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Stuck Fermentation?

I recently tried a Hoegaarden clone recipe, and unfortunately it has been over 24 hours with very little activity in the airlock. I pitched the White Labs Belgian Ale yeast when the wort was below 70 degrees, which I had taken out of the fridge 2 hours prior to pitching. I did not use a starter, but now I’m thinking that would have been the way to go. The best by date on the yeast was 1-20-12 and it is now april.

Anything I can do to get the process moving? Or should I just be patient and wait it out til it starts fermenting?

Your fine. Even though the viability is less than 50% at this point it will just take additional ( Lag ) time to reproduce enough cells to reach the point of fermentation. If your sanitation was sound and it is in a covered fermenter chances are you will see activity within 48-60 hours and have no issues. You may even find that just over 24 hours will see ferment starting.

This is the exact reason you want to make a starter ( plus many other advantages!!) in order to reduce lag times and minimize the time any possible contamination( if introduced ) can gain a foothold in the wort over the yeast. To give you example: If I pitch a stir-plated proper starter to my ales I will see signs of full fermentation within typically 2-6 hours from pitch.

Below is a good chart that outlines the idea behind starters and a general timeline you can expect. Here is the full article from where the chart below originates explaining the process in depth: ... -practices

You may already be familiar with the Mr Malty calculator but if not it is a great tool for starter calcs.

Jamil (AKA: Mr Malty ) goes into great detail about starters also:

Also welcome to the board, you will find great answers to your questions here.

Reinforcing the above you are just seeing an extended lag phase here, not necessarily a no-start condition. OR

A stuck ferment is a situation whereas the yeast starts but halts somewhere in the process of fermentation due to conditions the brewer creates that sub optimize the compositions present in the wort. Such as extreme acidity, Extreme SG maxing the alcohol threshold of a strain, contamination or many others too numerous to list here. That is hostile to yeast and effectively shuts them down until you can rectify conditions present in that wort/ must. You really have to fail bad to create a stuck ferment situation in 90% of beers, and most home brewers will only experience a true one when attempting extreme high SG beers like barley wines. If not using time tested methods such as nutrient/ wort feeding. Using the right strain etc… Then barleywines can be error free as well.

I’ll second IT’s statement. Here is a thread just the other week were I said it could talk up to 72 hours with and old pack and no starter. The OP reported back, 3 days after brewing that it started.

Almost like I have done this myself :wink:


Thanks for the helpful replies and warm welcome to the forum. I’m intrigued by the wealth of information here and willingness for people to share their knowledge and experience and I’m looking forward to more discussions.

As for this beer, as stated above sanitation was great, and the primary is fastened with a secure lid and airlock. Hopefully I see some activity here in the coming days. If not I will re-post and go from there. Again, Thanks!

To Davids, I am new here aswell. Posted my first post two days ago. I agree with you that there is so much info here, and everyone is willing to help/share their knowledge. I pitched my yeast in my first batch in almost 2 years on saturday night. I was worried that I didnt see any early activite too. I awoke this morning to my airlock doing its job! I feel that Im not ready to give advice since I myself am trying to refresh on everything. Patience is key though. It worked for me!

Fierce activity in the airlock began Tuesday of this week, and lasted about a day or two. I was relieved, and it turns out everything was fine, there was just a significant lag time involved with this batch. I’m hoping it won’t effect the flavor of the beer too much.

I learned that this is a prime example of why you should use a yeast starter, especially for a vial of yeast that is expired, yet still good.
Thanks to all who posted!

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