Most recipes will make you toil for hours in preparing the beer wort or wine must. Then you add yeast and wait for a week. Well it is the waiting that hurts the most. If even after 24 hours you didn’t see any activity then this page is right for you.

What is stuck fermentation?

Your yeast has become dormant (even flocculates) without completing its task. As a result the specific gravity is high, there is un-fermented sugar and often a lot of off-tastes. In layman’s term’s your beverage is too sweet and has not bubbled in 2 days.
Short Answer: Use some yeast energizer and wait or add some turbo yeast to repitch and forget.

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Troubleshooting 101: Leading possible causes:

  1. Forgot to add yeast. (strangely but true in 8/10 cases)
  2. Using dead expired yeast or forgot to pitch the yeast before adding in the beer wort/ fruit juice wine.
  3. Excessive use of sulphite or preservative during the pectinase rest.
  4. Low temperature: (common in the Himalayas) or Delhi winters. Lagering can also expose the beer wort to thermal shock (too much temperature variation during low-temperature brewing of lager)
  5. [2nd most leading cause] excessive sugar use or don’t know what hydrometer is. People forget that they are making wine and not Brandy. Most wine yeast are comfortable at 1.1 s.g. levels and beer yeast at 1.06 specific gravity. High gravity ferments often gets stuck.
  6. Using Baker’s yeast (people forget that they are not making bread).
  7. Improper mashing (all-grain beer brewing) Yeast cannot digest starch. If you are not giving it adequate time for Alpha-amalyze and Beta Amalyze, then you will end up with a lot of complex sugar that the single-celled simple yeast cannot digest.8. Excessively low PH (less than 3 starts inhibiting yeast activity).
  8. Forget to add yeast nutrients: Honey has a very low FAN (free ammonio nitrogen) which makes yeast sluggish. The same problem occurs with most grape wine and apple ciders. Adding about 1/4 to 1/2 gram yeast nutrient or DAP (Di-ammonium phosphate) helps in providing the yeast enough micro-nutrients to multiply and flourish.
Healthy Krausen or foaming yeast

What to do?

  1. {error 1/2} Please taste, if the brew is bitter, has signs of mold/infection or has excessive off-taste (other than sweetness) then possibly instead of yeast the dominant strain in the fermentation bucket is some wild microorganism. Please consider discarding.
  2. {error 5} Dilute your high gravity brew: Adding sterilized water to beer to reach 1.06 specific gravity usually restarts it. If you are making extract malt beer high gravity is often a problem. For wines, I prefer diluting with tetra-pack fruit juices instead of water to prevent excessive watering down.
  3. {error 4} If the temperature is too low. Try using a heater belt (or even giving your bucket a luke warm water bath (don’t boil the yeast)
  4. {error 5} Please repitch using either yeast energizer and wait for a day more.
  5. {error 1/2/3/5/6} Please repitch using turbo yeast.
  6. {error 7} Please add amalyze enzyme and try to go through the mashing cycle again. If you meet success let me know, and share your comments.
  7. {all} Patience: Yeast are temperamental microbes. Sometimes for no reason they go dormant for a couple of days. If for 3 days straight your hydrometer has not moved then try to trouble shoot again.

A home brewer has three nightmares:

  1. Making cider vinegar instead of alcohol
  2. Stuck Fermentation
  3. Cleaning bottles

Today we covered the second aspect: The stuck fermentation. Refer to our FAQ for more.

Ankur

21 years of experience in Home Brewing and author of Arishtam (India's first homebrew Guide Book).

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