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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: jivetyrant on February 28, 2011, 01:07:15 PM

Title: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: jivetyrant on February 28, 2011, 01:07:15 PM
I brewed my first truly big beer last week, an Imperial Stout with an OG of 1.114.  The brewing session was a true debacle (pics to come) and I can't be sure the final product will be drinkable, but I digress.  My fermentation seems to have stopped at 1.042, giving me an attenuation of roughly 63% if I calculated things correctly.

Should I move on to secondary or should I try re-pitching in hopes if dropping my gravity a bit more?  I have several dry yeasts at my disposal if so.  I am planning on a month in secondary and since I've never brewed a big beer like this I don't know how much the gravity will drop (if at all) during that time.  Any recommendations?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: tygo on February 28, 2011, 02:30:17 PM
It may be done.  Give us the details of your grist and mash schedule (temp, time, etc).  Also, how much yeast did you pitch.

If you want to try repitching throw a couple packs of dry yeast into a half liter or liter starter, wait until it gets going good, and then pitch the whole starter into the beer. 
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: jivetyrant on February 28, 2011, 03:53:00 PM
Recipe is as follows:

2 gallon boil

Steeped for 30 minutes at 155ish, all crushed:

6oz Cara 8
5oz debittered black
5oz chocolate
5oz dehusked carafa III
12oz gambrinus honey
8oz cara 40
8oz cara 60

preboil:

12lbs dark DME

Boil (60 minutes):

3/4lb turbinado sugar (start of boil)
1/2oz magnum pellets (start of boil)
1/2oz magnum pellets (30 minutes remaining)
1 1/2oz sterling pellets (end of boil)

aerated with pure O2 setup for 1 minute, 30 seconds

pitched with 3 propagator packs of wyeast 1056 in a 2L starter + 1 11.5g envelope of S-05, rehydrated

fermented at around 70 degrees, saw activity within 1 hour, vigorous fermentation for 2 or days.

OG 1.114
current SG (steady for 2 days) 1.042

I have several different types of dry yeast available to re-pitch with if necessary.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: morticaixavier on February 28, 2011, 03:59:28 PM
Try rousing the yeast. a couple of times a day as it is convienient swirl the fermentor until the cake gets mixed up. For future reference it is always a good idea to start with the lightest extract you can find and get your color from specialty grains. The darker stuff is less fermentable and with extract you are starting with a less fermentable wort in the first place. I had this problem with an extract RIS myself last year and I ended up using beano to get the gravity down. I got the gravity down and bottled and then had two cases of gushers (-1 that blew it's bottom out)

The bad news is that if it is because of poor fermentability there is not much you can do. More yeast won't help. but hey, it's worth 5 bucks to try right?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: bonjour on February 28, 2011, 04:01:07 PM
No secondary for this guy, keep it on the yeast cake.  You MIGHT have 10 points left at best, but you may be done, especially with the dark extract..



Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: denny on February 28, 2011, 04:22:45 PM
you may be done, especially with the dark extract..

Yep, that was the red flag I saw, too.  Likely lots of unfermentables in there.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: tom on February 28, 2011, 05:04:36 PM
How's it taste?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: nateo on February 28, 2011, 05:32:21 PM
Heat it up and rouse the yeast. If you have a heating pad or something, try warming it up to around 80* and see if that helps get things going again.

Just dropping dry yeast in at this point would be a waste. Make a 6L starter and dump in a lot of active yeast, and that might make a difference.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: morticaixavier on February 28, 2011, 07:22:10 PM
Just blue skying here but...

Were the OP to split the batch (Carefully transfering) into two fermentors and add some highly fermentable additions (Like sugar water with some dark grains steeped) to dilute could he manage to bring the overall SG down? Either making sure to get lots of slurry or adding some dry yeast at that point.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: oscarvan on March 01, 2011, 02:39:50 AM
Shake it up baby.....twist and shout. There's a potload of sugar and yeast in there....
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: morticaixavier on March 01, 2011, 04:49:40 AM
Shake it up baby.....twist and shout. There's a potload of sugar and yeast in there....

Yeah but if they are the wrong kind of sugar the yeast can't do anything with them. I agree rousing is the first step to take, and warming it up if it has been coldish but I am just wondering if it would be possible to salvage a way to sweet beer like this by essentially blending it with a thinner bodied beer of similar strength before the fermentation is done.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: euge on March 01, 2011, 06:36:05 AM
Shake it up baby.....twist and shout. There's a potload of sugar and yeast in there....

Yeah but if they are the wrong kind of sugar the yeast can't do anything with them. I agree rousing is the first step to take, and warming it up if it has been coldish but I am just wondering if it would be possible to salvage a way to sweet beer like this by essentially blending it with a thinner bodied beer of similar strength before the fermentation is done.


Sounds like you need to do a fermentation test. Put some of the beer in 2 PET bottles- one with a bit of sugar and the other without. You'll know in a couple days.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: jivetyrant on March 19, 2011, 01:17:20 AM
Update:  It's been in secondary for 3 weeks now, 1 week to go before bottling for another 2-4 weeks.  Gravity ended up at 1.037.  I got brave and gave it a taste....  it tastes great!  Thick mouth-feel, noticeable but not cloying sweetness balanced by some definite heat.  I wouldn't call it boozy at all!  I was really concerned about this one, I'm happy that it seems to be coming together well!
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: tschmidlin on March 19, 2011, 05:29:07 AM
That's great, congratulations!  Don't forget to add some fresh yeast at bottling.  :)
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: euge on March 19, 2011, 07:08:40 AM
Update:  It's been in secondary for 3 weeks now, 1 week to go before bottling for another 2-4 weeks.  Gravity ended up at 1.037.  I got brave and gave it a taste....  it tastes great!  Thick mouth-feel, noticeable but not cloying sweetness balanced by some definite heat.  I wouldn't call it boozy at all!  I was really concerned about this one, I'm happy that it seems to be coming together well!

I'm trying to let myself end my beers a bit sweeter. The sweetness balances the alcohol and dark grain bitterness. So it worked out in the end. RDWHAHB reveals itself. Awesome. ;D
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: jivetyrant on March 19, 2011, 01:07:45 PM
Would 1 11.5g packet of US-05, rehydrated, be enough?  Just add it with the priming sugar?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: bonjour on March 19, 2011, 03:16:50 PM
more than enough
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: Will's Swill on March 19, 2011, 04:35:39 PM
OK, I'm the new guy on the forum and I don't usually brew high gravity beers and I don't use dark DME.  But even if there a ton of unfermentables left here, that sure seems like a huge final gravity.  Adding yeast at this point seems like a sure recipe for bottle bombs...  Thoughts?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: a10t2 on March 19, 2011, 09:19:39 PM
But even if there a ton of unfermentables left here, that sure seems like a huge final gravity.  Adding yeast at this point seems like a sure recipe for bottle bombs...  Thoughts?

If the sugars are unfermentable, the yeast can't ferment them, by definition. No fermentation means no CO2.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: timberati on March 19, 2011, 09:31:39 PM
If the sugars are unfermentable, the yeast can't ferment them, by definition. No fermentation means no CO2.
Being a newbie, I have to ask then why add more yeast at bottling? Why not add just the priming sugar which ought to reinvigorate the remaining yeast?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: tubercle on March 19, 2011, 09:45:13 PM
If the sugars are unfermentable, the yeast can't ferment them, by definition. No fermentation means no CO2.
Being a newbie, I have to ask then why add more yeast at bottling? Why not add just the priming sugar which ought to reinvigorate the remaining yeast?

 A high gravity/alcohol brew will have very few (read:sufficient number) healthy yeast left. You can just add fermentables but it may or may not work. Adding fermentables plus a little fresh yeast is insurance for a successful ending to all the time, effort and expense in a high gravity brew.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: oscarvan on March 20, 2011, 12:33:15 AM
Quote
I got brave and gave it a taste....  it tastes great!
'
'Nuff said. Enjoy.
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: bonjour on March 20, 2011, 12:38:33 PM
Being a newbie, I have to ask then why add more yeast at bottling? Why not add just the priming sugar which ought to reinvigorate the remaining yeast?
With your beer, this should work.  But should is a word that implies probability, it may not work, though I think in your case it will.

For assurance, often more than need, additional yeast is added at bottling to MAKE SURE that you have enough viable yeast to carbonate your beer on bottling.  For really big beers I recommend force carbonating (in a keg) and then counter pressure filling the bottles (I use a beer gun).

As a rule of thumb, always give big beers more time to finish fermentation than you, especially as a newbie, think you should.  They often finish, but finish slow.  By the same token if you are bottle carbonating them, they will often/usually need more time to fully carbonate.

Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: miguelpanderland on March 29, 2011, 01:17:52 AM
Is there a rule of thumb to go by for when you need to add yeast at bottling?  The OG on the barleywine I just brewed came in at 1.090.  How does one know?
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: morticaixavier on March 29, 2011, 10:45:26 PM
Is there a rule of thumb to go by for when you need to add yeast at bottling?  The OG on the barleywine I just brewed came in at 1.090.  How does one know?

I am not sure of a ROT but i would think that as long as you are gonna give the beer some time to age in the bottle to avoid yeasty flavours it can't hurt to add a little extra yeast at bottling. The yeast you use is not going to contribute noticiable character to the beer. so If in doubt add more yeast
Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: fishnabowl on March 29, 2011, 11:45:41 PM
Please keep us updated on how this progresses after bottling. We made a mistake going big on our first beer with a RIS and it progressed quite similar to this. Tasted great even after bottling but then several weeks in the bottles it starting getting an apple flavor and intensified. After over a year in the bottle, that taste has subsided some. There is a great flavor sitting underneath that all but not very drinkable overall. I believe this to be acetaldehyde.

Funny that I taste that lingering in some big stouts now. Dogfish Head had a high amount of it when I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago. Lagunitas Imperial Stout and Cappuccino Stout but have traces of it.

Hoping the best results.

Title: Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
Post by: Will's Swill on March 30, 2011, 04:14:07 AM
But even if there a ton of unfermentables left here, that sure seems like a huge final gravity.  Adding yeast at this point seems like a sure recipe for bottle bombs...  Thoughts?

If the sugars are unfermentable, the yeast can't ferment them, by definition. No fermentation means no CO2.

I guess I wasn't expressing my thought well.  It seems to me that 1.040 is mighty high to be caused by unfermentables.  Maybe not?