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Question on fermenting

The Tripel I made 2 weeks ago, should be ready for transfer to secondary, where I intend to keep it for 3-4 months before bottling it.
When I was getting ready to transfer, I noticed that the Tripel is still making bubbles through the airlock every 30-45 seconds. Should I do a gravity read? Or is it ok to transfer, since quite a bit of yeast will be transferred at the same time?

Hmm. I’m not a master brewer by any means, but I’m out of the newbie stage … so take my advice with a grain of salt.

I think I just made the mistake you might be about to make… I learned to do more gravity readings along the way and keep the beer on the yeast while it’s still fermenting robustly. Otherwise, you might end up with the situation I just ended up in where I have a big beer like yours (OG 1.070) that got stuck at 1.028 on bottling day.

Sanitize your thief and take a reading. If you are close to your intended FG, then you might rack it. But I’d wait if you still have airlock bubbling going on…

Give it a longer run in primary. Belgian yeasts do their best work towards the end of the ferment. Expect FG readings of 1.010 or possibly lower depending on a host of variables. Better safe than cut it off too soon.

I’ve never regretted letting my beer sit in the primary an extra week or two. . . or month. . . or two. I’ve often regretted hurrying it along at 2 weeks.

Take a gravity reading: if it was active at all over the past two weeks, I suspect that fermentation is nearly complete. If it’s <1.020, transfer it!

In this cooler weather it’s usually good for the beer to be removed from the dead yeast that have done their work; there are enough viable yeast in your beer which would likely benefit from being transferred to another carboy; the transferring process not only removes the beer from trub-waste, it introduces more oxygen; oxygen that the yeast can use to cleanly finish their phenolic Belgian delights.

Hoppy Zymology,
Rev. Leonidas

Well, the gravity was 1.020, which was the gravity as predicted from the recipe.

4 lb Dry Malt Extract - Pilsen
6 lb Liquid Malt Extract - Pilsen
1 lb Belgian Candi Sugar - Clear/Blond 38 (could have been regular sugar, I happened to have this)
1 oz Perle Pellet 8.2 Boil 60 min
1 oz Saaz Pellet 3.5 Boil 30 min
OG: 1.083 Final Gravity: 1.020 ABV: 8.30%

So I transferred it. First taste is not too bad at all - and quite strong!
Now the wait starts: 3 months!

[quote=“pete_brewer”]The Tripel I made 2 weeks ago, should be ready for transfer to secondary, where I intend to keep it for 3-4 months before bottling it.
When I was getting ready to transfer, I noticed that the Tripel is still making bubbles through the airlock every 30-45 seconds. Should I do a gravity read? Or is it ok to transfer, since quite a bit of yeast will be transferred at the same time?[/quote]

First of all,the time when a beer is ready to be transferred is a somewhat unpredictable thing,and strong beers in particular can take longer to finish than what you think.If there are still bubbles coming out of the airlock at the rate you’re specifying,I’d say that you should wait at least a few more days until it slows down to less than one bubble every 2 or 3 minutes,to be sure that it’s really finished fermenting.Second,I’m not sure why you’re saying that quite a bit of yeast will be transferred to the secondary,but you should definitely avoid doing that as much as possible,because getting the beer off the yeast is the whole point of secondary fermentation.It’s not at all hard to do,either.Just place the racking cane as far as possible to the side of the fermenter when you siphon and let it go from there.A little tiny bit of yeast is going to get transferred,but not much at all.You could even use a clip to keep the racking cane in place and keep the bottom of it a good inch or so above the bottom of the carboy to avoid transferring any appreciable amount of yeast (and other forms of particulate sediment) at all.Not to beat a dead horse,but if you’re not willing to take measures to keep as much yeast as possible behind in the primary fermenter,then there’s really not much point at all in transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter.You might as well just go straight to bottling,in fact,because otherwise,you’re just wasting time and exposing the beer to potential contamination during handling for no good reason at all.

Well what I meant to say is that there is always quite a bit of yeast in suspension, which is going to be transferred. Of course you rake from the top and slowly go down, trying to avoid touching the cake on the bottem, but the yeast is not very flocculent so there is always quite a bit still in suspension.

I transferred to secondary - the gravity reading looked good - and still in secondary I get bubbles from the airlock every min or so.

I brewed a Belgian Tripel in September 3, 2011. I transferred to the secondary vessel after 24 days. I thought I had stable hydrometer readings of 1.015. 11/13 I was getting ready to bottle. Another hydrometer reading showed 1.013. I knew I had a problem . Fermentation should have been completed in the primary. Hydrometer readings didn’t change so I bottled on 11/22.
The yeast ate up the priming sugar then started working on wort sugars they didn’t finish in the primary. Each one of the bottles was/is very over carbonated. I uncap and let then sit for an hour before I try to pour. The pour produces a mountain of foam and not much liquid.

You probably already guessed that I keep these bottles inside a box inside a heavy duty tote in case they start exploding.

[quote=“RevLeonidas”]Take a gravity reading: if it was active at all over the past two weeks, I suspect that fermentation is nearly complete. If it’s <1.020, transfer it!

In this cooler weather it’s usually good for the beer to be removed from the dead yeast that have done their work; there are enough viable yeast in your beer which would likely benefit from being transferred to another carboy; the transferring process not only removes the beer from trub-waste, it introduces more oxygen; oxygen that the yeast can use to cleanly finish their phenolic Belgian delights.

Hoppy Zymology,
Rev. Leonidas[/quote]

Actually you really want to avoid contact with oxygen after fermentation has taken place. Yeast needs oxygen before fermentation for growth. Introducing O2 after fermentation will lead to oxidized beer and off flavors.

A Tripel might develop some nice character from oxidation over time. . . but I’d want that to happen over the course of months-years in a cellar, not in some sudden kind of uncontrolled way as a result of how it was racked.

One of the reasons to rack to secondary with WY3787 after primary fermentation is done, is that people have noted that it starts producing some funky off-flavors if you let your beer sit to long in primary.

[quote=“flars”]I brewed a Belgian Tripel in September 3, 2011. I transferred to the secondary vessel after 24 days. I thought I had stable hydrometer readings of 1.015. 11/13 I was getting ready to bottle. Another hydrometer reading showed 1.013. I knew I had a problem . Fermentation should have been completed in the primary. Hydrometer readings didn’t change so I bottled on 11/22.
The yeast ate up the priming sugar then started working on wort sugars they didn’t finish in the primary. Each one of the bottles was/is very over carbonated. I uncap and let then sit for an hour before I try to pour. The pour produces a mountain of foam and not much liquid.

You probably already guessed that I keep these bottles inside a box inside a heavy duty tote in case they start exploding.[/quote]

You should forward this post to the guy who posted the “Missed FG- Baltic Porter” question. I told him exactly what you’re saying here about the potential of explosive bottles, and I’m not sure he fully understands just how much of a mess those things can make. I think it’s probably just because he hasn’t experienced himself…yet. It’s amazing how much of a difference in carbonation a few gravity points can make when a beer finishes fermenting in bottles, huh?

Noted! And delisium, I took note of your bottle bomb warning. The last thing I want is for beer to blind me with a shard of glass in the eye… They are in a cardboard box inside a dark enclosed closet. Thanks for the extra warnings. Noted!

:slight_smile:

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