What the, Stuck Fermentation? What do I do now?

Stuck Fermentation

Have you had stuck fermentation? It sucks! Hopefully we can figure out the reasons behind your particular situation so it does not happen again! You don’t want to leave stuck fermentation too long, otherwise you may get infection, like the scary looking picture below!

Results of a Stuck Fermentation

Results of a Stuck Fermentation

 

 

Cause: Poor Quality Yeast/ Not Enough Yeast

Maybe you are making a beer kit that sat on the shelf to long? Was there a rip in the package? Did you pitch enough for that brew? If you pitched anyways, you may still get fermentation, even if it is a long lag time (12+ hours). This is not good for a few reasons, one, your wort is susceptible to all kinds of infection at this stage, and two, your yeast may be too tired to completely ferment out  resulting in an overly sweet beer.

Solution:

Make a yeast starter with pre-boiled water, yeast, and yeast nutrient. This way you can see right away if your yeast is viable. If you have already pitched, make a yeast starter, and pitch again!

Cause: Incorrect Temperatures

Yeasts are tough little guys, and usually have a “Happy Range” temperature of between 18-25 degrees. If you start to go below 18 degrees, your yeast will become sluggish and in fact may give up completely. If they are pitched above the range, you will kill them! between this range, as long as they get off to a great start, you will see vigorous activity!

Solution:

bring your wort to proper temperature, and pitch new yeast! Always read the manufacturers instructions on he yeast to see the proper pitching temperature for that strain.

Cause: Lack of Oxygen

Not having enough oxygen can be another problem you encounter with home brewing. weather you didn’t stir enough, or waited to long to pitch the yeast, you may encounter a problem here.

Solution:

If fermentation has not started yet, stir with a spoon and pitch more yeast. If it has, add some yeast energizer and remember to stir next batch!

Cause: Lack of Nutrients

Another reason your may have stuck fermentation is the yeast don’t have enough of “food” to eat. This will most likely happen in “big” beers (high potential alcohol) which yeast have trouble starting in.

Solution:

If you have not pitched your yeast yet and you are making a “big” beer, add half a teaspoon to five gallons of beer prior to pitching. If fermentation has begun, add one teaspoon of yeast energizer to your brew.

Cause: Improper Sanatization

If you are reading this post, I am going to assume you have heard the importance of sanitization. You may also need a quick reminder of proper sanitization, please click here for that. Along with proper sanitization of equipment, you must not  forget to sanitize your top up and starter water prior to using to ensure the micro-organisms are dead and will not affect your beer. If  improper sanitization occurs, it gives way to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are in your brew.

Solution:

Pitch new yeast. If an infection has already taken hold f your beer, still pitch the yeast. You can try it and see if you like it, and continue to age an accidental sour beer, or if you don’t like it, toss and restart! Do not throw out until you have tried it, if you like it it is fine!

Finally, if you are having troubles with your beer, there are a few things to remember for success:
  1. SANATIZE, SANATIZE, SANATIZE!

2. Make a yeast starter:  one half cup of pre-boiled water at room temperature in a sanitized jar, yeast, and one half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Let sit for one half hour!

3. STIR before pitching!!

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