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Old 12-31-2008, 04:59 PM   #1
Jaxford
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Default Newb question for higher gravity fermentation

I've got a blond ale in primary that I've added some extra ingredients to (7lb dme). It's been going for a week and my airlock is still bubbling about every 5 seconds. I don't remember that much activity on previous brews so I assume that the extra DME and high gravity yeast are still going strong.

Was wondering if anyone can provide feedback as to if this is normal for a HG ale and if I should move to secondary now or wait until there is less activity.

Was also thinking about tossing a single vanilla bean into the secondary for a subtle flavor add but have never had a blond strong ale with vanilla. Is that a bad mix?



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Old 12-31-2008, 05:27 PM   #2
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nooooo! WAIT UNTIL ITS DONE! I just jumped the gun on one of my IPA's and it finished high. Let it sit until your hydrometer readings match when taken a few days apart and i usually wait until the krausen completly drops back into the beer. Its not gonna hurt you to leave it in primary for an extra week or so. WHat was your starting gravity, recipe and what yeast did you use.



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Old 12-31-2008, 06:06 PM   #3
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Well as I said I'm still a newb (this is my 6th brew) and I have never checked gravity since using the basic kits and staying close to directions. Lesson learned there as I'm seeing the value and importance.

As for the ingredients...

Wyeast 1056 American ale (fermenting between 70-73)
3lbs Extra light DME
3lbs Light DME
2 cups Crystal Malt
Mt Hood Hops (bittering and aroma)

1 vanilla bean (debating with myself on adding to the secondary)

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Old 12-31-2008, 07:33 PM   #4
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interesting. Usually you go by weight as opposed to cups but i am getting the general idea....You deffinitly need to get yourself a hydrometer- it will tell you when the beer is done. If you still have foam on top then wait because patience=good beer

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Old 12-31-2008, 07:42 PM   #5
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skip the vanilla bean. you have a good recipe there and you don't want things to go wrong because of a stupid spice that shouldn't be in beer in the first place. (yeah, yeah, i'm a beer nazi)

don't add spices until you can create and excellent base beer. do a few more brews first.

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Old 12-31-2008, 08:26 PM   #6
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OK... I get the part about the hydrometer and will use one next time. Judging on what you all know about my igredients and yeast, what do you think my ABV will be?

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Old 12-31-2008, 09:39 PM   #7
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When in doubt, wait...

My first couple of brews, I left them in the primary 2 weeks before bottling.

Then I got a hydrometer, and started measuring so I could bottle as soon as it finished (typically somewhere around the two week point).

But then I got lazy and started leaving things a week or more extra in the fermenter even after the hydrometer stopped moving. Boy did that make a difference! Cleaner, better balanced, just overall better beer.

I think it's easy to worry too much about exactly when something is done. Waiting a little longer won't hurt, and it will very likely help.

Plus, every brew is different. Even with the exact same recipe and yeast, I've had one brew finish up within 4 or 5 days, while another was still burbling two weeks in.

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Old 12-31-2008, 10:09 PM   #8
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+1 on waiting

There's plenty of people who don't use a secondary at all so leaving in the primary to be on the safe side won't hurt anything.

As for your ABV...I think there are some tools that can give you an expected OG based on your ingredients (I don't have one) but you'd need that hydrometer again to get your FG.

If I were to guess though...I'd say it should be around 5%

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Old 12-31-2008, 10:37 PM   #9
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+1 on waiting - let it finish and clear for a few more days, then to secondary.

also +1 on leaving the vanilla bean out. Your own statement that you have never had a strong blonde with vanilla should be your clue. You might end up with 5 gallons of something you won't like. Finish the brew as is, then try to find some commercial beers that may help you decide if a vanilla brew is something you would like.

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Old 12-31-2008, 10:44 PM   #10
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On the vanilla thing:

I have a major problem with wanting to add too much crazy stuff to my recipes. Every time I have a good idea, I just don't know when to stop. "hmm, maybe some cinnamon? how about a little black pepper? plus some honey, and a chilli pepper, and lemongrass, and orange peel, and..."

What I finally figured out is, most of these weird and whacky spices work just as well added at bottling time as they would earlier in the process. So you don't have to risk ruining a whole brew just to experiment.

With a 5 gallon batch, you end up somewhere around 25 bottles (or 50 if you like the 12 oz ones). So, just put two or three bottles to one side for your experimenting. Take your flavoring of choice, soak it in vodka overnight to sterilize, then guess how much would be appropriate. Put your guess in one bottle, half of your guess in another, and double your guess in a third.

This way you end up with a large amount of un-messed-with beer for regular drinking, friends, partners, etc, plus you get to try multiple levels of strength of your crazy idea as opposed to just one, so you can get a really good idea as to how it works.

If you like it, you now know exactly how much to scale up your addition so you can dose the whole batch in the secondary next time around. And if you don't like it, well, you just ruined a couple of bottles rather than the whole batch...

(personal discovery: I really like maybe a quarter of a stick of lemongrass in a blonde, but serrano peppers not so much, and my girlfriend can't stand either :-)



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