The first thing I discovered during the brewing process of PROOF, was that I was mistaken about San Diego Super Yeast. I thought it was suitable for extremely high gravity and alcohol beers, similar to Super High Gravity Yeast. Both strains are from White Labs some how, I got the idea that both were similarly rugged in high gravity beers.
Maybe it was just the shared “Super” in the names, whatever it was, I was mistaken. San Diego Super Yeast is not intended for higher than normal ale yeast gravities. I think the number of different yeasts I threw at this beer was one of my biggest mistakes. Super High Gravity Yeast was probably the way to go all along.
Instead, I started with a huge second generation Nottingham cake, then added San Diego Super Yeast from a starter. Then, I added some Champagne yeast, which didn’t seem to do much of anything. Finally, I added Super High Gravity Yeast, which got the fermentation going a little bit further. It has done a commendable job of getting some light carbonation in the bottles, as well.
I was shocked by how quickly the gravity dropped after one day with the Nottingham yeast and started adding sugar earlier than planned. Every time I added more sugar, I made sure that the gravity was down to 1.030, where it had been for the first addition, before adding more. I should have waited longer and I should have gotten the gravity lower each time. The finishing gravity was close to that same number.
Speaking of sugar, I used light brown sugar. With the added caramelization from the second boil made this unnecessary. The molasses in the brown sugar added more caramelization and along with the high finishing gravity, it was just too much. Simple, white cane sugar would be a better choice, I think.
Stepping back to brew day, I was surprised by how high the gravity of the second runnings, which became Evidence, were. It seems like it would be a good idea to just collect more wort in the first place. I already did a two hour boil, but maybe I need to extend it even more so I can start with a higher volume and concentrate it.
The original plan was to dry hop this stuff into the ground. The unexpected level of caramel sweet maltiness made be decide to skip this. I still think that a serious dry hopping regime would be a good idea for a beer of this size, but I don’t think it would have mixed well with what this beer became. I think with the lessons I have just explained, coming back to the dry hopping idea would be great.
I have some more ideas to update my recipe, as well as ways to implement the lessons I learned, but I will cover them tomorrow. I will finish out PROOF Week with my plans for the next edition of PROOF.