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I'm pretty new to home brewing. I made a 1 gallon Belgian Ale kit which came out pretty good and then did a 5-gallon Strong Belgian Ale recipe I found on the internet which also came out pretty well. There were a few funny flavors in it but overall it was pretty decent considering my lack of experience.

So I'm trying to make that same beer again but there were some mistakes made. I also need to verify some information I got from my local brew store

Mistake #1: I screwed up when I was making my wort. I'm using LME for my wort and the way I believe it should be done is you boil the water, stir in the LME and then bring back to a boil before adding your hops. I accidentally added the hops before it was brought back to a boil. I don't know if it is a deal breaker or not hence my asking.

Mistake #2: I'm using a Wyeast smackpack and there are two pockets of nutrients in it. Only one broke. Not sure if this matters?

Information verification: My recipe calls for 2 packages of yeast. I'm using "Wyeast 1388 Belgian strong ale" smack packs but when I went to my local brew store the guy insisted I only needed one. He seemed really knowledgeable and figuring he had more experience than me I went with it. As of last night I'm in the secondary fermentation, but after racking to the carboy and adding the honey to the wort there is no airlock/bubbler activity at all like there was in the first batch I made.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but since I only used one pack of yeast I concerned that there may not be enough yeast left to bring this home.

I added the honey as was noted above with a little warm distilled water to thin it out.

My Gravities: Starting OG was 1.072 Finished and stabilized in about a week at 1.010 I just added the honey last night so I haven't taken another measurement yet.

I think I'll grab a second smack pack to hedge my bets. My understanding (Hopefully I'm not wrong) is that it won't have any effect on the taste of the beer as it will just fall to the bottom when there is no more sugar to eat.

I need to read up on making a starter... I've heard that is really the best way to go.

Sorry for the long first post.

  • Could you provide the recipe you used? – Mr_road Mar 28 '18 at 15:04
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    Re: making a starter, mix up 10g of DME in 200ml of water in a heat resistant flask, and bring to the boild to sanitise the liquid, put a bit of aluminium foil on top and stick in the fridge to cool down to ~20C/68F. Once cooled take it out and pitch in your 2 packets of yeast. This size of starter for 2 packs of yeast is not greatly about scaling up your yeast, but more about ensuring they have a nice wake up call. With dried yeasts it helps ensure they do not suffer osmotic shock when dropped into a strong wort before being fully hydrated. – Mr_road Mar 29 '18 at 8:18
  • If you want to scale up with a starter you will need a bigger starter, the one above is just to get them going before pitching. Here is a good link: homebrewacademy.com/how-to-make-a-yeast-starter – Mr_road Mar 29 '18 at 8:21
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    Gravities down from 1.072 to 1.010 in a week isn't actually that bad. That is an apparent attenuation of 86%. The yeast has done well, so one smack pack was enough. Probably also because it was fresh. – chthon Mar 29 '18 at 10:02
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Mistake 1, really doesn't matter all will be fine.

You may end up with a little more bitterness extraction, but is has been reported that FWH can lead to a more mellow bitterness. I really would not worry at all.

Mistake 2, not really all should be fine

You would get a cleaner flavour profile if you had used 2 packets of yeast,but your yeast should be happy to complete the fermentation it will just take longer and may suffer a little more stress, but on a 5 gal (25l) batch you should be OK.

This does depend on your gravity, and on the yeast you used, and on the temp you pitched, the amount of airation in the wort. For most strong beers it is worth popping the top after about 48 hours letting some oxygen in and giving it a good shake, the yeast needs more oxygen to allow for more reproduction to handle stronger worts.

Regarding your secondary/conditioning, you could add a little yeast from a fresh fermentation to ferment out your honey, or just add another pack of yeast.

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1. Hops before boil This won't be an issue if the recipe calls for them to be a 45min+ addition.

2. Yeast pitch If the recipe calls for two, then use two. Most yeast packs are intended for 5 gallons of 1.040 wort. More yeast is needed for higher OGs. The LHBS may have been inclined to allow for more ester profile, since it's a Belgian Strong which relies on esters for much of its flavor. But again, I would follow the recipe with two packs.

Reduced nutrients This will hinder the yeast health, especially in extract brewing since it doesn't have as much nutrients as with All Grain.

With an underpitch of one pack you will have more esters, but run the risk of the yeast giving up before you reach terminal gravity.

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Mistake #1 actually depends on the recipe:

  • There is a technique called first wort hopping where the bittering hops are added when the wort is collected from the mash. Normally, one would use 10% less hops than when adding them to the boil. The result could be that your beer is a little bit more bitter than anticipated, but letting it condition longer reduces this bitterness
  • If there were different times to add the hops to the boil, but you added them all at once, then your beer will be much more bitter. Again, this is something that can be alleviated by longer conditioning. In this case, probably at least six months.

If you are brewing again five gallons, then I am pretty sure you need two smack packs of yeast. In most cases two packs of dried yeast are recommended for big beers, and smack packs contain less yeast. But the best way to know is with Mr Malty Pitching Calculator

You should have added your honey while still in primary fermentation. The best way is to dissolve it in some hot water, not too much, just enough to make it more liquid, also not too hot, between 70° C and 80° C should be enough, then let it cool covered and sanitary. Or when using honey, plan before hand to save some wort to dissolve the honey in it.

What you will have now is that there is less yeast in secondary, and the honey will probably reside on the bottom of the tun. It could actually ferment out, but it will take longer. Put it in a warmer place if possible, and think of it as conditioning.

  • FWH really doesn't do anything special in extract brewing, all grain only. – Evil Zymurgist Mar 28 '18 at 14:58
  • Sorry I missed answering this. No, The boil runs for an hour: 1 oz (28 g) Target at 60 minutes 2 oz (57 g) Saaz at 5 minutes I followed the timing, but the actual boil didn't start for about 8 minutes – Blackened Mar 28 '18 at 15:33
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What were the gravities? If the fermentation reached a low gravity in reasonable time, the yeast could be in ok condition and eventually ferment the easy sugars from the honey.

Edit: Sorry, didn't read the 1 gallon. In this case, yeah, one smackpack is actually plenty.

One smackpack is definitely not enough though, even two are probably not sufficient to create a clean tasting beer. For example, a 5gal batch of 1.075 need about 350 billion cells, equal to 3-4 new smackpacks. As stated by chthon, use a calculator to calculate the amount of yeast needed.

My advice for the future is to create a proper yeast starter. Those high gravity Belgians really require a lot of healthy yeast, or you will end up with a phenolic overkill. If it does, time is your best bet, it will eventually mellow out a bit.

Welcome and I hope it turns our well!

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