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Old 01-26-2010, 03:10 AM   #1
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Default First big beer--have a few questions

I need some advice for my first "big" (bigger?) beer, the Bourbon Barrel Old Ale from Midwest. Per instructions, the SG is 1.070 - 1.072. I need a few questions answered....

1) Mr. Malty's pitching rate calculator recommends a starter of something like 3.2 liters, which sounds HUGE to me. Does this sound right? Would it be better to make the starter, ferment it out, chill, decant starter wort and pitch the slurry.

2) Instead of liquid yeast, I was thinking of using dry (S-04). Any thoughts on dry yeast and s-04 in particular, in this beer? I have 2 packs sitting around, and the pitching rate calc recommends 1.2 packs, roughly 14 grams.

3) There are some bourbon soaked oak cubes that go into the beer. Midwest recommends adding them in a secondary, however I would like to do this in the primary as primary fermentation starts to wind down--leave them in until ready to bottle after 3-4 weeks total in the primary. Do you think this would be ok? Does the Oak need more (or less) time in the beer?


Thanks for the continued great advice....

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Old 01-26-2010, 03:44 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mr_bell View Post
I need some advice for my first "big" (bigger?) beer, the Bourbon Barrel Old Ale from Midwest. Per instructions, the SG is 1.070 - 1.072. I need a few questions answered....

1) Mr. Malty's pitching rate calculator recommends a starter of something like 3.2 liters, which sounds HUGE to me. Does this sound right? Would it be better to make the starter, ferment it out, chill, decant starter wort and pitch the slurry.

2) Instead of liquid yeast, I was thinking of using dry (S-04). Any thoughts on dry yeast and s-04 in particular, in this beer? I have 2 packs sitting around, and the pitching rate calc recommends 1.2 packs, roughly 14 grams.

3) There are some bourbon soaked oak cubes that go into the beer. Midwest recommends adding them in a secondary, however I would like to do this in the primary as primary fermentation starts to wind down--leave them in until ready to bottle after 3-4 weeks total in the primary. Do you think this would be ok? Does the Oak need more (or less) time in the beer?


Thanks for the continued great advice....
1. That seems pretty big for 1.07, but hey mr. malty knows what's up. You really don't want to put the time and resources into trying to make a big beer and then risk it all over a stuck fermentation...

2. Dry yeast would be fine. I would still double pitch (and with as cheap as dry yeast is, why not) just to make sure you don't get stuck. Some people will tell you liquid yeast brings a better taste, but that's a matter of preference.

3. I would definitely do it in a secondary.
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:57 AM   #3
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I wouldn't leave the oak chips for more than a week. From what I have read, 1 week will leave it fairly oaky.

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Old 01-26-2010, 04:09 AM   #4
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Oak chips impart the flavor very quickly. I use about .5oz for 5 gals. Cubes work much slower, I don't remember exactly what the recommendaton is. There was a brewstrong episode about wood aging, which someone posted minutes from here. I don't have the link handy atm, but you whould be able to find it by searching "tips on wood aging".

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Old 01-26-2010, 03:14 PM   #5
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I too am going to be doing a NB Bourban Barrell Porter soon and have read into the oak stuff a little. From what I have read, the oak flavor will mellow with age. If you don't mind waiting you could always just do it all for a week and wait if it is too much. But I don't know for sure of course.

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Old 01-26-2010, 03:49 PM   #6
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I forgot to mention that I leave the beer on the oak chips for one week.

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Old 01-27-2010, 11:11 PM   #7
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3. I would definitely do it in a secondary.
Why in the secondary?
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mr_bell View Post
I need some advice for my first "big" (bigger?) beer, the Bourbon Barrel Old Ale from Midwest. Per instructions, the SG is 1.070 - 1.072. I need a few questions answered....

1) Mr. Malty's pitching rate calculator recommends a starter of something like 3.2 liters, which sounds HUGE to me. Does this sound right? Would it be better to make the starter, ferment it out, chill, decant starter wort and pitch the slurry.

2) Instead of liquid yeast, I was thinking of using dry (S-04). Any thoughts on dry yeast and s-04 in particular, in this beer? I have 2 packs sitting around, and the pitching rate calc recommends 1.2 packs, roughly 14 grams.

3) There are some bourbon soaked oak cubes that go into the beer. Midwest recommends adding them in a secondary, however I would like to do this in the primary as primary fermentation starts to wind down--leave them in until ready to bottle after 3-4 weeks total in the primary. Do you think this would be ok? Does the Oak need more (or less) time in the beer?


Thanks for the continued great advice....
You do not need a starter using dry yeast with that gravity. I would not even consider that a big beer. To me, big is 1.09 and up. Just proof the yeast.

Not sure about adding oak, beer should not taste like johny walker.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:12 AM   #9
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You do not need a starter using dry yeast with that gravity. I would not even consider that a big beer. To me, big is 1.09 and up. Just proof the yeast.

Not sure about adding oak, beer should not taste like johny walker.
It's a BIGGER beer, for me anyway, never brewed anything about 1.05.

I would definitely not make a starter with the dry yeast, would just re-hydrate the 14g as calc'd by the pitching rate calculator. In terms of this dry yeast, safale-04, just wondered if it would be good for the style. The recommended liquid is Wyeast 1028. I think I'm going to try the dry, seems much easier than making a 3.2L starter for liquid yeast, and I have it here.

As for the Oak, still in the process of figuring that out. Kit instructions recommend transferring to a secondary and adding the Oak, letting it age for up to 6 months. This seems way too long, and I normally don't do secondaries.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:23 AM   #10
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1. That seems pretty big for 1.07, but hey mr. malty knows what's up. You really don't want to put the time and resources into trying to make a big beer and then risk it all over a stuck fermentation...

2. Dry yeast would be fine. I would still double pitch (and with as cheap as dry yeast is, why not) just to make sure you don't get stuck. Some people will tell you liquid yeast brings a better taste, but that's a matter of preference.

3. I would definitely do it in a secondary.
Ditto. Secondary soaking will prevent the CO2 in a primary from carrying off the flavor and aroma you're after. One week should do fine.

Don't forget to aerate the sh!t out of the cooled wort and make sure to hydrate that safe-04 at the beginning of the brew process.
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