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Old 06-29-2010, 02:41 AM   #1
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Default Sweet Stout with Chocolate, Cherry and Sherry

Hi there,

I was wondering if any of you have any advice on how long I should leave my beer in the primary fermenter before moving to the secondary. When I made the beer I want it to be very chocolate, very cherry and strong. So I added extra chocolate, sweet Sherry (just before the yeast) and 1 pound of honey(at the same time as the extract) for a high final ABV. If anyone has any experience with something like this please send me some advice, if not I plan on leaving it in the primary for two weeks then moving it to the secondary where I will add more cherry juice and possibly more yeast.

Any thoughts?

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Old 06-29-2010, 02:00 PM   #2
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Leave it in primary until fermentation is over and most of the yeast has dropped out (2-3 weeks is probably right). If you want to add more fermentables (like cherry juice) I'd do it in primary so you don't end up with too much yeast in secondary

Sounds like a lot of competing flavors going on (chocolate/cherry/sherry/honey/stout), it will be very difficult to have a balanced finished beer that you'll want to drink more than a small glass of. Next time I would wait to add the “special” ingredients that don’t contain fermentables until secondary so you could fine tune the additions based on how the beer tastes. Adding everything up front really locks you in.

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Old 06-29-2010, 06:18 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, 2-3 weeks sounds good, at the rate that it is bubbling at (steady stream of bubbles that is keeping all of the water in my airlock in the second chamber not letting it settle back to the first, but the krausen hasn't come through-at least not yet).
One of the reasons I wanted to add the juice and extra yeast in the secondary was to get the beer off of the dead yeast and avoid the off flavors (I haven't had this problem before but I don't want to start now). The main reason I was going to add more yeast was because the guy that published the recipe said that he had a lot of issues getting the fermentation going, but with all the extras I added that wasn't a problem.

The competeing flavors are actually what I was going for, I want a strong smooth complex beer that is more of a dessert beer. I added the honey with the extract in the hopes that the honey flavor will be boiled out, the addition of the honey was more for the ABV than flavor.

Another question I have is how accurate can you be with late additions to beer? From what I have read it almost seems to be luck more than anything when making late additions. I guess this is where keeping good notes comes into play? I would like to not get locked in but another problem that I have read about is that the late additions don't tend to "stick" (that's reading not experience talking)

I am still very new to brewing and like most people I love it and want to brew more and more beer all the time, so I am always looking for great recipes and advice like yours.

Thank you and please feel free to offer me any other guidance.

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Old 06-29-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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What form was the chocolate in? The fat from it could be killing your krausen. That happened to me with a toasted walnut brown ale, no head retention either. I tend to use cocoa powder since it has had most of the fat removed.

The risk of autolysis (sitting on dead yeast too long) if often overblown. If you feed the beer the yeast will continue to eat, no worries.

When you say late boil additions, are you talking about malt extract? Hops? something else?

If you haven't already I think it’s important early on to do some pretty plain/simple recipes, that is the only way to really gauge how well your basic technique is doing. Try to focus on things like yeast health, fermentation temperature, sanitation etc…

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Old 06-29-2010, 09:29 PM   #5
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I used unsweetened cooking chocolate because I read that a few people that used cocoa powder said that it all settled to the bottom and left only a hint of chocolate where I am going for a CHOCOLATE taste. I really hope the fat content was low enough that it won't detract from the beer, but if it does I'll put it in my lessons learned book, thanks for the heads up I wish this had been mentioned in the recipe.

I kind of figured as much about the autolysis but I am super paranoid about messing up a batch of beer, but how do you keep autolysis from happening when the beer is to age in a carboy for extended periods of time?

For the late additions I have read about adding things to secondary or tertiary fermenters long after the boil and I think that might be the reason for the late additions lack of staying power. My reasoning is that when cooking beer or food most flavors are brought out with heat and if you don't have that heat then much of the flavor will be lost(or never used)- but I have been wrong before. As far as what is being added there are many with the reasons for the additions ABV, flavor or sugar in some form to support the yeast.

Yeast health is something that I have not seen mentioned very much but thinking about it now... I guess that should be a primary concern. As far as fermentation temps go I control it as best I can with blankets, fans and cool air directed from my homes A/C. I would like to have a refridgerator to make a lager or eisbock but I just can't do that right now. As far as sanitation goes, that is the one common thing that every source of information on beer wil constatly ping on and I have acted accordingly. I sanitize everything, usually twice just to be sure. I clean all of my buckets, carboys and bottles as soon as I empty them so I won't have to scrub the plastic with anything more harsh than a sponge.

So what can I do about yeast health? Aside from keeping the beer at proper fermenting temperatures should I "feed" the yeast? I think the only good time to feed yeast if ever would be when the beer is being racked to a secondary or tertiary fermenter to minimize the risk of infection.

Thanks again for your help

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Old 07-11-2010, 07:40 PM   #6
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Default Out of the primary into the secondary

So when I cracked open the primary (bucket) I was surprised to see a thick brown krausen that had dried in place. Siphoning the beer out of that mess was a real pain, the top was crust and much of the bottom was sludge(much more than normal, probably due in part to the cherry). Out of 5 gallons in the primary I only got between 3.5 and 4 gallons to the secondary and I think I might need to move it to a tertiary since it is still very cloudy with goo that got stirred up while I trying to siphon off the beer.

On another note, it smells amazing... I really can't wait for this one to get done.

Since there was so much left in the primary I put the top back on just to see what will happen, and both are bubbling the airlocks nicely (secondary much more than the primary)

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Old 07-28-2010, 11:12 PM   #7
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Soooooooo here it is a little more than two weeks into the secondary fermenter, and it's still bubbling through the airlock quite regularly and I'm going on a trip so it's gonna sit in that secondary for another two weeks unless some of you fine gentlemen think it would be better to move it to a tertiary fermenter.

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Old 08-16-2010, 02:40 AM   #8
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When I made this beer I made some real changes to the recipe, basically only using a recipe I found as a guide. I used more chocolate, more cherry, sweet sherry, more vanilla, added a pound of honey and boiled lesser amounts of hops for less time. One of the reasons for the honey is that the guy I got the original recipe from for this beer said that he had some serious issues getting the fermentation going and had to pitch more yeast to the secondary. That is one of the reasons for the late addition babel in my earlier post that is about as clear as mud- that's what I get for posting while drinking.

Anyway, this beer is still bubbling regularly through the air lock. I didn't add anything when I moved the beer out of the primary and onto the secondary to boost fermentation but is a month and a half of fermentation normal for regular strength yeast? My other beers have been done after 3 or 4 weeks.

Any ideas on how much longer I can expect fermentation to last?

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Old 08-16-2010, 03:33 PM   #9
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How about more details concerning the recipe, that may help to provide some guidance? What yeast did you use? What was the OG? How much fermentables have you added since pitching the yeast? What temperature are you fermenting the beer?

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Old 08-17-2010, 02:10 AM   #10
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Here is the recipe that I came up with hoping for a "sweet/ strong/ dessert type/ one bottle at a time" beer.

1 lbs. Crystal Malt 10°L
.5 lbs. American 6-row Pale
.5 lbs. Roasted Barley
.5 lbs. British Black Patent
.5 lbs. Belgian Chocolate Malt
4 lbs. Liquid Dark Extract
4 lbs. Liquid Light Extract
1 lbs. Lactose info
1 lbs. Honey
1 oz. Vanilla beans
3/4 oz. Northern Brewer (Pellets, 4 %AA) boiled 45 min.
3/4 oz. Northern Brewer (Pellets, 6.3 %AA) boiled 30 min.
3/4 oz. Willamette (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
6 pounds 100 % pure cherry Puree
24 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
1/2 bottle Sweet Sherry

Yeast : Edinburgh Ale Yeast WLP028

After brewing I have not added anything to the beer because I made so many changes to the original recipe. I decided just to let this ride out- I just didn't figure that it would be for this long since the original recipe had the beer gong into bottles in two weeks (which seemed way too fast to me, but I'm just a noob). As for fermenting temperature, it has been at 74 to 78 degrees since it's inception. I would love to give you an OG... but the instrument got crushed by children playing while I was brewing which really ticks me off because if this has been fermenting for this long the ABV should be getting rather high, but I have no way of knowing the actual ABV now . Thanks in advance for any help or guidance.

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