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Fermentation stuck on huge Barley-wine

So I brew a big Barely-wine a couple of weeks back and i am having problems getting it to ferment completely. The OG turned out higher then I thought. Here are the stats:
OG: 1.132
Current Gravity: 1.040

Here is what i have tried so far:

  1. Pitched WLP099 Super High Gravity Ale Yeast and airated…nothing
  2. Brought tempature above 70 degrees…nothing
  3. Dropped tempature down to 65 degrees…nothing
  4. Stirred the beer to get all the yeast off the bottom…nothing
  5. Made a starter with WLP099 Super High Gravity Ale Yeast and confirmed yeast was active and pitched…nothing
  6. Tried Champagne yeast…nothing

The only thing i can think of is the yeast doesn’t have enough nutrients to work. Anyone have any other ideas? Not sure what i am missing here. I know it’s a huge beer, but I thought WLP099 would be able to chew through the rest very easily.

Are you checking gravity with a hydrometer or refractometer? If the latter, are you using a converter to account for the presence of alcohol?

Edit: You’re also at 12.5%; did you use any sugar to increase gravity, or is it all malt?

I am using a hydrometer as you are not supposed to use a refractometer when there is alcohol present. At least that is was i thought… This was mostly malt, but there was some sugar.

You’re at 12%… where are you trying to get to?

You could run a “Forced Fermentation Test.” Essentially, take a sample of your beer, add a ridiculous amount of yeast, and see if that drops it any. If it does, you might be able to drop a little bit, if not, you’re all done.

You pitched this starter at high krauesen? If you didn’t get anything from that I’d say it’s not stuck, it’s done.

Was this an all grain batch? If so how did you mash and what temp?

Well i think 1.040 is really high for a finished beer. I tried a sample of it and it’s way to sugary still. I thought the WLP099 would be able to finish it off and at least get down to in the 1.020s.

This was made with extract. I would have thought it would have fermented down to around 1.028 as that is what the yield is for the malt that was used. Any idea what went wrong?

Give it some extra time. WLP099 can be really slow - it can take months to finish up attenuation. You should be able to push it to 14-15% ABV without too much effort. HOWEVER, it’s really hard to get much more than that. You need to have a massive starter, periodically add oxygen during fermentation, and step feed the yeast to really hit the maximum ABV tolerance with this yeast. Without doing that, you probably won’t get much over 15%.

The problem with adding champagne yeast is that it cannot ferment complex sugars that 099 will, but many champagne strains are killer strains, and will stop other brewers yeasts in their tracks. This may be what happened, but that’s just a guess. Extra time, warm it up, re-suspend the yeast. This isn’t going to be an easy ferment for the yeast. Maybe boil some yeast nutrient in a bit of water and add it back to nurse them along.


Without further info my WAG would be, underpitched and your yeast crapped out on ya. I’d have made a big AZZ starter for a beer like that. At this point my biggest concern would be the stirring that you mentioned doing…potential for oxidation. I’d make a big starter with a high gravity yeast and pitch it at high kruesen at the higher end of it’s temperature tolerance range and hope for the best.

Thanks for the info. After reading about WLP099, I thought it wouldn’t have a problem eating through the rest of the sugar. Some of the reviews of people unsticking fermentations and guys making over 20% beers without breaking a sweat. If what you say about champagne yeast is true, it might be game over. My only other idea was to rack to secondary and build up another WLP099 starter. Then just let it sit for a couple of months. I am just surprised as everyone made that yeast sound like it would finish anything…

I’d probably make another beer with WLP099, something in the range of 8-9%, and once that one finishes rack it to secondary and put this first one onto the yeast cake. You’ll need a really massive starter to get things going again, but the entire yeast cake from another batch should do the trick.

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Thank you for your reply and info. I might give that a try to get the FG down. The beer is too sweet right now to use in my opinion. There is pretty much a standard pale ale left in that wort!

Somewhat curious, what was the hop schedule? You may be able to pasteurize this batch to kill all the yeast, and then follow what Pork Chop has offered, or maybe do a smaller batch of high gravity ale, then add a little at a time to keep the yeast at work. You just don’t want to stress out the yeast. Then park that sucker in a keg, make a blow off tube to attach to the gas side and check it every week. Sample once a month to track its progress. That IS alot of stuff to ferment and I will think it may be too much and your close to final gravity, considering its extract. Sneezles61

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