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Old 05-26-2012, 05:01 AM   #1
kaiost
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Default New brewer fermentation question

My second batch of beer (NB petite saison kit w/ wyeast 3711) has been in primary for 13 days. I just took the gravity reading, and it seems to have fully attenuated (OG= 1.039; FG= 1.005). I waited this long to take the reading because I'm still getting bubbles through the airlock. In fact, they aren't much less frequent than they were after the first week.

So my question(s): 1. how reliable a guide is "wait until airlock activity stops", especially if I want to avoid opening up the carboy regularly?; 2. what am I to make of the long fermentation time? Temperature (taken twice a day) was between 69 and 70 from day one until now; 3. I assume I should just bottle now?

One more point that I'm curious about: my first brew (Hefe) had a very vigorous first few days, requiring a blow-off tube. This brew never did. When I looked in during the first week, there was vigorous swirling. Now, there doesn't seem to be much movement, but there are very little bubbles coming up from the bottom of the carboy. I just tried a small amount taken with the beer thief, and it tastes slightly carbonated. Any idea why, what's causing it, and what it means?

Apologies for all of the questions -- just very curious what more experienced brewers suggest. Thanks!

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Old 05-26-2012, 05:19 AM   #2
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Wait another day or two then take another gravity reading. If it is the same fermentation is finished. I have had one that bubbled for 3 weeks and actually bubbled a little, rattling the caps, when I was bottling.

I always let my beer ferment for 3+ weeks. This allows the yeast to clean up off flavors often created during the height of the fermentation process.

You will get differing opinions on leaving the beer on the yeast. Some will say to bottle as soon as fermentation is complete and others will say 4 weeks or more. I split the difference and go with 3 weeks.

Different recipes and different yeasts will give you different amounts of krausen. I have even had some similar recipes with the same yeast give totally different fermentations. One blowing off and another with a very small krausen.

As to the carbonation. The fermentation process and what is escaping the airlock is co2, which is carbonation. So there is a little in there even before bottling/kegging.

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Old 05-26-2012, 05:24 AM   #3
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What temp is the beer?

Airlock activity means nothing, don't use it for anything, Gravity is everything.

Saison yeast like to get nice and warm, upper 70's and even into the low 80's so you were actually fermenting at the low end of the yeast range which is probably why it took a little longer than expected. Heat that up to about 75F or so if you can and see if it drops more, Saison generally goes pretty dry. If a couple days at 75 don't change your FG then you should be fine to bottle unless you want to cold crash it to ~40F for a week or so to clarify better.

The carbonation you tasted is dissolved CO2 and is very normal, especially if fermentation is just finishing.

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Old 05-26-2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Give it few more days and check again. With an OG of 1.039 it should go a few points lower, but if it is an extract recipe 1.005-1.004 is probably where it will end up.

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Saison yeast like to get nice and warm, upper 70's and even into the low 80's so you were actually fermenting at the low end of the yeast range which is probably why it took a little longer than expected.
That is true for most Saison yeasts but 3711 is another beast altogether. It works just fine at the temps the OP listed. No need to get it that hot. Wyeast lists the recommended temp range at 65-77. I have used it a lot at 68-70 and it always ferments out fully.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:46 AM   #5
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Thanks very much for all of the feedback. I waited three additional days, taking gravity readings each day. I let in more light into the room (though the carboy itself stayed in the dark), which raised the temperature up to 72. I didn't see any change in gravity readings, so I bottled. I'll update again when it's through!

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Old 05-30-2012, 04:56 AM   #6
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hefeweizens need blowoff at 68 and up for two reasons... the yeast is super active at that temp, and the high protein nature of wheat leads to the kreusen's slower dissipation during fermentation. fermenting at a lower temp like 62 greatly reduces the odds for needing a blowoff tube.

when your beer is finished fermenting it still has a lot of co2 in solution. if after fermentation is complete the temperature rises, that co2 will come out of suspension, causing airlock bubbling despite fermentation being mostly complete.

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