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Old 04-26-2012, 02:56 AM   #11
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Wyeast designs their smack packs for use with 5 gallon batches.

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Old 04-26-2012, 04:40 AM   #12
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But not all 5 gallon batches are created equal. A 5 gallon batch of 1.040 or so would be no problem with a single smack pack. I've done that. But this batch is looking to be above the 1.080 mark, even after reducing the Cara malts a bit. A single smack pack might eventually ferment it down, but probably not very efficiently and probably with some off flavors from stressing the yeast.

I'll probably push the temps towards the higher range to get more of that Belgian character, but I don't want whatever flavors might come from stressing the yeast.

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Old 04-26-2012, 04:51 AM   #13
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signpost, that is common wisdom that I see posted here often. Can't say there is no validity to it, but I have never seen attenuation or flavor issues - and is this likely with robust and flavorful Belgian yeasts?

I make 2 liter starters for my 15 gallon batches with a stir plate and have seen people say that you would need gallon+ starters... but my Belgians are very good and no off flavors are evident. I suspect that if you aerate/oxygenate your yeast, have 50% less yeast than optimal, and ensure that yeast nutrients are present in sufficient quantity, then you won't have an issue with off-flavors or attenuation.

What is it that you think will stress the yeast? Are you worried about temperature issues, nutrient issues, oxygen issues, or something else?

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Old 04-26-2012, 06:43 AM   #14
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Dry hops should be added at the end of secondary or primary if you do not plan to do a secondary. A week will probably be enough. Leaving the hops for to long might create a grassy/skunky flavour.

Doing a secondary condition in the fermenter will be a bit faster since there is more yeast in the fermenter than in bottles. Doing aging in secondary however has the risk of oxidation.

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Old 04-26-2012, 08:05 AM   #15
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That's 26% crystal. Blam suggests not exceeding 7% crystal over 40 love. I've found Belgian dark strongs turn out a lot better getting flavor from candi syrups vs crystal malts.

Looks like you're going for something like outblack?

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Old 04-26-2012, 09:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signpost View Post
And yeah, I used the Brew Pal app, and it says the batch should use almost 300 billion cells for optimal pitching. And a smack pack only has 100 billion. So, I'm pretty sure I want to give the starter a try for this batch.
yep, you'll definitely want a starter. smack-packs leave the manufacturer with 100B cells, but that count starts diminishing almost immediately. play with mr malty to see how quickly the population dies off (hence the importance of getting fresh yeast!).

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One thing I'm wondering about is the aging process. With this being such a big beer, I'm guessing it would be good to age it a bit. Would it be good to do some bulk aging for a while? If so, could I hold off on the dry hopping until it's already aged for a month or so? That way the hop aroma wouldn't diminish as much, right?
i'm a proponent of bulk ageing, so do it if you can. you want to hold off on dry-hopping until the end of bulk ageing. if you want to dry-hop for 7 days, then add the hops to the bulk ageing container 7 days before bottling (i.e. the last 7 days of bulk ageing, and remove the hops just before you bottle).
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:03 PM   #17
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Wyeast recommends a 1.5 L starter with your OG you are shooting for:

See here.

They say about underpitching:

"Under-pitching on the first brew will not only produce an aroma and flavor profile that is less than desirable, but will also lead to less consistency and fewer generations of use from that culture."

Here is what they say about High Gravity Brewing.

I like using step starters because it is less stress on the yeast, but I do a lot of high gravity batches. A Wyeast Smack Pack should be good for a 2L, You wouldn't really need to step in order to get your proper inoculation rate.

All a step starter is, is essentially making a small bit of beer say 1L to start out with, siphoning or decanting the beer out of it after crashing it and sending the yeasties to the bottom, then using that cake to make say a 1.5L starter, this increases your Inoculation rate, and stresses the yeast less. I always thought of it as, well you don't pitch a vial into a 1.1 wort, because it will cause off-flavors (although off-flavors are technically only off-flavors if you don't desire them, in some cases perhaps some people do), so for the really high gravity beers where I need huge cell counts I step it up. I think you would be fine with just a 2L, or you could step 1 to 1.5. Some would probably say in this case, not needing any more cells than you do, that would just further risk contamination or something. Dunno, many here are wiser than I, I just like math.

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Old 04-27-2012, 04:14 AM   #18
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I am pretty comfortable with my sanitation regime, so stepping up from 1L to 1.5L seems to provide a big bang for what it requires. The time and planning aren't a problem. I'm a teacher and plan to brew this while I'm off for the summer. The extra couple days for stepping up the starter isn't a problem.

Also, I've never done a starter, as the biggest beer I've done so far was about 1.062 and I just pitched 2 smack packs. I probably didn't need the 2 full packs, but that was my first batch and I was way too much of a noob to try a starter at that point. I know that compared to many of you, I am still definitely a noob, but I have had a voracious appetite for reading and doing research on the whole brewing process and feel comfortable trying for the optimal pitch rate rather than whatever would be easiest/quickest/least risk.

So, I'm kind of excited to do the starter and even step it from 1L to 1.5L. According to the yeastcalc site, stepping it up like that gives much more growth than doing even a 2.5L single step starter.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:32 PM   #19
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Well, it's been a while, but I'm finally getting ready to brew this batch. Just got the starter going and I'll be brewing tomorrow afternoon.

I've made some changes to the recipe (lowered the amount of the darker grains, eliminated the dry hopping altogether, and came up with a hop schedule that approximates the continual hopping idea from Dogfish Head), so I may post an updated version a little later.

I'm getting excited.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:36 AM   #20
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The BIAB plan for mashing the grains went out the window when the bag ripped. So, I ended up doing a loose mash in my kettle, then strained out the grains. The yeast starter worked out great. There was airlock activity within only a couple of minutes of pitching. I nailed all of my overly-complicated hop additions (didn't RDWHAHB until after I pitched the yeast). The hops smelled amazing and I think the blend is going to make another appearance in future brews (sterling, mt. rainier, mt. hood, styrian goldings).

I'm psyched that this batch is in the carboy instead of a bucket so my dad will be able to watch the activity (it is sitting in his basement). He was really fascinated by the process, so I really enjoyed the brew day even though it took a whole lot longer than it should have.

Good day. Hopefully a good brew.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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