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Old 02-28-2006, 12:08 AM   #1
Steve973
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Default Does 3 minutes between bubbles mean it's done?

Hey all...

We brewed a high gravity belgian ale back on 11 December and it looks like it's finishing its fermentation now. We started with WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity, and it appeared to stall badly after we transferred it to the secondary after a week or two. So we added some "yeast energizer" plus a vial of White Labs high gravity yeast, and soon it was chugging along again fairly furiously. Now it's eleven weeks later and the bubbles appear to be 3-5 minutes apart. This is just my estimation, and not based on timing the bubbles in the airlock.

Would everybody say that it'll be safe to bottle anytime now? We intend to bottle in champagne bottles with corks, and we'll be going for a high volume of CO2 so that we're close to style. Should we go ahead and do this?

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Old 02-28-2006, 12:17 AM   #2
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I'd wait longer. It's a Belgian. No need to rush it if you want it to taste its best.

You're going to prime it when you bottle and go for a lot of carbonation. If you're wrong and it isn't done, bottle grenades. Though it is pretty tough to blow up a champagne bottle.

As far as it stalling when you racked, it may just have been that you knocked the CO2 out of solution on transfer. Then the yeast have to build the CO2 level back up to saturation before you see bubbles (supersaturation). My guess is it didn't stall. There's nothing about racking that stalls a fermentation usually.

With these big beers, it really is a good idea to wait and wait and wait some more. Even when the bubbles stop, there are still good things happening to the beer flavorwise, especially a Belgian high gravity brew.

Cheers

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Old 02-28-2006, 12:19 AM   #3
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It should be done by now although sense you had problems with the fermentation, I would suggest taking a hydrometer reading to make sure it's at the finished gravity. What was the SG before you added the yeast the first time? 11 weeks? fermentation should be complete.
I'm not familiar with using corks. Sounds interesting though.

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Old 02-28-2006, 04:21 AM   #4
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The OG was about 1.085. I'm not exactly sure what the FG should be, but if we're at 1.015 I'd say we would be just about finished. Eleven weeks is a long time, but at least we know that we won't be drinking green beer. I'm going to add more of the White Labs high gravity yeast for bottling. This fermentation is too long and needs some fresh bottling yeast!

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Old 02-28-2006, 05:33 PM   #5
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The airlock is a poor indicator of fermentation activity, however, when the airlock is bubbling, it indicates to me that something is still happening in there, and it needs more time. I don't bottle until there is absolutely no sign of life (fermentation) AND the gravity is down below 1.015 AND the beer has been in the secondary for more than two weeks.

But that's just me.

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Old 03-09-2006, 09:35 PM   #6
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This is one of those cases where I really think a hydromenter is not just a "bit of a toy" as I know some people here see it as.

When you're brewing a special beer like this one, and especially with adding more yeast along the way and so on, it is a pretty good idea to take that hydrometer reading before bottling.

I would say that after 11 weeks it should pretty much be done fermenting as such and is bottle-ready, but what you need to do when taking gravity readings is not just go by how low the FG is, but the FG being stable in your readings over a number of days.

If your yeast gives an attenuation of around 80% under ideal conditions, then your FG on a beer with an OG of 1085 can really be anywhere between 1012 and 1020 or so. 1020 can be as low as it'll go.

Since you're going for pretty high carbonation already, I would suggest reading a few times over the few days, making sure the gravity is stable.


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Jens-Kristian

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Old 03-09-2006, 09:45 PM   #7
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When in doubt, take a reading. I have a refractometer with auto temp. adjustment. I got it on ebay and I love it for these kind of readings. You only need a little bit and it is so quick and easy.

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