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Old 11-18-2011, 05:18 PM   #1
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Default First Old/Strong Ale. Final gravity too high?

Hi all. I'm a relatively inexperienced brewer, but I've brewed a half dozen or so partial mash-in-a-bag batches thanks to DeathBrewer's tutorial (among other helpful posts here). I recently made a holiday spiced ale based on Jamil's Ol' Yule Loggy recipe in Brewing Classic Styles. It's the first high gravity beer I've done. Here's the recipe (FYI, I ferment in Mr. Beers, so my recipes are 2.4-2.5 gallons):
Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.40 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.15 gal
Estimated OG: 1.080 SG
Estimated FG: 1.017 SG
Estimated Color: 27.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 53.1 IBUs
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
4 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)           Grain         1        62.7 %        
6.1 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM)    Grain         2        6.0 %         
3.0 oz                Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          Grain         3        3.0 %         
0.38 oz               Magnum [14.00 %] - First Wort 70.0 min   Hop           4        43.9 IBUs     
0.25 oz               Fuggles [4.50 %] - First Wort 70.0 min   Hop           5        9.3 IBUs      
1 lbs 8.0 oz          Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)        Dry Extract   6        23.5 %        
0.50 tsp              Spice Mix (Boil 1.0 mins)                Spice         7        -             
5.0 oz                Molasses [Boil for 1 min](80.0 SRM)      Sugar         8        4.9 %         
1.0 pkg               Nottingham (Danstar #-) [23.66 ml]       Yeast         9        -
I mashed at 155, +/- about 1 degree for 60 mins. Boil was 90 mins (took out the hops after 70 mins). OG was 1.087.

I pitched my yeast at 68F or so, and it took off like a shot. Too fast, in fact. When I checked the temp that night it was around 70, and by the next morning, it had shot up to 74-75. I finally got the temps under control by the end of the second day, and it's been cruising along at 64-66 ever since. Based on the aggressiveness of the fermentation, I checked the SG at 10 days, and it was 1.027. I checked again after 21 days and it was still 1.027 (I know my OG came in high, but the attenuation was still substantially less than the 78% predicted by the recipe). The hydrometer samples taste fine, as I am going for a sweeter beer with a good amount of mouthfeel.

I generally am pretty good about RDWHAHB-ing; the one thing that really concerns me as a novice brewer is bottle bombs. If the SG is stable for 10 days to a week, should I bottle this batch up and just put the high final gravity down to a learning experience? Or do I need to be worried about this beer getting over-carbed once the priming sugar and slightly warmer temps wake the yeasties up? Should I bring the fermenter up to 70 to see if fermentation starts up again?

Thanks in advance for reading, and for any advice. This site and its contributors are a tremendous resource.


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Old 11-18-2011, 05:25 PM   #2
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Warm the fermenter up (if you have a heating pad, put it around the fermenter and give it a gentle swirl with it still closed to kick up some yeast. The leave it a few more weeks to see if it drops any more. If it doesn't then you're more than likely done. A high gravity isn't a gaurentee of bottle bombs if the beer is truly done. I have an og 1.170 beer that is finished at 1.040 (17.5%) and I'm not afraid of bottling because after a year in tertiary I know it's not moving.
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Old 11-18-2011, 05:42 PM   #3
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Here's the numbers from the BJCP guidelines for strong ale,old ale 19A;
So letting it warm up with a gentle swirl can knock off a few points.
My #3 Burton ale was OG1.065,& stopped at 1.020. I felt like I should do the same as related here. Knocked off .002 points. Stayed at FG1.018 for another week,so I bottled it last Sunday. A little hazy,but smells & tasted OK for a strong/old ale 19A as well.
Just pulled a bottle for a look-see,& it's cleared nicely already. Looks like it'll keep that rusty golden brown color so far. I primed it to 2.2V,as the English & Scottish strong ale category has a max of 2.3V according to tasty brew's calculator.
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