PDA

View Full Version : Homebrewing question(s)


The Weird One
10-31-2005, 11:31 AM
I know that there are at least a few other homebrewers on the Dope; I hope you guys can help me out.

On Saturday I brewed a dark sassafras ale from a recipe I found online. The recipe said to use the "yeast of your choice," so I chose a British Ale yeast. What the recipe didn't mention is that the original gravity of the beer is 1.072. I knew that it was going to be a higher than normal, so I had some yeast nutrient on hand and added about three teaspoons. What I'm wondering is, is the British Ale yeast up to the task, or should I pitch a second yeast that has a high alcohol tolerance? I don't mind some residual sweetness, but I'm not brewing root beer, either. Also, if I let the British Ale yeast ferment as much as it can and there is residual sugar, how the heck do I get it to carbonate in the bottles? Adding more sugar obviously isn't going to help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

toadspittle
10-31-2005, 12:38 PM
Don't know enough about the alcohol tolerance of the ale yeast, so I can't help you there. Do you have the manufacturer/serial no. for that variety? I'd bet there's info. about it on-line.

Also, if I let the British Ale yeast ferment as much as it can and there is residual sugar, how the heck do I get it to carbonate in the bottles? Adding more sugar obviously isn't going to help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Add a champagne yeast-- but make sure you let it ferment in the carboy a bit first, or else it's likely to cause the bottles to explode! My preference would be to add the champgne yeast, ferment the beer dry, then add your priming sugar and bottle.

August West
10-31-2005, 12:58 PM
I think British Ale yeast should be able to handle 1.072 without a problem if you pitched a sufficient amount of yeast and aerated well. If you need a boost at the end of fermenttion, toadspittle's suggestion is a good one.

In return for this advice I shall require 2 bottle of your sassafras ale!

USCDiver
10-31-2005, 01:39 PM
I don't have an answer, but let me direct you to www.brewboard.com where there are a lot of brewers with tons of homebrew experience.

silenus
10-31-2005, 01:43 PM
What we need to know is what specific yeast you used. I've used standard Wyeast to ferment beers that were up to 1.1 SG. Champagne yeast will get the extra sugars out, but you might lose some flavor and richness that way, too.

The Weird One
10-31-2005, 03:23 PM
What we need to know is what specific yeast you used. I've used standard Wyeast to ferment beers that were up to 1.1 SG. Champagne yeast will get the extra sugars out, but you might lose some flavor and richness that way, too.
After a little searching, this (http://www.williamsbrewing.com/SAFALE_S04_DRY_ALE_YEAST_P720.cfm) is the yeast I used - Safale S04 Dry Ale Yeast. I got it started a few days before I pitched it, and it started fermenting almost immediately and has been very vigorous.

We actually have some champagne yeast on hand, so that's an option, but like silenus, I'm concerned about how it would affect the flavor.

pulykamell
10-31-2005, 03:39 PM
1.072 starting gravity should be fine for your ale yeast. I don't think it'll have any problem eating through all those sugar. I use White Labs yeasts myself, never propogate, just pitch 'em straight from the bottle, and I haven't had any problem with their version of British Ale or Dry British Ale yeast at starting gravities up to 1.085.

kanicbird
10-31-2005, 03:44 PM
You could lower the temp of your brew to cause the yeast to go dormant while you make a 'micro batch' to see if it's up to snuff. If so you can bring the temp back up and continue on, if not you can make ajustments.

The Weird One
10-31-2005, 03:45 PM
Great! Thanks for all your help, everybody. polykamell, I usually use White Labs, too. Unfortunately, the brewing store was low on yeast stocks when I was buying ingredients for this brew, so they recommended the Safale instead. They said it was very good quality, despite being a dry yeast.

The Weird One
10-31-2005, 03:49 PM
You could lower the temp of your brew to cause the yeast to go dormant while you make a 'micro batch' to see if it's up to snuff. If so you can bring the temp back up and continue on, if not you can make ajustments.
Hmm. My roommates and I don't so much control the temperature of our fermenting beer so much as we decide whether to put it in the basement, the kitchen, or near a heating vent. :D

Eleusis
10-31-2005, 05:58 PM
I would recommend that you give this batch an extra week or two (or even longer) in secondary. One pack of dry yeast seems a little wimpy for a big beer like this - I'd have made a starter culture and aerated the crap out of it.

pulykamell
10-31-2005, 08:32 PM
I would recommend that you give this batch an extra week or two (or even longer) in secondary. One pack of dry yeast seems a little wimpy for a big beer like this - I'd have made a starter culture and aerated the crap out of it.

I concur. I would definitely give the beer extra time in the secondary. My last batch took a relatively long time (like 4 weeks in the secondary) to ferment out. Just keep checking your final gravity to see if it's completely done or not. Just guessing here, but a target of about 1.015 - 1.020 is pretty reasonable. If you're much above that (like 1.030 or above), and the specific gravity isn't getting lower, you may be having some problems.

I still think you'll be okay. 1.072 is not THAT high of a starting gravity. This is a bigger beer, but I don't consider it a "big" beer until you're talking SGs of 1.100 and above. I haven't been doing this for that long, so take my advice with that in mind, but almost every brew I do has a starting gravity of about 1.075 and I have yet to have a problem with any yeast fermenting it out.

Relax...and have a homebrew!

Eleusis
11-01-2005, 12:22 AM
Relax...and have a homebrew!
:D

That is what it's all about, after all.... It's the best advice you'll ever receive.

beergeek279
11-01-2005, 12:40 AM
With an OG of 1.072, you're probably going to be in the neighborhood of 7.5 - 8% ABV in your finished beer...............not tiny, but not exactly a big beer either. Most yeasts should be able to handle a gravity such as this (you're just outside the "make the starter" range of a White Labs vial).

I suppose the most important thing to ask is how your fermentation to this point has taken off. Has there been a significant lag (> 48 hours)? If not, I wouldn't worry...it doesn't sound like you need a secondary yeast....the yeast has a good 75%-ish attenuation, which should take you down to a reasonable 1.015 range..........plenty of residual sugar for bottle carbonation.

The best advice is already given: relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

The Weird One
11-01-2005, 08:09 AM
I would recommend that you give this batch an extra week or two (or even longer) in secondary. One pack of dry yeast seems a little wimpy for a big beer like this - I'd have made a starter culture and aerated the crap out of it.
I figured it would need longer. And in fact I did make a starter.

I suppose the most important thing to ask is how your fermentation to this point has taken off. Has there been a significant lag (> 48 hours)?
Fermentation took off brilliantly. One of my roommates noticed that it was building up pressure in the airlock only an hour or two after I'd pitched the yeast, and when I got up the next morning, it was already bubbling away. It's been very vigorous.

silenus
11-01-2005, 09:50 AM
Then you don't have anything to worry about. Just watch the pretty bubbles, and think about how delicious the ale is going to be when it is finished. But don't hurry it...you want it fully fermented before bottling.

This is making me thirsty. I wonder if I still have some mead in the closet....... :D

The Weird One
11-01-2005, 03:51 PM
But don't hurry it...you want it fully fermented before bottling.
Ah, yes. My roommates and I learned that from our first beer - a delicious hefeweizen that spouted like a fountain when opened and would easily fill up two glasses with nothing but foam before it settled down enough to drink. :smack:

The Weird One
11-08-2005, 12:51 PM
Well, poop, my yeast pooped out. I haven't seen any bubbles since last week, and when I racked it to the secondary fermenter on Saturday, it still had a specific gravity of about 1.024. My best guess is that I didn't aerate it enough initially; I couldn't find my aerater (big-ass ladle) when I was brewing, so I wasn't able to stir it up much. I've found plenty of info on avoiding stuck fermentation, but little on restarting it. Any suggestions?

pulykamell
11-08-2005, 01:00 PM
Well, poop, my yeast pooped out. I haven't seen any bubbles since last week, and when I racked it to the secondary fermenter on Saturday, it still had a specific gravity of about 1.024. My best guess is that I didn't aerate it enough initially; I couldn't find my aerater (big-ass ladle) when I was brewing, so I wasn't able to stir it up much. I've found plenty of info on avoiding stuck fermentation, but little on restarting it. Any suggestions?

Is the gravity still 1.024? Towards the end stages of fermentation, I don't usually see very many bubbles, either, but--trust me--there's often still something going on. The only way you can be sure is to check your gravity. 1.024 is a little bit high for a final gravity, but it's not crazy high. You'll still have a good beer, so far as you have enough suspended yeast alive to eat your bottling sugar and produce carbonation.

I once had thought my fermentation was stuck since I didn't see any visible activity and bottled the beer anyway with the suggested 3/4 cup corn sugar. I think my final gravity was around 1.025 as well. Apparently, there was still plenty of unfermented sugars in there, because the bottles--unless they were chilled and very carefully opened, became veritable beer volcanoes from all the CO2 coming out of solution.

My guess? I think you're okay. Just relax...have a homebrew.

beergeek279
11-08-2005, 01:02 PM
Well, poop, my yeast pooped out. I haven't seen any bubbles since last week, and when I racked it to the secondary fermenter on Saturday, it still had a specific gravity of about 1.024. My best guess is that I didn't aerate it enough initially; I couldn't find my aerater (big-ass ladle) when I was brewing, so I wasn't able to stir it up much. I've found plenty of info on avoiding stuck fermentation, but little on restarting it. Any suggestions?

Well, whatever you do, don't try to aerate it now (did that once, with bad results)!!!

I would say just to have some patience and see how the secondary fermentation affects your gravity.

silenus
11-08-2005, 01:03 PM
Give it another week, then check again. If it is still at 1.024, bottle. If it has dropped, let it set another week. 1.024 isn't that high, for the style of beer.

August West
11-08-2005, 01:08 PM
I agree that you should check the gravity again, it's the only reliable way to know if fermentation is still going. Many times racking to secondary will kickstart fermentation because it rouses the yeast back into suspension. Also, swirling your fermenters a few times a day to keep yeast in suspension could help it drop a few points.

beergeek279
11-08-2005, 02:04 PM
I just had another thought..........if you're worried about too much sweetness in the beer, you could always dry hop it to balance it out a bit.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.