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Old 06-01-2010, 10:44 PM   #1
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Default Help with overcoming problems with brewing in Guatemala

Hi all

My girlfriend and I have been cycle touring across the Americas and decided to stop in Guatemala for a year or so. We have a great climate (apart from the occasional tropical storm!) for brewing ales year round so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get back into some brewing.

So I managed to con some people flying in to bring an airlock, grommet and some yeast and a few other bits and pieces. Unfortunately due to time contraints (and airline delivery restrictions) I couldn't get a hydrometer in time.

So I put down my first brew yesterday in a plastic carboy (ginger, sugar, apple, honey, pear, molasses, lemon, coopers dry ale yeast - yes I'm an extract brewer but I haven't found malt available here yet) and it started bubbling away after 18 hours and smells/looks normal to me. So all good so far.

I'm used to using a hydrometer before and during fermentation so I know what's going on. Obviously I was aware before hand that I would not have one and I just plan on letting the batch sit in the carboy for 2-3 days after the bubbling has slowed/stopped.

Some obvious problems with this approach I know (stuck fermentation etc) which is why you use a hydrometer. Does anyone have any additional advice on when I should bottle OR some good signs for bottling?

This should be quite a strong brew; from the online recipe calculator I used the starting gravity is 1.066 and the target gravity 1.017 (ABV 6.5%).

Cheers

Matt

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:52 PM   #2
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You're out for a bike ride and just decide to stop for a year...in Guatemala?!?!?

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
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You're out for a bike ride and just decide to stop for a year...in Guatemala?!?!?
Hey it beats living in Washington DC or Sydney!

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:22 PM   #4
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If the fermentaion was good then krausen dropping is a pretty good measure of when it is done.

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:24 PM   #5
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Seems to me you are in a wine climate, not a beer climate.

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for your thoughts - fermentation seems to be pretty standard so far; it's bubbling away once every one or two seconds.

I did order some wine yeast to make some higher alcohol ciders/meads/fruit wines. Thought I'd start with something I'm a tiny bit more familiar with before I go there though.

Cheers

Matt

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Old 06-02-2010, 02:41 PM   #7
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I would think that Guatemala would be a bit warm for most ales.

But anyway, I'd just let it go for at least 3 weeks to be sure. RDWHAHB!

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Old 06-02-2010, 04:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I would think that Guatemala would be a bit warm for most ales.

But anyway, I'd just let it go for at least 3 weeks to be sure. RDWHAHB!
Ta - 3 weeks OK. I had been thinking more along the lines of 2 weeks. I'm not sure how good the quality of the plastic carboy I'm using is (it's probably not an issue) and I know the seal around the grommet isn't perfect (grommet is a fraction to small for the carboy and has been sealed with a new and sterilized kitchen sponge - the seal is OK). It's not ideal but you work with what you have. There is quite a lot of rouge bacteria here - given the above should I be worried after the CO2 pressure drops in the fermenter about nasties getting in?

Yeah the fermenter has been sitting at around 24C (75F) a bit higher then I expected and had wanted. The brew should have some pretty dominant flavours so it hopefully won't be to much of a problem.

We are living at 1,500m (5,000ft) which keeps the temperatures down - typically around 25C (80F) during the day dropping to around 15C (60F) at night.
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:05 PM   #9
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I used to live in Pana also. It is a great town!

Hope you are surviving the flooding. We have a few friends who lost houses along the river there, and it looks like almost all the bridges are out again.

I would say leave it in the fermentor for 2 to 3 weeks and bottle. that way the yeast will have time to clean up after itself.

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Old 06-02-2010, 06:27 PM   #10
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OK - thanks guys! I'll be patient, not worry about it and leave it for three weeks.

Cheers

Matt

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