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Adding water after fermenting starts

TeeSquar

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I did a kit batch of Imperial this past Saturday, but had to leave just before transferring the the wort and pitching the yeast. My brother helps out so I had him move the cooled wort and pitch the yeast. He has been around me before when I brew so he "knows" most of the process. Well, most.

He forgot to "top off" the batch to the 5 gallon mark. I would say it is about 1/2 gallon short. I thought the OG reading of 1.085 was a little on the high side for what I normally get when I do this recipe and noticed this morning the lower liquid volume. The batch has been fermenting for the last 2 days and churning away quite nicely.

When I transfer over to the secondary in a day or two can I add the missing 1/2 gallon without screwing up the batch? Should I just leave it alone? Hey, it is 4 pints of Imperial that I would be down.

Thanks in advance.
 

philm63

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Nothing wrong with a 1.085 Imperial. You really don't want to go in after fermentation has begun and start changing ingredients around or you may risk infection, oxidation, upsetting the process of fermentation, etc.

Let it ferment out and do what you normally do after that - who knows; this one might just totally rock!
 

philm63

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Didn't pay enough attention to that last part where you said "When I transfer over to the secondary in a day or two..." I would not be so quick to transfer to secondary and here's why; after 4 days, even with a fairly active fermentation, the yeast are still doing their thing whether finishing up on the attenuation tasks or keeping house by cleaning up after themselves.

Provided you keep an eye on temperatures and have a good healthy pitch of yeast, typical fermentation activity for ales will peak in 2 or 3 days but that is no indication it's done doing what it's supposed to do.

Check the gravity with a hydrometer (or similar instrument) after about 4 days or when the bubbling slows significantly, then check it again the next day to see if you get the same number, and perhaps even again in another day to be sure fermentation is over. But wait; there's more...

Even after the bubbles have slowed and the gravity is stable, the yeast are still cleaning up for at least another day or two getting rid of the byproducts of fermentation such as diacetyl and acetaldehyde. Letting them do this will avoid off flavors in your finished beer, the resulting product will likely be much better.

 

WoodlandBrew

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I agree, time will let the yeast clean up the diacetyl as they prepare for hibernation.  You don't even have to rack to rack to a secondary. 

About the water: Add it if you want more beers.  One gallon in a 5 gallon batch is 20%, which is a lot in my book.  Or maybe you want a 20% stronger imperial.  8.3% ABV would become 10%ABV if you don't add the water.
 

factory

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I have safely added boiled and cooled water to the secondary to top it up after racking from the primary.  In my case I had a huge yeast cake and some sediment from pumpkin that fell out and I lost about a quart and a half to the secondary.  Finished out at 1.016 when I expected 1.012 even with the water addition.
 
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