 times that’s the equivalent of pitching 32 times the initial pitch.
I suspect that the initial pitch is where most of your problem lies. If you keep it warm (~20oC) and keep the temperature stable, not crashing at night and be patient you have a fair chance of getting it to finish. Maybe give the fermenter a bit of a swirl to get the yeast back up off the bottom.
Mark
 

thejez72

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There is no DME in the recipe so no idea what you really did.
If you did what the recipe said I get an OG of ~1.0673 that at 21L as per recipe. Which means you need to get it down to 1.01-1.011 (well 1.01075 if you want precission).
Really the only thing that makes a lot of sense is that: -
Your OG is way higher than you think, you have added a lot more than you are saying or the volume is too low.
Your yeast pitch wasn’t as big or healthy as you think. Adding more yeast later rarely works as well as people hope. The initial pitch is a seed, the yeast reproduces 5-10 fold (that’s doubled, doubled, doubled... 5-10 times as is in 2,4,8,16...) makes any later additions look pretty small. Even at 5 times that’s the equivalent of pitching 32 times the initial pitch.
I suspect that the initial pitch is where most of your problem lies. If you keep it warm (~20oC) and keep the temperature stable, not crashing at night and be patient you have a fair chance of getting it to finish. Maybe give the fermenter a bit of a swirl to get the yeast back up off the bottom.
Mark
Thanks for the response MHB. Sorry, it was dextrose not DME. I've done two Coopers recipes recently and got mixed up.

I'm guessing you're right with the yeast underpitch. I'll give it a try keeping a constant @20c temperature and hope for the best.

How long should I be waiting? Say if it doesn't ferment after 5 weeks...will it ever fully ferment?
 

Grmblz

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Just made the same (I like their V 21 as well) used a 1L starter of their commercial yeast spun up for 12hrs then pitched whole along with the can yeast, added 150g table sugar to make up for the starter, fermented at 19c +/- 1c, 1010 and finished at 12 days.

I wouldn't use a starter for dried yeast, so for the Nottingham either rehydrate or just chuck it in, but as Mark points out ^ it's a bit of a last resort sort of thing.
Have you checked your hydrometer? Does it read 1.000 in water?
Are there any signs of fermentation, ie if you pour some off is it a bit fizzy or dead flat.
Finally but possibly most importantly, what does it taste like? At 1.028 it should be really sweet, if it isn't, and it tastes ok then to hell with it, bottle/keg the thing, you have nothing to lose, just be careful to use PET bottles, or keg it, the last thing you need is a creeper making bottle bombs.
 

MHB

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Pretty much what Grumbls said!
One extra, I would be tempted to rack, the beer to another fermenter, or do a cone dump if you have a conical. Its a pretty much a rule that beer shouldn’t sit on old yeast for more than 14 days. After that there is measurable damage done by yeast starting to break down. The first sign is usually poor head retention in the finished beer from Alpha Protease released from the yeast. Goes all the way to vegemite, if you wait long enough.
Mark
 

thejez72

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Pretty much what Grumbls said!
One extra, I would be tempted to rack, the beer to another fermenter, or do a cone dump if you have a conical. Its a pretty much a rule that beer shouldn’t sit on old yeast for more than 14 days. After that there is measurable damage done by yeast starting to break down. The first sign is usually poor head retention in the finished beer from Alpha Protease released from the yeast. Goes all the way to vegemite, if you wait long enough.
Mark
Hi MHB, currently the beer is still sitting on the yeast - so it's been a good 5-6 weeks. I'm ready to bottle it now (had to drink a tonne of water to get enough 0.5L plastic bottles). So you would suggest transferring everything to another fermenter including the yeast and then bottling?

FG is now sitting at 1.026. Do you know if I need to adjust the amount of priming sugar to account for the extra sugar already present? I was going to use 105g of dextrose to achieve 2.0 vol CO2.

Thanks for the response.
 

thejez72

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Just made the same (I like their V 21 as well) used a 1L starter of their commercial yeast spun up for 12hrs then pitched whole along with the can yeast, added 150g table sugar to make up for the starter, fermented at 19c +/- 1c, 1010 and finished at 12 days.

I wouldn't use a starter for dried yeast, so for the Nottingham either rehydrate or just chuck it in, but as Mark points out ^ it's a bit of a last resort sort of thing.
Have you checked your hydrometer? Does it read 1.000 in water?
Are there any signs of fermentation, ie if you pour some off is it a bit fizzy or dead flat.
Finally but possibly most importantly, what does it taste like? At 1.028 it should be really sweet, if it isn't, and it tastes ok then to hell with it, bottle/keg the thing, you have nothing to lose, just be careful to use PET bottles, or keg it, the last thing you need is a creeper making bottle bombs.
My hydrometer is fine reading 1.000 for water. The beer tastes is a little sweet but not too bad. It looks dead flat to me. I only managed to get another 2 gravity points out by keeping a constant temp and an occasional swirl. I'm just going ahead and bottling it.
 

MHB

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Try not to disturb the yeast at all, just drain the beer off the top of it. The trub in the fermenter clearly isn’t doing any fermenting, and by this stage the oldest yeast on the bottom is going to be pretty manky. Better to leave it behind.
If you were racking to another fermenter, you could try making an "active starter", basically a small brew, that you pitch when it’s brewing vigorously and add to the racked beer, maybe just 1-2L would get going enough to finish off the beer.
Mark
 

MHB

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Good call on the CBC1 or Nottingham would probably work well enough to.

Just on a side note the term "Rack" I have a dictionary of brewing terms that defines it as "Transferring beer from one container to another while leaving any rubbish behind".
Conical fermenters (CCV) do the same job by letting you remove the rubbish without moving all the beer. Achieves the same outcome.
Mark
 

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