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Old 08-09-2007, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default 2 Days Till Brewdown: a few lingering questions...

I'm brewing a clone of Avery's Mephistopheles Stout. I've brewed big beers before, barleywines over 12% ABV, etc., but nothing this big before. The closer I get to brewdown, the more little questions I have---even after 38 batches, nobody's perfect . Not yet, at least.

  • With such a large grain bill, what's the best route for my mash schedule? I've had great luck with direct-heat stepped mashing a la CJOH (133f for 30 mins, 152f for 45 mins, 158f until iodine test passes), but maybe I need to adjust it for a big beer like this?
  • How long does my starter need to sit in the fridge before it's adequately crash-cooled to a point where I can decant the liquid off? Usually I just add the whole thing, but this one is gonna be so huge, I don't think it's a good idea. I made a 2L starter on Tuesday night, and it's been happily fermenting since then. I stepped it up this morning with some more DME, plus some dextrose and turbinado, just to get it ready for the dextrose and turbinado in the main wort. I'm brewing on saturday morning, but I want to get as many yeast cells as possible to ensure a healthy fermentation up to 16%. So, if it's still bubbling tomorrow (Friday) night, should I just put it in the fridge so it's ready by midday Saturday, when I plan on pitching?
  • Someone please explain to me the chemistry (or at least a layman's explanation) behind why sugar can lend cidery taste to a beer. Some people have mentioned invert sugar, but I'ver got no idea how to convert my turbinado/sucanat into invert. Does dextrose do the same thing? I mean, I'm looking at roughly 12% of my sugars being sucanat/turbinado and dextrose...is this going to give me cidery flavors on a brew that's got an OG of 1.146? Should try to convert my sugar to invert? Avery claims to use turbinado in theirs, but I don't know how much.
  • Why exactly is so much CO2 remaining dissolved in my starter? It's bubbling slowly, like every 5 or 10 secs, but if I swirl the jug around a few times, it fizzes like Pepsi and the airlock bubbles so furiously that it actually sprays the airlock water out of the cap. I've never seen CO2 dissolve so much in wort/beer, even with starters. Is it just the WLP099?
  • Is there anything else I should know going into this beast of a brew?

Thanks, all...
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.planned:
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.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
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98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:55 PM   #2
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For a huge beer, I'd mash as low as possible, you'll have plenty of residual sweetness and body even if your main saccrification (sp?) rest is at 149°-ish. IMO, of course.

I tend to crash cool all of my starters for about a day, and decant just prior to pitching. If you're done stepping it up and it's done fermenting out, I'd toss in the fridge now.

I wouldn't worry one bit about 12% simple sugars; everything I have read suggests you've got to be north of 30% before "cidery" becomes an issue. Couldn't explain the chemistry, though.

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Old 08-09-2007, 03:13 PM   #3
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Well, since I just stepped it up this morning, I doubt it'll be done today. I suppose I could brew on Sunday morning instead, but I don't know if it's that important.

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MOSS HOLLOW BREWING CO.
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.planned:
•Scottish 80/- •Sweet Stout •Roggenbier
.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:36 PM   #4
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Evan that is one monster huge beer. Did you consider brewing up a low gravity (1.030 - 1.040) beer and pitching your stout on top? I just played with Jamil's Pitching Rate Calculator with your numbers, and it suggests you should use a 4L starter from *2* packs of yeast, or a 9.5L starter with 1 pack of yeast. I just wonder if a starter isn't going to give you enough yeast to get the job done.

Also, you don't need to condition yeast to sugars in the starter. In fact, it can be a bad idea sometimes. Yeast have such a high preference for fermenting simple sugar that they will often bypass propagation to metabolize it, defeating the purpose of a starter. But given that you likely put in small amounts, it probably won't hurt things. Regardless, the key to this fermentation is going to be aerate, aerate, aerate. In fact, if you have an O2 system, I bet double-oxygenation would be a good idea (once at yeast pitching, and again 12 hours later).

I understand why you want to add sugar (to dry out the beer because it is so big), but shouldn't you be adding simple sugar that it will ferment out completely? I am surprised that Avery does this. Turbinado or sucanat are going to leave a lot of residual sweetness and other flavours that I think would be unwanted in such a big beer. I would play it safe and stick with 100% simple sugar (e.g. dextrose) if it were me. If the beer works out, then you could experiment with other sugars down the road. I also agree with Bird that there is no reason to worry about cidery tastes (not an issue with big beers).

Regarding CO2 in your starter, I wonder if it is the sugar in there that is causing so much production??

Anyways, glad to hear that there is no Laaglander DME in this one! LOL. I will be really curious to hear how this turns out. Best of luck!

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Old 08-09-2007, 04:07 PM   #5
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Fly,

Yeah, I've tinkered with the idea of brewing a smaller beer then pitching this on top, but I simply don't have the time. I've got relatively small windows for brewing, so I gotta make the most of it. If I brewed a small beer this weekend, there's no guarantee I'd be able to use its cake next weekend. All I can do is get the most out of this big ol' starter and hope for the best. The other helpful fact here is that it won't be 1.147 right out of the gate. I'm withholding all the LME and sugar from the original boil, so the original gravity at pitching will be less than 1.100 (around 1.084). Hopefully, this will allow enough normal healthy yeast propagation in the wort over the first several days; I'll then add the LME/sugar in several separate additions once the gravity has dropped significantly. So Mr. Malty's calculations aren't exactly right.

I think Avery uses turbinado precisely because they want the molassas flavors from unrefined sugars.

I have an aeration kit. I'm going to shake the hell out of the initial wort prior to pitching, then aerate for 60 minutes. I'll repeat this several more times over the next several days (going by Adam Avery's suggestions here).

It's definitely not the sugar that's causing the CO2 production; I didn't add any sugar until this morning---the initial wort was just DME and yeast nutrient.

Yeah, actually, the starter is all laaglander DME. But I don't care whether it fully attenuates, so I think laag is fine for starters, but nothing else...never again.

Thanks for the advice!

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MOSS HOLLOW BREWING CO.
Aristocratic Ales, Lascivious Lagers


.planned:
•Scottish 80/- •Sweet Stout •Roggenbier
.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)

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Old 08-09-2007, 10:38 PM   #6
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I see you are experiencing the same thing with wlp099 that I did. It will be the same in the beer as well. Mine was at 1.068, down from 1.195 OG, Monday and it did this the whole time. Even today, little to no activity until I swirled it and then boom! The good thing is that its obviously still going down from Monday's 1.068. My advise is to do what I've been doing - swirl it all the time. The carboy is at my work, and I went in 8-10 times today to swirl it. I'll take a reading tomorrow and let you know where the gravity is, from all the bubbles I've seen swirling it since Monday it should be significantly lower.
I think you're starter will be fine, I just made a big starter for mine. The fact that you're stepping up the gravity will help the yeast out, less osmotic pressure(correct term right?). To me, the dissolved CO2 thing must be a quality of the yeast because its doing it in a everyday normal gravity starter. I find this quality odd because its their most alcohol tolerant yeast. I'm wondering if the yeast excrete the CO2 in a smaller size which allows it to stay dissolved as opposed to rising out? But I have no idea.
BTW, I think you're going to be fine with this one. I think you'll get the attenuation you want.
edit- Sorry didn't see your other post responding to mine, you've got like 3 post going on this brew!

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Old 08-09-2007, 10:51 PM   #7
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Yeah, I know...but half the time, if I post an important question at the bottom of an older thread that people have already seen plenty of times, it's more likely to get lost in the fray and get fewer responses. So, yeah...sorry bout that.

Thanks for the encouragement and optimism, though...I do hope you're right. I keep swirling the starter, and it keeps fizzing up like pepsi and spraying out the top. Weirdness. But hey, whatever...I just hope I have enough cells by tomorrow night when I crash-cool it. I might step it up more tonight or tomorrow morning, just to be sure. But, yeah, since my OG in the fermenter will only be 1.084, I don't think it'll have any problems.

Thanks again for all your help on this one, Land- Man.

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MOSS HOLLOW BREWING CO.
Aristocratic Ales, Lascivious Lagers


.planned:
•Scottish 80/- •Sweet Stout •Roggenbier
.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:13 PM   #8
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I wish I had some advice for ya, bud... but I'm just sitting back and learning from you on this one. I aspire to brew a huge beer (17%+) someday as well, so I'm sure that your Mephistopheles experiment will be of great assistance. I look forward to reading progress updates. I tried my hand at a 10% beer and it turned out great, but I need to get a lot more brewing under my belt before I attempt what you're doing.

Maybe you could start a new thread for updates so we can all easily track the progress.

BTW: Ever since I read your first post about this I've been looking for this beer and for the life of me I can't find it anywhere locally. My local state store carries 3-6 Avery brews at any given time, but I haven't been able to find Mephistopheles (sp?). I want to try it so bad!

Best of luck to you.

-OB

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Old 08-09-2007, 11:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohiobrewtus
I wish I had some advice for ya, bud... but I'm just sitting back and learning from you on this one. I aspire to brew a huge beer (17%+) someday as well, so I'm sure that your Mephistopheles experiment will be of great assistance. I look forward to reading progress updates. I tried my hand at a 10% beer and it turned out great, but I need to get a lot more brewing under my belt before I attempt what you're doing.

Maybe you could start a new thread for updates so we can all easily track the progress.

BTW: Ever since I read your first post about this I've been looking for this beer and for the life of me I can't find it anywhere locally. My local state store carries 3-6 Avery brews at any given time, but I haven't been able to find Mephistopheles (sp?). I want to try it so bad!

Best of luck to you.

-OB

I can get it for cost here at the shop where I work. $5.83 for a 12oz'er. If you want to PM me, I can arrange to buy a bottle and ship it to you.

I'll post updates on the clone here. Hopefully all goes well and we both learn something from this brew. I'm excited, myself...I think I'm going to do a last-minute consult of Designing Great Beers tonight, just to make sure my roasted/dark malts aren't out of proportion...
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MOSS HOLLOW BREWING CO.
Aristocratic Ales, Lascivious Lagers


.planned:
•Scottish 80/- •Sweet Stout •Roggenbier
.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:05 AM   #10
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I was thinking about was your question about mash schedule. On the BrewBubbas show on big beers they mentioned long, even really long, saccharification rest times - 90min+. I have not done this, but along with a low temp, it supposedly produces a more fermentable wort. I think one guy said he did his mash overnight or something. Maybe worth trying a longer rest time, but I wouldn't do anything too weird that could mess up the rest of the process - what you've got so far seems good.
The thing I can't remember or don't know is, if you have a long 90min+ boil that produces wort caramelization( actually Maillard reaction ) is that creating a less fermentable wort? I know your real OG isn't going to be that high Evan, but if we're needing a very fermentable wort and we need a long boil to hit our high gravity is this like a Catch 22?

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