Fixing an Imperial Stout Extract Batch

I have been waiting on this Imerpial stout for 4 months now and 3 and 1/2 weeks after bottling I have little to no carbination. When I open a bottle I get a little hiss. When I pour it there is no head, a few bubbles on the sides of the glass and for lack of a better way of putting it not much of that fizzy feeling on your tongue when I drink it, it’s more of a flat syrupy feeling. I am trying to figure out what went wrong with this batch. Taste is not an issue, just the carbination factor. This was my 13th batch (of 25 with 24 and 25 fermenting) my 1st was a 1 gallon mash kit from. Brooklyn Brewers, next 4 were NB 1 gallon extract batches and the rest 5 gallon extract batches. None have been undrinkable, in fact all but 2, I think, have tasted very good. I have tried to include my brewing history results because my note taking has been a work in progress. With each batch I have gotten more detailed. Now I know temps and measurements but at the time of this batch things were a little sketchy. I never made a batch with such an extended secondary time before. The reason I go into my brewing history IS because of my lack of detailed notes. What I do know is that my starter was made 48 hours in advance and pitching temp aproximately 70 degrees. The batch sat in the basement for 3 and 1/2 months at about 64 to 70 degrees, the first 2 weeks in primary the rest in secondary. I think when I bottled I used the 2/3 cup of corn sugar on the directions when bottling, perhaps a little less since it was a stout. The bottles sat at about 68 to 70 degrees for 2 weeks and then at about 70 to 72 degrees for the next week and a half with vigorous shaking every few days for the last week and a half and bottles sampled at varying times. When poured there I have a layer of sediment at the bottom like normal. So after this long winded post and several home brews my question is where do I go from here, do I add some yeast to each bottle or perhaps a little sugar, or maybe both? If just yeast, should it be a few granules of dry yeast from a packet of safale 04 or the a few drops of smack pack of Wye 1728 which was what I used. If sugar, how much more than then 2/3 cup that I think I started with? Somewhere I read that Domino cubes were the right size to add 1 per bottle for good carbination levels so do I cut a bunch of cubes in half? The last option is to just leave it be and drink some more and let it all ride. Cheers and sorry for the rambling.

The amount of priming sugar used should be enough to carbonate a five gallon brew. Was this NB’s Imperial Stout? If it was the OG would have been 1.086. This is a high ABV beer. The alcohol content will stress the yeast. The stress placed on the yeast slows the activity of the yeast. Having some carbonation indicates the yeast is still working albeit very slowly but that can be expected with high OG brews. I would suggest giving the beer another three weeks of warm conditioning before sampling one more. Every few days you can gently invert the bottles to keep the yeast in suspension. Shaking the beer when there may still be oxidation in the headspace risks oxidation. Refrigerate your next sample beer for a few days before opening. This will force CO2 into solution.

In the mean time I would suggest purchasing a digital scale for measuring the priming sugar. More accurate than trying to use volume measures. Walmart usually has digital scales for about $20 to $22. The scale also comes in handy for dividing hop additions by the gram. Buying pellet hops by the half pound is a huge savings when a couple of beer styles call for the same hops. The savings will pay for the scale rather quickly. Mine is also used to weigh out the ingredients for bread.

Yes this was a NB kit. I forgot to mention in the original post that it finished up at 1.022. I either did not take or forgot to write down the O.G. I will look for a scale. Thanks for the advice.

Ok, its been just about 12 days since this post and not much has changed with this batch. Perhaps just a slight bit more carbonation but that just might be wishful thinking. So this batch has been in bottles for at least 5 weeks. Any thoughts on where to go from here?

Three and a half weeks in the bottle plus 12 days. This isn’t a long time for a big beer. I would just put it away in a warm spot for another month before sampling another bottle. Trying to fix it may cause problems that time will take care of. Plan a couple of more brews to take your mind off this one. I really do know that it is difficult to just wait.

Ok so now I have had this batch of Imperial Stout bottled for about 2 months and nothing has changed at all since the first post. So any suggestions on where to go from here?

Not to sound stupid or make you feel stupid but you’re 100% sure you added priming sugar? Seriously, it’s been done before.

If you have, add a little of champagne yeast to each bottle. If you carefully remove the cap you can recap them.

1 Like

Do a test. Open one. Shove a domino dot in there. Recap and wait a week. If it comes out nice and bubbly you have a solution. If it doesn’t then your yeasties are just too spent. Rather than champagne yeast which will eat the unfermentables that you need for a stout I would pitch some of this.

Another option is to go to your local home-brew shop. If they actively brew/keg there, they will have a CO2 bottling wand. Ask them nicely how much to carbonate the bottles in your batch.

Can you cite a source that champagne yeast can ferment maltotriose, dextrins, and other higher chain polysaccharides? It is my understanding that champagne yeast are incapable of chewing through these.

Champagne and wine yeast can NOT ferment many of the sugars in beer - only the simple sugars typically found in grape must. For this reason it is an excellent choice for re-yeasting bottled beer for priming purposes and is commonly used in the brewing industry. Just ask Russian River, Hill Farmstead, etc.

In my opinion, it is much more risky to introduce a yeast that is capable of fermenting maltose, such as CBC-1 or WLP-099. If fermentation didn’t finish on a high gravity beer due to alcohol tolerance, these yeasts may wake up and start fermenting complex sugars, which puts you in bottle bomb territory.

Loopie am 99.9% sure I did add the sugar. I know this for a fact because at that point my sugar was in the individual bag and sitting in the corner on top of the secondary 5 gallon fermenter and I dont have an extra packet laying around. So unless I tossed out the boiled mixture it went into the bottling bucket. I made 3 test subject,
1 with 1 gram of corn sugar
1 with 1 1/2 grams c.s.
1 with 2 grams c.s.
I put them inside of a couple of plastic bags just incase. If this does not work then I will go the yeast route.
I will report back in in about 2 weeks.

Ok the sugar addition was a failure. Nothing changed. So now to add yeast. I will see if I can get the champagne yeast as suggested. If that is not available any suggestions? Also do I just add a little to each bottle or do I make a solution and measure it out with an eye dropper or similar type instrument?
Thanks and Happy National Beer Day :beers:

Added a very small sprinkle of ec-1118 to each bottle. Will report back in 2 weeks.

Good choice! EC-1118 is great for bottle conditioning.