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Old 08-12-2010, 08:01 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Issues

I've brewed 2 5-gallon batches, and seem to have problems with both of them. A little frustrated so far, with the money I've spent on the ingredient kits and equipment. I've brewed about 12 MrBeer batches without a single issue.

First batch was Carrbou Slobber from NB. I followed all the instructions, was very careful about sanitization. Just tried the first bottle and, it was really awful tasting. Very sour / green tasting. It was in primary for 7 days, where it stopped bubbling and the krausen dropped off the top, so I racked it over to the secondary. There was a ton of what appeared to be yeast left in the bottom of the primary. After 4 weeks in secondary, I bottled. 2 weeks after bottling, I threw a couple in the fridge and tasted them over the weekend. Did I move it out of the primary too soon? Did the fermentation stop?


My next batch, I brewed this past Sunday. It is the NB Irish Draught w/ Wyeast Irish Ale yeast. Everything went smoothly, and I put the bottle in my basement. My basement is not all that cool. I checked the temp yesterday afternoon, and it was at 80. Since the instructions say 62-72degrees, and the bubbling had started slowing down tremendously, I thought it was too warm. I grabbed a bag of ice and a cooler. Meant to leave it together for only a couple hours to drop the temp down a bit. Forgot about it, and when I came home from work today, the temp was at 44. Ooops. Not sure if I can let it warm up and it will be ok or if my yeast going to be dead and I will need to add more? Dump it? I have a pack of Safale US-05 that I could add if needed. Any suggestions?

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Old 08-12-2010, 08:16 PM   #2
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1st batch: let it hang out in the primary for at least 2 weeks. if you're patient enough to wait 3-4, that's great. lots of things happen after you think fermentation is done. definitely a little quick on the transfer. secondary is really not necessary unless you're dry hopping or adding fruit or something. did you take gravity readings at all on the beer before/during/after transfers? those are really helpful with scheduling.

2nd brew: you need to take some gravity readings. if you don't have a hydrometer, get one, it's essential for learning good brewing technique. it's hard to tell what's happening if you don't know how much the yeast has worked. once you get a reading, we can determine if the yeast are still working, dead, repitch, etc.

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Old 08-12-2010, 08:17 PM   #3
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What temp did you ferment the first batch? Did you take any gravity readings? This is really the only way to tell if its 100% done fermenting. What temp did you pitch your yeast? It may just need more conditioning, but this depends on the answers to the above questions.

For the second batch I guess i would let it warm back up and try to maintain a steady temp around 65 for a few weeks. Take some gravity readings along the way to see if fermentation has stopped or not. If you get the same reading 3 days in a row, its done or stopped.

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Old 08-12-2010, 08:18 PM   #4
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1) Overall you let it ferment for over a month, so that's a good thing but I would say that longer in the primary is better. Not familiar with NB kits or that brew, but I know once I started going 3 week primary my beers turned out cleaner tasting. Was the beer carb'd in the bottles after two weeks? I like many on the forum, don't even use a secondary. Normally I do about 4 weeks in primary, rack and bottle/keg and give that 3 weeks if possible.

2) Well, you might have shocked the bejesus out of the yeast, if you didn't scar them for life you might get some off flavors from them, I'd try to find a temp that you can hold. A little high is probably better than hot to cold to hot to cold. I wouldn't dump it until you've drank it and it makes you puked after 2 pints. The higher temps might have sped up the fermentation, but hard to tell without gravity readings. Let it sit for another couple of weeks at a more consistant temp and see how it looks.

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Old 08-12-2010, 08:59 PM   #5
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I do have a hydrometer now, I guess once it gets back up to room temperature I will take a reading. I think (hope!) that the yeast was a bit tough. After I smacked the pack, the bag was blown up as big as it could get within 12 hours. About 75 degrees steady is probably the best I can do at this point, think that will work?

The first batch was fermented at around 75degrees start to finish. The ones I tried had zero carbonation to them it seemed, although I could manage only a few sips each. For the prime, I used 6.6ounces of KreamyX. I don't have my notebook here, but I am pretty sure that's the amount used.

I realize I need to take the hydrometer readings, something I have to get used to. With the MrBeer setups, there wasn't much need for it.

Thanks for the input!!

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Old 08-12-2010, 09:16 PM   #6
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Some yeast strains taste horrible at over 72 degrees. Keep in mind that we're talking about fermentation temperatures- not ambient room temperatures. Fermentation itself produces heat, so in a 75 degree room an active fermentation can go upwards of 80-85 degrees. The hotter it is, the faster it goes, and the more heat it produces so it's a vicious cycle. Nottingham is especially foul at over about 72 degrees.

Some yeast strains are more forgiving, like Northwest ale yeast. Even so, I wouldn't even try to ferment it in a room temperature above 72. A water bath is a good idea to keep the temperatures down, but as you noticed it's easy to get it too cold if you're not careful! Some practice will really help. I don't even have to think about it anymore- it becomes much more natural after a couple of times.

I don't know what KreamyX is so I'm not much help there. For your next batch, try plain old corn sugar. It's cheap, and it works.

One other thing- even with high fermentation temperatures your beer shouldn't be THAT bad. I wonder if you have chlorine or chloramines in your water. Chlorine + fermentation= nasty phenol flavor.

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Old 08-12-2010, 10:37 PM   #7
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Agree with Yooper 100%. Fermentation temperatures play a much larger part in beer making than many give it credit for. That along with proper pitching rates. Check mrmalty.com for Jamil's pitching rate calculator. Yeast starters and temperature control will help your yeast attenuate to their potential and avoid the off flavors associated with stressed yeast.

If you can't (or won't) do yeast starters, make sure you have an adequate amount of yeast to pitch. If you don't have access to lower temperature areas of a cellar or an old fridge, then do what I do during the summer- fill a giant bin full of water and let your carboy sit in it during the entire fermentation time frame. The water will increase the thermal mass and prevent "swings" in temperature. To reduce the temps of the system, freeze water bottles and add them to the bin. I can easily maintain a temperature of 68F even during the hottest months.

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Old 08-13-2010, 12:50 AM   #8
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Alright, I'm a bit confused now.. So if the yeast pack says 62-72, and its hotter internally than my stick on thermometer says, I should be aiming to have an external temperature of say 60? Putting the BB in a cooler of room temperature water, and adding some frozen water bottles will do it?

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Old 08-13-2010, 03:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyR View Post
Alright, I'm a bit confused now.. So if the yeast pack says 62-72, and its hotter internally than my stick on thermometer says, I should be aiming to have an external temperature of say 60? Putting the BB in a cooler of room temperature water, and adding some frozen water bottles will do it?
The temperature of the water, in direct contact with the BB, will be much more accurate than the temperature of the ambient air surrounding the BB. This is the physics of thermodynamics- heat transfers/diffuses way faster in liquid than in gas. Much like trying to thaw a frozen turkey in a 400 degree oven versus running luke warm water over it. Measuring the air temperature near your BB will not even be close for the first couple of days of fermentation.

I put my floating thermometer into the tub of water and try to keep it at my target temps (say 68F) by adding bottles of ice. You will find that you need to add them more often for the first 2-3 days, then as the yeast begin to flocculate, less energy will be produced and you won't have to add them as often. Also, the cooler the surrounding air, the less often you'll have to add ice bottles (or less amount of them), obviously.

You don't have to be anal about it to make good beer, but the more accurate you are, the better the beer you can make. The style of beer and yeast strain will give you a window to work with. For example, with higher alcohol beers, you have a greater chance of producing solvent-y headache-inducing alcohol chains when fermenting too warm. For beers like wheats, it may be ok to have unclean, estery flavors from fermenting on the warm side. It all depends on the style.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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Progress update: Temp back up to 66degrees, airlock is starting to slowly bubble again. Took a reading with the hydrometer. First time using!! The reading came out to 1.014. According to the sheet that came with the kit, the O.G. should have been 1.045. This is after 3 days @ 80degrees, about 20 hours going from 80degrees to 44, and 24 hours to go from 44 back up to 66.. Does it sound like it's heading in the right direction?

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