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Old 05-20-2012, 02:23 AM   #1
Vertra
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Default High gravity fermentation woes

So 2 weeks ago I brewed a 10 gallon batch of a Belgian quad with an OG of 1.108. I split the batch into 2, 7.9 gallon primary fermenters using 2 separate yeast strands. 1388, and 1762. I aerated them with pure oxygen for 4 minutes each. Each fermenter got a quarter gallon yeast starter prepared 3 days ahead of time. To be honest I did not know our OG would be this high because I was not using brew software at the time. Fermentation was violent to say the least for the first 8 days or so.

I assumed two weeks in the primary should be enough for any ale yeast to finish its business so I just went down to my basement to rack these monsters to secondary and to take gravity. I opened up the 1762 and began transferring into the carboy. After about 1 gallon had transferred i checked the gravity.

1.045.

Realizing my critical error, I quickly transferred everything back into the primary and resealed it. Right now I am worried that my yeast are crapping out on me so I am wondering what should be my next course of action. Do I wait another week or two? Should I pitch some high gravity yeast to clean up? Am I being overly paranoid? This is my first truly high gravity beer attempt and I am thinking my yeast starter was perhaps not large enough to create a viable yeast population to finish the job. I could settle for a FG that is a little too high... but this thing is a sugar bomb.

The temperature in my basement varies between 67 and 69 degrees so it should be ideal conditions for ale yeast to thrive.

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Old 05-20-2012, 03:14 AM   #2
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Yeah, wait another couple weeks, at least. Big beers take quite a bit of time to finish. Yes, you are being over paranoid.

You will probably need to wait at least about a month more, give or take, to have complete fermentation. Don't settle on a FG that is too high; rouse the yeast occasionally to ensure complete fermentation.

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Old 05-20-2012, 04:38 AM   #3
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By rousing the yeast do you mean stirring the cake back into suspension? Thank you for the response.

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Old 05-20-2012, 04:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vertra
By rousing the yeast do you mean stirring the cake back into suspension? Thank you for the response.
Just swirl the buckets to get it back in suspension. How much sugar was in your recipe? I would think ypu'd have gotten more attenuation than that.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:22 AM   #5
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What Temp did you mash at?

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Old 05-20-2012, 09:40 AM   #6
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Mashed at 155 for 80 minutes.

30 lbs Belgian pilsner
3 lbs Belgian Biscuit
2 lbs Belgian Special B
1 lbs Crystal 2
1 lbs chocolate wheat
1 lbs dark candi sugar

2oz target @ 60
2oz Styrian Goldings @ 60

mashed with 12 gallons at 155 degrees, had a 65 minute fly sparge, collected 15.5 gallons.

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Old 05-20-2012, 09:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coypoo View Post
Just swirl the buckets to get it back in suspension. How much sugar was in your recipe? I would think ypu'd have gotten more attenuation than that.
There is a ton of scum on the inside fermenter walls, doesnt this add harshness if it is added back in? Would it not be better to take a sanitized spoon to the cake on the bottom and get it all back up into suspension?
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Old 05-20-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
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Use a sanitized spoon and stir gently.

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Old 05-20-2012, 11:36 AM   #9
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you've got 7lbs of specialty malts and your mash temp is rather high for a high gravity belgian. I agree it needs more time, but I wouldn't expect your gravity to go very low. That recipe will leave quite a bit of unfermentables. You may want to add some basic table or corn sugar (about a pound) to help dry it out.

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Old 05-20-2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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A couple of comments from a different p.o.v.:
1. I've not had big beers take longer to ferment. My BW was 1.102 and fermented down to 1.020 in about five days. Same with my imperial red (1.094) and IIPA (1.092). I'd look to yeast health on this one. How was your starter fermentation? Was it one vial each? Did you check a yeast calculator? 1/4gal starter w/ one vial sounds woefully low.
2. What is the gravity on the other yeast/batch? If it fermented differently, that'd be a key piece of info.
3. The 7# of specialty malt shouldn't be that big a deal: first, it's a 15gal batch (EDIT: collected 15.5gal--did you really boil off 5.5gal to get a 10gal batch?!) so the ratio for 5gal is only about 2.3#; second, biscuit & crystal shouldn't add THAT much!
4. 155 does seem oddly high (I know Lagunitas does 156-8, but that doesn't translate to home systems so well)--maybe that is part of it?

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