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High Gravity Stout Fermentation

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DMBrew

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I brewed my own recipe that started with Northern Brewers Dragon's Silk extract kit as the base recipe. (See recipe here: https://www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/beerkits/DragonsSilk.pdf) My intention was to add lactose, bourbon soaked vanilla beans cocoa nibs and medium toast oak cubes to make it a little tastier. I bought everything from my LHBS. With 1lb lactose in boil, I ended up with an OG of 1.120 - needless to say, higher than expected. I pitched 2 smack packs of Wyeast American Ale, transferred to secondary after airlock stopped, added bourbon soaked nibs, beans, cubes. At 8 weeks out, I get consistent gravity readings of 1.030 - still a bit high? This is actually better than I thought with the yeast I used (tolerance of ~11%). Samples taste pretty good, and not too sweet nor boozy for my liking. I'd like to bottle, but can also keg.

My questions: Should I add yeast now, later? What type of yeast (high alc tolerant, champagne, etc.)? If bottling, is there any need for priming sugar if there are still fermentable sugars present? Should I let it age in secondary for a few months? If I do, should I transfer to remove additions? If samples taste good, should I just keg, carbonate and be done?

I'm leaning toward kegging soon to avoid screwing it up and/or bottle bombs. Sorry for the multifaceted questions, but any expertise helps!
 
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flars

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What was the specific gravity just before you racked to a secondary vessel? An airlock not bubbling doesn't mean the fermentation is done. The high FG could be from the pound of lactose or incomplete and stalled fermentation. I would keg this one when it tastes right to avoid any fermentation that could possibly restart in bottles.

Yeast starters can save you money and propagate healthy viable yeast for your fermentation using a single pack.
 

xpops

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the attentuation for 001 is listed as 73-80%, and you hit 75% so i'd say you're pretty much done. that's a really high OG so that FG makes sense...will probably make for a really nice beer!

i wouldnt add any more yeast. and if kegging to either serve or bottle after force carbing, there's no need to add extra sugars either.

If going to age first (usually to round out the high alcohol taste, which you dont seem to have?), make sure you purge your secondary vessel first.
 
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DMBrew

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What was the specific gravity just before you racked to a secondary vessel? An airlock not bubbling doesn't mean the fermentation is done. The high FG could be from the pound of lactose or incomplete and stalled fermentation. I would keg this one when it tastes right to avoid any fermentation that could possibly restart in bottles.

Yeast starters can save you money and propagate healthy viable yeast for your fermentation using a single pack.
According to my notes it was 1.036 into secondary. I did dump 12oz of bourbon into it as well, so I'm guessing that helped to bring it down along with a little more fermentation in secondary?

Thanks for the helpful info! I'll probably keg and reply with how it turned out.
 
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DMBrew

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the attentuation for 001 is listed as 73-80%, and you hit 75% so i'd say you're pretty much done. that's a really high OG so that FG makes sense...will probably make for a really nice beer!

i wouldnt add any more yeast. and if kegging to either serve or bottle after force carbing, there's no need to add extra sugars either.

If going to age first (usually to round out the high alcohol taste, which you dont seem to have?), make sure you purge your secondary vessel first.
Awesome. Thank you! I'm still a newbie so confirmation that I'm not totally screwing up really helps. Do you think there is any advantage to kegging, purging and letting it sit in the keg?
 

xpops

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do you mean to bulk age in the keg? you certainly could do that. but to be honest, if you like how it tastes and dont think it would benefit from sitting for a few months...drink it up!

If going to bulk age in the keg, there's probably not much point in force carbing it until ready to drink/bottle/serve it. The question is, do you want to tie up a keg to bulk age a beer, when you could use a carboy...people usually have more carboys than kegs laying around.
 

Kent88

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If you can keg that seems like a good idea. If you can let it age for a while, that should be helpful as well.
 
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DMBrew

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Yes, I meant aging in the keg over low CO2 at cellar temp for a few months. To be honest, I'm not really sure if and how aging will improve this beer if done in this way, so it would be mostly to make it sound cooler when I serve it up to friends. Ha! Thanks for the feedback.
 

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1.030 is prety much spot on where I myself feel this kind of beer should sit. When bulk aging in a keg make sure you have enough pressure in the keg. If not the beer can absorb so much pressure that you'll lose the tight seal of the lid. you'll still have overpressure but oxygen doesn't care about overpressure. It just diffuses in through the rubber seal.
 
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DMBrew

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Just wanted to update... This beer finished with fantastic results. I ended up "aging" in the keg for a couple more weeks before force carbing. ABV: 11.8% with plenty of residual sweetness and barrel flavor. I named it Mind Flayer, which seemed appropriate ;). It was almost indistinguishable from what I was trying to replicate: Prairie Artisan Ale's Noir series. I thank all of you for the tips. If anything, I am surprised at how easy it was to achieve. Makes me wonder how many of these big BA stouts are just loaded with malt extract...
 

Hwk-I-St8

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Just wanted to update... This beer finished with fantastic results. I ended up "aging" in the keg for a couple more weeks before force carbing. ABV: 11.8% with plenty of residual sweetness and barrel flavor. I named it Mind Flayer, which seemed appropriate ;). It was almost indistinguishable from what I was trying to replicate: Prairie Artisan Ale's Noir series. I thank all of you for the tips. If anything, I am surprised at how easy it was to achieve. Makes me wonder how many of these big BA stouts are just loaded with malt extract...
Holy crap...if you've got a recipe that's close to Prairie Artisan's Noir....care to share? Noir (and variants) are my go to stout.
 
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