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Old 05-19-2009, 05:18 PM   #1
Khirsah17
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Default High Gravity Beer Help

Hey guys,

I seem to have hit a snag in trying to brew up a high alcohol beer. You can probably guess, but yea, yeast crapped out super early. The OG was 1.150, and dropped down to only like 1.120. Damn. Trying to figure out what I can do.

Pretty simple recipe. 85% Maris Otter, with the remaining grain a mixture of munich and vienna. I mashed for 3 hours and had a 90 minute boil. I used White Labs Super High Gravity Yeast to handle the high sugar content. I made a starter for it, then used the starter to make a "lighter" beer of 7%ish. After that fermented out, I racked the big beer on top of the yeast cake. So I felt good about the yeast.

So it fermented a bit and died. I read some posts and tried adding some champagne yeast. I hydrated and added 4 packs (5 grams) of yeast to the beer, but nothing happened. No krausen or nothing. I imagine it just dropped out completely.

As of now, looks like my only option is to thin it out and make 2, 5 gallon batches and re-add yeast. Just seeing if anyone has any suggestions before I do this.

On a side note, since I imagine someone will bring this up, I didn't do step up additions based on some advice I got from Dogfish Head. I was there and talked to the brewer and he said they never do step up additions for their beers. They make it strong, then dump it on the yeast. They don't seem to have fermentation problems, so I figured I'd try it well on a smaller scale. Didn't work through, so I guess I'm not as good of a brewer yet!

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Old 05-19-2009, 05:49 PM   #2
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Sounds like while there's plenty of food for the yeasties there, you might not have enough O2 for them. Since your gravity is still pretty high, I'm wondering if it is OK to go ahead and try to add as much O2 as you can (from an aeration stone). Make sure the fermenter is in an area with a higher temperature range (since O2 and warmer temperatures encourage those yeasties to reproduce and binge). And since this is such a high gravity, I think you might also have to be concerned about Ph....you might want to try testing its Ph to make sure it's not too low already.

I'm not sure why you made a starter, and then poured this on trub of a 7% beer (that means that while there were more yeast cells produced, there's also quite a bit that were spent). Maybe next time try just a really big normal starter? For now, O2, warmer temps, and really swirling the yeast that's in there might do the trick.

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Old 05-19-2009, 06:03 PM   #3
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Oh yea, forgot to mention. I did oxygenate the heck out of this one. I have a stone hooked up to an oxygen tank.

I "think" I understand your starter comment. Just to clear up any confusion, I made the yeast starter for my 7% beer. Just a normal practice for me. After the 7% beer finished out, I racked it to the secondary on the same day that I made the big ass beer. I then racked the big beer on the trub of the 7% beer.

I had the fermentation fridge set at 66F, which I now realize probably was too low. Should bumped it up a couple degrees I guess.

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Old 05-19-2009, 06:06 PM   #4
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A 3 hour mash, huh? What temp was the mash? Did it really get stuck at 1.120 or 1.020?

I vote you ferment at 70+ degrees. Bring the temp up on your fermenter, shake the crap out of it to wake up your yeast and let us know what happens.

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Old 05-19-2009, 06:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khirsah17 View Post
Oh yea, forgot to mention. I did oxygenate the heck out of this one. I have a stone hooked up to an oxygen tank.

I "think" I understand your starter comment. Just to clear up any confusion, I made the yeast starter for my 7% beer. Just a normal practice for me. After the 7% beer finished out, I racked it to the secondary on the same day that I made the big ass beer. I then racked the big beer on the trub of the 7% beer.

I had the fermentation fridge set at 66F, which I now realize probably was too low. Should bumped it up a couple degrees I guess.
Wow, I would have thought dumping it on the yeast cake would have definitely helped make sure it finished out. I'm tempted to say to go ahead and brew another beer, put let it ferment for 2 weeks, then rack over the big beer on to that cake.
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Old 05-19-2009, 06:16 PM   #6
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Initial mash temp was roughly 150F. I had a lot of grain in the mash tun, so it was tough work stirring it up to make sure any temp gradient was minimal. I'm sure the temp dropped a bit over the course of the three hour mash time and the stirring every 20 minutes or so. Water to grain ratio was about 0.75 to get all the grain in there.

Unfortunately I can assure you this is at 1.120. Taste tests confirmed, as the sample was rich as all hell.

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Old 05-19-2009, 06:20 PM   #7
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Yep, I still vote warm it up, shake it, and let 'er rip. No reason it shouldn't be really rolling at 70*F.

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Old 05-19-2009, 06:54 PM   #8
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couple problems... its really hard, even on super high gravity yeast, to get dropped right into a 1.150 beer. I got up to 1.200 with that yeast, but I started with like a 1.095 malt bomb and added pounds of dextrose a day at a time to reach 1.200. I would have used two pills of servomyces, fermaid k, and goferm, along with a A LOT of oxygen. Root of the issue is the super high starting gravity I think.

From here... warm it up, add some nutrient, add more oxygen, stir it up, hope that it ferments.

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Old 05-20-2009, 11:48 PM   #9
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wow... you would think it would go like gang busters. hmmm... is the yeast completely bad? dead?

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