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Old 08-23-2006, 11:17 AM   #1
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Default How high is too high for final gravity?

This question has several parts. A lot of people here seem to do their primary ferment for a week (that 1-2-3 rule), but the Joy of Homebrewing says you can rack to the secondary fermenter as soon as fermentation slows significantly or stops, which is usually on the third or fourth day. What's the deal here?

Last night I racked the beer from my plastic primary fermenter to my glass carboy. My OG was 1.066, and when I took a reading last night, it was 1.028. Is this too high for (what will presumably be) final gravity, or will that give a nice body to it?

Also, why wasn't all the sugar burnt off? I've heard that an aquarium aerator is a good thing to get and place in the wort during the primary fermentation, but wouldn't that introduce contaminants?

Next, I have some dry lager yeast, but I originally pitched liquid White Labs German Bock yeast. Should I hydrate the dry yeast and pitch it?

Lastly, this was supposed to be a bock, but when I took a taste test, it tasted a lot like a raspberry wheat beer with a funny aftertaste once in a while. How much do bocks mellow? Will the flavor improve with the aging in the secondary fermenter and bottles?

Thanks all!

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Old 08-23-2006, 04:08 PM   #2
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It sounds like you may have a bit of a stuck fermentation. You're at just over 50% attenuation, and that yeast should get up to 70-76% according to White Labs. That gives you an FG of around 1.018...assuming that you haven't added too many "unfermentables" (body enhancers like lactose or maltodextrin). Is there any activity in the airlock at all? If so, just let it keep going. If not, you can try repitching to start fermentation again (your dry yeast will probably work just fine). In addition, lager yeasts tend to work more slowly than ale yeasts, so 3 or 4 days is probably a bit early to be racking from the primary.

Most homebrewers only aerate/oxygenate their wort before pitching the yeast. I use an oxygen stone and small oxygen bottle for 1 to 5 minutes just prior to pitching. Others use the aquarium pump setup you mention (must be filtered well to reduce contaminants), and others just splash the wort a bit as they pour it into the primary. Some folks advocate aerating every couple of hours during the first few days of primary fermentation, but this is risky. Every time you open your fermenter, you increase the risk of infection. If you aerate too much after pitching (more oxygen than the yeast can use), you risk oxidizing your beer and making it "stale" before it ever hits the bottle.

As for the fruity flavor, what's the temperature of your fermentation? Lager yeasts like cooler temps (48-55 degrees for your strain), and the higher the temperature, the more likely you'll introduce off flavors like fruity esters.

Your beer should mellow quite a bit with age. Lager is German for aging, and your style calls for an extended aging period to allow the flavor to develop.

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Old 08-23-2006, 04:36 PM   #3
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Wow, great response, thanks!

I didn't add any body enhancers, but I did add three bags of raspberries (sorry, I forgot to mention that). Could that be the culprit for the stuck fermentation?

It's fermenting at room temperature (probably between 70-75 degrees), because there is literally no room in my apartment for a fridge to keep this stuff cool, as I know lagers like to be kept. I don't know how to get its temperature down. Perhaps I better stick to stouts in the future.

I'll hydrate the other yeast packet and pitch it tonight.

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Old 08-23-2006, 04:49 PM   #4
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Interesting recipe - sounds more like a Raspberry Steam Ale than a bock. Your raspberries are certainly contributing some of the flavors you're talking about, and I hope you washed them REALLY well before throwing them in. They are probably not the culprit of your fermentation problem, though. I have little experience with fruit in beer, but from what I understand, most brewers avoid adding whole fruit and use purees or extracts to flavor their beer. There's a section in your book dealing with fruit additions.

You can cool the fermentation a few degrees by wrapping it with a clean wet towel.

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Old 08-25-2006, 04:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage
I have little experience with fruit in beer, but from what I understand, most brewers avoid adding whole fruit and use purees or extracts to flavor their beer. There's a section in your book dealing with fruit additions.
Not to be contrary but to get a good real fruit flavor, fresh or frozen fruit is a must.
On a side note the fermentation is probably still going. And in the future stick to using ale yeast if you don't have the ability to lager your beer.
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Old 08-25-2006, 09:28 PM   #6
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Fresh or frozen fruit is more likely to cause a blowout, since the fermentables are almost 100% frutose, which ferments fast and completely.

Most pro brewers don't use fresh fruit because it's a real pain and it varies too much from batch to batch. Homebrewers use fresh fruit often, it's cheaper.

Very high temperature for that yeast. Also, lager yeasts take much longer than ale yeasts, give it at least another month.

1-2-3 is for ales, not lagers.

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Old 08-28-2006, 02:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Fresh or frozen fruit is more likely to cause a blowout, since the fermentables are almost 100% frutose, which ferments fast and completely.

Most pro brewers don't use fresh fruit because it's a real pain and it varies too much from batch to batch. Homebrewers use fresh fruit often, it's cheaper.

Very high temperature for that yeast. Also, lager yeasts take much longer than ale yeasts, give it at least another month.

1-2-3 is for ales, not lagers.
But would the lager yeast even be alive at this point? I can't get my temperature down in my kitchen to lagering temps (and if I could and did, my wife would kill me).
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Old 08-28-2006, 04:22 PM   #8
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I think you're all over the map and worrying about too many things, based on too little knowledge and experience. Try reading up on brewing basics before your give yourself a heart attack.

1) Room temps do not kill/inhibit lager yeast. True lagers are fermented at around 50 degrees and lagered for months at 30-34 degrees. Fermenting at room temps will just give the beer a fruity taste, not dry and crisp.

2) transferring from primary to secondary vessels does not stop or inhibit fermentation. You can move the beer at whatever point you believe the beer will no longer cause a blowout, irrespective of whether it's one day or one month

3) you must never introduce oxygen once fermentation has begun. This will cause severe oxydation and make the beer taste like wet cardboard. If there was not enough oxygen to start with, fermentation would have been very slow to initiate or not started at all.

4) If you used a liquid lager yeast and a pile of fruit but fermented it at room temp, you can't expect it to taste like, or be called a bock.

There's no need to panic at this point and waste more yeast. Chill for a few weeks and let nature take it course.

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Old 08-28-2006, 04:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Fresh or frozen fruit is more likely to cause a blowout, since the fermentables are almost 100% frutose, which ferments fast and completely.

Most pro brewers don't use fresh fruit because it's a real pain and it varies too much from batch to batch. Homebrewers use fresh fruit often, it's cheaper.
While it is true that fresh or frozen fruit is more work the result is better. Most of the time it is not cheaper, and lots of pro brewers do use it. Most good Micro's use fresh or frozen and every Belgian brewery I have talked to or read about use fresh.
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikey
I think you're all over the map and worrying about too many things, based on too little knowledge and experience. Try reading up on brewing basics before your give yourself a heart attack.

1) Room temps do not kill/inhibit lager yeast. True lagers are fermented at around 50 degrees and lagered for months at 30-34 degrees. Fermenting at room temps will just give the beer a fruity taste, not dry and crisp.

2) transferring from primary to secondary vessels does not stop or inhibit fermentation. You can move the beer at whatever point you believe the beer will no longer cause a blowout, irrespective of whether it's one day or one month

3) you must never introduce oxygen once fermentation has begun. This will cause severe oxydation and make the beer taste like wet cardboard. If there was not enough oxygen to start with, fermentation would have been very slow to initiate or not started at all.

4) If you used a liquid lager yeast and a pile of fruit but fermented it at room temp, you can't expect it to taste like, or be called a bock.

There's no need to panic at this point and waste more yeast. Chill for a few weeks and let nature take it course.
Thanks! I guess I'll just let it sit, then, and see what happens.

/Sticking to ales until I get a bigger place and a fridge for my fermenter
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