Newb with a question!

Greetings and salutations! New to homebrewing here in West KY. Ordered the basic starter kit with Irish Red Ale and also got a Bavarian Hefeweisen and got to work as soon as they arrived- well actually, as soon as I could the next day. My question is in regards to the fermentation process. After I moved the wort to the carboy and added the yeast I noticed I had bubbles (about one bubble every 15-20 seconds) in the airlock by the next morning. I was pleased. The next morning (day 2) I noticed an increase in bubbling (a bubble about every 5 seconds or so). The next morning (day 3) the bubbling has all but stopped. This is the morning of day 4 and still no bubbling action. Of all the literature I’ve read about homebrewing the fermentation (with bubbling action) should last a week or 2. So my question is: Is something going horribly wrong with my 2 batches or does this seem normal based on the information I’ve provided? Any help would be much appreciated. :?:

Welcome to the the forum and homebrewing.

1st, yeast work on their own schedule. Not one published in a book or instruction sheet.

My educated guess is that your fermenter is setting at room temp. This time of year that might be in the upper 60’s. Most likely in the low 70’s to keep the electric bill down. Fermentation generates heat. Usually your beer will be +5* warmer than ambient temp. So it’s likely in the upper 70’s. With a temp like that, the yeast partied like a bunch of sailor on liberty. (my apologizes to the Navy member :oops: )

In other words, they have consumed all the sugar and taking care of “post fermentation” duties.

Do you have a hydrometer? Likely not as NB has decided to stop supplying one in the kit. The only way to really tell what is happening is to take a hydrometer reading 3-4 days apart and see if there is a change in the gravity.

Again, I’m 99.9999% sure you are fine. Leave the beer alone for 2-3 weeks. Then bottle.

See my signature line for easy ways to control the fermentation temp with out killing the electric bill.

Hm… Ok, I can buy that. My father-in-law experimented with home kits a few years ago and I did borrow his hydrometer but the directions said nothing about using it. But yeah I can take some readings. I’ve gotten several books from the library and did some reading on the subject before starting and they all pretty much have the same directions for brewing including using the hydrometer. Curious as to why so much is left out in the directions for these recipes I have (i.e. racking, hydrometer readings and so on.). Thanks for the advice!

I live in calloway county wandering where about you live in western ky, I have met few and far between in this end of the state who homebrew, also I have more bottles than I can use thought about posting on here giving them away if you need any just holler

Here’s what you should do: Wait until all bubbling stops (so okay, you’re already there), then take a hydrometer reading and make note of it. Then wait another 3 days, then take another hydrometer reading. If the hydrometer reads the same both times, then fermentation is complete and you are ready to bottle. If not, wait another 3 days, take another reading, and repeat until the readings don’t change anymore.

You don’t need to rack to a secondary “fermentation” – this knowledge has been debunked by thousands of homebrewers. Secondary doesn’t really help the beer to clear any faster, and there’s very little or no fermentation going on, so it’s basically a waste of time in most instances unless you want to harvest the yeast right away or something like that. If not, you can safely skip that step, which you might have read about in old books. A lot of people including myself don’t rack to secondary anymore. However…

You do, of course, need to rack on bottling day to keep the yeast sediment out of the bottles and before adding the priming sugar. It takes some practice. If you have an auto-siphon it is a little easier. I don’t have one. I just put the beer in a high place, with a bucket and a small container on a chair next to it, wash my hands good, fill my racking tube 100% with water, then put my finger on both ends of the tube, then quickly drop one end into the beer and the other end into the small container to drain the water out of the tube, then return finger over the tube when beer runs through, move the tube into the bucket, and let go, taking care to keep the tube submerged in the fermenter so as not to interrupt the siphoning action. Takes practice but once you get the hang of it, easy stuff.

In the future, you’ll want to find a cool spot in your house that remains below 70 F at all times, and ferment there. If you ferment above 70 F, fermentation will go really fast and the beer might taste fine… but it might also taste somewhat like rocket fuel, or end up tasting way too fruity. If you need to get the fermentation down a little, best way to do that is to set your fermenter in a small tub about 2 inches deep with water, get an old t-shirt soaked with water, and drape the wet t-shirt over the fermenter, and blow a fan on it, on low. This will reduce fermentation temperature by about 4-5 degrees. Works real slick – I’m doing this right now for a pale ale where I am using a Kolsch yeast which is supposed to ferment in the low 60s. My basement is about 65 F in the summer, so with the wet t-shirt I got it down to 61 F. Then just replenish the 2 inches water at the bottom of the tub every 5 or 6 days or as necessary. The wicking action of the t-shirt cools the fermenter via evaporation. Cheap and easy and very effective.

I’m in the same spot as you, njjohnson. Brewing up an Irish Red kit as my first home brew. I know my problem is fermentation temperature. I’m probably in the high 70s, and initial fermentation started after about 12 hours, and lasted maybe another 24-36. I know my first few attempts will be a learning experience.

For my next beer I’ll be taking dmtaylo2’s and do a swamp cooler type setup. For this one, I’m just going to be patient (don’t have a hydrometer yet, but I’m making a trip to the local home brew store at some point this week), and let it sit in the primary for another week or so, taking readings once I get the hydrometer. I need the time to collect more bottles, anyway! :slight_smile:

  1. Nothing is horribly wrong

  2. Forget about what the airlock is doing - you only see it bubbling at highest points of fermentation. No bubbles does not = nothing going on. If you are wondering what’s going on take a look at the beer - not the airlock.

  3. Sounds like you fermented a little warmer than ideal temps. Again don’t worry too much. It will still be beer. As you improve going forward keeping more control of the fermentation temps will make you better beer.

  4. The higher temperature would account for a faster fermentation.

  5. Hydometers are usefull and can answer questions for you. However, if you were to wait another two weeks and then bottle without taking any readings you would be fine. I rarely use my hydrometer.

Welcome to the obsession.
First of all, Besides Palmer’s How To Brew, the other book I recommend is Papazian’s Joy of Homebrewing.
His mantra is, “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew.” and that is what I say to you now.
You brewed last week. You had bubbles coming through. THat is good.
Take a deep breath. Walk away from the fermenter. Don’t come back for at least another week, preferably 2. The yeast may be done primary fermentation, but that does not mean they are done. There are byproducts of the fermentation that they will clean up, and then they will need time to drop out of suspension. At that time, you will be ready to bottle.
Believe me, I know you are anxious to try your new creation and to get cranking on the next batch, but patience is your friend and will result in better beer.
I used to run with the recommendations to ferment for 2 weeks then bottle, but when I had a batch that I had to leave for an extra week turn into the best brew I had ever done, I started leaving for 3 weeks in fermenter at all times. I also allow an extra week or so for carbonation once bottled, so I look at 6 weeks lag time between brew day and drinking day.