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Old 10-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #1
JohnK93
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Default Beer is in bucket...now what?

Hi all,
I'm brewing my first batch, a Scottish Ale from a kit I got at a local beer store. I put the wort in the fermenting bucket last Saturday and by Sunday morning the airlock was bubbling. It bubbled about once every second until yesterday when it started to slow down. By this morning, no more bubbles in the airlock. My first rookie questions is: is this what's supposed to happen? Should it stop bubbling after 3-4 days?

I was planning on siphoning into a glass carboy for secondary fermenting, but after taking your suggestions and reading up on secondary fermenting, I guess I'll just leave it in the bucket for 3 weeks or so. How do I know when it's ready for transfer? The gravity of the wort was supposed to be 1.045, mine might have been a little lower (1.04), but close. Do I bottle based on time (3 weeks) or based on gravity, and when should I start taking gravity readings?

Thanks for the tips,
John

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:04 PM   #2
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At week 2.5 start checking the gravity. When it is the same reading 2 days in a row it's ready to bottle.

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:13 PM   #3
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I'm hardly an expert, but I'm pretty sure you're good. RDWHAHB. I did probably the same kit for my first brew a month or so ago, messed up a few things, fermented at too high a temp, didn't take gravity readings, etc., and after 3 weeks in the bottle it's seriously good. Airlock activity was almost exactly as you describe, though it still bubbled occasionally for a few more days.

I bottled after 18 days in primary, and wish I'd either added a Whirlfloc tablet to the boil or racked to secondary at least for a day or two, not because it needs it but just so it'd be clearer. The yeast that came with the kit (if it's the same) isn't very flocculant, and I, in my newbieness, stirred things up a little while racking to the bottling bucket, so secondary would have been helpful just for that. You can take gravity readings any time, just wait for it to stay the same for a few days and you're done. Mine tasted not so great at bottling. After 1 week it was a lot better, but not great. There was a huge change for the better at 2 weeks, and at 3 weeks it is superb. Hopefully you'll have a similar experience, or even better. Welcome to the wonderful world of fermentation!

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JohnK93 View Post
Hi all,
I'm brewing my first batch, a Scottish Ale from a kit I got at a local beer store. I put the wort in the fermenting bucket last Saturday and by Sunday morning the airlock was bubbling. It bubbled about once every second until yesterday when it started to slow down. By this morning, no more bubbles in the airlock. My first rookie questions is: is this what's supposed to happen? Should it stop bubbling after 3-4 days?

I was planning on siphoning into a glass carboy for secondary fermenting, but after taking your suggestions and reading up on secondary fermenting, I guess I'll just leave it in the bucket for 3 weeks or so. How do I know when it's ready for transfer? The gravity of the wort was supposed to be 1.045, mine might have been a little lower (1.04), but close. Do I bottle based on time (3 weeks) or based on gravity, and when should I start taking gravity readings?

Thanks for the tips,
John
Last question first: Everything you do should be dependent on gravity readings, not days or time or bubbles or anything else.

Yes it is possible activity has slowed to the point where you no longer see bubbles but the yeast is still busy finishing up and knocking down those last few gravity points. Ideally you wait a minimum of 2 weeks before checking for final gravity. Then take 2 readings over 3 days and if the readings are unchanged the beer is done fermenting.

Once FG has been verified you can decide to either rack to secondary vessel to clear or leave it an additional week or two in the primary, either way is fine. If the beer is already clear you can certainly package it with no consequence.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:27 PM   #5
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Yep. You're good. just try to keep the bucket fairly cool (search "swamp cooler" if you need help with that), and start planning your next batch.

3 weeks is more than enough time for a small beer like that to ferment completely and clean up the off flavors, so just decide on a day you plan on bottling, take a gravity reading 3 days prior (make sure it's close to what the kit said for your FG, post on here if it's not), and take another on bottling day just to be safe that it hasn't changed.

Congrats.

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:55 PM   #6
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Thanks a lot!

The yeast in the kit was a Wyeast 1728. The bucket is in my spare room, which is staying at about 63-67 degrees, so I think the temps are good (kit recommends 66-68). Sounds like you guys are recommending racking to a secondary for a few days after the primary to clarify a little? Is there a big risk of overexposure to oxygen in doing this?

Thinking of doing a hefeweizen for my next batch...not my favorite (I like IPA's and hoppier beers) but I've gotta keep my wife happy so she'll let me keep doing this!

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Old 10-11-2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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I wouldn't secondary this. Just leave it and cold crash if your concerned about clarity. (Drop temp to 34-36 for couple days before packaging - this helps drop yeast and clear beer).

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Old 10-11-2012, 02:41 PM   #8
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Thanks, DocScott. I knew that old fridge in the garage would come in handy

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Old 10-11-2012, 02:51 PM   #9
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I wouldn't secondary this. Just leave it and cold crash if your concerned about clarity. (Drop temp to 34-36 for couple days before packaging - this helps drop yeast and clear beer).
Agreed. I only mentioned secondary for clarification because i don't have a fridge big enough to cold crash, and assume that most new brewers don't. Whatever works. My second brew was 100% clearer than my first because it spent a few days in secondary.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:59 PM   #10
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Hello JohnK93, The answer to your first question is yes, primary fermentation is very active for the first 3 to 5 days most of the time, then slows down dramatically (little to no air-lock activity) is normal, and is actually your beer going into secondary fermentation even if your brew is in a primary fermentation bucket.

And using a secondary vessel on your brews is a preference, as stated by wordsmith using a secondary fermenting vessel can be beneficial for clarifying, aging, etc, if using a secondary IMO waiting a "minimum" of 2 weeks before transferring to secondary gives your yeast time to do their job better, then once in the secondary vessel give it at least a week to clarify/age, also this way you will not have to worry about the yeast cake getting stirred up when transferring to the bottling bucket, as stated by wordsmith.

If you use a primary fermenter only, IMO give it a "minimum" of 2 1/2 weeks time to let the yeasties do their job, and then start checking your gravity readings.

Im not trying to nit pick, Im just trying to help, to clarify this > The gravity of the wort was supposed to be 1.045, mine might have been a little lower (1.04), but close. Im guessing you left off a digit? I do that sometimes too, so was your OG reading 1.040 ?

To answer this question> Do I bottle based on time (3 weeks) or based on gravity, and when should I start taking gravity readings? Use gravity readings, start taking them at the earliest 2 1/2 weeks after brewing day, I use the 3 days in a row at the same gravity reading method before bottling, some times I skip a day in the 3 days in a row if Im busy.

Welcome to brewing JohnK93, sounds like you made beer!

Cheers

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