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Old 11-27-2009, 04:41 AM   #1
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Default Couple questions...oak chips, stuck fermentation, water testing etc.

I have been making a ton of threads on here lately so I thought I would just make one big one with a bunch of my questions in it. I appreciate anyones input.

#1. I use water from a natural spring in the mountain and I want to get that water tested. I live in the middle of nowhere and there is no one locally that does this. I have also searched Google and can't seem to find anything of use. Does anyone know of a place I could send some samples of my brewing water to for analysis?

#2. I made Midwests Octane IPA last week. Using White Labs British Ale yeast, 7 days worth of primary fermentation only brought the gravity down from 1.058 to 1.042. The strip thermometer on the side of my carboy says 64 degrees F. I thought this seemed to be pretty slow fermentation rate. After those 7 days I transferred to my secondary, boiled the oak chips provided in the kit and threw them in. The airlock was bubbling that night...now today I have noticed all the pressure in my airlock has disappeared and there is no bubbling at all. I plan to take gravity readings tomorrow and the next day, but it sure looks like a stuck fermentation to me. What could have caused this and what should I do?

#3. Speaking of the oak chips, the recipe said to drain all the boiled water off the chips and just add the chips to the secondary fermenter. I wondered what would be wrong with adding that boiled water to the fermenter as well. It had a great amber/brownish color and smelled intensely like oak. Would dumping that water in the fermenter impart TOO MUCH of an oak flavor in the beer, so they said drain the chips and just add them?

#4. Is it true that pouring hot wort through a strainer can instantly oxidize it or did I invent this somewhere amongst my various readings?

#5. I have made 11 batches, no boil overs for batches 1-9. My last 2 batches in a row I have had small boil overs. Do you guys brew with the lid on your brew pot, lid off, or lid partially on and sort of cracked to let the steam escape? Am I getting boil overs because I put my electric oven on high to reach a boil as quickly as possible? Would it be better to gradually raise the temperature in a much slower fashion by slowing turning the heat setting up rather than just throwing the stove as high as it gets?

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Old 11-27-2009, 05:33 AM   #2
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http://www.wardlab.com/

$16.50 for basic test
$26.50 if you want them to test Flouride and Iron as well.

Always boil with the lid off. You can keep a small spray bottle of water to spritz the foam, you can also use a product called Fermcap S.
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:50 AM   #3
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Awesome man! Does Fermcap S have any sort of effects on the head of the beer once poured or head retention?

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Old 11-27-2009, 06:31 AM   #4
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I've never used Fermcap but I've heard a lot of folks give it a big thumbs up with no effect on head. It settles out in the primary.

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Old 11-27-2009, 02:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
#4. Is it true that pouring hot wort through a strainer can instantly oxidize it or did I invent this somewhere amongst my various readings?
Pouring hot wort through a strainer will not oxidize the wort. In fact, it's recommended that you aerate your wort by shaking, or vigorously stirring the wort to re-oxygenate the wort.

The method that I use is to inject pure oxygen into the wort with an aquarium stone and a small oxygen tank.

Once the fermentation process is underway, then oxidation of the beer is a concern.

Regarding boil overs. If you blow air across the top of the boil kettle with a fan your boil over issues are greatly reduced. It won't eliminate them entirely, but the air stream breaks the up bubbles from the boil.
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:02 PM   #6
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#2 - racking after 7 days when fermentation wasn't finished is what stuck your fermentation.

Primary is where ALL fermenting takes place. If it hasn't hit the expected final gravity, don't rack it. 7 days is a very VERY generic guideline. you'll likely have to repitch to get it going again.

64F is cold for most ale yeasts, and thus you'll get a longer primary.


#5 - DO NOT BOIL with the lid on. lid on is a great way to cause a boilover, and you really cannot do it if you go all grain. Grain wort produces DMS which has to be boiled off. If the steam can't escape neither can the DMS and you'll end up with cooked vegetable flavors in the finished beer.
its less risky with extract, but it still shouldn't be done. If that's the only way you can get a boil going, you need a bigger burner.

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Old 11-27-2009, 05:14 PM   #7
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wow, I didn't know ALL the fermentation was supposed to take place in the primary. I have always transferred to the secondary after a week or so and never had a problem before.

Why would this stop fermentation? I thought there was still a bunch of yeast suspended in the fermentor and the wort would continue fermenting?

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Old 11-27-2009, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy13 View Post
wow, I didn't know ALL the fermentation was supposed to take place in the primary. I have always transferred to the secondary after a week or so and never had a problem before.

Why would this stop fermentation? I thought there was still a bunch of yeast suspended in the fermentor and the wort would continue fermenting?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, racking before reach FG can prematurely stall the fermentation. There generally are still quite a bit of yeast in suspension, but there are far more yeast cells in the trub that was removed. At 1.042, the yeast cake should not have been removed from the beer. Maybe at 1.018, it would have been ok.

As far as pouring hot wort, there would be a risk of hot-side aeration. Some of us brewers think it's kind of a brewer's boogeyman, but I don't unnecessarily pour hot wort. You should cool the wort in the brewpot, then pour it through a strainer into the fermenter. Hot wort can crack a carboy, and take longer to cool in the fermenter, so it's not just to avoid hot side aeration, but a safety issue.
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:40 PM   #9
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So I'm thinking of swirling the yeast cake at the bottom around a little bit and moving the fermentor to a warmer area of the house. If that doesn't work I think I will sprinkle some safe ale us05 in it...does that sound like a good idea?

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Old 11-27-2009, 05:41 PM   #10
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Also, why would the beer still have been fermenting the day after I transferred to the secondary but not 2 days after?

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