Starter for 2.5 gallon batch of Tripel?

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brew_mama

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I am going to attempt a Tripel and will be using Wyeast 3787. I know this is supposed to be a pretty active yeast and I do 2.5 gallons batches. Should I still do a starter for an SG of 1.086?
 

TheCache

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Brewers Friend pitching rate calculator says yes.

I'm studying this a bit myself as I am about to start a 2.5 gallon (3 gal into fermenter) batch although mine will be a much lower gravity (about 1.057). I am using Wyeast 1335 and I tend to assume that my yeast is at least one month, just a best guess with Wyeast's new labeling.

I'm doing a 2.5 gallon batch of Yooper's Oatmeal Stout and both Brewers Friend and Beersmith suggest a small starter (around .6 liter) to get me to a good pitch rate. I would imagine, since your beer is a much higher gravity than mine, that a starter would be a good idea.
 

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Yes, I would make a starter. I usually make a quart or more starter with DME in a 1/2 gallon jug, Shake it up when I'm ready to pitch and save about 1/2 pint of the starter for the next batch. I just chuck the rest of the starter in the batch of beer.
 

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I'd do a SNS starter, Shaken, Not Stirred.

1pint (500ml) water, 50g DME. Whisk into a cold slurry, bring to boil for a couple minutes, let cool. Bring yeast to room temp too.

In a half gallon jar, shake the sh*t out of the wort. It should look like a jar of foam, practically no liquid. Pitch yeast, gently shake to distribute. Let sit with lid slightly loose. ~12-24hrs usually.

Pitch starter into main batch at high krausen.

I've had 4 gallons of 1.090 wort building krausen in less than 8hrs with just the 1 pint of starter.
 

TheCache

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I just chuck the rest of the starter in the batch of beer.

Are you doing a 5 gallon batch? Do you decant? I would wonder about pitching that much starter into a 2.5 gallon brew. It might be best to decant since the wort volume itself is pretty small. Of course, with a 1.086 Beligan, the strong flavors and high abv might make it less of an issue :)
 
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Thanks all! I have used the calculator before but have seen info about the 3787 yeast being rather aggressive. I’ll go ahead and make a starter. The previous time I made a starter I did decant most of the wort and will do that again.
 

CaddyWampus

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This might be sort of frowned upon but I exclusively brew 2.5 gal batches and the only time I ever make anything resembling a starter is if the yeast is more than a couple months old.

As a disclaimer: I have a pretty laissez faire attitude when it comes to brewing. My beer is usually pretty good though. YMMV
 
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madscientist451

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Are you doing a 5 gallon batch? Do you decant? I would wonder about pitching that much starter into a 2.5 gallon brew. It might be best to decant since the wort volume itself is pretty small.
I'm a lazy brewer, don't care how many billion cells are in my starter and don't think the small amount of DME will make any differenced at all to the taste of a batch of beer. I usually brew 2.5-3 gallon batches. I always try to pitch a heathy, active and fairly large amount of yeast, but I do it all by eye so I actually don't know if I'm under or over pitching. My beer usually gets going within 12 hrs, ferments clean and hits the FG I'm expecting, so if ain't broke I'm not going to do anything to fix it.
 

TheCache

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so if ain't broke I'm not going to do anything to fix it.

Love it. Keep it simple and keep what works. I enjoy playing with all the aspects of my process until I better understand the impact of each one on the pints I'm drinking so tweaking variables makes me happy. May not ultimately make a ton of difference, but it keeps things interesting.

Cheers
 

Holden Caulfield

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I am going to attempt a Tripel and will be using Wyeast 3787. I know this is supposed to be a pretty active yeast and I do 2.5 gallons batches. Should I still do a starter for an SG of 1.086?
WY3787 and WLP530 are the Westmalle strain and Westmalle's Tripel is one of the great beers of the world. According to "Brew Like a Monk", Westmalle significantly under-pitches their yeast in order to more fully coax out the amazing flavors the yeast gives off.

Per BYO..." At American microbreweries, the usual pitching rate is 1 million cells of yeast per milliliter of wort per degrees Plato....Westmalle pitches 5–6 million cells per milliliter for its 19.6 °P (1.081) Westmalle Tripel — just over 0.25 million cells/mL/°P."

So for a 2.75 gallon batch in your fermenter you would need (if my calcs are correct)...

1.086 = 20.68P
ml = 2.75 * 3785 = 10,410
cells needed = 250,000/10410/20.86 = ~55 billion cells on the low end, which is about 3/4 of the smack pack depending on the age of it.

Twice, I used a similar amount for a 1.078 SG, 3 liter batch, with sugars added to the kettle and had no problem fermenting down to 1.010 and below. The beers turned out great with the targeted yeast expression coming through strongly.

Should you still do a starter? - it is always a good idea to do a starter with liquid yeast just to prove viability. A simple 1 liter starter will work just fine but if you want to hit Westmalle's pitching rates, then the approach that worked well for me with such a small batch is as follows...
  • Making less than a 1 liter starter is not recommended for various reasons (at least this is what I have read).
  • So, make a 1 liter starter with the entire pack and when completed but before cold crashing,
  • Suspend all the yeast and pour off a calculated percentage of the starter based on the estimated cells in the entire starter,
  • Then cold crash the remaining starter and decant most of the oxidized beer prior to pitching
Good luck
 

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WY3787 and WLP530 are the Westmalle strain and Westmalle's Tripel is one of the great beers of the world. According to "Brew Like a Monk", Westmalle significantly under-pitches their yeast in order to more fully coax out the amazing flavors the yeast gives off.

Per BYO..." At American microbreweries, the usual pitching rate is 1 million cells of yeast per milliliter of wort per degrees Plato....Westmalle pitches 5–6 million cells per milliliter for its 19.6 °P (1.081) Westmalle Tripel — just over 0.25 million cells/mL/°P."

Nice knowledge or research. Yeah that'll make a huge difference if underpitching is indeed intentional or part of the style. Good thing to keep in mind.
 
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WY3787 and WLP530 are the Westmalle strain and Westmalle's Tripel is one of the great beers of the world. According to "Brew Like a Monk", Westmalle significantly under-pitches their yeast in order to more fully coax out the amazing flavors the yeast gives off.

Per BYO..." At American microbreweries, the usual pitching rate is 1 million cells of yeast per milliliter of wort per degrees Plato....Westmalle pitches 5–6 million cells per milliliter for its 19.6 °P (1.081) Westmalle Tripel — just over 0.25 million cells/mL/°P."

So for a 2.75 gallon batch in your fermenter you would need (if my calcs are correct)...

1.086 = 20.68P
ml = 2.75 * 3785 = 10,410
cells needed = 250,000/10410/20.86 = ~55 billion cells on the low end, which is about 3/4 of the smack pack depending on the age of it.

Twice, I used a similar amount for a 1.078 SG, 3 liter batch, with sugars added to the kettle and had no problem fermenting down to 1.010 and below. The beers turned out great with the targeted yeast expression coming through strongly.

Should you still do a starter? - it is always a good idea to do a starter with liquid yeast just to prove viability. A simple 1 liter starter will work just fine but if you want to hit Westmalle's pitching rates, then the approach that worked well for me with such a small batch is as follows...
  • Making less than a 1 liter starter is not recommended for various reasons (at least this is what I have read).
  • So, make a 1 liter starter with the entire pack and when completed but before cold crashing,
  • Suspend all the yeast and pour off a calculated percentage of the starter based on the estimated cells in the entire starter,
  • Then cold crash the remaining starter and decant most of the oxidized beer prior to pitching
Good luck

thanks for the thorough explanation! That sounds doable.
 

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Do you remember where you read this?

Highlight the quoted text with your mouse and then do a search for it. If you're on chrome you can right click after highlighting. It'll take you right to the BYO page as he mentioned.

 

Holden Caulfield

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Do you remember where you read this? I'd be interested in understanding why.

Per Jamil Zainascheff starter article (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/1235/MAzym07_YeastStarter.pdf):

"Q: CAN TOO SMALL OR TOO LARGE A STARTER CAN BE BAD FOR THE YEAST? Parker says putting a fresh vial of yeast into 500 milliliters of wort and letting such a small starter go to completion can actually leave the yeast less ready to ferment a batch of beer. The yeast do not rebuild their reserves and have very little increase in cell mass. The minimum starter size for significant yeast growth from a vial or pack of yeast is 1 liter. One vial or pack into 1 liter results in approximately a 50-percent increase in cell mass. Some brewers make a small starter volume (500 ml or less) with the sole intent of “waking” the yeast. When making small starters, it is best to pitch the entire volume at the height of activity"
 

TheCache

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@Holden Caulfield,

Thanks for that reference. I spent a lot of time reading about it today and did come across part of that quote, but you lengthier quote helps explain it. I realize the OP was speaking about a Belgian yeast and as you noted in your post above, there are some specific guidelines for that type of beer. But as I am just starting 2.5 gallon all grain I want to understand starter needs more generally.

I also found on @CascadesBrewer 's site a little further explanation of what he calls a vitality starter; that is <1L designed not for growth, but to get the yeast started before pitching. This seems like what Jamil is referring to above. There is another thread on HBT that also speaks of innoculation rates, Homebrewdad's calculator shows the innoculation rate passing the 25-100 million/ml mark and tends to slow growth - which confirms what you are saying that smaller starters (with less space/food for growth) are not going to be very effective. The calculator growth rate box also mentions a rate of less than 1 is a waste of time, and I noticed when I entered a starter of .5 or .6 the growth rate dropped below 1.

It seems like for a 2.5 gallon batch of a medium gravity ale with an expected .75 pitch rate, and assuming a 60-70% viability factor for yeast age, that a starter between .8-1L would put me just above a target pitch rate.

Might be overthinking it, but I like to be +/- 10% of the target and usually err to the plus side.

Thanks again for the info.
 

CascadesBrewer

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It seems like for a 2.5 gallon batch of a medium gravity ale with an expected .75 pitch rate, and assuming a 60-70% viability factor for yeast age, that a starter between .8-1L would put me just above a target pitch rate.

Are you using a stir plate? I have seen debate about the exact benefits of using a stir plate, but most calculators and sources show a LOT more growth when using a stir plate. I am not positive if the same benefits of a stir plate can be replicated just by shaking or rousing the starter a few times a day.

One of the benefits of 2.5 gallon batches is how you can usually get away with direct pitching 1 pack of White Labs or Wyeast without messing with a starter. Usually around the 1.070 OG range is where I start to think more about my pitch rate. At 1.086 I would be hesitant about direct pitching one pack, especially if it was not super fresh (manufactured more than a month ago).

I think you would be equally served by either 1) making a 1 liter starter on a stir plate (where you crashed it after a few days, decanted the spent wort, and pitched the yeast slurry) or 2) making a 1/2 liter vitality starter 12 to 24 hours before brew day, and pitching the entire starter. A 1/2 liter starter would put you around the 5% total volume target that I have read, and aim for with my SnS starters.
 
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There is so much conflicting info about brewing Belgian styles. Some say over pitch to make sure fermentation doesn't get stuck and some say under pitch to get the right flavors. Some say the flavor isn't noticeable from underpitching. I think what I'm going to do is make a 1L starter, decant most of the wort and pitch and see what I think. It seems that temp can be a much bigger factor in the taste than whether you have over or under pitched.
 

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There is so much conflicting info about brewing Belgian styles. Some say over pitch to make sure fermentation doesn't get stuck and some say under pitch to get the right flavors. Some say the flavor isn't noticeable from underpitching. I think what I'm going to do is make a 1L starter, decant most of the wort and pitch and see what I think. It seems that temp can be a much bigger factor in the taste than whether you have over or under pitched.
As with most things, you will get a lot of different answers, and as with some things, there could be more than one right answer.

I can tell you that I have had more issues from under-pitching than from over-pitching, both in terms of overall performance and more importantly, flavor. A slight under-pitch is usually not a big deal at all, but depending on the date of your yeast, a single pack with no starter in your case could result in about half of the cells you need. I'd say a 1 liter starter would be the safe bet. If you plan on trying this or similar styles again, I'd consider overbuilding a starter and saving some for your next starter. Calculators like the one at Homebrew Dad's Online Yeast Starter Calculator can help you with overbuilding starters.

I think the only brew that I purposely under-pitched that came out decent was a Hefeweizen several years ago. I was going for banana and was told at the time that under-pitching and fermenting at the top end of the temp range would help. They were correct for the most part, but there was a bit of a weird flavor that I was unsure about so I stopped purposely under-pitching. It also took some extra time for the esters to mellow out to where it was somewhat enjoyable. It's entirely possible that the flavor was the fault of something else in my process at the time, but I have brewed the same recipe since with better results.

YMMV, but at least for the first attempt, I'd err on the side of caution and judge for yourself.
 

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There is so much conflicting info about brewing Belgian styles. Some say over pitch to make sure fermentation doesn't get stuck and some say under pitch to get the right flavors. Some say the flavor isn't noticeable from underpitching. I think what I'm going to do is make a 1L starter, decant most of the wort and pitch and see what I think. It seems that temp can be a much bigger factor in the taste than whether you have over or under pitched.

I agree. I see mixed advice about using pitch rate, oxygenation level, and temperature to control yeast character. Some of my thoughts on this were influenced by the excellent (but long) series of webinars on the Escarpment Labs YouTube channel (5 hours of videos here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL552d9ljGZG20bkvV7pTjFiDzvnbCGFFj).

They are strongly against using under pitching to drive character. They have some good points about how it can be very inconsistent and has possibilities for going wrong. They have some good data to back up using temperature, and possibly using open fermentations, to help drive yeast character. That is the path that I have taken. I like Belgian beers with a lot of yeast character and I have found that temperature plays a big role in driving character.

I have also found that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to all Belgian yeast strains and all Belgian styles.
 

TheCache

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@brew_mama

How did your fermentation turn out? I ended up using a vitality starter for my 2.5G 1.072OG Dubbel. I pitched 1 full package of Omega OYL-028 into 500ml of wort (1.7ozs DME in 500ml RO water) and let it sit on a stir plate for around 5 hours until my batch was ready. OYL-028 is also the Westmalle strain so I expected fermentation to be similar to 3787.

Playing around with a few different calculators I realized that I could have done a starter, but after reading the BYO article above a few times, specifically the section which discussed the lower pitching rates at Westmalle (.25mil/mL/˚P) I calculated that one 3 month old package put me at almost exactly those rates (.24mil/mL/˚P). My batch size was also 3 gal into the fermenter which impacted the numbers a bit. I decided to go ahead and pitch at the lower rate just to see how things went.

In any case my vitality starter seems to have worked well. I had a small krausen layer (1/4") in around 8 hours and things quietly bubble away for around 24 hours before the temperature began to rise. Although, I really wanted to control the fermentation temps, the same BYO article discussed the "free rise" methods of several brewers using Westmalle so I left it alone. Temp rose from 64 to 70 over about 36 hours (In a 62 degree room) and the Krausen filled the headspace (3.5 gallon fermonster) and began bubbling through the blow off tube. If I had more headspace temps might have gone even higher, but I think the pressure may have calmed it down. After about 48 hours the activity began to quiet down slightly and the temp began to waver between 69-71. I raised the temp of my tank to 71 so that I could hold fermentation between 70-72 and after 72 hours the fermentation is now calm, but steady.

I wonder if some of the activity was due to the slight underpitching and if so, how much of that accounts for the unique Belgian flavors? No way to know..., except brew another batch with a 1L starter. Oh darn, maybe I'll have to sacrifice for the cause.

Edit: Actually I think I may have been closer to .35/mL/˚P, but Omega Yeasts are hard to pin down to estimated cell counts (I used 150b at Manufacture, but Omega estimates it could be as high as 200).
 
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@brew_mama

How did your fermentation turn out? I ended up using a vitality starter for my 2.5G 1.072OG Dubbel. I pitched 1 full package of Omega OYL-028 into 500ml of wort (1.7ozs DME in 500ml RO water) and let it sit on a stir plate for around 5 hours until my batch was ready. OYL-028 is also the Westmalle strain so I expected fermentation to be similar to 3787.

Playing around with a few different calculators I realized that I could have done a starter, but after reading the BYO article above a few times, specifically the section which discussed the lower pitching rates at Westmalle (.25mil/mL/˚P) I calculated that one 3 month old package put me at almost exactly those rates (.24mil/mL/˚P). My batch size was also 3 gal into the fermenter which impacted the numbers a bit. I decided to go ahead and pitch at the lower rate just to see how things went.

In any case my vitality starter seems to have worked well. I had a small krausen layer (1/4") in around 8 hours and things quietly bubble away for around 24 hours before the temperature began to rise. Although, I really wanted to control the fermentation temps, the same BYO article discussed the "free rise" methods of several brewers using Westmalle so I left it alone. Temp rose from 64 to 70 over about 36 hours (In a 62 degree room) and the Krausen filled the headspace (3.5 gallon fermonster) and began bubbling through the blow off tube. If I had more headspace temps might have gone even higher, but I think the pressure may have calmed it down. After about 48 hours the activity began to quiet down slightly and the temp began to waver between 69-71. I raised the temp of my tank to 71 so that I could hold fermentation between 70-72 and after 72 hours the fermentation is now calm, but steady.

I wonder if some of the activity was due to the slight underpitching and if so, how much of that accounts for the unique Belgian flavors? No way to know..., except brew another batch with a 1L starter. Oh darn, maybe I'll have to sacrifice for the cause.

Edit: Actually I think I may have been closer to .35/mL/˚P, but Omega Yeasts are hard to pin down to estimated cell counts (I used 150b at Manufacture, but Omega estimates it could be as high as 200).

The fermentation went great. I can't see inside the plastic bucket but the Tilt showed that it took off in reasonable time and got down to FG within about 5-6 days. Temp was around 65-67 most of the time. I transferred to a carboy and rose the temp to 70 and let it sit another two weeks. and I have bottled it and I tried one last week after two weeks in the bottle and it was still flat. I'm letting it sit another two weeks and will see if anything has happened. It tastes great though so it better carb!!
 

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I'm sure it will. From my experience and what I have read, higher gravity Belgian ales can take 4 weeks or more to carbonate well. And then of course a few months of cool storage to condition better. My last Dubbel was 1.076 and I kept the bottles at 70˚ for 3 weeks before they even began to have noticeable carbonation, and then a few months before the flavors really started coming together.
 

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I'm sure it will. From my experience and what I have read, higher gravity Belgian ales can take 4 weeks or more to carbonate well. And then of course a few months of cool storage to condition better. My last Dubbel was 1.076 and I kept the bottles at 70˚ for 3 weeks before they even began to have noticeable carbonation, and then a few months before the flavors really started coming together.

I had carbonation issues with a Dubbel and Quad (both fermented with WLP530) and also very slow carbonation of a Barleywine (fermented with US-05). For the last couple higher ABV beers that I bottle conditioned I added a little CBC-1 and had excellent carbonation in the standard 2-3 week time frame.
 

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For the last couple higher ABV beers that I bottle conditioned I added a little CBC-1

What do you mean by higher ABV? I have never brewed anything above 1.08 and have not had carbonation issues except that it has been slow once or twice (above 1.07), or when I got lazy and did not move the bottles to a warm enough space so the yeast went dormant. Is there a bottom range where something like CBC-1 is recommended? Maybe 1.07 is a starting point, but where would it really be needed. I don't mind it being slow and I hate adding steps until necessary, but on the other hand, I don't want to end up with 3 gallons of flavorful flatness.

Learning as I go...
 
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The first dubbel I made was 1.064 OG using Wyeast 1214. I don't know why, but it took 6 weeks to carbonate to acceptable level with residual yeast and eventually was very well carbonated as planned. I aged the beer for about 6 weeks, which may have played a part in it. I now add fresh yeast for anything I bottle. I only bottle higher gravity Belgian ales and barrel aged beers. I have used CBC-1, BE-256, T-58 with good results. For non-aged beers, you probably don't need to add fresh yeast at bottling, but it definitely will speed up the conditioning process.
 
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I've made 1.065ish beers that carbed up within 2 weeks. This Tripel was 1.086 and I did see that something this high could take a while to carb. Not sure what the cutoff is of whether the yeast matters.
 

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What do you mean by higher ABV?

The Dubbel with WLP530 was in the 8% range, and that one surprised me a bit. I have read a few stories of people having carbonation issues with WLP530 (which is similar to WY3787 and Imperial Triple Double).

You can get a pack of CBC-1 for $5 and there is plenty of yeast in a pack for 15 or 20 gallons. If I am putting the effort into brewing something in the 9% and above that I plan on bottling, I look at some bottling yeast as very cheap insurance. I think I have head recommendations for Lalvin EC1118 as a bottling yeast. I see that listed for around $1.30 for a 5 gram pack.
 
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I opened up one today and it has improved. There is some carbonation where there was none two weeks ago, but it is not where it needs to be and still tastes a little flat. Back to waiting...
 

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I opened up one today and it has improved. There is some carbonation where there was none two weeks ago, but it is not where it needs to be and still tastes a little flat. Back to waiting...

What is the temperature where the bottles are stored. Higher ABV beers should take a little longer to carbonate and the temperature makes a big difference it how long it takes too. I'd be trying to keep them in the mid 70's for carbonation or maybe even a little warmer.
 
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What is the temperature where the bottles are stored. Higher ABV beers should take a little longer to carbonate and the temperature makes a big difference it how long it takes too. I'd be trying to keep them in the mid 70's for carbonation or maybe even a little warmer.

It's about 73-75
 
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Looks good now. 6 weeks in the bottle. Although it tastes good, you really can't taste the carbonation much.

IMG_3735.jpeg
 

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Looks great. Do you mean it still doesn't feel carbonated enough to what you targeted? It may not be fully caronated yet, even though it's been 6 weeks. Keep the bottles warm and try another one in 2 weeks.
 
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Yeah it’s kind of hard to explain but when I drink it, I just don’t feel the carbonation. It’s not flat tasting but it’s not as carbonated-feeling as I’d like. I put enough priming sugar for 3 volumes of CO2.
 

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Since CBC-1 showed up earlier in this thread I thought I'd mention that I tried it for the first time on the 8% Dubbel I just brewed. It was 3 gallon, all grain and spent 3 weeks in fermentation with Omega 028 yeast. When I bottled, I rehydrated 2-3g of CBC-1 in 50ml of water and added it to the bottling bucket with 2.6oz priming sugar. After 14 days I had to test one since I had never used CBC-1 and was a bit worried. It was great, nicely carbonated with good flavor. The head is still young (larger bubbles), but I have now moved the bottles to a 62˚ basement room where they'll sit for another 3-4 weeks before heading to the fridge.

I have read that CBC-1 shuts down all other yeasts in the brew. Not sure if that is accurate, but that's why I was somewhat concerned that if it did not work would it stop all of the carbonation fermentation activity. But, it worked great and I'll add it to my list of tricks.
 
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