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Old 09-15-2006, 03:16 AM   #1
MattD
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Default Question about primary fermentation speed

Hey all, I have a question about how long I should expect my primary ferment to last. This is my first batch, so obviously I don't know what to really expect. I pitched my yeast at about 1am on the 13th and went to bed. I checked it around 9am and the airlock was bubbling away, a burst of bubbles about every 3-4 seconds (is this considered fully active?). By this morning about 10am (33 hrs after pitching the yeast) the bubbling was down to a burst every 50-90 seconds. This afternoon at 6 (41 hrs after pitching) it was bubbling every 3-4 minutes at best. I took a SG and it had gone from it's OG of 1.035 to about 1.018. My recipe instructions said to rack to secondary after it had dropped SG about halfway (FG should be 1.008-1.012), so I did. Airlock activity hasn't really picked up any, not that I expected it to. I figure on leaving it in secondary for 7 days then checking SG again, I'm just wondering if I should expect any further change. Also, the primary ferment seemed to go by MUCH faster than I'd expected, I thought it would take at least 3-5 days. Any comments on what might be going on, or am I just worrying for no reason?

Recipe:

6.6 lbs Amber LME
1 lb crystal malt grain
1.5 oz hallertau mittlefruh pellets
Burton salts
1 pkt Muntons active brewing yeast (dry)

I steeped the grain at 155F for 15 minutes, then increased the heat and let it climb to 170F, then took it off heat and removed grains. Stirred in LME, burton salts, and added hops, brought to a boil and boiled for 45 min. Transferred pot to a water bath and brought temp down to 80F, then added to primary with water to bring up to 5.25 gal. Boiled 1/2 cup of water and cooled it to room temp, added yeast and let it hydrate for 15 minutes, swirled to suspend and added to fermenter. Sealer it up and attached the airlock. 41 hours later airlock activity had come and gone, and SG had dropped from 1.035 to 1.018. Racked to secondary and now I'm waiting....

Also, the kit came with 2 pkts of yeast, and I only used one, figuring the other was a spare. Should I have used both? The recipe didn't specify a quantity...

Thanks for the help, and I hope to learn a lot about this home brewing thing so maybe I can answer someone else's questions one day!

Matt

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Old 09-15-2006, 03:37 AM   #2
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Matt - I'm no expert, but I would have expected a fg in the 1.008 or 9 range - right now you have beer with about 2% ABV, but very tasty once it's aged. Likely you should have stayed on primary for a few more days, although you might still get some action with what's left in secondary.

If it were me, I might pitch the second yeast pack into secondary to see if your FG would drop at all. Of course, if that was Laaglander LME, you might be finished!

I will await a more learned opinion, but that's me 2 cents.....

Skol!

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Old 09-15-2006, 03:48 AM   #3
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yeah, it was a concern of mine that moving to the secondary might irrevocably stop the fermentation process, but I was hoping that the yeast still in solution would keep plugging away. Obviously this brew wasn't gonna get above 4% anyway, but 2% isn't what I was going for I figured as slow as fermentation was, it wasn't gonna go much further anyway in primary. Will taking it off the trub have caused a big drop in fermentation? I hate to reaerate it and pitch more yeast now, as I don't want to infect it.... who knows what'll happen, worst case scenario I have a low alcohol sweet tasting beer, who knows maybe my wife will actually drink it LOL. I was just wondering if this was typical yeast behavior, or if I messed something up I should fix for next time, as I'm thinking about getting another brew on the line once I get this one figured out. Thanks for the help!

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Old 09-15-2006, 03:52 AM   #4
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Also, if I did decide to pitch the rest of the yeast, and it didn't pick up again, then obviously it would mean all the fermentables are just done (I'm making the assumption the yeast was good...) in that case, if I decided that I wanted to boost the ABV anyway, would adding a boiled corn sugar slurry allow the yeast to play some more and give me some more EtOH? If so, what effect would that have on the taste and other attributes of the beer? I don't think I'll go that route, being the first batch I'll probably just take whatever comes out, but I am curious what would happen

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Old 09-15-2006, 04:00 AM   #5
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You probably moved it to secondary a little early. Even though airlock activity was slow it was still working and a few more days would not have harmed it any. As you get more experience you become somwhat more patient. I have lengthened my primary time to 10 days. You might get a little more fermentation in the sescondary but I wouldn't expect to much. At this point you do not want to aerate the brew. It might have to go down as a lesson learned in your brewing career. Now is the time to plan the 2nd brew.My first batch was fairly lousy.

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Old 09-15-2006, 05:16 AM   #6
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yeah no biggie, i did taste it when i transferred, and it tasted pretty good, so at least it'll be drinkable, if weak right now i'm thinking my 2nd batch should be kinda creamy and chewy, with a little bit of spice to it. Any suggestions? I guess if I went ahead and started batch #2 in the next few days, and actually allowed it to spend a week or so in primary, batch 1 would be ready to bottle and I could transfer right on into secondary behind it. Of course, I only have two containers so bottling would be tricky with the primary full of new beer... might need to go ahead and get another bucket or carboy. My wife is gonna kill me

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Old 09-15-2006, 05:40 AM   #7
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Do you have a separate bottling bucket? If the first one is in secondary you surely could start another anytime. Primary fermentation can easily sit for 10-14 days without problem.

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Old 09-15-2006, 07:59 AM   #8
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no, sure don't, I'll have to get another bucket for bottling, or get another glass carboy for a primary and use the bucket I've got for bottling. Is there any advantage to plastic bucket vs. glass carboy for the primary? All the starter kits out there seem to supply one of each, with the bucket for the primary, but I didn't know if there was a reason for that or not. It's annoying to me not to be able to see what's going on in there during primary, so if there's no real difference I'll probably pick up a carboy for primary and bottle with this bucket.

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