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Old 02-06-2011, 01:18 AM   #1
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Default Bottling yeast for high gravity beer?

I have a couple questions about adding secondary yeast when brewing a high gravity beer.

Last weekend I brewed my first batch of high gravity beer. I chose an extract clone recipe for Belle Dock barley wine. The original gravity was 1.116 which is a little higher than the 1.110-1.111 that the recipe called for. I just racked it into secondary and took a gravity of reading of 1.040.

Everything is going well so far but I have a few questions for those who have brewed barley wines before.

The recipe calls to prime the beer in the 2nd stage with White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity Ale yeast three days before bottling. They don’t give specific advice for adding the yeast so here are my questions.

Should I prep the yeast with a starter batch a day or two prior to pitching the yeast? If so, one or two liters worth?

When I brew my IPA’s I typically create a 1 liter starter batch for the White Labs yeast I use. For this barley wine I doubled my efforts and created a 1 liter starter batch 2 days prior and then added another liter of starter wort one day prior. I used a stir plate and the stuff took off about 24 hours after pitching. It was so active I lost about 1 to 1 1/2 gallons of my 5 gallon batch through the blow off tube.

Second question: Should I aerate the beer/wort prior to pitching the secondary yeast slurry?

When brewing, I usually try to aerate wort by aggressively pouring it back and forth between a couple buckets prior to pitching the yeast. I am thinking this is not a good time to do this with the barley wine since it will have been fermenting for a couple weeks.

Looking for any advice.

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Old 02-06-2011, 01:39 AM   #2
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Should I prep the yeast with a starter batch a day or two prior to pitching the yeast? If so, one or two liters worth?
I wouldn't worry about using the WLP099 at all. You're at about 10% ABV and virtually any yeast should be able to handle that. Just rehydrate a couple grams of dry yeast (I like Nottingham because it's highly flocculent and cheap) and add it to the bottling bucket with the sugar.

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Second question: Should I aerate the beer/wort prior to pitching the secondary yeast slurry?
Unless you want to deliberately oxidize the beer, don't aerate after fermentation ends. The reason to aerate before pitching is to give the yeast the oxygen they need for reproduction. At this point, you can just pitch the (relatively small) number of cells needed to carbonate without worrying about reproduction.

All of which assumes that the beer is finished. If you transferred it after only a week, it may not have been. Were gravity readings 2-3 days apart both at 1.040?
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:59 AM   #3
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The 1.040 was the first reading I took. I transferred into secondary today to dry hop. I figure about a week or two in the secondary before bottling. The recipe indicates that the final gravity should be about 1.029-1.030.

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Old 02-06-2011, 01:59 AM   #4
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Yes, a cheap clean dry yeast is all you need...make sure to properly hydrate before letting it hit the beer.

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Old 02-06-2011, 05:55 AM   #5
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The 1.040 was the first reading I took. I transferred into secondary today to dry hop. I figure about a week or two in the secondary before bottling. The recipe indicates that the final gravity should be about 1.029-1.030.
In that case, yes, to get a further drop in gravity in the secondary you'll probably need to make a starter and pitch it at high krausen.

As a general rule, never transfer before the gravity has stopped dropping.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:16 AM   #6
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If you do decide to pitch the high gravity yeast, it may be prudent to wait a week or two before bottling. I'd hate to see that yeast pick up where your primary strain left off and finish fermenting your wort along with any sugars you add after bottling. It may not happen, but it could easily could. If it does, you'd have some serious bottle bombs on your hands. There's no downside to waiting.

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