Author Topic: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to  (Read 954 times)

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Hello everyone, I've got a few questions that I'd love to get answered because I'm being given conflicting advice from several different homebrewers who've been at the game for awhile. As it stands, I brewed a west coast IPA, my first homebrew ever, on 11/18/15, and primary fermentation is all good and done (no bubbles at all from the airlock, except for little fluctuations here and there once every five minutes or so). As far as I know, I completed every step in my recipe guide perfectly and didn't have any issues during the brew itself.

My confusion comes in where my recipe guide says "after all apparent bubbling has stopped for approximately 3 days, and if the specific gravity is where it needs to be (1.062 is what my guide tells me) then the beer is finished fermenting". The very next step on the recipe guide is Bottling, which I know doesn't come right after this stage.

A brewing guide from the same company that came with my equipment reads thus: Wait until bubbling stops in primary fermentation, sanitize the secondary fermenter, bung, airlock, auto siphon, and hose. Siphon the beer from the primary fermenter to the secondary and seal the filled container with a half-filled airlock, as before in primary fermentation. Allow the beer to rest in secondary fermenter for one-two weeks then bottle.".

Everyone that I've spoken to in the homebrew world said I need to actually wait two whole weeks after primary fermentation comes to a halt, not three days, then siphon the beer into a secondary fermenter and keep it there for two more weeks before bottling. I'm not an absolute novice, and have read extensively about what and what not to do, but I'm just confused now. Why would the recipe guide intentionally leave out important steps or give me differing language.

Another brewer, who actually works at a large restaurant in town, told me that I need to wait the 14 days, but that the three days that fermentation was happening counted as the first three of my days, so after bubbling stopped (today) it would only be 10 days from now until I transferred the beer. This brewer told me that I needed to heat the beer up (only by 3-4 degrees in F) for 24-48 hours, which he said would kill off some impurities that would cause skunkiness and off flavoring, then transfer to a secondary fermenter and give that fermenter two whole weeks before bottling.

You see my confusion?

As I said before, the end of the fourth day is approaching soon (96 hours will be reached 11/22/15 at 1930 hours) and I don't want to miss out an important step that might make my brew funky.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Offline yso191

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1806
  • Yakima, WA
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2015, 10:36:59 PM »
Most brewers do not do a secondary fermentation.  I never do.  The thing to pay attention to is the gravity.  If your Gravity is constant for two,or three days, it is done.  Time to bottle! 

My guess is that fermentation is done and you are good to bottle...but do check your gravity.
Steve
All Hands Brewing
BJCP #D1667

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2015, 10:47:48 PM »
Steve,
Thanks for the quick reply! I am very happy to hear this from someone reputable. I can't tell you how relieved this makes me. I was hoping to have this batch ready for my team's Xmas party; you can't promise cops beer then not follow through haha.

Because I don't have a beer thief, could I just use my auto siphon to get some brew into my hydrometer to check the gravity? And once I confirm that the gravity is correct, can I just siphon into my bottling bucket and proceed to bottling? Thanks again for you help, it's greatly appreciated!

Offline tommymorris

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2101
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2015, 10:52:53 PM »
Steve,
Thanks for the quick reply! I am very happy to hear this from someone reputable. I can't tell you how relieved this makes me. I was hoping to have this batch ready for my team's Xmas party; you can't promise cops beer then not follow through haha.

Because I don't have a beer thief, could I just use my auto siphon to get some brew into my hydrometer to check the gravity? And once I confirm that the gravity is correct, can I just siphon into my bottling bucket and proceed to bottling? Thanks again for you help, it's greatly appreciated!
Use the base of the autosiphon with out the tube (racking cane) you stick in it. Sanitize it first. Then move the base in an up down motion when in the beer. That will fill it up.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 10:54:27 PM by alestateyall »

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2015, 10:55:51 PM »
Tommy, would you use the siphon just to collect the beer, or would you drop the hydrometer in there with it? My hydrometer came with a little tube to pour beer in to check it. Sorry for the stupid questions, thanks man!

Offline HoosierBrew

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 13030
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2015, 10:57:06 PM »
Wow, I'm glad you came here. Truthfully, the conflicting advice you got was pretty much all bad. Aside from using a secondary to rack your beer onto fruit or to age a very strong beer, you do not want to use a secondary. It's outdated inferior advice from the early days of the homebrew revolution. If you rack a beer to secondary too soon, you are removing the beer from most of the yeast  - this can and will cause a beer to not ferment completely, leaving it too sweet and giving off bad flavors and aromas in some cases. So why do it? Answer - don't. Welcome, and don't be afraid to ask for any help you need !
Jon H.

Offline narcout

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1833
  • Los Angeles, CA
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2015, 10:59:54 PM »
My confusion comes in where my recipe guide says "after all apparent bubbling has stopped for approximately 3 days, and if the specific gravity is where it needs to be (1.062 is what my guide tells me) then the beer is finished fermenting".

If your kit references a gravity of 1.062, that is the original gravity before fermentation, not the final gravity post-fermentation.  The final gravity depends on a lot of different factors (yeast strain, fermentation temperature, mash temp (or extract variety if you are brewing extract), etc.).  Assuming you are brewing with extract, it's likely to be somewhere in the mid teens.

You want to leave your beer in primary until it is finished fermenting (specific gravity is no longer dropping) and the yeast have had a few extra days to clean up some of the less desirable compounds created during fermentation. 

This brewer told me that I needed to heat the beer up (only by 3-4 degrees in F) for 24-48 hours, which he said would kill off some impurities that would cause skunkiness and off flavoring, then transfer to a secondary fermenter and give that fermenter two whole weeks before bottling.

It is not uncommon for brewers to let the fermentation temperature rise a few degrees near the end of fermentation to help ensure that the yeast stays active, finishes consuming the fermentable sugars, and cleans up some of the compounds I referenced above.  I think this is likely what your friend was referring to.  Skunkiness is caused by an interaction between ultraviolet light and compounds in the beer contributed by the hops.  It has nothing to do with warming the beer up near the end of fermentation.

You mention that the beer has only been fermenting for 4 days.  Personally, I would leave it alone for at least two weeks from brew day.  At that point, you can check the gravity and see where it's at.  You could then wait another few days and check the gravity again to be sure fermentation is finished. 

Once fermentation is complete and the yeast has had some time clean up, you have a few choices.  You can leave the beer alone for a bit and wait for yeast and other particulate to drop out of suspension (which will help keep this material out of the bottles), you can transfer to a secondary vessel and let it clarify there, or you can go ahead and package.  If the beer looks fairly clear and you are careful when siphoning to the bottling bucket, I would go ahead and package.

Are you planning on dry hopping this beer?  Also, what type of yeast did you use, how much did you pitch, and at what temperature is the beer currently fermenting?


« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 11:01:57 PM by narcout »
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone

Offline tommymorris

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2101
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2015, 11:01:15 PM »

Tommy, would you use the siphon just to collect the beer, or would you drop the hydrometer in there with it? My hydrometer came with a little tube to pour beer in to check it. Sorry for the stupid questions, thanks man!
I pour the sample in the hydrometer sample jar. The auto siphon base is a nice thief but it leaks slowly which is a bit annoying.

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4508
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2015, 11:04:07 PM »
My confusion comes in where my recipe guide says "after all apparent bubbling has stopped for approximately 3 days, and if the specific gravity is where it needs to be (1.062 is what my guide tells me) then the beer is finished fermenting".

Specific gravity is generally measured at two points (for extract brewing). The original gravity (OG) is just before pitching yeast, and FG just before bottling. For a 1.062 OG beer, the FG would almost certainly be 1.010-1.020.

Everyone that I've spoken to in the homebrew world said I need to actually wait two whole weeks after primary fermentation comes to a halt, not three days, then siphon the beer into a secondary fermenter and keep it there for two more weeks before bottling.

That's really just egregiously bad advice. It can definitely be helpful to wait a minimum of a couple days to let the yeast metabolize some off-flavors, but after an otherwise healthy fermentation the yeast can be removed at that point. The only exception would be a true "secondary fermentation" where you want the yeast around to ferment sugars, fruit, etc.

That said, there's also no benefit to a second transfer unless the beer will be aged for months or more, so you might as well just leave the beer in the fermenter until you're ready to bottle. If you're able to drop the beer down into refrigerator temperature range for a couple days before bottling, so much the better clarity-wise.

I didn't see any mention of dry hopping, which would be typical for an American IPA, but if you're going to, now would be the time to do that, assuming the gravity is near the expected FG.
Sent from my Microsoft Bob

Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
Refractometer Calculator | Batch Sparging Calculator | Two Mile Brewing Co.

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2015, 11:06:28 PM »
Wow, I'm glad you came here. Truthfully, the conflicting advice you got was pretty much all bad. Aside from using a secondary to rack your beer onto fruit or to age a very strong beer, you do not want to use a secondary. It's outdated inferior advice from the early days of the homebrew revolution. If you rack a beer to secondary too soon, you are removing the beer from most of the yeast  - this can and will cause a beer to not ferment completely, leaving it too sweet and giving off bad flavors and aromas in some cases. So why do it? Answer - don't. Welcome, and don't be afraid to ask for any help you need !

Jon, can't thank you enough for clarification. I should've come here and talked to you guys much sooner.

Offline yso191

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1806
  • Yakima, WA
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2015, 11:13:02 PM »
I misread your first post.  It seems a little early to bottle.  I usually wait a week from when I pitch the yeast until I keg or bottle.  You didn't mention how you are doing temperature control during fermentation, but if you can I would raise the temperature a degree or two.  Like was stated above that just keeps the yeast active so that they will clean up some of the by-products of fermentation which can produce off flavors.  and I second the motion that this would be a good time to dry hop.
Steve
All Hands Brewing
BJCP #D1667

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2015, 11:26:56 PM »
I pitched the yeast on 11/18/15 and I'm keeping the brew in a closet that is temperature controlled; so far, none of my readings (usually do one every two hours and before bed) have been above 74 or below 72. My closet that leads into attic access always stays a bit warmer, I'm going to test the temp in there and hopefully it'll be around 76-78. I didn't plan on dry hopping, I just wanted this to be a basic brew for my first time around.

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2015, 11:30:26 PM »
Sorry, I had to run some errands, and I wanted to reply to your post with some detail.

I did brew with extract, and I see now that it is the OG, not the FG, which is listed as 1.012-1.016.

Today is day four, I'll wait a few more days and keep checking the gravity before I think about transferring it. I'm going to see what I can do for temperature raising, but I'd like to do it because a lot of you think its a good idea. You think two weeks? I'm probably going to wait awhile before I consider touching it.

Not planning on dry hopping, as this is my first run around.

Offline Hurley

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2015, 11:33:18 PM »
I'm not planning on dry hopping because its my first brew, I don't want to try anything too crazy until I get my methods downpat.

Thank you for all of your advice. I think CSG has their work cut out for them if they think putting conflicting information in their recipe guides is a good practice haha.

I'll be checking gravity soon and fill you guys in.

Chico as in Sierra Nevada? haha

Offline tommymorris

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2101
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
First timer here, have some basic questions that I can't find answers to
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2015, 11:47:58 PM »
You don't need to raise the temp if you are already in the 70's. Ales really need to be fermented between 60-68F; exactly what temp depends on the yeast strain. The colder you ferment the more need for the rise in temp at the end.

The temp that matters is the temp of the fermenting beer. That is what should be 60-68F. Fermentation is exothermic so the beer temp will be higher than ambient during active fermentation.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 11:57:02 PM by alestateyall »