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Old 10-09-2012, 01:32 PM   #1
JohnK93
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Default First time brewing question - primary fermentation temp

Hello all,
I'm brewing my first batch of beer, a Scottish Ale from a kit I bought at the local brewing store. I've transferred the wort to the primary and the recipe says to keep at 66-68 degrees for 7 days. It began bubbling within 18 hours and was bubbling at about 50 bubbles per minute. Now it is two days later and is it bubbling at about 65 bubbles per minute...seems good so far. I have the primary in my living room, but the temp has been dropping down to about 61 degrees (room temp, not beer temp) at night and climbing back up to 65-67 during the day. Should I worry about the temp fluctuation? I've wrapped the bucket in a blanket for insulation, but should I take extra measures for keeping the temp up? I'd prefer not to have to run my furnace just for the beer, and I don't have any other heating equipment.

Also, my recipe says to keep in the primary for 7 days, then transfer to secondary for 2 weeks (then bottle and condition for 3 weeks). Should I stick with this, or is there a better way to know when to transfer to the secondary?

Thanks, and thanks for all the other info on the forum!

John

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:44 PM   #2
EvilDeadAsh
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Those temperature swings sound ok, as long as they are all within range of the yeast you were provided with the kit you'll wind up with beer. The fermenting wort will be a few degrees higher than ambient temperatures due to the fermentation process, so nothing to worry about there.

As far as moving to a secondary - unless there is a compelling reason to do so like adding fruit, dry hopping, making a lager etc... it isn't really necessary. If you really want to rack, moving after a week and bottling 2 weeks after that is fine - just make sure you hit your FG before transferring. In other words, as long as your SG hasn't changed in at least a few days, it is ok to move it.

There are a crap ton of threads about moving to secondary, why to do it, why not to do it

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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you don't have to worry about keeping the temp up, the heat from fermentation will do that for you, if the room is 61 the beer is probably 70. In my limited experience, cooler temps are better, the fermentation may take longer, but it will be cleaner and give you better beer. So i almost always shoot for the low end of the temp spectrum.

I would try to suppress the fluctuations though, i do it with a $8 rubber trashcan filled with water and wrapped in an old wool blanket. It doesn't take up much more room than a carboy alone, and it's cheap the water acts as a heat sink and gives the beer a little more thermal inertia to prevent changes.

That's just the way i do it, with the little variation that you have your beer will be perfectly fine. But i tend to like overkill.

As for the 1, 2, 3 method, search for "secondary" on the beginners being section and you'll have enough reading for the rest of your life. The general consensus is a secondary is not necessary unless you are adding fruit/oak. Pretty much, it's been determined that leaving your beer on yeast and trub for a couple months won't hurt it, so a secondary doesn't really help it any, and it risks oxidation and infection. there are all plenty of people who do use a secondary, but majority of us say it's not necessary for what you're brewing.

Just do three weeks in the primary, then bottle and let it sit for 3-4 weeks.

Congrats on your new addiction... I mean, hobby.

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:53 PM   #4
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Looks like evildeadash beat me to it haha

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Old 10-09-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick replies! I will definitely do some homework on the secondary. My primary is just a bucket and I borrowed a glass carboy that I was going to use as a secondary, so one reason I was looking forward to transferring is so that I could see what was going on.

As far as measuring the gravity, is it OK to remove the lid from the primary bucket for a minute? I thought it was supposed to stay sealed until you are ready to transfer to prevent oxygen exposure.

And you are right...I can see this easily becoming an addiction. I'm already thinking about my next batch! I made this one because my neighbor had made it and it was real good. I like IPAs, but my wife is a hefeweizen fan, so maybe I'll do that next.

Thanks,
John

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Old 10-09-2012, 02:13 PM   #6
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From what I gathered in my reading here, the co2 that the yeast is producing sits in a layer on top of the fermenting beer, so as long as you're not disturbing the beer too much not much if any oxygen will get to it.

If I'm wrong someone please correct me since in very new at this as well.

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Old 10-09-2012, 02:33 PM   #7
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Nope. You are correct, but personally i don't see any advantage in taking gravity reading so soon. I usually wait until 3 days before i want to bottle it, then on bottling day to make sure it's leveled out (sometimes, for a small beer or long fermentation, I'll only take one on bottling day just to know my fg)

make sure you don't put your gravity sample back into the bucket, it's a small price to pay for delicious, infection free, non oxygenated beer.

as for your fermentation vessle, buckets are easiest (wide mouth and cheap) but don't look cool, they can be scratched during cleaning, and some people claim they hold flavors, glass looks the coolest but is dangerous and expensive and heavy, better bottles (clear plastic) are cheap, light, and you can still see your beer, but they have the same disadvantages as buckets.

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