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Hey all,

I made a dubbel/Scotch ale that was a bit of a crack at McChouffe recently. The brewday was a bit of a nightmare in that my attempts at step mashing were thwarted by a dodgy thermometer, so the main saccharification rest was at about 73C.

Needless to say, despite my best efforts and a big pitch of 3522, it hasn't attenuated well. From 1.079 to 1.021 in one week, and after another two weeks of 25C temps it's made it to 1.020.

My thinking is that I have two options.

1. Grow up a big starter of 3711 French Saison (it seems to eat everything, but I'm not sure how it copes with fermenting beer that already has alcohol present).

2. Pitch some Brett bruxellensis that I have on hand.

The base recipe is really nice- the flavour is definitely in the ballpark for McChouffe, though it's obviously not dry enough.  The IBUs are about 27, so I'm not sure how well that would work with the Brett. Can anyone suggest some other ideas to bring it down?

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I think I would go for option 1 personally. If the 3711 seems to bring everything well down then it should be worth a crack?

How much lower do you think it should be? I would have thought for a Scotch Ale you wanted a bit of body/malt sweetness left?

I was hoping for 1.010. It's definitely tasting too sweet as it is.

Belgian "Scotch" Ales don't resemble their Scottish counterparts too closely. With the greater fruit/spice character from the yeast, dry-ish is preferable.

Well in that case I would think some saison sort of yeast flavours would not go too far amiss? Now that I have actually read what McChouffe is though I see there is a touch of "sour" likely to be in there as well... I assume Brett would take the SG down a little over time?

Yeah, hopefully it could work. I can't find anything on the net about using 3711 to finish beers, but it's supposed to chew on dextrins- I used it in a 1.050 saison a while ago that was mashed at 69C and it finished at 1.000.

Brett would eat the dextrins too, but would dramatically alter the flavour over time.

Hmmm sounds like the danger with the 3711 is that it would go too low but the danger with the Brett is that it would go too sour? Sounds like you need something that would take it down mid-way?

I'd be very surprised if it went that low. Being pitched into a beer that's already 7.7% ABV makes for a reasonably hostile environment.

I'll give the 3711 a go and report back. My extensive Googling has only managed to find people tipping out their beers, or using Beano (amylase enzyme) which I've never seen here.

I will be a willing taster for you... I am interested to hear how it goes!

You're on  ;-)

An update on fixing this dubbel that I'd mashed at 73C by mistake:

After a few weeks of lagering until I had time to get around to it, I pitched a healthy 4 litre starter of 3711 French Saison (thanks for the yeast Ralph). It took off quickly and even formed krausen, and finished a week later at a very respectable 1.009.= 89% attenuation.

There are two things to learn from this.

1. 3711 French Saison does indeed consume more dextrins than other yeasts.

2. 3711 is okay with being pitched into a wort already high in alcohol. this beer was already 7.7% when I pitched the 3711.

Given that the no.1 criticism of homebrew Belgians is that they're too sweet, this could be a pretty useful strategy, and might actually lead to a better beer anyhow. Delirium Tremens is one of my favourite Belgians, and they use 3 different strains to ferment it. 

That yeast is mental. Great post and update. Filed under "hope I never need it". ;)

But the important part... how did it taste?

Nice work Dougal...

But the important part... how did it taste?

Not bottled yet, but from samples- really good. Probably my best dubbel to date. The flavour contribution from the 3711 is subtle and pretty complementary to the Ardennes, or will be when it clears fully in the bottle.

When I thought of doing this I emailed Alex, the brewer at Upright Brewing in Portland. 3711 used to be their house strain. He confirmed that it definitely ate dextrins in his experience, but expressed some skepticism about whether it would work in an already alcoholic environment. 

Commercial brewers, give yourselves a pat on the back for being part of a fantastic, helpful community.   

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