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Old 09-19-2013, 08:51 PM   #1
MrMooCow
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Default High ABV Braggot - WLP099 Help Needed

Hello! Long time mead maker, recent brewer. For my introduction to brewing, I thought I'd just jump straight into the fire. I teamed up with a friend who has been brewing beer for some 30 years. The Grand Experiemnt (TGE) was to create a Russian Imperial Stout based braggot. Grabbed a recipe off of here, which turned out to be /fabulous/ (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f68/russ...winner-238807/).

We took that recipe, and added a butt load of honey to it. As part of the experiment, the plan was to use multiple yeast strains to maximize the blending of the two styles (beer and mead). Also, to minimize stress on the yeasts, we had planned to step feed. The ultimate goal was to end up with something around 22% ABV. So it went something like this:

Phase 1: RIS base recipe, plus a bit of honey. Fermented from 1.075 to 1.02 using WLP002. Used Go-Ferm, DAP, and Fermaid-K to maximize yeast happiness.

Phase 2: Rack off WLP002. Add equal parts buckwheat and clover honey to bring the specific gravity back up to 1.075. Pitched Lalvin D47. Fermented from 1.073 to 1.016. Used Go-Ferm, DAP, and Fermaid-K to maximize yeast happiness.

Phase 3: Rack off D47. Add equal parts buckwheat and clover honey to bring specific gravity up to 1.090. Pitch WLP099. Used Go-Ferm, DAP, and Fermaid-K to maximize yeast happiness.

Phase 1 and 2 went spectacularly. Just as planned, the TGE was starting to move from the realm of "mad scientist ideas" to "really good things we repeat". Phase 3 has been an utter failure.

I've pitched WLP099 twice now, with absolutely no result. The first was just a Go-Ferm bath, then toss it in. Nothing. Second time, I did a Go-Ferm bath, plus a starter culture (a couple of cups of wort at 1.050, plus some DAP and FK). Starter culture was going gang buster, so much so that it frightened the cat. That seemed to be a good sign, so I pitched it in the TGE. *splash* was the last sound I heard from the yeast, 5 days ago.

The ambient in my ferment room is about 67, if it matters.

So any suggestions on how to proceed, as well as what went wrong? I'd like to figure out a way to finish this thing off, even if the product is a little less than stellar for all the multiple yeast drops in Phase 3.

My next idea is to move the TGE upstairs to a warmer climate, somewhere around 72. I could take it another level up and probably get it to an ambient of 75. Stir, kick the yeast back up, see if just being a bit warmer doesn't wake them up a bit.

If that doesn't work, I figured I'd try pitching Wyeast "Eau de Vie" at the warmer temperature, see if it will take. Same as before, Go-Ferm, Dap, FK, a starter culture, etc.

Thanks for your help. I still think this has a lot of potential, if I can just work the bugs out.

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Old 09-19-2013, 09:37 PM   #2
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What I keep reading about that particular yeast is 1) increase pitching rate by 4x the usual, 2) provide plenty of nutrient [double dose] for the batch, 3) provide oxygen over first several days. AND THIS IS IN A BATCH STARTING WITH NO ALCOHOL.

1) You are "starting" with a 1.090 batch, and assuming 5 gallons, would require about 300 billion yeast cells, and by going with the suggested 4x multiplier you are looking at needing about 1200 billion yeast cells (about 12 vials in perfect condition). You've pitched 2 vials (one in a starter) so let's assume 3 vials. This means you're about 9 vials (or 900 billion yeast cells) short, but I would have to guess the cells you've already pitched as dead so let's say you need 1200.

2) Your phase 2 starting point was all honey with normal nutrient additions - fermented so nutrients are all used up. Phase 3 is all honey with normal nutrient additions - not fermented so assume single dose nutrients are still available. Upon pitching new yeast cells I would include another single dose nutrient addition (to make a total of double dose additions available to the yeast)

3) Oxygen over first several days - this is the catch. It's said to be bad to oxygenate alcoholic beverage due to oxidation and I think that's true in this case. This means you need to get the yeast what what they need prior to going into the beer. This could be by means of oxygenating the starter with plenty of pure O2 but not so much as to kill them, or take an alternative route and try the olive oil route (basically one drop of olive oil in your yeast slurry, shaken up, and left for several hours prior to pitching).

In addition to this, you'll be putting the yeast in an environment that's toxic to them therefore you can't expect them to perform in any kind of normal way. I would not expect ANY reproduction to take place, nor would I expect much nutrient uptake to take place (or at least for a very short time).

Putting this altogether, here's a couple ideas I have on how to proceed using wlp099 (mind you, I've never attempted this so this may fail miserably):

Create multi-stepped starter with a new vial of wlp099. Each step has appropriate amount of nutrients added for starter size as well as sufficient O2, and stirred on stir plate. I'm imagining 4 steps total (1L, 2L, 3L, 4L); each one is crashed and decanted. **alternative_below** After final step, yeast is added to a single liter of starter wort with remaining single dose yeast nutrient plus sufficient oxygen, and allowed to start krausening. Once high krausen is near (I'm guessing within an hour or four), entire starter is pitched into your 67F braggot stout. I'm guessing that building this starter up to the final pitching stage will be 7-10 days with crashing/decanting periods, but I think this is fine because your have 15+% ABV already in your brew protecting it.

**alternative**You may chose to use the "one drop of sterile olive oil" in your decanted slurry prior to putting in the 1L starter wort, and not use O2.

I would expect that yeast cells will begin to die off immediately upon pitching, hopefully slowly, but that they'll consume the remaining sugars during this process (thus the reason for such a huge pitching starter).

In all honesty, I think you are on the bleeding edge here and don't expect great success. If you manage to yield a 20+% ABV fermented beverage withOUT some kind of distillation or fortification then my hat's off to you.

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Old 09-24-2013, 06:55 PM   #3
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HOLD THE PHONES

After replying in another thread, I've realized that you used D47 on Phase 2. D-47 is a "killer" yeast (i.e. a yeast the releases a toxin during fermentation that's lethal to most other yeast). In addition to the stressful environment of your current brew, I now believe your bigger obstacle will be finding a yeast that is not susceptible to the toxin from D47.

You would need to find another yeast that can tolerate the environment AND is "neutral" to the toxin released by D-47.

Here's a chart of Lallemand yeast and it's 'Competitive factor' (i.e. killer factor). Once you've got the toxin in your brew you can only expect "neutral" yeast to survive.
http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php

It looks like Uvaferm 43 is a "neutral" yeast that can tolerate 18+% ABV. I suspect it will be hard to find and still will not reach to your final goal.
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Old 09-24-2013, 07:12 PM   #4
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If you want to finish this, make an acclimated starter of one of the following yeast: Uvaferm43, DV10, EC1118, or KIV-1116. All of these have a competative factor, are relatively clean at 75 F and below, and have 18% ABV tolerance. Uvaferm 43 is the undisputed champion of restarting stuck fermentations. You can get it at morewine.com.

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