Trying to save a beer

Hi, all!

I have searched the forums here for an answer to my issue but I’m having trouble finding a solution.

I made up my first very own all-grain BIAB 3-gallon recipe, it’s a very basic brown ale. I pitched rehydrated Safale S-04 according to package instructions when the beer had reached the pitching temperature. I kept the fermentation bucket in a shallow container of water and frozen water bottles. The problem is, after 11 days in the fermentation bucket, my specific gravity according to the hydrometer was 1035. I then removed ice bottles and moved the bucket to a high shelf to let it warm up to about 70 degrees.

After 10 more days the gravity was just above 1030. The beer tastes and smells wonderful, just a tiny bit sweet. I picked up some yeast nutrient recently to make a batch of mead so, at this point, I’m considering pitching a few ounces of sugar and some yeast nutrient dissolved in boiled and cooled water to try to kick-start the fermentation to get it down to 1020 or lower.

Is it necessary to try to get the gravity lower at this point or should I keep waiting?

Two issues occurred during brewing:

  1. The crappy thermometer I was using in the mashing/boil kettle is hard to read and I think I may have mashed too high for the first 10-20 minutes of the mash, possibly resulting in unfermentable sugars.

  2. When I re-hydrated the S-04, I stirred it too soon and clumps of yeast stuck to the spoon that were impossible to remove and get back into the rehydration water, possibly resulting in underpitching.

Here’s the recipe:

5.5 lbs Maris Otter

0.5 lbs Crystal 60

0.5 lbs Chocolate Malt

.25 oz Nugget 60 mins

.25 oz Fuggle at 15 mins

1 tsp Irish Moss 15 mins

Mash at 153 for 60 mins then 10 min mashout at 168

OG approx 1056

So is it worth it to try to “save” this beer? It tastes great and I could go ahead and bottle it but every beer (this is my 6th brew) I have made so far has under-fermented. Sure, session beers are great but I want to make something that is higher than 3% alcohol. Any help is very much appreciated and thanks in advance, guys!

I think your best bet would be to make a 2l starter and pitch it into your beer when it’s at high krausen. I would try and use a high attunation strain, cal ale 001 or us-05 could work. You Could also try and add 1 lb of table sugar boiled in a small amount of water this will give the yeast something to eat to help them get going and even if the final gravity doesn’t drop it will give you about 1% boost in abv. Good luck.

The die is cast. Ten days isn’t that long, and I think the sort of maneuvers you describe are witchcraft. Keep dumping yeast if you want, but in certain situations, I’m not sure it would matter.

What temperature did you mash you at, and what temperature did you ferment the beer at? These two things are important.

If you have the fermenter space and the patience, you could add some brettanomyces to it and see where it goes. Some brett-c in secondary would drop your gravity and is much more mellow than some of the other varieties. Just a thought…

My guess is you cold crashed the yeast by icing it the first ten days. You moved it to 70 but it took a few more days for the beer to warm up, so it’s probably only been fermenting for a week. That’s not long enough for 04. I would swirl it a bit every couple hours to get the yeast up and let it go another two weeks.