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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Cloudy Brew after Primary
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:40 PM   #1
mwsmith15
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Default Cloudy Brew after Primary

Hello all,

This is my first try at a home brew. I used a boxed Brewer's Best IPA and followed the instructions to a tee. I moved from first stage to second stage today (after 5 days) and noticed that the beer is very cloudy. I didn't use any moss as the recipe didn't call for it. Will Second stage clear this up?

OG and gravity in primary before moving to secondary are right on. Gravity is a little low now for FG, but I assume it will reach this in the secondary.

Thanks!

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Old 01-24-2010, 04:08 PM   #2
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The longer you leave it in a secondary, the more it will clear up. Most kits will never be as clear as commercial beer, but don't be afraid of cloudy beer. It will be just fine.

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Old 01-24-2010, 04:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mwsmith15 View Post
Hello all,

This is my first try at a home brew. I used a boxed Brewer's Best IPA and followed the instructions to a tee. I moved from first stage to second stage today (after 5 days) and noticed that the beer is very cloudy. I didn't use any moss as the recipe didn't call for it. Will Second stage clear this up?

OG and gravity in primary before moving to secondary are right on. Gravity is a little low now for FG, but I assume it will reach this in the secondary.

Thanks!
sounds like it was still fermenting when you moved it to secondary. 5 days in primary is way too short, Ive been following the 3 weeks in primary rule and you just cant go wrong with it.
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:18 PM   #4
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I had read 4-6 days should be plenty in Primary as long as you were getting 1 bubble per minute. I will keep it in primary longer next time I guess

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Old 01-24-2010, 04:23 PM   #5
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I had read 4-6 days should be plenty in Primary as long as you were getting 1 bubble per minute. I will keep it in primary longer next time I guess
yeah fermentation time varies, if you keep your beer in primary for 3 weeks the yeast will clean up after themselves by absorbing any byproducts they created. Bubbling in an airlock should never be used as a gauge. use your hydrometer.
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:24 PM   #6
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I had read 4-6 days should be plenty in Primary as long as you were getting 1 bubble per minute. I will keep it in primary longer next time I guess
First off, never go by airlock bubbling....Some fermenters never show a bubble what so ever. And other times bubbling slows down, but the beer is still fermenting.

Your airlock is not a fermentation gauge, it is a VALVE to release excess co2. Often after the peak of fermentation has already wound down, there's simply no need to vent off any excess co2 but the beer often still fermenting.

The bubbling just means that it is venting excess CO2, nothing more. If it's not bubbling, that only means that it is not producing enough co2 to need to vent.

If your airlock was bubbling and stopped---It doesn't mean fermentation has stopped.

If you airlock isn't bubbling, it doesn't mean your fermentation hasn't started....

If your airlock starts bubbling, it really doesn't matter.

If your airlock NEVER bubbles, it doesn't mean anything is wrong or right.

Fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happening, doesn't mean that any-thing's wrong,, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working diligently away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years.


The 1-2-3 method, or anything that advocates moving a beer out of primary based on a time frame of just a few days is NOT one of the best methods out there, even sillier than going by airlock action.

Moving your beers arbitrarily after a week doesn't factor in the lag time that often happens to our yeast (as illustrated by the "Fermentation can take 72 hours...." thread. )

If you have a 3 day lag time while the yeast is reproducing, and then arbitrarily decide to rack your beer on the 7th day, you are racking with only 4 days or so of fermentation and more than likely racking way too soon.

You see many threads were new brewers who do that panic becausue suddenly they see this ugly growth on top of their beer after a couple days in secondary. That growth we end up telling them after they post a picture is a krausen and it's because it wasn't finished fermenting to begin with, and got kicked up agin by racking.

OR they post after a week or two in secondary that their beer is stuck somewhere between 1.030 and 1.020....and we tell them that happened because they again racked too soon. and left the yeast they needed to finish the beer behind....

Or they rack over when there is still even a krauzen on top.

So I don't believe in using the 1-2-3 method unless you are counting 1 on the day you actually see a krauzened formed on top of their beer.

In Mr Wizard's colum in BYO awhile back he made an interesting analogy about brewing and baking....He said that egg timers are all well and good in the baking process but they only provide a "rule of thumb" as to when something is ready...recipes, oven types, heck even atmospheric conditions, STILL have more bearing on when a cake is ready than the time it says it will be done in the cook book. You STILL have to stick a toothpick in the center and pull it out to see if truly the cake is ready.....otherwise you may end up with a raw cake....

Not too different from our beers....We can have a rough idea when our beer is ready (or use the 1-2-3 rule which, like I said, doesn't factor in things like yeast lag time or even ambient temp during fermentation and do things to our beer willy nilly, like moving it too early, or thinking our beer is going to be drinkable at 3 weeks....but unless we actually stick "our toothpick" (the hydrometer) in and let it tell us when the yeasties are finished...we too can "f" our beer up.

You can't really do something arbitrarily, you have to learn to "read" your beers, the hydrometer is the best way to do that.

You will find that many of us leave our beers in primary for 3-4 weeks (or more) and only secondary if we are adding fruit or oak, or to dry hop (though many of us dry hop in primary now as well)....and we have found our beer vastly improved by letting the beer stay in contact with the yeast.

There's been a big shift in brewing consciousness in the last few years where many of us believe that yeast is a good thing, and besides just fermenting the beer, that they are fastidious creatures who go back and clean up any by products created by themselves during fermentation, which may lead to off flavors.

Rather than the yeast being the cause of off flavors, it is now looked at by many of us, that they will if left alone actually remove those off flavors, and make for clearer and cleaner tasting beers.

Even John Palmer talks about this in How To Bew;

Quote:
Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
If you do decide to secondary, without a hydrometer, then wait til about 14 days after you pitched yeast, that way you will make sure that the beer has finished, and also give it a couple days for the yeast to clean up the byproducts of fermentation that lead to off flavors (and more than likely won't be cleaned up in secondary away from the yeast.)

Then leave it in secondary for another 2 weeks.

But please, make your next purchase a hydromter, and learn to use it....don't rely on arbitrary idiocy like the 1-2-3 rule or airlock bubbling as your guide...they are both flawed methods...

And often you will find that the yeast have their own timeframe, and agenda, because it is they who are in charge after all, not us. They've been doing it for 45 million years, so they are pros...

But realistically, the only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with [B]your hydrometerThink evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

Thinking about "doing anything" without taking a hydrometer reading is tantamount to the doctor deciding to cut you open without running any diagnostic tests....Taking one look at you and saying, "Yeah I'm going in." You would really want the doctor to use all means to properly diagnose what's going on. It's exactly the same thing when you try to go by airlock....

But without a hydrometer, then WAITING is the best answer as to when to secondary (again if you choose to, many these days don't and it has even been covered on Basic Brewing Radio and in Byo, the long primary/ no secondary shift in brewing consciousness.)

Your hydrometer, like patience is your friend. Learn to use both of them and you will make great beers.

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Old 01-24-2010, 04:46 PM   #7
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Thanks for the reply, as posted in the OP, I do have a hyrdometer, and used it. The reading I got was within .006 of what the FG should be. I guess the best practice is to not look at this value either and take daily readings and wait for it to stop? I didn't want to do this as I thought you wanted as little oxygen interaction as possible.

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Old 01-24-2010, 07:53 PM   #8
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i think that the amount of oxygen you'll get in your beer from opening it to check the gravity is probably negligible, and yes, from what i've read, thats the best way to do it. check a few days in a row and see if it stays constant. if its constant for 3 days or so, its probably ready

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Old 01-24-2010, 08:05 PM   #9
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Thanks Mike!

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Old 01-24-2010, 08:58 PM   #10
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Reasons for cloudy beer after primary listed most common to least common. An excerpt summarized and badly misspelled from "The Home Brewery: Home guide to brewing, fermenting, and other self sufficient task."

Presence of soluble compounds and minerals : This will cause beer to appear cloudy. There are several soluble compounds and minerals in the process of making home brew anything from yeast partials to unsettled hop fibers and sediment. The process of fermentation acts as the mixing spoon helping to completely dissolve into solution. Much of this sediment settles out though out fermentation as the gravity drops and the liquid loses its ability to hold solids, and more of these solids will dissolve into solution as the alcohol level rises because some are most soluble with alcohol then merely with water.
This is the most common reason for cloudy beer while the process of fermentation is still ongoing.
Too short a primary time : From what I have learned primary time is the time where fermentation is the most active, commonly lasting until 80-90% of the expected final gravity has been reached. Always check with a hydrometer for the recommended 3 continuous days in order to get an accurate and stable reading. Rack before primary is complete reduces the yeast population, stirs up settled sediment, and allows the introduction of heat and new oxygen into the fermentation; all of which can boost fermentation temporary and possibly cause trouble with fermentation farther along the road to the finished product.
This is also one of the most common reasons for cloudy beer, often among new brewers whom have yet to refine technique with experience and proper knowledge. A word of advice from one brewer to another, never trust a kit or box which tells you that you can have fresh perfect beer in two weeks. Always ask fellow brewers for details on a brew or their opinion of how much time primary fermentation will take. There are several rules of thumb but the benefit of experience is worth its weight in beer, so to speak.
Water quality : Water quality can affect clarity during and after fermentation. There are many souable in tap water which will drop out and become visible during the fermentation process due to changing gravities.
This is also common, but is becoming less common these days where water filters are cheap and easy to us, also with the availability of cheap retail availible filtered water. If you are using tap water you might check with your local DNR or city water management for information on what minerals, element, and other soluble compounds are present in your water. After this do research on what these unintentional additive might do to your brew.
Improper technique while brewing, improper or poor quality ingredients : It is possible for the process or your ingredients to effect what your brew looks like. Additives like Irish moss and other clarifying agents are used to help with this. Too high of boiling temp can cause cloudiness, to low can as well. Poor ingredients may contain unknown or unknowable soulable compunds which may cloud beer during fermentation. There are many thousands of variations all of which cannot be covered.

This is not very common. Most brewing techniques are simple and have so much wiggle room you have to literally try to screw them up, and even then you might not succeed. Most brewing ingredients are much higher quality than required to produce a clean product. If they aren't the word gets out and the products don't sell. Also in this day and age it is more expensive to buy lower quality products and sell them to home brewers then high quality ones with the readily available wholesale market for such products. There are the horror stories, the dry malt extract which was half powered sugar to make it cheaper for example. These scams are discovered rather quickly and they go under by word of mouth, the best thing is to do is know where your buy your stock from and don’t cut corner. With the average ingredients for a 2 case batch ranging from 15$ to 40$+ depending on complexity you are saving far more money then buy your own beer. You can afford not to be cheap, where as you might not be able to afford being cheap.

infections and unclean equipment : There are several forms of bacteria and contaminates which can cause beer to be cloudy. Always clean your equipment and check it before brewing or racking, that’s on page one of every brew guide book in the world.

This is not as common as one might think. Despite what we think beer is not fragile. The first beer was brewed in clay jars in caves, by people with terribly poor hygiene and no knowledge of micro organisms. If beer were fragile and so subject to infection alcohol would not have made it into the mainstream. This isn't to say that infections do not occur and that vigilance and good sanitization and cleaning practices shouldn't be observed, just that some bubbles, foam, or out of character cloudiness should not be immediately take for infection. With the readily availible market of sanitizers and cleaning products one should not fear a small level of contaminates, but don’t wash your cat in your fermenter and expect to be able to brew in it scot free.

End of summarized except.

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