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Old 08-30-2009, 02:33 PM   #1
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Default Is it done? Opinion time... :)

OK, first brew was a bit over-the-top for a beginner, but I felt I had a good grasp on the basics and beyond (having brewed a few times about a decade ago). I made a really dark, heavy gravity pale ale, modified from a recipe in a 2005 issue of BYO.

Extract w/ steep, 6# of light DME, 3.3# super light LME, and a pound of steeping grains (3/4# 60L, 1/4# chocolate). A single packet of US-04 was rehydrated and pitched (yeast nutrients added T-15 minutes before flameout).

I had bubbling from the three-piece airlock within six hours. It bubbled hard for the next two days, slowed down for a day or so, and it's been pretty much quiet for the rest of the time. Fourteen days in a 6.5 gal ale pail. Basement location, no light except for incandescent flipped on occasionally, temperature over 14 days ranged from 67.1 to 70.3 (per my digital themometer near the fermentation area).

OG prior to pitching yeast was 1.080 (measured out about 5.5 gallons). Recipe suggests 1.072 OG, 1.019 FG (as run through BeerAlchemy).

I used my sanitized thief to grab a sample yesterday, 1.030 (day 13 in primary). Today's sample came in at the same gravity, 1.030.

So, it's a bit high, but stable with no activity in the lock. Tastes great but very very cloudy (though I think I may have stabbed the trub in my haste to re-cover the bucket). Has a slightly alcohol-heavy aftertaste. Should I plan on leaving it in the bucket for another week (or, will the alcohol "wang" level out)?

Thanks for your opinions!
Dan


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Old 08-30-2009, 02:45 PM   #2
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Well since airlock bubbling, lack of bubbling fast bubbling slow bubbling means absolutely nothing, and that the only thing one should ever go by is your hydrometer reading, which kudo's to you for taking.

Having said that, I sure as hell wouldn't bottle a beer at 1.030....No freaking way.

You have a couple options here....I would carefully lift the bucket on to one edge and rotate it once on the pivot clockwise to get the yeast up and swirling. I would also consider maybe moving ti to a warmer spot, to get the yeast back working again, and leave it for another 2 weeks.

OR, as much as I am not a big fan of using secondaries, you could rack it to another one, sometimes doing that will get the east working again...

But really I would just try the swirl and warm method...if you can't get it to a warmer place then wrap in with a thick blanket....you just want to raise the temp a few degree above the basline it is at, so the yeast wake up again....

As to the alcohol tang, that will mellow out during bottle conditioning...and depending on how strong the tang is it may be months rather than weeks....I have a 1.090 OG Belgian strong that took 3 months to carb, and at 9 months is starting to lose the rocket fuel taste....I am not going to touch any more of them til they are a year old.

Get brewing other, lesser strength beers that won't require as long as a conditioning time, so you can give this one the time it needs.


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Old 08-30-2009, 03:09 PM   #3
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Thanks for the great info, Revvy. I'll be able to use this myself if I ever get that problem, once my taste buds allow for a big beer that's not masked by fruit! (My Cherry Wheat that I'm going to brew in a few days will end up being 7.3% ABV).
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Having said that, I sure as hell wouldn't bottle a beer at 1.030....No freaking way.
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing... bottle bombs. Had I known about Mr. Malty, I would've checked how much yeast I needed for this recipe (1.5 packs is suggested, I probably would've chucked in the whole two packs). Live and learn. Since I'm bottling, though, I'm scared of this high reading.

One question: I purchased much of my equipment from a kid getting out of brewing, from craigslist. I did check my hydrometer prior to brewing the first batches, and in tap water (softened well water) it read at a hair above 1.000. That's calibrated, basically, right?

Quote:
I would carefully lift the bucket on to one edge and rotate it once on the pivot clockwise to get the yeast up and swirling.
Like I had mentioned, I "stabbed" the yeast cake while taking a sample; I'm gonna wait a day and see if that woke it up. If not, I'll try your suggestion.

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Get brewing other, lesser strength beers that won't require as long as a conditioning time, so you can give this one the time it needs.
Great idea. I've got a brown ale ready to brew, and I did a batch of Brandon O's "graff" cider brew at the same time, which is a couple weeks away from bottling. That'll keep us busy!

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:03 PM   #5
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My question is what are you using to soften your well water, and how much?
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:31 AM   #6
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My question is what are you using to soften your well water, and how much?
Actually, I brewed outside (it was almost 90 degrees and humid as all getout), so I used 6 gallons (+/-) of hard water. I'd thought about using half softened, but shrugged that off.

Yeah, I know, I've gotta get my water tested. My bro-in-law works for the NSF doing water testing, so I'm gonna send him some samples this week.
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Old 09-02-2009, 01:35 AM   #7
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Update: 24 hours after moving to 70 degree zone, slight twist to the bucket, 1.030. So, a bit more agressive twist and wrapped in a super thick wool blanket. I'm gonna let this one sit a couple days before checking again. If it doesn't wake the yeast, am I religated to pitching more yeast, or will it be considered safe(ish) for bottling?

I should get some of those Geico googly eyes for this bucket. I feel like it's staring at me.
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Old 09-02-2009, 01:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torque2k View Post
Update: 24 hours after moving to 70 degree zone, slight twist to the bucket, 1.030. So, a bit more agressive twist and wrapped in a super thick wool blanket. I'm gonna let this one sit a couple days before checking again. If it doesn't wake the yeast, am I religated to pitching more yeast, or will it be considered safe(ish) for bottling?

I should get some of those Geico googly eyes for this bucket. I feel like it's staring at me.
Keep in mind that you were measuring the temp of your brew room, not of your brew itself. Just because your room temp was 70 degrees doesn't mean your fermenting wort stayed at that temp. I'm guessing that your fermenting wort probably got up to AT LEAST 75 deg, maybe 80 at the peak of fermentation. That is where the solventy alcohol-heavy taste is coming from.

I'd probably put this into a secondary to mellow out the fusel alcohols from the high fermentation (in addition to the other reasons with other posters mentioned regarding your gravity readings).

I wouldn't check it in a few days though....maybe a couple weeks...at a minimum! A month or two would be even better. This brew needs some serious mellowing time. You shouldn't think about bottling this anytime soon.
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Old 09-02-2009, 02:06 PM   #9
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My bathroom's ambient temp stays at about 68-71, but the bucket is always reading a 73 after fermentation has subsided. At the peak of my first batch, it hit 79...which I'm not too happy about, so I'll be giving them nice and cold ice bottle baths during the first 4 days.
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Old 09-02-2009, 02:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
Keep in mind that you were measuring the temp of your brew room, not of your brew itself. Just because your room temp was 70 degrees doesn't mean your fermenting wort stayed at that temp. I'm guessing that your fermenting wort probably got up to AT LEAST 75 deg, maybe 80 at the peak of fermentation. That is where the solventy alcohol-heavy taste is coming from.
Temp was never over 72 on the bucket itself (new stickered thermometer), at least not while I was checking (it MAY have hit higher while I slept one night, but I was so excited the first few days I was checking every hour or two). There is a super thick krauzen line (very green, tons pellet hops used and not filtered out), so I know the activity was decent.

As for racking to a secondary, I'm torn. I've definitely got the equipment to do it, but I'm reading so much now on everyone turning away from secondary fermenting... Even Palmer is now recommending keeping the beer in the primary longer instead.

Thanks for your input, though. Temperature is underrated in brewing.


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