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11/28/06 07:34 PM  
Adding yeast to secondary
Can anyone outline how adding yeast to the second fermenter is accomplished? The act of doing it is referred to in many books, but just how it is done is not mentioned.

Basically, I have a very high gravity mix that is in the primary right now. The potential alcohol (16%)is much higher than the alcohol tolerance of the yeast (10% -12%), so I worry a bit about having an overly cloying flavor, and I'm thinking of using Wyeast's 4347 to take care of the remaining sugars in the beer.

Should yeast be pitched by itself? in a starter? Since it's going in the secondary, is it correct to assume that there should be no oxygenation?

Any help would be much appreciated,


11/29/06 09:57 AM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
Mike, I take my previous note back, this does seem to be a different topic after all.

Re: your question, first things first:

<<I'm thinking of using Wyeast's 4347 to take care of the remaining sugars in the beer>>

What remaining sugars? Have you measured your current gravity or are you just guessing this is a necessary thing to do?

Dave I
11/29/06 10:36 AM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
"Should yeast be pitched by itself? in a starter?"

Good question that (sadly) I do not know. Dry yeast could probably just be dumped in with no starter, either rehydrating first or even just dumping the yeast in straight from the packet (several brewers have told me that). I would guess a starter would be fine, I am just not sure if that would have any chance of causing too much yeast to end up in the bottle, or how long you would wait before bottling (maybe a day or two?).

However, you could use a tube of wyeast or a packed of dry yeast to ferment a whole five-gallon batch of beer (not that it is a good idea) so just dumping it in should be enough to ferment the priming suger.

"Since it's going in the secondary, is it correct to assume that there should be no oxygenation?"

From what I have been told, oxygenating the beer in the secondary would be a bad idea. Not enough fermentation is going to take place to get rid of all of the oxygen so you will likely end up with oxygenated beer (which is bad) and you oxygenate to promote yeast growth which is not really what you are looking for in the secondary.

If I got any of this wrong, feel free to correct me.


11/29/06 10:50 AM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
Here's something I did once that seems wrong by the letter of the law but worked great. I had a barley wine that stalled at 1.040. I bottled it anyway, regretting that decision until I decided to do something about it. I had just finished fermenting a beer, I think it may have an ESB and it was a big, multi-generation slurry. I was going to toss the thing then I thought maybe I should see if it is strong enough to do something with the BW. What I have to loose? Sweet mother of God, it took it down to 1.010! Friggin' rocket fuel, I ended up blending it with 2 other problematic BWs and winning my AHA regional with it as a eisbock! Didn't place in the nationals despite the thing getting a average score of 42! But all I did was open the bottles and pour them into the carboy. I'm sure I would have done this as daintaly as possible, but some areation probably occurred.
11/29/06 11:19 AM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
There are a few variables at play here with your question. First, where is the gravity at now? Being at 16% ABV like you say would say that it was a monster of a starting gravity. Something around 1.140-1.150 is my guess. If that is the case that brings me to the next question, what kind of grist did you have? Is there any sugars in the grain bill? If it's all malt you will be hard pressed to get the gravity any lower because of unfermentable dextrines and other long chain goodies that Sacchromyces can't get their mouths around. Also, how big did you pitch? 2L starter, 3L? With my Samichlaus clone I pitched onto a yeast cake to get it going, then made another starter of the yeast using a spoonful from the yeast cake. I pitched this after about 10 days of fermentation. I went from a 1.142 OG down to 1.022FG. That clocks in at 16.5%ABV. I did, however, add about 1-2# sugar to help drop the FG in the end. BTW, I'll be cracking one of these fellers open on DEC. 6th. I'm excited, are you?!?
11/29/06 11:28 AM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
Mike, I would not worry about those alcohol tolerances they give. I know for a fact that 3787 can ferment beers to 16% plus when pitched healthy (all charged up with oxygen) in sufficient (huge) quantity. Probably true for most strains.

But it is possible that even your double pitch will not be enough. You just need to wait till the airlock bubbling slows (to maybe 30 sec per bubble) and then take a hydrometer reading. If you are close to done, you can just let it go. If not, then consider adding more yeast.

As for how to add yeast if it comes to that, there is a fair bit of yeast in a Wyeast pack but you can make it a whole lot more (and probably healthier) by making a 3L starter that you aerate by shaking a couple times a day. Once the starter ferments you just chill it for a couple days so the yeast settles, pour off most of the 3L of liquid, and then dump the yeast cake in the wort.

Aerating during the ferment is generally held to be bad since it can oxidize the beer (=bad flavors). Few would do it on purpose, but like Steve did, I think people sometimes get away with it when they have to.

Maybe you should order some packs of Nottingham, Coopers, or US-56 dry yeast for just such an occasion. They are cheaper than Wyeast, neutral so they won't mess with your flavor, and there is a LOT of yeast in that little pack. I use dry yeast a lot and don't rehydrate it when using it as a primary yeast. But I would rehydrate it if adding it to an existing ferment... just a hunch that it will do better that way.

After having to (successfully) restart some stuck beers, I found that sometimes the flavor of those beers wasn't what I expected, so these days I try to pitch a whole lot of yeast to avoid having to add any later.

Another quick thought--if there's sufficient headspace you could (gasp) dilute your beer with boiled and cooled wataer, so that you'd have 6 gallons of 13% beer rather than 5 (?) gallons of 16% beer. Might take some of the fun out of it... but it would reduce some of the strain on your yeast a little bit.

11/30/06 07:10 PM  
Re: Adding yeast to secondary
Thanks for all the great advice. This really helped fill in the gaps for this procedure. I still haven't decided whether or not to pitch in the secondary, as I need to take a reading first to see where the gravity's at after the ferment slows enough.

I'd be real happy though, if the 4L of starter (total) I used is enough to take care of all that sugar.

To N8: I did add 2lbs of black sugar to the recipe, the rest was extract and steeped malted wheat. The full recipe is viewable in the 'newbie seeks feedback' thread. OG was 1.120, higher than I had intended. BTW, I hope you have a good Dec. 6th!

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