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Old 11-14-2012, 01:19 PM   #1
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Default New to brewing! Had a few questions....

Hey all! I am a novice brewer (first batch in the fermenter now!) and I had a few questions!

First, I had an overflow last night, I would say it was about 18-20 hours into the fermenter when it happened. I wiped the lid with a paper towel and cleaned everything up and also re-sterilized my airlock. However, I can pretty much guarantee that air got into the fermenter. What are the chances that my brew is tainted? Is it really that easy for air to ruin a beer?

Secondly, I notice after cleaning everything up that fermentation rapidly slowed. It went from and overflow to a slow gurgle. I timed it this morning (currently at hour 36 in the fermenter) and I got a bubble on average once every 22 seconds. Is the rapid decline in activity evidence that damage was some during the overflow or cleanup process?

Finally, a different question. How do I know when I should be considering bottling/when fermentation is complete? I know I should take a read with the hydrometer to see if it's gravity is close to what the FG should be but when should I take that reading? Is there a general rule of thumb for when you should start testing your brew with a hydrometer?

Thanks all in advance for any help! Btw, just a few tidbits. I am brewing a Bavarian wheat beer, it is stored in my basement which hovers between 69-72 degrees, it is covered and stays in the dark for most of the day. I'm super excited and can't wait to have my first HB!

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Old 11-14-2012, 01:24 PM   #2
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Hey all! I am a novice brewer (first batch in the fermenter now!) and I had a few questions!

First, I had an overflow last night, I would say it was about 18-20 hours into the fermenter when it happened. I wiped the lid with a paper towel and cleaned everything up and also re-sterilized my airlock. However, I can pretty much guarantee that air got into the fermenter. What are the chances that my brew is tainted? Is it really that easy for air to ruin a beer?
Air did not get in, there is so much CO2 pushing out that there should be no concern of anything getting in. Second, consider using a blow off tube for your next batches and save yourself the aggravation of clogged airlocks

Secondly, I notice after cleaning everything up that fermentation rapidly slowed. It went from and overflow to a slow gurgle. I timed it this morning (currently at hour 36 in the fermenter) and I got a bubble on average once every 22 seconds. Is the rapid decline in activity evidence that damage was some during the overflow or cleanup process?
THe airlock is nothing more then a vent for gas to escape. Once the airlock came off and a lot of the gas escaped the pressure was reduced, it will build up again to a point and vent but as active fermentation slows, so will the activity in the airlock so do not worry.

Finally, a different question. How do I know when I should be considering bottling/when fermentation is complete? I know I should take a read with the hydrometer to see if it's gravity is close to what the FG should be but when should I take that reading? Is there a general rule of thumb for when you should start testing your brew with a hydrometer?
IMO you should leave the beer in primary for 10 days to 2 weeks before your first reading. this will enable the yeast to finish up and the beer to clear, then take 2 readings over 3 days to verify FG. IF everything is done and clear you can package anytime after that.

Thanks all in advance for any help! Btw, just a few tidbits. I am brewing a Bavarian wheat beer, it is stored in my basement which hovers between 69-72 degrees, it is covered and stays in the dark for most of the day. I'm super excited and can't wait to have my first HB!
Cheers!
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:33 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for the info! I will do just that!

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Old 11-14-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
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Your beer will be fine. Your experience is very common. The previous poster mentioned taking a bunch of gravity samples. I would just leave it in primary for 3-4 weeks before taking a gravity reading.

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Old 11-14-2012, 01:47 PM   #5
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Your beer will be fine. Your experience is very common. The previous poster mentioned taking a bunch of gravity samples. I would just leave it in primary for 3-4 weeks before taking a gravity reading.
I second this....Typically for average gravity beers, 1.050 - 1.065, I leave it in primary for 3 weeks and then bottle or keg and take my gravity reading at that time.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:47 PM   #6
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Ok. I have heard different things on this topic which is why I came here to ask. So even though the airlock is no longer bubbling it is still wise to leave it in the fermenter? I know it doesn't really affect the taste of the beer I just didn't know how much time it needs to fully ferment. My OG was a little high for the beer I am brewing. It is supposed to be 1.048-1.050 but mine came to around 1.055. Maybe I need to leave it for longer to ensure total fermentation.

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Old 11-14-2012, 02:11 PM   #7
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Leaving the beer in the fermented after fermentation has completed can actually improve the flavor of the beer. it's called a dactyl rest.

It sounds like you are very through and careful when it comes to sanitization. If the fermentation slowed because of the condition change after blowing the lid it's probably due to a little sanitizer getting getting in the beer and damaging a little of the yeast. You will be fine.

For how often to take gravity readings, and calculating fermentation completion read this:
http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-calculate-fermentation-time.html

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Old 11-14-2012, 02:15 PM   #8
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Your beer will be fine. Your experience is very common. The previous poster mentioned taking a bunch of gravity samples. I would just leave it in primary for 3-4 weeks before taking a gravity reading.
Didn't realize 2 samples over 3 days was a bunch:roll eyes:

In addition, just because you leave the beer in primary for a month does not guarantee the beer has reached FG, yes, most likely it has but there are also a myriad of people that came to the realization that fermentation got stuck along the way and never really did finish.

Just trying to guide "best practice". After all it is the beginner forum
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:45 PM   #9
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Ok well then I will leave the beer in there for at least 14 days and take a reading. It the FG is close to where it should be I will consider bottling. How do I restart fermentation if it has stalled?

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:46 PM   #10
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Ok well then I will leave the beer in there for at least 14 days and take a reading. It the FG is close to where it should be I will consider bottling. How do I restart fermentation if it has stalled?
Restarting is typically a last resort. If you pitched too hot and killed yeast cells, or you are fermenting too cold and put them to sleep, you may need to do something, but for now just let it be. Let us know after you've taken 2 readings a few days apart. If it's within +/- .003 of your FG, you are fine.
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