Questions about Bucket as Primary (and no secondary)

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slcdawg

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I brewed my first batch a few days ago and have some questions about using a bucket as primary fermentor and not doing a secondary. I'm reading How to Brew, by Palmer and he says not to open the bucket to see how the primary fermentation is going. Says to remove the airlock and peek through the hole if you absolutely have to see whats going on. So obviously there is a concern of air getting into the fermentor and causing oxidation.

So, my questions:

1. In this forum I have read to check the FG over several days, and when it stops changing the fermentation is complete. If I open the lid to check FG won't cause a potential oxidation issue?
2. Same question with dry hopping. I have read people dry hop in the primary, using a bucket as the primary. This would also introduce air to the fermentor.

Am I over thinking this? Should I just wait 14 days, and dry hop in the bucket then take a FG reading at 21 days?
 

bobbrews

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Just wait 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 weeks. No need to constantly check gravity. That's a mistake I feel many new brewers do too often. Check your OG once, then check your FG once or twice.

After about 3 weeks, you could peel off the lid, toss, in your dryhops, close quickly, and wait another week. But I wouldn't recommend removing the lid more than I had to.
 

iambeer

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Risk of contamination, not so much oxidation during fermentation.

Why not just wait as you suggested? Peeking at it is fun but it won't help your beer. I would check gravity before bottling though.
 

davekippen

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You will find a million different answers to those questions! My take:

1) Yes, if you open the lid you are exposing your beer to oxygen. Will it affect the flavor of your beer? Nope. Not in my opinion. If you open it, stir the sh*t out of it, then maybe you will affect the flavor
2) Same thing. I just made a great IPA and dryhopped in the primary. I let it ferment for 3 weeks, opened the lid, dumped in the hops, let it set for a week, racked and bottled. Tastes friggen great!

Last note - I dont check for FG stability anymore unless it is a huge beer (high OG / ABV potential). For the normal beers, I let them sit for 3-4 weeks and I know its done fermenting. I dont think I will take consecutive readings again, unless I suspect that for some reason the fermentation stopped. I take the reading after I rack to the bottling bucket. Again, Im no pro, but it has worked fine for me.

Cheers! Happy brewing :D
 

Shooter

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Yep, you're over thinking it! :p

Give it ten days to a couple of weeks before checking gravity.

Removing the lid to dry hop is fine. Don't be whipping the beer into a foamy head or anything, just gently drop in the hops and seal it back up.
 

MikeinCT

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I see almost no reason to open the fermenter lid. After a few years of home-brewing I have never had a stuck fermentation. (Hope this is not the jinx). I usually see bubbles in one day. Then I let the wort sit for two or three weeks. It is always done. Before bottling I take a reading for my records.

Now if I didn't see any bubbles I would hazard a peak. If you don't see bubbles in the air lock you might have a leak. So based on this you might want to check to see if the wort looks like it is working.

my $0.02, Mike
 

iskuse

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You don't neccessarily need a secondary, your primary will work fine. You can open your bucket to test for FG, just try not to disturb it too much. I would wait about 7 days before doing so. sanitize everything. If your FG is the same for three days in a row, you should be good to bottle.

As for dry hopping, I always use a secondary, but you don't have to, you can throw your hops right in there. You will just have a lot of yeast/trub/hop material in the bottom of your bucket. Just take care when racking to your bottling bucket and you should be fine.
 

kh54s10

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Oxidation is not an issue unless you are constantly taking the top off and you would still probably need to stir up the beer to have a problem.

I just wait until bottling time and take a gravity reading, if I think it might not be finished for some reason. If it is at the right gravity I dry hop or bottle.

When you dry hop try not to do any splashing. This is what might cause oxidation, not just opening the lid.
 

SledgeH

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No worries in regards to oxidation. There is a nice CO2 blanket covering your beer. It's the solid contaminants (dust, sweat, hair, microbes, etc) that is the worry. Let it do its thing instead of poking around in it. You'll be happier with the results.
 

CTownBrewer

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Fermentation produces a blanket of CO2 that covers the beer & will prevent oxygen from getting in as long as you don't majorly agitate the bucket.

I usually take a gravity reading weekly. After a week, the majority of your fermentation should be complete. Just sanitize a turkey baster, crack the lid open a tiny bit, draw off your sample, & close the lid. No need to worry about O2 issues with this procedure. It only takes me about 20 seconds to do it.

For dry-hopping, I prefer to transfer to secondary & rack the beer on top of the hops. Many other people don't bother with a secondary because they're worried about introducing O2 or possible infection. Either way is fine. Just don't dry-hop until your fermentation is complete because as long as CO2 is being released, the aromatics from your hops will be pushed out with it, thus reducing the effectiveness of the dry-hop.
 
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slcdawg

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Very cool! :D Thanks for the replies! Sounds like it is more of a worry of contamination than oxidation. The recipe (pale ale) calls for 7-10 days of fermentation followed by 7 days of dry hopping. I plan to dry hop at 14 days, wait 7 days and then put in the fridge for a few days to let it clear up. I may try a secondary for later batches, but want to see if I can get it to work with just a primary for now.

Gotta say, this forum is an awesome resource! :D The sticky's in the beginner forum have been extremely valuable.
 

inturnldemize

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I always use a bucket fermentor and no secondary. Curiosity usually get the best of me and I end up checking the fermentation at least once a day. I have never had a problem with my beers. Ever. Just don't leave it open for too long. If you want to be absolutely sure, check gravity after 2 weeks for 3 consectuive days. If it's done, you're good to bottle.

RDWHAHB (Sometimes I should take my own advice lol)
 

LateraLex

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Very cool! :D Thanks for the replies! Sounds like it is more of a worry of contamination than oxidation. The recipe (pale ale) calls for 7-10 days of fermentation followed by 7 days of dry hopping. I plan to dry hop at 14 days, wait 7 days and then put in the fridge for a few days to let it clear up. I may try a secondary for later batches, but want to see if I can get it to work with just a primary for now.
Sounds like a great plan. I've done a few batches in secondary, and a few that stayed in primary - and I am going to stick to primary only whenever possible. I just bought this amazing strainer, which I think will have a huge impact on improving the clarity of my primary only batches.
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/double-mesh-stainless-strainer.html
 
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Very cool! :D Thanks for the replies! Sounds like it is more of a worry of contamination than oxidation. The recipe (pale ale) calls for 7-10 days of fermentation followed by 7 days of dry hopping. I plan to dry hop at 14 days, wait 7 days and then put in the fridge for a few days to let it clear up. I may try a secondary for later batches, but want to see if I can get it to work with just a primary for now.

Gotta say, this forum is an awesome resource! :D The sticky's in the beginner forum have been extremely valuable.
That'll work just fine. As others said, make sure to check gravity before bottling, but that's the only time you need to if you're just fermenting in one vessel (no secondary). Two weeks will be plenty of time for your beer to finish fermenting and begin to clear up a bit, then ~7 days dry hopping will give you plenty of hops aroma.
Congrats on your first beer!! :mug:
 

william_shakes_beer

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I always use a bucket fermentor and no secondary. Curiosity usually get the best of me and I end up checking the fermentation at least once a day. I have never had a problem with my beers. Ever. Just don't leave it open for too long. If you want to be absolutely sure, check gravity after 2 weeks for 3 consectuive days. If it's done, you're good to bottle.

RDWHAHB (Sometimes I should take my own advice lol)
If you're really that curious perhaps you should install a wireless lipstick camera and stream it onto your blog:mug:
 

jefro

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I have a bucket with a built-in spigot - I just take readings from the spigot. Be sure to open the cork a bit, otherwise you can suck in water/vodka from the lock.

When the yeast cake builds up it probably affects the reading, but I only use the readings for trend, taste-testing, and to make sure the fermentation is complete before bottling. If it stays at 11 two or three days in a row, it's done.
 
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slcdawg

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Looking at my kit instructions when I got home, I have another question. It says to dry hope for 14 days. Can I add hops at 14 days, and then dry hop for another 14 days before kegging? I think I read somewhere that 3 weeks was as long as you wanted to be in a primary esp if using a bucket. Better to just dry hop for 7 days?


That'll work just fine. As others said, make sure to check gravity before bottling, but that's the only time you need to if you're just fermenting in one vessel (no secondary). Two weeks will be plenty of time for your beer to finish fermenting and begin to clear up a bit, then ~7 days dry hopping will give you plenty of hops aroma.
Congrats on your first beer!! :mug:
 

Shooter

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Yeah, you should be fine with 14 days primary followed by 14 days dry hop. Don't heat it up to 90 degrees or do anything drastic, just keep it around a nice even fermentation temperature and you should be golden.
 
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