First batch... oops

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blackbird939

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Been lurking in here, unregistered for a while. Ages ago, my wife bought a kit. Of course, all of that went bad. So, this year I got a couple of refill kits as presents. Extract kits..
We went to the local brew supply shop, asked the staff for help, watched tons and tons of videos, read, etc. Bought a 10 gallon boiling tank, gas burner, wort chiller etc. All the goodies for basic brewing.

The first kit we started with was an Imperial Stout (extract). Followed the instructions to the letter, timing the steeping and boil stages, kept the temperature between 155-165 best we could. Sanitizing everything, did not allow an overflow, which was tricky. Pitched yeast around 68, etc. The OG was pretty much spot-on per the kit 1.076-1.080, we put in container, similar to a carboy. All sanitized to perhaps even ridiculous levels.
We are in Florida, and this time of year, the house is about 65, give or take. We placed the fermenter in the dark. Fermentation started after about 48 hours. Gurgled regularly for a week.

The kit highly recommended a secondary fermentation. Read a thread here that asserts how this step is largely unnecessary. We didn't know that, the sheet said it wasn't necessary, but recommended. After about 7 days, but before the gurgling stopped, we carefully transferred from primary to a new, and thoroughly sanitized beer fermenting paint-bucket-style fermenter with a hole in the lid for off-gassing. Took special care not to transfer sludge or foam. It gurgled for a few more days, slowed and stopped. Let it rest maybe even for a week. This was exactly what the sheet told us to do. Overall, the beer was in secondary for ~13 days, 21 days total fermentation stage since brew day.

Today, was bottle day, per the sheet. We boil the sugar water, cool it. Sanitize everything. Carefully, without too much disruption, we put the sugar-water into a new third bucket, siphon, mix. Then siphon-fill the bottles. Leave about 1.5" from the top. Basically, with the bottle siphon, you can't fill it any more, because you must touch the bottom and when you retract it. it leaves a void. You all know I'm sure.
We tasted some of what was left over. It was nice and stouty- but still pretty bitter, even with the sugar. :(

Here's the oops.
..
I tested the FG after we had bottled. Just rookie stupidity. It was around 1.030. Our OG was 1.076. The kit wanted 1.017 - 1.020 ! :(
From what I am reading here, we were too ambitious. The yeast did not have time to 'clean itself up' and settle out. Should we expect our bottles will now explode in the next week.

Many thanks in advance .. and cheers.

Michael
 

VikeMan

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Here's the oops...
I tested the FG after we had bottled. Just rookie stupidity. It was around 1.030. Our OG was 1.076. The kit wanted 1.017 - 1.020 ! :(
From what I am reading here, we were too ambitious. The yeast did not have time to 'clean itself up' and settle out. Should we expect our bottles will now explode in the next week.

The big oops here was not allowing fermentation (attenuation) to finish. You want that to happen well before the yeast settle out. And typically, it will happen before "cleanup" finishes.

we carefully transferred from primary to a new, and thoroughly sanitized beer fermenting paint-bucket-style fermenter with a hole in the lid for off-gassing.

Hopefully you filled that hole with an airlock, otherwise you risk contamination and excessive oxidation.

p.s. - welcome to the obsession
 

davidabcd

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I tested the FG after we had bottled. Just rookie stupidity. It was around 1.030.
How did you test it after? Just curious.
1.030 for a stout isn't unheard of. I've been near there and it doesn't mean the beer wasn't finished fermenting.
If you must, put the beers in a large container with a lid. It also takes quite a while for the stouts to fully carbonate.
 
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blackbird939

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The big oops here was not allowing fermentation (attenuation) to finish. You want that to happen well before the yeast settle out. And typically, it will happen before "cleanup" finishes.

So..even though we hadn't had a gurgle in over a week, it was not 'done'? Does this mean we can expect exploding bottles?
 

VikeMan

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So..even though we hadn't had a gurgle in over a week, it was not 'done'? Does this mean we can expect exploding bottles?

Airlock activity is often not a good indicator of fermentation activity, because bucket type fermenters tend to be leaky. If you can post your recipe and your measured Original Gravity, we can predict about where the final gravity should have landed, and determine if there's a risk of severe overcarbonation here.
 
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blackbird939

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How did you test it after? Just curious.
You know, I just asked my wife, my brew partner exactly what she did to get the reading. She was using a cylinder beaker we bought with the hydrometer. She said that the hydrometer bottomed out in the beaker. It's possible that it simply couldn't sink low enough to get a good reading :rolleyes:🤦‍♂️

Maybe we are panicking for no reason at all. I 'could' crack open one of the 50 bottles and take the reading again. But it really doesn't matter now, right? The beer is mixed with priming sugar, and in the bottle. So there's no turning back.
 

davidabcd

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using a cylinder beaker we bought with the hydrometer. She said that the hydrometer bottomed out in the beaker. It's possible that it simply couldn't sink low enough to get a good reading
I ask because you said you took your FG after you bottled so I'm thinking, "What beer was there to test?"
Good, in that you might have had a reading that was inaccurate and you may have reached your FG.
This can get overcomplicated. I still say just put them in a few giant rubber bins with lids and check them after three weeks. And I wouldn't worry about it.
Three weeks in the fermenters should be fine so I suggest the rubber bins for safety. You can check one every five days and see how they react. Wear gloves and safety goggles if you must though I doubt it's necessary.
My wife is a very good beer making partner.
 

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She was using a cylinder beaker we bought with the hydrometer. She said that the hydrometer bottomed out in the beaker. It's possible that it simply couldn't sink low enough to get a good reading :rolleyes:🤦‍♂️
This is your problem....

Usually three weeks of fermentation with extract and you're going to be fine.

RDWHAHB
 
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blackbird939

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Airlock activity is often not a good indicator of fermentation activity, because bucket type fermenters tend to be leaky. If you can post your recipe and your measured Original Gravity, we can predict about where the final gravity should have landed, and determine if there's a risk of severe overcarbonation here.
Don't have the recipe per se. It's 'Brewer's Best Russian Imperial Stout'. IBU's 54-58, OG 1.076-1.0809 (we measured 1.076 on brew day). FG: 1.077-1.020.
Fermentables:
  • 6.6lb Dark LME
  • 2lb Dark DME
  • 8 oz maltodextrin
Specialty Grains:
  • 8 oz Cara Munich Dark
  • 8 oz Black Barley
  • 8 oz Choc Wheat
HOPS:
  • 2 x 1oz Columbus
Yeast:
  • 1 sachet (dry)

In another reply, I see that we never got an actual FG reading because my wife said the hydrometer bottomed out. So, maybe there is no cause for alarm.
 
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PCABrewing

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You know, I just asked my wife, my brew partner exactly what she did to get the reading. She was using a cylinder beaker we bought with the hydrometer. She said that the hydrometer bottomed out in the beaker. It's possible that it simply couldn't sink low enough to get a good reading :rolleyes:🤦‍♂️

Maybe we are panicking for no reason at all. I 'could' crack open one of the 50 bottles and take the reading again. But it really doesn't matter now, right? The beer is mixed with priming sugar, and in the bottle. So there's no turning back.
Well the best avenue here looks like relax and don't sweat it.
Take notes to review next batch.
As for exploding bottles, I'd put them in a tub or sink and cover with a heavy bath towel just in case.
Let them sit for 2 weeks and then carefully pull one out and open it.
You'll probably have an OK beer to drink.
 

davidabcd

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'Brewer's Best Russian Imperial Stou
For future reference, you can go to their site and get the recipe.
They're a good kit place and I've made some good ones from there. Nowadays, I'll go there or to Northern Brewer's site and use their recipes but buy the ingredients. Northern Brewer's Dragon Silk (Dragon's Milk) is a solid recipe.
 

D.B.Moody

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I tested the FG after we had bottled.

So you tested for final gravity after you had added the priming sugar? If so, that's your oops. It has to be measured before you put the priming sugar in.
In any case, it is likely that in three weeks your batch was done fermenting whatever the gravity was.
Perhaps your lesson is to not judge fermentation by gurgles from an opaque bucket.
 

VikeMan

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Don't have the recipe per se. It's 'Brewer's Best Russian Imperial Stout'. IBU's 54-58, OG 1.076-1.0809 (we measured 1.076 on brew day). FG: 1.077-1.020.
Fermentables:
  • 6.6lb Dark LME
  • 2lb Dark DME
  • 8 oz maltodextrin
Specialty Grains:
  • 8 oz Cara Munich Dark
  • 8 oz Black Barley
  • 8 oz Choc Wheat
HOPS:
  • 2 x 1oz Columbus
Yeast:
  • 1 sachet (dry)

In another reply, I see that we never got an actual FG reading because my wife said the hydrometer bottomed out. So, maybe there is no cause for alarm.

Given that fermentables bill, an OG of 1.076, and a yeast similar to US-05 (since it wasn't specified), I'd expect the FG to land about 1.029. The recipe's expected FG is ambitious, to say the least.
 
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blackbird939

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One last thing. I went back to the sheet - saw that we tested the SG on 1/20.. It was 1.032 then. Highly doubt we only lost .002 in 2 weeks. We clearly weren't getting a good reading.

Also.. want to say, all these helpful replies show what a great hobby (and forum) we have. I have been a part of many hobbies over the years, not always great experiences. Usually haunted by toxic 'experts' or just jerks. Looks like there's at least one place left that is about the passion and egos are checked at the door. Or maybe I am too new to know better (2 hours in) ;)

Many thanks and cheers to all.
I'll check back in when we carefully open a test bottle.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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It's 'Brewer's Best Russian Imperial Stout'.
looks like the kit instructions are here (link).

What was your starting boil volume? If you started with 2.5-ish gal of water and all the extract at the start of the boil, this (from another thread) may be of interest:
Your higher than expected FG may well be due to boiling all the extract for an hour in a relatively small volume. That volume becomes even smaller due to boil off during the hour (evaporation). Especially at such a high gravity/concentration, the sugars from the extract may caramelize, causing it to become less fermentable.

Sometimes experts have conflicting ideas as to what the problem might be. ;)

eta: a Fast Ferment Test would answer the question of how fermentable this specific wort was.
 
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blackbird939

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What was your starting boil volume? If you started with 2.5-ish gal of water and all the extract at the start of the boil, this (from another thread) may be of interest:

Well, not exactly. The sheet said to start with a minimum of 2.5gal. We suspected that this was due to the probability that a regular kitchen wouldn't have a huge cauldron to handle any more. We were all setup, ready to go.. and realized that the largest soup pot we had was 2 gallons :|
So, we went to the local brew supply and picked up the 10 gallon mega pot and a propane heating stand. Got back home and decided to go with 4 gallons. I was going to do 5 but, for whatever reason, we ended up with 4, then topped up to 5 gallons to get the OG they wanted. They were right on the money. Right around the 5 gallon mark, the reading was right in the sweet spot, on the lower end.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Well, not exactly. The sheet said to start with a minimum of 2.5gal. We suspected that this was due to the probability that a regular kitchen wouldn't have a huge cauldron to handle any more. We were all setup, ready to go.. and realized that the largest soup pot we had was 2 gallons :|
So, we went to the local brew supply and picked up the 10 gallon mega pot and a propane heating stand. Got back home and decided to go with 4 gallons. I was going to do 5 but, for whatever reason, we ended up with 4, then topped up to 5 gallons to get the OG they wanted. They were right on the money. Right around the 5 gallon mark, the reading was right in the sweet spot, on the lower end.
Thanks for the additional information.

As I mentioned earlier, a Fast Ferment Test would answer the question of how fermentable this specific wort was.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Got back home and decided to go with 4 gallons. I was going to do 5 but, for whatever reason, we ended up with 4, then topped up to 5 gallons to get the OG they wanted
Sorry for the additional questions, but ...

If I'm reading this correctly, you started with 4 gallons, boiled for an hour, then topped off to 5 gallons.

How much water did you top off with?
 
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blackbird939

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Sorry for the additional questions, but ...

If I'm reading this correctly, you started with 4 gallons, boiled for an hour, then topped off to 5 gallons.

How much water did you top off with?

Hmm.. since it was our first attempt at this.. we just kept adding (fresh RO water) to the wort until the SG was where the sheet said it should be for OG. When we looked, it was dead-nuts at the 5 gallon mark. Now that I write that, I guess we shouldn't assume the RO water is sterile. It 'should' be. I'm going to guess it was about 1.5 gallons. Next time, I'll pay attention. But in our second attempt ( a Belgian Double) we bought 5 gallons of gallon-jug spring water. We will not be doing a secondary fermentation with that one. It sits there for 28 days, according to its sheet.
 

VikeMan

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Now that I write that, I guess we shouldn't assume the RO water is sterile. It 'should' be.

RO filters remove most, but not all, bacteria. But even if they removed all the bacteria, are your output tubing and storage tank sterile? Probably not.

That said, I'd guess your risk of noticeable contamination was probably low.
 

davidabcd

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we just kept adding (fresh RO water) to the wort until the SG was where the sheet said it should be for OG. When we looked, it was dead-nuts at the 5 gallon mark. Now that I write that, I guess we shouldn't assume the RO water is sterile. It 'should' be. I'm going to guess it was about 1.5 gallons. Next time, I'll pay attention.
The way you added the water to top off is exactly what the recipe says to do. You can even add to five without checking; those kits are extremely accurate and repeatable.
I've used tap for years with no ill effects. Regardless, whether for a real or perceived reason, I switched to bottled spring water or distilled. No difference amongst the three that I can tell.
 

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If the hydrometer was bottomed out, it wasn’t floating. The hydrometer has to float for you to get a reading. You read it straight across at the level where the liquid is, not where the liquid rises slightly up the side of the hydrometer. That is called the meniscus and you ignore that. There wasn’t enough beer in the cylinder for it to float or if it was full it wasn’t tall enough. Hydrometer cylinders are tall and thin.

A few ounces of priming sugar will not raise your gravity by that much. Maybe 2 points or so in 5 gallons. But yes, you generally want to take a final gravity reading before you add priming sugar.

C1B3F946-28D5-49CA-ACDA-D8F01FBF8D4C.jpeg
 
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bwible

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Hmm.. since it was our first attempt at this.. we just kept adding (fresh RO water) to the wort until the SG was where the sheet said it should be for OG. When we looked, it was dead-nuts at the 5 gallon mark. Now that I write that, I guess we shouldn't assume the RO water is sterile. It 'should' be. I'm going to guess it was about 1.5 gallons. Next time, I'll pay attention. But in our second attempt ( a Belgian Double) we bought 5 gallons of gallon-jug spring water. We will not be doing a secondary fermentation with that one. It sits there for 28 days, according to its sheet.
Its not the water itself you are worried about being sterile as much as the container you are using to add the top up water to your finished beer. Everything has to be sanitized.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I'm going to guess it [top-up water] was about 1.5 gallons.
4 (starting volume) + 1.5 (top-up volume) - 0.5 (boil off volume) = 5 gallons.

With extract, one wants to avoid boiling a "concentrated" wort as it leads to "darker than expected" color and potentially unexpected/undesired flavors.
 

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My 2 cents, 21 days in ferment you will be fine. I think the only miss haps were taking FG reading after priming sugar and not enough wort in your reading vessel. non of which are going to give you reason for concern. Cheers!
 

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If the hydrometer was bottomed out, it wasn’t floating. The hydrometer has to float for you to get a reading. You read it straight across at the level where the liquid is, not where the liquid rises slightly up the side of the hydrometer. That is called the meniscus and you ignore that. There wasn’t enough beer in the cylinder for it to float or if it was full it wasn’t tall enough. Hydrometer cylinders are tall and thin.

A few ounces of priming sugar will not raise your gravity by that much. Maybe 2 points or so in 5 gallons. But yes, you generally want to take a final gravity reading before you add priming sugar.

View attachment 757982
Just a note, different hydrometers are manufactured to different specifications. You need to read the sheet that came with your hydrometer (and it is sometimes on the scale sheet in the hydrometer) to verify the proper calibration temperature and whether or not you take your reading at the top or bottom of the meniscus. Honestly with both the meniscus and temp calibration you are really only looking at a 1-2 point difference, but these details do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so please check and confirm with your own model.
 

VikeMan

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Deleted. Forgot this was the beginner's forum.
 
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mendelec

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If the hydrometer was bottomed out, it wasn’t floating. The hydrometer has to float for you to get a reading. You read it straight across at the level where the liquid is, not where the liquid rises slightly up the side of the hydrometer. That is called the meniscus and you ignore that. There wasn’t enough beer in the cylinder for it to float or if it was full it wasn’t tall enough. Hydrometer cylinders are tall and thin.

A few ounces of priming sugar will not raise your gravity by that much. Maybe 2 points or so in 5 gallons. But yes, you generally want to take a final gravity reading before you add priming sugar.

View attachment 757982
What bwible said...
 
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I know it's only a week, but have you cracked one open to see how the carbonation is progressing? If it's over-the-top foamy, it might be prudent to crack the caps on the other bottles to let out some CO2, but it's probably still working its way up to actual carbonation. Being forced to taste-test your brew in all of its stages isn't a bad thing ;).
 
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blackbird939

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I know it's only a week, but have you cracked one open to see how the carbonation is progressing? If it's over-the-top foamy, it might be prudent to crack the caps on the other bottles to let out some CO2, but it's probably still working its way up to actual carbonation. Being forced to taste-test your brew in all of its stages isn't a bad thing ;).
We did crack one open, last weekend. I was very careful, wrapping the bottle in a towel, wearing glasses, standing outside. There was a little hiss. It was, I guess, about 25% carbonated. The real issue was the bitter finish. It tasted great, but there's this really strong bitter finish on it. Someone at the local brew supply said it might be that we didn't keep the steeping stage at a low-enough temperature. We sat there and carefully monitored it with a chef's thermometer, but who knows if it was calibrated. The guy at the shop said tannins leached out of the grains. He also suggested that it will eventually mellow. But, it was still very drinkable!

We're going to refrigerate a couple more this weekend, a little ahead of the recommended duration from the sheet of 2 weeks. But hey, why not :)
 

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Things don't heat evenly. Especially mash or even just wort with something steeping in it. So if you weren't stirring or taking the temps in several places then you really don't know what overall temp it might have gotten to.
 

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We did crack one open, last weekend. I was very careful, wrapping the bottle in a towel, wearing glasses, standing outside. There was a little hiss. It was, I guess, about 25% carbonated. The real issue was the bitter finish. It tasted great, but there's this really strong bitter finish on it. Someone at the local brew supply said it might be that we didn't keep the steeping stage at a low-enough temperature. We sat there and carefully monitored it with a chef's thermometer, but who knows if it was calibrated. The guy at the shop said tannins leached out of the grains. He also suggested that it will eventually mellow. But, it was still very drinkable!

We're going to refrigerate a couple more this weekend, a little ahead of the recommended duration from the sheet of 2 weeks. But hey, why not :)

With 2oz of Columbus I wouldn't be surprised if it's pretty bitter. I think the best thing to do at this point is wait two more weeks. I think stouts take a little longer to bottle condition than other styles and carbonation has a huge impact on flavor. Buy some craft beers in the meantime and brew some more beer because when your stout hits it's prime it will probably disappear fast!
 

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As many here have said, don't sweat it too much. Wait a few more weeks and taste it again. Time can do wonders to beer. Specially a stout.

One thing that can also contribute to an unpleasant finish in a beer is carrying too much sediments and trub to your bottles. Don't be too greedy when doing your transfers and you should be fine, too.

Now use this first brew and mishaps as a learning for the nexts ones. Be a bit more careful with your water volumes, Make sure your measurements are being done correctly and take as many notes as you possibly can during the process. This will help you troubleshoot any issues you may have in the final product.

There were also suggestions about a fast ferment test. I wouldn't bother. Specially being your first brews (I wouldn't do it at all, but that's up to you really). It's too much work for no benefits, imo. Chances of you screwing up enough to not create a fermentable enough wort are very slim if you pay attention.

Edit:
Don't ever trust bubbles as a sign of fermentation. Sometimes there will be plenty, some times there won't be any. That doesn't mean it's not going.

I used to use my refractometer to take small samples every so often to check fermentation status. It helps to catch problems at early stages without wasting liquid. It's also brewers choice and you don't have to do it to have good beer.

Cheers.
 
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