First attempt - cloudy after racking to secondary

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kince83

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Hello all,

I am new to home brewing and decided to use Festabrew as my introduction to the hobby. I selected the red ale and the cream ale. The red ale, with instructions followed to a tee, siphoned to the carboy nice and clear and with the krausen having just fallen.

The cream ale is a different story. As per the instructions I received from my local home brew shop, I allowed 7 days for primary fermentation. This morning I racked to an air locked carboy. I should mention that a small layer of krausen was still present on top of the beer. I was advised to simply siphon from underneath this layer, or scoop away a little for access. This cream ale siphoned to the carboy with a cloudy colour as seen in the attached photo. I did not taking a hydrometer reading yet. The instructions only indicate hydrometer readings after 15-20 days in the secondary.

My fear is that I've racked this beer too early (before it was done initial fermentation). I'm wondering what others think, and if this is the case what people feel can be done about it.

Thanks for any advice.

Andrew
 

CA_Mouse

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First off, and this is just IMO, 7 days was too soon to rack to secondary. You should always take 2 gravity readings at least 3 days apart to verify that it has reached Final Gravity. From the looks of the picture, it was not done fermenting and you may have pulled it off without enough yeast to finish it correctly. Secondary is not needed unless you are adding more fermentables (mainly fruit), adding oak chips or dry hopping. I never transfer a beer until it is in primary at least 14 days. 7-10 days is a normal fermentation period for my ales with the last 4 days for yeast to clean up and to verify that it has reached Final Gravity. Since you transferred so early, you may need to wait 2 weeks to allow it to finish. Wait until everything drops out of solution and take a gravity reading. If you are at your target (or reasonably close) wait at least 2 days and take another reading. If the readings are the same, then it is time to bottle or keg. If you are bottling, you may need to allow it a few extra days to carbonate properly.
 

BigFloyd

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7 days primary, 14 days secondary is an out-dated technique based on the concern that leaving it on the yeast cake longer than a week might cause autolysis. It's not really valid theory on a home brew scale, although on a commercial scale it certainly is due to the weight of a large volume of beer pressing down on the yeast in the bottom of a large conical fermenter.

For the styles you are currently doing, a secondary isn't needed. You can just leave it in the primary 3 weeks and go straight to the bottling bucket. For the current batch of cream ale, simply leave it sit in the secondary a couple of weeks then take a couple of gravity readings two days apart to be sure it's done. It ought to clear up by then.

More important to the taste of the final product, where are you fermenting your beers and what's the temperature? What yeast are you using?
 

GASoline71

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I agree. 7 days is a little early. If there is still krausen on top... it wasn't finished. 14 days is more like it for the completion of fermentation.

Did the LHBS get you set up with a hydrometer and how to use it?

Gary
 
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kince83

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Hey all,

Thanks for the replies. I wish I head read this forum before getting into trouble.

I am brewing in a closet of my apartment. The temperature was maintained at around 23 degrees c (73 degrees f) according to the rudimentary thermometer strip that was sold to me.

My yeast was Safale US-56 (came with the kit).

I do have a hydrometer but haven't used it yet. The instructions for my kit only give a reference gravity for at the end of the secondary.

Thanks again for replies and advice.
 

GASoline71

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Take a gravity reading at the beginning. Right before you pitch yeast. Then again in about 14 days in primary. After 14 days, it should either be at FG or almost at FG. When it's at FG, transfer it to a secondary if you wish, but not needed. Or straight to bottles (with priming sugar of course) or into a keg system.

Gary
 

CA_Mouse

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I do have a hydrometer but haven't used it yet. The instructions for my kit only give a reference gravity for at the end of the secondary.

Thanks again for replies and advice.
Unfortunately you can only guess if it is done without knowing what your Starting Gravity was.

If you can post the recipe, we might be able to help you figure out what your Original Gravity was. If you added top off water after the boil, that would help greatly too. You can always PM me if you would rather take it off-forum, but many of us learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others.
 

BigFloyd

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Hey all,

Thanks for the replies. I wish I head read this forum before getting into trouble.

I am brewing in a closet of my apartment. The temperature was maintained at around 23 degrees c (73 degrees f) according to the rudimentary thermometer strip that was sold to me.

My yeast was Safale US-56 (came with the kit).

I do have a hydrometer but haven't used it yet. The instructions for my kit only give a reference gravity for at the end of the secondary.

Thanks again for replies and advice.
US-56? I didn't know that Safale was still using that designation. Most folks know that strain as US-05. That's either a pretty old kit or they still sometimes call it by the previous name.

73*F showing on the thermo strip isn't horrible, but it is about 8*F too warm for that yeast. Next time, take whatever steps you need to in order to 1) cool the wort to the low 60's before pitching and 2) keep the carboy/bucket cooled to around 65*F for the first 4-5 days. There are a variety of ways to do that, the simplest of which is a plastic tub with water and frozen water bottles.
 
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kince83

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Unfortunately festabrew is like the cool aid of brewing. 23 litres of pre pasteurized wort. All you need to do is pitch the yeast and go from there. The manufacturer includes instructions (http://www.magnotta.com/Festabrew/resources/06FESTA HomeBrew.pdf), but doesn't offer much in the way of a recipe.

If I grab a new kit and go with a 3ish week primary, is a glass carboy with an airlock acceptable? (I don't have an airlock on my pale so was only using a loose fitting lid).

@BigFloyd: I may be mistaken. I already tossed the packaging. I got that yeast info from the manufacturers website. It may need updating. Thanks for the info on temperatures. I definitely need those good ideas for keeping things cool. I am in a top floor apartment and things tend to get very warm up here.
 

m_stodd

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Agree with no secondary. I'd leave it in the fermenter another two weeks at least, then bottle.
 
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kince83

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Agree with no secondary. I'd leave it in the fermenter another two weeks at least, then bottle.
Thanks. When you guys are saying to stick with just the primary (unless dry hopping or adding things), is this based on the style of beer or a rule of thumb for all types?
 

m_stodd

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Thanks. When you guys are saying to stick with just the primary (unless dry hopping or adding things), is this based on the style of beer or a rule of thumb for all types?
There are styles that should be bulk aged. I have a sour that's just had it's first birthday; if I were to have left it in primary, there would be a lot of dead yeast guts in my beer right now.

The other time I would use a secondary is when adding something that would otherwise get covered by yeast (I think). When I've dry-hopped, I do it in primary, because hops float. Maybe oak sinks, so that would be a case for secondary, but I only secondary if there's a very good reason to.
 

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