Author Topic: Not my typical fermentation result  (Read 8047 times)

Offline SleepySamSlim

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Not my typical fermentation result
« on: January 02, 2010, 06:30:42 PM »
So I mainly am brewing typical middle of the road ales (O.G.s  1.45 - 1.058) - I use a bucket for primary - dry yeast - run my fermentations 68-72deg. They usually finish in 4 - 7 days (hit F.G.) and then go to secondary for 7 days at 64-68deg.

And I do keep a rough watch on airlock bubble activity - this red ale had an OG of 1.053 and a target FG 1.011 - 1.016. Yeast was one pack of Fermentis S-05. So today was day 5 and the bubbles tapered down nicely thru the week - the brew was at 67-68deg today and basically no activity (I know this is only a rough indicator but I do watch it). So I prepped for a SG sample - and from the side of the sealed bucket I could see the typical krausen line of about 1 inch. And when I crack the bucket at this point in the process the krausen has usually pretty much totally dissipated just leaving the line on the bucket side, but today there was a rich and creamy layer of krausen covering the top layer - hmmmm. I took my sample --- the FG is right on at 1.014 and the "beer" tastes ok. Normally I would have racked - the creamy krausen thru me for a loop.

So I sealed things back up and placed the primary in our garage which is sitting at 58deg ---- feeling like I wanted to stop / really slow down fermentation. I plan to keep it there for 24hrs and take a peek .....

I'm sure this has been seen before or is common - but I've not seen it in 18 batches. Comments from the peanut gallery welcome  ;D and lets not get into the whole secondary whats and whys  :-X  .... its too early in the new year for that
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2010, 08:49:14 PM »
I use dry yeast often (Nott and S04 more than 05) but use carboys for primary, and so I have the advantage of seeing the progress.  I usually have a layer of krausen (in some form) for at least 6-8 days and sometimes longer.  And once airlock slows, I use my spin-plate to keep the yeast up in suspension, which actually clears the krausen artificially. 

With all the variables in play (OG, grist, yeast, temps, aeration, etc.) the visual performance likely varies a bunch.  Personally, b/c of that variance, I allow 10-14 days for primary to ensure it finishes and then cleans up the by-products. 

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2010, 09:55:45 PM »
A similar thing happened to me recently when I made my wee heavy.  I also give all my beers two weeks in the primary for the very reason that I want to be sure everything is done, the mess is made and has also been cleaned up.  Two weeks is more than enough time for most beers but not so long you have to start worrying about off flavors autolysis etc.   

I opened up the Wee Heavy and sure enough, a thick layer of krausen.  It threw me also, I even posted a question on this board but I don't think anybody weighed in.  I went looking at other boards and scouring the net and came up with what might be considered two different  and perhaps even competing view points on the topic. 

The most dominant opinion was that if there is kreausen then the yest are still busy, leave them be and let them finish their work.  The yeast know what their doing in other words and we would do well to leave them at their work.

The other opinion was that if the gravity is where it should be then it's okay to rack because sometimes you just end up with a layer of krausen that may never fall. 

As far as I can tell good judgment is the right answer between the two.  If the Krausen is still very thick and its only be a week or so then leave it be and give it more time.  If its been more like three or four weeks and the layer of krausen is thin or patchy, like a bunch of islands of krausen floating in a sea of beeer and your gravity reading is good and your beer tastes good then its probably okay to rack.  Anything in the middle of those two than I would say..................?

Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2010, 10:37:08 PM »
Thanks for the quick replies and perspectives --- I guess if you don't try something new then nothing is learned. I'll let this sit for a few more days and into next week in the primary and see where it goes. My only concern is overshooting the FG.
Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
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Offline SOGOAK

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2010, 07:08:22 AM »
S3, what does overshooting the fg mean? Beer too "dry?". I guess depending on style that could be a legit concern.

More often than not I fear sweet under attenuated brew.  +1 to ML there are so many factors besides just the OG that affect the ferment and final brew just be patient, sounds like u make good beer!
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Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2010, 10:14:32 AM »
SOGOAK --- Yes overshooting the target FG would be a dryer tasting beer. But that is certainly much better problem to have than a incomplete fermentation ... you can drink and enjoy a dry beer but not partially fermented. So its a concern but not a big one.

As to making good beer - thats always the goal ... but thats also the beauty of brewing as there are so many aspects of turning out a good brew. Including these kind of issues where I can learn something. One of the things I was told via my LBS when I was first starting is to get the brew off the yeast cake ASAP and into secondary to avoid bad yeasty effects. Yet I see many brewers here leaving it in primary for weeks .... so its a chance to learn.

The best thing is the fact I can get feedback from all of you brewers as we all try to brew good beer and piece together processes and methods. THANKS ALL!
Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had ...
-Robert Johnson

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2010, 03:26:44 PM »
S3, what does overshooting the fg mean? Beer too "dry?". I guess depending on style that could be a legit concern.

I was going to ask that question too.  Do some brewers 'stop' the fermentation when the FG hits their target?  I have always thought the FG was kind of in the hands of the yeast, given the certain grist, mash temp, ferm temp, etc.  If the brewer crashed chilled or racked the minute the target FG was reached, and there were unfermented (but fermentable) sugars left in the beer, would that be the same as an under-attenuated beer due to other causes (sudden drop in temps)??

I've never really thought about trying to control the FG beyond what I do on brew day, and somewhat thru controlling the ferm conditions. 


Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2010, 08:05:24 PM »


I was going to ask that question too.  Do some brewers 'stop' the fermentation when the FG hits their target?  I have always thought the FG was kind of in the hands of the yeast, given the certain grist, mash temp, ferm temp, etc.  If the brewer crashed chilled or racked the minute the target FG was reached, and there were unfermented (but fermentable) sugars left in the beer, would that be the same as an under-attenuated beer due to other causes (sudden drop in temps)??

I've never really thought about trying to control the FG beyond what I do on brew day, and somewhat thru controlling the ferm conditions. 

Upon hitting the FG defined in the style guide (or recipe) I do rack to secondary --- which I thought was where a bunch of cleanup activity occurs. And so far so good on my results ... although I am using the "evil secondary" process in my brewing which no doubt disqualifies me in general. And I have crash cooled one batch in early Summer (Blonde Ale) to slow fermentation down to rack. This is my first batch in 18 that didn't "appear" to be ready to rack - thus my post.

So far all my friends - other brewers and random tasters declare I am producing a beer like product (even if I do secondary like demon spawn). So I do what I do and try to learn where I can - but ignorance is bliss. I guess now I wonder why them thar style guides exist at all.  I feel now I have created a huge faux pas  (for those confused see --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faux_pas). I shall now go have one of several homebrews to ponder my fate
Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had ...
-Robert Johnson

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2010, 08:47:45 PM »
I don't think any faux pa was committed.  A lot of people on here secondary.  I know I do I just don't rush to move the beer over. Check out an issue or two ago of BYO and dig in the archives of Basic Brewing, they did an experiment to see if there was any difference in beer that was racked to secondary early and beer that was left on the yeast for an extended period of time.  The results were mixed but it might be worth checking out none the less.

I used to secondary after a week but the more I read the more I thought that the extra time won't hurt and, like you, on more than one occasion, I've opened the primary only to find a lot of Krausen still on top.  That told me the yeast wasn't done and if it hadn't fallen than it hadn't yet cleaned up its mess either.  This has only happened to me once since  I started to give all my beers two weeks in the primary.  My Wee Heavy needed more time than that even, but the SG was considerably higher than my usual beer (1.084 I believe) and the fermentation temp was considerably cooler (approx 60 degrees) so it makes sense that the yeast should have taken longer to drop. 

Having said all that, you should do what your comfortable with, secondary or not its up to you.  It's your hobby after all and until we see some data that suggests that putting beer into a secondary fermenter actually hurts the finished product, I know I plan to keep doing it (It frees up the primary so I can make more beer)

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2010, 06:52:02 AM »
I don't think S-05 is one, but some yeasts are described as "true top-cropping" yeasts.  I'm not sure whether that speaks to the height of the krausen AND the duration, or what. 

I put most beers in secondary too, after ~14 days in primary.  I always see improvements in clarity and believe (right or wrong) that once moved off the primary yeast cake I can worry less about off-flavors if I ignore the beer in secondary for a while. 

Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: Not my typical fermentation result
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2010, 01:08:24 AM »
No problem - I just had a minor melt down at the thought letting yeast run wild on their own versus controlling fermentation(s) as I have. Its a concept I'll have to ponder ... I am of strong German decent which no doubt helps my brewing - but perhaps I have some latent issues with controlling things. Early brewing no doubt varied a lot in many aspects - but we are modern brewers with hydrometers! See there I go on the control side again - have to work on that.

Either way the krausen has broken up and I'll rack later this week .... I'll just remain calm

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Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
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