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Hey all, I am brewing my first high gravity beer this Thursday. It is a Wee Heavy and is est to come in at 1.097. I am just after any tips from people experienced in high gravity beers. For instance I usually hit between 70-75% efficiency. In my recipe formulation for this beer I have set efficiency at 65%. Would I need to sparge extra and boil it down to desired volumes?

Should I heat mash water slightly higher to account for loss in temp due to extended doughing in time as it is for over 10kg of grain?

I am using 2 x US-05. Any tips on giving it as much oxygen as possible?

Also any other expected problems that might pop up.

Many thanks!

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Also with that amount of grain, are there any suggestions on getting a 2nd beer out of it. Would it just end up over sparging?

The highest I have tried so far is about 1.080 for a Belgium Strong. I didn't really have to do anything different (I keep 2l of water out of the mash just in case I need to raise or lower temp, then add hot or cold as required)... but that is normal practise.

Your brewing software will help calculate the strike water temp for such a big brew... but it would be about the same as a smaller grain bill brew since you will need to have extra water for the extra size mash.

Your efficiency should be normal if you are able to fit the normal grain to water ratio. Give it a good 90minutes plus mash and a few stirs during the mash.

 

About the only issue I would have with such a heavy beer is fitting it all in me mashtun (34l) ... i would have to target as little as a 18litres 'end brew' with a 10kilo grain bill (I can only make 25lites of 1.076 Scotch Ale and that is with batch sparging twice).

Oh and maybe it crushing my mashtun SS braided hose.

btw If yer looking at a Wee Heavy then maybe try a WLP028 yeast.

I had a jar of Scottish Ale yeast slurry in fridge but it is 4 months old so only 10% viable. I checked with brewshop but the were out of stock. I thought with it being higher gravity US-05 would be a safe option. I think next time I will try do a 70/- and follow that with a wee heavy. I have a 45L mash tun and beersmith seems to think it can handle it with a batch sparge.

Thanks for the tips, hadn't thought of a 90min mash so will try that. Recipe is from brewing classic styles btw.

hmm that probably about the same as a burtons yeast I have had in a starter for 40+ hours and only just begining to show signs of life... but once it is there it is up and running I'll biff it into the fermenter.

US05 is okay but it is no Scottish ale yeast... just a little worried for your grain bill not getting the yeast it deserves (ie stop yakking on the internet and get a starter made.. hintyhint, if it doesn't start then use your US05)

Yeah your 45l mashtun should see you good.

Good luck.

I had posted a discussion previously about the possibility of using that yeast for this beer and I think most people said no. I now have it warming up ready to go into a starter. I have about 550ml ish of slurry. If I do a 2L starter to get it going again would that be enough for a beer this strong?

Yep... should be fine. Just make sure ti is up and running (bang an airlock on it) before you pitch.

Flag knows why anyone would say other wise on yer yeast selection... 4 months old is nothing, yeah maybe you should have washed the yeast first but I think it'll get going for you.

btw after 45 hours in the starter the Burtons yeast came alive and was going crazy. I put most of the starter into a ESB and have a little left over for tonights (semi-fubar'ed) test brew (whoops, this mornings...  got to get this finished and get some sleep).

I did give it a rinse before chucking it in the starter. No life yet but fingers crossed. Cheers for the info.
"Your efficiency should be normal if you are able to fit the normal grain to water ratio. Give it a good 90minutes plus mash and a few stirs during the mash."

My experience has been that you will always get a lower efficiency with higher gravity beers because there is less water left to sparge and rinse the sugar from the mash, simply because you've had to use more of the total volume to maintain the same grain to water ratio in the actual mash. Thats assuming you don't sparge with more water and boil it for longer to reduce the volume again.

I've found that you can recover some of the loss in efficiency by slowing your sparge right down (45 mins or longer for a 20l brew) which will give more time for sugars to be diluted and rinsed out due to osmosis.
Thanks for that. I'll top up with some DME if I think it needs it also.

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