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Old 12-20-2011, 12:45 AM   #1
dlm3
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Default Help save my first Big Beer!!

So, this is going to be another stuck/incomplete fermentation thread.. Here are my brewing notes:
11/27/2011
• Brewed Norther Brewer Imperial Stout kit plus 4 oz each of 60, 90, and 120L Crystal malt
• OG = 1.088 for 4.5 gallons (planning on adding ½ gallon of cold brewed coffee, SB Christmas blend espresso roast) in two days.
• Re-pitched ~3 ladles full of yeast sludge from Big Honkin’ Stout primary
• Pitched around 63/64F, active fermentation started within a few hours
• Ground ~4 to 5 oz of Starbucks Christmas Blend Espresso Roast and cold brewed in 64 oz growler in fridge for 2 days

11/29/2011
• Strained coffee into pot and boiled for ~20 minutes
• Added .75 lbs light DME @ 20 min
• Added .5 lbs each of light brown sugar and buckwheat honey @ 5 min
• Chilled then poured into fermenter
• Aerated fermenter for ~7 minutes with air pump/diffusion stone
• Calculated total OG with honey, light brown sugar and DME added ~= 1.093

12/2/2011
• Active fermentation has ceased

12/3/2011
• Cut, split and scraped 3 Madagascar vanilla beans in 12 oz jar with 2 oz medium-plus toasted oak cubes and filled with (~5-6 oz) Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon).

12/10/2011
• Racked to secondary on top of bourbon and oak cubes, removed vanilla beans before adding.One bean half fell in secondary and about 8 oak cubes were lost.
• FG = 1.034

So obviously the 1.034 FG is much higher than expected/hoped for. I used a digital temp controller on a fridge and kept things pretty constant, even slowly raised temps a few degrees as active fermentation was slowing. I used White Labs 007 Dry English yeast, harvested from two previous batches (each brewed one week prior). I wasn't very precise in my repitching, but I think I put a pretty good amount of harvested yeast (3 ladles-ful ~= 12 oz of slurry.) I don't know if it all just flocculated out after the simple sugars were gone or what?

Now that it's in secondary, I was planning on aging it for 6-8+ months. It was racked onto the bourbon soaked oak cubes (also soaked w/ cut & scraped Madagascar vanilla beans.) If it wasn't for this, I'd probably pitch more yeast now to try and get it lower.

Instead, my leading plan is to wait until I'm done aging (6 to 8 months from now), and then pitch maybe two packets worth of rehydrated Nottingham, hooping that will complete the fermentation. Then rack that to another carboy after two or three weeks, give it another month or so to settle, then bottle (and enjoy!)

Any cons to this approach or other suggestions? I've got more invested in this batch and any before and had/have high hopes!

Thanks!
-D.L.

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Old 12-20-2011, 02:48 AM   #2
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Deal with the gravity question now, do not wait till later. The vanilla and bourbon will still be in there.

WLP007 likes to be above 65F. Do you have it there. I'd push it to 70 nor even higher to see if i could get anything more out of it.

If it doesn't move, I would try pitching an active starter of another yeast.

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:00 AM   #3
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Yeah, you had 6 good days of fermentation so try just upping the temp like Calder said.

Also, be careful boiling brewed coffee, it can make it disgustingly bitter.

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Old 12-20-2011, 04:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlm3 View Post
12/2/2011
• Active fermentation has ceased
This looks like the problem. At 3 days, you might have been mostly done, but it clearly wasn't completely done. I hate to be Captain Obvious, but you probably should have taken that gravity reading and assessed matters before adding 6oz of strong bourbon. I guess it's not a whole lot of extra alcohol, but it surely didn't help matters with it being near 8% at that point before the bourbon.

You an try rousing and raising the temps, and go the wlp099 route if that doesn't work. That's be my advice. Next time, give a 1.093 beer at least 3 weeks, not 3 days, before adding spirits. Better yet, do it at bottling. The other thing that comes to mind is, with all the tannins you're going to get from the oak and whiskey, this beer won't taste as sweet as you think it may. Let taste be your guide rather than numbers.

Oh, and never boil coffee if you like your tastebuds. Cold steep for this kind of thing.
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