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cms 01-28-2011 04:32 PM

Second Batch
 
My second batch made it into the fermentor at about 1am this morning. It was WAAAY smoother experience than my first attempt and I don't think I made any 'mistakes' this time. I really need to start sooner so I don't run so late.

Only a couple snags this time - the grain bag that came with my kit was too small to hold all the grains. It was close (a couple tablespoons shy), but I had to stitch the bag up because there was not enough to tie a knot. I will definitely get a reusable grain bag before I brew next time. That was frustrating and there were some floaties, but it's all good.

This time I also turned off the heat while steeping. The mass of the water was enough to hold the temp right and it was WAY easier than trying to chase the temp around using the stove dial to get it right.

During the boil, I got the LME and hop additionsin the right order and durations this time.

I cooled the wort pretty quickly but I still mis-estimated the temp of the clear water in the fermentor and ended having to wait a long time for the wort to cool down to pitching temp. I guess that was the biggest whoops of the night.

I used a wyyeast activator 'smack pack' this time and that seemed to make a HUGE difference to the coopers powdered yeast I used last time. The bag looked like it was about to burst when it was time to open it. I activated it a few hours before brewing. Maybe longer than necessary, but a compromise between the instructions on the bag and the instructions in the kit. I'm sure it's all fine, though.

In fact, I know it's fine. My fermentor is already showing signs of activity. After about 6 hours, I could tell the bucket was building pressure (gentle push on the bucket moved the water in the airlock). After 8 hours, the airlock is already bubbling. A big relief after my slow-starting, uninspired fermentation on the previous batch (which shows no negative effects so calling it 'uninspired' may be too rude).

I have a couple questions, though...

I followed the directions very closely, but the OG was quite a bit lower than the estimated OG for the recipe. The recipe said to expect 1.051 and mine was 1.042 (temp adjusted to 60F). My previous batch was like that too - below the low-end of the range by ~20%. I boiled the right amount of water and filled the bucket to 5 gallons. Is my hydrometer wrong? Am I reading it wrong?

I will be doing a two-stage for this and the rule of thumb seems to be 1-2-3 weeks. But I was told in a previous thread that I should not move to secondary until fermentation is complete - like completely complete. But isn't that the point of two-stage? To continue the process in a clean environment (get the beer off the trub)? Which 'rule' should I bent toward? Calendar time or fermentation progress? Or am I over-thinking this?

MalFet 01-28-2011 04:51 PM

My guess on the gravity is that you added water and then took your reading before you completely mixed the liquid. Your sample probably drew from the more watery stuff from the top.

You'll find secondaries to be pretty unpopular around here. You'll find the 1-2-3 rule to be extremely unpopular. :D To be honest, as a beginner, you have greater risks of problems from the transfer than any possible benefit from getting the beer off the yeast. A lot of people, including myself, are skeptical that there are even benefits in the first place. Leaving the beer on yeast for upwards of a month (or more) is pretty standard practice around here.

CTownBrewer 01-28-2011 04:54 PM

Did you use a kit? I noticed on my first ever brew which was based on a kit, that the directions aren't very accurate & don't seem to take into account a boil-off rate. A lot of them tell you to boil 2.5 gallons & then top off to 5 gallons when transferring to the primary. This ends up diluting the wort & results in a lower OG.

Ever since coming up short on my first IPA, I always do 5 gallon boils & keep it covered as much as possible. This keeps the amount of water lost to boil-off to a minimum, plus ends with much more flavorful beer. I have a crappy electric stove, so it gets the water boiling quicker too & sustains it.

If you are using the method of topping off your primary with water, I would suggest taking multiple gravity readings as you add the water until you get to your target OG. I'd rather have 4 gallons of beer at the correct OG than 5 gallons that are a little watered down.

As for 2-stage fermentation, I would only move to a secondary if you're adding something to the beer...like oak, dry-hop, fruit, etc. The trub in the primary isn't going to hurt the beer. Eventually, it will settle out. I leave my beers in the primary for a minimum of 2 weeks...but that all depends on if fermentation is complete by then. You should take a gravity reading after the beer has been in the primary for around 10 days, then take another a few days later. If you have the same reading 3 days apart, you know fermentation has completed. Another side note, leaving it on the yeast for longer even after fermentation has finished will clean-up any off-flavors that the yeast produced.

cms 01-28-2011 05:01 PM

Not sure how bad this is, but I didn't test a sample - I plopped my hydrometer (sanitized, of course) right into the bucket. I left it there, bobbing away as the wort cooled from 90 down to 82 when I pitched the yeast (I used this calculator to adjust the 1.040 reading to 60, giving me 1.0428).

I'm pretty sure the liquid was mixed pretty well - I was stirring periodically as it was cooling toward room temp. I checked some tap water and it was less than 1.0 (I don't remember exactly what it was - I racked it up to aeration). Also, I live near Denver. Could the altitude have something to do with it?

MalFet 01-28-2011 05:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cms (Post 2593600)
Not sure how bad this is, but I didn't test a sample - I plopped my hydrometer (sanitized, of course) right into the bucket. I left it there, bobbing away as the wort cooled from 90 down to 82 when I pitched the yeast (I used this calculator to adjust the 1.040 reading to 60, giving me 1.0428).

I'm pretty sure the liquid was mixed pretty well - I was stirring periodically as it was cooling toward room temp. I checked some tap water and it was less than 1.0 (I don't remember exactly what it was - I racked it up to aeration). Also, I live near Denver. Could the altitude have something to do with it?


Altitude wouldn't affect gravity readings by perceptible amounts. Unless you used improper amounts of water or spilled some of your malt on the ground, you're pretty much guaranteed to hit your OG numbers in extract brewing. Run some tests on known quantities if you want to check your hydrometer. There are some good calibration threads on this forum.

cms 01-28-2011 05:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
Did you use a kit? I noticed on my first ever brew which was based on a kit, that the directions aren't very accurate & don't seem to take into account a boil-off rate. A lot of them tell you to boil 2.5 gallons & then top off to 5 gallons when transferring to the primary. This ends up diluting the wort & results in a lower OG.

It was a kit from a local store. The owners recipe - he milled the grains and assembled the kit right there (which seemed better than my first kit from Brewers Best - I'm sure I got fresher ingredients this time)

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
I'd rather have 4 gallons of beer at the correct OG than 5 gallons that are a little watered down.

Good point.

zachary80 01-28-2011 05:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
Ever since coming up short on my first IPA, I always do 5 gallon boils & keep it covered as much as possible. This keeps the amount of water lost to boil-off to a minimum, plus ends with much more flavorful beer. I have a crappy electric stove, so it gets the water boiling quicker too & sustains it.

You probably shouldn't keep the lid on once the boil has started
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/boil-wort-lid-off-180120/

CTownBrewer 01-28-2011 07:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zachary80 (Post 2593746)
You probably shouldn't keep the lid on once the boil has started
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/boil-wort-lid-off-180120/

I guess I should have prefaced that suggestion with making sure you have a large enough brew pot. I've got plenty of extra room with mine, plus I watch it like a hawk once it hits a rolling boil...haven't even come close to boiling over yet (knock on wood).

If you're doing 2.5 gallon boils in a 3 gallon pot, you may be in for some trouble!

zachary80 01-28-2011 07:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2594080)
I guess I should have prefaced that suggestion with making sure you have a large enough brew pot. I've got plenty of extra room with mine, plus I watch it like a hawk once it hits a rolling boil...haven't even come close to boiling over yet (knock on wood).

If you're doing 2.5 gallon boils in a 3 gallon pot, you may be in for some trouble!

You bring up a good point on watching for a boilover with it covered, but I was referring to this advice given here, and which I originally read in How To Brew:
Quote:

Originally Posted by thewurzel (Post 2085784)
Always do A Wort boil with lid off to drive of DMS.
You dont want the DMS giving off flavors to your beer, as the DMS is driven off in the boil
You can bring to boil with lid on to conserve heat but be careful of hot break and pushing lid off.


MalFet 01-28-2011 07:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2594080)
I guess I should have prefaced that suggestion with making sure you have a large enough brew pot. I've got plenty of extra room with mine, plus I watch it like a hawk once it hits a rolling boil...haven't even come close to boiling over yet (knock on wood).

If you're doing 2.5 gallon boils in a 3 gallon pot, you may be in for some trouble!

The thread he referred to wasn't about boil-overs. When wort gets boiled, it releases a bunch of nasty compounds that you want to aerosolize off. You don't want your steam collecting on the top of your lid and dripping back down into your wort. It's less of an issue for extract, but still reasonably important.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
Did you use a kit? I noticed on my first ever brew which was based on a kit, that the directions aren't very accurate & don't seem to take into account a boil-off rate. A lot of them tell you to boil 2.5 gallons & then top off to 5 gallons when transferring to the primary. This ends up diluting the wort & results in a lower OG.

Not true, actually. Sugar doesn't evaporate with the steam. It doesn't matter how much boil-off you get, if you top back up you'll end up with the same gravity.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
If you are using the method of topping off your primary with water, I would suggest taking multiple gravity readings as you add the water until you get to your target OG. I'd rather have 4 gallons of beer at the correct OG than 5 gallons that are a little watered down.

I would also recommend against this. It actually takes some time for the water and the wort to mix properly and for the gravity to even out. Mixing thoroughly sometimes isn't enough. If the recipe is designed properly, and if you use the proper amount of water and don't spill anything, you are really pretty much guaranteed to hit your target gravity.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTownBrewer (Post 2593562)
As for 2-stage fermentation, I would only move to a secondary if you're adding something to the beer...like oak, dry-hop, fruit, etc. The trub in the primary isn't going to hurt the beer. Eventually, it will settle out. I leave my beers in the primary for a minimum of 2 weeks...but that all depends on if fermentation is complete by then. You should take a gravity reading after the beer has been in the primary for around 10 days, then take another a few days later. If you have the same reading 3 days apart, you know fermentation has completed. Another side note, leaving it on the yeast for longer even after fermentation has finished will clean-up any off-flavors that the yeast produced.

This, however, I'll agree with :D


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