Winter porter

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Winter porter

Postby Lep » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:34 am

New to brewing. Been reading through many old topics to try not to ask the same questions over and over, but am doubtful I will succeed...

I did an extract wheat ale that turned out.....good. I didn't use filtered water, corn sugar instead of DME, my dry yeast was over a year and a half old, I under carbonated in bottling etc etc. But things turned out....well enough, for my first try at least.

I now have a winter porter in secondary and am a little confused. It's an all grain wort, but I did not prepare it myself (a store bought wort). I found the gravity to be a little low for a porter and added some dark roast DME to get it up a little higher. I don't know exactly what the temp was when I took the hydrometer reading, but I got roughly a 1.065. The confusion comes from the fact that it seemed to ferment REALLY quick. the temp gauge on my primary read 24 celsius even though it was no higher than 18 or 19 in the room, and it finished in three days. It's in secondary now and has a gravity of 1.013 or so (and seems to be stable), so I guess it's done, but am wondering if I should move quickly to bottling, or if i should leave it in secondary for a while (and if there's no activity in the secondary, is the small amount of air at the top an issue I should worry about) for maturation. Also, with an estimated abv of 6.9 to 7.4, how long should I be looking at for conditioning before it's ready? Ideally, I'd like to have things ready to go for the beginning of December.
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Re: Winter porter

Postby slothrob » Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:20 am

Lep wrote:The confusion comes from the fact that it seemed to ferment REALLY quick. the temp gauge on my primary read 24 celsius even though it was no higher than 18 or 19 in the room, and it finished in three days.

It's in secondary now... should move quickly to bottling, or if i should leave it in secondary for a while ...is the small amount of air at the top an issue I should worry about) for maturation. Also, with an estimated abv of 6.9 to 7.4, how long should I be looking at for conditioning before it's ready? Ideally, I'd like to have things ready to go for the beginning of December.

I can address some of these concerns in generalities.

As far as being ready in December, you can try and arrange that it will be somewhat aged and carbonated by then and hope that it will taste ready as well. I'd work back from December, allowing 3-4 weeks to carbonate, as it is a high alcohol beer, which can slow carbonation (I'm assuming you're bottling) , and 3-5 days in the fridge to maximize the CO2 into solution.

So, you probably want to bottle before the first of November.

I think the combination of a 24C fermentation and the high alcohol concentration will mean that this beer will benefit from aging. I'd leave the beer in the secondary until the end of October, to maximize this aging in bulk, then bottle. You should be able to taste a carbonated bottle by Thanksgiving and decide then if it needs more aging. Sometimes a beer like this can take longer still to carbonate, so be prepared to have to wait a bit longer if you need to. Start a quick beer now, so you have something else to drink if this goes slow.

There will probably be some esters and alcoholic heat in the flavor from the warm fermentation. These will mellow with time and you may see some dramatic improvement of this beer over time. I'd guess that this beer will start to be at it's best sometime next year. So hide a few bottles away and taste them in January, February, even later if you can, to see how a beer like this can improve with aging.

The small amount of oxygen in the secondary will probably get scavenged by the yeast and not be a problem. I've had strong beers aged in secondary for a year or more that showed little degradation from oxidation and significant improvement in flavor over that time.
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Postby Lep » Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:41 pm

Yeah, I'm bottling. I guess I had planned on leaving it for around those times, but was taken off guard by how quickly it finished. When I transferred to secondary there was already no haze and my fermentation lock hasn't bubbled at all. Will there still be yeast in suspension at the end of october for carbonation considering this?
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Bottling

Postby slothrob » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:00 pm

There should be plenty of yeast. It doesn't take much.
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Postby Lep » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:49 pm

So I took your advice, I've started another batch that I hope to finish quicker and will leave the other a little while longer. I've been reading about leaving things in the primary fermenter longer and skipping the secondary, but almost everyone seems to have fermentation locks and whatnot. I have no lid for my primary. It's just the way it came (my brother gave me his gear when he moved), and I just cover it with a sanitised plastic sheet. Can I leave my new brew, a 1.048 og cream ale, in the primary which is covered by a plastic sheet for two weeks and move straight to bottling?
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no lid

Postby slothrob » Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:30 pm

I think leaving the beer in an open bucket would lead to oxidation, but I don't know if the plastic will be enough to make a seal. If you have a home brew shop nearby, they might be willing to sell you just a lid.

Otherwise, you might want to consider moving to secondary, after all.
What do you have for a secondary container?
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Postby Lep » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:01 pm

I have a glass carboy with a fermentation lock for my secondary fermenter. I guess I could just get a lid too. I figured undisturbed the layer of co2 in the bucket should stay put, but I suppose it's not really something I should leave to chance. The lure of less cleaning and a somewhat shorter brewing time is why I'm interested, but I may not have the right setup to do that.
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Postby slothrob » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:29 am

Lep wrote: I figured undisturbed the layer of co2 in the bucket should stay put

That might be true, I just don't know how much exchange you're getting around that plastic sheet. Of course transfer to secondary results in some oxidation as well. Which is better I can only guess.
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Postby Lep » Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:55 pm

So I bottled both batches today. My porter ended up around 1.010...I think, my hydrometer always shows up with a different gravity if I bob it again or spin it. My guess for ABV is 7.6. Anyway, the beer tasted great, I was really surprised at how smooth it was. I primed with sugar mostly but ran out and tossed in some DME to be sure.

I also bottled my cream ale. I found that the seal on the fermentation lock that I had borrowed from my brother in law was bad, so I don't know how well air was kept out of the carboy. It tasted...alright, I suppose. I don't really know how to identify off flavours. It did taste weird, but not 'papery'. It certainly hasn't conditioned for as long in secondary, so that might be the reason, but I dunno. I guess I'll just have to wait and see after bottle conditioning how it turns out. oh, and fg was 1.005 or so, abv estimate is 5.7.

I'm expecting greatness from the porter, and reasonable drinkability from the cream ale.
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congratulations on the Porter

Postby slothrob » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:51 am

A Cream Ale is definitely a tougher beer to make and will show off-flavors more, but it also is a beer that can benefit from some aging. I'll bet it will smooth out after a month or two.
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