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New brewer: Airlock question

Hello,

I am new to home brewing and was very excited for my wife and I to brew our first batch. All went well and we paid close attention to all the steps in the process including keeping everything clean. The batch is currently in the first fermenter and we noticed for the first couple days a decent amount of activity with release from the airlock, but not much since then.

Is this common or do we just need to be patient? We brewed the Irish Red Ale kit and it says to keep in the first fermenter for 1-2 weeks. Any tips, tricks, or advice would be helpful.

Thanks all!

Sounds exactly like what happened on my first batch (still in the fermentor) but spending some time on these forums has helped me immensely understand a lot of my mistakes.

What tempurature was the wort at when you pitched the yeast? Sounds like you probably pitched too hot and it completed the fermentation within the first day or so. Same exact thing happened to me.

Hey mattnick,

I added the yeast while the wort was around 74-75F, so it was below the 78F threshold the recipe recommended. It is stored in an unfinished basement where the temperature is constant. The activity was not rapid over the first 1-2 days, so I would not assume that fermentation could not have completed in such a short time, but I am new to this, so who knows lol.

Thanks!

Fermenting yeast produces heat. About a 5° temperature rise can be expected for a beer around 1.049 SG. You pitched at about 75° so fermentation most likely was in the low 80°s. At this high of temperature fermentation will go fast, and produce a bit more heat. Some off flavors will develop. These flavors will be less noticeable in a stout than a cream ale.

Try to cool your wort to the low or mid 60°s before pitching the yeast. Look up swamp cooler for keeping fermentation temperatures constant and in the low to mid 60°s.

Welcome to brewing.

Hi flars,

Thanks for the great information. As a new home brewer, I went with an extract kit, which gives good information, but some of the better details are left off. I do have the batch fermenting in my unfinished basement, which has an ambient temp of around 67F or less, so that does help, but I see your point of adding the yeast when the wort is cooler. I did follow the directions from the kit, but am seeing that they can be a little ambiguous at times.

Thanks!

NFCTinken, yes the instruction will allow you to make beer. But there are some simple things that will make the beer better.

See my signature line for ways to keep the fermenter in the low to mid 60’s during fermentation. The off flavors mostly occur in the first 3-4 days. So keeping the temps down then is the most important. After that, you can just leave it at room temp.

And, it’s not always necessary to move the beer to a 2nd vessel. You will not hurt your beer by leaving it alone for 2-3 weeks. Then going straight to the bottling bucket.

It’s a good read if you look at the 1st 2-3 pages of the General, Extract and Yeast forums here. You might not understand something right away. But in a week or 2 you will have a “ah ha!” moment.

Nighthawk,

Thank you for the information and taking the time to respond to my post. Yes, I have been reading a ton lately and learing some tips from other brewers and most importantly, to be patient about the entire process. I will continue to read and grow with each batch.

Picked up a hydrometer so I can learn to use that now as well so I can try to regulate / monitor things a little more closely.

Thanks!

Nighthawk,

Question about one of the swamp coolers you have in your signature. The first one shows the fermenter in a large barrel with water surrounding it. Did you have this wrapped with a towel simply because the area was bright, or is that to keep the cooler water/moisture on the outside to better regulate temps?

Thank you again!

[quote=“NFCTinken”]Nighthawk,

Question about one of the swamp coolers you have in your signature. The first one shows the fermenter in a large barrel with water surrounding it. Did you have this wrapped with a towel simply because the area was bright, or is that to keep the cooler water/moisture on the outside to better regulate temps?

Thank you again![/quote]
An over sight in my own post to your original question. I also wrap a towel around my fermentors to cool by evaporation. I will also add a fan to speed evaporation. The fan can lower temperatures anoth 2°.

[quote=“flars”]
An over sight in my own post to your original question. I also wrap a towel around my fermentors to cool by evaporation. I will also add a fan to speed evaporation. The fan can lower temperatures anoth 2°.[/quote]

Cool, thanks Lars. Since I am in day 5 of fermenting, is there much I can do at this point to cool the batch a little bit to prevent any odd flavors? I have learned that visually inspecting the airlock is no indicator of the fermentation process, so will be patient and give it time, but would like to do all I can to make sure the beer turns out okay.

All a learning process, but want to learn as much as I can from others to better my process.

Thanks!

[quote=“NFCTinken”][quote=“flars”]
An over sight in my own post to your original question. I also wrap a towel around my fermentors to cool by evaporation. I will also add a fan to speed evaporation. The fan can lower temperatures anoth 2°.[/quote]

Cool, thanks Lars. Since I am in day 5 of fermenting, is there much I can do at this point to cool the batch a little bit to prevent any odd flavors? I have learned that visually inspecting the airlock is no indicator of the fermentation process, so will be patient and give it time, but would like to do all I can to make sure the beer turns out okay.

All a learning process, but want to learn as much as I can from others to better my process.

Thanks![/quote]
Off flavors that may have been produced in the first few days are there. You can let the temperature rise slowly to, or stay at, your ambient temp of 67°. I would let this one go at least three weeks in the primary. If there are off flavors and they can be cleaned up by the yeast, a longer primary will help.

Would you recommend moving to a second fermenter after a couple weeks to help with clarity? This recipe does call for that, but I have heard advice both ways.

Is this depentend on the type of beer being brewed or a users choice? If it is common to do, I will, but want to reduce the possibilities of contamination where possible.

Thanks!

[quote=“NFCTinken”]Would you recommend moving to a second fermenter after a couple weeks to help with clarity? This recipe does call for that, but I have heard advice both ways.

Is this depentend on the type of beer being brewed or a users choice? If it is common to do, I will, but want to reduce the possibilities of contamination where possible.

Thanks![/quote]
I wouldn’t recommend a secondary vessel. Clearing will occur just as well in the primary. Keeping the racking cane out of the trub when racking to the bottling bucket is key to clarity.

Is the racking cane the wand used to fill the bottles? Also, do you mean keeping it out of the bottom of the bottling bucket (or rack as you say)?

The racking cane is the auto-siphon you got with your starter kit. Make sure you keep it out of the trub at the bottom of the fermenter when transfering to the bottling bucket so it stays in the fermenter bucket and doesnt end up in your bottled beer.

Thanks mattnaik!

I am trying to learn all the terms, so appreicate you helping to educate me.

The racking cane is the auto-siphon you got with your starter kit. Make sure you keep it out of the trub at the bottom of the fermenter when transfering to the bottling bucket so it stays in the fermenter bucket and doesnt end up in your bottled beer.[/quote]
My starter kit did not include an auto-siphon. After one use of a regular racking cane I bought an auto-siphon. I bought the smaller diameter one. Slower to siphon, but I figured less possible problems with air bubbles if it would have been a problem. Haven’t had a problem.

Bottling wand is an attachment to the spigot on the bottling bucket. Essential for efficiency and maintaining the proper headspace in the bottle consistently.

Hi everyone,

Just took my first hydrometer reading after a week and it was 1.010. I am going to sample again next weekend to see if consistent and if it’s time to bottle. Looks like it is turning out good and both my wife and I drank from the sample we took and very excited with the progress.

Is the goal when brewing to get a reading as close to 1.000 as possible and have consistent readings before moving to bottling to make sure the yeast is done with its job?

This is such a fun process and we are wishing we would have started brewing sooner.

We will keep you all posted on the results.

Good advice given here. I broke 2 plastic racking canes before purchasing a SS one. The auto siphons are to expensive to worry about breaking IMO.

To keep the bottom of the siphon out of the trub/yeast I use a cloths pin. a clamp[/url] for a bread bag, or a small garage [url=http://www.amazon.com/pc-Heavy-Duty-Spring-Clamps/dp/B0009T65P6/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1379358551&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=spring+clamp]clamp
http://galaxyshoppes.com/Bread-and-Bagel-Plastic-Bag-Closure-Spring-Clips-6-Clips-P488222.aspx
to position the siphon.

The FG is going to be dependent on the makeup of the wort. More non fermentable sugars will give you a higher FG. See the BJCP
http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php
guidelines for where each style typically falls.

The goal is to have consistency in the product.

Hi all,

I just wanted to take a moment to follow up and let everyone know how the beer finished out. After taking several gravity measurements, the beer finished with an FG of 1.010, which I was satisfied with. We then bottled and things went pretty well and they conditioned for 2 weeks at room temperature. The test plastic bottle I filled expanded as CO2 was created and the yeast settled nicely.

I did chill one bottle and taste tested. As everyone has said, I made beer! It was actually pretty good as well. It was nicely carbonated, beautiful red color and very nice malty taste to it. Only (slight) concern was that there was little head when poured into glass, but nothing to worry about.

Up next is a Hefe Weiss, which I am looking forward to very much. Thank you all for the great advice here and helping point new brewers in the right direction. I started with a small kit and have slowly upgrade as I progressed and now have a spot dedicated in my basement.

More to come…CHEERS!

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