Author Topic: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?  (Read 2454 times)

Offline jivetyrant

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Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« on: February 28, 2011, 06:07:15 AM »
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?

Offline tygo

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 07:30:17 AM »
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. 
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Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 08:53:00 AM »
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.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 08:59:28 AM »
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?
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 09:01:07 AM »
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..



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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline denny

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 09:22:45 AM »
you may be done, especially with the dark extract..

Yep, that was the red flag I saw, too.  Likely lots of unfermentables in there.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline tom

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 10:04:36 AM »
How's it taste?
Brew on

Offline nateo

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 10:32:21 AM »
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.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2011, 12:22:10 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.
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 07:39:50 PM »
Shake it up baby.....twist and shout. There's a potload of sugar and yeast in there....
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 09:49:40 PM »
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.
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Offline euge

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2011, 11:36:05 PM »
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.
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Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 06:17:20 PM »
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!

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2011, 10:29:07 PM »
That's great, congratulations!  Don't forget to add some fresh yeast at bottling.  :)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline euge

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Re: Big beers and attenuation: Am I ready for secondary?
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2011, 12:08:40 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
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

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