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Newbie needs help

hi. this is my third batch and im having issues with the last batch carbonating and now this batch fermenting. i think i have an idea of what i did wrong. basicly im stuck in an upper level condo and havent been able to regulate my temperature, i didnt have a temp strip until today but being that the ambient temp in here is between 70 and 72 im assuming that thats part of my issue. my last batch had no problem fermenting (it was a heavy brown) but now that im on week 2.5 of carbonating its still pretty flat. does it sound like ive killed too much of the yeast? this batch im fermenting right now was pitched 2 weeks ago at about 78 degrees, i tried to cool it fast in the mini fridge but i dont have a wort chiller yet. fermentation has been slow with bubbles in the airlock about 8 seconds apart for the first couple days, yesterday they were about 16 seconds apart so i racked into secondary today. im assuming you are going to suggest a swamp chiller. can someone explain how exactly they work? ive looked around here and cant really find anything solid. do i need to add ice to the water? how high do i fill the water? also what should i do about my current batch?

First I would say that in the future don’t worry about moving into a secondary. It isn’t really necessary, just let the beer finish in the primary.

What I did before getting a fridge was, I used a tub (like one of those red/blue ones people use at parties for kegs). I put the fermenter in the tub and fill about 1/2-2/3 up the side fermenter. I also would wet a towel and wrap it around the fermenter. My apartment temp is about the same as yours and that would usually get me down to mid 60’s. If we had a heat wave or such I would add frozen water bottles to the water. Very easy to do.

[quote=“Cheshire_Cat”]First I would say that in the future don’t worry about moving into a secondary. It isn’t really necessary, just let the beer finish in the primary.

What I did before getting a fridge was, I used a tub (like one of those red/blue ones people use at parties for kegs). I put the fermenter in the tub and fill about 1/2-2/3 up the side fermenter. I also would wet a towel and wrap it around the fermenter. My apartment temp is about the same as yours and that would usually get me down to mid 60’s. If we had a heat wave or such I would add frozen water bottles to the water. Very easy to do.[/quote]
^^^^^+1. This works great. Check out Nighthawk’s signature line for ideas and pictures. :cheers:

What should I do about the current batch? Or the ones that aren’t carbonating?

Your current batch should probably stay in the secondary until all airlock activity stops. Then I’d take a gravity reading(if you have the hardware). Take gravity readings a few days apart, and if there’s no change in 3 or 4 days, then bottle. Your high temp fermentation will probably give you some off flavors, but you probably didn’t hit temps that would kill the yeast(although remember the beer will hit higher temps than the ambient air temp). When priming, make sure the priming sugar is well incorporated into the beer–probably should stir a few times during bottling-gently so as not to oxygenate. Make sure your caps are sealing tightly, I’m assuming you’re using standard bottle caps. I test each cap after bottling by giving it a twist to see if it will move-I’ve had a few I’ve had to redo.
How many bottles from the non-carbed batch have you tested? I’d try at least 3 or 4 random samples, and if some are carbed, you probably just didn’t have your priming sugar dispersed well enough.
I’m no expert here, just giving you things to think about that I’ve been helped with. Most of the big guns on this forum will probably tell you to be patient with the batch you have going. That has been my biggest obstacle so far. Don’t get discouraged, though. This stuff is great fun and incredibly rewarding. Good luck.

Not to nit pick anyone, please use some paragraph breaks between topics. :wink:

With your first batch, try tipping the bottles upside down and shaking to rouse the yeast. It’s highly unlikely you killed them. Yeast are heat tolerant to around 110 degrees.

The second batch, likely that fermentation completed in 1 day (when you were not watching) because of the high temperature. It’s on the down slope now. Only way to tell would be to take a hydrometer reading. I wouldn’t worry about it until 10 days has passed.

Below is a link of various ways to keep your fermenter cool.

I have a hydrometer and did a reading right off the bat, I have it written down, I’ll take one in a day or 2 when I get the time and ill post the results. You guys can explain to me what it all means. I really appreciate the help.

[quote=“Frenchie”]Your current batch should probably stay in the secondary until all airlock activity stops. Then I’d take a gravity reading(if you have the hardware). Take gravity readings a few days apart, and if there’s no change in 3 or 4 days, then bottle. Your high temp fermentation will probably give you some off flavors, but you probably didn’t hit temps that would kill the yeast(although remember the beer will hit higher temps than the ambient air temp). When priming, make sure the priming sugar is well incorporated into the beer–probably should stir a few times during bottling-gently so as not to oxygenate. Make sure your caps are sealing tightly, I’m assuming you’re using standard bottle caps. I test each cap after bottling by giving it a twist to see if it will move-I’ve had a few I’ve had to redo.
How many bottles from the non-carbed batch have you tested? I’d try at least 3 or 4 random samples, and if some are carbed, you probably just didn’t have your priming sugar dispersed well enough.
I’m no expert here, just giving you things to think about that I’ve been helped with. Most of the big guns on this forum will probably tell you to be patient with the batch you have going. That has been my biggest obstacle so far. Don’t get discouraged, though. This stuff is great fun and incredibly rewarding. Good luck.[/quote]
Oh man if these one ever not to get discouraged its me lol. Anyways I’ve tried about 4 but I’ve never tried the twist trick so ill do that and go from there. I’ll keep it going but I can’t get the temp down for a few days at least since I’m soo busy and have to go buy a bucket for water. It just seems weird to me that the batch is supposed to ferment for 4 weeks and there’s soo little activity but I’m no professional so I’ll listen to you guys and leave it the way it is and just try to cool it ASAP and get the gravity reading

ok so i took a gravity reading. with the kit came some instructions for what gravity should be. the recipe says starting gravity should be 1.054 mine was 1.053, it says final gravity should be 1.012 and im at 1.017 right now. i tasted it and its not bad at all. its still bubbling slowly. how much longer should i wait before bottleing?

also i checked out a few of the beers from the last batch and none have carbonated. and all the caps passed the twist test. i still cant figure out what i did wrong there.

also i forgot to add that i got the temp down to about 67 right now with evaporative cooling in a tub half filled with water, i managed to hang a fan upside down from a hanger in the closet to keep the air moving. its quite the interesting contraption lol girlfriend loves it

[quote=“badcompany”]ok so i took a gravity reading. with the kit came some instructions for what gravity should be. the recipe says starting gravity should be 1.054 mine was 1.053, it says final gravity should be 1.012 and im at 1.017 right now. i tasted it and its not bad at all. its still bubbling slowly. how much longer should i wait before bottleing?

also i checked out a few of the beers from the last batch and none have carbonated. and all the caps passed the twist test. i still cant figure out what i did wrong there.[/quote]

I would not worry about a fermenting beer for a total of 3 weeks.

For the “non carbonating” bottles, how long have they been in the bottle. Again, tip them upside down and shake them everyday for 2 weeks.

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