Author Topic: When's it done?  (Read 450 times)

Offline cptnpenguin

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When's it done?
« on: March 08, 2015, 04:56:42 AM »
Ok, now I'm getting a little confused. I've got a Belgian pale ale (5gal) about a week in. I just bought a hydrometer and was going to check it at day 11 and then again at day 14 to see if my SG is still dropping. I just realized that that would be decent loss of fluid. I also just was reading that when you see the bubbles in the air lock slow down to a minute in between then that means it's done which would mean I don't need all the hydrometer readings and I think it may already be at 1 minute in between bubbles. What should I go by?


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Offline Stevie

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When's it done?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 05:13:02 AM »
Airlock activity is an indicator, but not the most reliable. Best way to tell when it is done is hydrometer readings spaced a couple days apart. Taste is another important indicator of readiness.

Don't think of the samples as waste, you get to taste them.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: When's it done?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 05:49:31 AM »
Total lack of bubbles could be a timer for when to take the first hydrometer sample.

Do you bottle? If so, when bottling we add sugar to get the carbonation, right? Usually that added sugar bumps the gravity up by about 3-4 points, for example from 1.010 to 1.013. Then the yeast works on that 3 points and creates the carbonation we want. What if you bottled at 1.013? But it was going to stop at 1.010? 1.013 plus priming sugar equals 1.016. The yeast now work through the 6 pts and you have double tge carbonation you wanted. Best case scenario is it foams over and you lose beer. Worst case the bottle explodes and you lose an eye.

Plus, during the end of fermentation the yeast are cleaning up after themselves. Why not be patient and let them.

Some brewers worry about yeast dying and spewing nasties into the beer. Most yeast can easily withstand 6 to 10 weeks under beer before that happens to any detectable level.

Best to always go by two seperate hydromter readings a few days apart and be certain you are at terminal gravity.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 06:27:37 AM by klickitat jim »

Offline norcaljp

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Re: When's it done?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 07:14:55 AM »
Just plan on the losses ahead of time. Try to ferment a bit more than you plan to bottle/keg. It allows you to lose some beer to the yeast cake and hop debris as well as take some samples, and still end up where you want.

I go with what I read from Jamil which is to finish with 6 gallons in the kettle, transfer 5.5 of that to the fermenter, allowing .5 gallons loss to the trub. This allows another .5 gallons loss to the yeast cake, readings, and dry-hops with a solid 5 gallons when you're finished. I've found it works well for me. I could probably get away with a little bit less, but keeping it at even amounts seems to make it easier to keep track of for me.
Joel Prater

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Offline cptnpenguin

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Re: When's it done?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 09:38:23 PM »
Will do for next time. Can I just add more water to primary right when I put wort in? Also if it sits in primary an extra week or two before bottling? Or is that too long?


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Offline Stevie

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Re: When's it done?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 09:48:43 PM »
Don't follow a calendar. Let the beer tell you when it is ready. You can leave a beer in primary for a couple of months without issue.

Offline Werks21

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Re: When's it done?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 06:41:47 PM »
As a first time brewer I was advised to just put the fermetor somewhere and forget about it for two weeks but I dont think that is good for new brewers. Check in on your beer often and see what it looks like (if you can see through your fermentor) watch trub and yeast swirling around, the krausen bubbling, the air lock bouncing ect and you will get a feel for where the beer is at in the fermentation  process by sight. There are variances for different beers and yeast, time wise and Krausen wise (I found that on on my first wheat beer) but over time you learn to know whats going on at a glance of the airlock. I usually check after the airlock has seemed motionless for a day or so, and then again two or three days later. or in the case of a long primary like 3+ weeks I just consider the beer done if the airlock has been motionless for a while and the fementation seemed normal. in that case just one gravity reading at packaging to confirm/record OG is all I do, however two readings is best practice.

And yes you can add water to primary when you put the wort in, or add it to the kettle when cooling. Adding cold water the the kettle is how I help cool my stovetop partial boil batches quickly and get accurate volumes using the kettle. Works like a charm Just make sure your accounting for and recording your volumes.
Jonathan W.
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