Saison Bomb Recovery Strategy - aka I've been a silly billy

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RussB1988

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First of all hello there! I've been using this forum for the 18 months I've been brewing and found a lot of answers to my questions/problems on here, so thank you to all the brewers contributing to this invaluable resource. This is my first time posting as I've put myself in a bit of a pickle with a Saison. Rather than pinpointing the cause of said pickle, which I know was just me being silly and not thinking things through as you will read below, now I need help figuring out the lesser of the evils among the ways out of it.

I have made this saison (the Mike's Best one):

Brew day was all hunky dory, tasted great, all the numbers where they should be etc. Starting gravity in the fermenter was 1.070. It then fermented completely untouched (in plastic) for 3 weeks at about 18/19 degrees-ish, which I know is below the lower end tolerance for the 3274 so should have had a heat mat under it, but I didn't use one (first mistake). I went to bottle it yesterday, but (second big mistake) like a genius I didn't do a gravity reading until AFTER I had racked it off the cake and into the bottling bucket with the priming sugar, only to discover that fermentation had stalled at 1.040. So, still a 4-ish% beer, but obviously nowhere near the FG you want for a nice dry crisp saison.

And for my third mistake, I thought 'well whatever, that must just be what it wanted to ferment to', and bottled it. Before reading more into the yeast and finding all the reports of it being notorious for stuck fermentation, and those temperature tolerances being there for a reason etc., and that with this strain you just need patience and to try and get fermentation going again. I went to check the bottles today and they already have a light head, and I burped one and it hissed - after less than 24 hours in the bottle.

So yeah, I've made a load of Saison grenades basically. Can't fix the silly mistakes I've made but I definitely need to do something to avoid the inevitable explosions. The 4 options I see in front of me are:

1. Pour it all back into a fermenter and re-pitch new yeast to let it finish fermenting properly, but risk (or guarantee) oxidising it and it tasting sh*t
2. Leave it in the bottle but burp them every day to release pressure and stop them exploding (they're swingtops so this'll be easy)
3. Just drink them now and deal with the fact they're too young and taste wrong, but at least avoid further oxidation and explosions
4. Chuck it :(

I'm loath to go for option 4 just because I feel like at the very least there's a learning experience here. Also not keen on option 3 as I know young beer generally tastes wrong and weird and produces similarly interesting digestive results.

So in my self-inflicted position, what would you guys do?

Cheers!
 

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Begbie

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Please excuse the potentially daft question, but just ruling this out - did you take the gravity reading from the bottling bucket i.e. once the priming sugar had mixed with the beer? If so, the gravity will be higher than it was in the FV before you racked it. Up to 30 points of a difference (assuming an FG of 1.010) could be due to the priming sugar?
 

RussB1988

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Please excuse the potentially daft question, but just ruling this out - did you take the gravity reading from the bottling bucket i.e. once the priming sugar had mixed with the beer? If so, the gravity will be higher than it was in the FV before you racked it. Up to 30 points of a difference (assuming an FG of 1.010) could be due to the priming sugar?
😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Oh.

My god.

Yes I did do that.

I am even more of an idiot than even I thought. Spent so long writing that post too 😂

OK well conundrum solved - thank you Scott! Do you know of any way to reverse-calculate the actual gravity that the priming sugar would have contributed, by weight in liquid volume? Just to figure out what the actual FG would have been?
 

MZonard

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Good luck with burping, lucky you have swing tops! I did a Saison, it fermented at 26*C nicely down to FG. I added the carbonation dextrose solution to the fermenter and swirled gently. I know others do this and bottle direct. Fail. It oxidised and I poured 40 bottles onto the compost heap. Lesson learned. I've still no idea what Saison tastes like!
 

RussB1988

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Good luck with burping, lucky you have swing tops! I did a Saison, it fermented at 26*C nicely down to FG. I added the carbonation dextrose solution to the fermenter and swirled gently. I know others do this and bottle direct. Fail. It oxidised and I poured 40 bottles onto the compost heap. Lesson learned. I've still no idea what Saison tastes like!
Oh no! What a disaster - ah well onto the next brew!
 
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Unless I'm missing something I think unfortunately for you it would take far too much sugar than would normally be used for priming to raise the SG by the suggested 30 points. In a 20L batch this would be over 1.5kg of sugar and priming might be more like 100g.
 

Begbie

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Unless I'm missing something I think unfortunately for you it would take far too much sugar than would normally be used for priming to raise the SG by the suggested 30 points. In a 20L batch this would be over 1.5kg of sugar and priming might be more like 100g.
That's a good point. Didn't do the maths, but yeah, a fair amount of sugar would be needed to get 30 points. It's a bit of both then - stuck fermentation plus priming sugar, with the priming sugar only contributing a fraction of it.
 

An Ankoù

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Good luck with burping, lucky you have swing tops! I did a Saison, it fermented at 26*C nicely down to FG. I added the carbonation dextrose solution to the fermenter and swirled gently. I know others do this and bottle direct. Fail. It oxidised and I poured 40 bottles onto the compost heap. Lesson learned. I've still no idea what Saison tastes like!
I don't see why or how it would oxidise in the process you describe. Are you sure you left it long enough before tasting it? What particular flavour led you to dump it. Maybe it tasted as it should and you weren't expecting that.
 

An Ankoù

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And for my third mistake, I thought 'well whatever, that must just be what it wanted to ferment to', and bottled it. Before reading more into the yeast and finding all the reports of it being notorious for stuck fermentation, and those temperature tolerances being there for a reason etc., and that with this strain you just need patience and to try and get fermentation going again. I went to check the bottles today and they already have a light head, and I burped one and it hissed - after less than 24 hours in the bottle.
I wouldn't bottle anything with a gravity of 1040, not even a barley wine. The yeast you've used is a diastaticus strain, which means that, even if you'd bottled at a low FG, the yeast is likely to keep nibbling away at the higher sugars and overcarbonate the beer if it's left too long. I think you're putting youself in danger with those bottles and I'd be inclined to pour the beer gently back into a fermenter and let it ferment out, even if it means using another high-attenuating yeast like Nottingham. There's a risk of some oxidation, but the beer's so fizzy that some of the air is going to be displaced from the fermenter as the fizz comes out of solution. If you've got a way of squirting some CO2 into the fermenter first then do it, but if not, don't worry too much. Let it ferment out completely- an FG of 1010 is high for a saison, 1005 would be nearer the mark, and then bottle it again with just a bit of sugar. I wouldn't use a bottling bucket again, just spoon measured amounts of sugar into the bottles.
 

RichK

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Had a similar problem myself recently & went with option 2. Took a good few goes but got there eventually.

I'm WFH still, so was doing it 3 or 4 times a day! Took about a week (in my case) which was probably when they'd stopped fermenting.
 
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I have had similar issues on a couple of occasions.The first was with bottles gushing on opening and gentle venting was a long, laborious and not wholly successful process. I wouldn’t recommend it. The second time, I messed up my priming calculation by a factor of 3-4 - emptied all my bottles back into the fermenter and left for another week until it reached FG (again!) then re-primed with the correct amount of syrup and re-bottled. It turned out fine with no discernible oxidation impact so far. In any case, active yeast are pretty good at scavenging dissolved oxygen. So option 1 would be my recommendation.

I agree with @An Ankoù, final gravity for a saison is likely to be below 1.010 (my last two were 1.007 and 1.006). Fermenting a sample at around 30c for a 4-5 days should give you a good indication of final gravity. Good luck!
 

RussB1988

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Amazing - thanks everyone and thanks for the advice @Wynne and @An Ankoù !

I did as you suggested after trying to 'burp' one and getting a proper F1 champagne finish all over the kitchen! It is now back in the fermenter and hopefully as An said the CO2 will displace the oxygen before it can do too much damage.

I ordered some more high attenuating yeast but I was almost wondering if I need to re-pitch? The carbonation in the bottles was so insanely vigorous after 1 day and there was plenty of the original yeast left in the bottles (from bottling waaay too early im guessing), I'm hoping it might propagate itself enough to hoover up the rest of the sugar - or is that extremely unlikely and I'm better off just re-pitching yeast?

Also - the yeast I ordered was the mangrove jack french saison, but might that just confuse things with 2 different Saison strains? I was banking on taking advantage of the style being funky but how funky is too funky. Might I be better with a clean finishing one like the Nottingham as An suggested.

Either way I'm whacking a heat pad under it this time and cranking it up!
 

An Ankoù

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Amazing - thanks everyone and thanks for the advice @Wynne and @An Ankoù !

I did as you suggested after trying to 'burp' one and getting a proper F1 champagne finish all over the kitchen! It is now back in the fermenter and hopefully as An said the CO2 will displace the oxygen before it can do too much damage.

I ordered some more high attenuating yeast but I was almost wondering if I need to re-pitch? The carbonation in the bottles was so insanely vigorous after 1 day and there was plenty of the original yeast left in the bottles (from bottling waaay too early im guessing), I'm hoping it might propagate itself enough to hoover up the rest of the sugar - or is that extremely unlikely and I'm better off just re-pitching yeast?

Also - the yeast I ordered was the mangrove jack french saison, but might that just confuse things with 2 different Saison strains? I was banking on taking advantage of the style being funky but how funky is too funky. Might I be better with a clean finishing one like the Nottingham as An suggested.

Either way I'm whacking a heat pad under it this time and cranking it up!
Sounds fine. Especially with the heat pad. Yeah, there's probably enough yeast and it wasn't another saison yeast I had in mind, but you'll probably be ok.

When i rack a beer into a new fermenter to clear it and dry hop it, I often add a bit of vitamin C powder at the rate of 0.7 grams per litre of head space. So, If I'm racking 20 litres into a 25 litre bucket, I'll add 3.5 grams of vit C. Only an idea I got from @DocAnna . Funnily enough I never used to worry about oxidation too much until I started reading this forum. Some people are really paranoid about it- I guess it depends on the kind of beer you're making. Vit C works as an antioxidant, by the way. Don't worry if you haven't got any. Some research says it works and some papers suggest it can do more harm than good.
 

MZonard

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I don't see why or how it would oxidise in the process you describe. Are you sure you left it long enough before tasting it? What particular flavour led you to dump it. Maybe it tasted as it should and you weren't expecting that.
When it came out of the FV it tasted OK then after three weeks in bottle it tasted a bit weird which I put down to what a Saison might taste like. Then it got worse, tasted cardboardy. So I dumped all but two bottles. I tested one a couple of weeks ago - awful. I've got one left which I'll try this evening.
 

An Ankoù

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When it came out of the FV it tasted OK then after three weeks in bottle it tasted a bit weird which I put down to what a Saison might taste like. Then it got worse, tasted cardboardy. So I dumped all but two bottles. I tested one a couple of weeks ago - awful. I've got one left which I'll try this evening.
That doesn't sound good at all.
 
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Amazing - thanks everyone and thanks for the advice @Wynne and @An Ankoù !

I did as you suggested after trying to 'burp' one and getting a proper F1 champagne finish all over the kitchen! It is now back in the fermenter and hopefully as An said the CO2 will displace the oxygen before it can do too much damage.

I ordered some more high attenuating yeast but I was almost wondering if I need to re-pitch? The carbonation in the bottles was so insanely vigorous after 1 day and there was plenty of the original yeast left in the bottles (from bottling waaay too early im guessing), I'm hoping it might propagate itself enough to hoover up the rest of the sugar - or is that extremely unlikely and I'm better off just re-pitching yeast?

Also - the yeast I ordered was the mangrove jack french saison, but might that just confuse things with 2 different Saison strains? I was banking on taking advantage of the style being funky but how funky is too funky. Might I be better with a clean finishing one like the Nottingham as An suggested.

Either way I'm whacking a heat pad under it this time and cranking it up!
I wouldn’t bother re-pitching, your yeast. are clearly alive and well!
 

Griff097

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It's always worth trying to save anything, rarely is everything lost.
So much time and effort goes into brewing, a bit more effort to salvage a brew has to be worth it, not had to chuck one away, but have thought I was close a couple of times.
 
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