Author Topic: first brew fermentation question  (Read 1157 times)

Offline shoptoylife

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first brew fermentation question
« on: September 09, 2014, 06:43:11 PM »
Hello!

I finally took the leap into the homebrew pool (stein?) after picking up a HopBox kit.  The initial cooking of the wort went well, no issues that I could see.  I started with a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout which had the following listed

og: 1.054
fg: 1.016
abv: 5.0%

Once I used the hydrometer to measure the cooled wort it looked to be at og: 1.050 and abv around 6.0%.  I then filled the fermenter, added the yeast, put some vodka into the airlock and...waited.  Finally started to see some yeasty foam a few hours later once the powder was consumed and some bubble action.  Next day the wort had a nice steady stream of bubbles going, foamy.

Today (roughly 48 hours after initial start of the process) the airlock isn't doing much more than a general movement but no real bubbles.  The wort isn't really producing much bubble action either.



what I'm seeing so far.

With the direction, it says "let ferment for 7 days or more, or until bubbling has subsided."  From what I've read it could be as early as 48 hours, however where exactly should I be looking for an initial indicator for the bubbling subsiding - in the airlock or wort (or both)?

If I would take a sample into the hydrometer, should it come close or exceed the stats that I listed above?

Last question is how much does ambient temperature affect fermentation?  During the initial boiling and addition to the fermenter the ambient temp was around 80 degrees, overnight we turn the air on at 69 degrees.  Would a warmer ambient temperature have that much of an adverse effect on the container?

Big thanks in advance for any tips and advice!

Offline jweiss206

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 07:23:15 PM »
With the direction, it says "let ferment for 7 days or more, or until bubbling has subsided."  From what I've read it could be as early as 48 hours, however where exactly should I be looking for an initial indicator for the bubbling subsiding - in the airlock or wort (or both)?

If I would take a sample into the hydrometer, should it come close or exceed the stats that I listed above?


If your hydrometer reading is the same for 2 or 3 straight days, then fermentation is complete. I generally pull a reading two or three days after the krausen (foamy stuff) has dissipated.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 07:35:21 PM by jweiss206 »

Offline dcb

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 07:32:36 PM »
First thing, welcome!  Lot's of good help here.

The temperature of the wort is the important thing here, not the ambient temperature.  And without knowing what yeast you pitched (dry packet from a kit?), what condition it was in (how old it was? how had it been stored?  did you rehydrate it or make a starter?) it's hard to guess what's going on.   But 80F is really warm, and at that temp I'd expect otherwise healthy yeast to take off and finish quickly (and probably look pretty dramatic in the airlock),  but throw some bad flavors, especially fusel alcohols.     Ideally you'd control its temperature as it ferments.  Lots of info here on easy water/ice-bottle techniques that are cheap, simple, and reliable.

At this point I'd just leave it alone for a couple of weeks and let it do its thing.  At that point you can draw a sample and see where it's at.  And are you keeping the light out?  If it were my beer, I'd keep it covered to exclude light.  I like to use a black garbage bag and cut a small hole in the bottom for the airlock.  Maybe you're doing that and just took the cover off for the photo, but I thought I'm mention it just in case.

Offline 69franx

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2014, 07:36:20 PM »
As many will say, airlock activity is a poor judge of fermentation. The only way to know is a gravity check. Your fermentation temp was most likely way too high. You want to ferment that at mid 60's to avoid fusel alcohold formed at higher temps. When I say the mid 60's, that is the temp inside the fermenter, not ambient. With fermentation being an exothermic process, the wort will produce more heat, roughly anywhere from 5-10 degrees higher than ambient. The higher temp will make the yeast happy and do their job faster, just not as efficiently, and they will drop out before cleaning up after themselves. Let it go for 2 weeks, trying to lower the temp, then check gravity a couple times over a couple days. If it is stable, then it is ready for packaging. others can chime in on what to expect from this this batch under the circumstances you have described
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works:

Offline shoptoylife

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 07:41:52 PM »
Well, the yeast was a dry packet, new (just got everything in) and it wasn't hydrated.  Most of the time the house is around 74 degrees, as it is now.  which seems to be a bit too high from what I'm reading.

As for the ambient light, yeah right now the jug is in my kitchen, so maybe a 60-70% ambient light depending on day.  So moving this into the darker, cooler garage would be recommended?

now with the airlock + bubbling in the fermenter, right now this is at a slow, low bubble.  Nothing in the airlock.  If I let this sit for a few weeks as suggested, what would that do?



Thanks!!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 08:11:22 PM »
right now the yeast are still metabolizing. some of it is turning sugar into co2 and alcohol and some of it is reabsorbing things like diacetyl and acetaldehyde which are chemicals the yeast initially created and released into your beer. By waiting a couple more weeks you have allowed the yeast to finish this process and remove as much of those unwanted chemicals from your beer as they are able.

Diacetyl is the chemical they use in movie theatre popcorn 'butter' to make it taste like 'butter'.
Acetaldehyde smells and tastes like green apples.

As others have said, pitching at 80 is not going to results in the best possible beer but don't let that discourage you. It's a simple fix for next time.

If you taste the finished beer and get a piercing headache about 10-20 minutes later you know that you produced too many fusel alcohols this time. Chill your wort to about 64 degrees next time before adding the yeast. on a one gallon batch the packet will be just fine un-rehydrated. I wouldn't worry about that for small batches like this.

get some dark cloth over the fermenter or put it in a dark room. With a dark, not very hoppy beer like this it's of less concern but still of concern. The characteristic 'skunky' smell and taste you sometimes get in corona or some canadian beers in green bottles is the results of hop compounds, yeast compounds, and UV light interacting to create those lovely flavors. Keeping beer in the dark prevents this.
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Offline shoptoylife

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2014, 08:30:03 PM »
The wort was chilled down to about 74-75 degrees before I added in the yeast.  The directions I had for the stout said "cool wort in brewing kettle to approximately 75 degrees" which I had followed.

Just moved the kit into a room with no window so hopefully there's going to be some saving of this round otherwise it'll be a bit of an expensive learning experience.

Thanks!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2014, 08:35:53 PM »
The wort was chilled down to about 74-75 degrees before I added in the yeast.  The directions I had for the stout said "cool wort in brewing kettle to approximately 75 degrees" which I had followed.

Just moved the kit into a room with no window so hopefully there's going to be some saving of this round otherwise it'll be a bit of an expensive learning experience.

Thanks!

oh boy, if you think that's expensive, just wait. It's not as bad as golf, or so I'm told. I don't have time for golf, there is beer to be made.

Yeah, kit instructions are almost universally bad. I guess chilling to 75 is better than chilling to 90.

what ever happens you will have made beer. It will be the best beer you've ever made and you will be excited because... well you made beer! Then you will get started on your next batch. Heck, why wait, get started on your next batch today! a gallon of beer isn't going to last long.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
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"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
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Offline shoptoylife

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 08:45:27 PM »
I run a designer toy store with items that can run over $2K so this really is a drop in the bucket!

Overall this has been an interesting process and I'm glad I found this site since I have a ton of questions, let alone some of the science behind the process.

On the off chance that this is skunky I'll pass it over to my neighbors who I'm not lovin' right now  ;)

Offline dcb

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2014, 08:54:49 PM »
Promise us you'll try a couple more batches before even forming an opinion.  You've learned a lot right now, likely more than you think.  Nature does the heavy lifting, and if you keep things truly clean and sanitary, give the yeast a cool, dark place to work, and allow enough time for everything to finish, you'll surpass your fondest dreams.

And you're already in a position to help others.  You can report back when you've tried it, letting us know how it tastes.  Folks here can help you connect cause with effect, and you'll start to get a feel for what's important and what's not.   And don't even get me started on how much fun you'll have.



Offline pete b

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2014, 09:09:11 PM »
Just another bit of info for you: you said your OG is 1.050 and ABV 6%. ABV is what you calculate after knowing Og and Final Gravity. I don't have a hydrometer in front of me but I imagine you were looking at the hydrometer while testing your wort and the gravity was 1.050 and you also saw at that level the hydrometer also reads 6%. That measurement (the %) on a hydrometer is Potential Alcohol, the percentage of alcohol that would be present in the finished product if 100% of the sugars were turned to alcohol, which usually, thankfully, not the case. The sugars that don't ferment are residual sugars and provide sweetness and mouthfeel.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline duboman

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2014, 12:31:08 AM »
Welcome! Lots of good advice here and I would add that you get a copy of John Palmer's "How to Brew" it will teach you a lot and answer many questions!
Peace....Love......Beer......

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Offline pete b

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2014, 12:51:52 AM »
Also, did you buy your knives in outer freakin' space? They look like they came from the galley of the USS Enterprise.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2014, 01:55:49 PM »
Also, did you buy your knives in outer freakin' space? They look like they came from the galley of the USS Enterprise.

Those are Global knives. Very popular but I couldn't get past the questionable grip when the knife gets wet or oily.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

Offline shoptoylife

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Re: first brew fermentation question
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2014, 05:43:15 PM »
Thanks all!  No way I'll be giving up on this, just finding that it's a bit interesting how little I knew going in this and how fast i'm picking up what to do and should be doing.

Pete b - you were right about what I was reading on they hydrometer.  That also falls under the not really knowing going into this!

Next batch is a Rye beer, which I found that I'm enjoying right now (on top of Saisons). Knowing what I do now will (hopefully) produce a better batch of beer.

Side note: Those are global knives and a Shun santoku.  Next blade I'm picking up to replace one Global knife will be one of the Furtif Evercut knife, probably a chef's knife