I confess I am still a n00b, and I underpitched (and didn't use a starter) when I fermented this barley wine recipe I created: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/engl...edback-380039/
Basically, I was going to repitch some Scottish ale yeast, but when I took that brew out for bottling, I thought it might have a mild infection, so I tossed it. But I still had the barley wine wort ready to go, and I had to improvise. So I just bought two smack packs of the same yeast and threw them in. Obviously I should have used more. Consider the lesson learned, since I have now started making starters.
The question is what to do with the beer, though. Although the recipe I linked lists a calculated OG of 1.101, my OG was actually even higher--1.120--due to evaporation and trub and the consequential 4.2ish gallons I got. I transferred to a secondary after three weeks of fermentation and took a gravity reading (this was two days ago). It was 1.035. I also took a taste, and sure enough it was quite sweet (though certainly delicious). Visible signs of fermentation are nil; I haven't taken a second reading yet to verify no gravity change, but I can also do that. The temperature has not dropped below 66F at any time, and generally it's been more like 68-70F. The last week or so it's been 70-71F. Furthermore, this is a scottish yeast, and I know it can tolerate fairly low temperatures, so I doubt that it stopped due to low temperature.
The question now is how to get it down to the end, which I am hoping to be like 1.020. My grain bill did include some extract and did include some crystal, which surely contains non-fermentable sugars. And I mashed at 154F, so there was some unfermentable sugar created then, too. But I bet there is still plenty of fermentable sugar remaining.
Here are what I thought to be my two main options:
*pitch champagne yeast. Since it's a barley wine and should retain some residual sweetness, this seems like a decent option, since (to my understanding) it will attack only the relatively simple sugars and won't handle, e.g., maltose. It will also be fine operating at the 10% alcohol level already in there. But I worry this might not grab enough of the sugar.
*mix a starter of some more attenuative, alcohol-tolerant yeast, such as Wyeast 3711. I have two concerns on this, though. The first is that this could overly dry the beer out, since its attenuation could potentially be very high. The second is that the weird, estery profile of Saison yeast could interfere with the malty profile of the barley wine. I assume the strategy here would be to keep fermentation on the cooler end of the spectrum (definitely not above 70F).
I am of course totally open to other suggestions too. Anyway, I know I screwed up here, but I'm hoping the wisdom of the masses will help me salvage what is already a delicious (if sweet) beer.