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Old 07-17-2007, 06:54 PM   #1
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Default Hefeweizen question

I'm still conditioning my first batch of beer (an IPA) in the secondary for a while longer, so I thought, "Why not bang out a Hefe in the mean time?" After all, it is summer time, and I won't be needing the secondary for this beer. And I'm soooo thirsty!

Fermentation of the hefe started fast and furious... the airlock was trickling about 2 hours after pitching! (The IPA had a long lag time so this was a nice surprise!) By the 4 hour mark there was a nice thick krauesen building and the airlock was bubbling away at a pretty good tempo. I checked again this morning and contrary to my dream last night, the airlock was not embedded in the ceiling, and there was not 6 inches of foam all over the basement floor.

Now I've been working my mind on this IPA for a while, and I know that conditioning of the IPA takes considerable time. I'm not planning on drinking that one until 8-10 weeks after brew day. But everything I hear and read tells me wheat beer is a whole different ballgame, and I'll be chillin in the back yard tasting this batch of brew within 3 weeks or so.

I'm thinking I should be bottling the hefe right after the krauesen falls back, right? Since I'm priming w/ sugar, the yeast will "recover" in the bottle and give that murky glow that we know and love in a hefeweizen, right?

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Old 07-17-2007, 07:10 PM   #2
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Wrongo-dongo, 6-4. Judging doneness by falling krausen is like peering into your car's gas tank with a flashlight to see how much gas you have left.

Once the krausen falls and airlock activity subsides, take a hydrometer reading. Then take another reading a few days later. If there's no change in the reading, then you're fine. Bottle it. If there is a change, then it's not quite done.

Heed my advice or end up with gushers or bottle bombs!

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Old 07-17-2007, 07:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan!
Wrongo-dongo, 6-4. Judging doneness by falling krausen is like peering into your car's gas tank with a flashlight to see how much gas you have left.

Once the krausen falls and airlock activity subsides, take a hydrometer reading. Then take another reading a few days later. If there's no change in the reading, then you're fine. Bottle it. If there is a change, then it's not quite done.

Heed my advice or end up with gushers or bottle bombs!
Yep, what Evan said.

Also, with a hefe, the krausen may not completely fall back into the beer. That is thick stuff (from all the proteins in the wheat).

So ALWAYS trust your hydrometer. Pretty much all other visual clues about fermentation (e.g., bubbling rate, krausening, etc.) are potentially misleading.
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:19 PM   #4
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A Hydrometer should tell you if its done fermenting, lack of krausen is a good sign, but not the end-all-be-all signal that its done. Hefe's are known for vigorous fermentation, so if you feed it, and its not already done with what its doing, you might be making bottle bomb.s

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Old 07-17-2007, 07:21 PM   #5
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I've found that a good rule of thumb for hefe's is go 2 weeks in the primary and then go to bottles and wait 2 more weeks before you start drinking it. Oh and rack a new batch on the yeast cake in the primary after you bottle because that first batch won't last long.

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Old 07-17-2007, 07:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradsul
Oh and rack a new batch on the yeast cake in the primary after you bottle because that first batch won't last long.

Good advice, my friend, good advice!
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for the save, Evan!

Quote:
Oh and rack a new batch on the yeast cake in the primary after you bottle because that first batch won't last long.
That brings up more n00b questions. Would I just add a new batch of chilled wort to the yeast that's left, and leave it at that? How does this affect the hop additions?

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Old 07-17-2007, 07:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixFoFalcon
Thanks for the save, Evan!

That brings up more n00b questions. Would I just add a new batch of chilled wort to the yeast that's left, and leave it at that? How does this affect the hop additions?

You guys are great!
You make up your next batch just like the first, then instead of racking into an empty primary and pitching yeast, you are just racking your cooled wort right onto a yeast cake. If you don't have one you WILL need a blow-off tube. Otherwise it will be quite a mess to clean up.

After you rack your first beer into your bottling bucket make sure you seal up your primary again with an airlock as if it was fermenting until your new batch is ready. That will keep the yeast cake from picking up any nasties.
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Old 07-17-2007, 08:05 PM   #9
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Ahh, OK. I wasn't sure if the hops in the trub from the first batch would have an influence the second time around.

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Old 07-17-2007, 08:32 PM   #10
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If you have a ton of hops in the trub you might want to try washing your yeast (check the wiki), but if it isn't really bad I wouldn't worry about it. They will settle out almost immediately and won't affect your next brew enough to worry about.

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