Quantcast

Fermentation Complete?

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
I'm on my 1st ever batch of brew (European bock) and racked after 5 days to the secondary as someone "told me" to. Starting gravity was 1.055 and was 1.030 when I racked. FG is to be 1.020 so figured I was close but still had airlock activity in the primary.

I went to the home brew store and was chatting on the activity that I'm still seeing in the carboy after 10 days total (pri + sec); airlock every 20 sec or so, foam on top all but gone now but can still "see activity/bubbles". He thought it a little cool (68) so get it a little warmer to increase activity to complete. He also told me to rack only after FG is met and fermentation is done next time. Then stay in secondary for 10 days or so will give best clarity which makes sense.

My question as I forgot to ask him; does "completed fermentation" look completely dormant or will you always see ever so slight activity if you stare at your brew? I read some other thread about not to bottle if still active (bombs) so now am curious what "done really looks like.

Thanks
 

rightwingnut

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2004
Messages
463
Reaction score
4
Location
New Jersey
I haven't started my first brew, but I have read that if you check the gravity, then check again 3 days later, if no change, it's done. I can't tell you what it should look like (little activity or none).
 
OP
DesertBrew
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
I think that's why the racking too soon is also a problem. A bit more difficult to get the reading when it's in the carboy. The brew shop had a "tool" to get a sample out of the carboy but was another $20 and I didn't think I'd need it if I follow his preferred racking process...

Funny thing was the guy on the phone was the one who said rack it at 5 days but that wasn't the owner who told me the to wait 1st. Sounded like a kid and was when I went into the store.
 

rightwingnut

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2004
Messages
463
Reaction score
4
Location
New Jersey
I wonder could you put the hydrometer in the carboy when you rack and leave it. (If there's enough space).
 

strat40

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2004
Messages
21
Reaction score
1
Location
South central Alaska
I usually rack to the secondary after a week to 10 days. It will slow till you see a bubble every 15 minutes or so. Then rack after noticable activity ends. Keep in secondary till it drops clear.
This is pretty foolproof, in my experience.
Yes, you can use hydrometer readings too, but when it stops, it's done.
I only take hydrometer readings when I do the racking prossess.
If you want to do both, try using a fermentap on the carboy. You can drain trub, etc., plus take a reading and a taste too.
Above all, don't stress....
...It's beer. Not someone's life..
 
OP
DesertBrew
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
strat40 said:
I usually rack to the secondary after a week to 10 days. It will slow till you see a bubble every 15 minutes or so. Then rack after noticable activity ends. Keep in secondary till it drops clear.
This is pretty foolproof, in my experience.
Yes, you can use hydrometer readings too, but when it stops, it's done.
I only take hydrometer readings when I do the racking prossess.
If you want to do both, try using a fermentap on the carboy. You can drain trub, etc., plus take a reading and a taste too.
Above all, don't stress....
...It's beer. Not someone's life..
Sounds good, thanks Strat. It's not just beer though, it's my beer!! :D
 

Dark_Ale

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
623
Reaction score
3
Location
Liberty
desertBrew said:
I'm on my 1st ever batch of brew (European bock) and racked after 5 days to the secondary as someone "told me" to. Starting gravity was 1.055 and was 1.030 when I racked. FG is to be 1.020 so figured I was close but still had airlock activity in the primary.

I went to the home brew store and was chatting on the activity that I'm still seeing in the carboy after 10 days total (pri + sec); airlock every 20 sec or so, foam on top all but gone now but can still "see activity/bubbles". He thought it a little cool (68) so get it a little warmer to increase activity to complete. He also told me to rack only after FG is met and fermentation is done next time. Then stay in secondary for 10 days or so will give best clarity which makes sense.

My question as I forgot to ask him; does "completed fermentation" look completely dormant or will you always see ever so slight activity if you stare at your brew? I read some other thread about not to bottle if still active (bombs) so now am curious what "done really looks like.

Thanks
Usually to determine if your brew is ready you will need to know the starting gravity of your brew, I guess it depends on what your making, but you should see a little bit of fermintation going on, even when its time to bottle, but it should be very little, and only a hydrometer can tell you. Sometimes the yeast, and definitly the temp will determine ferment time. I started a dark ale one day, original grav 1.070, then the next day I started a barley wine with a gravity of almost 1.090, the barely wine was done in 4 days, no noticable fermintation, while the dark ale was still going. I was told it was the yeast. Brew on
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
strat40 said:
...It's beer. Not someone's life..
Best advice I've seen on this board. I NEVER use a hydrometer and don't own one. When it stops bubbling and the yeast settles, it's done. Not sure? Wait a few more days. Waiting a little bit longer will only make your beer better and won't hurt it.

Throw your hydrometer away, and stop taking samples while it ferments. It only causes risk and less beer to drink later and doesn't do a damn bit of good. There is no harm in letting your beer sit around for a bit.

Janx
 

Dark_Ale

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
623
Reaction score
3
Location
Liberty
Janx said:
Best advice I've seen on this board. I NEVER use a hydrometer and don't own one. When it stops bubbling and the yeast settles, it's done. Not sure? Wait a few more days. Waiting a little bit longer will only make your beer better and won't hurt it.

Throw your hydrometer away, and stop taking samples while it ferments. It only causes risk and less beer to drink later and doesn't do a damn bit of good. There is no harm in letting your beer sit around for a bit.

Janx
Good advice on the hydrometer. When I first started brewing, I thought everything had to be perfect, and of course the local homebrew probably tried to sell me everything I did'nt need. Your right its beer, its suppose to be fun, taking samples all the time does give you a better chance of contamination also. I never really thought of it that way.
 
OP
DesertBrew
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Thanks for the guidance. Back to my original inquiry; not knowing what "done fermenting" beer really looks like and me racking too soon was my main curiosity. It's settling down quite a bit now (10 days in secondary).

I did call the local shop on how long to let it sit in the secondary since it continued to ferment for the 1st 5 days there fairly actively. He said it's beer don't worry, give it a week but if you want hydro it today and in 3 days and if no movement; it's done. So, I did so tonight (before reading the no-hydro comments :) ).

Curious as to the taste I take a swig of the sample. &hit is bitter! I'm currently washing that taste away with a nice IPA from the local brewery pub down the road ;). Followed the instructs to the tee so hoping it just ain't done yet. It's a brewers best bock recipe. Does whopping bitter taste mean not done yet or screwed up? BTW, No worries, having fun learning.
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
The bitterness will likely soften up with time. If you have some trub in your sample, that often causses it to taste much more bitter, too, especially if you used pellets.

Janx
 
OP
DesertBrew
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Janx said:
The bitterness will likely soften up with time. If you have some trub in your sample, that often causses it to taste much more bitter, too, especially if you used pellets.

Janx
Pellets it was. She's quite clear on the top so don't believe I got a slurp of trub. Time will tell.

Thanks for your help.
 

homebrewer_99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
19,578
Reaction score
1,193
Location
I-80, Exit 27 (near the Quad Cities)
rightwingnut said:
I wonder could you put the hydrometer in the carboy when you rack and leave it. (If there's enough space).
That'll only work if you do one batch at a time.

Not a good idea if you have several batches going at a time (I usually have 3). You'll need more than 1 hydrometer.
 

Uncle Fat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
134
Reaction score
1
Location
Beervana
While I don't copletely agree with Janx's advice to throw the hydrometer away (some people like to keep records), I DEFINITELY agree that a little extra time in the fermenter won't hurt. When I brewed my first batch, the instructions said to wait until there were 2 to 3 minutes between bubbles in the fermentation lock. That's not a bad rule of thumb, but waiting a little longer won't hurt. The time it takes to ferment depends on lots of things (yeast strain, temperature, OG, etc...). There's no way to time it perfectly. I usually let it sit in the primary for one week, then in the secondary for another two. If there's still a little activity in the secondary.... so what? If there's still some activity after two weeks in the secondary... give it another week. I've got a vanilla-bourbon-porter in the carboy that's still 'bubbling' after 10 days. It's HIGH gravity, so I expect it'll keep going for a while.

Don't bother taking gravity until it's done fermenting (your not doing yourself any good worrying about it). When the bubble stop (or slow down to a ridiculous rate), it's ready to bottle and age.
 
OP
DesertBrew
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
152
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Man, has it been that long already since I posted this? Well, I'm already on my 3rd batch and "no worries" anymore. I have been doing an SG another when racking and another when I bottle just for record keeping. I do believe I'll be skipping the racking hydro; kind of worthless.

I may be beyond newbie and getting towards apprentice! Thanks to everyone here.
 
Top