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Old 03-09-2013, 11:20 PM   #1
joericks
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Default Wondering if I'm doing it right

Hello all, I am brand new to the art of home brewing. I recieved a True Brew beer brewing kit for my birthday, and have tried my first batch with a Brew House Stout kit.

The instructions said to mix with water and PH packet, stir vigorously, measure S.G. then add yeast (don't stir). I then put the lid and air lock in and waited. This was Wed. at noon. The next morning the air lock was bubbling maddly and there was foam coming out the top. This went on for awhile and stopped completely last night (Friday). I woke up this morning to see no action in the air lock, and decided it was time to rack to secondary.

I guess what I'm asking is if I moved too soon and ruined the batch, or if it still may turn out OK. Once I cracked the lid on the primary, there was very little foam on the surface, and after racking the sediment was not was I was expecting, looked like foamy sludge to me (I expected more of a packed nasty substance).

Hope I did ok on my first time. It's a little nerve wrecking to think that I may wait 2 weeks, bottle and wait another 2 weeks to having something undrinkable.

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Old 03-09-2013, 11:27 PM   #2
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It was definitely too soon but you may be OK anyway. Usually you want to wait 3 weeks in the primary and a secondary fermentation isn't necessary. You can get away with 3 weeks in primary, bottling, and conditioning/carbing for 2 more weeks.

But honestly - beer is really hard to screw up. The yeast really, really want to make beer. Relax, don't worry, have a home brew.

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Old 03-09-2013, 11:56 PM   #3
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It was definitely too soon but you may be OK anyway. Usually you want to wait 3 weeks in the primary and a secondary fermentation isn't necessary. You can get away with 3 weeks in primary, bottling, and conditioning/carbing for 2 more weeks.
I second all of this - you don't even need to do a secondary fermentation for anything shorter than a month in the primary. The yeast only start to break-down and negatively affect the flavor after one month in the primary (and possibly not even by then).

If things don't seem to be fermenting because you racked to secondary too soon, try aerating the wort very well (yeast need well-aerated wort to get started; this is a VERY important fact that beginners often overlook!) and then try pitching some more yeast. Things are basically guaranteed to take-off then.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:23 AM   #4
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If things don't seem to be fermenting because you racked to secondary too soon, try aerating the wort very well (yeast need well-aerated wort to get started; this is a VERY important fact that beginners often overlook!) and then try pitching some more yeast. Things are basically guaranteed to take-off then.
Bad advice to give a new brewer. Yes yeast need O2 to reproduce, but once fermentation has started, you should never aerate the wort otherwise it will just start tasting stale after a short time.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:27 AM   #5
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I second all of this - you don't even need to do a secondary fermentation for anything shorter than a month in the primary. The yeast only start to break-down and negatively affect the flavor after one month in the primary (and possibly not even by then).

If things don't seem to be fermenting because you racked to secondary too soon, try aerating the wort very well (yeast need well-aerated wort to get started; this is a VERY important fact that beginners often overlook!) and then try pitching some more yeast. Things are basically guaranteed to take-off then.
NO! NO! NO! This would oxidize the beer for sure. Never add oxygen once fermentation has started unless you have a very high OG like you might in a barleywine.

The beer shouldn't have been moved so soon but it will turn out to be beer anyway, perhaps not as good as it could have but good.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by joericks View Post
Hello all, I am brand new to the art of home brewing. I recieved a True Brew beer brewing kit for my birthday, and have tried my first batch with a Brew House Stout kit.

The instructions said to mix with water and PH packet, stir vigorously, measure S.G. then add yeast (don't stir). I then put the lid and air lock in and waited. This was Wed. at noon. The next morning the air lock was bubbling maddly and there was foam coming out the top. This went on for awhile and stopped completely last night (Friday). I woke up this morning to see no action in the air lock, and decided it was time to rack to secondary.

I guess what I'm asking is if I moved too soon and ruined the batch, or if it still may turn out OK. Once I cracked the lid on the primary, there was very little foam on the surface, and after racking the sediment was not was I was expecting, looked like foamy sludge to me (I expected more of a packed nasty substance).

Hope I did ok on my first time. It's a little nerve wrecking to think that I may wait 2 weeks, bottle and wait another 2 weeks to having something undrinkable.
I think the easiest way to get past this is to read about brewing and learning how to make your beer better. Here's a good place to start although the latest print version has some corrections in it and is worth the price to have for a reference. John Palmer was gracious enough to put the entire first edition online for FREE! www.howtobrew.com
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Old 03-10-2013, 03:06 AM   #7
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NO! NO! NO! This would oxidize the beer for sure. Never add oxygen once fermentation has started unless you have a very high OG like you might in a barleywine.
Obviously I'm not saying it's ideal. But I have re-aerated wort, even after having initially pitched the yeast (because I failed to aerate properly from the beginning as a novice brewer), and trust me - it turned out just fine; the sky didn't fall or anything. So if you've got a stalled batch, I see nothing wrong with re-aerating things.

Some of you guys on here need to lighten-up just a tad...
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Old 03-10-2013, 03:25 AM   #8
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Always rouse (swirl) yeast and bring the beer up to the high end of the recommended yeast ferm temp if you have a very slow or potentially stuck fermentation. Often, this does the trick.

If you truly have a stuck fermentation, and have to re-pitch, you must re-aerate (according to the book YEAST). This is because the yeast must have oxygen at the beginning of fermentation, and if you aerated 2+ days prior, any oxygen that was in the wort will have precipitated out. True, you will oxidize the beer, it won't taste as good, and it will have a very short shelf life, but at least you have a chance to make a drinkable beer.

If your beer is stuck (non-declining gravity significantly below desired FG), you either oxidize it + repitch it, or throw it out (unless you want to drink syrup beer).

However beers often aren't stuck, they're just ferementing very slowly due to under-aerating under-pitching, or too low a ferm temp.

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Old 03-10-2013, 03:38 AM   #9
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However beers often aren't stuck, they're just ferementing very slowly due to under-aerating under-pitching, or too low a ferm temp.
Good point, which is partially why RM-MN and Calder were so adamantly opposed to the idea of re-aerating and re-pitching, I think.
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:10 AM   #10
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I wouldn't assume that, because the OP moved the stout out of the primary very prematurely, he caused fermentation to cease.

The best you can do at this point is to let it ride undisturbed in the secondary for a few weeks and then take a hydrometer reading. It still has a chance to finish up on its own.

Next time, unless you've got a specific reason to transfer it to a secondary, leave it alone in the primary for 3 weeks and go straight to bottling. Just because the airlock stopped bubbling does not mean that fermentation is anywhere near to being done.
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