Fixing / Improving a weak batch to a GREAT batch - aka Beer Rescue

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musicbymark

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DON'T THROW OUT THAT WEAK BEER!!!! RE-BREW IT!

I had fantastic results using this method. I think variations of this method it could work with almost any style, whether all-grain or extract, as long as you use an alcohol-tolerant yeast.

I organize group extract brewings in garages, up to 5 or 6 Bayou / Turkey burners and kettles going. I'm always answering questions, helping grind grains, measure hops, etc. --distracting me from my kettle.

Somehow my last 10 gal. batch of Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout clone (in 2 corny kegs) came out really light and weak. I was neither willing to throw it out or force myself to drink 10 gal. of weak beer I was too embarrassed to give away.

METHOD:
I took approx. 2-1/4 gallons of this weak beer from each (4.5 gal. total) corny keg and put it in my brew kettle, along with (approximately):

2 oz. KENT GOLDING
2 cups SUCROSE (table sugar)
12 oz. MOLASSES
8 oz. BLACK ROASTED BARLEY
12oz. CHOCOLATE MALT

(I also added 4 shots of espresso from my machine)

I did a 60 min boil --yes, I basically re-brewed, using BEER instead of water.
I added around 1 gallon of filtered tap water when I chilled the beer/wort, and poured it back onto the original NOTTINGHAM yeast bed (from both fermenters combined into one pale) in a fermenter.

Fermentation took off that night aggressively and came to a pretty sharp halt around 1 to 2 days later. It's possible all those yeast quickly devoured the fermentables, but also possible that the alcohol content climbed so high it killed off the yeast, though Nottingham has a fairly high tolerance for ABV. I let it go around 12-14 days and re-kegged it, adding around 3 shots of Everclear.

RESULTS: Good as ever - great oatmeal stout, heavy sigh of relief, & hefty stout supply for the Fall.
 

FatDragon

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With a 60 minute boil, you boiled away virtually all of the alcohol from the original brewing. Two cups of sucrose (a bit less than a pound, I think) and 12 oz of molasses in 5 gallons of beer is enough for roughly 2% ABV in your rebrewed stout - there's no diastatic power in the grains you used so you shouldn't get any alcohol contribution from them. Still, nothing wrong with that if you like it.

If you want to beef up a beer like that in the future, you'd probably be better off brewing all of those ingredients in 2-4 liters of regular old water and adding them to the weak beer to referment, or even fermenting them separately and then adding to the weak beer after fermentation. No need to boil the whole batch, which drives off the alcohol from your first fermentation and risks heavy oxidation as well.
 
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