How long should I let this beer ferment?

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J2W2

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Hi,

I've been brewing ten years, and for a good part of that I've considered my fermentation "done" when I get the same gravity reading three days in a row. That became much easier when I switched from glass carboys to a stainless fermenter with a valve, and picked up my first refractometer. I received a Tilt hydrometer, so now I can watch the gravity change point by point.. The first three beers I brewed with the Tilt went pretty much as expected; dropping gravity finishing out around 1.012/1.011.

My latest beer is a "hybrid" lager, using lager ingredients with Omega's OYL-071 Lutra Kveik yeast. Initial gravity showed 1.053 and I started fermentation at 68 degrees. I held it there until the Tilt showed 1.015, at which point I let it rise to the ambient temp of 72. Gravity fell fairly rapidly the first several days - it was at 1.015 on day six when I let the temperature begin to rise. One week in it was at 1.012. A couple days later I thought it had finished, but it dropped to 1.011. A couple more and it was 1.010.

It has now been exactly two weeks since I brewed, and the gravity has been at 1.009 since yesterday. This is the first yeast I've had that continues to slowly chew up the sugars. Omega says the yeast has 75-82% attenuation. Do I continue to let it sit and see just how low it can go before I cold crash?

Thanks for your help!
 

VikeMan

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Do I continue to let it sit and see just how low it can go before I cold crash?
Are you're wondering if you should just assume it's finished because you're at 81% apparent attenuation and that's near the top of the yeast vendor's published range? If so, no, I would not assume anything. Every yeast strain can attenuate less than the lower limit of its published range and more than the top of the published range. It depends a lot on the fermentability of the wort.

Or, if you're wondering if it's safe to package, even if attenuation is not complete, the answer is "yes" if you're kegging and "maybe" if you're bottling. Personally, I wouldn't do it.
 
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J2W2

J2W2

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Are you're wondering if you should just assume it's finished because you're at 81% apparent attenuation and that's near the top of the yeast vendor's published range? If so, no, I would not assume anything. Every yeast strain can attenuate less than the lower limit of its published range and more than the top of the published range. It depends a lot on the fermentability of the wort.

Or, if you're wondering if it's safe to package, even if attenuation is not complete, the answer is "yes" if you're kegging and "maybe" if you're bottling. Personally, I wouldn't do it.
I was mainly looking for input, since I've never had a yeast "dawdle" (for want of a better word) toward the end like this before. Perhaps I'm looking at it incorrectly because of it's temperature range (68-95). Even at 72 which is warm for most of the yeasts I've used, it's on the low end for this one.

I am kegging, but since it's supposed to be lager-like, I want as clean a profile as I can get. Sounds like it's best to give it another day or two and see if it's done or breaks into 1.008.

Thanks for the advice!
 

hotbeer

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I've never bottled a decent beer at two weeks. Of course there has only been one batch that I bottled in two weeks.

Most everything is four weeks or more with six being my longest. IMO, beer hits it's FG well before it's cleaned up and ready to bottle or keg.
 
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J2W2

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I've never bottled a decent beer at two weeks. Of course there has only been one batch that I bottled in two weeks.

Most everything is four weeks or more with six being my longest. IMO, beer hits it's FG well before it's cleaned up and ready to bottle or keg.
Yeah, I don't keg that soon either. Once fermentation is complete I'll cold crash and let it sit at 33 degrees for a week or more. It's usually four weeks from brew day to kegging for me. I just don't want to cold crash this one yet if the yeast is still active, which it sounds like it may be.
 

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I've had two fermentations behave like that, very slowly decreasing gravity. Nothing special with those brews/ingredients, pretty simple ale recipe. First one I kegged after a while, perhaps day 14 or so. Tasted it a few weeks later and it wasn't pleaseant at all, had a sour ingredient to it and I assumed it somehow had got infected in the fermenter, or that my yeast starter was bad. Second time it happend I opened the fermenter to take a sniff and I thought I recognised it as same as the first one, so I dumped it. Some days later, after the second brew, I remembered that I had thought the yeast I used for my starter (harvested from another batch) have had a smell I wasn't used to, with that particular yeast.

However, if I was you I would give it a few more days and wait to see what happens. I don't know how this kveik yeast behaves, but I did know "my" yeast usually didn't behave like that.
 
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J2W2

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I've had two fermentations behave like that, very slowly decreasing gravity. Nothing special with those brews/ingredients, pretty simple ale recipe. First one I kegged after a while, perhaps day 14 or so. Tasted it a few weeks later and it wasn't pleaseant at all, had a sour ingredient to it and I assumed it somehow had got infected in the fermenter, or that my yeast starter was bad. Second time it happend I opened the fermenter to take a sniff and I thought I recognised it as same as the first one, so I dumped it. Some days later, after the second brew, I remembered that I had thought the yeast I used for my starter (harvested from another batch) have had a smell I wasn't used to, with that particular yeast.

However, if I was you I would give it a few more days and wait to see what happens. I don't know how this kveik yeast behaves, but I did know "my" yeast usually didn't behave like that.
Yes, not normal from the ales I've brewed over the years, but again, first time with a kveik.

I pulled a small sample today to check with my refractometer. It "adjusted" out at 1.008, so close to the Tilt. I take a larger initial and final sample to check with my old school hydrometer, which is my gold standard, but the hydrometer, refractometer and Tilt are generally within a point or so of each other.

The sample did not have any off odors that I could detect, and it tasted as good as any two-week old, warm, flat beer can taste, so I'm optimistic on the outcome.

I'll definitely sit on it a couple more days and see what happens.
 

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I bottled some IPA with Hornindal Kviek and it did seem to continue on a bit longer than usual ale and lager yeasts. Bottles were over carbed despite giving it weeks to finish out.
 

hotbeer

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On the graph it looked like your SG was still falling. So why the rush to bottle or keg? Keeping the beer in the fermenter for a time after fermentation stops lets other good things happen to it.
 
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On the graph it looked like your SG was still falling. So why the rush to bottle or keg? Keeping the beer in the fermenter for a time after fermentation stops lets other good things happen to it.
Not in a rush. As I stated up front, first time in ten years of brewing that I've seen a yeast slow so dramatically but still appear to be "working". CO2 output, which I know isn't a great indicator of fermentation, stopped a few days ago. Without the Tilt, I would probably already be cold crashing as I'm guessing my refractometer readings would probably have appeared "stable" already.

I'm giving it another day, but I think it's done now. Been at 1.009 for 2+ days and not a single blip into 1.008.
 

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Not in a rush. As I stated up front, first time in ten years of brewing that I've seen a yeast slow so dramatically but still appear to be "working". CO2 output, which I know isn't a great indicator of fermentation, stopped a few days ago. Without the Tilt, I would probably already be cold crashing as I'm guessing my refractometer readings would probably have appeared "stable" already.

I'm giving it another day, but I think it's done now. Been at 1.009 for 2+ days and not a single blip into 1.008.
I'd keg it and let it sit at room temperature a day or two (just in case that little bit of rousing allows fermentation to start up.) It's done, or at least so close as to not matter. I'm not a fan of kviek strains (I know, everybody else loves it), but it has finished up for me as most other yeast strains do.

I don't understand the encouragement to wait weeks and weeks- if it's done, it's not going to get "doner" but it will get older. If someone's beer takes a month to be ready to package to be good, sounds like a technique problem to me.
 

hotbeer

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I just don't consider having a stable SG for a few days as being done. Sure it's made all the alcohol that can be made. But if the beer hasn't cleaned up, then there is more to be done.

If you like to have it done right now, then you can do various things to clarify it. Or, just wait till it cleans itself up.

If you don't want to wait and like doing all the fiddly stuff that I don't care to do, that's okay. I'm happy being patient.

Until maybe I find a beer that doesn't like being left in the fermenter long or simply won't clean up, then I'll remain happy to be patient and encourage others to try it.
 
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J2W2

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I'd keg it and let it sit at room temperature a day or two (just in case that little bit of rousing allows fermentation to start up.) It's done, or at least so close as to not matter. I'm not a fan of kviek strains (I know, everybody else loves it), but it has finished up for me as most other yeast strains do.

I don't understand the encouragement to wait weeks and weeks- if it's done, it's not going to get "doner" but it will get older. If someone's beer takes a month to be ready to package to be good, sounds like a technique problem to me.
I just don't consider having a stable SG for a few days as being done. Sure it's made all the alcohol that can be made. But if the beer hasn't cleaned up, then there is more to be done.

If you like to have it done right now, then you can do various things to clarify it. Or, just wait till it cleans itself up.

If you don't want to wait and like doing all the fiddly stuff that I don't care to do, that's okay. I'm happy being patient.

Until maybe I find a beer that doesn't like being left in the fermenter long or simply won't clean up, then I'll remain happy to be patient and encourage others to try it.
Thought I'd hit these at the same time as they have some similar ideas.

One additional factor that I did not mention is that for my ten years of brewing, I've always used a secondary. After reading through many of the numerous threads debating the topic, I thought I'd give primary only a try (I did not want this thread to get into a secondary vs primary only debate). I gave that a shot on my last beer (Irish Red) and was very happy with the results - clarity, taste, etc. So I'm going that way on this one as well.

My go to method has always been two weeks in the primary, rack to secondary for a couple of days, drop the temp to 33 over a few days, add gelatin finings once it hit 33, let it sit for a week at 33 and then keg. Among other things, the transfer to secondary would have "roused" the yeast and gave it a few more days at room temp to clean things up before the cold crash.

The Irish Red hit final gravity on day 10, so I didn't think twice about starting to cold crash it on day 15 and kegging it by day 24. This one is different, as I now think it hit final gravity two days ago. Obviously I'm still learning my way around the "primary only" method.

As everyone has said, "patience is a virtue". I think I'll give it another two to three days at room temp (assuming F.G. remains stable at 1.009), cold crash over a few days, add the gelatin finings and let it sit a week at 33. That will keep me on the same four week brew to keg schedule that I'm used to.
 

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I just don't consider having a stable SG for a few days as being done. Sure it's made all the alcohol that can be made. But if the beer hasn't cleaned up, then there is more to be done.

If you like to have it done right now, then you can do various things to clarify it. Or, just wait till it cleans itself up.

If you don't want to wait and like doing all the fiddly stuff that I don't care to do, that's okay. I'm happy being patient.

Until maybe I find a beer that doesn't like being left in the fermenter long or simply won't clean up, then I'll remain happy to be patient and encourage others to try it.
I understand what you're saying- but remember that the "clean up" by the yeast happens within about 24 hours of reaching FG. There have been some tests done where many people like the character imparted by the yeast with sitting on the yeast cake after that, and just as many do not.

I am one of the "do nots". I don't enjoy that character as much as I do a cleaner finish. It's totally up to the brewer to decide what they like, but there is no actual reason from a brewing/science view that leaving the beer on the yeast cake for more than 24 hours is beneficial.
 
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J2W2

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I understand what you're saying- but remember that the "clean up" by the yeast happens within about 24 hours of reaching FG. There have been some tests done where many people like the character imparted by the yeast with sitting on the yeast cake after that, and just as many do not.

I am one of the "do nots". I don't enjoy that character as much as I do a cleaner finish. It's totally up to the brewer to decide what they like, but there is no actual reason from a brewing/science view that leaving the beer on the yeast cake for more than 24 hours is beneficial.
Thanks for the information. The more I've posted on this, the more I've come to realize a lot of this has to do with my no longer using a secondary. After using one for years, I need to regain my comfort level of brewing without one.

One question. If leaving the beer on the yeast cake can impact the beer, does that pertain to cold crashing in the primary as well? I use a SS Brew Tech Brew Bucket, which has a conical bottom, but no valve for dumping the yeast.
 

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Thanks for the information. The more I've posted on this, the more I've come to realize a lot of this has to do with my no longer using a secondary. After using one for years, I need to regain my comfort level of brewing without one.

One question. If leaving the beer on the yeast cake can impact the beer, does that pertain to cold crashing in the primary as well? I use a SS Brew Tech Brew Bucket, which has a conical bottom, but no valve for dumping the yeast.
Yes, but less so. Beer ages faster at warmer temperatures, and much slower at cooler temperatures (that's why aging cellars are cool/cold). Cool/cold temperatures help clear the beer faster (well, wine too!), so it's used to cold crash and then rack the beer off of the trub.

Now, may people may like that yeast character imparted over time and that is a totally valid way to do it. I've been doing this for 30+ years, and my feelings have changed over the years. Remember that the longer in a fermenter, particularly a wide fermenter, the more oxidation will be a risk so sampling earlier is actually LESS risky than leaving it in the fermenter for weeks.

I was originally (and still am!) a winemaker and fully subscribed to the 1-2-3 method- one week primary, two in secondary, and 3 in the bottle. Only in the last 10 or 12 years have I been doing beer differently than wine. There are numerous reasons that beer is different than one, and no need to really go into it here now- but I am right this minute drinking an IPA that I brewed on 8/29.

A well made beer doesn't take forever to be ready to drink- if it did, breweries would go out of business. Control fermentation temperature, pitch the proper amount of yeast, do a good job sanitizing, and you'll make beer that doesn't need weeks to be decent. If the beer is an ale, and still needs more than a couple of weeks to smooth out, unless it's a very complex beer with lots of complex flavors, the problem is in technique and not the lack of aging. For "big" beers like a barley wine or a very roasty stout, age is great. For most ales, age simply makes the beer older.
 

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I just don't consider having a stable SG for a few days as being done. Sure it's made all the alcohol that can be made. But if the beer hasn't cleaned up, then there is more to be done.

If you like to have it done right now, then you can do various things to clarify it. Or, just wait till it cleans itself up.

If you don't want to wait and like doing all the fiddly stuff that I don't care to do, that's okay. I'm happy being patient.

Until maybe I find a beer that doesn't like being left in the fermenter long or simply won't clean up, then I'll remain happy to be patient and encourage others to try it.
A poorly made beer will never just "clean up", and a well made beer doesn't need to. If it takes 6 weeks to make a decent beer, you may want to look into process. I'm drinking, at this very moment, a dry hopped IPA at 7.1% ABV that I made on 8/30. You can be patient and do it your way, and that's awesome. But please don't denigrate a good process that others may do.
 

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A poorly made beer will never just "clean up", and a well made beer doesn't need to. If it takes 6 weeks to make a decent beer, you may want to look into process. I'm drinking, at this very moment, a dry hopped IPA at 7.1% ABV that I made on 8/30. You can be patient and do it your way, and that's awesome. But please don't denigrate a good process that others may do.
But it's one of several ways to do it. Not certain why you think I'm denigrating others just because I suggest that there is another way.

And for the most part, once the wort is in the fermenter, then there isn't much that can be done. If it isn't being kept at a proper and somewhat controlled fermentation temp, then while it's not too late to start, it will be more effective on the next batch, not the current.

I'm always looking into why it takes so long. So far the only suggestions seem to be throw more money at my processes. If that's the case, then I'll be happy with patience.
 

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But it's one of several ways to do it. Not certain why you think I'm denigrating others just because I suggest that there is another way.

And for the most part, once the wort is in the fermenter, then there isn't much that can be done. If it isn't being kept at a proper and somewhat controlled fermentation temp, then while it's not too late to start, it will be more effective on the next batch, not the current.

I'm always looking into why it takes so long. So far the only suggestions seem to be throw more money at my processes. If that's the case, then I'll be happy with patience.
No, no money required! A good basic recipe, good water, and a proper amount of yeast and fermentation at the proper temperature, that's about it. You can do it in a bucket, or a $2000 conical, it's really all the same. There are some techniques to improve clarity- a good hot break, a good cold break, whirlfloc in the kettle- that also require nothing more than a few pennies.
It should take 5-7 days for an average strength ale to ferment out and start to clear. The "yeast clean up phase" happens simultaneously with the end of fermentation and is completed by about 24 hours after FG is reached. Clearing can take longer, depending on yeast strain. Other than that, only certain beers (like complex stouts, high gravity barleywines and tripels, etc) need aging and beer does age in the keg or bottle, off of the spent yeast.
 
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Not certain why you think I'm denigrating others just because I suggest that there is another way.
There's always the possibility of be disagreement when discussing process alternatives.

From what I have seen recently, some of the best descriptions for processes stay tightly focused on the process description. I find that these descriptions tend to avoid comparisons, avoid unnecessary adjectives ("fiddly", "willy nilly"), avoid asking (then answering) leading questions, and rarely include emojis or a laugh track.

First impressions count. A while back, there was someone (or some-bot?) that set their avatar to a photo shopped image of a well known public person giving the viewer the ****. Yes, blocking fixed that problem.
 
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With regard to beer clarifying, my current batch that I brewed 12 days ago has become clear after about 10 days.

Ingredient list was Briess Pale Ale DME + Magnum/Amarillo hops + Nottingham yeast, irish moss, yeast nutrient.

Unusual process step: DME was added at flame-on and heated slowly to boil. (I've seen "hot break" with Briess Pilsen DME when I do this and was curious if Briess Pale Ale DME had the same behaviour).

I've had other recipes with other dry yeast strains (most often US-05) that behave differently - and take longer to clarify on their own.

I don't have a concluding thought at the moment, just observations that may lead to curiosity or further discussion.
 
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