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pilkinga

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I recently brewed my second batch and went with a porter(my first was an IPA and turned out wonderful). Currently it is in the fermentation stage and I'm a little concerned with the yeast I used. When I made my first batch (IPA), after sealing up the fermenter, the airlock started bubbling vigorously right away. With the porter batch this did not happen, It took about six hours to get constant bubbling out of the airlock after sealing. The constant bubbling went for about a day and then slowed down again. I am not the impatient type and I realized it would take four to six months for a typical porter to be ready but I did expect a little more activity in the beginning. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I add more yeast?
 

The Professor

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The best way to tell is to take a hydrometer reading before, and after the fermentation period. By comparing these two readings you can tell if the yeast is done. However, being a new homebrewer it is not likely that you use a hydrometer and thats ok because I didn't use one for years when I started.

It is not uncommon for a fermentation to complete in 24-48 hours especially if the fermentation temperature is higher than the recipe calls for. So what I suggest you do is observe the beer for a week and if the yeast has flocculated (settled to the bottom of your fermenter) then carefully remove a sample with a sanitized theif or turkey baster and taste it. If it tastes thick and sweet then it may need more time and repitching yeast might be a good option. If it tastes right (like an unaged porter) let it clear for a few more days, and then bottle or keg it.

If you are still not sure after the taste test then buy a hydrometer and compare the final gravity to what the recipe calls for. If you are close then you should be fine.

Good luck!
 

The Professor

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pilkinga said:
I recently brewed my second batch and went with a porter(my first was an IPA and turned out wonderful). Currently it is in the fermentation stage and I'm a little concerned with the yeast I used. When I made my first batch (IPA), after sealing up the fermenter, the airlock started bubbling vigorously right away. With the porter batch this did not happen, It took about six hours to get constant bubbling out of the airlock after sealing. The constant bubbling went for about a day and then slowed down again. I am not the impatient type and I realized it would take four to six months for a typical porter to be ready but I did expect a little more activity in the beginning. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I add more yeast?
By the way. IT should only take 2-4 weeks tops to ferment your porter. The 4-6 months is the reccomended aging time in the bottle or Keg. I have had great porter after 3 weeks in the bottle.
 

Ken Powers

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Generally, all I brew are porters and stouts and the length of time required for fermentation is usually the same as for any other ale. They do, however, benefit from a longer aging process in the bottle (although mine don't usually last that long ;)).

Let us know more about the recipe you used so we can determine the level of fermentables and most importantly let us know which type of yeast you used and at what temperature you are fermenting. What I have found is that dry yeast usually begins fermenting much faster than liquid yeasts and usually finishes sooner. It can, however, be more prone to containing wild yeast strains which can lend "off-flavors." I generally prefer liquid yeast strains since there are more varieties to choose from and they can produce a product that is more true to style and cleaner in flavor. Also, temperature can affect the speed of fermentation. Lower temperature generally can slow the fermentation to a crawl if they reach below 60 degrees for some ale yeasts.

In terms of fermentation, I usually experience various levels of vigorous fermentations initially (within a few hours for dry yeasts and up to 48 hours for liquids). This usually amounts to about a bubble per second in the airlock. This usually slows after about a day or so and once it finally reaches about a bubble per minute, I transfer to a secondary fermenter (optional) in order to lift the beer from the spent yeast cells in order to develop a cleaner flavor. I keep it in the secondary for about 2 weeks before I bottle. At this point I wait at least 2 weeks to begin consuming the beer. Porter and Stouts, however, can develop a smoother flavor after a month or two of aging (once again, I can't wait that long).

What this boils down to is that depending upon the strain of yeast you used and your recipe's ingredient list, your fermentation may be proceeding exactly as it should. Let us know some more details and we may be able to help more. But above all, don't worry. Things are probably progressing just fine.
 
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pilkinga

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Thanks for your quick replies. The recipe I used went as follows.

2 lbs Choc Malt
1 lbs Black Patent Malt
1 lbs Crystal Malt
3 lbs plain light DME
3 lbs plain dark DME
2 oz Cascades - boil
0.5 Tettnanger - boil
1.5 Tettnanger - finish
Yeast Packet - Dry (I think called Nottingham)
0.75 c Corn Sugar - Priming

Of course I did not use a hydrometer to make a SG reading, but I plan on picking one up and measuring tonight. Also good to know that the beer might be ready in 3-4 weeks. Just in time for XMas/New Years then. The recipe I followed did not include SG measurements so I have nothing to measure by, but if I measure daily I can look for fluctuations.
 

The Professor

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Great idea. If the readings do not change for 3 days, you should be ready to bottle/keg. Just make sure the beer is the same temperature when you take your readings.
 

Ken Powers

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I agree with the professor. It looks like you are right on track. Keep track of the fluctuations as far as the hydrometer goes and you should be all right. Keep Brewing!
 
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pilkinga

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Here is an update on my inactive Porter.

1.5 weeks after bottling - couldn't resist and had to taste
Extremely Good Flavor - could use a tad more carbonation
only gets a small head with a quick poor but still quite good.

Glad this one turned out. I was pretty scared that I messed something up when my fermentation went relatively inactive so quickly. I will definitely brew this one again, this time paying more attention to SG values. Maybe a little more priming sugar would add more carbonation?? Better drink another to make sure there OK!
 

Ken Powers

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pilkinga said:
Here is an update on my inactive Porter.

1.5 weeks after bottling - couldn't resist and had to taste
Extremely Good Flavor - could use a tad more carbonation
only gets a small head with a quick poor but still quite good.

Glad this one turned out. I was pretty scared that I messed something up when my fermentation went relatively inactive so quickly. I will definitely brew this one again, this time paying more attention to SG values. Maybe a little more priming sugar would add more carbonation?? Better drink another to make sure there OK!
By the time you get to the last one, it will be perfect ;). I prefer a lower carbonation level with my porters and stouts anyway. If the carbonation still seems low to you at Christmas time, think about adding a little more priming sugar. I personally don't care much about head retention as long as the flavor is right.
 
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