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Old 05-02-2013, 05:42 AM   #1
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Default Fermenting a Big Beer

So, how exactly is brewing and fermenting a big beer different opposed to a "small" beer?
I've heard it can be harder, but how much harder? Yesterday I brewed an Imperial Rye IPA with an OG of 1.122. As of now, the airlock shows fermentation. Will it keep on going as my others have, or will it just stop? What can I expect? What can go wrong? How easy will it be to save it if things go wrong?

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Old 05-02-2013, 05:44 AM   #2
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This may be in the wrong place, will move if I need to.


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Old 05-02-2013, 06:21 AM   #3
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What strain yeast did u use? And what sized carboy? For something that big i'd keep a blowoff tube close by just in case. Especially if ur using less then a 6 gallon carboy.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:47 PM   #4
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I wouldn't call it "harder" - hey the yeast are doing all the work, not you! .

But there are a few tricks:
- if you mash high, you could get a very unfermentable wort that finishes really high, possibly excessively sweet depending on your goal.
- not uncommon for attenuation to drop, again leaving a relatively sweet beer.
- pitch a big yeast starter. Use mrmalty or yeastcalc.
- may want to aerate again, after either 12 or 24 hours, I forget the timing offhand.
- may want to warm up slightly as fermentation slows, just to help the yeast out. IME, optional.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:12 PM   #5
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I have a 6.5 gallon bucket and I only got 4 gallons out of this batch. I didn't mash high(temp I'm assuming?). If anything I was a few degrees under my target. I did not make a yeast starter, I used Wyeast 1056. I also have some champagne yeast, should I throw a little of that in as well?

My main concern right now is the airlock. I've been told multiple times that it doesn't really mean anything, but activity has slowed down a bit. It's been 24 hours since I pitched the yeast. About 10 hours in it was slowly bubbling. Now it's even slower.

I know I probably shouldn't worry about it, but I can't help it.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:43 PM   #6
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Well, you drastically underpitched if you didn't make a starter, so the yeast probably aren't too happy. If it's only been 24 hrs since pitching, I would definitely re-aerate. And pitch another smack pack of 1056.

Regarding airlock bubbles, that's just dogma here because so many folks use buckets. Is your airlock reliable for your equipment? I use glass carboys and orange caps, and in many dozens of batches, my airlock has been 100% reliable. But buckets are leak-prone.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:46 PM   #7
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I won't be able to make it out the the store to get more yeast, so that's out of the question. I'll re-aerate though.
My airlock has been pretty reliable so far.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:55 PM   #8
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how much yeast did you pitch, and how much did you aerate? those are the two things that most people get wrong on their first big beer.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:03 PM   #9
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One smack pack of yeast with no starter is likely going to give attenuation issues with a massive OG of 1.122. Adding more yeast now may help, but it will get increasingly more difficult as the alcohol begins to rise.

A barleywine or RIS can still be very tasty with a FG north of 1.030. I don't imagine an IPA would.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:22 PM   #10
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Can I just let this yeast run its course and re pitch in a week or so?


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