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Hard Seltzer - Stuck Fermentation

My daughters and their friends are all home from college so I offered to try my hand at a hard seltzer since that’s the new fad they are all drinking.

I bought a Hard Seltzer kit followed the directions with the exception that I added an extra 15oz of sugar to the boil. I used distilled water as suggested.

During the last 6 minutes of the boil I added .5 tsp (yea…1/2 tsp) of LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient along with ‘mineral pack’ included in the kit. After cooling I transferred it to the primary fermenter and pitched the dry yeast right on top. (safale us-05)

My OG = 1.030. Directions say after 5-7 days my gravity should be between .999 and 1.002.

After 5 days I took a gravity reading and it was 1.020…FAR from what I was expecting. So it took another full teaspoon (1 tsp) of yeast nutrient and boiled with with about a cup of distilled water and added that to the primary.

I got a little more action in the airlock but it quickly died down. It’s now been 8 additional days and I’m still at 1.020.

What now?
Do I pitch more yeast? I’ve bought another pack of of the US-05 that will hopefully be here this week.
—or—
I also bought some Yeast Energizer at the same time. I could use it instead (or in addition)

I could also mix up some more yeast nutrient and keep adding it. (but how often/how much? 1/2 tsp every other day???)

A couple more questions… How old was the yeast? How are you checking the gravity? Sample any of your testing liquid?
Sneezles61

With what are you checking your gravity? You should not have to add anymore yeast nutrient.

Questions answered…recommendations still welcome…

I received the yeast pack with the kit - so for me it was only a couple weeks old…I did not look at the date on the packet (I assume it had one).

I’m checking the gravity by pulling a sample into one of those tall skinny cylinders and using my regular ole’ hydrometer.

I tasted the sample on day 5 and 8 and it was a semi-sweet ‘pleasant’ taste (no flavor added yet). It tasted promising.

It’s sitting in my fermentation chamber at 71*

I sent the same question to AHS where I bought the kit and they recommended more oxygen with vigorous stirring. They even recommended going so far as to dump the product back and forth between two sanitized fermenters a few times. This is so different from what we do with beer (avoid oxygenation as much as possible) that I never would have considered it.

Well, follow their recommendations… I can only think the yeast may have been past due… But the world will never know that… I think a few peeps are stumped…
Next one dabble check all your ingredients… And thank you for making this… My wife likes these drinks and she has bugged me to make one… Once my better bottle carboy is available… I’ll try my hand at this…
Sneezles61

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I will keep you all updated as this progresses.

I ‘aggressively’ dumped the product back and forth four times between the BMB it was fermenting and a sanitized bucket to get as much oxygenation as possible. I also added another 1/2 tsp of yeast nutrient.

Back to the waiting game.

FYI - this is the summary from AHS - sounds logical: “I would try the oxygen and nutrient first before repitching more yeast. While it may help, we need to get the conditions in the seltzer correct first as the existing yeast is likely still OK, just needs conditions to be right to take back off.”

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Fermentation is still stuck. Called AHS again for advice and they are replacing the kit but seems to me this batch is still salvageable.

I dumped the product back and forth between two BMBs about 5 times yesterday…added ~1tsp of yeast nutrient and I also just received my yeast energizer so added 1.5 tsp of the energizer. I removed it from the fermentation chamber (I have a Kolsch set at 64*) and into an interior closet which should hold in the low-mid 70’s.

Time to wait and see.

This whole recommendation to dump back and forth has me a little worried about bacteria contamination. I’ve sanitized everything but with all the extra nutrients and energizer I’ve added - plus the number of times I’ve now ‘cracked-open’ the fermenter…just seems like too many chances for something to get ‘dirty’.

If it doesn’t take off w/in the next 36 hours I’m wondering if I should pitch more yeast or just cut my losses and try again with the new kit they are sending me. Opinions?

Just throw in some more yeast and see what happens. What was the original yeast you used?

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Looks like AIH says US-05 in the the instructions. I know there’s yeast nutrient involved, but I thought champagne yeast was the best for making seltzers because it’s just simple sugars?

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Oh right. Well 64F is the bottom of the temperature range for US-05 and maybe your setup is a tad colder than you think. So I could imagine it stalling from the cold.

It did not stall from cold. When the seltzer was the only thing in the FC for the initial couple weeks I had it set at 71*. (I just dropped the temp in the FC over the weekend for the Kolsch). I now have the Seltzer in a closet which is low/mid 70’s (similar to when it was in the FC).

I’m using safale us-05.

Update:

I’ve had consistent activity in the airlock for the past 3 day’s so seems we may be back into active fermentation. No Krausen to speak of but that might be normal for a seltzer (don’t know). I’m not sure if I need to continue adding more nutrient (and/or energizer) or if it’s good to go. I guess I’ll wait to see where the gravity lands when the activity in the airlock slows. If the gravity is still pretty high I’ll oxygenate and feed it again.

BTW…I never pitched additional yeast…just what I posted a few days ago…oxygenation, more nutrient and (for the first time) some yeast energizer. The OG was 1.030 and directions say it should finish at or slightly below 1.000.

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Yes, keep us updated… My fermenters are full now… This will be my next adventure… Sneezles61

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Progress continues…but VERY SLOWLY!

It’s been another week and I measured the gravity again this evening. We are now down to 1.005 (a significant drop) which is an ABV of 3.28%. The directions indicate final gravity should be 1.000 or less - I’m hoping for 0.990 which would give me my anticipated ABV of 5.25.

This evening I racked the product back and forth between fermenters again and added another .5 tsp of yeast nutrient and 1.5 tsp of yeast energizer.

We are having a party the weekend after next so I’m gonna add the chitosan pack (clearing agent…does the same as gelatin I believe) on Saturday or Sunday and let it sit another 4-5 days. I’ll keg and carb it the following Thurs/Friday and hopefully it’s good-to-go by for the weekend.

Fingers Crossed!

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I’m wondering now if this is one of those times a spunding valve would speed up the fermenting process…
Sneezles61

I had to look up spunding valve.

A very cool device - seems most applicable for pressurized xfering/racking between tanks/kegs/whatever (and I’m sure it has many other uses I’ve not considered). However…I don’t understand how it would help speed up the fermenting process in this context.

Our local brewery swears by the spunding valve for fermentation… Has it at 12 PSI’s and claims he gets his brews canned 3 days earlier with it… I’m not advocating telling yeast to hurry… Food for thought…
Sneezles61

How does it smell at this point? Have you tasted it? With such a slow fermenation, I’m wondering if something else took over to finish the job?

The taste is pleasant. I’ve still not added the flavor so it’s just a mildly sweet-ish flavored water. Just sitting in the fermenter it has almost no smell. However, whenever I rack it back and forth and all the trub gets mixed up it puts of an ‘odd’ smell. Not really rotten or sour but ‘unusual’. The odd smell does not seem to be translating into the flavor which is why I think it might have something to do with the trub mixing/oxygenation.

Based on the directions, you’re right - this is really slow fermentation. However - in the big scheme of things it’s only been a little over 3 weeks since brew-day. For a beer I wouldn’t have even taken my first FG reading until now.

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The smell may be the after product of the fermenting… Some yeasts really throw sulphur…
Sneezles61

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