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Old 09-21-2010, 01:56 PM   #1
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Default Bunch of noob mistakes leads to stalled ferment?

So - my question is a variety of newbie questions all rolled into one problem - which, may not be a problem at all and I'm just overly paranoid about blowing my first batch...

Brewed the first batch on Saturday and decided that I wanted to watch the ferment take place, so instead of doing the easy thing of pouring into one of the buckets (although in my defense my kit did come without a strainer), I decided I'd move forward with the 6.5 gallon carboy. Except of course my kit also came without a funnel. So, as soon as I got the wort down to 80 degrees (accompished with a few bags of ice), I auto-siphoned into the carboy...which of course introduces next to no oxygen (something I predictably thought about after the wort was entirely in the carboy). Immediately thereafter I pitched the small packet of Munton's yeast (which I did not re-hydrate - although the kit did say that was not a requirement). The ambient air was in the mid-70's Fahrenheit. About 6 hours later the yeast clearly began the fermentation process and within about 12 hours I had very aggressive activity in the air lock and a thick layer of krausen. 12 hours later the activity in the air lock slowed and the krausen remained. The carboy temp rose to about 80 degrees as it stored in my kitchen with a small window - indirect sunlight. I chose to move the carboy into a different room (nothing is kept constantly cold at home and I have not tried a wet towel as of yet) where the ambient air is about 5 or 6 degrees cooler with much less sunlight. Since then the air lock has virtually stopped bubbling, the krausen is all but gone, and I've started wondering if there's not enough oxygen in the carboy to complete the ferment.

Now I know that the air lock and the krausen are not absolute indicators of fermentation, so I wanted to try a hydrometer reading. Except of course I don't have a thief, and while the kit did come with a hydrometer, it did not come with a tube. If I go ahead with a reading, should I do it in the carboy, and if so, how do I extricate it after I'm done? (this would also be a good time to mention that I did not do an SG reading - yeah, stupid me, but the recipe suggests between 1.042 and 46, so I figured a 60%+ reduction from that would indicate, roughly, if fermentation has actually completed) If I auto-siphon I'll need to find a vase or something tall enough to do this in I'd presume until I can get my hands on a tube (and yes, I can't just order one up and expect it here in the next week - I live in Asia and it takes several weeks to get the shipments in).

Long story short - I know dry yeasts can finish their fermentation very quickly and it's entirely possible I've done no damage to what I hope will be beer. I've relaxed and had a beer (though, not a homebrew yet), but I'm still a bit worried and would love to do a hydrometer reading in a way that makes sense given my lack of equipment. I did spin the carboy once in the hopes of getting a little more activity, but I don't want to do anymore until I get some third-party advice that is clearly better than my own lack of natural intuition.

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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You should get your hands on a turkey baster. I use it to extract beer for Hydro readings and it was only $2 at the grocery store.

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:23 PM   #3
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This is all you need.


Until you take a reading you don't know anything about what your beer is doing...I see nothing to lead me to believe you have a stalled fermentation....Just that your airlock isn't bubbling, that is not the same thing.

It just sounds to me that fermentation is doing what it is supposed to do, slow down eventually and because it is slowing down, the airlock doesn't NEED to release any excess co2- which is it's only job.

I am sure everything is fine. You have krausen...that means you have fermentation.

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:27 PM   #4
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A turkey baster and something to put it in - guess I will have to try and track down some sort of test tube for the hydrometer given that I have nothing else in the house that's tall enough to support it. And I had krausen, but it's now dissipated. Is it too early to crack the airlock and dive into the ferment with the baster or should I wait the prescribed week+ first?

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:30 PM   #5
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Do you still have the little round plastic tube that your hydrometer came it? It's not great but it will do in a pinch. Have someone else hold it up while you fill it with the santized turkey baster.

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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I do indeed, and I had given that thought but was concerned about a heavy leak and bad readings, but...makes sense to me, why not give it a shot. Appreciate the encouragement!

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:51 PM   #7
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You had a quick and probably complete fermentation. Often these low gravity beers are mostly done within 48 hours. The high fermentation temp accelerated the process even further. The only possible problem would be esther formation from the high temp as most ale yeast are cleaner at 68 degrees or so. Anyway, the best thing to do at this point is keep it in a cool dark place for awhile while you wait for a theif to arrive and then check the gravity. Three weeks plus in the primary is a good thing. The aging will allow the yeast to clean things up so that by the time you are ready to bottle or keg I'm betting the beer will be great!

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:56 PM   #8
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I'm glad you ask these questions because some of them sound like the same problems I go through. However the one question I was hoping that would get answered was about your fermenting temp. mid 70's-80. I'm interested to know if some of these more experienced brewers think that is to high of a temp. Mine ferments at around 76 or 77. so far my first batch had no issues so I think that temp is ok

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Old 09-21-2010, 02:57 PM   #9
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^nevermind. thanks tdoft

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Old 09-21-2010, 03:00 PM   #10
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My biggest concern about this is the sunlight, whether it be direct or much less. You do not want ANY light hitting this carboy. Light will react with the hops in the beer and produce a skunky aroma/flavor. At the very least, you should cover it with something to block out the light but a closet is probably your best bet ( no light ).

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