First time brewer questions

so i finally brewed my first batch of beer that i have had sitting around for just under a year because i didn’t have time to do it, excuses right. it is the nb irish red ale kit and yes i did go out and buy fresh grains and some fresh wyeast. i read the book, watched the dvd’s thought i could manage it yada yada. overall i think it went great despite a few first timer hiccups, my 3 layer ss 5 gal. pot would not allow me to heat any higher than 145 on my therm. but i seemed to have a vigorous boil anyways so i didn’t worry too much. i then got excited i was almost done and forgot to aerate before i took my og readings which gave me an abysmal 1.025 og, scratching my head trying to figure out the cause of the low og i remembered that i forgot to aerate, so i did so but didn’t put that and the og reading together. the beer has been in the primary for about 8-9 days now(don’t have my calender in front of me), and i had i nice active fermentation with a nice krausen lasting just over 72 hours. since then the bubbling has slowed to around one per 20-30 minutes. i have been fermenting between 60-65 degrees in my basement, but usually when i check it it is at 62.
my question is this;
since i don’t have an og reading to be able to guide my fermentation off of and it is fermenting a bit on the cold side for ales, is there any way to judge when primary fermentation is for the most part done and its time to secondary? idk if i should just go with the 2 weeks because the bubbles have slowed due to colder less active yeast, or if they have slowed because the yeast are almost done. also to this day i have a decent 1" thick layer of krausen still floating, and i thought it was supposed to fall.

This was an all grain batch or an extract with steeping grains.

If it is your first brew, and all grain, there are numerous reasons why your OG “might” be low. It is possible that it was not mixed well. Aeration will not by itself change OG.

If fermentation is really done, rock the bucket or carboy a few times and break up the layer of krausen and it should fall in a day or so. You have have to do it a few times.

Either transfer to secondary after two weeks or just wait till 3 or 4 weeks and go straight to keg or bottles

I’m guessing since this was his 1st batch it was an extract. I’m also guessing that he did a partial boil and then topped off. Therefore, my bet with the low OG is wort stratification…

Next time, mix the top off water and wort VERY well before taking an OG reading for greater accuracy.

BTW, notice I said guessing because we all now what assumptions are. :smiley:

Yes it was an extract and loopy you are exactly right. i took the og measurement right after topping off with water. isnt it kind of bad to re aerate by rocking it again?

Because it’s an extract batch, you will be within a couple points of the recipe. If you have the correct volume of water.

Getting the krausen to fall by rocking, don’t splash it around. Just give it a gentle swirl/rock. Enough to disturb it a little.

This being your 1st brew I’ m assuming you are bottling. I would leave it in primary for 4 weeks then bottle.

why would i not do a secondary? i don’t understand.

Oh No!!! :stuck_out_tongue: Please look into secondaries. Some people swear by them, and other against them. I suggest doing what’s best for you.

Me, I think they make my beer clear quicker therefore I do them. However, check out the pros/cons for yourself.

Some times I do secondary as they do help to clear the beer. I have also done 3 brews that just came out of the primary to the bottles. both taste fine. I would say it is personal preference and equipment usage that determines what you do. (I only have 1 6gal and 1 5 gal carboy so if something is in the 5 for 6 weeks then i will make an ale and go strait to the bottles) Cheers.

4 weeks its a bit excessive for an ale imho. 4 weeks isn’t enough to cause any damage, but your not really helping with the extra time either. Those extra weeks would be better spent in the bottle. 2 should be more than sufficient for your primary. 2 weeks in primary, 2-3 in the bottle, then you’re good to go.

Leaving a beer in the 1st vessel for 3 weeks. Or leave it there for 2 and transfer to a second vessel for 1 week. 6 in one hand, 1/2 a dozen in the other.

The same amount of yeast/proteins/hops will settle out. IMO things will settle out faster by not transferring it. You don’t mix things back up this way.

You also don’t have to sanitize and clean your equipment again. Less chance of an infection.

You should loose less beer by transferring it fewer times.

We used to secondary all of our batches…but we kept having oxidization problems. That can be corrected with better procedures (which we learned too little too late).

Now, we just primary for 3 weeks the go straight to bottles.

We will secondary for dryhopping and such. But for most batches, it’s not needed.

If you want to help with clarity, then cold crash in the last week of fermentation.

A large number of very successful expert brewers have written off doing a secondary completely. The tiny amount of good it might do for you is vastly outweighed by massive potential problems. If you’re worried about autolysis, don’t. Autolysis happens extremely slowly unless the yeast is being subjected to a lot of pressure. Fermenter size & geometry make this a potential problem when you’re working with a 40bbl cylindroconical, but you won’t see it for months in a carboy/bucket. Years ago I left a couple batches on the primary yeast cake for well over 100 days without a single problem or off-flavor. I’m thinking about trying it again just because my yeast lab is considerably more advanced than it was back then. If you’re worried about clarity, there’s plenty of better & safer options available such as cold crashing, careful racking, gelatin (or other finings) and filtration. The only time I use a secondary is for wood/fruit aging & for sours that are going to be in a carboy for a couple years.

I do not think of it in terms of making a decision like: “am I a brewer who uses a secondary, or strictly a primary”.

I think of it as a wonderful tool to have at my disposal.
Just like any other tool, you need to learn how and when to use it.

I think I do end up using a secondary about 60% of the time, 30% not, and 10% of the time I use a tertiary, or more.
But then I do lots of experimentals, and special additions too.

I use just primary when I make quick things like Wits, Bitters, Stouts, Pales and simple IPA’s.
Any dryhopping or special additions I do in a Secondary.

If proper methods are used, there is NO additional risk to your beer.

I was thinking about this because I am also debating if I should do a secondary. If i just keep it in the primary for 3 weeks and then move it around to put in on my counter top in order to rack the beer wouldnt the beer get all cloudy again from all the sediment moving around?

So after reading all of the input it seemed like there is really no clear answer for a new brewer like myself. Once i have made a few beers i will definitaly try a single stage fermentation but at this point in time i decided to stick to the directions and conventional knowledge.
i had moved the carboy to an elevated location and let it sit for 2 days for any sediment to settle to the bottom. today was the day on my calender to switch so i sanitized my 5 gal carboy and siphon and racked into that. since i had a good amount of sanitizer foam in the carboy still i had zero splashing and the whole siphoning process went very smoothly.

the kit i am brewing is the irish red ale extract kit and it smelled just like a beer should in the carboys and is a nice dark red color and very clear. the very last bit of my beer i had to siphon i put it into a beer glass for tasting. i did get a good amount of yeast off the bottom and into the glass while doing this but here are my tasting notes while they are fresh in my mind.
the beer resembled very closely to a fat tire to me (i did just get done drinking a fat tire about 2 hours prior), but at the same time is was much lighter and not so nutty. it also tasted slightly sour, i do not know if that is because my sample had so much yeast or because it is such a young beer yet.

if anyone has brewed this kit and has any input i would love to hear it. i will probably try and thief a sample for tasting in a day or 2 just so it isn’t so yeasty. :cheers: