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Brewing High Gravity Beers

Brewing High Gravity Beers

A presentation about brewing high gravity beers given at the February, 2020 meeting by Lee Immins.

London Amateur Brewers

February 06, 2020

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  1. More people ! It’s gonna be a whole lot easier

    and more fun to share the whole experience You can split costs and effort You can use more equipment, e.g. to run two mashes side-by-side They can get the fire going
  2. More Planning We brewed a Samichlaus Clone. It uses a

    specific yeast (Zurich Lager WLP885) only available periodically. We had to wait a year, but gave us time to plan. You’re going to need a lot of malt, water, yeast and equipment, and lots of time.
  3. More Everything So of course we decided to make two

    batches whilst we were at it! Samichlaus is a 14% lager Tradition is that is brewed only on the 6th December each year. And after exactly one year fermenting, lagering and ageing is it first drunk.
  4. More Fermentables As well as the recipe itself, you need

    to account for a drop off in mash efficiency, maybe 10% less (I've read about to 40%!). 16kg of grain to make 30 litres. Sugar will thin the body. It could affect fermentation – an option is to add it later in fermentation You will be lucky to hit your numbers pre-boil! Have DME/other sugar to hand (or you can boil for longer)
  5. More (Hot) Water We used RO. It took two days

    to make enough water for both batches – 110 litres We had two HLTs and a 60 litre bucket full Checked both vessels could heat at the same time beforehand If gas you might need two burners
  6. More Mash To increase fermentability can you step mash? Or

    a simplified mash profile : HochKurtz – ‘short’ high – usually 72C/15mins. Mashing out is not necessary. Reduce sparge/no sparge and mash twice. Maximum OG is 1075-1080 (pre-boil) More time to mash and sparge
  7. More Mash Tun You are likely to be constrained by

    your mash tun Ways to max your mash tun Mash thicker than usual Up your step mash temperature to nearly boiling to minimise that volume. Mash cap your speciality malts (or cold steep etc) Do two mashes!
  8. More Kettle Longer boil times increase gravity. 90 mins and

    up, several hours is not uncommon. 1 hour boil is 15 points (on my set up and volumes and 3.6 litres less wort Longer boil times means more kettle space needed.
  9. More Hops Hop utilisation is less at high gravities Hop

    utilisation is less affected by time at longer boil times.
  10. More More Hops In beer, bitterness fades with time. Big

    beers need to be aged, therefore aim for bitterness to be balanced over time – put more in >>>>>>
  11. More Gravity Its what were after, after all. We got

    two lots around 24 litres each at 1120 and 1124. The recipe was for 30 litres of 1144. And we added 500g extra sugar at boil.
  12. More (Healthy)Yeast THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING Beer requires

    loads of yeast! Big Beers require shit loads of yeast! Big Lagers require massive shit loads of yeast!! Woah! Fresh is best (availability/specific brew date may thwart you!) WTF!
  13. You need BIG stepped starters! Stirrer Plate is nigh on

    essential. Oxygen is VERY useful (maybe twice at 0 and 8-12 hours) I didn’t do the suggestion below though….. More Starters
  14. The easiest way to get enough yeast is to make

    a batch of low strength beer, rack the beer off and pitch on to the yeast cake. Give time for the yeast to settle (the fine yeast drives attenuation) Planning! (I forgot lagers would ferment slower than ales!) I made a 5.5% Dortmunder, but had to rush the end. You still need to make starters for the ‘starter’ beer! For our second batch I made stepped starters up to 5 litres or so. I was sick of making yeast at this point. More More Yeast
  15. The yeast are gonna have a hard time. They’re dumped

    into high sugar, high osmotic potential wort. They end up in high alcohol beer. That’s a stressful journey, though maybe less so at the end. To liven up, then grow and reproduce they need stuff. Give them that stuff! Oxygenate the wort. Repeat at 8-12 hours in. (then stop) Add nutrients. Good ones. Pitch fresh starter. Make the environment nice! Consider adding sugars after the initial fermentation. Talk to them. Laugh with them. Dance with them. Love them More More (Healthy) Yeast
  16. More Fermentation There is more to ferment – it will

    take longer, and the yeast will slow down and suffer with more alcohol present. Use a tolerant yeast after primary eg Super High Gravity Ale Yeast (WLP099)! Give the yeast time after fermentation to clear up – acetaldehyde etc. Drop the temperature slowly (4C a day for lagers) to keep yeast alive for lagering/ bulk ageing.

    FERMENTER BACK!! Zurich Yeast Diacetyl Rest SHG Yeast Dropping yeast I want my fermenter back 13.6% ABV
  18. More More Time Big Beers take time for rough flavours

    to mellow, to meld. Bulk ageing works wonders, in my experience – use impermeable vessels if ageing more than 3 months – eg glass carboy, or ss vessels. MINIMISE HEADPACE. Steady temperature is good, not too hot. Plan to make before winter and age cold. This continues in the bottle. Carbonation may take a long time. Fresh yeast may need to be added at bottle. Adding sugar at bottling – some say not needed, time will do it. Depends on yeast health, time etc. Err on the safe side (less sugar, or champagne bottles)
  19. More Beer Remember that extra beer you made as a

    starter? Well you may have enough excess wort to make another beer as well! We had 18 litres wort left. Boiled with some hops. Ended up with 11 litres of 7.4% Evaporation rate was high!
  20. More End Definitely takes more time and effort and planning….

    But years of reward as your beer ages and changes. More anything?...More Everything