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Old 07-27-2011, 11:21 PM   #1
riprollins
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Default Several questions about latest brew.

Hello friends and like-minded beer enthusiasts,

I am brand new to the site and although this is my 5th batch of beer I still consider myself quite the noobie with lots to learn. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.
Anyhow, yesterday I brewed an Imperial Chocolate Cherry Milk Stout. Yes, haha, it's quite a mouthful but given everything I put in it I really didn't know what else to call it. This is a partial grain brew. Allow me to give you the background:

The ingredients consist of:

Steep:
- 6 oz Cara-Pils
- 8 oz Crystal malt
- 12 oz Dark Crystal malt
- 12 oz Chocolate Malt
- 8 oz Roasted barley
- 5 oz Black Patent

Boil (60min):
- 6.6 lbs Liquid Dark Malt Extract
- 3 lbs Dry dark extract
- 3 lbs dry light extract
- 2 oz Norther brewer hops pellet (60 min)
- 0.5 oz Cascade hops pellet (30 min)
- 2 oz Saaz Hops pellet (end of boil)
- 8 oz Cocoa Powder (15 min)
- 1 lbs Lactose (15 min) [to give sweetness back up the cherry taste and bitterness of the chocolate powder]
- 2 tsp Irish moss (18 min)

After Boil:
10 lbs Crushed Sweet Cherries (steeped in wort for 15 min between temps of 170-145 while cooling)

In Carboys (split batch into 2 carboys):
- 4 tsp Pectic Enzyme (2 tsp each carboy)
- 2 packets Dry American Ale Yeast (1 packet each carboy)

My methods:
- I split my grains into two muslin socks and steeped between 153-156 for 30 min. in 3 gallons of water.
- I then pulled my grains and drained the socks (without squeezing or rinsing) getting as much liquid as possible out
- I then raised the wort to a boil and added ingredients as explained above. I placed my hops into muslin sock to reduce the amount of sediment.
- After pasteurizing the cherries in the wort I chilled to about 80 degrees using combination of wort chiller and ice bath.
- I then split the contents (about equally) between 2 carboys (I did this expecting a large krausen and wanted to have room for the cherries).
- I then added 1 gallon of cold water to each carboy which brought my temp down to 65-70 degrees. I took an OG reading of each. (total addition of water from start to finish is 5 gal)
- Finally, I pitched the dry yeast directly into the wort, shook (about 1 minutes of vigorous shaking) each carboy and moved to the laundry room to ferment.
-I placed the carboys into a pan with water and wrapped each in a towel to wick the water and have a fan blowing on them to keep their temp down. The ambient temp in my house is 74 degrees which is warmer than i'd like.


I have several question/concerns/observations about this brew. I appreciate your input on each point (or which every point(s) you feel like commenting on):

1) Gravity:
- My OG was much lower than expected. One carboy was around 1.06 and the other was around 1.07. I was expecting the OG to be around 1.1 at least especially given the addition of lactose and the fact I only used 5 gallons of water not even compensating for the loss of liquid due to steam. Needless to say, this left me quite puzzled. From the research I have done on this site this seemingly false reading may be due to the fact I didn't mix the water once I topped off the wart in the carboys. Do you agree? Has this completely botch my chances of getting an accurate ABV??

2) Sedimentation:
- In nearly every batch I have brewed I have had so much trub and sediment in my wort. I typically get a very good hot and cold break and the end products are quite nice and very clear so I am not too worried about this however, I usually I take the time and effort to filter when pouring into carboy. This time, after a long afternoon of brewing, I began to filter but stopped because my filters were clogging even though I put the hops into muslin socks and had hardly any debris in my kettle. Before pouring I created the whirlpool stirring clockwise for 2 minutes and letting sit for 10 minutes. I still could not seem to separate the proteins from the liquid. Is this because I was pouring from the kettle instead of tilting and siphoning? Is there any good techniques for removing most of the trub/sediment?

- I'm not too worried about the sediment in my primary but this was an expensive beer to make and I am already going to lose a good amount of liquid from the cherries and I hate to lose more than necessary in the sediment. When racking to secondary is it possible to filter this sediment/sludge for what precious liquid it contains of is it pointless to do so?

3) Fermentation:
- My fermentation started a bit slower than I expected. Granted, I pitched the dry yeast directly into the wort (no re-hydration) and THEN aerated (I'm not sure if that order is good or bad), and it's only been about 20 hours since I pitched. I expected a little lag time but I thought the ferment would be a little more active by now (I am currently getting about one "blup" every 1.5-2 seconds out of the airlocks) given all the malt and the cherries. Is this a problem or am I simply being impatient?

- Also, as far as the krausen is concerned there is none to speak of. The surface us bubbling around the cherries (which are floating on top) but no krausen seems to be developing. Is this a problem or am I being impatient on this as well? Are one of the ingredients perhaps keeping the krausen from forming? In all the other batches i have made (4 before now) I had a healthy krausen and in my last batch I blew through the airlock (hence why I split the batch now since there would be hardly any space with the addition of the cherries).

- Lastly, I had purchased 2 packets (1 for each carboy) of Red Star Dry Champagne yeast. Expecting this to be high gravity I wanted to ensure a full attenuation (I'm not certain if this is right usage of this word, I'm still learning the jargon) and planned on adding the champagne yeast half way through primary fermentation. Is this a good idea? Is this necessary or do you think the American Ale yeast will get me to the finish line without pooping out? The packet had said for medium to low gravity which is another reason I purchased the champagne yeast. If adding the dry champagne yeast is a good idea how should I go about doing it? Should I re-hydrate and then put in the carboys when cool? Should I pitch them with some nutrient? Should I get a starter going and pitch when in high-krausen to reduce lag time and ensure the yeast are not in respiration cycle??

Ok, that's about it. I greatly appreciate all of your input. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Cheers.


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Old 07-28-2011, 01:42 AM   #2
EROK
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WOW ! Where do I Start........ you did very good actually......the airlock does not equal how the fermentation is going....so don't judge it.

I think that you may not see krausen since the surface area is full of cherries.

Spot check gravity after 5-7 days and go from there. This is a brew that may or may not come out as planned. Oh well, in the end.... if it tastes good drink it.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:54 PM   #3
riprollins
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Brilliant, thank you, EROK!

Is it OK to open the carboy in order to check gravity? I had always thought oxygen is bad once fermentation has begun. Haha, wait, what am I saying? The beer will encounter oxygen when I rack to secondary (with minimal splashing, I believe)! I suppose the question would be:

Is it best to minimize the amount of times one pulls the stopper off? If this is the case, when do you think a good time to spot check would be?

I suppose I am also concerned about losing more liquid than necessary and a gravity check is another amount gone. Haha, I suppose I can take that as an opportunity to check on the progress (taste) of the beer.

That said, if I botched my OG reading from the start (by not properly mixing in the added what, or so I think) is it pertinent to take spot checked readings? If so, should I use my estimated starting gravity as a reference? To be honest I only thought my OG would be around 1.1ish. I've not idea how to accurately predict OG and I'm sure that if I could the non-fermentables I added would throw it off.

Last question, I promise. From what I have researched on the subject of non-fermentables, it seem to be agreed upon that 1lbs of lactose will raise the gravity by "9 points". Which points? 1.0-1.9 or 1.00-1.09 or 1.000-1.009?

Thanks again, mate!!
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