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Cloud Surfer

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I'm brand new to brewing, but really enjoying the journey. First brew last week was a Belgium Triple that looks like it's turning out ok. I have tons of questions, though I'll meter them out slowly.

So I've just done a RIS. Used a few different Coopers extracts, a kilo of dark Munich in a partial mash for a bit of extra fun, and used SAFALE US-05. OG was 1100. Keeping the ferment at 18C is pretty easy at the moment with the cold weather. Anyway, I plan to leave it in the primary for 2 to 3 weeks, and then I was thinking of transferring to a secondary so I can add finings and let it sit a bit longer. But, there's so much contradictory advice about transferring to a secondary, that I'm wondering what to do. What's the general go with primary vs secondary on high ABV beer?

One more for now. I see lots of information on preparing the yeast. When I asked the guy running the shop, he said he just read a new research paper that suggested it's better to pitch the dry yeast from the sachet directly into the wort. I know that's counter to what a lot of people do. I just pitched 2 packets of yeast into the RIS wort and 15 hours later it was fermenting away nicely. So I'm wondering if there's anything wrong with doing it that way.

Cheers and beers.
 

Cloud Surfer

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So, I've been reading a lot of great stuff on the interweb and I think I might not bother with the secondary/conditioning phase. I hope that won't be a problem for the high ABV beer I'll be making. Time will tell I suppose.

I'm thinking for now I'll carefully add finings to the Primary after a couple of weeks and then at three weeks or so, transfer to a bottling bucket for batch priming and bottle.

This stuff is addictive. I've got over 40 litres of beer fermenting in two fermenters and can't wait for them to free up so I can start on new batches.
 
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So, I've been reading a lot of great stuff on the interweb and I think I might not bother with the secondary/conditioning phase. I hope that won't be a problem for the high ABV beer I'll be making. Time will tell I suppose.

I'm thinking for now I'll carefully add finings to the Primary after a couple of weeks and then at three weeks or so, transfer to a bottling bucket for batch priming and bottle.

This stuff is addictive. I've got over 40 litres of beer fermenting in two fermenters and can't wait for them to free up so I can start on new batches.
That's what happens, you get to like the process more than the end reward.

Your other question regarding the yeast Fermentis do recommend not to aerate or oxygenate the wort using their yeast it is up to you whether you rehydrate but the rule may not apply to all brands of dry yeast, so good idea to check.
 

Cloud Surfer

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That's what happens, you get to like the process more than the end reward.

Your other question regarding the yeast Fermentis do recommend not to aerate or oxygenate the wort using their yeast it is up to you whether you rehydrate but the rule may not apply to all brands of dry yeast, so good idea to check.
I was back in the shop so asked the yeast question again. Specifically it relates to the dry packet sachets. Manufacturers don’t want the yeast rehydrated before use. They are now advising to pitch the yeast straight into the wort from the sachet. That makes sense to me now.

I’ve seen people with oxygen bottles aerating their wort. I’m surprised some yeast don’t need or want aeration.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I don't secondary anymore. Didn't see any advantage plus it creates another opportunity for oxidation and infection.
That sounds good. I am trying to find a good process, and initially I thought it would be a good chance to clear the beer and add finings if I were to transfer to another secondary/conditioning fermenter. But yes, the hassle and oxidation and infection risk seem to be major considerations.

I’ll just carefully add the finings straight into the primary about five days before I bottle, then hopefully rack off some nice clear beer to a bottling bucket that has the priming sugar in it and bottle.

Does that sound reasonable? Other guys and girls doing it like that?
 

MHB

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A lot has changed over the last decade or so. Yeast has come a long way both in the way makers recommend we handle it and the range available, especially in dry yeast.
A lot hasn't changed, and probably wont any time soon. The amount we need to pitch is still pretty much defined by the same equation, for ales its given as Number of cells = 0.4-1Million Cells/mL/oP. (1-1.65M/mL/oP for Lager)
That's a pretty wide range and I guess its arguable exactly where in the range you want to be. Low Oxygen (less reproduction) in the wort would push you toward the higher end as would brewing cooler as the yeast is going to work and reproduce slower. Lower populations means more esters in the finished beer (probably more Diacetyl to) that's why an ester driven beer like an Hefeweizen would be pitched at the lower end of the range (not underpitched as some home brewers say).
I suppose its fair to say the more stress the yeast is going to be under the more you should pitch at the start.

Brewing Big Beer (believe me 1.100 is big beer) is very much an at extremis when it comes to what we are asking the yeast to do, I would be pitching right up at the high end of the recommended range.
I would also be racking, there is practically no way known that the primary will be over in less than 2 weeks and its pretty well established that the oldest yeast will start to show signs off negative effects after about 14 days (primarily the release of A-Protease which will eventually degrade all the soluble proteins to peptides which will dramatically reduce the head holding potential of any beer - High Alcohol is fairly head negative to, so more head negative products is the last thing you want). Wait too much longer and you will start seeing signs of Yeast Autolysis and start getting off flavour's like burnt rubber and Vegemite.

Lets take a look at the wort and the yeast you are working with.
SafAle US-05 Says 50-80g/100L (HL).
From the above equation (you don't say how big your batch is so lets assume its 23L), an S.G. of 1.100 is ~25oP (oP being Plato the other way to measure SG), being a big beer lets pitch at 1Million Cells.
Number of Cells = 1EXP6*23,000*25 = 5.75EXP11
From the link above; Viable yeast > 1.0 *EXP10 cfu/g
5.75EXP11/1EXP10 = 57.5g, 5 packets (pretty clearly that 50-80g/HL applies to much weaker beer).

Next thing to have a look at is where this beer is going to stop, the Spec Sheet isn't very forthcoming with numbers, just general information. Fermentis Tips and Tricks is a bit more useful, there are a couple of docs there that are well worth reading. Using US-05 about the highest apparent attenuation you are likely to get is 83% and that will require everything to go very well. From AA = Change in gravity/Original Gravity *100
83% = Change / 25 *100, 20.75oP or 83 Points. FG would be (100-83) 1.017 makes for a fairly intimidating 11% alcohol (ABV).
Personally I suspect an Extract brew is more likely to pull up in the mid to high 20's (1.025-1.029) just because if I were making an All Grain Barley Wine/RIS... I would be doing a lot of my mashing very cool (62-63oC) to make the wort as fermentable as I could. There wouldn't be any shortage of malt body left in a 1.100 beer, using LME that really is designed for making 1.048-1.050 beer wouldn't be my first choice.
I suspect you will finish up with a very sweet beer, It will taste better with age in this case probably several years.

I would rack at the end of the first week, get off any old under preforming yeast that is most likely to do harm later. To minimise O2 uptake and to transfer as clean as you can I would look at transferring from Tap to Tap, fit a hose between the two taps, make sure everything is really clean and spray it all (especially the tap on the first fermenter) with a 70% alcohol or strong peroxide sanitiser. Open both taps and let the working beer transfer slowly. there should be enough turbulence to create a pretty good CO2 blanket in the second fermenter as it fills, enough to minimise O2 pickup.

At present I am planning a couple of barley wine and RIS brews, just finished (this morning actually) rereading Barley Wine in the Classic Beer Styles Series. Haven't heard of SafAle HA-18, at last a dry yeast made for really big beer. Shame its only available in 500g blocks, but still I just have to get me some of that! As we are fairly local, I might get a brick, happy to share some with a local and I know at least one other local who might be interested (yes I do mean you Coalminer).
Big beers are a challenge, require a lot of patience both in brewing and giving them time to mature, often years.
Bit like good Whiskey, what's a decade or two when it comes to great flavours.
Mark
 

mje1980

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I didn’t secondary for years. But now I find it frees up my fermenter ( I transfer to a plastic jerry can ), and when bottling, it helps it clear up. And oxygen, I have no doubt it’s better to reduce it, but I have never had a problem with oxidation. I avoid splashing when transferring, it’s pretty easy.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Mark, thanks for all the great info. I was wondering if someone would specifically address secondary fermentation for high OG beer. Are you saying you transfer to secondary after one week with these types of beers you make? I’ve found lots of forum references from people who have let their RIS sit in primary for a month or more and then bottled.

From a pro brewer I had already learned for RIS #2 to pitch a heap of yeast. I like how you explained that.

I like ageing alcohol. I have 140 year old ports and 25 year old reds. I only drink high ABV beer, so that’s all I will brew. I have RIS here that’s 16% ABV. It is incredible and I’m quite obsessed with these beers. So I plan to keep rolling out my own RIS to build up a stock of aged beers. The problem I see brewing this stuff is it’s going to take six months at least to even start seeing if I’ve got the process right or not.
 

MHB

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Pretty much, should be close to half way through primary at the end of a week (given a big enough yeast pitch) another two weeks then transfer to a keg. It wont be finished but should be getting close by the end of week three.
Again transfer sterile and low DO leave the old yeast cake behind.
From there its a case of being very patient, it might take another two to three months to really finish but a lot of that counts toward maturity. If bottling I would reseed with fresh yeast and a very carefully measured amount of sugar, the amount of fizz in the keg should be pretty close for cask conditioned ale, if you want to serve on tap apply the right amount of pressure. I would stay on the low side, these big beers benefit from some fizz but I find too much distorts the flavour and you loose that mellow smooth, sort of glide down and go off like a bomb that I'm looking for in very high alcohol beers.

Hope you know IBC in Islington, Jason has a specular range of big Belgians to work through, Westy 12 is amazing but for an affordable price try the Abbot 12 from St Bernardus if you haven't (or even if you have - revisiting it is nice).
Mark
 

Cloud Surfer

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Thanks again Mark, all great stuff.

If I’m not mistaken, it seems the move away from secondary fermentation relates to normal/low OG brews. The more I read I get the sense that secondary is still an important step for high OG brewing. So I’m back in the secondary fermentation camp again. Though I have to leave this one in primary for two weeks, then I’ll rack it to secondary.

While I know nothing about brewing, I do know a thing or two about drinking Belgium’s.;)
 

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