Author Topic: Newbie fermenting question  (Read 638 times)

Offline brewmonk

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Newbie fermenting question
« on: July 04, 2010, 12:05:23 AM »
Well, this is my first batch ever, so this is a learning process for me.  And I also admit I am still learning the virtue of patience in waiting for the beer to be finished.  I'm pretty sure the fermenting is not done yet, but I was surprised by something that happened:

By the evening of the day I brewed, the fermenter started bubbling.  Over the next three days it seemed happily vigorous.  It appeared that the fermentation had slowed down on the fourth day as there was no activity in the bubbler.  So I took a sample (by pouring some beer from the spigot of my plastic bucket fermenter, but not actually moving the fermenter).  The beer had gone from 1040 to 1014.  The taste was decent, nothing really funky in the flavors, so that's probably a good sign.  But while I was taking the hydrometer readings, it seemed like the fermentation started up again, and the bubbler started bubbling about every 45 to 60 seconds, while before, it hadn't been bubbling at all (at least for 10 minutes when I was down there near the fermenter).  I assume the fermentation is still going on and I probably need to get down to around 1010 on the hydrometer, but of course I'll really wait until I get two days of the same hydrometer reading.  Anyway, any explanation on why the fermenter started bubbling again?  I didn't think I really disturbed the beer enough just by taking a small sample of less than a measuring cup through the spigot.
Br. Francis
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2010, 05:57:53 AM »
I don't think it is so much that "fermentation started again" as drawing a sample moved come CO2 out of solution.  Basically, you "burped"the fermenter.  Sounds like you had a good pitch rate and fermentation.  In a few more days, you'll have a good first beer!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2010, 06:20:42 AM »
A good lesson for you is: don;t count bubbles. They don't indicate fermentation necessarily. Only that Co2 is coming out of solution and this can happen for weeks after fermentation has stopped. Take another hydro reading in a day or two. If it is the same reading as before, fermentation will be finished. This is the only real way to know if fermentation is taking place or not. Bubbles are fun to watch, but like lava lamps they are mostly worthless.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2010, 07:35:15 AM »
Are you using an "S" shaped bubbler? Was it running backwards - into the fermenter? By removing some beer you pulled a vacuum on the airlock and pulled air into the fermenter. I'm guessing that's all it was, anyway.
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Offline wingnut

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2010, 07:51:17 AM »
Sounds like you have all your angles covered!

On a side note, it sounds like you are using a bucket with spigot as your primary fermentor. 

I would like to stress that sanitization is the #1 important thing when making beer.  Given the fast take off of your 1st batch, and the inclination to take hydrometer readings to be sure fermentation is done, I can tell you have done your homework! So sanitization probably will not be an issue...

However, one thing I learned the hard way is that the plastic spigot actually disassembles into three plastic parts.  (not including the washers).  I bring this up, because in about 6 months to a year, if the spigot is not taken apart and cleaned/sanitized, you may find that your beers will start to have some funky flavors due to “infections.”

(I personally battled this for a year when I had an issue with my bottling bucket… great beers were turning sour 6-8 weeks after bottling… I lost 6 batches until I found the issue!) 

Essentially, there is the spigot/valve that slides out (probably red in color), and that slides into the inner sleeve.  The outer sleeve is the part with the threads, and the inner sleeve slides into it… and they are a pressed fit.  What I found is that beer slowly seeps into that fit, providing a growth medium for bacteria.  So essentially, after enough time, you have a big enough colony of “baddies” in a hiding spot that even with great sanitization practices, you cannot sanitize.  (unless you periodically take the valve all the way apart).

I have not found an “elegant” way of taking the inner and outer sleeves apart, and have gone to just buying a new spigot every 3 months or so.

The bottom line is that in the short term, you should be fine, and I have talked with some people who have gone years and had no issues.   

It looks like you are off to a great start!
-- Wingnut - Cheers!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2010, 08:42:57 AM »
Quote
I would like to stress that sanitization is the #1 important thing when making beer.

Sanitation is #2. Fermentation is #1. ;)
Keith Y.
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Offline brewmonk

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2010, 10:19:35 AM »
I don't think it is so much that "fermentation started again" as drawing a sample moved come CO2 out of solution.  Basically, you "burped"the fermenter.  Sounds like you had a good pitch rate and fermentation.  In a few more days, you'll have a good first beer!

Yeah, that must be what happened, because several hours later the bubbling had stopped again, or at least gotten very slow.  I'm pretty sure there is some activity still going on, it's just getting to the end stages.  I'll definitely go by the hydrometer readings.  The last thing I want to do is lose my first batch ever to bottle bombs.
Br. Francis
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Offline euge

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Re: Newbie fermenting question
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2010, 10:49:53 AM »





However, one thing I learned the hard way is that the plastic spigot actually disassembles into three plastic parts.  (not including the washers).  I bring this up, because in about 6 months to a year, if the spigot is not taken apart and cleaned/sanitized, you may find that your beers will start to have some funky flavors due to “infections.”

(I personally battled this for a year when I had an issue with my bottling bucket… great beers were turning sour 6-8 weeks after bottling… I lost 6 batches until I found the issue!) 

Essentially, there is the spigot/valve that slides out (probably red in color), and that slides into the inner sleeve.  The outer sleeve is the part with the threads, and the inner sleeve slides into it… and they are a pressed fit.  What I found is that beer slowly seeps into that fit, providing a growth medium for bacteria.  So essentially, after enough time, you have a big enough colony of “baddies” in a hiding spot that even with great sanitization practices, you cannot sanitize.  (unless you periodically take the valve all the way apart).

I have not found an “elegant” way of taking the inner and outer sleeves apart, and have gone to just buying a new spigot every 3 months or so.

The bottom line is that in the short term, you should be fine, and I have talked with some people who have gone years and had no issues.   

It looks like you are off to a great start!


I have found and have been using a new sort of spigot instead of the traditional "bottling" one:



Has no "sleeve" for bacteria to hide like this one:



It's best to replace them often as they are inexpensive.

Brewmonk congrats on the first batch! You'll find for most batches the bulk of the attenuative phase takes place over only a few days. However 7-10 days in the fermenter is advised for the yeast to clean up the residual sugars and other byproducts they've "pooped" out.

Welcome to the obsession! ;)
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman