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Old 01-26-2012, 04:06 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation and krausen Q's..

Well, it seems my first post has disappeared into the nether regions of the internet. I will attempt to recreate my post again here. Please bear with me as this might get lengthy since I've had more time to think since the original posting.

First off, I'd like to give a heads up to all of the posters here. I've been lurking on these boards for a few months now and have gleaned lots of useful information. I've also put to rest some of my fears about brewing from reading. So, thanks again to all of the knowledgeable guys/gals on here. Now, onto my situation(s)!

On January 2nd, I brewed and began fermenting two batches, a British Amber and a Chocolate Rye, both from Austinhomebrew.com. These are the first two batches I've tried solo, I've brewed 3 others with friends. I put both batches immediately into primary fermenters (after cooling down of course) and then moved them to my guest bathroom tub. They have sat since brew day and the temps have ranged from about 62ºF to 73ºF (house temperature). Unfortunately, I didn't manage an OG reading from either of them.

British Amber.
Yeast used: Sterling 514 English Ale Dry Yeast (dry)
Yeast Fuel: No
Secondary: Yes
OG - theoretical: 1.049
OG - actual: N/A
FG - theoretical: 1.011
FG - actual: 1.018 - 1.019 @ 70ºF

I wanted to try out the secondary fermentation deal since I had gotten a hold of a carboy at Christmas. As per the instructions that came with the recipe, I waited 5-7 days (9 actually, Jan 11th) and then moved it to the secondary. There had been no air lock activity for ~2 days, so I figured most of the vigorous fermentation was done and I wouldn't be blowing the top off the carboy. Also, the top of my beer was fairly clear, I had a few flakes floating on top, but 95%+ had fallen out to the bottom.

I took a gravity reading at time of transfer to secondary and it was ~1018 @ 70ºF or so. Yesterday (2 weeks after transfer) I took another reading and it was still around the same reading, no noticeable movement on the hydrometer. This brew is supposed to start around 1049 and finish around 1011. Could this be a stuck fermentation?

Chocolate Rye
Yeast used: Wyeast European Ale 1338 (liquid)
Yeast Fuel: Yes
Secondary: No
OG - theoretical: 1.052
OG - actual: N/A
FG - theoretical: 1.013
FG - actual: 1.02 @ 70ºF

This one has stayed in the primary since brew day. I figured it'd be ready to bottle by yesterday after spending a little over 3 weeks in the fermenter. So, I get everything setup to transfer to my bottling bucket and such. When I popped the top to the fermenter, there was still some krausen on top of the beer. It was about a half inch thick or so, but it had fallen some from the max height. It was up to about 2-3 inches or so by looking at the ring inside the bucket. Most of what I read tells me that this beer is not done fermenting, but some say that it just doesn't fall some times. I also know that every other beer I've done or seen done, this all fell to the bottom. Am I in the minority and mine just didn't fall, or is it really still fermenting albeit very slowly?

Should I just pitch a little more yeast into each of them and give it another 2 weeks or so? Just leave them be?

All of that being said, I re-sanitized the air locks and carboy stopper and closed them both back up until I could decide what to do. Any other time I probably would have bottled the Amber, but taking the gravity reading has given me pause and the krausen on the rye is a first for me.

~Nervous Newbie

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Old 01-27-2012, 03:17 PM   #2
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It seems there has been some activity with the rye beer. After moving it around and such it seems that either a fair amount of gas was released or further fermentation has occurred as my air lock not as neat and placid as it was when I resealed everything. I suppose I'll give it another week and check again to see if the krausen has settled out.

No change to the amber

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Old 01-27-2012, 03:26 PM   #3
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I'd say the amber was racked to secondary too soon. More primary time may'ev been what it needed.
The rye with it's higher gravity,is likely still slowly fermenting down the listed FG range. Try another week,then check it.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:33 PM   #4
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Relax, man i know you want your beer finished fermenting last week and conditioned yesterday, but it doesn't work that way. The instruction are really more of a suggestion for people who can't wait for properly conditioned beer. Invest 6 dollars on a hydrometer and another 4 in a good hydrometer jar. If you've been lurking here, you've prolly read that beer is done fermenting when you get a steady reading three days in a row (or longer).

Yeast does not read Instructions from the kit and they are well known for doing whatever they want whenever they want. This is a natural, biological process that can take from <24 hours to >four weeks to finish. Accurate measurements are the only real way to tell that your fermentation is done. You don't have to have an OG to tell with good certainty that you're done, just the steady SG.

RDWHAHB. If you REALLY don't want to buy a hydrometer, 4 weeks in primary is 95%+ effective as the recipe for fully fermented beer.

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Old 01-27-2012, 04:29 PM   #5
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies.

I agree, I think I racked the amber too soon, but after my last batch where my buddy lead the show and off flavors showed up in all of the beers (4 extract batches that day), I was determined to stick to the instructions. I had my misgivings about moving it so soon based on everything I've read here, but as I said, I was going to "follow instructions" and went with it. Well, I'm afraid of creating bottle bombs or I would have bottled it the other day. Does anyone know if I'm going to cause any issues by pitching in a bit of yeast into the secondary to bring down the FG closer to where it is supposed to be? I know I'll lose the clarity I was seeking by going to the secondary, or at least some of it.

@muthafuggle - I do have a hydrometer, that's how I got my actual "FG" readings listed in the OP. What do you recommend for a good container for readings? One of the graduated cylinders I see at the local homebrew stores? I used the cylinder that the hydrometer came in to get my readings. I tested it with water and it seemed to read pretty true (right around 1.000). There was some concern that it might be touching the sides of the cylinder, but I dropped and spun in several times and all readings were the same.

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Old 01-27-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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We've all been in the same place you are now for one noob reason or other. So don't sweat it when we give you advice to the contrary of the terrible times given in most instructions. Leaving beers in primary till astable FG is reached is common practice arounf here.
Then rack to secondary only if racking onto some addition or other. And keep temps in primary in the yeast's range. Better quality will result. As for the amber,Idk if I'd add more yeast. Was it still somewhat cloudy when you racked it to secondary?
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #7
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It was still fairly cloudy at the time of transfer. I was racking to the secondary to get some clarity in the beer and less at the bottom of my bottles.

Let's see if I can get these pictures to work...





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Old 01-27-2012, 07:18 PM   #8
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That should be enough,given time & warmth to multiply enough to finish the extra sugars if you make sure they're swirled up back into solution.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:22 PM   #9
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Extract beer usually finish high around the 1.020 your fermentation is done and likely nothing you do will change the FG. Your beer will reach its FG with a week to 10 days from pitching your yeast in most occasions.

Racking to a secondary for clarity is pointless. The yeast will drop out of suspension after fermentation in either primary or secondary. If clarity is an aspect you're looking for use some finnings. I use Irish moss and can easily read through a full glass of beer.

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Old 01-27-2012, 09:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
That should be enough,given time & warmth to multiply enough to finish the extra sugars if you make sure they're swirled up back into solution.
Cool. Going to keep the amber a little warmer as I can and see if I don't get something positive out of it in another week or two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanJ View Post
Extract beer usually finish high around the 1.020 your fermentation is done and likely nothing you do will change the FG. Your beer will reach its FG with a week to 10 days from pitching your yeast in most occasions.

Racking to a secondary for clarity is pointless. The yeast will drop out of suspension after fermentation in either primary or secondary. If clarity is an aspect you're looking for use some finnings. I use Irish moss and can easily read through a full glass of beer.
I will keep the moss in mind on my next batch BryanJ, thanks.

So really, aside from doing additions to the beer or going for a high ABV beer, there's not really any reason to go to a secondary it seems. Anyone ever had issues with letting a 5%-6% beer sit on the yeast cake for >5 weeks?
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