High Gravity Imperial Stout and low attenuation

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Thehopman

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Hi there,

I just brewed my first big double mash imperial stout. My OG was 1150, and after 2 months I am actually at 1050, so about 64% attenuation and 13% ABV (I was short on the yeast to be honest, long story but I brew with a friend on his gear and it was a last minute thing, we ended up with only a small starter so a cell count a bit below what we should have, mix of liquid Wyeast 1028 and US05).

I was actually aiming for a rather sweet stout (but obviously not cough syrup either), and around 14 to 15% ABV. 13% ABV is fine, but even if my buddy tasted it today and says he is very happy with it, these numbers are definitely troubling me.

What's your take? Do you think that's gonna be way too sweet and I should in no way bottle that?

If I shouldn't, after 2 months and zero activity at this point, how should I proceed?

If bottling right away is an option, what's my best bet for refermentation in the bottle (again, that's my first high gravity beer and I am thinking of the fact that the yeast stopped his job before planned)?


Thanks for your inputs.
 

day_trippr

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Fermentis US-05 has a listed alcohol tolerance of 9-11%, wy1028 11%.
I got US-05 up to 15% with a huge-effin'-moungous pitch once, never tried that again.
With an underpitch I'm not surprised it flatlined early.

You can save that batch in at least two different ways: brew a light porter using the same grains and blend it with the syrupy stout; or you can hit it with some Amyloglucosidase enzyme (or one of the other enzymes commonly used for "brut" IPAs) to chop up the dextrins and toss in some higher-tolerance yeast (wlp099, for example).

In any case, bottle conditioning may require a high tolerance yeast - like a champagne yeast - to survive well enough to do the job...

Cheers!
 

Braufessor

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Depends on what you are shooting for..... some of the most popular really big RIS beers - such as Toppling Goliath or Three Floyds Dark Lord end with FG in that range for sure. In particular, when those big breweries barrel age a RIS, the overly high FG is a plus when it goes into a barrel as the alcohol and oak can "thin" the beer out. When I brew my annual RIS - I purposely aim for a FG in the 1.040 range at least. I tend to add things like coffee, bourbon, oak to them.... all of those things tend to cut that sweetness with acidity and thinning of oak or alcohol.

I add those things to the keg and force carbonate before bottling.
 
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Thehopman

Thehopman

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I was aiming around 1042 or so (about 14%, and I'm at about 13), and yes I was kind of looking to go in that big RIS direction (BCBS/Toppling Goliath/...). The plan is to add coffee before bottling so that might balance the sweetness a little, but I guess adding a champagne or wine yeast is a must if I want some carbonation in the bottle at this point, no other way around it.
 

Braufessor

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I was aiming around 1042 or so (about 14%, and I'm at about 13), and yes I was kind of looking to go in that big RIS direction (BCBS/Toppling Goliath/...). The plan is to add coffee before bottling so that might balance the sweetness a little, but I guess adding a champagne or wine yeast is a must if I want some carbonation in the bottle at this point, no other way around it.
I would be concerned about putting a champagne yeast into a bottle with 1.04+ beer....., especially if you think you are going to add priming sugar too. It is one thing to have a beer finish out with a yeast and add priming sugar to the same beer with the same yeast. However, throwing an entirely new yeast into a beer with a high FG...... that gets really hard to figure out where it would go from there. If I did that, I would be sampling it after a couple weeks and as soon as it got to the approximate carbonation I was looking for, I would put it all in the fridge at 33 degrees to put the clamps on the yeast from over carbonating the beer.
 

madscientist451

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these numbers are definitely troubling me.

how should I proceed?
Don't worry about numbers, how does it taste?
The original post mentioned cough syrup, is it really that bad?
If so, bottling won't help.
Go back and taste it again, try to decide what you don't like about it.
If you really don't like it, I'd do as someone else said, brew another beer and blend it.
 

day_trippr

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Champagne yeast can't ferment what's left after a decent ale yeast fermentation - it works real well on fruit sugars in high alcohol environments (ie: priming sugar in a big ass stout), not so much on maltose/maltotriose/etc. Which is why it's often used for bottle conditioning...

Cheers!
 
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Thehopman

Thehopman

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Don't worry about numbers, how does it taste?
The original post mentioned cough syrup, is it really that bad?
If so, bottling won't help.
Go back and taste it again, try to decide what you don't like about it.
If you really don't like it, I'd do as someone else said, brew another beer and blend it.
The fermenter is at my friend (where I brewed) right now, and he says it tastes fine. But I figured that if the yeast isn't working/healthy anymore, simply adding priming sugar for bottling won't change anything, am I wrong?
 
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Easycreeper

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I've made a few beers like this and have gotten stuck pretty high as well. The last couple I've resorted to pitching a secondary yeast to finish the job. Currently, I have a barleywine with OG 1.146 (step fed) that's down to 1.024 according to the Tilt hydrometer - which is sometimes a couple points off.

WLP099 is supposed to be the go to yeast in this case, but I've had little success with it actually doing anything. Even had trouble with it getting over ~14% as a primary strain, step feeding with simple sugars. For a yeast that's supposedly tolerant of up to 25% ABV, its awfully difficult to work with.

TYB's Dry Belgian on the other hand just doesn't seem to care what you throw it into. It just chews through everything and I've had good luck with it up to 16%. Flavor profile doesn't match the RIS style, but the richness of the grain bill and some time should largely mask it. Started using it at the suggestion from several forum members.

One other trick I use is swirling the carboy to release CO2 throughout fermentation. Goes against common belief about introducing oxygen after the start of fermentation, but CO2 is apparently toxic to yeast at a certain level of concentration.

TL;DR: Try TYB Dry Belgian and give the carboy a swirl. Be prepared to feed it sugar as things slow down to maintain the FG you're looking for.
 

hottpeper13

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The Dry Belgian is my go to for RIS, I barrel age mine. Just know that it has the STA-1 gene and will ferment 4 link sugars. If you pitch this at high krausen it should bring it down ,just give it enough time. Mine start at 1.112 and finish at 1.016 in about 4 weeks primary, then into a barrel where it looses ~.006 points every time. I would put that bad boy in a barrel for 8 mo or so. With the grain bill being so complex for this style a low phenolic Belgian isn't noticeable. I love Dark Truth Stout from Boulevard and that was may inspiration.
 

madscientist451

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The fermenter is at my friend (where I brewed) right now, and he says it tastes fine. But I figured that if the yeast isn't working/healthy anymore, simply adding priming sugar for bottling won't change anything, am I wrong?
Taste it yourself and think it over a while. I'm not ready to agree that the yeast isn't healthy/not working. Any chance you mashed higher than you should have? A high mash temperature can create a beer with a high FG. Did you add any extract to bring up the SG?
Aging in the carboy for a few more weeks or months isn't going to hurt anything. I've found most of my high ABV beers are better after a few months. Perhaps try to bottle 3-4 beers using the sugar cube trick, keep them at warm room temperature about 10 days, then chill them down and see if they carbed up. If you do it today, you can sample the beers on New Years. If it carbs up, and it tastes ok, bottle the rest of it.
Again, hitting all your numbers is a good thing, but in the end having a beer you enjoy is more important.
 

isomerization

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I would not recommend adding any enzymes or STA1-positive yeast if your goal is a thick mouthfeel type of stout.

If you’re concerned about how the wine yeast will react with your beer, I’d add a sachet and let it go in primary until stabilized (maybe nothing happens or maybe it drops 10 points, hard to say). Then you can feel confident when bottle conditioning.
 

Braufessor

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Champagne yeast can't ferment what's left after a decent ale yeast fermentation - it works real well on fruit sugars in high alcohol environments (ie: priming sugar in a big ass stout), not so much on maltose/maltotriose/etc. Which is why it's often used for bottle conditioning...

Cheers!
I don't have a lot of experience with champagne yeast, so if that is the case, sounds good then.
 

isomerization

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Champagne yeast can't ferment what's left after a decent ale yeast fermentation - it works real well on fruit sugars in high alcohol environments (ie: priming sugar in a big ass stout), not so much on maltose/maltotriose/etc. Which is why it's often used for bottle conditioning...

Cheers!
This is assuming that his primary yeast hasn’t stalled out though (say from ABV tolerance), right?

Not disagreeing with the inability to ferment of complex sugars, FYI.
 
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Thehopman

Thehopman

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Taste it yourself and think it over a while. I'm not ready to agree that the yeast isn't healthy/not working. Any chance you mashed higher than you should have? A high mash temperature can create a beer with a high FG. Did you add any extract to bring up the SG?
Aging in the carboy for a few more weeks or months isn't going to hurt anything. I've found most of my high ABV beers are better after a few months. Perhaps try to bottle 3-4 beers using the sugar cube trick, keep them at warm room temperature about 10 days, then chill them down and see if they carbed up. If you do it today, you can sample the beers on New Years. If it carbs up, and it tastes ok, bottle the rest of it.
Again, hitting all your numbers is a good thing, but in the end having a beer you enjoy is more important.
I mashed at 68°celsius (154°F). That's actually good advice, I might do that to try at new year and see what happens.

1 sugar cube/12oz bottle?
 

dipsomanic

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With a beer that big, you should have done a 1.040 to 1.050 beer first and used the yeast cake on this big, bad boy. Also, oxygenate (with oxygen, not shaking the bucket for a few seconds). And then wait like 6 to 8 weeks. If you add yeast now, it will be a crap shoot what you end up with. If you like the taste, I'd age it in a glass carboy for about a year and drink it then. It will probably drop several points more.
 

SteveLupoMax

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Depends on what you are shooting for..... some of the most popular really big RIS beers - such as Toppling Goliath or Three Floyds Dark Lord end with FG in that range for sure. In particular, when those big breweries barrel age a RIS, the overly high FG is a plus when it goes into a barrel as the alcohol and oak can "thin" the beer out. When I brew my annual RIS - I purposely aim for a FG in the 1.040 range at least. I tend to add things like coffee, bourbon, oak to them.... all of those things tend to cut that sweetness with acidity and thinning of oak or alcohol.

I add those things to the keg and force carbonate before bottling.
Hi
sorry for jumping on an old thread. What yeast do you use for primary? and cell count? I would like to brew a 12% stout with FG 1.040
 

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