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Old 07-26-2012, 01:28 AM   #1
bassking511
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Default Few questions for first brew

Hi there, I'll try and list things and keep it simple.

Basically, I have a few questions about:
Fermentation Complete?
Silt on top.

background on the brewing process:
Irish Red Ale extract kit. I did a 3.5 to 4 gallon boil following the directions for time. Upon completion of boiling, I cooled the wort with sterilized cover on, some ice in the wort, and the kettle in an icewater bath. After cooling to 80F, transferred to primary and added dry yeast directly without 'preparing' (my "assistant" did that without me knowing). Stored the fermenter in stairs closet, which is the coolest part of my house as I live in South Florida. I tried to keep A/C at around 75F. This was complete by 10PM on Mon the 16th.

The next morning I saw airlock activity and when I returned from work there were bubbles every few second. By 9 or 10pm that night, no visible airlock activity. 3 days later, I took a quick peek and saw white bubbles with brownish sediment mixed on top. When I viewed airlock bubbles, the temp on thermometer was 79-80. After airlock activity stopped, it dropped to room temp 975F).


I took the first gravity reading tonight. It has been 9 days since the boil.
What I observed:

Foam had disappeared, small floaters of brownish silt on top and a large ring around the outside aprox. 3/4 thick at most. I didn't see any fungul looking activity. I took a sample of the silt with edge of thief and it was very thick and like a paste but didnt have too much of a foul smell if any. I measured the gravity coming out as 1.014 @ 75F. The starting gravity was 1.043 (@ 80F)

According to the kit, SG range is 1.042 - 1.046; FG 1.010 - 1.012

To keep it simple, does this silt on the top sound normal?
I will measure gravity tomorrow. If it doesnt change, should I pitch some more yeast or add some sugar?
Also, I dont have a secondary, so how long should I leave in the primary.

Thanks for the help and bear with me as I'm obviously new.

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Old 07-26-2012, 01:41 AM   #2
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The stuff around the top is called krausen and it's the product of the fermentation. That is a sign that you've had fermentation. But truly the only sign it's done is when that FG stabilizes for a few readings spaced out over a couple days. You're almost there. Just be patient. You do not need more yeast. Beer will be fine. Search google images for "krausen ring" and you should see a bunch of photos.

Without a secondary you can leave it in the primary for as long as you want. I usually try for 3 weeks.

Also, if the wort was at 75 degrees, you have to adjust the gravity reading. The hydrometer is set for 68 degrees. You are at 1.0157. You can use this site, http://www.brewersfriend.com/hydrometer-temp/, to adjust, or use the chart that came with the hydrometer.

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Old 07-26-2012, 01:42 AM   #3
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Everything sounds like it's going as planned. The stuff on top and on the sides is just the krausen and is very normal with all brews. your gravity should continue to go down over the next few days to a week. Good luck.

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Old 07-26-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by de3isit View Post
Everything sounds like it's going as planned. The stuff on top and on the sides is just the krausen and is very normal with all brews. your gravity should continue to go down over the next few days to a week. Good luck.
Figured it was that, but I wasnt sure. I'll update you guys on the gravity readings

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:06 AM   #5
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It looks like a lot of this information was already posted, but I am going to post anyway because I am such a slow typist, I don't want to have wasted the last 10 minutes:

Congratulations, you made beer. The foamy ring and floaties are perfectly normal and are leftover krausen, a mixture of yeast and proteins that form in a foamy head during the most active part of the fermentation.

As to SG, your hydrometer is calibrated at a specific temperature. Most seem to be 60F, but mine is 68F. There are a lot of online calculators you can use to correct for temperature. Assuming your hydrometer is calibrated at 60F, your actual OG was 1.045 and your actual FG is 1.015, giving you a 3.9% ABV. (I'm sure someone will correct my math if I am wrong, but the important thing to remember is to correct for temperature.

Most people will tell you to wait until you get the same SG reading a couple of times over a three day period. You are probably close if not there since your OG was a little high. If you can be patient, leave your beer in the primary for a couple of more weeks. The general consensus here seems to be three weeks for most beers. The yeast are still busy cleaning up your beer.

A couple of other pointers. Depending on the yeast, pitching at 70F or lower is better than 80F, although that is probably what the instructions in the kit said to do. You should also try and ferment at much lower temperatures. Search the forum for "swamp cooler." Basically, a big plastic bin you fill part way with cold water and put your fermenter in. Frozen jugs of water can then be used to keep the temperature down while your beer ferments. This will reduce off-flavors you can get by fermenting too high. Keep in mind, fermentation generates heat. The temperature in your fermenter can be quite a bit warmer than the ambient air or water temperature.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions. Welcome to the obsession.

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:46 AM   #6
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As people have mentioned, I know gravity readings are temperature sensitive and I was too lazy to convert 3.9% is a little low

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Old 08-03-2012, 02:07 AM   #7
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So I'm at day 17 and I decided to stop by the store today after work and get a 6 gal better bottle.

I verified last night after another gravity reading that the readings have stabilized. I'm now at (temp corrected ) SG of 1.0455 and FG of 1.0117.
This gives me and ABV of 4.39 according to http://pint.com.au/calculators/alcohol/

The beer looked cleaner on top with the krausen ring still intact and most of the floaties had settled. I then transferred everything into the secondary. The beer will be in the secondary for 17 days also, as I must bottle it before transporting up north (school year starting up).

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Old 08-03-2012, 03:10 AM   #8
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^

Nice looking carboy, I was in a home brew store today, and they wanted $49.99 for one. Anyone know where I can get a cheaper one?. Do plastic ones work just as well ?? ........

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Old 08-04-2012, 10:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstranger99 View Post
^

Nice looking carboy, I was in a home brew store today, and they wanted $49.99 for one. Anyone know where I can get a cheaper one?. Do plastic ones work just as well ?? ........
This one was ~$35 at the local store for the 6 gallon. It seems to be worth it so far. I've been told theres not too much difference as long as the bottle is a better bottle (i.e. made for fermenting)

On midwest supplies, the 6 gallon looks to be about $26 plus shipping, so about 40 doll hairs to your area.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:05 PM   #10
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That's a lot of head space, if you re always brewing 5 gallon batches you should get the 5 gallon size with that much head space you do not want to leave the beer in there for more than a couple weeks or you will invite the loss CO2 and welcome oxidation or infection.

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