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Old 10-24-2012, 03:58 AM   #1
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Default Fermenting an Imperial Stout

For my next batch I want to brew an Imperial Stout. This will be the highest gravity beer (Estimated Original Gravity:1.081-85) that I have brewed and I have a few questions.

1) What should my fermentation schedule be? How long in the primary, how long in the secondary?

2) How do I get enough oxygen in my wort for the yeast? I do not have any aeration equipment.

3) My primary is a 6 gallon bucket, will I need a blow off tube?

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Old 10-24-2012, 04:31 AM   #2
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1. Primary until you hit FG. "Secondary" on this board is often confused with what pro brewers call "bright tanks" which allow for more time for sediment, protein, and yeast to drop out and create a "pretty" beer. A true Secondary ferment is when you add more sugars/fruit/adjuncts after your primary fermentation has completed.

2. Best advice is to invest in an oxygen system. I have the one from Williams Brewing. If not, splash it into the fermentor and shake the bucket a bunch and just deal with a sub-optimal O2 saturation... nothing you can do about it w/o an aeration stone.

3. What is your batch size? Assuming 5 gallons, and your bucket being 6 or 6.5... you'll need a blowoff tube with almost 99% certainty.

4. unsolicited advice: Use Mr. Malty (www.mrmalty.com) to pitch the appropriate amount of yeast. Ferment the beer at the lower end of the range noted by the manufacturer. Invest in an aeration system (O2, sterile pump, etc.). Look into putting together a "swamp cooler", big beers generate lots of internal heat when the yeast gets going, it could be 10F over ambient.

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Old 10-24-2012, 05:04 AM   #3
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Thank you for the input. I do have temp control so fermentation temp should not be a problem. I don't know if I understood the schedule advice although I appreciate the knowledge. You were recommending keeping in the primary vessel until I hit FG and then transferring to a secondary fermenter, correct? How long should the beer age In total? I'll look into the aeration system. I appreciate the advice.

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Old 10-24-2012, 05:29 AM   #4
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What moviebrain is saying is that you should let your beer ferment until it is done and then chill it. There is no need for a secondary.

Once you get to your final gravity wait a day (or two) so the yeast can clean up any unwanted byproducts and then chill it. That is assuming that you are not wanting to stop the fermentation early to produce a sweeter beer.

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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I thought since it was a higher gravity beer it would need to age for a couple of months and thus need to be transferred off the trub but you are saying don't treat it differently. Am I mistaken about the extended aging or should this be done in the bottle rather than a fermenting vessel?

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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When I do high grav stuff, I aerate it with pure O2 (maybe 30 sec or so) at pitching and then again at about 18 hours after pitching. I bottle after about 4 weeks assuming its at FG, and then forget about it for 6-9 months.

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonM
When I do high grav stuff, I aerate it with pure O2 (maybe 30 sec or so) at pitching and then again at about 18 hours after pitching. I bottle after about 4 weeks assuming its at FG, and then forget about it for 6-9 months.
Thanks guys. There is where my confusion started. I was assuming the 6-9 in the fermenter. Where do you get the o2 tank filled?
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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Oh and here's a trick if you don't have aeration equipment: the reason we aerate is because the yeast need it to reproduce. We use pure O2 because, for high grav beers, the yeast eed more O2 than there is in room air. So if you try to aerate using splashing, the yeast might not get enough O2 to finish the batch.

Solution? A big-arse starter. Also known as another batch. You can brew a 2.5 gallon (or whatever size you like) of an average grav oatmeal stout, bottle that, and then put your Imperial Stout on the yeast cake. The yeast in the cake will already be at (or probably above) the volume needed to ferment the big beer. In that case, no O2 needed. Cheers!

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amff

Thanks guys. There is where my confusion started. I was assuming the 6-9 in the fermenter. Where do you get the o2 tank filled?
Most of us use the red Bernz-O-Matic tanks you get in the welding/brazing dept at the hardware store.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonM
Oh and here's a trick if you don't have aeration equipment: the reason we aerate is because the yeast need it to reproduce. We use pure O2 because, for high grav beers, the yeast eed more O2 than there is in room air. So if you try to aerate using splashing, the yeast might not get enough O2 to finish the batch.

Solution? A big-arse starter. Also known as another batch. You can brew a 2.5 gallon (or whatever size you like) of an average grav oatmeal stout, bottle that, and then put your Imperial Stout on the yeast cake. The yeast in the cake will already be at (or probably above) the volume needed to ferment the big beer. In that case, no O2 needed. Cheers!
Great advice. Thanks.
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