What do you do when you're yeast won't talk to you?

Thank your lucky stars, 'cause if they are talking, you're in trouble! Unless its a good conversation about how Freud would interpret your dreams. In that case its perfectly fine ;-)

Seriously, if you're yeast is behaving in strange ways, what do you do? Recently I was talking with Bryan over at TBL about a saison he's brewing. The fermentation slowed down to a crawl after about 36 hours and it isn't anywhere near the target final gravity. What should he do? This isn't as easy as you might think. I mean every yeast strain/blend has its own characteristics;
  • Attenuation
  • Flocculation
  • Optimum Fermentation Temperature
  • Alcohol Tolerance
Then there's the environmental variables of your setup which affect the yeast.
  • temperature throughout the fermentation
  • pitching rate
  • original gravity
  • fermentables present
  • etc.
I'm going to put together another resource page on this (look here), but, for now check out White Labs' site (no affiliation) for tips on what to expect from their yeast strains/blends. So what should Bryan do? Well my initial reaction was to pitch another vial/slant of yeast, but, then I checked the White Labs site and changed my mind. I mean, what do I know? I've never brewed with this yeast. I was kinda thinking that all yeasts are the same. Well they aren't and I kinda knew that, but, I still opened my big mouth. Hey, maybe you can figure out what to do if your saison fermentation seems to stop before reaching its target gravity. I'm sure Bryan will post his results at some point so we can all find out how it went.



Russ said...

White Labs lets you post comments on various yeast strains. You can check to see if anybody reports similar behavior on that strain. Unfortunately it doesn't seem many people are aware of the feature yet, so I would encourage your friend to post his experience on the White Labs site so others don't panic when it happens to them (I'm assuming, of course, that the beer eventually ferments out okay).

Adam said...

Agreed. Actually there's enough feedback on the site to come to the conclusion that everything will be alright. This yeast tends to work all fast and furious and then slowly ferment out the rest of the way.

Thanks Russ!