1st time brewer needs reassurance

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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1st time brewer needs reassurance

Postby Stanmash » Sat Dec 03, 2005 12:53 pm

Hi:

Been browsing your forums and it seems like there's alot of good advice being shared so I figured I'd register and share my firts time jitters. Maybe someone can let me know if I am doing ok...

I am brewing an Ale. I got to the fermentation stage and everything seemed to be going great. I am fermenting in a carboy so I got to see the fermentation take place and the build up of about 2 inches of "foam" on the surface in the first couple of days.

As expected this head then went away over the next few days. But, I was left with an unexpected thin coating on the surface. It's kind of broken brownish colored. My wife and I think it is yeast. At the bottom of the carboy is about a 1/2 inch of sediment.

The temperature here is getting colder and the carboy is on a table in the basement where the temp has been in around 57-60F. Afraid that it could get too cold I moved the carboy upstairs to a mud room where the temp is about 60 or a little higher.

After reading some stuff on these forums this morning I think maybe moving the carboy wasn't a great idea as the whole batch got all swirled up in the process. I hadn't planned on using a secondary carboy as I was going with the basic easy route for my first time. But, now I think maybe I should give it a day to resettle and then transfer it to a secondary and let it sit in there for a week to settle out and then bottle.

Can anyone coach me on this?

Oh and I have not done any gravity readings at any stage, again just trying to keep it basic this first time through. I'll definitely be doing them on the next batch.
Stanmash
 
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On the Right Track

Postby BillyBock » Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:58 pm

Hi, Stanmash...it sounds to me like you're on the right track.

What you're seeing is normal. Not all yeasts perform exactly the same. Some like to hang around the surface after fermentation, and others start sinking like a rock. The term for this is 'flocculation'. The ones on the bottom are the ones that got tired early. Given enough time, gravity will do it's work and pull them to the bottom. What yeast did you use? We can tell you it's basic characteristics. The foam you saw at the top is 'krausen' which is composed of alot of things besides the yeast.

Unless your yeast was a cold-tolerant ale strain (or a lager strain), you might want to consider getting it to an even warmer location (like closer to 70F) just to make sure fermentation is complete and leave it there for a week. If I were you, even though you want to keep things basic, take two gravity readings spaced a few days apart. If the readings are the same, then it's ok to bottle.

Welcome to the hobby, and happy brewing!

v/r
Bill
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Postby Stanmash » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:56 pm

Thanks Billy for your response.

The yeast is Doric dry yeast.

I took a hydrometer reading and it is 1.01.

I took a taste too and it taste good. :)

So I guess i'll take another reading in 3 days and if it is the same, I'll start bottling.

Can a batch be ruined if it is left in the fermenter too long?
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Re: Possible Autolysis

Postby BillyBock » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:53 pm

If you leave the beer on the primary yeast bed too long, then yeast autolysis can occur. That's where the yeast start dying and releasing their cell contents into the beer. The result is off-flavors--rubbery type aromas if I remember right. How long is too long? It's hard to say, but as a general rule when I make ales I try not to go any longer than 3 weeks on the primary bed (depending on my work schedule). I guess that's why I'm a big fan of lagers because of the cooler temperatures it's actually better to leave it on the yeast bed for a good month. But, I think 2 weeks would be a good target for you. If the ferment is definitely done, then get conditioning as soon as possible.
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Postby Stanmash » Sat Dec 10, 2005 10:38 am

Update:

Bottled yesterday. Everything went smoothly except...

When siphoning from the carboy fermenter into the bottling bucket I thought I was using the supplied odds and end correctly by sliding the hard plastic L shaped tube through the rubber stopper. Then sticking the stopper snugly in the top of the carboy. Then I started the siphon by filing the flexible tube with some water. You probably know what was going to happen. The beer flowed into the bucket for about a minute and then suddenly the vacuum reversed sucking air backino the beer into the carboy very quickly. Oops, I had stopped up the only means for air to fill the carboyt as the beer came out. So, as the beer came out, I created a vacuum in the carboy. I ended up sucking a lot of air very quickly into the beer in the carboy. :( Well, I guess that was better than having the carboy implode. I decided to continue, even knowing the oxygenation of the beer at that stage is not a good thing. I siphoned the beer into the bottling bucket and bottled the beer, after letting the beer sit for about half an hour. Capping went smoothly. I hear oxygenating the beer at this stage came make it stale. Have I killed my beer? Should I plan on drinking it sooner now?
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Postby BillyBock » Sat Dec 10, 2005 4:59 pm

You're correct--oxygenating after fermentation has begun, or in finished beer, is not good and to be avoided. However, Murphy happens to be around every corner, so do the best you can. I don't think you've killed your beer. I would suggest letting it carbonate as normal for a few weeks and then cold storage for the batch (if there is any oxygen in there to begin with)--cold temperatures slow down chemical reactions. I would do this in any case, it extends the shelf life of your beer and helps suspended particles and proteins to drop clearing up your beer very nicely. Chalk it up to experience and now you know what not to do next time :D.

v/r
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oxygen does what exactly?

Postby Stanmash » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:28 am

BillyBock wrote: (if there is any oxygen in there to begin with)


^ I can't figure out what you meant there.

So, what does oxygenation do to the beer and what harmful effect does it create? It seems the more I learn about the chemistry, the better brewer I will be. :)

Thanks.
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Postby BillyBock » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:44 pm

Sorry...what I meant was 'if there's any oxygen present, then the colder temperatures will increase your shelf life by slowing down the chemical reactions.' Pre-fermentation oxidation is good--yeasties need to 'breathe.' Once the yeasties do all their 'breathing' they won't take up any more oxygen which means you have free-oxygen floating in your beer which can react with other compounds. So.....post-fermentation oxidation is bad because it stales the beer. At best, it'll darken the beer. At worst it'll give it a cardboard taste. Mmmmm...yummy Of course, another method to minimizing oxidative effects is to consume it quicker :D

Like I always say...'Be at one with the yeastie beasties, Grasshopper, and you will make great beer.'
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Postby Stanmash » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:47 pm

Thanks. I guess if it tastes good after two weeks of aging I'll have to drink it all.

But, you still haven't told me what "oxygenation" means. ;)
I guess besides learning chemistry I will have to learn spelling, too. :mrgreen:
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Postby BillyBock » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:43 am

Sometimes I interchange 'oxygenation' and 'oxidation' when I shouldn't--my fingers type faster than my mind thinks. Oxygenation is the act of adding oxygen to your wort before pitching the yeast. This is good. Oxidation refers to the chemical reaction that happens when one compound reacts with present oxygen--when beer oxidizes that's bad. For example, you can 'oxygenate' iron (by leaving it in the open air) and soon it will 'oxidize' (ie. rust).
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