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Old 11-29-2011, 01:55 PM   #1
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Default Not a lot of bubbles...

Hey guys,

started my first batch last night and im paranoid. My first concern is that i never got the explosion of foam for the hot break that the guy at my LHBS said. Other that that everything went fine.

Second concern is that it took me a solid 30-40 minutes with my pot in the bathtub filled with ice to cool it down. next time I will add more ice straight to the pot.

Lastly and my biggest concern... I filled up my primary, and waited for the temp to be under 75 degrees (per yeast instructions) then added my yeast and stirred it around.... then capped the bucket and airlocked it. Then it was 1AM and i went to bed.

This morning i was expecting to see some serious bubbling but it seems only an occasional bubble, like a few every minute.

How do i know if im stuck? Im afraid to take the lid off for hydrometer readings.

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:05 PM   #2
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No worries about the bubbles. They're just fun to look at- you're fermenting. I'm concerned about your line of adding more ice to the pot- unless your recipe stated to, there's no reason to add ice directly to your cooling kettle. I used the kitchen sink as an ice bath, with the kettle in the sink surrounded by icewater. You can top off the kettle with cool, clean water if your gravity reading is too high AND you don't have enough wort. Otherwise, if your recipe doesn't say to put ice in the kettle, don't (at least for now, may be able to with experience). I have an immersion chiller that takes 40 minutes to cool to 80*F and it doesn't bother me.
The explosion of foam, eh. Don't worry about that either as long as you had a nice rolling boil. Nearly all of my all-grain batches don't foam up. I think it's because I don't have an ultra-vigorous boil. My beer tastes fine. Kyle

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #3
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Thanks Kyle, The boil was there, but really wasn't rolling like crazy until I added my first batch of hops. Either way it rolled for the majority of an hour....

The recipe didn't say to add ice, but i was at about 4.5 gallons so i dumped my entire ice tray from the freezer to cool/fill... I was worried about it not being filtered but my LHBS said if its frozen its ok?

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dukesbb37 View Post
This morning i was expecting to see some serious bubbling but it seems only an occasional bubble, like a few every minute.

How do i know if im stuck? Im afraid to take the lid off for hydrometer readings.
In homebrewing there is so much that we advise folks not to do, yet the one thing that EVERY book, podcast, magazine and website talks about is gravity readings....

How do you think we get them?

Do you think the advice to take them is a vast conspiracy by us old timers to ruin millions of new brewer's batches, so that they flee the hobby and give it a bad rap? Or so they make crappy beer and we kick your asses in contests?

With simple sanitization practices openning the fermenter to take a reading is perfectly safe. You won't spoil your beer.

I know it's a scary premise, but it is really silly to avoid something scientific like a gravity reading because you're afraid of that and instead rely on something faulty like counting bubbles. You have to man up, grow some stones and get over the idea that openning your fermenter to do something positive like take a gravity reading, is dangerous.

Our beer is much stronger than that.

Here, read this, Revvy's advice for the new brewer in terms of worry. You might find the info and advice helpful....

Your HYDROMETER is the only BEST indicator of fermentation activity. Nothing else is accurate or consistent...

Unless you take a gravity reading you don't know what's really going on, not by airlock bubbling or by krausen formation. Neither of those signs are effective, they don't tell you exactly where on the fermentation process you are.

The amount of krausen can vary for whatever reason, it can come quick and depart quickly or it can linger long after fermentation is complete, and it all be normal.

And airlocks sometimes bubble or they don't.

If your airlock was bubbling and stopped---It doesn't mean fermentation has stopped.

If you airlock isn't bubbling, it doesn't mean your fermentation hasn't started....

If your airlock starts bubbling, it really doesn't matter.

If your airlock NEVER bubbles, it doesn't mean anything is wrong or right.

Your airlock is not a fermentation gauge, it is a VALVE to release excess co2. And the peak of fermentation has already wound down, so there's simply no need to vent off any excess co2.

Fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happening, doesn't mean that any-thing's wrong,, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working diligently away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years.

That's why you need to take a gravity reading to know how your fermentation is going, NOT go by airlocks, or size of krausen, or a calendar, the horoscope or the phases of the moon (those things in my mind are equally accurate).

The most important tool you can use is a hydrometer. It's the only way you will truly know when your beer is ready...airlock bubbles and other things are faulty.

The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

Thinking about "doing anything" like repitching, or bottling, or racking, without first taking a hydrometer reading is tantamount to the doctor deciding to cut you open without running any diagnostic tests....Taking one look at you and saying, "Yeah I'm going in." You would really want the doctor to use all means to properly diagnose what's going on?

Sorry but that really is the only answer that is accurate or consistant, the numbers on the little stick. I have had evrey airlock bubbling/non bubbling/slow bubbling/fast bubbling/little krausen/big krausen/slow forming krausen/krausen staying 3 weeks after the hydro showed terminal gravity scenario imaginable in nearly 1,000 gallons of beer, and none of that stuff is as accurate as 30 seconds with a hydrometer.

With simple sanitization practices openning the fermenter to take a reading is perfectly safe. You won't spoil your beer.

This is what I use, and it works with both buckets and carboys.

I replaced the plastic one a year ago with an extra long stainless baster from a kitchen ware store and it is awesome. But the plastic one from any grocery store works fine.



And



Here's what I do....

1) With a spray bottle filled with starsan I spray the lid of my bucket, or the mouth of the carboy, including the bung. Then I spray my turkey baster inside and out with sanitize (or dunking it in a container of sanitizer).

2) Open fermenter.

3) Draw Sample

4) fill sample jar (usualy 2-3 turky baster draws

5)Spray bung or lid with sanitizer again

6) Close lid or bung

6) add hydrometer and take reading

It is less than 30 seconds from the time the lid is removed until it is closed again. More like 15 if you ask me.

Probably less if you have help. And unless a bird flies in your place and lets go with some poop, you should be okay.
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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thanks for the great info....

However i am an idiot... I forgot my primary fermenter is also my bottling bucket and I could take a sample straight from the spigot without messing with anything...

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:45 PM   #6
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thanks for the great info....

However i am an idiot... I forgot my primary fermenter is also my bottling bucket and I could take a sample straight from the spigot without messing with anything...
If that is your only bucket, go buy another one. You don't want to bottle from the bucket you ferment in as it is really difficult to avoid stirring up all the yeast that settled out.
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:56 PM   #7
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Hm... well i also have a glass carboy... I am thinking about racking into the carboy and bottling straight from the carboy with the "rack and fill" thingy in my kit.

If its going in the carboy anyways... should I just rack it as a secondary fermentation for the sake of it... or leave it in the primary the entire time and rack into the carboy right before i bottle?

I know secondary fermentation is optional, but if im gonna have to rack it to bottle, what the hell right?

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:58 PM   #8
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Buying another bucket is a good idea, however, if it's all you have, then use it. I have for a few batches myself gone to the spigot for a few hydrometer draws with nothing bad happening to the beer. I just spray sanitizer on the spigot before and after and get as much up in the hole as possible. Works fine in a pinch. But as Revvy said, just use a turkey baster and draw the sample using simple sanitization practices.

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Keg #1: Empty :(
Keg #2: Empty :(
Kegs 3-5: Empty :(

Ferment #1: Empty :(
Ferment #2: Empty :(
Ferment #3: Empty :(

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Old 11-29-2011, 03:19 PM   #9
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Buying another bucket is a good idea, however, if it's all you have, then use it. I have for a few batches myself gone to the spigot for a few hydrometer draws with nothing bad happening to the beer. I just spray sanitizer on the spigot before and after and get as much up in the hole as possible. Works fine in a pinch. But as Revvy said, just use a turkey baster and draw the sample using simple sanitization practices.
I think he was talking about bottling not drawing for a test. I would think using the spigot is more sanitary than the turkey baster method, but im sure they're both fine if done right.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:39 PM   #10
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I think he was talking about bottling not drawing for a test. I would think using the spigot is more sanitary than the turkey baster method, but im sure they're both fine if done right.
He stated that his primary is in the bottling bucket.

Depending on the depth of the trub layer it may be impossible to take a sample through the spigot.

You say you have a carboy. You should do your primary fermentation in it. Use your bottling bucket for bottling. You will now have to transfer to the carboy and then back to the bottling bucket in order to do the bottling. You may as well do a secondary, but take a couple of gravity readings to make sure FG has been reached before moving to secondary.

I suggest getting another fermenter. You will soon want more than one batch fermenting at one time.
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