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Old 12-10-2012, 07:03 PM   #1
welker85
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Default Double the yeast to increase fermentation? Secondary required?

Hey all,

Please bear with me as I'm a "brewbie" and this is my first time posting here.

I visited my local brewer on Saturday with the intent of brewing a beer in time for a family Christmas Eve party. I was told that most beers wouldn't be ready by then, but that I could double the amount of yeast in my primary to increase fermentation speed (without affecting flavor, he said) and have it ready in time for Xmas. My primary is now happily bubbling away right next to me while I anxiously wait for it to finish, but I do have quite a few questions:

1) What would have happened if I didn't pitch that second vial of liquid yeast? What can I expect from this batch to be different, since it has two vials?

2) When do I take my next gravity reading? I've read that it's usually sometime after bubbling stops in your air lock.. when that happens, do I just open the cover of the primary, stick in my thief and take my gravity reading, and then repeat the process the next day to see if it's changed?

3) The recipe kit I used doesn't call for a secondary fermentation stage, but the recipe also didn't take into account that I used two vials of yeast. Would secondary fermentation be helpful for this, and would it just slow the process down even more?

4) When I eventually rack the beer from my primary into my bottling bucket, I just take the lid off of both and then use my autosiphon to transfer the beer to the bottom of the bottling bucket, correct? I recall reading something about minimizing the amount of air you get into the beer, how do you do that precisely?

5) And lastly, the recipe I used used two different types of hop pellets and some dried orange peel. Although the recipe said to put all of them into different muslin bags at various stages of the wort, is that really necessary? I mean, it's going to all be strained out when you put it into your primary anyway.. I know the recipe was referring to hop plugs and not pellets, but since they ran out they put hop pellets in it instead, and I'm wondering if it's okay to NOT use a muslin bag with pellets / things like orange peel.

I'm sorry this is a pretty lengthy post, but I appreciate any help you experts can provide!!

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Old 12-10-2012, 07:22 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by welker85 View Post
1) What would have happened if I didn't pitch that second vial of liquid yeast? What can I expect from this batch to be different, since it has two vials?
Depending on the beer and the date on the vials of yeast, you may have pitched enough, too much or too little. Check out this webpage to get a good grasp on how much yeast is enough for your beer:
http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html
Pitching more yeast will speed up the growth phase of the yeast but it will not speed up fermentation.

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2) When do I take my next gravity reading? I've read that it's usually sometime after bubbling stops in your air lock.. when that happens, do I just open the cover of the primary, stick in my thief and take my gravity reading, and then repeat the process the next day to see if it's changed?
Take the gravity reading when you think it's done. Chances are, it will be done within a week but I always let my beer sit for three weeks.

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3) The recipe kit I used doesn't call for a secondary fermentation stage, but the recipe also didn't take into account that I used two vials of yeast. Would secondary fermentation be helpful for this, and would it just slow the process down even more?
If you want this beer to be ready by Christmas Eve, skip the secondary. In fact, I say you should always skip the secondary but that's just my preference.

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Originally Posted by welker85 View Post
4) When I eventually rack the beer from my primary into my bottling bucket, I just take the lid off of both and then use my autosiphon to transfer the beer to the bottom of the bottling bucket, correct? I recall reading something about minimizing the amount of air you get into the beer, how do you do that precisely?
Minimize the air by not splashing it around. Siphon silently.

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5) And lastly, the recipe I used used two different types of hop pellets and some dried orange peel. Although the recipe said to put all of them into different muslin bags at various stages of the wort, is that really necessary? I mean, it's going to all be strained out when you put it into your primary anyway.. I know the recipe was referring to hop plugs and not pellets, but since they ran out they put hop pellets in it instead, and I'm wondering if it's okay to NOT use a muslin bag with pellets / things like orange peel.
Some people dont use bag and dont strain it before dumping into the primary. It will just result in a little more gunk in the bottom, which wont hurt anything. I use a hop bag but that, again, is just preference.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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Dont rush your beer, it will be ready when it's ready, you can't force it to be ready by a certain date. Primary fermentation will be over when you get the same gravity reading over 3 days, I personally go for about 3 weeks in primary only on almost all my beers, then another 3-4 weeks in bottle. Back when I started I rushed my beer a bit cuz I didn't have a nice pipeline to keep me distracted.....usually I realized with the last bottle that the beer was finally perfect, while good previous I drank it all while it was decent and not ready and excellent

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Old 12-10-2012, 07:33 PM   #4
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i think that was really solid advice by the guy at the brew store. more yeast means a faster ferment with fewer ("off") flavor compounds being created by the yeast. you want this for the 24th, go for 5 days in the primary, measure for FG, then cold crash outdoors for one day, then siphon and bottle. easy peasy. if you're still bubbling after 5 days, you have no choice but to wait it out. i think it will be done though.

how long was it from pitching the yeast to seeing your first bubble? what temperature did you pitch at?
what is the temperature of your fermentation room? what kind of beer is this? what was the OG?

the VERY LATEST you need this in the bottle is by this Friday.

for future reference, this is pretty suboptimal. my 'ready by christmas beer' was brewed on 11/17

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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i think that was really solid advice by the guy at the brew store. more yeast means a faster ferment with fewer ("off") flavor compounds being created by the yeast. you want this for the 24th, go for 5 days in the primary, measure for FG, then cold crash outdoors for one day, then siphon and bottle. easy peasy. if you're still bubbling after 5 days, you have no choice but to wait it out. i think it will be done though.

how long was it from pitching the yeast to seeing your first bubble? what temperature did you pitch at?
what is the temperature of your fermentation room? what kind of beer is this? what was the OG?

the VERY LATEST you need this in the bottle is by this Friday.
I'm not quite sure when the first bubble was, but I would have to guess a couple of hours or so? This was yesterday, on Sunday. The recipe calls for the yeast to be pitched at around 65-75 degrees, I think mine was closer to 65-67, since we put the wort in an ice bath before straining it into the water in the primary. The OG was 1.054.

It's a "Golden Nectar of Belgium" recipe kit I purchased at my local brewery - I guess I'll list the ingredients here - 2 cans light LME, 1lb light Belgian candy sugar, 1/2 lb. pale malt, 1/2 lb. wheat malt grain, 1/4 lb. crystal malt, 2 oz. chocolate malt, water salts, 1.5 oz. Hallertau hop pellets, 1/2 oz. Saaz hop pellets, tablespoon corainder seeds, ounce of dried orange peel, a teaspoon of Irish moss, and then the two vials of a "Belgian strong ale" liquid yeast.

What exactly is "cold crashing"? Just sticking it in my garage or something where it's a lot colder? What about in a fridge?

Edit: Also, thanks a TON for all the quick responses / great advice! I truly appreciate it.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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I think that was terrible advice from the guy at the brew store. Over pitching yeast will not really make it ferment faster and it will cause off flavors. It might cut the lag time by a few hours maybe, but nothing that would make it worth doing. There is a correct amount of yeast to pitch for every beer and anything below OR ABOVE that will result in off flavors. There is good bit of wiggle room where you won't really notice the off flavors, but if you are too far off from the correct amount, bad things happen. As was said before, use the Mr. Malty pitching calculator (http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html) to figure out how much yeast. If this was a 5 gallon batch then I think 2 vials of liquid yeast is pretty close to what you should have pitched, depending on the OG. Also, don't bottle until you have a couple days of consistent gravity readings. You can't judge fermentation to be over by airlock activity.

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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I think that was terrible advice from the guy at the brew store. Over pitching yeast will not really make it ferment faster and it will cause off flavors. It might cut the lag time by a few hours maybe, but nothing that would make it worth doing. There is a correct amount of yeast to pitch for every beer and anything below OR ABOVE that will result in off flavors. There is good bit of wiggle room where you won't really notice the off flavors, but if you are too far off from the correct amount, bad things happen. As was said before, use the Mr. Malty pitching calculator (http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html) to figure out how much yeast. If this was a 5 gallon batch then I think 2 vials of liquid yeast is pretty close to what you should have pitched, depending on the OG. Also, don't bottle until you have a couple days of consistent gravity readings. You can't judge fermentation to be over by airlock activity.

Yeah, looking at the calculator, 2 vials actually seems to be closer to what it should've been.. OG having been 1.054 and the amount being 5.5 gal (recipe called for 2 gal of water for the wort and then 3.5 gallons in the primary fermenter).. which is surprising, because the recipe kit only comes with 1 vial of yeast, but the guy recommended a 2nd one if I wanted to possibly get it ready for Xmas. Was that good or bad advice though? Seems to be conflicting opinions in here.

Also, does anyone know what kind of final gravity I should be shooting for? The recipe didn't say.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:22 PM   #8
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your final gravity will be when you hit consecutive SG readings over 3 days time, that's when it's done fermenting, primary fermention!. BUT you might want to let it sit a good week more to ''clean up''. That's when all the yeast get hungry and start eating their own byproducts and make better beer.

2 vials with no starter is the recommended dose for a 5 gallon batch, ~200 billion cells per 5 gallons is perfect, one vial has only 100 billion cells.

Even if the recipe gave you an estimated FG that doesn't neccesarily mean anything, something under 1.020 with a steady reading over multiple days is what you're looking for. That's when you know it's done....mostly.

I let all my beers sit 3 weeks minimum before bottling, I think you could rush it with low OG beers but at 54 pts.....Sorry bro, you're best off realizing that that beer isn't ready by xmas, wait until it's ready and drink it when it's ready.

Pitiching more yeast doesn't mean it's finished faster.

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Old 12-10-2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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your final gravity will be when you hit consecutive SG readings over 3 days time, that's when it's done fermenting, primary fermention!. BUT you might want to let it sit a good week more to ''clean up''. That's when all the yeast get hungry and start eating their own byproducts and make better beer.

2 vials with no starter is the recommended dose for a 5 gallon batch, ~200 billion cells per 5 gallons is perfect, one vial has only 100 billion cells.

Even if the recipe gave you an estimated FG that doesn't neccesarily mean anything, something under 1.020 with a steady reading over multiple days is what you're looking for. That's when you know it's done....mostly.

I let all my beers sit 3 weeks minimum before bottling, I think you could rush it with low OG beers but at 54 pts.....Sorry bro, you're best off realizing that that beer isn't ready by xmas, wait until it's ready and drink it when it's ready.

Pitiching more yeast doesn't mean it's finished faster.
What do you mean "at 54 pts" exactly? And to measure the gravity now, do I just take the lid off of the primary and take a sample with my thief and do it that way, or is there some sort of special way to not get oxygen in there? And what about cold crashing it instead of letting it sit once fermentation has completed?
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:37 PM   #10
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Here's an option which I wouldn't recommend to ever duplicate, but may work for your situation as a one time deal. Let this ferment until December 15th and bottle on the 15th or 16th at the latest. You need at least a week to get carbonation so that gives you plenty of time. 3 weeks is the suggested wait time for bottles, but lots of people are satisfied waiting one week and having lightly carbed beer. Plus if it's not finished fermenting by the 16th that's ok because you will be drinking all the bottles in less than 2 weeks so bottle bombs shouldn't be a problem.

I think if you did something like this you are still going to have great beer and it will *probably* be carbed by Christmas eve. Just my thoughts.

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