I’ve never rewritten a post… scratch that. I’ve never rewritten anything as much as I’ve rewritten this post. If I left it all in it would take you all night to read this. Ultimately, the lesson I’ve learned is that the yeast is in charge. I knew that, but… I didn’t really know that. Luckily, the yeast is dictating that things go more quickly than planned instead of slowing things down.
I’m leaving for vacation next Wednesday, June 4. To reach the 20% ABV I’m hoping for with this beer, I’ll need to add at least seven pounds of light brown sugar before then. Originally, I was planning to spread those additions out much more. Wednesday morning, May28, about twelve hours after pitching the initial yeast, the cakes of Nottingham from my two Single Hop IPAs, 2014 PROOF was down to about 1.030 with an ABV of around 10.5%.
Wow. I added twelve ounces of sugar and the bubbles in the airlock, which had slowed to around two a second after it literally blew the lid off the bucket twice the night before, picked back up to being quicker than I could easily count.
My plan, initially, was to add six ounce of sugar twice a day for ten or so days starting on day three. More research lead me to realize that this was probably not quickly enough. Even my accelerated schedule has not proven anywhere near fast enough for the yeast.
I made a starter with a vial of San Diego Super Yeast and a quart of the initial PROOF wort. I expected to add that two days later, and again the yeast out performed my plan. It was fermented out within twenty four hours and added to the main batch along with a second addition of twelve ounces of sugar.
At this point, my plans are pretty much out the window and I’ve just made a chart to keep track of where I’m at. That chart, filled out to the current state of the beer is below. I will update with where it all ends up later.
My process for adding the sugar starts by taking a gravity reading. At the very least, I want this beer under 1.030 when all is said and done so if it is above that, from now on I won’t add any more sugar until it gets down. About an hour ago, when I added the third bit of sugar, it was at 1.028. I added twelve more ounces to take it to about 1.034.
Once I have a gravity reading, I decide how much sugar to add. I plan to stay with six or twelve ounce additions. I add the sugar to a sanitized pitcher, pour in the gravity sample and get another couple wine thief’s full to make it easy to dissolve the sugar. I stir it up and then I add it back into the fermenter. All of the equipment I’m using is sanitized and while I don’t like adding samples back into the fermenter, if I didn’t do it with this batch, there would be nothing left. With this much activity and alcohol, I’m not too concerned with infection or even oxygen at this point. When things slow down, I’ll definitely be letting this beer sit for a while and hoping it doesn’t have too much oxygen damage.
I plan to add some yeast nutrient with the next sugar addition before bed. After having the last few days off, I’m back to work today which will dictate when I can tend to the beer. As a result, my two sugar additions today will be much closer together and I can’t imagine I’ll be adding another twelve ounces. I’m planning on six, but the yeast doesn’t like when I make plans.
Time Sugar Adjusted OG Gravity/ABV Total Notes
Wednesday Morning 12 oz 1.116 1.030/10.5% .75 lb
Wednesday Night 12 oz 1.123 1.033/11.7% 1.5 lb Added 2nd Yeast
Thursday Morning 12 oz 1.129 1.028/12.4% 2.25 lb
Thursday Night Add Yeast Nutrient
Note: I see that the formatting for my table doesn’t seem to have translated, I’ll try to figure out how to make it looks nice before I post a more complete version later.