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Old 01-11-2013, 10:24 AM   #1
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Default First Post, Newbie questions inside!

Hi everyone, I've just started home-brewing, and although I've done lots of research and lurking on these forums, I have a couple of questions.

This is my 3rd batch, and while the first two turned out well, I am having a bit more problems with this one. I don't think anything is seriously wrong, but I am getting noob-fever as I am simply too inexperienced to know any better.

Basically, I am worried that I am not seeing any kind of action going on in my secondary fermenter. I think my fermentation has stalled, and I don't know whether or not I should just move my secondary to a warmer part of the house, repitch, or sit tight.

Here's my recipe, and the pertinent info.

3kg of DME
250g Smoked Malt
250g Crystal Malt
250g Victory Malt
2oz. Warrior Hops (pellets) bittering (60 min)
1oz. Cascade Hops (pellets) flavor (30 min)
1oz. Cascade Hops (pellets) aroma (15 min)
1 tsp. Irish Moss (15 min)
OG 1.059

For the whole grains I just did a BIAB for flavor/aroma , although I did take the time to actually do a full mash and test to make sure the starches had converted to sugars. I mashed in at 168º, held at 150º for an hour by keeping the thermometer in and stirring occasionally. After my mash-out, I then brought it to a boil and added my Dry Malt Extract. I added hops at 60min, 30min and 15min. The wort boil was a bit bigger than I had previously done (around 3.5-4.0 gal.), and it took me longer to cool than my first 2 homebrew batches as I couldn't add as much cold water as I wanted and still maintain my 5.25 gal. size. I pitched from a Wyeast British Ale II 1335 direct pitch activator. I pitched at 73º which is a bit on the high side, but I think I let my excitement get the better of me, and I was tired of running in and out of the house in -9º weather (I live in the frozen north of Edmonton, Alberta). It took about 12-14 hours for the fermentation to be visibly active with a thick foam and a whole lot of visible activity. The temperature was between 73º and 76º the whole 4 or 5 day span... it's hard for me to keep a constant temperature, but the range for the yeast as stated on the packaging is supposed to tolerate that. Visible activity only lasted maybe 24-36 hours, and then everything fell to the bottom and was quiet.

The OG was 1.059 and I was expecting 1.010 at secondary fermentation time, but instead it was 1.020 I racked it to the secondary anyway because in the past my (admittedly small sample size of only 2 batches) secondary continued to ferment visibly, and the FG on them was within the ranges I was expecting.

I let it sit in the secondary for 3 weeks at approximately 62º which is just ever so slightly (one degree cooler) than the yeast packaging says it should be, and maybe it's fine, and for sure the small sample I took from the secondary to test the SG tastes fine (pretty much exactly what I was going for) I just don't know if it's ready to bottle or not.

The beer as it is has the SRM, flavor and IBU I was expecting, but the SG is off from what I had predicted based on my recipe. Should I go ahead and bottle it, or is there something else I should do?

I'm attaching a picture of me enjoying my beer that I withdrew to test the SG.

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Old 01-11-2013, 10:32 AM   #2
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reading a lot about extract batches stopping at 1.020

don't worry

bottle

in 3 weeks, drink it

start your next batch!

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Old 01-11-2013, 10:47 AM   #3
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Sweet! It tastes awesome. The IBU calculator is telling me it's going to be 110 IBU, but it doesn't taste quite that hoppy.

I've got a picture of my 18 year old daughter dressed as a zombie for one of the zombie walks that I am going to put on the label, and I plan to call the beer Zombie Hopocalypse IPA.

My next batch is going to be a Rauchbier since they're very hard to come by here.

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Old 01-11-2013, 10:52 AM   #4
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A couple of things for you to think about...

1) That temp range might be a little high. If that was the beer temp then you are right on the higher end of most yeast strains. If that was your ambient temp then your beer temp could be another 5 to 10 degrees higher which will put you over where you would want to be.

2) What was the estimated OG. If your OG was higher than the estimated OG then that is a good reason why your FG was higher.

3) I don't see you saying how long you left it in primary but you might have racked to secondary too soon. Racking to secondary you are basically removing the beer from the yeast. Yes there are still yeast in suspension but you removed it from most of the yeast so you really shouldn't see much fermentation in secondary like you do in primary.

4) Read on here about secondary. Most people don't use it anymore for one reason or another. If you keep your beer in primary for 2 to 3 weeks you will be good. If you want to use secondary there is no harm in doing that. Secondary is good for adding fruit or dry hopping or with help clearing the beer before bottling.

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Old 01-11-2013, 12:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h22lude View Post
A couple of things for you to think about...

1) That temp range might be a little high. If that was the beer temp then you are right on the higher end of most yeast strains. If that was your ambient temp then your beer temp could be another 5 to 10 degrees higher which will put you over where you would want to be.

2) What was the estimated OG. If your OG was higher than the estimated OG then that is a good reason why your FG was higher.

3) I don't see you saying how long you left it in primary but you might have racked to secondary too soon. Racking to secondary you are basically removing the beer from the yeast. Yes there are still yeast in suspension but you removed it from most of the yeast so you really shouldn't see much fermentation in secondary like you do in primary.

4) Read on here about secondary. Most people don't use it anymore for one reason or another. If you keep your beer in primary for 2 to 3 weeks you will be good. If you want to use secondary there is no harm in doing that. Secondary is good for adding fruit or dry hopping or with help clearing the beer before bottling.
Thanks for the tips! I really appreciate them.

1) 73º was the beer temp when I pitched. The ambient temp after pitch was between 73º and 76º. The yeast strain is supposed to be good for 63-75° F (17-24° C) I absolutely agree I was a bit higher than I wanted to be, but I can tape up my thermostat all I want, and post notices etc... with 2 contrary kids (aged 20 and 19) who insist on setting the temperature to suit them, and a wife who comes from a tropical country it's hard to keep it much lower in my house

2) the OG was estimated to be 1.055 but was actually 1.059

3) it was in primary only for aprox a week. It probably could have stayed there longer, and I will give serious consideration to not even bothering with a secondary unless its just to clear up the beer before bottling or one of the other reasons in your 4th point.

Cheers!
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Old 01-12-2013, 01:05 AM   #6
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73 for pitching temp is a little high though not terrible. I like to get it under 70...near 65. Ambient temp of 76 is way too high. If you had good fermentation your beer could have been 10 degrees higher which is high for any strain. I suggest searching for a way to keep it cool. A very cheap way is a swamp cooler. I highly recommend a craigslist fridge, paint bucket heating lamp and eBay temp controller. For around $80 to $100 you can have a fermentation chamber that will keep your beer to a degree or 2 of what you want even if it is -25 or 125 outside. Temp is a big part of making great beer.

You were 4 point higher which means your FG should be around 4 points higher then estimated so you aren't too far off. 5 points off really isn't bad.

A week in the primary is way too short. You need to keep it in there for at least 2 weeks...3 weeks would be even better. When I first started I kept my beer in primary for 3 to 4 weeks. This help clean up any off flavors from not pitching the right amount of yeast, not fermenting at the right temp, not getting enough O2 in before pitching, etc.

These tips aren't meant to scar you into thinking the beer you just brewed will be terrible because it won't be terrible beer at all. You brewed beer and it will be good.

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On my list to brew: Stone IPA and some kind of wit
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:58 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for the pointers. I'm brand spanking new, but I think I might be addicted already.

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Old 01-13-2013, 05:12 AM   #8
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If you think you might be addicted, you are already gone my friend.

I dont use a secondary fermentation. I leave it in the primary for approx 3 weeks. Its a good technique. I still get really clear beers. Racking to secondary just seems like an unnecessary PITA.

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Old 01-13-2013, 05:25 AM   #9
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Living in Hawai`i my cold water from the tap is just about NEVER below 75*. I pitch my dry yeast when the wort becomes less that 80* and have never had an issue w/the pitching temp. I do have a chest freezer where I ferment. Wort in the buckets is usually about 63* for 3 weeks till I bottle. Also because of our "room temp" in the un-airconditioned house varies from say 85 on a hot summer day to maybe 65 on a cold winter night I bottle condition in an apart ment size refridgerator.

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