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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > Strange fermentation
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:11 AM   #1
Skrimpy
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Default Strange fermentation

Started my second batch last weekend and pitched the yeast. It is supposed to be a McSorelys black and tan clone. The airlock almost immediately began bubbling and it was almost like it was boiling. This lasted for about a day. Then the next day it was bubbling less than one time per minute (which I have heard is an indication that fermentation is as far as it's going to go). So I pulled the fermentation jug from the closet and set it on the countertop to bottle. As soon as I moved the jug the airlock began bubbling more frequently, probably about 1once every 15 seconds. As the evening progressed the bubbling slowed to less than 1 per minute again. Thinking this speeding up in bubbling may have been due to agitating the fermentating wort, I shook the jug lightly and it began to bubble again at about once every 15 seconds. My question for those of you with a little more experience is, "Is this normal?" Does it begin bubbling more if agitated? Or is it actually still fermenting? I don't want to bottle this stuff and have the caps blow in the closet.

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Old 06-29-2007, 01:41 AM   #2
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rule #1 of brewing: BE PATIENT

airlock activity isn't the way you determine if the beer is done, because you don't really know for certain that the lid/stopper seals perfectly.

now, to your question: yes, agititating (especially shaking) fermenting beer causes it to release more CO2 in bursts.
it is ok to gently swirl the fermenter as primary ends, as it kicks yeast up from the bottom, which can help finish the last bit. but you don't want to 'shake' it, as this introduces oxygen into the beer, which makes it oxidize...giving you a stale beer taste.

if you don't have one already, get a hydrometer. its the ONLY way to know for certain your beer is done brewing. taking a reading once a day over 3-4 days...if the gravity doesn't change, and is close to your target final gravity...its done.

you could bottle, or you could rack to secondary for another week or two to let it clear...then bottle.

on a side note, its not the caps that'll blow if you bottle too early. the bottles will literally explode. glass grenades. not fun to clean up, and a little dangerous.

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Old 06-29-2007, 02:12 AM   #3
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I second the waiting too! I always leave my beers for a couple of weeks in primary and then another 2 or 3 weeks in secondary before bottling and then leave them conditioning in the bottle for yet another 3 weeks. It sounds like a long time, but it has worked perfect for me.

Be patient, this is a hobby where patience is rewarded! The more you wait (specially in secondary and in the bottles) the better the beer will taste!

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Old 06-29-2007, 05:07 PM   #4
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Its a good thing it did start bubbling again and you didn't bottle it. You would have had bottle bombs for sure as your fermentation wasn't complete.

As your beer ferments the wort becomes saturated with CO2. Agitating it or moving it somewhere a little warmer will result in off-gassing of that CO2. As already mentioned rousing the yeast can also cause further fermentation.

For most beers you should follow the 1-2-3 rule frequently cited here. 1 week in the primary, 2 weeks in the secondary and 3 weeks in the bottle. Beer improves with age (to a point and depending on style). You are not making that process occurr any faster by bottling early. As the previous poster said - be patient.

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Old 06-30-2007, 11:49 AM   #5
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I don't have a secondary. My first batch was an ale and I just let it sit in the bottles for a couple of weeks but I had one bottle sitting in the closet for a couple of months and it was fantastic. I will just wait longer to bottle it, and let the bottles sit longer.

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Old 06-30-2007, 06:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skrimpy
I don't have a secondary.
You may want to consider getting one.

There is a huge difference between the beer I'm making now, and what I made in my previous incarnation as a brewer, some twenty years ago. The stuff I made then was OK, but cloudy and often with a slightly yeasty taste. They'd be fizzy as I poured, but the head and carbonation would quickly dissipate in the glass. My friends were curious to try it, but often weren't terribly impressed.

The beers I'm making now are an order of magnitude better, clear and gorgeous. The carbonation lasts as I drink, leaving beautiful lacings of foam on the edge of the glass. The flavor is clean and crisp with great balance of malt and hops, and a smooth mouthfeel. My friends are amazed at the quality, and can't seem to get enough. (Which is a mixed blessing!)

Mind you my methods haven't changed dramatically, and I'm using most of the same equipment and ingredients. I attribute the startling difference to two things: increased patience, and use of a secondary. At this point, I can't imagine bottling right out of the primary, and I enjoy watching the beer clear and settle in the secondary carboy.
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Old 06-30-2007, 10:39 PM   #7
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^good advice.

At this point there shouldn't be any oxygen in the fermentor, or atleast the ammount is way to insignifigant to cause any concern.

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Old 06-30-2007, 11:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D*Bo
At this point there shouldn't be any oxygen in the fermentor, or atleast the ammount is way to insignifigant to cause any concern.
That's what I figured. I thought if there is a good seal on the stopper (it's only seen one batch before), all that boiling the airlock did before it stopped should have forced most of the O2 out. Also, I have read that the secondary fermentation is used mostly for lagers but have heard of people using it for other types too. The other thing that bothered me about the secondary was that it was more manipulation of the beer outside the already sanitized O2less system increasing the possibility of introducing more O2 or even worse, bacteria...from what it sounds like though, the reward is worth the risk. I will have to pick up a secondary for my next batch.
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