Back in the beginning of November, I brewed my first really big beer, a 1.115 OG Barleywine. I pitched an entire yeast cake of S04, used tons of oxygen and yeast nutrients and had a really good ferment in a temp-controlled chest freezer. The temperature for the first few days was 65, then I ramped it up a degree or two per day as fermentation wound down, ending up at 70 degrees. Final gravity was 1.025.
After about a month, I transferred it to a secondary and put it in my basement for a little over a month. I secondaried in a 5-gallon better bottle, but only had around 4.5 gallons in it, so I purged the headspace with Co2. On the basement floor, the beer got down to 50 degrees. Since I had plugged the BB with a solid stopper, a vacuum formed when the temperature dropped collapsing the sides of the BB.
On January 6th, I bottled. I used 2.5 oz of table sugar for priming. I got that amount from Beersmith, aiming for around 2 vols. I know that when entering the temperature in BS, that one should use the highest temperature that the beer has been subjected to (in this case, 70), but I figured that since the headspace was all sucked into the beer while it was conditioning, that 50 might actually be an appropriate number.
I set the beers to carbonate in the warmest room in my house, around 75 degrees or so, for a couple months. This last weekend, I popped a couple (one from near the begining of bottling, and one from near the end of bottling) in the fridge and sampled. Flat. Very slight hiss when I open, followed by zero head and nearly impossible to coax any Co2 out of solution. Otherwise, the beer is very good, if slightly more on the sweeter side than I would like.
So now I would like to get these carbed up properly. But how should I go about it? The way I see it, either I didn't use enough priming sugar, or the yeast is just plain pooped and not up to the task of carbing up an 11.5% ABV beer.
My LHBS recommended I uncap the bottles and add some champagne yeast. I'm a little leery of this, as I know S04 is a low attenuator, so I'm afraid the champagne yeast will devour too much left over sugar and blow up my bottles. I also have some US05 that I could use, but I'm not sure how they'll fair in the high-ABV environment. I'm also not sure if I should add additional sugar at this point.
So, the way I see it, my options are:
1) Wait longer
2) Add more sugar and wait longer
3) Re-yeast with champagne yeast (and hope nothing explodes)
4) Re-yeast with US05
5) 4, but also add some sugar
What say ye? I don't have the recipe handy, but I can post it later tonight if that will help.