Author Topic: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?  (Read 1036 times)

Offline HugoStiglitz

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First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« on: November 26, 2015, 10:16:28 PM »
This is my first post. I'm very new to homebrewing, as the subject says, I'm on my first brew. Hopefully someone can help shed some light on the subject for me.

A  little background:

I recently got my dad a homebrewing kit for his birthday, as something we could do to spend some quality time together.  Being new to it, we started with extract brewing; a Brewer's Best American cream ale kit. Brew day (11/21) went well. We started with 5 gallons of water, and followed the brew day schedule. At the end of the boil, we added some water back to account for evaporation and to get the OG in the correct range. When all was said and done the OG was 1.052. As per the recommendation of the local homebrew shop, where I purchased the kit, we bypassed the plastic bucket, and put it directly into the 5 gallon glass carboy with a blow-off hose/airlock set up. We pitched dry yeast as the directions said in all caps "DO NOT REHYDRATE" so I assumed that was important. We started to see some bubbles in the air lock within 12 hours or so. It has been very actively fermenting / bubbling for five days now. The bubbles are starting to slow down today (11/26); now they're going at about a rate of 36/min.

This is where my real question comes in. Again as per the recommendation of the local homebrew shop, since we have been fermenting directly in the glass carboy, we will not be moving it to a secondary fermenter, but rather just letting it sit there. So my question is how long should we let it sit there & when should we bottle it? It seems to have been going to plan thus far and I'd really like to keep it that way.

I apologize for the length of this post, I just wanted to include as much detail as possible. if there is anything else that you might find helpful, let me know. Thanks!

p.s. - Happy Thanksgiving!


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Offline tommymorris

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First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2015, 10:50:07 PM »
Happy Thanksgiving.

The best way to know fermentation is complete is to take specific gravity readings several days a part. Fermentation is complete if the SG does not change in that time and you are with a couple of gravity points of the recipe's predicted finish gravity.

That being said its a good idea not to rush. I usually wait 2 weeks before kegging.  With experience many brewers will go faster. They have a feel for when a beer is truly done fermenting and cleaning up afterwards.

PS. Using only one fermenter is a good idea. However, you may want to use the bigger of your two fermenters. It sounds like you out close to 5 gallons in the 5 gallon carboy. On some beers fermentation will cause you to loose quite a bit of beer out of the blow off tube if there is not much head room.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 10:54:28 PM by alestateyall »

Offline InfantryBrewing

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2015, 10:40:53 AM »
Yep, as alestateyall mentioned, monitor the gravity every few days or so. Two weeks is always a good reference.  Once it's close to the FG, I personally rack to a secondary to help filter out sediment and then cold crash it for 12 hrs+. 

Offline HugoStiglitz

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2015, 02:15:37 PM »
The best way to know fermentation is complete is to take specific gravity readings several days a part. Fermentation is complete if the SG does not change in that time and you are with a couple of gravity points of the recipe's predicted finish gravity.

That being said its a good idea not to rush. I usually wait 2 weeks before kegging.  With experience many brewers will go faster. They have a feel for when a beer is truly done fermenting and cleaning up afterwards.

Thank you! This will be a helpful guideline to determine when to bottle; this leads me to wonder though, once bottled, what would you say is a sufficient length of time to bottle condition?

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2015, 02:33:06 PM »
                                Once it's close to the FG, I personally rack to a secondary to help filter out sediment and then cold crash it for 12 hrs+. 


Truthfully, this isn't the best practice. Transferring before you are at FG can cause fermentation to stall outright or not finish properly. This can cause a beer to be overly sweet and have yeast-derived off flavors/aromas. Unless you're adding fruit or aging a very strong beer, secondary accomplishes nothing and creates possible negatives for your beer. Cold crashing a beer at final gravity in primary will drop out yeast and sediment nicely and give you a better beer.   
Jon H.

Offline BrewingRover

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2015, 02:41:03 PM »
The best way to know fermentation is complete is to take specific gravity readings several days a part. Fermentation is complete if the SG does not change in that time and you are with a couple of gravity points of the recipe's predicted finish gravity.

That being said its a good idea not to rush. I usually wait 2 weeks before kegging.  With experience many brewers will go faster. They have a feel for when a beer is truly done fermenting and cleaning up afterwards.

Thank you! This will be a helpful guideline to determine when to bottle; this leads me to wonder though, once bottled, what would you say is a sufficient length of time to bottle condition?
I figure 3 weeks minimum for bottle conditioning. You'll probably get some carbonation before that, but 3 weeks seems to be when the flavors come together. It will be hard to wait, since it's your first batch. The trick is to start another one right away!
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2015, 02:45:00 PM »

The best way to know fermentation is complete is to take specific gravity readings several days a part. Fermentation is complete if the SG does not change in that time and you are with a couple of gravity points of the recipe's predicted finish gravity.

That being said its a good idea not to rush. I usually wait 2 weeks before kegging.  With experience many brewers will go faster. They have a feel for when a beer is truly done fermenting and cleaning up afterwards.

Thank you! This will be a helpful guideline to determine when to bottle; this leads me to wonder though, once bottled, what would you say is a sufficient length of time to bottle condition?
I figure 3 weeks minimum for bottle conditioning. You'll probably get some carbonation before that, but 3 weeks seems to be when the flavors come together. It will be hard to wait, since it's your first batch. The trick is to start another one right away!
When I used to bottle I would try one after 1 week, then after 2, and repeat until I thought they were ready.

I agree they will keep conditioning and improving for at least 3 weeks so I wouldn't drink them all in the 2nd week.

Offline HugoStiglitz

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2015, 02:56:50 PM »

I figure 3 weeks minimum for bottle conditioning. You'll probably get some carbonation before that, but 3 weeks seems to be when the flavors come together. It will be hard to wait, since it's your first batch. The trick is to start another one right away!
When I used to bottle I would try one after 1 week, then after 2, and repeat until I thought they were ready.

I agree they will keep conditioning and improving for at least 3 weeks so I wouldn't drink them all in the 2nd week.

Thank you guys for the help! it definitely is hard to wait alestateyall. I'm very excited for this first batch to come out, but if it means an improved result, I'll try to be as patient as possible lol

Offline dilluh98

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Re: First brew; skipping secondary; when to bottle?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2015, 03:27:29 PM »
Congrats on the first brew! I am one of the few who continues to bottle after being in the hobby for a while. Some tricks to get your beer carbonated quickly would be (1) keep the bottles at room temp as this will get the yeast eating that priming sugar quickly and (2) I have some evidence that inverting the bottles a few times per week to rouse the yeast can help expedite the process a bit. All that said, the previous advice given is solid: just wait a minimum of three weeks. That really seems to be the sweet spot. Some styles will do better with even longer bottle conditioning times but three weeks should be a starting point. A cream ale is not likely to get a whole lot better with really long conditioning times.