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Old 03-21-2008, 05:14 PM   #1
jdoyle83
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Default How to proceed?

My latest batch has been fermenting actively for ten days now. I assume this is a good sign, but my previous batches (although there have only been four) all finished up within 3-4 days, and were ready to be racked into a secondary or bottled within a week. I am just a little curious as to what is going on inside that bucket.

I think there are a few factors that could explain the increased activity: This batch has more fermentables (7 lbs of DME and 1/2 lb crystal) than the other 5-gallon batches I've done, I used a different dry yeast (safale us-05 instead of munton's), i pitched at a slightly lower temp (mid-70's instead of mid-80's), and I used a blow-off style tubing setup (although it's in a 6.5 gal bucket instead of a carboy so there's no actual blowing off) instead of an airlock.


I plan on dry hopping this one (i don't know what style ale this is going to be, but dry hopping can't hurt it) in a glass secondary. Should I wait until the 2 week mark then rack it, or wait until there is no more activity? 2 weeks seems like a long time in the primary at 66-68F, and won't it finish in the secondary anyways, especially if I dry-hop for another 2 weeks? Is this a normal amount of time for a higher gravity brew [OG around 1.072] to be in the primary? the tube is still producing a good 'glug' every two minutes or so.

any clues would be appreciated...

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Old 03-21-2008, 05:39 PM   #2
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Well, each fermentation is different so you can't really judge this one because the other four were faster. The only way to know when it's done is to use a hydrometer.

Still, as long as there is activitity, it's best to leave it alone to finish. If you rack it before it's done, a couple of things could happen. First, you could stall it when you remove it from the yeast cake and end up with a stuck fermentation. Remember, "secondary" fermenter is not the proper term. It is a clearing vessel. Fermentation should be complete before moving it to the clearing tank (called a bright tank in breweries), although sometimes it will drop a couple more points after it's moved. You can't count on that though.

For a higher OG brew, I wouldn't even consider looking at the fermenter for 2 weeks, and wouldn't rack before 3 weeks. After the fermentation is finished, the yeast are still busy cleaning up after themselves and eating their own waste products. They do this best while still in the fermenter, because there are more yeast cells to do the job. Another reason to not rack until it's finished, and then wait a little longer.

You did some better things this time- pitching at a better temperature for example, will really improve your brews. I always pitch my yeast at under 70 degrees, to minimize off-flavors from stressed yeast. Your other fermentations took off like a rocket because of the higher (bad) temperature. Slow and steady is often a good sign of a healthy fermentation.

The other issue is dryhopping. You dryhop after fermentation is done. If you add dryhops while the beer is fermenting and outgassing co2, the aroma that you are trying to add will blow off as well.

Patience is the greatest virtue in homebrewing!

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Old 03-21-2008, 05:50 PM   #3
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Default FYI: the recipe

Here's what's in there:

steeped: 8oz Crystal 60l
4oz Roasted Barley

Extract*: 4 lbs Light DME
3 lbs Amber DME
(*Added w/ 20 min left to 3 gallon boil)

Hops: 1 oz millenium, 15%aa (60 min)
1/2 oz East Kent Goldings, 5%aa (20 min)
1/2 oz East Kent Goldings, 5%aa (3 min)
[Planned: dry hopping, 1 oz fuggles (depending on availability) for 1-2 weeks]


I won't really know until it's done, but what style(s) of ale do you think this recipie might approach? I had originally planned to go with challenger or northern brewer for bittering, but the brew supply I went to had neither. I am not sure what style of beer Millenium hops are usually used in. Also I am worried that the 4 oz of roasted barley may be a bit much from what I have been reading. My roomate and I had wanted to make a red ale, but I think the choice of bittering hop and the use of roasted barley (maybe should have gone toasted instead?) were deviations from the classic style.

I'm sure it will still taste good; if we can't classify it, we'll just name it and brew it again.

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Old 03-21-2008, 05:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew

For a higher OG brew, I wouldn't even consider looking at the fermenter for 2 weeks, and wouldn't rack before 3 weeks. After the fermentation is finished, the yeast are still busy cleaning up after themselves and eating their own waste products. They do this best while still in the fermenter, because there are more yeast cells to do the job. Another reason to not rack until it's finished, and then wait a little longer.

That's reassuring.
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