Author Topic: Wee heavy help!  (Read 8064 times)

Offline bohrier

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Wee heavy help!
« on: October 04, 2012, 12:18:10 PM »
Hello Folks!

Sunday I brewed my first Batch, an all-grain Wee heavy.

I started looking into the subject since the beginning of the year and decided that Wee heavy would be a good Challenge.

Grain Bill:

6.6lb Munich malt type 2
6.6lb Pale Ale
2.2lb Crystal malt
2.2lb Vienna Malt
1lb Biscuit Malt
0.2lb special B Malt

for a 5.3gallon Batch.

Efficiency wasn't so great, got stuck at 1080 (estimated was 1112) and bumped it to 1102 with 1lb molasses.

pitched the whole thing at 77F with 2 packets of nottinhgam ale dry yeast.


it is now sitting in a 10gal bucket with a near the bottom and an airlock bubbling every 2min or so.

One caveat though: I'm in Brasil, in a place where temperature ranges from 65F(at night) and 95F. I placed my bucket in a cellar where average temp is around 77F.

And i have no control over temperature.


Isee people here saying I should not rack to secondary, taking 4 weeks in primary and such... but at my temperature range, won't there be autolysis?

Hope you can help me!

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 12:34:44 PM »
Welcome to the obsession!

Pitching at 77 and fermenting at 77 isn't ideal but as you said you have to live with the situation you have. Scottish ales particular benefit from lower ferm temps however. One thing you might be able to do is to put the fermenter in a tub of water and add frozen water bottles to the water to keep the temp down. If you can do this I would aim for something between 62-65.

1.080 from less than 20 lb of grain isn't bad efficiency at all (69%) for a big beer and 1.102 is a perfectly acceptable OG for a wee heavy.

in terms of secondary it's really up to you. I don't think you will have a problem with autalysis in 4 weeks even at 77. I have left saisons at 80+ for about that long without issue. transfer if you wish but also don't worry to much about it.

Timeing, however is not up to you. it is up to the yeast. after a week or two take a sample and check the gravity. then check again in a week. If the gravity has not dropped it's probably done. you can leave it for a week or two more just to be safe after that or you can just bottle it up as soon as the gravity is stable.

on the recipe, it's a little cluttered. I good guideline is to never put an ingredient in your beer unless you know exactly why you are doing it. Justify every addition.

I think you will see some significant higher alcahol production as the internal temp of the fermenter can reach 5-10 degree higher than ambient especially with a big beer like this. Some of that will age out over time but you might find you get a wicked headache after drinking this beer.

First tries are what they are good on'ya for going AG right off the bat though.(not that there is anything wrong with extract brewers)
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 12:46:18 PM »
Thanks for the reply.

I'll try to do the water tub thing, although the fermenter is not at my house ( I live in an apartment with a huge Maine Coon that likes to chew things).

I thought about the autolysis because the yeast is gonna suffer from excess alcohol AND temperature. Right now, it is around 92F. In the cellar it must be near 80 :/

I know i'll probably get higher alcohols and fruity esthers at this temperature, but... patience!

About the recipe, i tried to bring the maltyness from munich and vienna, and the caramel/roast/toffee and color from crystal, biscuit and special B... seemed right. Again, I made that recipe from scratch. lol

AG is easier and cheaper here in brazil... we don't see much extract here. And then again, it is mucho more fun when you do it from scratch!

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 01:06:56 PM »
one of the cool things about big beers like this is how much amazing complexity you can get just from process.

this link is to a really well regarded wee heavy recipe that a regular here on the forum created. You will notice that there is exactly 2 malts and one of them is only 1% of the recipe. His trick of boiling down some of the first runings to create caramel, coffee character is quite good and I have used it to good effect.

anyway here is the link
www.skotrat.com/skotrat/recipes/ale/scottish/recipes/10.html

EDIT: to add that one of the most important aspects of any scottish style, in my mind, is the yeast. the edinborough ale yeast gives a slight smokey earthy peaty thing that really makes a scottish ale. Some folks put a pinch of smoked malt in scottish ales for this reason but you don't really need it with that yeast. I suspect this will not be particularly useful for you in brasil but if you have a friend coming to visit from the states try to get them to bring a tube of yeast with them. You'd have to step it up ALOT after that trip but if you really like scottish ales...
« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 01:10:58 PM by morticaixavier »
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 01:23:06 PM »
1 lb of molasses is a lot of molasses.  You should expect a strong molasses flavor.

Was it blackstrap?  if so, I would expect a very strong molasses flavor.

I wouldn't worry too much about 4 weeks in primary.  I tend to leave my beers at least that long.

With the high ferment temp, you may want to age the beer if possible once you package it.  Any fusels should mellow with time.  Hopefully.

I also have found that Nottingham can give a tart flavor.  IMO, it is not as neutral a yeast as they claim.  But I have made very good beer with it, so I'm not knocking your choice.
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Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 01:28:35 PM »

anyway here is the link
www.skotrat.com/skotrat/recipes/ale/scottish/recipes/10.html

EDIT: to add that one of the most important aspects of any scottish style, in my mind, is the yeast. the edinborough ale yeast gives a slight smokey earthy peaty thing that really makes a scottish ale. Some folks put a pinch of smoked malt in scottish ales for this reason but you don't really need it with that yeast. I suspect this will not be particularly useful for you in brasil but if you have a friend coming to visit from the states try to get them to bring a tube of yeast with them. You'd have to step it up ALOT after that trip but if you really like scottish ales...

That recipe made me think I'm dumb lol

about the yeast, we can get it here, but almost always they're very weak and expensive

1 lb of molasses is a lot of molasses.  You should expect a strong molasses flavor.

Was it blackstrap?  if so, I would expect a very strong molasses flavor.

I wouldn't worry too much about 4 weeks in primary.  I tend to leave my beers at least that long.

With the high ferment temp, you may want to age the beer if possible once you package it.  Any fusels should mellow with time.  Hopefully.

I also have found that Nottingham can give a tart flavor.  IMO, it is not as neutral a yeast as they claim.  But I have made very good beer with it, so I'm not knocking your choice.

It was... molasses, here we don't have that differentiation. it was reddish-brown.

I was planning on aging for at least 6months to develop... should I age in bottles or in a bucket?


thanks again!

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2012, 01:36:58 PM »
I'm not sure I'd age in a bucket, but I don't use them.

It will age just fine in bottles.  Plus, you get to drink one now and then.
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Offline denny

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2012, 01:49:02 PM »
I'm afraid what you're going to get isn't going to be much like a wee heavy.  I just hope that at that temp you end up with some kind of decent beer.  Take a good look at the recipe from skotrat and give it a go sometime in the future.  I've made that recipe many times and it's incredibly good.  Especially if you can figure out some way to ferment it in the mid 50s.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2012, 02:55:33 PM »
I probably will end up with a Barleywine.. :-[

Offline lornemagill

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2012, 06:30:14 PM »
look into parti gyle, i think you would like it.  i made a 5 gal strong scotch ale and 10 gal cali common 2 weeks ago.  it was my first time with the technique but i think most of my brews will be parti gyle from now on.  http://www.astrocaver.com/java/Parti-Gyle.html this calculator work spot on for me.

Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2012, 09:17:11 AM »
I will try that. But I'd still have the temperature control problem.

I'm trying the swamp cooler approach. Lets see how it goes

Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 07:34:08 PM »
swamp cooler is not enough, gotta try harder.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 06:50:53 AM »
swamp cooler is not enough, gotta try harder.
If your humidity is high, swamp coolers are not going to work as well.

You might try the technique of puting the beer in a bucket of water and having some ice to put into the water. Some use frozen water bottles, and have enough that some are in the water, and some are in the freezer, when one melts exchange for a frozen one.
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Offline bohrier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2012, 11:27:52 AM »
ALL MUST SALUTE THE NOOB. =(


 I didnt cool the wort before reading the refractometer after boiling. My friend just told me his refractometer does not compensate for temperature. Assuming it was at 70C when I measured it (blowed it like hot food so it wouldnt break the thing), I did the math here.

it measured 28Brix at the time. Compensating temperature to 20C, it goes almost 34Brix, which translates to 1.135 SG

Today I measured my fermenting wort: 1.060


Now what? I'm thinking of pitching some WLP099 or WLP028 (bought both) to make it less sweet. It tastes good, but i think it tastes more like a barley wine at this stage.

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Wee heavy help!
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2012, 12:06:41 PM »
ALL MUST SALUTE THE NOOB. =(


 I didnt cool the wort before reading the refractometer after boiling. My friend just told me his refractometer does not compensate for temperature. Assuming it was at 70C when I measured it (blowed it like hot food so it wouldnt break the thing), I did the math here.

it measured 28Brix at the time. Compensating temperature to 20C, it goes almost 34Brix, which translates to 1.135 SG

Today I measured my fermenting wort: 1.060


Now what? I'm thinking of pitching some WLP099 or WLP028 (bought both) to make it less sweet. It tastes good, but i think it tastes more like a barley wine at this stage.

first off, it's only been a week, there is no reason to think it has finished fermenting at this point. 1.060 is no where near done even at 1.135 OG. although that is a ridiculously high gravity ;)

Check it again in a week and I suspect you will see a further drop in gravity. Are you taking these post pitch readings with a hydrometer or refractometer? if refreactometer you need to do some more math to get the actual reading. The presence of alcahol throws off the refractometer enough to matter unlike a hydrometer. If you google Sean Terrill refractometer adjustment you will find a good resource for that adjustment.

overall RDWHAHB. patience will be rewarded...with beer.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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