[quote=“Mark E”]Brewed my first batch today. The American Wheat Ale from the Deluxe Kit. Not my favorite type of beer, but a good one to cut my teeth on. When I put the rubber stopper and into the carboy, it wasn’t a firm fit. Is this normal?
Also, the directions say that the fermentation time is about 2 weeks. Would a longer primary fermentation, or a secondary hurt this beer?[/quote]
Make sure your stopper is free of any oils. It should not feel slippery. PBW is a good cleaner. Some carboys and stopper combinations just do not fit well. I use the “universal” stopper, both drilled and solid for all my carboys. Can’t be pushed into the carboy nor will they slowly slide out.
I typically primary for three weeks. I don’t use a secondary anymore. The fermentation is usually complete in 8 to 10 days. In a few more days the yeast has cleaned up the natural off flavors of fermentation. The CO2 in solution begins off gassing allowing suspended particles to drop out. By day 21 the beer is clear and the trub/yeast layer is compacted. The compact trub/yeast layer makes it easier to do a clean siphon to the bottling bucket.
I will take a specific gravity reading about day 10 to 12. This reading is usually the same as the later, second reading. The first reading is also a check for a possible stuck fermentation. Better to know if this has happened as early as possible. You will notice a lot of suspended particles and CO2 bubbles in this first sample. Let the CO2 off gas in your sample or spin the hydrometer so that the clinging CO2 is not floating it artificially high. A few days later I will take another specific gravity reading to confirm fermentation is complete and final gravity has been reached. Bottling before fermentation is complete can result in exploding bottles, messy and dangerous. This sample will usually have no CO2 bubbles and the suspended particles are no longer present. About day 21 I will bottle if my schedule lets me fit it in.
I wouldn’t be comfortable not using a hydrometer. This is not just for safety, but using it as a check of the brewing process and calculating ABV.