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Lost all yeast due to blow out?

Brewed the NB Imperial Stout (extract w/ special grains) on 1/14/2018. Started with 5 gallons of wort SG 1.086 and pitched 2 packs of rehydrated S-04. Active fermentation started within 4 hours and was looking normal. On 1/16 I was admitted to the hospital and on 1/17 the fermenter went wild and blew out a lot as I only had 4.5 gallons left. ( I’m a NEWB and didn’t think I would need a blow off based on the first few days’ activity…I learned my lesson) I got home on 1/19 took a hydrometer reading of 1.030 and there was no krausen left at all on top. Sprinkled some yeast nutrient and gave a gentle swirl to pull some of the caked on krausen from the sides into the liquid . Checked again on 1/20, still 1.030 and no visible activity. Tasted the sample and its stout with an ever so slight sweetness. Went ahead and put into secondary with oak, coffee and nibs for a long nap. Question is should I pitch some tolerant yeast into secondary to try and pull it down further? or should I just let it go? Second question is once it comes time to package, should I add some yeast for bottling or should I try and get a keg and co2 to carbonate it myself?

I would try to keg it. On two occasions I have had a fermentation stall and both times I tried as you did to restart it with no luck. However when I bottled both times they restarted and I had terrible overcarbination (gushers).

Option 1 - I’d warm it up and let it ride. An imperial stout will have a pretty high final gravity, although that’s a bit high. S-04 usually finishes pretty fast and falls hard out of suspension, but that’s still a lot of residual sugar. But there’s plenty of yeast in there still, so try to get it up near 70°F or perhaps a touch higher, and see if it starts up again.

Option 2 - add a vial of wlp099 to secondary, again warm it up. Give it a good 3-4 weeks before doing anything else.

Option 3 - brew another beer with S-04, and when it’s done rack the stout onto the yeast cake.

Option 4 - pull a small sample and do a forced fermentation test. Basically add a ton of yeast to it, get it really warm, and see how much potential it has to drop gravity. If it stays at 1.030, maybe it’s done?

What about using wlp090 since it lists a neutral profile? That way, if it truly is done, it should not impart any weird flavors? I plan to let this sit on my additions for 2 months ( or longer) to mimic barrel aging. Currently at @ 68 degrees F

Oh and I also saved about a half pint or so of the yeast from the bottom of the fermenter and put it in the fridge. Should I wash it with sanitized water and try just dumping that in?

Most esters are formed early in fermentation, so for the most part unless you add something really weird, the flavor won’t be impacted. Wlp099 is a good choice because it has such a high alcohol tolerance that it isn’t “shocked” so much when you add it to an already fermented batch. But for your best chances of success, it’s still a good idea to make a starter to get it acclimated to an alcoholic environment.

I wash my yeast only when there is alot of trub with it… even then, sometimes I get lazy and just get it going, starter if you will, and pitch… Sneezles61

You are not alone We made a big beer using 04 and had a very similar experience. I think the gravity was like 1.032 so we ended up racking onto anther yeast cake from an ale we’d made concurrently. The beer went down another 12 points and ended up not half bad.Just wondering if some of our more knowledgeable friends here could shed some light on whether or not 04 is a great choice for a bigger beer?

I personally don’t think that particular strain is an ideal choice for a bigger beer. It has great performance in terms of ease of use, being a dry yeast, and it ferments quickly and drops brilliantly clear. Good characteristics for a light to medium gravity British-style ale, but if the temperature drops too quickly in a larger beer, it seems to go dormant and drops out of suspension way too easily. And it sticks to the bottom like crazy, so good luck getting it re-suspended.

S-04 has its origins in Whitbread, as is WY-1098 and 1099. Also wlp007. They aren’t identical to S-04, but very very close. I’ve used all three in 10%+ ABV beers, and they’ve performed well. So if you’re willing to go through the steps of making a starter, I think these are much better choices for a high octane beer than S-04.

Of course, I hate making large starters, so my standard practice is to make something in the 1.040-1.060 range and then pitch the high gravity wort on the yeast cake.

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Thank you! I know I am using 05 for the beer 04 failed to finish. I’ll take a look at the liquids you mention. I think I have some harvested 007.

Seeing as how MOST of my brewing happens on the week ends, making a starter during the week and building up gets me ramped up for brewing… Thats just me… Small brews, start Thursday night… one step… Bigger brews, 2, maybe 3 step… I do like to time it for active starter to be pitched… Sneezles61

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I brewed NB’s Dry Irish Stout with S04 once. (I won’t use it again.) Finished high and sweet. Dropped the SG by pitching a one liter starter of harvested US-05 at high krausen. Still has the esters and the body S04 produces but still not at all dry. A good drink when adding a little cold brewed coffee to each pour. Turned into a full bodied sweet coffee stout.

U-05 has a fairly high tolerance for alcohol. Rehydrating a pack of US-05 and making a one liter starter with the rehydrated yeast may drop a few more gravity points for your Imperial. Pitch the starter when it is at high krausen for the most benefit. Use the “shaken not stirred” starter method. More on this method here. (Especially using a container of some sort four times the volume of the starter to get maximum aeration.)

Same here brewxin the weekend. Do make starters. During. The week for big beers. Make extra starters. Or even do use washed yeast. And make a fresh strarter.

I ended up washing some of the yeast I saved and added some of the wort off of secondary this morning since it is at 1.030. I should know if it worked when I get home from work. If it doesn’t, I’ll just let it ride because I took a small sample sip and damn is it good. Coffee and chocolate on the nose and the slightest hint of the bourbon. If the bourbon character doesn’t come through As I check it periodically, I’ll probably add some more straight bourbon come keg/ bottling time.

I’ve only used 004 once and that was in a dry irish stout, 1.053OG, 1.018FG. It was 4 years ago and i have no notes on it so can’t say anything more about the fermentation characteristics. I’m kind of surprised to hear all the negative comments on this yeast since I think it’s the same strain as WY1084 which I have used extensively for irish ales and stouts. It does finish a little high…which you’d expect in those styles and as mentioned above I probably wouldn’t choose it for a higher gravity beer.

My biggest concern for your beer at this point is the risk of oxidation when you “swirled” it after the fermentation ended. Second concern would be bottle bombs, so I’d second @Stoney 's suggestion to keg rather than bottle if you have that option.

I don’t think s-04 is a bad yeast, but just not ideal for a large beer for the reasons above. It makes a great pale ale or bitter. Also a good choice for cider. The only downfall in my opinion is how hard it flocs and that it seems to go dormant so easily when temperature drops. And because it drops so clear, it can take a loooong time to bottle condition. Good qualities for some styles, but not for others.

1084 is the Guinness strain, and s-04 is from the defunct Whitbread brewery in London. They are fairly different yeasts. I really like the Whitbread strains, just not particularly in s-04 form in all cases.

I am never going back to Air Locks on Primary…

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