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First time brewer, Irish Red Ale, 48 hour primary?

hello all, please bear with me here this is my first brew. i brewed this batch of irish red ale on sunday, almost exactly to recipe instructions with the extract kit (timing was perfect, added a few other spices to the initial specialty grain steep) cooled the wort in an ice bath within 15 minutes. added the cooled wort to my primary 6 gal carboy ( with 2.5 gallons of cool water) being especially careful about sanitizing, used hand sanitizer on my hands and everything for this. also i didnt pitch the yeast, i think thats what its called, i just carefully dumped the dry yeast in after aerating for a few minutes… oh yeah confirmed with the thermometer that the aerated wort was at 78 degrees when i added the yeast. from this point i let the primary fermentor sit in place with a black t shirt over it to keep the light out. about two hours later, maybe 8 pm on sunday, the temp was slowly dropping (starting temp about 78, slowly dropped to about 62 now[dry yeast with my kit says 57-70 degrees]) and the beer storm began…lol. fermentation began slowly, by monday morning when i awoke, about 12 hours after adding yeast, the whole thing was going crazy, the krausen foam or whatever was about 2 inches high and looking close at the liquid everything was moving around like crazy, like a waterfall was falling into the liquid. all day monday my airlock was steadily pumping out co2 and the foam was staying at 2- 3 inches at the top. last night when i went to bed still rapid fermentation going on, and also this morning when i went to work. so i get home now (about 48 hours after adding yeast) and the krausen has dropped back into the beer, the activity i saw yesterday has ceased, all the sediment is back on the bottom and the airlock is maybe releasing a bubble every half hour or so…only noticed it once really…so my recipe says 1-2 weeks primary…but also says when the foam drops back into the beer, its ready to rack into the secondary…so my question is this: is it possible that my primary is complete after only 48 hours? and depending on that will it be alright waiting til this weekend to rack to the secondary, or should that be done sooner? any advice or thoughts are much appreciated. thanks.

I asked the same type of question too with the same kit because it was my 2nd kit and I didn’t find the forum until after the 1st batch was in the secondary. It appears that the primary fermentation occurs quick with this kit. The responses that I got said it was ok to leave the beer in the primary for up to a month without having any ill effects. My batch is going on 1.5 weeks in the primary and I plan on leaving it there for 3 weeks total, then put it in secondary for 1 week then bottle. There isn’t a clear cut answer on whether racking to a secondary is necessary, so this is my first experiment. Hope this helps :cheers:

Welcome to the forum. :smiley: 78* is too warm to pitch your yeast. It’s better to pitch around 65*, give or take.

yeah thanks for your input les, i read your post, but was hoping to get a more straightforward answer…i have been looking all around the internet and have been reading very contradicting information…i guess im just going to play this by my intuition. ill probably leave it in the primary til this weekend or maybe even the next. i want to do a secondary because im considering adding some pine needles or spruce to the beer to give it a more “winter/xmas” flavor…duno if thats the right thing for a red ale but something is telling me to give it a go. so was your first brew the same kit also?

thank you mrv :slight_smile: . could you elaborate? my understanding is that most people pitch their yeast in 110 degree water before introducing into the wort…also my recipe says specifically pitch yeast at 78 or cooler…what are the pros and cons of adding at higher/cooler temperatures? it seemed to activate my dry yeast fine at that temp as active fermentation seems to be slowed down considerably after 48 hours…

Dry yeast can be re-hydrated near 100° but should be pitched in wort much cooler. You can pitch at about 78° but should get the temperature in the low to mid 60’s before the fermentation really begins.

At the warmer temperatures the active portion of fermentation has probably finished. Also at warmer temperatures you can get esters and fusel alcohols that give undesirable tastes.

The yeast are still active cleaning the beer in clarity and flavors. You now need to wait for fermentation to be totally finished before racking to secondary. I would wait at least 2 weeks then take gravity readings for 3 days and if the gravity is the same on all three it is OK to transfer.

I let my Irish Red Ale get too warm for 1 day and the wort tasted “OFF” after a week so I asked for advice here. On advice I went 2 1/2 weeks primary, 4 weeks secondary and 2 weeks bottle conditioning. It took almost a month after bottling before it mellowed out. It turned out pretty good.

The advice from people that brew a lot on here will be that you pitched and likely fermented your beer way too warm. I did the same thing on my first few batches. Fast, hot fermentation is exciting to look at, but does not make the best beer possible. If that is your goal, bring your temps down to the low 60’s before pitching the yeast and keep it in the low to mid 60’s for the majority of the fermentation. Then you can raise to room temps.

Do yourself a favor and do searches on “yeast starters” (if you ever plan to use liquid yeast) and “swamp coolers” as a means to control you fermentation temps.

At the risk of repeating what has been taught to me on this forum it is really hard not to rush the process when you start out. I’ve been doing this for one year( still learning every time I brew) and just brewed batch #23. The first batch I made I took a bottle to NB so they could tell me what I did wrong( No carbonation, harsh flavor, no head) I quote" it’s not terrible, but it needs time" in another week it really improved in all things it was lacking. My suggestion is that if you are comfortable with your process get a couple batches going so that you don’t feel the need to rush it. It’s a great hobby/obsession and the people here are great.

Primary: Honey Nut Brown Ale
Keg Conditioning: AK 47 Pale Mild
On tap: “Catcher in the Rye Stout”, and “Golden Gurensey Speckled Heifer”
Bottled: Smashing Pumpkin Ale , and Cousin Eddies Shi**ers full Winter Warmer (My holiday beers)
On deck “The Innkeeper”

A couple of things:

The primary fermentation is bombastic then subtle. Both parts are important. So even though your activity has gone down a lot the yeast is still doing things in the beer. So leaving it for 10-14 days in primary is a rule of thumb you never need to break or question in homrewing applications. Pro brewers might have a different approach but they really are different.

If your wort is at 78 after your initial cooling you might want to wait 12 or 24 hours (maximum before pitching your yeast. Since the wort cooled into the 60’s pretty quickly I would wait until your temperature range is met then add your yeast. One important thing is that yeast do not like the temperature movement downward. They can basically stall and go to sleep. So there is a risk with large temp swings with yeast.

Overall you did fine for your first brew. Just tweak your process each time as go forward.

thank you kh54s10, 560sdl, flytyer, and Bassman. i know it can be tedious and annoying teaching a nubile in anything, so thanks a lot for taking the time to give me some advice, i honestly appreciate it.

even though i pitched the yeast at 78* in the kitchen(w/ thermometer), right after doing so i moved the brew into my garage which is cold… the brew cooled to the mid 60s fairly quickly (1-2 hours), and i only saw active fermentation when the temps were down in the 64-68 range(w/ fermometer sticker). hopefully this first batch isnt spoiled, but hey, i guess learn as i go type situation here. anyway i moved the carboy from the garage into a bedroom as the garage can get down into the 20’s at night this time of year, so the bedroom temp has been pretty stable in the low to mid 60s. i moved it the same night i brewed, once it cooled down to keep it there.

“One important thing is that yeast do not like the temperature movement downward. They can basically stall and go to sleep. So there is a risk with large temp swings with yeast.” ~ Bassman. really? uh oh thats not good…well i will definitely try to pitch at a stable room temp next go round, and re-hydrate/activate the yeast first. though im hoping my yeast didnt stall, cuz it was still going to town for about 36 hours after a stable temp in the mid 60s.

i would have been able to cool my wort further easily, i just read the recipe and it told me to pitch the yeast at 78…guess thats my fault for not researching further before beginning. i have a shipment of rye ale and trippel on the way, i plan to start one of these as soon as i rack my irish red into the secondary, because i only have 1 deluxe starter kit.

another question; do you all take gravity readings from your primary? im hesitant to do that as i will be exposing the beer to oxygen and possible pathogens in doing so…is it necessary to test the gravity, or can i just wait maybe 2 or 3 weeks for the primary then just rack into the secondary and assume that everything is stable at that point?

another question; do you all take gravity readings from your primary? im hesitant to do that as i will be exposing the beer to oxygen and possible pathogens in doing so…is it necessary to test the gravity, or can i just wait maybe 2 or 3 weeks for the primary then just rack into the secondary and assume that everything is stable at that point?[/quote]

I only take the gravity reading in the primary if I sense a problem or am not sure that something is complete. For example, if I have active fermentation for several days, but still have a layer of krausen on the top for another week, I will take readings to be sure it is done. Then I transfer to secondary for a little more aging and clarifying.

I will always take a SG reading when transferring to secondary, just because. If you practice proper sanitation, you will not have an issue. I have done perhaps 30 batches in less than 10 months and have never had an infection, that was evident.

Secondary fermentation (it should really not be fermenting at this stage) is not necessary and lots of people don’t do it. I still do it on every batch for several reasons. I have a pipeline that goes from Brewing → Primary Bucket → Better Bottle Secondary → Keg. So the first reason I still secondary is because it is another vessel to hold beer when all my kegs are full and waiting to kick. The other reason is that if I go from bucket to keg directly, I would never get to actually see my beer. I guess because I am still in my first year or brewing, this is important to me, but enjoy observing, watching and nurturing my beer and watching the subtle changes while it is cleaning up and clarifying. I visually know when it is really ready to cold crash and keg.

Glad to offer my help hrpussinstuff. I don’t think your yeast had any issues due to the vigorous activity. If you had “shocked” your yeast the fermentation would have never started- which sucks! Stable temps are the best for yeast.

Yeast knowledge is really important for making beer. The warmer the temperatures the more active the yeast get. But in all of this activity they produce off flavors for certain styles. So as brewers we want to control the yeast activity to create the flavors for our style of beer. i.e. Largers are fermented in the low 50s while wacky Belgians are fermented in the high 70’s Each produce different flavors. If you fermented the lager in thr 70s it would not have the proper clean profile one expects from a lager beer. But the lagers require a lot of heathly yeast cells and often will say in a primary for 3 to 4 weeks because the lower temps subdue the yeast to be less active.

The yeast companies say to “pitch warm” because they just want to ensure your yeast works and you are a happy customer. Best practice is to pitch the proper amount of yeast at your fermentation temperature. If you want to learn there is a ton of information on this forum and of course the interwebs.
Hope you like the hobby!

560sdl - thanks again, yeah i plan to take a gravity reading when i rack to secondary…which im leaning more towards 2 - 4 weeks now…sticking my nose to the exhaust of my primary it smells like a good beer at this pont. still super foggy though. hoping leaving it for another week or two will help clear things up. so you have done about 3 batches each month, if my math is correct?..what do you do with 15 gallons of brew a month? lol! thats awesome though, i hope i can get set up to start producing more soon. i dont think 5 gallons will last me alone 2 months haha. and yeah secondary “fermentation” i assumed was more of just getting your beer off the yeast and all the solids and letting it clear up a bit more before bottling; letting the smaller dissolved solids settle out before you bottle. i paid twice as much for the glass carboy starter kit just so i could watch this process happen, i totally understand why you want to see it! on a side note, i used to create another mind altering substance that took about 6 - 8 weeks to maure also, and i was in there everyday watching everything progess. there is a certain satisfaction from taking everything in and watching it grow. lol. im sure taking the time to pay such close attention to detail pays off in the end. did you ever bottle your brew? or just strictly keg it? is there a difference in the quality kegging rather than bottling? i know i saw kegging kits in NBs catalog for a couple hundred bucks and might go to that here soon. have you personally brewed this irish red from extract? or the trippel, or american rye ale? if so any tips on those would be awesome. thanks for coming back and replying dude, really.

Bassman- thank you too, i assumed that my yeast didnt stall considering what i watched happen after cooling, but thanks for the reassurance. the whole lager situation is chinese to me, lol, i think the only chance i could ever brew a lager (at 50 degrees) would be about 3 months of the year… so maybe i could get one batch of lager here in the winter…unless you refrigerate it how is that possible? i live in america, seattle washington to be exact, and uless you live in alaska (which i lived in last year) how could you brew a lager, other than maybe twice a year, in the late spring to early fall? i am reading tons of info, off this forum and many others, trying to learn as much as possible. i think i will learn more from this first batch than anything i can read…once i taste the final product and all.

whoops meant late fall to early spring regarding the lager. i think i need another beer! haha


Yes I bottled at first. Probably for the first 2-3 months and then I spent a weekend with a friend who used to be big into the whole brewing thing. Really big. He started rattling off all the stuff he had (most of which was greek to me) and said make me an offer. I did and next thing I know, he starts sending me box after box of kegs, C02 tanks, regulators, temp controllers, you name it. I think he sent me about 16 kegs and he told me recently he has 4 or 5 more to send.

I would say I started off more slowly but for the last 6 months have brewed an average of 4 batches per month. Basically two at a time, every two weeks. I realized early that brewing two in one night made for a long night, but was much less time than two on different nights.

I don’t think I have brewed any of the kits you have mentioned. But I have probably done darn near every other one, it seems. However, I just brewed my last 2 kits on Sunday, both lagers and the next batches will be all grain. I am pretty sure I got the bug.

Do yourself a favor and spend time on here reading and asking questions. I have learned so much. If you pay attention to yeast starters (to pitch enough yeast), temperature control during fermentation and sanitation, you will make really good beer, even using extract. I really liked the quality of the NB kits and used then to get a real system down.

What do I do with all the beer? Well having a 24 year old son who lives at home and has friends over helps a lot. It is pretty cool to watch them hang out at my kegerator doing taste tests and really liking it. Makes it worth it.

sounds like you got a killer deal on the kegging equipment. hahaha i see, yeah i am only 25 myself. i will, and am, reading a lot of info…mostly im finding its kind of a personal preference. some people are on opposite ends of the spectrum with their philosophies. hopefully i will find my way with help from people like you.

Here is what I have learned so far:

It is really easy to make beer. If you can make soup, you can make beer

It is pretty easy to make good beer

It takes some work to make consistently really good beer

It is hard to make great beer

It is both easy and hard to make bad beer. :cheers:

HR, I have mainly been an ale brewer for the last ten years but have tried some lagers in the past few. I live in Texas and really only try them in the winter months. I use a wine refrigerator for my fermentation temperature control. The range is 39f to 65f. If I can not cool the lager wort down to 50f out of the boil kettle I will put a lid on the fermentor and let it sit in the wine fridge for 12-24 hours then pitch my yeast. After that it is just sitting in the cooler for three weeks.

Temperature control is about the most important thing you can invest in as a homebrewer imho.

nice statement 560. and bassman thats some good info, thats why i just want to stick to ales for a while, my house is generally in the perfect temp range most of the year. i will probably have to research and buy some temperature control though for summer.

so i racked the red over to secondary after a week in primary this morning. decided to take gravity readings starting thursday and also on saturday and today. constant reading at 1.012 all three days. my original gravity was 1.045, close to the estimated 1.040. also i had to taste the sample haha. not a fan of warm flat beer, but at least i have an idea of what it could taste like in the end. the plan is to leave the red in the secondary for 2 weeks, and bottle on christmas eve or christmas…depending on my schedule. also im going to start the american rye today which only calls for 2 weeks primary before bottle. so i can bottle both in two weeks. and with any luck they might be drinkable on new years…lol thats the plan at least.

Reading your posts is like reading a summary of my first month or so, brings back memories.

Warm flat beer - First few batches when I tasted them I thought “these things will be terrible”. Amazing what a little time, carbonation and cold temps will do.

BTW, it looks like you are paying attention to time frames contained in the instructions. They are good guidelines, but not always the best. For example - for your Red Ale, if you are looking at about 3 weeks from brew to bottle, and you plan to secondary, I would have just let it go 2 weeks primary and 1 week secondary instead of the other way around. More good things can happen in primary than secondary. Unless you have a strong beer that needs aging, a week in secondary is all you need. (many will tell you to forget it completely).

For your Ryle Ale, two week then bottle is just an estimate. Make sure it is really done before bottling.

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