I brewed a fruited stout recently and the activity in the secondary (after I removed all the cherries) has been extremely low. Do I need to add more yeast due to all of the sugars added by the sweet cherries? I’m really banking on a higher ABV than normal and totally forgot to take that into account when I was brewing. Am I screwed here?
Well if it was in the secondary and you removed the fruit then I wouldn’t expect much activity at that point. All the sugars would have been converted already. You shouldn’t get much activity from a secondary. Can you give us some more info? Recipe, primary time, secondary time, etc.
And can I ask how you removed the fruit? You really shouldn’t be adding and then removing fruit. You should be adding it, then racking the beer off the fruit into a bottling bucket or a keg. You shouldn’t be trying to remove it and then still letting the beer sit in the secondary. You’re taking a risk of infection or oxidation.
What were your gravity readings, if you took them? Secondaries are more to age or settle out your brew so low activity could be normal. Stouts sometimes finish a little high due to some of the unfermentable dark grains but anything in the range of 1.020 or less should work. I would be more concerned about overcarbonation from too much sugar than not enough yeast unless the fermentation period was extremely long.
Bottom line. Don’t worry.
I’m following a papazian recipe from JoHB (2nd edition) if you have it, it’s the cherry fever stout on p. 218. So far, I’ve done everything he’s written out, and for some reason his recipe calls for the fruit in the primary for fives days and then “as carefully as possible” removing the fruit and racking the beer into a secondary.
I was on the road a little longer than I thought I’d be so the cherries spent six days in the primary and I’m on day two in the secondary. I used a fine strainer that was boiled for 10 minutes before use to remove all floating hops and fruit/pits. I was also excruciatingly hungover during the racking so I was an idiot and used tap water to get my syphon going… won’t ever do that again. I know the risk for oxidation is pretty high if I understand it right, but in the vein of RDWHaHB I’m just trying to press on and learn.
I can’t find my notebook right now, but I’ll post the gravity readings so far when I do.
Did you mash the cherries or were they frozen/thawed? If you don’t break the skins so the yeast can get into the pulp/juice, not much is going to happen. You shouldn’t need to add yeast to whats already in there. And there really isn’t a super amount of sugar in a pound of cherries, plus the juice increases the volume a bit so really you’re averaging the juice ABV with the rest of the beer and its not going to change things much.
I mashed the cherries… 5 lbs of them
If you mashed the cherries and they were in the primary for 6 days I think I would assume all/most of the sugars that they contributed to the wort would have been eaten up by the yeast.
If I understand you correctly though, from the time you pitched your yeast until the time you racked to secondary was 6 days? Or did you add the cherries a few days after fermentation started?
For most of the ales I have brewed, the majority of the fermentation takes place well within the first week. I generally give it another week to let everything settle before racking to secondary.
I think its safe to assume that any fermentable sugars from either the wort or the cherries are eaten.
Thanks! I’ll post the results within the next month or so.
Bottled! gravity was around 1.02 and the english black malts are coming through strong. The cherry flavor is more mildly annoying than anything else right now (low key, sour but not enough to make a good difference if you catch my drift).