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Old 12-25-2007, 09:14 PM   #1
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Default first homebrew, possible problem or just paranoia

Well this is my first post on the forums and my first experience homebrewing. I'm doing an extract brew of an irish stout from Thomas Coopers. Yesterday I became a tad worried because the airlock was vigorously bubbling for two days prior and now it does not bubble at all. Surfing around these forums and online I read that this is not necessarily a bad thing and that it still can be fermenting but I was just shocked at how it completely stopped and didn't slow down. I cracked it open to take some out and do a hydrometer reading, OG was 1.050 and now it is at 1.020. Another thing I saw that was a bit odd from the images I've seen online was there was alot of dried "debris" (not sure what to call it) on the sides of the bucket above the beer and a very thin layer of foam on top of it (sort of looks like a thin layer of head when you pour a very thick beer). I took a taste of it from the hydrometer reading and it tastes like guinness with a bit of a bitter finish.

So anyways my question is, sorry for being a tad long winded, is this going along normally? Are the gravity readings ok? How much longer should I keep it in the fermenter? Will the slight bitter aftertaste leave with time or is that just how it is?

Thank you for your help. I find reading around the forums very informative and everybody is extrememly kind. Heh I'm sure I've already read my answer but I'm a tad paranoid with it being my first brew and all.

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Old 12-25-2007, 09:25 PM   #2
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It sounds fine! The crud around the fermenter are remnants of the krausen- a big foamy head you get during very active fermentation. The little bit of foam you see is still a little bit of that finishing up fermentation.

I'm a follower of the 1-2-3 method usually- 1 week or 10 days in the fermenter, then 2 weeks or so in the clearing tank if using and then 3 weeks in bottles before drinking. So, I'd say to leave it a week or ten days in the primary if you're using a secondary clearing tank. If not, leave it alone for 2 weeks and then bottle it.

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Old 12-25-2007, 09:29 PM   #3
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1) Leave it in the primary fermenter until it is done. See #2.

2) The ONLY way you know it is done is if you take multiple readings of a hydrometer and the readings are the same ~2-3 days in a row. Even then, it could be done at 1.020 or stuck for some reason at 1.020. If it has only been going for 2 days and stopped, it could be that most of the fermentation is done and it is just finishing.

3) That line of dried gunk above your beer is the (now dropped to the bottom) krausen. You would hate to see what it looked like with that thing on top! It's perfectly normal to have one, but it looks like a dried cowpie to me floating on top of my beer.

4) You're fine. Everyone asks if their first homebrew is dead/bad/zombified. Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew. In absense of having one on hand, try a really good commercial brew. The point is to relax.

So, take another reading on thursday or friday. Report back your findings, and we shall enlighten you.

Until then...relax...drink a beer.

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Old 12-25-2007, 09:34 PM   #4
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Thank you all for your help, wasn't expecting this fast a response! I figured as much that it was just paranoia. I don't have any friends that have done homebrews yet so I figured I would consult the knowledgeable folks on these forums. Can't wait to see what turns out!

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Old 12-25-2007, 09:35 PM   #5
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I'm a newbie here also so I don't know how much help I will be other than telling you what happened to my 2nd batch. A few hours after pitching the yeast I had vigorous activity in my airlock. The next morning I still had vigorous activity, but when I got home from work I had no activity. I waited a week and took an sg reading and it was 1.017 which I thought was high. I got busy and didn't get a chance to take another reading for a couple of weeks. After 3 and 1/2 weeks in my primary the activity in my airlock fired up again, which lasted a couple of days. A few days later I took an sg reading and it was 1.014. I waited a couple of more days and it was still 1.014 so I went ahead and bottled.

The only thing I can figure out is that maybe my temp got too low in my fermenter and my yeast went dormant. I was using an ale yeast (Windsor, I believe) and had the temp around 67 or so. I realized later that my room has a 2 - 3 temperature difference from where my thermometer is as to where my fermenter is so my temp was really 64 - 65. I assume that my yeast likes the warmer temps because right around the time my activity kicked back in the temps got up around 70 - 71F. Perhaps, your temps got too low or as I have learned on this site you can't judge fermentation by airlock activity, so you probably just need to wait and be patient. Hope this helps.

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Old 12-25-2007, 09:40 PM   #6
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Welcome to HBT!
As everyone has said, Your beer sounds perfectly fine. If you use YooperBrew's 123 method your beer should be finished and good.

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Old 12-26-2007, 12:25 AM   #7
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Your beer sounds fine. 3 1/2 weeks might be an awful long time to leave a beer in the primary fermenter depending on what kind of primary you are using. I know my 5 gallon plastic buckets warn that anything over 3 weeks can lead to your beer oxidizing.

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Old 12-26-2007, 01:02 AM   #8
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I use ~2/~4 when I bottle.

By the way, from your post title, I knew I'd respond "just paranoia". Everybody is paranoid first time.

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Old 12-26-2007, 03:28 AM   #9
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Especially with a beer that doesn't need to clear with a stout I'd recommend leaving it in primary for about a month instead and then bottling it. If you're a newbie putting a stout in secondary just gives you more chances to make a mistake.

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Old 12-26-2007, 07:13 AM   #10
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wow, commin home from work tonight at 3 am I wasn't expecting this many responses. Thank you all for your help. Seems like I just need time. I'll just keep it in there and continue my hydrometer readings. I'm hoping to get it down to around 1.010 or below. I like me a stronger beer. But I'll be happy with it just turning out for my first batch!

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