Diagnosing an inexplicable problem
In short, I got slightly less attenuation than expected on a barleywine. I'm not panicking or unhappy with the results, nor do I plan on doing anything to fix it, but I'm trying to understand why.
Jamil's American Barleywine recipe, with the only difference that I pitched with 1968 London ESB. But keep reading before you jump to conclusions.
-Mashed 90min. Started at 152* and continually fell. At the 60min mark I had full conversion and it was down to 149*. At the end it was 146*.
-I also don't mash out so I suppose I continued to have conversion through most of the (fly) sparge
-Pitched appropriate sized starter of 1968 (actually, probably 5-10% more than needed)
-Starter had lots of yeast nutrient and energizer in it
-oxygen from a red cylinder for 75 seconds
-fermentation began within 12-18 hours, can't really remember but it was as expected
-pitched at 62* and let rise to 68* over 4 days.
-when the gravity was about 1.050 I added enough granulated sugar to raise the theoretical OG to 1.115
-I also added a rehydrated pack of US-05
-I allowed to ferment for 1 day at 70-72*
-Removed from fridge and got a heating pad around it and held around 75-77 for 10 days.
So without the granulated sugar I'm looking at 67% attenuation. This might be expected with the 1968 strain alone but the US-05 should have helped bring that lower.
Again, I'm not depressed about the results - I feel it's going to taste pretty good. It's just that when I look at all the facts, it seems like I should have gotten to 1.030 at least.
Could it be alcohol tolerance? Standing just at 11% now...
subscribed because I'm looking at doing a barleywine.
How long total did you ferment? I've heard it can take up to a couple months but that is just ballpark and from someone who I know that's done it. If it's not all the way attenuated, you could get bottle bombs, which is what happened to the person who did it. I think he waited a month.
OTOH, for that high an OG, that is pretty damn good if you ask someone who doesn't know much. I could imagine that it's possible that attenuation numbers are estimates based on more ideal conditions that you put them yeasties though.
Probably alcohol tolerance.
I would have step fermented for that high ABV.
Not a big problem in my eyes, but bottle carbing may be impossible.
It's been a few weeks and I don't have my notes in front of me but here's my estimate:
-Pitch at 62, 4 days to 68
-Day 5 or 6 pitched the extra yeast and sugar
-Day 6 or 7, 70-72
-removed from fridge, and it's spent at least 10-14 days at 77
In truth, it has been completely clarified (77 degree clarification) for about 5 days or more.
It definitely is not still fermenting. I've made pretty big beers in the past and I've found that you can be pretty sure they're done in about 20 days, sometimes as little as 14.
Most of my beers are in the 1.065 range and I can be drinking them within 6-10 days, but with these giant ones I plan them out to take a long time and so I don't really care if I have them waiting for a month but I think it's not totally necessary.
FYI it will be kegged
nice job. :mug:
Step fermentation involves brewing some lets say,3.5 gallons of 1.080 wort, cooling and pitching. Giving the yeast a day or 2. Then brewing 1.5 gallons of some more concentrated wort, and pitching that onto the already fermenting wort, aerating (ideally) and allowing the wort to begin primary fermentation again.
Obviously to achieve a specific OG, complex and possibly impossible calculations would be required.
I prefer this method for BIG Beers, despite not knowing the exact ABV.
That's a pretty cool technique although I can see some problems with it. Obviously the main use of this is for huge beers, so the biggest issue is one you already mentioned - to step it up to something that has a theoretical OG of 1.100, your "top up" wort would have some ridiculously high gravity. So high in fact that you'd be required to make it with extract. While I'm not against extract overall, I kinda feel like we should be able to make big beers through normal methods if we're smart about it.
But funny you should mention the idea of really concentrated wort. I didn't mention this in the OP because I didn't want to add too many unnecessary details - at the time that I prepared the extra sugar to boost the OG, I was also pressure canning some wort for future starters. So my barleywine recipe is actually 9 gallons split between two fermentors. To prepare the extra sugar, I decided I would pressure can the sugar, split evenly into two quarts. But I didn't want to be adding that much diluted sugar water to the barleywine because even though I was adding sugar, the extra volume would actually dilute the batch. So I also added enough DME to make it equal an OG of 1.105. After I pressure canned it I did the math for the gravity of the quart jar and it was 1.277!! It was flowing like a light syrup! It was amazing... and totally impractical.
I have heard of folks using a wine yeast to finish big beers. No personal experience with it, though. I would personally not keg a barley wine mostly because I don't want to tie up my keg for months (or years). I bottled a barley wine in July and it is only now starting to be drinkable. Some of it will be around next year this time. Just a thought. And it took a long time for the bottles to show any sign of carbonation...
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