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Old 05-23-2007, 07:51 PM   #1
greenthumb
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Default First time brewing, confused about information recieved

Hey all, my first post here. I bought a starters kit from a local store down the street (brewersconnection.com).

I am currently doing a Hefe recipe, and I think is going well, but wanted to know what the signs of contamination are. Ive been very clean and followed sanitation directions, but being my first time, im paranoid of the contamination.

When it is done fermenting, and about to bottle, what are the signs of contamination? Should I just taste it and go from there?

Another thing I am confused about after reading posts on this forum.....

The fermentation time on the directions are 7-10 days. Then add dextrose and siphon beer into bottling bucket. Bottle, then let set for another 7-10 days.

I am confused because....

What im reading on the forum is fermentation in 2 stages rather than one.

Fermentation im seeing can be weeks, like 3 weeks, when my directions say 1 week.

Im totally fine with waiting, as ive got plenty going on as it is and dont want to rush it, but why such a large gap in time from the two sources?

Thanks a bunch!

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Old 05-23-2007, 07:59 PM   #2
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Actual fermentation time is usually less than one week. I've had fermentations nearly over after a couple days. However, the usage of a secondary container is to get the now fermented beer off of the sediment and allow it to clear and condition some before bottling or kegging it.. Some people don't secondary, and some beers don't need it due to cloudiness being part of the character of the beer (hefeweizens for example). In general, though, waiting longer produces better beer. A beer that is flat out nasty when green may be awesome at six weeks. However, hefes are the one type that you don't necessarily want to age very long as they seem to be better young.

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Old 05-23-2007, 08:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenthumb
Hey all, my first post here. I bought a starters kit from a local store down the street (brewersconnection.com).
Welcome to the place to be.

Quote:
I am currently doing a Hefe recipe, and I think is going well, but wanted to know what the signs of contamination are. Ive been very clean and followed sanitation directions, but being my first time, im paranoid of the contamination. When it is done fermenting, and about to bottle, what are the signs of contamination? Should I just taste it and go from there?
Have you done anything in particular that would cause concern? If not, then don't worry about it. Two batches of mine have gotten infected, and I couldn't tell until it was in bottle and carbonated. So just bottle it. Unless it tastes really sour and dry, it should be okay.

Quote:
The fermentation time on the directions are 7-10 days. Then add dextrose and siphon beer into bottling bucket. Bottle, then let set for another 7-10 days. I am confused because....What im reading on the forum is fermentation in 2 stages rather than one. Fermentation im seeing can be weeks, like 3 weeks, when my directions say 1 week. Im totally fine with waiting, as ive got plenty going on as it is and dont want to rush it, but why such a large gap in time from the two sources?
One is right, the other is wrong. That would account for the gap.

Seriously, there is no hard and fast rule here. Some beers (esp. lagers) can take a few weeks to ferment. Others are done in 2 days. They only way to be sure is to take specific gravity readings with a hydrometer. Take an SG reading before fermentation. Take another one when you suspect it's finished (airlock activity has stopped and the krausen has fallen). Then take another one a few days later. If there is no change in gravity over the course of a few days, fermentation is probably done.

Another thing to remember is the 1-2-3 rule. It's a general rule of thumb for standard ales. 1 week in primary fermenter, then rack to a secondary fermenter leaving the yeast cake behind, and let it clarify for 2 weeks in the secondary vessel. Then take hydrometer readings to ensure that it's finished, and bottle it. Wait 3 weeks until you drink it. 1-2-3.

The secondary/clarifying stage is a good idea because it allows the beer to clarify and develop better flavors, as well as dissipate some nasty volatiles that might give your beer an "off" flavor. The higher the gravity, the longer it needs to age. I just bottled a 12%abv barleywine this past weekend that I brewed in early january. Some beers, like wheat beers, don't need clarification because they're supposed to be cloudy, soyou can skip the secondary step---however, you still need to verify that fermentation is done via a hydrometer test. That's the only way. If you bottle too soon, you will end up with gushers (overcarbonated bottles) or worse yet, bottle bombs.
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:04 PM   #4
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Two stage is good for taking a gravity reading to find out where your fermentation is at, and also opening up the primary if you want to start another beer. Also the last bottle you drink WILL taste different than the first bottle. In less you drink it all in one day.

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Old 05-23-2007, 08:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick responses. According to my instructions, I should be bottling it tomorrow. Now, we are off to San Diego for memorial weekend the day after and will be gone until Tuesday......

Should I bottle tomorrow or should I wait until I get back?

I guess a better question to ask would be, is there any harm by delaying bottling? Will it go sour or have any other bad characteristics? I would assume not, because of the fact that if its got any bacteria in it, its already a problem - and if clean then it should last quite a long time just like bottled beer can last quite a while.

Are my assumptions correct?

Thanks!

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Old 05-23-2007, 09:00 PM   #6
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Waiting to bottle definitely won't hurt. If you're still in your primary fermenter, the beer can stay for up to six weeks or so before yeast autolysis. If it's in secondary, you can wait even longer. I'd wait until you get back to bottle.

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Old 05-23-2007, 09:44 PM   #7
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Enjoy your weekend, and come back excited to bottle your first batch! More time in a primary will never be a bad thing until you get to the "over a month" stage. Even then it is debated. All depends on your beer and its ABV%. So Relax,don't worry........

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Old 05-24-2007, 03:11 AM   #8
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Relax greenthumb. Go have a great weekend. A wise people that frequent this site have told me before that people have been brewing beer for over a thousand years. As long as your sanitary, which we all are compare to the middle ages, your beer should be fine.

It's a great hobby, ain't it.

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Old 05-24-2007, 01:04 PM   #9
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Great, thanks for the responses. Ill bottle when I come back.

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