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First Brewing - how to confirm primary fermentation

Thank you for the info. I am in the middle of a snow storm and outside temps are around 15 deg, so holding the ambient temp down is not a problem this time of year. I keep the house between 65 and 68, and it may be a bit cooler where the beer is fermenting. It may be challenging in the summer but I have a cellar for a basement in my 100 year old house, I need to monitor the temp down there this summer and see how cool it will stay. Else I will brew up a big stash to take me into the fall.

Be sure to understand that when your wort begins fermentation, it will create heat, so during active fermentation the wort will be warmer than your ambient temp, sometimes as much as 7 or 8 degrees. So if your ambient temp is in the range you want to ferment at, you still may need help (swamp cooler) keeping the temp down. If the ambient is lower than your target by several degrees, then you’re usually good to go.

Cheers,

Ron

Thanks Ron. I am fermenting in the bucket and it has always felt cool to the touch or at least not noticeably warmer than the ambient. Is it ok to pop the lid to check the temp ? I was trying to leave it sealed thinking that was best. I have much to learn I guess:) thank you for your advice!

Tom

Track you fermentation temperature with one of these.

I use an older style that is in the shape of a strip. They are usually accurate to within 1°F of the fermenting beer.

They do not with stand being submerged in water. Stick them on your bucket above where the water level would be if you begin using a swamp cooler. I attach mine about one-quarter of the way down from the surface of the beer.

After i transfer my wort to. The fermentor. I take a refractometer meter reading. Brix. 8 to 10 days later. Once the krausen droped. I transfer to secondary. And take a. Hydrometer. Sample. During. Condition of the beer. Than at least. Two more reading in the 4 to 6 weeks. Wait time. Once the readings stay the same. And got the final. Fg. I do transfer to keg

While a “stuck” ferementation is rarely an issue with kits, this may be a good time to note that two FG measurements may not mean the ferementation is completed, but just “stopped”. When working with new recipes, it may be appropriate to run a forced fermentation test (link).

I am coming up to day 12 of my primary fermentation ( chinook ipa). I have a hydrometer but now realize I have no container that is tall and skinny enough for a sample. (Ordered one on Amazon ), I also should be getting my refractometer tonight if the tracking info is correct.
Do I wait for the consecutive hydrometer or refractometer readings days apart before transferring to the secondary fermentor? If so then is the secondary mainly to help clear the beer?

Is it ever acceptable to sanitize the hydrometer and drop in in the primary bucket for a reading? ( I have the plastic bucket for the starting kit, but bought the plastic carboy for secondary and maybe future primary).

Can you tell I am getting nervous?.. Getting closer and closer to the steps that make all the difference.

Thank you for all your help!

Tom

Yes the secondary is mainly to clear. You’ll also hear it called a brightening tank or vessel. I sanitize and put the hydrometer in the bucket all the time. Definitely don’t worry. Worrying is probably the number one cause of bad brews. Just take care to make sure sanitizer touches all surfaces that will touch beer and you’ll do fine.

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Was your hydrometer shipped in a plastic tube? I use the shipping tube for my SG samples. You need to spin the hydrometer to make sure it doesn’t stick to the side of the tube and spin off the CO2 bubbles.

IPAs are hazy. Some brewers like to make them hazier. The NE style. Oof. I just leave my Chinook IPA in the primary for 21 days then bottle.

I was just taking a picture of a beer in a new style of glass but it is the Chinook IPA.

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Thanks for the help guys! My son and I popped the lid and after sanitizing the hydrometer “tube” ( thanks for that suggestion) we took a reading and it looked like 1.010, beer looked pretty good and smelled good. I was concerned a bit about how tight the tube was to the hydrometer so I sanitized the hydrometer again and put it in the middle of the bucket and got the same reading. I did not take the temp though but I suppose it is about 66 deg. ( room temp as it is in the house). My plan is to take another reading Sunday and see if it remains constant. Sunday will be day 14 of the fermentation, I am supposed to add a little packet of hops 1-2 weeks prior to bottling. I guess it would be safe to add it once I know for sure the hydrometer readings are steady? Then I will wait 10 days or so and bottle it up.

Thank you again for all your words of wisdom.

Tom

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Yes, when readings are consistent, do add the dry hopping, hops. Sneezles61

Great, thank you for the help!

Flars, your IPA looks great. You mentioned you just leave it in the primary for 21 days then bottle it. How long do you typically let it sit in the bottle before drinking ?

Tom

My brew room is 68°F. I will chill a bottle low OG beer of around 1.042 after two weeks to check the carbonation level. Beers with a higher OG will get another week before I chill one for a couple of days. Anything over 1.070 would be left untouched for at least 6 weeks.

Thanks. Unfortunately I did not yet have my hydrometer when I started the kit. The sheet for the chinook iPad says the OG is 1.053.
I am going to put the dry hops in today I think ( assuming the gravity reading is constant for the third day). Then I guess I will wait at least a week before bottling. Instructions say 1-2 weeks…
Then I will let it condition in the bottle for two weeks and use your tactic of chilling one and trying it.

Chinook “IPA…”…spell check/ auto correct got me on prev post

HI tominboston, Just one more perspective, I’m a busy newbie with ~50 extract 5-gal batches in my 1st two years of HB’ing. I’ve learned to just give the primary some time… a few days after seeing any airlock activity at all…and having an idea of what to expect from that particular yeast strain… and then transfer to secondary (or on some simple brews, just give it another week or 2 and bottle). I quit bothering with measuring OG and FG (GASP! I’m sure there are differing opinions on this!)… I have a nice steady, not-too-warm basement fermentation spot. I feel like my biggest ‘upgrades’ from a starter kit have been small investments in an oxygenation regulator/wand/stone; a couple Ehrlenmeyer flasks and a $42 stir plate for making starters; a few extra 5-gal plastic carboys; and a few books. Many beers benefit from a few weeks of conditioning… it took me awhile to just not be in a hurry to bottle. Having extra carboys allows me to have multiple batches in process at a time… I fell into some free stuff which is doable if you ask around on your community forums and such… like most hobbies, not everyone sticks with it, (or scales up), and there are probably a gazillion sets of home brewing kits out there gathering dust. Read, meet HB’ers, use good sanitizing practices, try stuff, keep good records, and, have fun tweaking things. I’ve only made one batch I ‘dumped’ so far and that was from going with ‘ehhhhh this looks good’ on fresh vanilla bean without doing any research. OOPS.

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Hey thanks for the tips. Sounds like you have quite a bit of experience under your belt. Sounds like I will be ok with my first batch (Chinook IPA) from the kit. Once I get it bottled I am going to do a nice easy Bavarian Heffe. Since I travel to Germany occasionally it will be interesting to see just how Bavarian it tastes.
I am ready the joy of home brewing now so hopefully I will start to understand all the cause and effect of the ingredients and process variables. I am starting to accumulate quite a bit of “stuff” and I have not even finished the first batch. So I too will need to make a little space in my old cellar to dedicate to the hobby.

What do you do to detect a stuck fermentation?

Never had one when I used to measure, and all my beers have fermented (or at least tasted) great, I am pretty careful to not underpitch, usually use a starter and see the creamy awesomeness of my yeast,my temperature is steady… but the, simplest answer to your question is that I do nothing to detect a stuck fermentation…

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