Author Topic: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question  (Read 516 times)

Offline iamgruit

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Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« on: July 11, 2015, 03:29:16 PM »
I'm struggling with which way to go on this and thought some feedback might help.

So this past Sunday I brewed a Russian Imperial - my first for the style, as well as my first high gravity beer. My plan was to ferment it at around 64 for a week, and then ramp it up slowly to 72 for a week, before bringing it back down to cold condition.

The OG at 1.104, I pitched two different yeast strains from starters in roughly equal amounts - WLP002 and WLP500 and I expected once fermentation would be complete - in many weeks - to have a FG of around 1.027. Friday (yesterday) morning I took a gravity reading, and its at 1.018! I tasted and it has great flavor, but definitely needs to mellow, so I took it out of my fermentation freezer and have begun slowly working it up to keep the yeast active. However it occurred to me it might continue to attenuate, which is where I'd like some advice.

Where I'm struggling is this: I'm afraid if it ends up attenuating any more, I'll lose some of the sweetness characteristic of the style (I think BJCP puts the low-end of FG right at 1.018). So with that in mind, should I begin cold conditioning it now to slow the yeast down? But if I go that route, would a lot of the off flavors in the beer that I'm tasting now stick around as the yeast become less active? Is there even a chance this could attenuate more?
Matt

Offline a10t2

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2015, 03:43:57 PM »
But if I go that route, would a lot of the off flavors in the beer that I'm tasting now stick around as the yeast become less active? Is there even a chance this could attenuate more?

It certainly could attenuate more, depending on the recipe and process. But you're always better off letting the yeast finish up on their own terms. If the beer dries out too much you can adjust for next time, but I doubt you'll have an issue with perceived body in an 11+% ABV beer.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2015, 03:46:26 PM »
+1.  You need to let the beer reach its FG regardless of what that number is, to let the yeast clean up those off flavors (as well as avoiding bottle bombs). Ramping up to 72 is a good practice. On a beer that big it's a good idea to ramp up and just leave it alone for a couple or three more weeks as fermentation winds down. Yes, the beer may possibly come down a couple more points or so on FG but here's the thing - a beer that big, regardless of numbers, will have a ton of malty sweetness no matter what. I mash my RIS at 148F to get a more drinkable FG, and often end up with a 1.016-1.018 FG. And mine has lots of malty sweetness and body. I say let it clean up and finish thoroughly then package. I think you'll be pleased. No worries.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2015, 12:55:59 PM »
not too much to add but to back up what Sean and Jon said.

High alcohol beers tend to be filling and full bodied even when they are quite dry. It sounds like you expected teh fermentation to take a lot longer because of the higher gravity. But most of the sugars are consumed quite quickly when you pitch sufficient yeast. I think you'll end up pretty close to 1.018 in the end and it'll be plenty tasty. But even if it drops to 1.016 or 1.012 it will have plenty of body and sweetness.
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Offline iamgruit

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2015, 02:48:29 PM »
Thanks for the advice guys.!

After going back and studying notes I think my attenuation is probably a result of mash temp - like you, Hoosier, it looks like I mashed at 148F, or at least that was the average measurement taken throughout the main part of my mash. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

I've left it sit out since the OP and right now its sitting at around 73F underneath a few quilts. I'll probably leave it there for the rest of its time in primary. My plan is yeast pitch +4 weeks to transfer it into secondary for conditioning at around 62F for 3 months with some oak cubes and cocoa nibs.

Here's my recipe for the 5.25 gallon batch:

76% 17 lbs 2 row - 1L
7% 1.5 lbs Special B -180L
7% 1.5 lbs Roasted Barley -300L
4% 1 lb Carapils -8L
4% 1 lb Flaked Oats -1L
2% .5lb Chocolate Malt -350L

My mash schedule was 15 minutes at 118F, 60 minutes at 148F, and a 10 minute mash-out. My boil was 2 hours to concentrate the wort, and at 60 minutes from flameout I added 3 oz of Challenger (8.9 AA) and 30 minutes from flameout I added 2 oz of EKG (5.7 AA). The resulting beer had an OG of 1.104, and according to Brewgr 83 IBUs and an SRM of 54.5.

I cooled to 64F and pitched around 300 billion cells each of WLP002 and WLP500. And then as stated above I kept it at that temp through Friday morning, where the gravity read 1.018, and then gradually raised to 73F where it is now.

Will post updates!
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 03:35:16 PM by iamgruit »
Matt

Offline denny

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 03:25:12 PM »
Why did you do the 115?
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Offline iamgruit

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2015, 03:34:53 PM »
Why did you do the 115?

I'm assuming you meant the "005"? If so, I apologize - that was a typo. It was the WLP500 Trappist.
Matt

Offline denny

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2015, 04:07:46 PM »
Why did you do the 115?

I'm assuming you meant the "005"? If so, I apologize - that was a typo. It was the WLP500 Trappist.

My bad...I meant the 118F rest.
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Offline iamgruit

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Re: Russian Imperial Attenuation Question
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2015, 04:11:15 PM »
Ah, just to get some additional proteins out of the oats.
Matt