Last night, in another attempt to get my fermentationally challenged beer fermenting again, I gave the whole mix a big stir, rousing up all the (old and new) yeast from the bottom of the bucket. Although I’ve yet to confirm with a hydrometer, it seems to have made very little difference.

I was all ready to give up when by accident I stumbled across Jim’s Beer Forums. I’ve so far asked for help on three forums but didn’t get anything that clicked. This time, however, I got great advice. Fellow homebrewer Chris-x1 pointed me towards two threads which hit just the right note.

Quote from this link: “I’ve read with interest some of the postings re stuck ferments. This is a frequent problem with all-malt kits,…”

Ah-ha! I have an all malt kit, and a stuck fermentation. Now I know I’m not alone!

This link has the best and most detailed advice I’ve found for restarting a stuck fermentation:

Restarting A Stuck Fermentation
by Chris-x1 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:19 pm

Muntons made kits (which includes the Woodeford range) often stick between 1016 and 1020.

The check list to get them going is as follows.

Make sure the temperature is 18 deg c or above.

Rouse the yeast off the bottom of the fermenter, gently into suspension.

Add 1/2 tsp Brupaks Yeast Vit (Beer Yeast Nutrient) although this is rarely successful and shouldn’t be necessary (I wouldn’t make a special trip out to buy any).

If all that fails and there is no sign of fermentation after 24hrs,

(opt1) Rouse the yeast gently back into suspension and add Brupaks Dry Beer Enzyme (Glucoamylase). Which helps the yeast ferment normally unfermentable sugars. This is what is generally suspected to lie at the root of the problem ie an improper balance of sugars in the wort.

The draw back with this option is that the beer may turn out drier than intended. The results aren’t unpleasant though and this is probably going to be the best solution under the circumstances.

(opt2) Although this should work for most stuck fermentations by activating fresh healthy yeast and adapting it to its new environment gently, if the cause is an improper balance of sugars (generally considered to be the culprit with Muntons and Woodfordes premium kits) option 2, this option will always be the least successful.

Rehydrate some Safale04.

Take 1 pint of beer, put in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of dry malt extract, mix then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 mins.

Cover with a sanitise lid/plate and allow to cool (in a sink of cold water helps).

Dry off the bottom of the pan and funnel the contents into a 2L pet bottle, add rehydrated yeast, cap, shake then loosen the cap (to release any gasses created).

Once fermenting (it may take a few hours) you can either add more beer over the next 30 mins or so to attemperate/acclimatise the yeast or just pour it straight into the fermenter.

All items that touch the beer/wort/yeast should be cleaned and sanitised. The pan should be spotlessly clean and the boil will be sufficient to sanitise it.

Yesterday I posted that I was thinking to buy better yeast and try hydrating it (ie option 2), but given that sprinkling dry yeast didn’t make a difference and after reading the above, I think it’s option 1 which will solve Beer two’s problems.

This page has good info on Amylase Enzyme:

If a malt contains significant unfermentables (and most do – more or less), then the beer will only ferment down to where it has used up all of the fermentable sugars, and stops there. SG values all the way up into the 1.020’s can be a result of this problem. Such a problem, in the case of extract brewers, is NOT the fault of the brewer, and the ferment is stuck at that point.

This kind of stuck fermentation can be dealt with by the use of enzymes. They can be added when pitching yeast, or when they notice the fermentation seems to be stuck at a higher than expected SG. The enzymes will slowly break down the unfermentable dextrins and complex sugars, into fermentable sugars. This will result in the fermentation resuming, and help to lower the SG to a more acceptable FG value.

Today I placed a huge order with Sakeland for new equipment, grains, malt, yeast etc. Amylase Enzyme is now added to the order! Hopefully adding some will get Beer 2 started again (I’ll take a reading first though, just to make sure fermentation hasn’t restarted again).

Amazingly, while just searching around for how much to use – 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons seems to be the recommended – I found that Homebrewing for Dummies mentions Amylase Enzyme. A dummies book is the last place I’d expect to find info that I found so hard to track down elsewhere!

Note: Don’t confuse Amylase Enzyme with Beano. Beano will keep going until your beer ferments down to 1.000, resulting in something nasty (and dangerous if you bottle before 1.000).