My Christmas 2012 barley wine has been fermenting for 3.5 weeks. This was fermented on a 5th generation 1945 neo brit. that I did a 1500ml starter for 48 hours. NB Barley wine kit with an OG of 1.086 the SG today was 1.030. Moving to secondary for 6 months Saturday. I was expecting a bigger beer. Attenuation of 65% with a 7.55% ABV. Did I under pitch the yeast? Is there anything I need to do now to improve the final product? Thanks in advance for your help.
It may drop a few points in secondary, but not much. I would be sure to purge your carboy with CO2 if at all possible before you rack into it.
You may very well have under pitched and that is why it hasn’t reached your desired FG yet.
I would let it ride up to 6 weeks in primary before racking. That goes against what most people will say is good, but if you really want a lower FG and you are at 1.030 after 3.5 weeks, then I don;t think a few more weeks will be detrimental.
I know people who get +70% attenuation with NeoBrit. I tend to get 66-68%. Those are with dark ales. dark grains tend to lead to a hire FG. And mine are also extract with specialty grains, also lending to hire FG.
Probably did not underpitch with a 1500ml stater. Your FG is still fairly high but not too bad for an English Barleywine, they tend to be fairly sweet. I cannot find information on the alcohol tolerace on 1945 though it should be higher than 7.5%. Might try to repitch with something that is known to have a tolerance more in the 9.0% range if you want to dry it out more because it probably won’t come significantly after the first two weeks.
Was it an extract or a all grain?
It was the NB extract kit with an extra cup of dark brown sugar added at flame out to boost the OG.
As far as underpitching goes, it does seem like the beer was underpitched. 6 gallons of 1.086 wort with even the most fresh yeast vial calls for 7L of a simple starter and around 3L of a stir plate starter. Unless of course you put two vials into the 1500mL starter, then it would be about right.
I wouldn’t expect an extract kit to go much lower; but if you make up a starter of 1056 or even a starter of US-05 and wait until you have a nice layer of krausen on top of the flask, then pitch that into the secondary with the beer kept at a reasonable temperature (65+), you will probably shave a few more points off of there.
I don’t want to be pessimistic but back when we were doing extract kits we went on the “big beer” kick and tried to make a bunch of them, Northern Brewer’s Barlywine included, and none of them turned out terrific.
Not to say that they were bad necessarily, or that yours will experience the same fate, but they all were overly sweet with I’m assuming a really high FG. That said, we knew nothing about temp control and were only pitching one packet of yeast at the time so you’re already a step ahead of us in the starter department but the big beer extract kits just never turned out the way we wanted them to. You may be able to shave a few points but the ABV may be lower than expected and it may be a tad sweeter than you would hope.
All that said, if it tastes good you’re fine, even if it doesn’t hit your expectations.