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pcancila 09-17-2009 02:53 PM

Can You Add Sugars to Increase Alcohol after Wort is in Fermentation Tank?
 
This is more of a curious question.....

I am getting ready to bottle my first homebrew. I used an ipa kit from brewers best. I brewed the batch last Sunday 9/13, the next morning on Monday the fermentation was going crazy, last night it slowed down and this morning it seems to have have stopped.

The recipe noted that fermentation should be visible for about 4 - 6 days so its seems i am in the right time window to bottle this weekend. However, i was wondering... I also have a secondary fermentation tank that i could go into? Would there be any benefit? Is so, what would it be and how long should i keep in the secondary?

My main question is... Since fermentation stopped, is there anyway to bring it back to life and achieve a higher alcohol content. I hear you could add more fermentables to the wort to achieve this, but can you just add sugar to a fermentation tank or did i already miss my chance to do this?

Can i re-pitch with yeast and go to a secondary?

Or is it time to bottle my first homebrew and gear up for my next?

Pete

erock2112 09-17-2009 03:03 PM

There's a little bit of into on this kind of thing here:

Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Techniques - 21% Alcohol All-Grain Beer

but they use wort rather than sugar. You may have missed the window if fermentation has nearly completely stopped. You'll find a lot of arguments both ways concerning secondary ferments.

defenestrate 09-17-2009 03:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pcancila (Post 1553122)
This is more of a curious question.....

I am getting ready to bottle my first homebrew. I used an ipa kit from brewers best. I brewed the batch last Sunday 9/13, the next morning on Monday the fermentation was going crazy, last night it slowed down and this morning it seems to have have stopped.

The recipe noted that fermentation should be visible for about 4 - 6 days so its seems i am in the right time window to bottle this weekend. However, i was wondering... I also have a secondary fermentation tank that i could go into? Would there be any benefit? Is so, what would it be and how long should i keep in the secondary?

My main question is... Since fermentation stopped, is there anyway to bring it back to life and achieve a higher alcohol content. I hear you could add more fermentables to the wort to achieve this, but can you just add sugar to a fermentation tank or did i already miss my chance to do this?

Can i re-pitch with yeast and go to a secondary?

Or is it time to bottle my first homebrew and gear up for my next?

Pete

first things first, did you take a gravity reading before pitching the yeast? have you taken one since? that is the only way to tell if fermentation is complete. bubbling in the airlock doesn't tell the full story of whats going on.

its hard to answer any of your other questions with out knowing the answers to my question... but i would not recommend moving it to the secondary- not until atleast 3 weeks (since IPA's are generally a little stronger and could use a little time to mellow out) a lot of us dont even secondary, just 2-5 weeks in the primary.

i wouldnt be concerned with adding sugar to get more alcohol... especially not knowing what your alcohol is at right now. you might have a really good ipa going and could ruin it by just being concerned with more and more alcohol.... but the answer is yes you can add sugar to the primary, but i've never heard of it done in an IPA... its usually done to help a beer finish dry, and in an ipa you usually have some residual sweetness there to balance the hops.

my 2 cents, hope it helps.

Evan! 09-17-2009 03:03 PM

A) Whatever directions told you that you should bottle whenever fermentation is done should be burned. Ale fermentations can take anywhere from 24 hours to a week or more (typically 1-5 days, though). However, once that's done, they need a good 2-3 weeks of "conditioning" in the primary vessel, so that they yeast can clean up their mess.

B) The general consensus these days is that a "secondary" vessel is unnecessary unless you're adding fruit or dryhopping or something like that. Just leave it in the primary vessel until you're ready to bottle/keg.

C) You can add sugar and the fermentation will probably start right back up. That having been said, why do you really want to do this? All adding sugar will do is up the alcohol and dry/thin the beer out. What's your impetus?

pcancila 09-17-2009 04:54 PM

Guys thanks for the replies!

I do not plan on adding sugar to the fermentation vessel anymore! The idea struck me this morning as i was reading through some other post. However you all brought up great points.

So forget I ever asked about adding sugar. (again, i am new to homebrew and i am still internalizing all the info and methods i possibly can)

So you are suggesting that i do not bottle this weekend and let the ipa mellow out a few more weeks, despite the recipe directions?

My OG was 1.050, however my kit said it should be between 1.061 - 1.065. I actually posted a few days ago about this. the forums consensus was that i either did not stir my top water in with the wort enough or i failed to account for temperature. My guess is i did both! I have not taken a gravity reading to track the process. Is now a good time to do so? I heard some people say that taking a gravity reading puts your beer in danger of oxygen contamination and to just take a FG when you bottle to determine abv?

I am a big time hop head. I love bitter beers with lots of bite and abv! :rockin: so thats why i was asking about increasing the abv, however i do not want to ruin the beer with unbalancing the flavors.

Thanks again for the input. this forum is awesome!

Pete

Evan! 09-17-2009 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pcancila (Post 1553443)
So you are suggesting that i do not bottle this weekend and let the ipa mellow out a few more weeks, despite the recipe directions?

That's exactly what I'm saying. So many recipes/kits have terrible directions that tell you to "ferment for 7 days, then bottle" or some similar tripe. Fermentation is not measured in time, the yeast don't watch a clock.

Quote:

My OG was 1.050, however my kit said it should be between 1.061 - 1.065. I actually posted a few days ago about this. the forums consensus was that i either did not stir my top water in with the wort enough or i failed to account for temperature. My guess is i did both! I have not taken a gravity reading to track the process. Is now a good time to do so? I heard some people say that taking a gravity reading puts your beer in danger of oxygen contamination and to just take a FG when you bottle to determine abv?
If you have a thief, that's the best way to take a sample. The biggest concern when taking samples is bacterial/wild yeast contamination, but as long as you adequately sanitize your thief, that shouldn't be an issue. Just make sure not to add the sample back to the fermenter!!! As for oxidation, there's a blanket of c02 on the beer, so I wouldn't be concerned about that either.

Quote:

I am a big time hop head. I love bitter beers with lots of bite and abv! :rockin: so thats why i was asking about increasing the abv, however i do not want to ruin the beer with unbalancing the flavors.
Well, I suggest you get a refractometer, which allows you to take gravity readings during the boil, instantly. Regardless, if you were to add sugar, it would up your ABV, but might also dry it out and that's not a good thing in this style. You could add some more malt extract, but then you'd have to boil up a new portion, and that would lower your IBU's and hop character, and, well, again, not a good idea. Don't worry about the alcohol! If you wanna get drunk, just toss a shot of vodka into the glass...;)

ChshreCat 09-17-2009 06:14 PM

If this was an extract recipe, then you're OG was very, very likely what they say it should be and you just got a thinner sample from near the top of your fermenter. It's hard to get thick wort and top-up water mixed up.

Don't totally forget about the technique of adding sugar to the fermenter later in the process. It comes in handy with some styles that use simple sugars as regular ingredients. I did that with my saison last month and it worked great.

Evan! 09-17-2009 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChshreCat (Post 1553607)
If this was an extract recipe, then you're OG was very, very likely what they say it should be and you just got a thinner sample from near the top of your fermenter. It's hard to get thick wort and top-up water mixed up.

Don't totally forget about the technique of adding sugar to the fermenter later in the process. It comes in handy with some styles that use simple sugars as regular ingredients. I did that with my saison last month and it worked great.

Word. Saisons, Bieres de Garde, Belgian Golden Strongs...

carnevoodoo 09-17-2009 06:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evan! (Post 1553592)

Regardless, if you were to add sugar, it would up your ABV, but might also dry it out and that's not a good thing in this style.

Says you. I love dry IPAs.

Edit: A lot of big IIPAs have sugar in them as well.

Evan! 09-17-2009 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by carnevoodoo (Post 1553630)
Says you. I love dry IPAs.

Edit: A lot of big IIPAs have sugar in them as well.

I like balanced IPA's.

~80 IBU's and an FG of 1.006 is, to me, not balanced, but YMMV.


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