First Brew - <update> no more bubbling :/

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byunique

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Yesterday afternoon, I brewed my First Brew using the Northern Brewery Essentials Kit. A few questions arose from going through that.

One of the initial thoughts I had about this 5 gallon kit, is that I didn't want to end up with close to 50 beers, being that it's my first and if anything wanted to keep some room in my frig. My intention was the split it into a 2.5g batch, and brew the second 2.5g batch later.

Splitting of Ingredients
I basically halved all the ingredients with a gram/oz scale. As I was going through that, I did pay special attention to the yeast since thats a potential point to contamination at that point in the process. I did put everything in a new baggie to measure it's total weight, and split the other half into another baggie. For one thing, would the use of a new baggie, introduce any new contaminants? I guess that comes down to how clean the baggie factory was ;)? I guess to play it safe, I would buy extra yeast packets if I were to do this again just to avoid that. What if I were to use a yeast packet intended for a 5 gal kit, but only for 2.5gal?

Steeping Grains
I boiled the water to a target temp of 160F, then steeped the grains for the 20 minutes. After reading the instructions again, they talk about putting in the grains while the water is cold, then steeping for 20 minutes while targeting 160F. Which is the better way to steep? I would think steeping at the 160F for the full 20 minutes would extract more flavor?

Decontaminate Buckets
Fill the bottling bucket with hot water and dissolve the no rinse cleaner. I would think the water should be hot enough to dissolve rinse, but no need to be hot since I would be using my hand to clean the bucket?

Concerns about temp
From what it says about Ale per the Munton's yeast site, they talk about a fermentation temperature any where from 64F-70F for an Ale. Being that I live in SF, and it can get pretty chilly, I was worried about going below 64F in the evenings. So, I placed a seedling mat under the fermentor, along with a on/off temperature controller. I set the temp controller to turn on for anything below 64F and placed the fermentor in a cupboard. This AM I took temp readings on the outside of the fermentor which measured 72F. The inside of the cabinet is showing 66F, so the additional 6F is a good sign the fermentation is working. I had bought some stick on temperature labels, but they are terrible to see unless I shine a light on them, which I shouldn't be doing. Is there a recommended good stick on gauge?

Airlock
Since I started this 3pm yesterday, and now it's 8AM, happy to report the airlock is bubbling away. I was surprised initially that 1/2 the sanitizer that I put in the airlock was "missing". I could see that it sprayed out due to the big gurgles it was making every 30 seconds. I had left the red cap off thinking "how was the gas going to escape"... No doubt a mistake! as it does allow gas to escape, not to mention it prevents evaporation. Now that the cap is on it's gurgling constantly!!! Wonder if I should be refilling the airlock with more sanitizer?

I plan on taking specific gravity measurements with the hydrometer at days 10,11,12 to see if fermentation is done and proceed with bottling if I'm good to go.

Keeping my fingers crossed, this is fun fun fun!!!
 
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D.B.Moody

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One of the initial thoughts I had about this 5 gallon kit, is that I didn't want to end up with close to 50 beers, being that it's my first and if anything wanted to keep some room in my frig. My intention was the split it into a 2.5g batch, and brew the second 2.5g batch later.
You are doing fine, but I think you complicated things when you didn't need to. The 50 beers do not have to be kept in the fridge all the time. You can just put some in when you want to cool them.
Welcome to the hobby and HBT.
 
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Splitting of Ingredients
With dry yeast, I will split a package across multiple smaller batches. Measure the amount of yeast needed, then close / reseal the package. I generally finish an opened package within a couple of months, but others report storing open packages longer with no impact.

Steeping Grains
Some kits steep from "flame-on" to 160F-ish. Other kits steep at 155F for around 20 to 30 minutes.

Starting out, it's simplest to follow the kit instructions.

Personally, I steep from "flame-on" to 160F-ish (as it shortens the brew day). I've tried 155F for around 20 to 30 minutes a couple of times, but didn't notice a difference.
 

RM-MN

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Splitting of the ingredients: I just estimate the "half packet" of the yeast. I always end up with beer.

Steeping: Get as close to 160 as you can for the steep. If you ever go to "all grain" brewing that is approximately the temperature you need to convert the starches to sugars. Steeping is very forgiving on temperature, conversion of starches to sugars is not.

Shining a light on your fermenter is OK. It's strong UV light you need to avoid. Your flashlight probably does not emit enough UV to be measurable.

Keep liquid in your airlock. If you need to add some, do so. Don't overfill it and don't let it run dry.
 
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with regard to steeping a small amount of grain at 155F being "practice" for mashing at 155F - with a full mash the additional volume of grains will help stabilize the mash temperature.
 
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byunique

byunique

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You are doing fine, but I think you complicated things when you didn't need to. The 50 beers do not have to be kept in the fridge all the time. You can just put some in when you want to cool tham.
Welcome to the hobby and HBT.
I know keep them out of the light, use brown bottles, and all that. Is there any target temp range? Thx!
 

bwible

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I was never a fan of the no-rinse cleaner. It says cleaner. Cleaner and sanitizer are not the same thing. Alot of us started out using bleach for sanitizer because thats what he had back then. Bleach can cause problems though with bad flavors if not rinsed well. Star San is the sanitizer many of us know and love. It is not cheap but you can save it after its mixed and get a few uses out of it. PBW is one of the preferred cleaners that work well. You can use iodine (iodophor) to sanitize glass or metal but it will stain plastic and tubing red-orange.
 
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byunique

byunique

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Removed my airlock yesterday, and replaced it after filling it up. Hmm, no more bubbling today. Even wrapped it with a blanket and repositioned my heat mat around the bucket. So temps looking like a solid 70-72F. Yesterday it was constantly bubbling.

Is swirling an option? I could take a hydrometer reading next...

Might have something to do with the airlock, as all the water went to one side of the airlock's chambers. Just touched it and bubbles just released. Will try balancing the water now across the two chambers
 
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byunique

byunique

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Seems water collects in one of the two chambers in the airlock... Guess that's normal :)

I know one mistake I made was not aerating the wort before pitching yeast. Guess that might be rearing it's ugly head now.

I plan to do a hydrometer reading shortly, and then again in 2 hours. If that's not showing any results, then swirl the bucket and do another hydrometer check 2 hours after that
 
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byunique

byunique

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Woah, final gravity is supposed to be 1.010
Original Gravity was 1.043 on Sunday, and now 4 days later 1.015

I tasted it and it tasted like beer, however a bit lite, and no taste of sugar. If I drank any more, I'm sure I'd catch a buzz. Can it almost be done with fermentation after 4 days? Or is the 1.015 ==> 1.010 take the longest :) ?
 

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Patience is good to have when brewing. Remember that 1.010 is not the “goal”. It is just an estimate. The hydrometer readings will tell when the beer is done. Wait a few more days and take another reading.
 
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byunique

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Aerated it, and numbers are still the same. Going to take measurements over the course of the next few days, and if it's consistent, start bottling after that
 

RM-MN

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Aerated it, and numbers are still the same. Going to take measurements over the course of the next few days, and if it's consistent, start bottling after that
Oops. Areation is for before you pitch the yeast, not when fermentation is nearly over. Plan to drink this batch fairly soon as it will be oxidized and you may not like the flavor after a bit.

Ales do ferment fast but they also benefit from more time in the fermenter. I'd plan to check the gravity with your hydrometer at about day 12, then again at day 14 and if they match, bottle it.

Beer right from the fermenter is never really good. Carbonation after bottling will improve it.

It sounds like you have a one piece airlock. The pressure of the CO2 being formed as the yeast eat the sugar will push the liquid in the airlock to one side just before it lets out a string of bubbles. Perfectly normal.

Yeast only produce the CO2 in the first couple of days. After that the CO2 is released from being dissolved in the beer. That is why you aren't seeing a string of bubbles.
 
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byunique

byunique

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Thanks gents for the gentle slapping on aeration!

Yes, I only aerated as an attempt to fix the stuck fermentation. I also realized, I missed that step entirely prior to pitching yeast. I know better now :) !

So it sounds normal that constant bubbling only happens for the first few days, and it dies off after that?
 

hotbeer

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So it sounds normal that constant bubbling only happens for the first few days, and it dies off after that?
Generally. Bubble's really don't tell you much. Especially if you are talking about bubbling airlocks.

A collection of gravity readings from certain points in the process will tell you much more and exactly when the fermentation is finished.

But fermentation being finished doesn't mean it is ready to come out of the fermenter.
 
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byunique

byunique

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Generally. Bubble's really don't tell you much. Especially if you are talking about bubbling airlocks.

A collection of gravity readings from certain points in the process will tell you much more and exactly when the fermentation is finished.

But fermentation being finished doesn't mean it is ready to come out of the fermenter.
So even if I get 3 days of constant hydrometer readings, it's still not ready? Is there any other signs of readiness?
 

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Yes, I only aerated as an attempt to fix the stuck fermentation. I also realized, I missed that step entirely prior to pitching yeast. I know better now :) !
Dry yeast does not need aeration. Liquid yeast does as it needs oxygen for replication. Read this short article about yeast and how it works. The Life Cycle of Yeast
So even if I get 3 days of constant hydrometer readings, it's still not ready? Is there any other signs of readiness?
2 matching hydrometer reading that are near what was predicted as the final gravity will tell you that fermentation is over. However, yeast and trub are nearly the same density as the wort so it takes some time to settle out. I prefer to leave my beer in the fermenter so the yeast and trub stay there instead of ending up in my bottles.
 

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So even if I get 3 days of constant hydrometer readings, it's still not ready? Is there any other signs of readiness?
This....
2 matching hydrometer reading that are near what was predicted as the final gravity will tell you that fermentation is over. However, yeast and trub are nearly the same density as the wort so it takes some time to settle out. I prefer to leave m
I've so far found that leaving it in the FV. (ferment vessel) till the beer is very clean a devoid of any life signs makes for better crisper tasting beer. I have gone six total weeks before.

The beers I've been the most disappointed with we're 2 weeks or less in the FV.
 

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So even if I get 3 days of constant hydrometer readings, it's still not ready? Is there any other signs of readiness?
I just leave mine in the primary for 3 weeks or so. I only take two hydro readings, one after my boil cycle to find original gravity and one on bottling day to find final gravity. I've been a few ticks shy on OG but never had trouble getting to FG.
 
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byunique

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updates: bottled it after 10 days of fermentation. Last few readings on the hydrometer were consistent.

Learned from bottling that I could probably use a siphon pump instead of just the spigot to transfer to the bottling bucket as the spigot was slow to drain as it was getting clogged.

Final gravity was 1.013 per hydrometer. Also bought a refractometer to check gravity readings which is awesome as it doesnt waste over a cup of beer for checks
 

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Also bought a refractometer to check gravity readings which is awesome as it doesnt waste over a cup of beer for checks
Refracs are great - be aware that alcohol presence also affects index of refraction like sugar does, so they are accurate pre-fermentation (within a few points SG at least), but need to be corrected using your OG for any measurement after start of fermentation.

Fortunately, there are calculators for that!

 
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byunique

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Refracs are great - be aware that alcohol presence also affects index of refraction like sugar does, so they are accurate pre-fermentation (within a few points SG at least), but need to be corrected using your OG for any measurement after start of fermentation.

Fortunately, there are calculators for that!

I see, thanks for those points. I think I'll be using it most day to day to check to see if fermentation is done. Being that it's all relative, at least 3 days in a row, will give me that signal, and I'll take final via the hydrometer.
 

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Can't add too much to what was already said, except I was exactly you when I started a few months ago. The big thing for me was patience!!!!! I would have just dumped the whole packet of yeast in and bought another for the other half, but who knows if that is right or not. I also have the Norther Brewer setup, and to me, it was super easy. But, I did buy StarSan and the cleaner, I did not use what they gave me. If you ever have time, there is a MoreBeer in Los Altos, and the guys there are super helpful. My brother got into it once he saw me doing it, and has bought 2 kits of the Blue Moon Shock top clone, I think they call it Lunar Shock, and he loves it. We do brew days together. As others have said, don't aerate the wort once it is in the fermenter, the O2 will mess you up. And as others have said, you don't have to put all the bottles in the fridge. I have 36 sitting in my closet right now waiting and just put 2 in to test tomorrow.

Only other thing I can add, Take Good Notes!!!!! When you move into the all grain and creating recipes of your own, the notes will save you.

Also, check YouTube. There is a guy called The Bru Show or something like that. I watch his stuff and I like what he says. I have picked up a few recipes there I am going to try soon.

I am in South City, so we are neighbors. Give me a holler if you want, I am not anywhere near good at this yet, but it is a fun ride. LOL.

Keep moving forward and don't get discouraged. Please only take my rant as a newbie who was in the same spot you are a few months ago. I had a lot of questions and forums like this are fantastic places to learn and get to know folks.

RR
 

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updates: bottled it after 10 days of fermentation. Last few readings on the hydrometer were consistent.

Learned from bottling that I could probably use a siphon pump instead of just the spigot to transfer to the bottling bucket as the spigot was slow to drain as it was getting clogged.

Final gravity was 1.013 per hydrometer. Also bought a refractometer to check gravity readings which is awesome as it doesnt waste over a cup of beer for checks
I usually put the bucket on the counter and leave it there a few hours to let it settle. I have also used a hop back the last two times instead of just dumping my dry hops in the bucket and that made a huge difference. But, for now, I would advised use the bottling wand that was in your kit. Just give it a few hours on the counter to settle before bottling.
 
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