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I recently found this beer recipe on Brew Awesome! (love this site).

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

I bottled the beer and let it sit for about a month. When I finally cracked one open to try it was incredibly sweet and sugary! What went wrong? I am thinking the yeast didn't fully eat all of the sugars...

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Did you take a final gravity reading? It's a big beer, so it's entirely possible that the FG didn't drop down all the way. Also, it calls for "1 White Labs WLP 500 Belgian Trappist" yeast, did you use just one vial? –  Scott Nov 13 '13 at 21:24
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More details about your measured gravities, how long in primary fermentation, how much priming sugar would be helpful. –  mdma Nov 13 '13 at 23:49
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Is it carbonated? If it's over carbonated, you need to deal with it right now, as pressure is going to continue to build in the bottles and they will explode. –  Tobias Patton Nov 14 '13 at 6:08

2 Answers 2

A few things:

  • Unless you took a final/terminal gravity measurement and compared that to your initial gravity reading (assuming you took one), you have no way of knowing the actual attenuation (percent of solution fermented) and gauge that against the yeast's potential. Therefore you really can't pinpoint if this is a fermentation issue or a bottling issue (or both).
  • If you're brewing a bigger beer (frankly anything above OG 1.060) and didn't make a yeast starter or pitch multiple packs/vials of yeast, you will likely end up with under-attenuated beer or one with a lot of very hot alcohol flavors (stressed yeast).
  • Bottle conditioning should really only take four weeks, perhaps six at the most, if you're conditioning around 70ºF. If going into fermentation your yeast culture didn't have sufficient numbers, nutrients, and oxygenation, it's quite possible there just isn't the kind of yeast population sufficient to produce more CO2.
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Did you hit your final gravity? If you are below 1.02 and the beer is in a cool place you should be good from exploding bottles...hopefully.

Belgian Strongs particularity using WLP 500 take a long time to develop. Tuck it for a few months. If it's in bottles but it in a empty 12/24 pack so that if the bottles to pop your not mopping your ceiling.

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Do you mean 1.020? 1.02 is not the same it could be between 1.015 and 1.025 - the final 0 is important since it gives an indication of the precision of the measurement. –  mdma Nov 15 '13 at 22:15

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