Author Topic: No sign of fermentation in the secondary  (Read 1560 times)

Offline wakenick

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No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« on: July 27, 2010, 06:26:11 PM »
I racked a batch of Scotch Ale to a secondary fermenter almost a week ago. Everything went according to plan during the brewing process (OG was on target) and primary fermentation seemed to move along nicely. I waited 6 days before racking to the secondary, which is the norm for me. However, my gravity reading after primary was only .01 less than the original. I figured the batch had a lot of fermenting left to do in the secondary so was very surprised to see no "action" in my airlock after 24 hours nor any since then. Did I do something wrong? Are my yeast dead? Should I just take regular gravity readings over the next week or so and see if I hit the right mark before bottling or do I need to take more proactive steps? Help/advice is VERY much appreciated.

Offline bonjour

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2010, 08:09:16 PM »
ROT do not remove beer from primary until fermentation is finished.  I sounds like you followed the rule I hate, the one, two, three rule.  1 week Primary, 2 weeks secondary, 3 weeks in the bottle, drink.

Always wait for the fermentation to finish

Please post you OG and current SG, etc.  On target doesn't say much.  What was the recipe? extracts may cause problems with gravities, more specifically with mixing and stratification.  So if this was an extract based recipe when did you add it and how did you mix it.

This will help us to give specific advice

I sounds like you need to add more yeast.  how much depends on what your gravities are, but sounds like at least a full yeast pitch.  Could you take a new gravity reading as well.

thanks

Fred Bonjour
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Offline euge

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2010, 11:35:46 PM »
 
I racked a batch of Scotch Ale to a secondary fermenter almost a week ago. Everything went according to plan during the brewing process (OG was on target) and primary fermentation seemed to move along nicely. I waited 6 days before racking to the secondary, which is the norm for me. However, my gravity reading after primary was only .01 less than the original. I figured the batch had a lot of fermenting left to do in the secondary so was very surprised to see no "action" in my airlock after 24 hours nor any since then. Did I do something wrong? Are my yeast dead? Should I just take regular gravity readings over the next week or so and see if I hit the right mark before bottling or do I need to take more proactive steps? Help/advice is VERY much appreciated.

Fermentation's pretty much finished after a few days anyway, for most ales. Now if it's about a high finishing gravity then that's a yeast issue as Mr Bonjour is getting at.

So what's your gravity reading's? And yeast strain?

I suspect a skewed after reading "primary fermentation seemed to move along nicely." 
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline majorvices

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2010, 04:28:23 AM »
As the others have said, "secondary fermenter" is really a misleading term. The "secondary" should really be a conditioning tank. Fermentation should be finished by the time you transfer. If you transferred before fermentation was complete you may have stalled fermentation. Otherwise you may have transferred after fermentation was complete and then you should not see signs of fermentation (except perhaps the airlock will move as co2 comes out of solution.)

Anyway, take a hydrometer reading and see where it is now.
Keith Y.
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Offline wakenick

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2010, 02:36:56 PM »
Thanks for the quick replies, all. Sorry for the initial lack of specifics. This is a Brewer's Best kit (extract with some specialty grains). I'm a newbie so trying to perfect the basics before moving on. Here are some gravity specifics:

On brew day, OG: 1.036, which was in the suggested range of 1.034-1.038
Primary fermentation for 6 days, next gravity reading: 1.026
Been in the secondary 5 days, current gravity reading: 1.014

With an expected ABV of 3.25-3.5%, my final gravity will need to be somewhere around/between 1.011 and 1.010.

So should I have left it in the primary until the gravity got to the 1.011-1.010 range or just until I saw no more signs of fermentation in the airlock (the latter was the case in this situation)?

I guess the good news is that the gravity is getting closer. I'm assuming I can at this point just keep an eye on the gravity but otherwise leave it in the secondary for another 5 days or so (I usually do 10 days or so in there).

Any new thoughts? Thanks again! All of this information is priceless to a newb like me.

Offline alikocho

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2010, 02:49:45 PM »
Airlock activity is not a good marker for whether fermentation is progressing or not, gravity readings are much more accurate.

Anyway, there will still be yeast in your secondary, so I'd advise leaving it to progress further if it will. From what you say, fermentation hasn't stalled, but has probably been slowed by the removal of the beer from the bulk of the yeast.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2010, 04:00:50 PM »
look for the gravity reading to stay the same for 3 days,  then you are generally safe to transfer.

Fred
Fred Bonjour
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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline wakenick

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Re: No sign of fermentation in the secondary
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2010, 05:06:36 PM »
Thanks again for all the continued great advice. My local homebrew shop is closed for the week so this is the first time I've turned to the Forum and I'll definitely be doing it again.