wee heavy aging and bottling

Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:08 pm

I just brewed a Scottish Wee Heavy using a Northern Brewer kit (extract w/ specialty grains). The included directions call for conditioning the beer for 2 months in a secondary fermenter. I haven't used a secondary for quite a while and never used one for that long. But this is the biggest beer I've ever brewed. My question is, will there be enough yeast left in the brew after 2 months to carbonate the beer when I bottle it in a few months? Should I age in the bottle? Or pitch some dried yeast into the bottling bucket after it all sits in a carboy for 2 months? I don't want to end up with flat beer after waiting all that time...
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Re: wee heavy aging and bottling

Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:30 pm

Stir some dry yeast into the bottling bucket when you are ready to bottle. I would leave the beer in primary for 3 to 4 weeks before transferring to secondary. It can go several weeks longer without developing off flavors from dead yeast, so don't worry about that. You need that extra time because of the high gravity. The yeast is stressed and works quite a bit slower during the time you are trying to get those last few gravity points. Once in secondary you can let it sit for months and months as long as you keep the fermentation lock from going dry.

I brew a wee heavy now and then and generally wait at least 8 months before tapping. It is actually much better at a year. Mine take that long due to the high gravity. The one I brewed last week had an OG of 1.122. The one before that came in at 1.140, probably quite a bit higher than your kit. It is a great style and don't be dismayed by the apparent high finishing gravity, the alcohol will balance it out. Good luck with it!

Wayne
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Re: wee heavy aging and bottling

Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:04 pm

Thanks, Bugeater! I usually rack or bottle after 2 weeks, but I figure I'll be taking a gravity reading with this one to judge when to move. My OG was 1.073 (lower than expected, but I'll live). When would you say it's good to transfer?
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Re: wee heavy aging and bottling

Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:04 pm

+1 to Bug. and I would also recommend rehydrating your dry yeast before adding priming sugar followed by racking your beer on top in your bottling bucket. I prefer dry champagne yeast for this as it is cheaper than regular ale yeast and can withstand high ABV% and low pH environments. It is also very neutral in flavor contribution and carbonates your beer very quickly.
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Re: wee heavy aging and bottling

Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:52 pm

NewEnglander wrote:Thanks, Bugeater! I usually rack or bottle after 2 weeks, but I figure I'll be taking a gravity reading with this one to judge when to move. My OG was 1.073 (lower than expected, but I'll live). When would you say it's good to transfer?


This is not a beer to rush. Let it go in primary a full 3 weeks. Even though fermentation may be done, there are a lot of unwanted esters in there that the yeast need time to clean up.

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