Author Topic: when is the fermenting finished?  (Read 1197 times)

Offline aj68roberts

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when is the fermenting finished?
« on: July 09, 2014, 06:35:49 AM »
Hello all.  I am brand new to home brewing. Just brewed my first batch on Saturday. (Not sure if it was a good idea to start with a Nugget Nectar IPA clone or not.) Anyhow, I just need to know when the fermentation process is finished. I started it on Saturday 7/5 and the bubbling in my airlock stopped yesterday.  The kit instructions say it can (fermentation) go for a couple of days up to two weeks. Is my beer still "fermenting" even though the bubbling has stopped? Will I lose my batch if I don't  bottle it now?  Im so confused...... wish I started with a less complex beer. .......Any help would be appreciated..... Thanks .... Aj

Offline Steve in TX

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 06:40:21 AM »
You will want to pull a sample and measure it with your hydrometer. The beer is done once the reading is identical a day or two apart. What was the temperature where the beer was fermenting? If it was warm it may have finished, but you will want to take a reading to be sure. I normally leave my beers in primary for 3 weeks or so before I take readings. This is just the way I roll.


Brewing a clone for your first beer is a great idea. You can compare your beer to the real thing and see if you pulled it off. Not all clone recipes are accurate, but if you got it from a reputable source, it may be a dead ringer.

Offline duboman

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 07:01:20 AM »
+1
Yeast don't read calendars so there is never really a firm rule as to when a fermentation has completed, only gravity readings will confirm and as Steve mentioned, temperature, pitch rate and grain bill will determine how the yeast attenuates and ferments.

I'll definitely recommend the first thing to consider is getting good control of your fermentation temperatures as this will greatly improve your beer immediately!

Congrats on getting into this great hobby!
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 07:09:32 AM »
The best advice I can think of:  When airlock bubbling stops, then wait another day or two, then take a gravity reading.  Then, wait 3 more days, then take another gravity reading.  If the readings changed by exactly zero points, then it is safe to bottle.  If the readings changed by one or two points, then it is NOT safe to bottle.  Wait another 3 days, then take another reading.  When readings stay the same over the course of several days, it is safe to bottle.

In general, it is better to delay bottling for as long as humanly possible.  I will typically bottle after 3-5 weeks in primary.  This results in better settling of the yeast, better clarity, cleaner flavors, negligible "green"/young off-flavors.

I usually don't do secondary fermentations anymore.  You might get a little less yeast sediment in your bottles if you do... or it might not matter at all.  It's an extra step that really doesn't buy you much of anything, and might even hurt the beer if done too early.  It's not good to remove 90% of your yeast from an actively fermenting beer, as this can result in stalled/incomplete fermentation and increased off-flavors.

Patience is key.  Patience.  But the 3-day rule above will help you out if you're feeling anxious to get the beer done.

By the way... same goes for kegging.  Nice thing with kegs is you don't have a risk of dangerous bottle bombs if you rack it too early.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 07:11:15 AM by dmtaylor »
Dave

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Offline Jeff M

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 08:39:24 AM »
The best advice I can think of:  When airlock bubbling stops, then wait another day or two, then take a gravity reading.  Then, wait 3 more days, then take another gravity reading.  If the readings changed by exactly zero points, then it is safe to bottle.  If the readings changed by one or two points, then it is NOT safe to bottle.  Wait another 3 days, then take another reading.  When readings stay the same over the course of several days, it is safe to bottle.

+1.  I will also add that what an airlock is doing does not definitively determine what the yeast are doing.  A good rule of thumb that i have found when fermenting ales is a week to ferment before taking a gravity reading, then give it 3 days and check again. 

Edit- And also remember, as a beer brewery you are a glorified janitor, make sure all your equipment and anything else that touches the beer is clean and sanitized and you will have much better results.

Jeff
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Offline aj68roberts

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 09:40:33 AM »
Alright! Seems like I should be taking a hydrometer reading at this time. I just wanted to be sure that I wouldn't lose my beer by not bottling it right away.......... So its not going to hurt to leave this go for a couple of weeks and let my hydrometer tell me when it is finished?? If I am understanding correctly, the bubbling or lack of in the airlock, IS NOT the tell all.   

Just for the people who asked,  I pitched the dry yeast (all of it at once) when my wort was cooled. The wort temp was between 50 and 60 degrees F.  I am fermenting in a 6.5 gal glass carboy. All of this is in my basement which is a consistent 65 degrees F.

Also, there is a dry hop step which needs to be done in the last 5 days. Is that done AFTER the fermentation is finished?

Thanks again to all of you who replied. You have been very helpful.

Offline denny

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 09:46:11 AM »
In homebrewing, you can almost never go wrong by waiting longer.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 09:47:44 AM »
letting it ride will not ruin your batch. If you want to dry hop now is the time. Take your reading first, just in case, but you can safely add dry hops now. Let the dry hops settle for a few days and take another reading as suggested above. it will probably by done. If not, let it set for a while longer.

If I were you I would go and start a second batch now. the first batch never seems to last very long ::)
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 10:15:40 AM »
+1 to everyone who says have patience.

I've left batches sit in the fermentor for 3 months (or more) when I didn't have time to deal with them.  It's never been an issue. 

One thing about waiting a month or so on a ale is you can pretty much assume it is done.  8^)

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Offline aj68roberts

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 10:25:02 AM »
AWESOME!  I can just sit back and wait.  Thanks again

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2014, 10:27:27 AM »
Always taste your hydrometer samples.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2014, 04:35:05 PM »
Never rush the packaging of your beer.  Just because hydrometer readings indicate your beer is done, and the airlock has stopped bubbling, does not mean that your beer is ready to package. 

During fermentation, yeast produce by-products that are undesirable in the finished product (i.e. acetaldehyde, diacetyl).  After the initial fermentation has subsided the yeast will then go about cleaning up after themselves by reabsorbing and transforming much of these "off" flavors into undetectable threshold levels. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is minimum of 2-3 wks for average gravity ales before packaging; 4-5 wks for high gravity ales; 3 wks for average strength lagers; and 4-6 wks for high gravity lagers.  These of course are just rules of thumb and are very dependent on yeast health, oxygen levels, and fermentation control. 

Offline 69franx

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2014, 06:19:13 PM »

Never rush the packaging of your beer.  Just because hydrometer readings indicate your beer is done, and the airlock has stopped bubbling, does not mean that your beer is ready to package. 

During fermentation, yeast produce by-products that are undesirable in the finished product (i.e. acetaldehyde, diacetyl).  After the initial fermentation has subsided the yeast will then go about cleaning up after themselves by reabsorbing and transforming much of these "off" flavors into undetectable threshold levels. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is minimum of 2-3 wks for average gravity ales before packaging; 4-5 wks for high gravity ales; 3 wks for average strength lagers; and 4-6 wks for high gravity lagers.  These of course are just rules of thumb and are very dependent on yeast health, oxygen levels, and fermentation control.
That seems like a pretty good "schedule" for ferm times. I have not been rushing anything anymore, or so I thought, but I did bottle my double hazelnut brown (1.085 down to 1.015) after only 3 weeks and my RIS (1.095-1.026) after 4. Both could have used a little more time even though the brown was  attenuated well below predicted and RIS had just stalled completely


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Offline Jeff M

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2014, 06:52:22 PM »
That seems like a pretty good "schedule" for ferm times. I have not been rushing anything anymore, or so I thought, but I did bottle my double hazelnut brown (1.085 down to 1.015) after only 3 weeks and my RIS (1.095-1.026) after 4. Both could have used a little more time even though the brown was  attenuated well below predicted and RIS had just stalled completely


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Both examples could acctually eek out a couple of more points over time.  With those big beers it really does pay to secondary them for an extended time.  3 points over 2 months in secondary is fine, but those 3 points in bottles can add up to a hugely(double or more) overcarbed beer.

Jeff
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Offline aj68roberts

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Re: when is the fermenting finished?
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 06:53:39 PM »
Good news..... Just got my first hydrometer reading, 1.026. looks like im well  on my way to the target 1.014. things are looking good. Also did my dry hop step after the hydrometer sample. I think i'm going to have a great nugget nectar clone............... took klickitat jim's advice and tasted the sample. I can say that I am very happy with the results ....... thanks to all for the advice and encouraging words. I will report back after my next hydrometer reading....... Aj