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Old 03-05-2010, 10:37 PM   #1
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Default More ferment & gravity questions

I've got 3 brews in primaries now, all extract kits from Northern Brewer brewed last weekend: extra pale ale, cream ale, & irish stout.

I plan to move the pale ale and cream ale to secondaries at 2 weeks, or once gravity stabilizes, to free up my primaries. The kits state what OG should be, but not FG. The cream ale was high, at 1.045 (kit says 1.040) and the pale ale was pretty much on the money at 1.044 (1.045 expected). Both of these kits say ready in 4 weeks, so I figure 2 weeks primary, 1-2 weeks secondary, 3-4 days force carbing.

On the irish stout, OG was high as well at 1.047 (expected 1.042). This kit says ready in 6 weeks, so I was thinking 3 weeks primary, 2-3 weeks secondary, 3-4 days force carbing.

Do my times sound right for these beers?

The kits state recommended times, but I followed those times on my first brew and transferred to a secondary when they said to (at 10 days), and then found out that was probably too early. This was a wheat beer, not from northern brewer, and the beer was a little tart the first week, a little smoother the second, and then it was gone. I don't really want more tart beer though.

How do I know what the FG should be on all of these?

Does it matter on the irish stout & cream ale that OG was higher than it should have been and does this effect ferment time or what FG should be?

I know some of you are going to say just leave in the primaries for 3-4 weeks, and in the future I may not bother with secondaries, except on the longer beers like the stout. My main reason for wanting to secondary was that I read that it helped clarify the beer. Right now I'd just like to free up my primaries though for more batches.

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:02 PM   #2
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I brewed that extra pale ale, too, but I added a cup of dextrose to increase the alcohol. I later learned the dextrose will make it a drier beer so we'll see how it turns out. My final gravity on that one was 1.009.

The original gravities shouldn't be that off on an extract kit. I would double check your hydrometer with plain water and make sure it's 1.0 temp adjusted. Are you checking the cooled wort right before you pitch the yeast?

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:03 PM   #3
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Your right that the secondary will help clarify your beer, and it's good to move them after the initial krausen (foam) is gone. Usually 7 to 10 days.

If you take readings often, you'll see that the beer drops gravity pretty quickly during that first week and then falls a little slower rate after that. I like to make my move right during that time.

It's also good to get your yummy beer of the trub (all the crap at the bottom of your primary). That stuff includes dead yeast, cold break and other non-flavor enhancing crap that you don't want your beer to sit on.

As for the exact FG of your recipes, you can try calling Northern Brewer for the information or you can just watch your gravity readings and when they level off (probably somewhere in the 1.015 to 1.011 range) then it's safe to package. The lower the gravity the drier the finish of the beer in my experience, so pull it where you want.

As for the OG being a little high, don't worry about it. That just means you have a little more sugar in there then the recipe called for and so the beer will have a little more alcohol after the yeast do there thing. A few points one way or the other isn't going to make a noticeable difference, especially to a beer your not use to brewing over and over where you already have a specific taste in mind.

Your times sound right to me, let your gravity readings guide you. Typically I have ales feremented out in a total of 14 to 18 days then force carb for 3 or 4...lagers I primary for 7 to 10 and then condition for 21 to 28 days...

Hope that helps and have fun experimenting!

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:10 PM   #4
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Gravities can be off in an extract kit...if you boil off more water then the recipe is calculated for then you'll concentrate the wort slightly and cause the gravity to increase...but you mention good things to check too.

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Old 03-06-2010, 01:15 AM   #5
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If you know the yeast you used, then you can look up the attenuation rate and figure FG.

Out of curiosity, what was the difference between the cream ale and pale ale kits?

Personally, I rack to the secondary when bubbling really drops off. I don't like taking samples of beer (wasted beer and contamination/oxidation potential) over and over.

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Old 03-06-2010, 01:18 AM   #6
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Oh, missed your last question...

The more sugar, the longer it will take for the yeast to convert it. Although it is more complicated than that (depends on nutrients, types of sugars, yeast type, unfermentables, etc.), the differences you describe won't meaningfully effect fermentation times.

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Old 03-06-2010, 01:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalAngler View Post
I would double check your hydrometer with plain water and make sure it's 1.0 temp adjusted. Are you checking the cooled wort right before you pitch the yeast?
I checked the hydrometer in 60* water and it is off by .002. It reads 1.002. I never thought it would be wrong, it's only about 6 weeks old. Are refractometers more reliable?

And yes, I check right before pitching the yeast with wort temp right around 60.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Padstack31 View Post
Typically I have ales feremented out in a total of 14 to 18 days then force carb for 3 or 4...lagers I primary for 7 to 10 and then condition for 21 to 28 days...
Thanks, I was the most confused about the stout & how long it should stay in the primary since it said ready in 6 weeks. I'll plan to transfer it to a secondary next weekend, then let it sit for a few more weeks. Is it possible that the pale ale and cream ale would be ready to keg next weekend (2 weeks in primary) if gravity is stable, then force carb for 3-4 days? If not, they may have to go to a secondary to free up my primaries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Padstack31 View Post
Gravities can be off in an extract kit...if you boil off more water then the recipe is calculated for then you'll concentrate the wort slightly and cause the gravity to increase...but you mention good things to check too.
Thanks for the info. Should I try doing a 3G boil rather than 2.5G to compensate, or should I just go for the full 5G? I've got keggle plans in the works, so...
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcbrewman View Post
Thanks for the info. Should I try doing a 3G boil rather than 2.5G to compensate, or should I just go for the full 5G? I've got keggle plans in the works, so...
I disagree with the statement that a concentrated wort during boil will affect gravity. As long as you're topping off to the full 5 gallon volume then the gravity should be very close to the OG listed on the kit. This is the standard practice with a partial boil so gravity shouldn't be off by as much as OP listed.
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkeeler View Post

Out of curiosity, what was the difference between the cream ale and pale ale kits?
i'd bet lactose.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkeeler View Post
Out of curiosity, what was the difference between the cream ale and pale ale kits?
Sorry, forgot to answer you in my reply.

Pale ale
1lb dinemans caramel pils
6lbs gold malt syrup
2oz cascade 60min
1oz cascade 1min

Cream ale
.75lbs gambrinus honey malt
.25lbs dingemans biscuit
6lbs pilsen malt syrup
1oz cluster 60min
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