So, after having a really good experience brewing a Belgian Dark Strong last year, I'm approaching another, this time tweaking it in a couple ways that I'm anticipating could make for a stuck fermentation if I'm not careful. I was wondering if people would weigh in with techniques?
My plan is to mash the following at around 152 deg. F:
10 lbs pale
2 lbs special "B"
2 lbs toasted, flaked corn
Then, at some point, I intend to add 6 lbs honey, caramelized over the stovetop as if I were making a Bochet instead of using candi syrup. According to my brew program, the OG is anticipated around 1.101.
The last time I made a dark strong, I added the sugars later, just as the primary fermentation began to calm down. This time, I'm thinking of doing so again with the honey by boiling the grain-based wort down to 4 gal, then diluting the caramelized honey (which has to be re-dissolved in water anyway) with water to make 1 gal by volume, to bring the total up to 5 gal.
1) I'm thinking of starting out primary fermentation by pitching a starter made from a vial of White Labs belgian yeast, probably Abbey Style Ale. How big a starter should I be looking at?
2) Is it a good idea to add the honey later, as I've suggested? Or, is it more trouble than it's worth? Worse, am I risking something by adding 1 gal of must to the wort at that stage? Would I be better of seperately fermenting the honey, say with a separate pitch of a neutral yeast like champaign yeast, then combine the beer and the de-facto mead in secondary?
3) Yeast nutrient? I've made minimal use of this in the past, and then only DAP, not Servomyces or anything like that. When is this called for, when do I add it, etcetera?
4) Any other techniques I should consider?