Top up the carboy??

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

feffer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
116
Reaction score
1
Location
Martinez
I'm a winemaker making my first attempt at beer brewing. My Irish Red Ale extract kit was started yesterday and is merrily bubbling in the carboy. I left about 2" of headspace from the shoulder of the 5gal carboy; so quite a bit of space overall. I wasn't sure how much foam would develop so I wanted to be safe. I saved about 1/2 gal of wort in the fridge. Should I use this for topping up at some point? In winemaking, we are always topping up, but then the wine stays in the carboy or barrel for many months. How is it for making beer?

If topping up is the way to go and I don't have enough original wort, should I make up the difference with distilled water? My OG was higher than expected for this recipe, so I'm thinking 3-4 cups of water may be OK. Good idea? Bad idea?
 

oconnorshomebrew

Active Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
41
Reaction score
2
You could do this, but it's not common practice. Typically 5 gallons of beer is fermented in a 6.5 gallon carboy/bucket. Personally, I would not top up with the wort without bringing it to a boil again. Topping off with distilled water is not bad idea if you wish to reach the OG. I would top off with either after the bulk of fermentation is over.
 

Math0

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2013
Messages
310
Reaction score
12
Location
Montreal
Depending on the yeast, you will get a lot of foam or less. Temperature affects also, etc.

Top up after fermentation with tap boiled water! This is less important for beer because it stays less time in secondary. It would be more important for a lager. It will affect your FG though. Make sure if you top up with wort that your fermentation is not completely over. In that case it is like a second fermentation! Will take time. In both case it's fine
 
OP
F

feffer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
116
Reaction score
1
Location
Martinez
You could do this, but it's not common practice. Typically 5 gallons of beer is fermented in a 6.5 gallon carboy/bucket. Personally, I would not top up with the wort without bringing it to a boil again. Topping off with distilled water is not bad idea if you wish to reach the OG. I would top off with either after the bulk of fermentation is over.
OK, so 5 gallons of beer in a 6.5 gallon carboy or bucket would leave a lot of headspace! And this is OK, because the beer is in the carboy for a relatively short time (about 2 weeks)? thx!
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,792
Reaction score
5,678
Location
Solway
OK, so 5 gallons of beer in a 6.5 gallon carboy or bucket would leave a lot of headspace! And this is OK, because the beer is in the carboy for a relatively short time (about 2 weeks)? thx!
This is OK because the headspace in your beer fermenter will be filled with CO2. Between that, the acidity of the beer, and the alcohol, this is a very hostile environment for any nasties to live. If you rack to another carboy, you lose the CO2 and now there are nasties that love to munch on your beer. 2 weeks would be the minimum time for my beer. I've left mine in the bucket fermenter for 9 weeks and it came out very good.
 
OP
F

feffer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
116
Reaction score
1
Location
Martinez
OK, thx all for the help. Made an adjustment. Re-boiled the wort in the fridge, cooled it to 75F and merged it, the 4+ gallons of fermenting wort and some distilled water for a total of 5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon bucket with spigot. Mixed well, attached a lid and airlock, and it is merrily bubbling away. Should have used the bucket in the first place, but I do fruit wines in a 5gal carboy and thought I could use the same top up technique. Guess not!

btw, the first lid I put on the bucket was evidently not air tight. No bubbling in the airlock. This morning I tried another lid and it worked. I have 6-7 buckets of this type w/lids all from the same brew shop, but made at different times. I guess the only way to make sure I have the correct fit is trial and error.
 

twistr25

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
1,434
Reaction score
118
Location
Raleigh
Another thing not to worry about, bubbling in the airlock. If it all of a sudden goes away, doesn't mean fermentation has stopped, it's just not as rigorous to continue pushing out CO2. But it likely, and should be, still working it's way down to FG.
 

Channel66

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
2,814
Reaction score
1,045
OK, thx all for the help. Made an adjustment. Re-boiled the wort in the fridge, cooled it to 75F and merged it, the 4+ gallons of fermenting wort and some distilled water for a total of 5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon bucket with spigot. Mixed well, attached a lid and airlock, and it is merrily bubbling away. Should have used the bucket in the first place, but I do fruit wines in a 5gal carboy and thought I could use the same top up technique. Guess not!

btw, the first lid I put on the bucket was evidently not air tight. No bubbling in the airlock. This morning I tried another lid and it worked. I have 6-7 buckets of this type w/lids all from the same brew shop, but made at different times. I guess the only way to make sure I have the correct fit is trial and error.
Mixed well meaning what exactly? First thing to realize about brewing beer, it's not wine making.

You top up wine because you have stopped the yeast, and degassed all of the protective co2 out of the vessel leaving the headspace full of oxygen would impart off flavors, so you top it up with must or water depending on your technique to purge this airspace.

We don't degas beer, as a matter of fact we don't stop the yeast. It will keep producing low levels of co2 for the extent that it's in the carboy. Which is why topping up to purge that space is an unnecessary risk of infection.

For future reference, don't worry about saving top up wort. Don't shake up, stir, or otherwise disturb fermenting beer. Don't think of it like wine making.
 
OP
F

feffer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
116
Reaction score
1
Location
Martinez
...Don't think of it like wine making.
Yes, I'm seeing that it is not. It was a mistake to save a portion of the wort in the fridge, I should have put it all in the bucket at the start.

After transferring to a bucket, the bubbling was vigorous for several hours, but then stopped completely. The current SG = 1.020. Lag time after pitching yeast was about 7 hours, and active bubbling time was 36 to 40 hours, so it seems like it's stuck. At SG 1.020, it should still be pretty active, no?

The yeast was 1 tube of White Lab Irish Red. Should I pitch another tube? Or should I use a yeast like EC-1118?
 

Channel66

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
2,814
Reaction score
1,045
Yes, I'm seeing that it is not. It was a mistake to save a portion of the wort in the fridge, I should have put it all in the bucket at the start.

After transferring to a bucket, the bubbling was vigorous for several hours, but then stopped completely. The current SG = 1.020. Lag time after pitching yeast was about 7 hours, and active bubbling time was 36 to 40 hours, so it seems like it's stuck. At SG 1.020, it should still be pretty active, no?

The yeast was 1 tube of White Lab Irish Red. Should I pitch another tube? Or should I use a yeast like EC-1118?
If it's all or mostly extract, 1.020 isn't an unreasonable final gravity. Leave it for 2 weeks, if it doesn't go down, I'd bottle it.
 
Top