Just Checking

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

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Just Checking

Postby mmmmbeer » Wed Jan 23, 2002 9:27 am

My local brewshop instructed me to transfer my Brown Ale to the secondary fermenter after 48 hours. The fermenting lock had slowed so I did what they said. Are they right, have I killed my first attempt? Should I relax and have a homebrew?
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Maybe A Little Soon...

Postby dartedplus » Wed Jan 23, 2002 10:27 am

This may have been a little too soon to transfer, I ususally wait 4-5 days, depending on the style and alcohol content. But if you waited until the bubbling slowed (and what do you consider slowed???) then you should be allright. Generally, I leave it in the primary for 4 days to a week, then rerack to a carboy for another week, then rerack again to a second carboy for another week. This may be a little excessive, but I have found that I get a clearer beer with very little if any sediment in the bottle. To do this, you need 2 carboys though. I hope this helps and good luck with your first batch. Ed
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No "Right Time"

Postby Push Eject » Wed Jan 23, 2002 11:33 am

My opinion is that one can't put a time-frame on primary fermentation like that.
In essence you want to get your beer off of the dead yeast sediment as soon as the initial vigorous fermentation is complete. With my batches that usually means ~65% attenuation, krausen of less than 1/2 inch and very infrequent bubbles in the airlock.
Depends a lot on temperature and yeast strain (warmer = faster, cooler = slower).
Slower usually = better.
Hope that helps! See the White Labs website for more specific temperature info.
Cheers
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It Had Slowed...

Postby mmmmbeer » Wed Jan 23, 2002 11:56 am

The lock had slowed to about a bubble every 5-6 seconds or so. That to me was slowed from the first 24-36 hours. I'll check the Wyeast website. Thanks.
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a rule of thumb

Postby jayhawk » Wed Jan 23, 2002 2:08 pm

My rule of thumb is once I can see the beer (ie, little or no foam is present) I transfer to the secondary. Sometimes this takes 2 days, sometimes 3 or 4. Airlock observation is not always reliable because the bucket may have a poor seal. Using time as a guage is unreliable too because it is hard to tell precisely when fermentation starts. Once the foam has subsided, it is a pretty safe bet that the primary stage has been completed.
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When to rack?

Postby jrgcwrw » Wed Jan 23, 2002 5:44 pm

Every beer is different. After I pitch yeast I make a chart of bubbles per minute (vertical Axis) vs. days (horizontal axis). Most ferments will follow a Bell-type curve. But some take 3 or more days to start bubbling, some ferment out in two days. I would say when the bubble rate in the airlock is less than one bubble per minute, it's racking time.
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Buckets and Carboys

Postby Push Eject » Wed Jan 23, 2002 7:25 pm

I agree with both previous posts -- the only hitch being "when the foam subsides..." One can't really see that unless primary fermenting in a glass carboy; which I highly recommend, of course.
Cheers!
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When to Bottle?

Postby mmmmbeer » Thu Jan 24, 2002 5:52 am

OK, you guys are awesome, thanks. Now I have the wort in the glass carboy for secondary fermentation. Is there a rule of thumb for length of time or bubbles/minute until bottling? Should the gravity be my barometer for bottling?
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Hydrometer Will Tell You

Postby dartedplus » Thu Jan 24, 2002 6:12 am

Unless you know the specific gravity that your beer will end at, When the gravity reaches a point where it doesnt change for 3 consecutive days, then its done. Like I said before, I let mine go a while and rack twice. This isnt necessary, but it allows me to do my racking and bottling when I have a chance to get it done. And sometimes it is hard to find time and my beer ends up sitting in the carboy for a couple of weeks. Also, when there are no longer any more bubbles coming to the surface, that is a good indication.
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open fermentation

Postby Fraoch » Fri Jan 25, 2002 2:26 am

Doesnt anyone open ferment??? allowing your yeast to breath??? I f you ferment ale yeast in closed conditions you may well find that the crop will subside sooner than expected due to pressure in your carboy forcing the crop down.If you are using an ale yeast then it is best to ferment in an open bucket style fermenter, the yeast crop will keep any beasties at bay. When it subsides, if before due time it may need a touch of rerousing, always check gravity at this point. If 1/2 to 1/4 then "drop" to secondary and seal. This will invariably create a fresh and clean crop which will not taint your beer when it drops through. Or does everyone only use Lager yeast??? In which case once the crop ia apparent, what's the difference???
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Yeast Respiration Phases...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:57 am

"Doesn't anyone open ferment??? allowing your yeast to breath??? "

The yeast respiration phase ONLY occurs while there is the need for the uptake of oxygen in preparation for their reproduction phase (maximum is about 4 hours, but typically occurs within 2 hours). After this point they function anaerobically until fermentation is complete, upon which they flocculate, sink and begin to produce glycogen to go into dormancy (also anaerobically). The yeast crop only subsides due to the beginning of this phase (assuming there weren't other problems) and is not related to downward pressure. Besides, the pressure is equalized by the airlock releasing the headspace CO2 that has accumulated, so the beer remains in a near stasis with atmospheric pressure.

The proceedures you have outlined are the traditional approach to British, commercial open fermentation during which the krausen is skimmed prior to it falling into the fermented wort. The most famous example of this is the proceedure is that which was formerly used at the original Bass brewery. Check out some of the pictures of this plant and you will see that they have installed long skimmer bars that shovel the pre-break krausen off the edge of the lip of the fermenter whereupon it is harvested and repitched very soon thereafter. The Yorkshire Squares (slate lined open fermentation) works the same way except they use manual labor and skimmer bars that look like squeegees for cleaning windows.

This proceedure works fine, but you must use a substantial pitching volume to ensure a very vigorous fermentation and your sanitation must be impeccable to produce continuously reliable results.

For most homebrewers and commercial brewers, using this technique is not worth the risk of infection. This is why closed fermentation dominates both the home and pro-brewing industry. However, if you make the commitment to be VERY on top of monitoring the fermentation process, it can be done successfully and produce unique beers with interesting characteristics.
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yes I know but...

Postby Fraoch » Thu Jan 31, 2002 1:38 am

I understand that, but having come from a British background I brew to that style and the unique qualities given by a yeast are as much a part of the beer as the malt and hops.It has always been my understanding that top fermenting yeasts are best fermented using an open method to allow ALL co2 to escape. I have always brewed this way and have NEVER experienced any problems in regards to yeast performance or contamination. A comparison between the same yeast in closed and open fermentation conditions will quickly demonstrate that they are performing differently as the closed will produce a more fluffy style crop, which means that not all co2 is escaping and that there is a downward pressure that is affecting the density of your crop. As to commercial brewerys adopting a closed fermentation technique with ale yeasts,there is a very high chance that this has absolutely nothing to do with quality, but is more of a cost efficiency exercise and if it is to be pasteurised after then what the hell? Commercial brewerys are only interested in making cost effective, large scale, consistent, and in my opinion, bland flavoured alcoholic beverages. I understand what you say Messa, but I dont necessarily agree, especially when the practices of commercial breweries are brought into the argument. Guess i've rocked the boat eh????
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WOW

Postby dartedplus » Thu Jan 31, 2002 7:33 am

Again, it amazes me how much I actually know about brewing. Prior to the previous posts I would have never considered open fermentation. I can see Mesa's point that you need to be very much on top of it to do this. What if you are working when your kreusen subsides and it leaves your wort defenseless to the "evil" bacterium. This may a very simple way of looking at it, but I dont necessarily have the tiem to be that vigilant all the time. It does bring up a good topic though. I'm not sure if I'd be willing to lose a batch because of it, but I would definitely read up on the process a lot more before trying it. Thanks again to all those who participate in this forum, as we are all a little better off for the sharing of our combined knowledge.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!" Ben Franklin
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Closed Fermentation

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Jan 31, 2002 9:48 am

All of the CO2 that is given off by the yeast does escape through the airlock and there is very little downward pressure on the headspace because of this. After primary fermentation by either method, there is only about .78 to 1 volume of CO2 left in solution. After secondary closed fermentation, the values are even lower.

This style of fermentation does create a different flavor profile which is usually caused by diacetyl or/and DMS due to the yeast strains used and the air contact when the yeast has gone into anaerobic phase. I have enjoyed a number of products produced in this manner.

..."As to commercial brewerys adopting a closed fermentation technique with ale yeasts,there is a very high chance that this has absolutely nothing to do with quality, but is more of a cost efficiency exercise and if it is to be pasteurised after then what the hell? Commercial brewerys are only interested in making cost effective, large scale, consistent, and in my opinion, bland flavoured alcoholic beverages...."

You need to broaden your beer horizons a bit... I AM A COMMERCIAL BREWER, and no one has ever stated that I produce bland beer. Our industry is not soley composed of the 10 or so macrobrewers ! I also don't pasturize and most of my collegues don't either. The reason that the beer industry (including in your neck of the woods) opts for closed fermentation IS a quality decision because there is a greatly reduced chance of contamination ! This is what is taught at all of the major brewing science schools such as the one I was trained at (Siebel Institute of Technology) and Harriot-Watt in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Of the 1200 or so existing craft breweries in the US, very few use open fermentation. I have been to 2 so far that do and their products have proved exceptional. This was primarily due to the fact that to use this technique, their breweries had been specifically designed for it, just like the ones in the UK and Belgium that still practice this technique.

Once again, I was not knocking this technique, I was simply attempting to dispel some of the misperceptions you had posted related to physics and brewing microbiology.

For anyone else reading this thread, don't let any of this scare you. As I posted in my first response... as long as you are careful in regards to sanitation and monitor your beer's progress EVERY day, you can pull this off and it is a great learning experience because you can visibly see the various phases of yeast activity. When successfully done, this technique will yield a wonderful beer !
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Toe stepping

Postby Fraoch » Sat Feb 02, 2002 1:27 pm

wasnt looking to step on your toes Mesa!! Maybe my postings are not technical enough for you and a little too generic, but then again I am not a chemist. As to commercial brewers as you can see the poor practices of the big boys gets me a bit hot under the collar. I cant comment on American brewers as i dont know thier practices but the Larger British brewers have been lowering the line of quality for many years by adding poor quality ingredients in an attempt to save money. They even went to the extent of colouring the beer to fool us into thinking that it was stronger!!! - Obviously never seen Duvel in a glass. OK i am guilty of making a sweeping statement. The good thing is that these practices led to the rise and success of smaller breweries producing "real" beer and the likes of CAMRA, and by the sounds of it you fall into this catagory.
I was just suprised to find that noone was brewing out the primary in open conditions and have therefore never witnessed the "quatermass" like head that a good top worker pushes up. It really is a sight to behold and a very satisfactory part of the whole process, ( i pride myself on the size of my "head"). It's a very easy process so long as the crop is not allowed to sink back into the wort, to avoid this simply remove at the stage when it subsides and becomes big bubbles, The yeast has stopped reproducing itself and is flat out producing alcohol and co2 - hence the bubbles. This normally occurs around 1/2 grav stage at around the 36hr period after the crop first appears. Simply skim, drop whatever and seal to secondary taking care to leave the yeast, trub, pellet muck etc behind and not to reoxygenate. This may not be technically specific but it is my experience and it works very well.
I also did not mean to insult your beer by suggesting it may be bland, may I be so bold as to suggest you ship maybe a 6 or 12 pack over promptly so you can put me right once and for all. Period, nuff said etc.

I read all your postings Mesa, and have learnt much from them. Many apologies if i upset ya.

Cheers! anyway...
Gavin
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