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Ask The Masters

Question: I brewed a wee heavy with an original gravity of 1.078. It fermented for 2.5 weeks at 60°F at which time I racked it. The gravity was 1.031. The temp was dropped to 55°F and it stayed there for 5 weeks. The gravity did not go down at all during that time. Should I add more yeast to get the gravity down? It is near the guidelines of 1.030 but tastes sweet and is a bit wimpy for a wee heavy. Question 2, should I age in bulk or in bottles? Finally, I need to change my fermenter temperature to 68°F for other brews, will that hurt this beer?

Master Dave responds: If it were my brew, I'd warm it up and add some actively fermenting yeast from a starter, a different yeast with good attenuation numbers. At this point, I would attack it with WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast. 1.030 is a bit high final from a 1.078 original. It might be OK if you starting OG was say 1.100 or so, but I'd prefer a FG of 1.022 or less in this case, though it may be hard to get there now. You should always be sure to have plenty of healthy, active yeast ready to go for a big beer like that - including at least 2 steps in building up a starter from the original package. Aeration is very important for larger beers as well. Also be sure your primary fermentation finishes up - in your case you probably could have fermented 5 degrees warmer if you wanted to move things along.

As for raising the temperature, temperature is less significant towards the end of primary fermentation - i.e. the temp dependent esters are mostly being formed at the peak of fermentation - higher temps mean higher esters/fruitiness. You don't want a lot of those in Wee Heavy, but you're past the point where it matters that much IMO. I'm not saying you should heat it up to 80°F but I'd not worry up to 70°F or so. Once primary is definitely finished, you should age in bulk at cooler temps - I'd say 60°F or less.

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