Question about primary fermentation.

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Bobcat

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Hey folks!

First I just wanted to say thanks to all the people out there that put time into helping others with their home brewing questions! I've gained a lot of knowledge just from reading the forum posts, but now I have a question that I can't quite find the answer to. (I'm pretty new to all this, and I think that I need to buy a hydrometer to truly solve my question.) But if someone could just give a little bit of reassuring advice, it would be much appreciated! :D

I'm making a (pathetically) tiny IPA in a 4L carboy. The first 2 days were going similarly to my last Pale Ale... The air lock was bubbling, sediment had gathered near the top with a bit of white froth, and when I leaned in to smell it, it smelled awesome! So I figured it must be going well because it is mimicking my last batch and I was super happy with how that one turned out.

However, since about day 2.5ish, the air lock stopped bubbling and the sediment at the top has disappeared. There hasn't really been too much "barm" (the white frothy stuff?) since then and I was wondering if that's okay? My previous Pale Ale had sediment/barm near the top and was bubbling almost constantly for the full week that I was fermenting it.
I plan to condition this IPA in bottles for 3 weeks with just a bit of sugar. That's what I did for my last Pale Ale and I loved the way it turned out. I'm on day 4 now, and I guess I'm just surprised that it looks so different from the way my Pale Ale looked at day 4. (I like to keep notes of how it looks each day for future reference, but I feel like maybe that's just messing with me at this point! :()

Am I just being a "helicopter" parent, or does the fact the air lock stopped bubbling, and there is little to no sediment/barm concern anyone else?

I think I'll buy a hydrometer this week and then I suppose I'll know for certain if it's going fine. Thanks to anyone that takes the time to help me out! :) :mug:
 
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Most folks would probably agree that if you're looking for help diagnosing an issue you may want to include a little more about your process. The more specific the better. Air lock activity isn't always the best indicator of how your beer is doing. Primary fermentation may be over already but those yeast will still be working hard to clean up after them selves. Barm=krausen?
 
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Bobcat

Bobcat

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Most folks would probably agree that if you're looking for help diagnosing an issue you may want to include a little more about your process. The more specific the better. Air lock activity isn't always the best indicator of how your beer is doing. Primary fermentation may be over already but those yeast will still be working hard to clean up after them selves. Barm=krausen?
Hey! Thank you for a super quick reply! "Krauser" is what I meant! I'm still pretty new to home brewing... I've read a few mosts that say 99 times out of 100 the air lock is not an indicator for how it's going. What other information can I provide to be more helpful?
 

RM-MN

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The airlock is a device intended to let excess gas escape without letting bugs in. It is not a device to determine the stage of fermentation. For that you use a hydrometer but not yet. Typically for an ale, the fast part of the fermentation lasts 2 to 3 days followed by the cleanup phase during which no more CO2 is being produced. The airlock can bubble for some time as the excess CO2 dissolved into the beer during the active fermentation begins to escape but this will be a slow process and even a tiny leak can allow it out without bubbling the airlock. After 10 days you can take a sample with your hydrometer to see if your beer has completed fermentation (usually it has earlier than that but it doesn't help to sample early). If your beer has reached final gravity as proven with 2 identical samples at least a day apart, you can bottle or keg the beer or you can wait longer so more yeast settles out and the beer begin to mature. Don't leave the beer too long in the fermenter. Too long is defined as over 6 months.:D

Here's a little info on what to expect during fermentation. http://www.brewgeeks.com/the-life-cycle-of-yeast.html
 

TurnipGreen

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i’m sure everything is fine. If it is warmer or if you used a different yeast it would be normal for most of the active fermentation to be done in about 3 days. I’m assuming you’re doing this at room temperature.

You’ll need a hydrometer to know for sure, but with such a small batch you probably don’t want to lose any beer to a sample.

Welcome to brewing!
 
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Bobcat

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The airlock is a device intended to let excess gas escape without letting bugs in. It is not a device to determine the stage of fermentation. For that you use a hydrometer but not yet. Typically for an ale, the fast part of the fermentation lasts 2 to 3 days followed by the cleanup phase during which no more CO2 is being produced. The airlock can bubble for some time as the excess CO2 dissolved into the beer during the active fermentation begins to escape but this will be a slow process and even a tiny leak can allow it out without bubbling the airlock. After 10 days you can take a sample with your hydrometer to see if your beer has completed fermentation (usually it has earlier than that but it doesn't help to sample early). If your beer has reached final gravity as proven with 2 identical samples at least a day apart, you can bottle or keg the beer or you can wait longer so more yeast settles out and the beer begin to mature. Don't leave the beer too long in the fermenter. Too long is defined as over 6 months.:D

Here's a little info on what to expect during fermentation. http://www.brewgeeks.com/the-life-cycle-of-yeast.html
This page was really useful! Thank you for sharing it! :)
 
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Bobcat

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i’m sure everything is fine. If it is warmer or if you used a different yeast it would be normal for most of the active fermentation to be done in about 3 days. I’m assuming you’re doing this at room temperature.

You’ll need a hydrometer to know for sure, but with such a small batch you probably don’t want to lose any beer to a sample.

Welcome to brewing!
It funny you should mention if it is warmer. Yes I'm doing it at room temperature and in the past 2 weeks the weather changed from -3°c to +20°. So I can only imagine that my entire house is warmer too. I'll get a hydrometer soon!
Thank you! :)
 

kh54s10

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Each fermentation is going to be a little different. Each recipe will have an effect. Different yeasts will have an effect. Temperature will have an effect.

Most ales will ferment in 3-5 days. If the temperature of the ferment is hotter it will be faster, colder will be slower. Control the temperature of the fermentation to the mid sixties for most ale yeasts.

I wait for the krausen to fall, (usually) give it another few days to finish any further drop in gravity (this is where you need the hydrometer) and maybe a little longer if the beer is not clear.

For ease and not hovering over the fermenter I wait at least 14 days then bottle it when I have time.
 
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Each fermentation is going to be a little different. Each recipe will have an effect. Different yeasts will have an effect. Temperature will have an effect.

Most ales will ferment in 3-5 days. If the temperature of the ferment is hotter it will be faster, colder will be slower. Control the temperature of the fermentation to the mid sixties for most ale yeasts.

I wait for the krausen to fall, (usually) give it another few days to finish any further drop in gravity (this is where you need the hydrometer) and maybe a little longer if the beer is not clear.

For ease and not hovering over the fermenter I wait at least 14 days then bottle it when I have time.
Thank you for the precise, to the point response! This is helpful! :D
Are you bottle conditioning your beer as well?
 

kh54s10

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Thank you for the precise, to the point response! This is helpful! :D
Are you bottle conditioning your beer as well?
I am bottle conditioning now. I have recently moved and my kegging equipment is in storage.

What TwistedGray eluded to, is that if you don't take gravity readings and bottle your beer before it has finished fermenting there could be a buildup of co2 that exceeds the strength of the bottle. Bottle bombs. They can explode with enough force to seriously injure.

Either wait long enough that you are pretty certain that you have reached FG (final gravity) I would say at least 14 days, or better yet get the hydrometer and take readings to be sure.
 
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Bobcat

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I am bottle conditioning now. I have recently moved and my kegging equipment is in storage.

What TwistedGray eluded to, is that if you don't take gravity readings and bottle your beer before it has finished fermenting there could be a buildup of co2 that exceeds the strength of the bottle. Bottle bombs. They can explode with enough force to seriously injure.

Either wait long enough that you are pretty certain that you have reached FG (final gravity) I would say at least 14 days, or better yet get the hydrometer and take readings to be sure.
Fortunately my building is over 100 years old and the location I store the bottles in is about 14 inches thick of bricks on 3 sides! :p But I will definitely take this into consideration and wait a few more days before bottling just to be safe! :)

Would you still recommend about 3 weeks for bottle condition? From what I've read; a bit extra won't hurt, a bit less can suck badly. :p And of course followed up with chilling for about 48 hours.

Thank you, and thank you to TwistedGray for your contributions! It's much appreciated! <3
 

kh54s10

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My experience is that some will be fully carbonated at 2 weeks (never tried one earlier) some will not. But at three weeks all but the heaviest and darkest have been carbonated. ALL of them have tasted better at 3 weeks or longer. I usually sneak a couple before 3 weeks and the heavy dark beers need to age anyway so I don't get to them for months.
 
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Bobcat

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My experience is that some will be fully carbonated at 2 weeks (never tried one earlier) some will not. But at three weeks all but the heaviest and darkest have been carbonated. ALL of them have tasted better at 3 weeks or longer. I usually sneak a couple before 3 weeks and the heavy dark beers need to age anyway so I don't get to them for months.
Alright, my fiancé's family arrives on the 26th, so I might open a couple at the 2 and a half week point, and we'll just have to wait for the rest! :) Thanks!
 

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I would agree, one week is way too short. I know this from trying a beer last week that was only one week in ... I was curious. So, don't do that. Two weeks is a good starting point, but three weeks is likely better. After that it just depends on the type of beer whether or not it needs to be aged.

Yeah, definitely pop one before the family arrives @Bobcat. Don't want to share swill :)
 

RM-MN

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Fortunately my building is over 100 years old and the location I store the bottles in is about 14 inches thick of bricks on 3 sides! :p But I will definitely take this into consideration and wait a few more days before bottling just to be safe! :)

Would you still recommend about 3 weeks for bottle condition? From what I've read; a bit extra won't hurt, a bit less can suck badly. :p And of course followed up with chilling for about 48 hours.

Thank you, and thank you to TwistedGray for your contributions! It's much appreciated! <3
Bottle bombs are not dynamite and won't hurt the building but I have found a shard of glass 30 feet from where a bottle exploded. You wouldn't want to be anywhere nearby if one were to explode. You also would not like to do the cleanup of spilled beer mixed with shards of glass.
 
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