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Old 08-07-2011, 09:20 PM   #1
wbtenor
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I feel like I can finally have a lot of control with fermentation. But, I have questions about best practice for all of the steps I may be incorporating (these may be out of order):

Primary (7-10 days @ 64)
Dry hop (4 or 5 days in)
Temp raise (to 68 )
Cold crash (1+ days @ -50)
Secondary (2 weeks @ 64 again?)
Dry hop (2nd) (4 or 5 days from kegging)
Keg
Mature

I tend to brew higher gravity American styles. I know all these steps aren't necessary (secondary, etc) but I wanted to see what you guys do temp and step-wise.

In addition to my serving freezer, I have a chest freezer and refrigerator, both with temp controllers. I also still have my water bath that can control temps great from the higher 60's on up. I tend to ferment around 64 and it's been suggested I ramp the temp up toward the end of fermentation, but don't know how that ties in with cold crashing (before/after).

I'm not in a hurry to get from brewday to glass. I have enough volume and variety on tap to keep me happy and patient. Thanks for any suggestions and tips!

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Old 08-08-2011, 04:39 PM   #2
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Looks like you have a good idea of it there... you don't necessarily need to assign a number of days to a step... I let the yeast tell me when its ready before moving on. As far as what I do different, generally I don't dry hop during the active part of fermentation and once I chill the beer down I don't warm it back up again. I also wouldn't secondary after I cold crash as there would be no need to unless you are adding a different yeast.

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Old 08-08-2011, 04:51 PM   #3
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The bulk of my beers are fermented with US-05 or Nottingham, so my fermentations are pretty predictable. I ferment in a Sanke keg and I don't bother with gravity readings until after kegging the brew (special cases, like my saison, and my upcoming lager, are exceptions), so I hope they stay predictable ;-)

Typical ferments are 2-4 weeks, entirely in primary.

Pitch day: Pitch 3-4 degrees cooler than target ferment temp. Let rise in temp-controlled fridge.
Main ferment: 60-68 degrees (dep. on style), run until I see the bubbling NEARLY stop. Usually 3-6 days.
Temp raise: After fermentation has slowed down considerably, I let the beer free-rise to 72 degrees to allow the yeast to continue any "cleanup".
Maturation: Once temp is at 72, I usually let sit at least a few days, and at this point is when I add dry hops.
3 days prior to kegging: start cold-crashing to 40 degrees, add gelatin to clarify.
Kegging day: CO2 force transfer from fermenter to kegs.

Since you keg, I'd skip the secondary. Go a few extra days in primary, then cold crash a little longer to ensure you drop sediment, and transfer to keg. If you want to continue a "secondary" for aging purposes, just keep your keg at room temp rather than in your serving fridge.

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Old 08-08-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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That's an odd looking schedule. So you primary for a week (let's hope you check the gravity), you dry hop it once in the primary (seems like a waste), then you raise the temp(diacetyl rest?), then you cold crash (to drop out all the yeast), then secondary (what's the point since you cold crashed already), then you dry hop again (since you're two weeks from the original dry hop and the temp has fluctuated a lot, I'm assuming all effects of the first dry hopping are long gone), then you keg and mature. I'm sorry but that looks like an incredibly wasteful schedule.

For me, each beer is different. But let's say I'm making an IIPA which would be similar to your preferred styles. I would put it in the carboy, set the temp based on what flavor I want, generally I do 70F with 1272 to get some fruity esters, let it ferment for 2 weeks and take a gravity reading. If it's done (which it always has) then I dry hop it for 10-14 days (sometimes less depending on the beer but I always do at least 10 on my IIPA). Then I'll cold crash it for 2-3 days (if I want clear beer), then I'll keg, carb and enjoy.

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Old 08-08-2011, 05:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverCityBrewer
Looks like you have a good idea of it there... you don't necessarily need to assign a number of days to a step... I let the yeast tell me when its ready before moving on. As far as what I do different, generally I don't dry hop during the active part of fermentation and once I chill the beer down I don't warm it back up again. I also wouldn't secondary after I cold crash as there would be no need to unless you are adding a different yeast.
You say you cold crash. Are you talking about an Ale or Lager? What does this do for the beer?
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krduckman View Post
You say you cold crash. Are you talking about an Ale or Lager? What does this do for the beer?
You only need to cold crash ales, since to lager you have to keep it near freezing for a few weeks/months anyway. Cold crashing just causes yeast and other particulate matter to settle to the bottom faster.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tips here. Basically, all of these steps are things I've heard other brewers talk about and tried incorporating. It's basically all about clarity. The few times I haven't done secondary, I've ended up fairly cloudy. With secondary, unbelievably clear. So, I'm superstitious now, but that was before I had the ability to cold crash. Still, I just keep picking up a lot of trub when racking from primary.

I'll try skipping secondary the next few batches and just cold crash before kegging as suggested.

My LHBS is big on hopping in primary, and I've been reading on double dry hopping for IIPA's recently, so it's something I was experimenting with.

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Old 08-08-2011, 08:08 PM   #8
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Dry hopping in Primary makes sense if you don't secondary. If you do secondary I personally would dry hop then.

I don't secondary my beers, but with a cold crash, they run clear after the first couple of pints.

My typical schedule for a beer less than 1.070 looks something like this:
Primary (10-16 days @ 64, make sure krausen has dropped!)
Dry hop and Temp raise(after 10-16 days to 68-72)
Cold crash (2+ days, after 18-24 days @ ~40F)
Keg (be very careful avoid racking any yeast or trub, dry should drop off the surface before kegging)
Mature (force carb @ ~12psi in the keezer, no shaking, takes about 10 days to 100% fully carb)

Most beers are ready to drink around days 30-35. Sometimes I can be done quicker but with my setup I tend to get peak flavors around day 35 anyway.

I highly recommend using a stir starter for every beer. Ensures plenty of active yeast for a healthy ferment. Try and pay some attention to your aeration practices as well.

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Old 08-08-2011, 08:50 PM   #9
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It's basically all about clarity. The few times I haven't done secondary, I've ended up fairly cloudy. With secondary, unbelievably clear.
Have you tried gelatin? After my transfer to the keg, my beer is pouring pretty clear within 2-3 days, and VERY clear within a week or so. With kegged beer prior to using gelatin, it would often take 3 weeks in the keg before it had cleared.
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:24 PM   #10
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Have you tried gelatin? After my transfer to the keg, my beer is pouring pretty clear within 2-3 days, and VERY clear within a week or so. With kegged beer prior to using gelatin, it would often take 3 weeks in the keg before it had cleared.
Along these lines...

If I want to ensure a particular beer is clear, I normally add Gelatin to Primary at the start of the cold crash.

My process for using Gelatin is something like:

Use Grocery store purchased UNFLAVORED gelatin. I normally get the Knox brand since that is all I can find around here.

Heat about 1 cup of water to boiling and let it cool for about 2 minutes. Put 1/2 pack of Gelatin into the water and swirl with a sanitized spoon until dissolved. It is important not to boil the liquid after adding the Gelatin.

Add directly to primary right before initiating cold crash.
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