The first time I brewed this, I didn't use a starter either. I instead pitched one vial of yeast at first, then after 3-4 days I pitched two more. I shook the primary for the oxygenation. While this attenuated the wort into a correct FG and ABV%, it did not result in ANY carbonation after 5 months of bottle conditioning. I can see where that went wrong... when I had the beer in the secondary, I let it sit for a week too long (with yeast that was stressed). Although uncarbonated, the 5 month old brew tastes amazing (a little sweet though). I decided to drop 15 or so grains of Nottingham dry yeast in each bottle and recap for hopes that it would carbonate. It's been 10 days since, and I'm starting to get some carbonation, but not as fast as I hoped for. I guess I'll have to be more patient. This sure tastes good though.. especially now that the yeast has eaten some of that sugar! Now, I tried the recipe again, but this time I added the AHS Oxygenation Kit (got an $8 bottle of oxygen from Home Depot - the red canister) to the procedure. I also made a yeast starter this time. I experienced 75% attenuation so far but am leaving the beer in the secondary for a little longer to get closer to 80%, however, I'm thinking I'll be fine at around 9.25% abv instead of 10%+ because I feel like the longer the yeast sits in the secondary, the less the chance of carbonation in the bottle later. This beer will taste a little weird right before transferring to the secondary because it needs a lot of time to condition in the bottles. Once you get to about 5 months, I'd say it is ok for drinking. Maybe when you're tipsy/drunk, go hide a couple bottles somewhere that you'll dig up a year from now and you'll be happy :) I would ONLY brew this beer again with a yeast starter, no matter the option that the instruction sheet seems to give. It highly recommends a starter, and so do I. With high gravity beers, it is a good idea to just get that Oxygenation Kit and be done with the worrying. I can tell that this beer will be my favorite, ever!
Reviewed by: Old Site Reviewer from United States.