Almost bottling time. some (last minute) questions

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Zambezi Special, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Zambezi Special

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    As the title says, I am planning to bottle tomorrow.
    The beer has been fermenting for 2 weeks now, low OG of about 1035 and Mangrove Jack M41 yeast.

    Can I assume it has finished fermenting?
    I know it would be better to take a couple of gravity readings, but this is a bucket without valve, so I would have to take a sample from the top and am a bit scared of oxidation/contamination.

    However, I could siphon into my bottling bucket and take a reading and if this is far off the expected reading (1006) I could put a water lock on the bottling bucket and put it back in the fermentation fridge (obviously without the priming sugar)? Thing is, this is only a calculated reading and may be quite far out.
    Other thing is, I want to make some cider on the trub of the beer and I can't fit both buckets in the fridge....
    But if it is really much better to do so, then the cider will just have to deal with ambient temperature.

    I can also leave the beer in the fermenter for another week or so.

    What is wisdom?
     
  2. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    It certainly wouldn't hurt to leave it for another week. Your idea of racking and checking gravity in the bottling bucket would work too. If need be, you could store the yeast refrigerated in a sanitized bottle or jar until you have free space in the fridge for the cider. Just be sure to leave the lid loose or just cover with sanitized foil.

    Wisdom is the sum total of what you've learned from your mistakes. Once it is achieved, you will continue to learn, but from the mistakes of others.
     
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  3. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Member

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    If the bubbling in your airlock has slowed to less than one bubble a minute, you have probably completed most of the fermentation. At least enough to keep from making bottle bombs. If there is still a good amount of bubbling going on, you need to wait.

    Before I had online specific gravity measurement (I now use a Tilt), I would wait for the bubbling to go less than once a minute and then wait about three days. For some yeasts and beers that meant I could bottle in 6 or 7 days, other might take 3 -4 weeks before they were ready to bottle.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Your idea of racking the beer into the bottling bucket is sound. I'd go with that: You want three days with no change in gravity to be sure fermentation is over. Since all you're looking for is change, you can use a hydrometer or an uncorrected refractometer for your measurement. Bubba Wade's suggestion is sound, the only problem being that extra sugar could lead to overcarbonation and gushers. If you're at 1006 your fermentation is probably done. You won't get bottle bombs. You might get gushers.
     
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  5. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Knowing me Zambezie I'd bottle the beer and make the cider. Good luck :)
     
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  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    If you don't have a gravity reading, don't assume you can bottle it, period.
    Yes you can treat your bottling bucket as a secondary, but if it's not at gravity after 2 weeks, you need to leave it where it is - on the active yeast cake. It should be done, but some Belgians can look like they're completely done and then restart as lat as 2 weeks and go much further.
    If you can get a gravity reading before you transfer, that's best. It'll give you more confidence as to what you should do. You may very well find that it's at a decent gravity for bottling and you'll be fine to proceed as you suggest.
     
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  7. Zambezi Special

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    Thanks all.

    That's quite some different opinions!

    It's definitely bubbling less than 1 blub per minute. I can't really follow it that well, as it is in the fermenting fridge, so I can't see the water lock.

    I can actually do a gravity reading, by unscrewing the bucket, and taking a sample with a sanitised pipet, then again in 3 days to see if the reading is the same (and use the correction table to see what the gravity is, and check with hydrometer when actually bottling). Or use a cup to get some beer out and use hydrometer straight away.
    Just scared of oxygen coming in.
    Especially since it is a 30 litre fermentation bucket with only about 12 litres in it, so there will be lots of air coming in, if I disturb the CO2 layer on top (if that makes sense)

    I would normally just have bottled, but in the last 2 days I read a couple of posts of people using M41 yeast that keeps going....
    Not too worried about bottle bombs as this batch will be bottled in 500 ml plastic bottles (PET bottles) that can handle a lot of pressure (and no risk of breaking glas). Gushers could definitely happen though. Maybe I should use a bit less priming sugar to be sure?

    For now, I'm going to let it sit till after the weekend, check on the bubbles in the airlock and then bottle (if I see no action in the water lock).
    I think o_O
     
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  8. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Don't rely on air lock activity for active fermentation it's usually absorbed co2 from fermentation leaving the vessel. Take my stuck stout fermentation this week I took a sample last sat it was 1.022 ish I 're pitched more yeast then a day or two later I saw intermittent bubbling and though hey maybe I can get this fermentation to budge. Took a reading yesterday confident of a lower reading nope 1.022. She's done she's in keg now.

    So to be sure to be sure take a reading.
    If your super confident bottle her up.
    Remember there's a little more forgiveness from kegging as it's forced carbonation as with bottling final gravity is a bit more critical.

    Good luck.
     
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  9. Zambezi Special

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    Thanks Ben,
    Thanks all!

    I'm getting there.
    I just had another look see and indeed no bubbles.
    Plan is now to clean and sanitise the rigid part of my siphoning pipe, and I will use that as a pipette, sort of. It's long enough to get to the beer, not enough to take a full hydrometer sample. So I'll take a refractometer sample and do that again 2 or 3 days later. It won't give the right SG value, but those 2 readings should be the same if no extra alcohol is formed. I'll do a proper FG reader when bottling.
    I figured I can unscrew just the water lock and I don't have to open the complete lid of the bucket.

    I got a bucket like this: https://www.braumarkt.com/gistingsvat-31-l-wit-groen-waterslot

    Wednesday now, got no time from Friday to Sunday (I run a lodge, weekends are busier), so will aim for bottling on Monday and do a SG sample this Friday or Saturday
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Be gentle with it and there won't be too much worry about air. It's blanketed with CO2 from fermentation. You should be fine taking a sample.
     
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  11. Zambezi Special

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    Well....
    I think she is ready to bottle!
    I just took a sample by attaching the siphoning hose to a syringe and using the water lock opening.
    I took a bit too little liquid with the first sample and it was a bit cloudy. Think I hit the trub. Removed a little more beer, making sure to stay shallower and this sample was clear.
    The hydrometer reading was 1002-1003!
    The refracto meter reading was 3.5, which according to the correction table brings it to 1003

    I'll do another sample when bottling on Sunday or Monday, but quite sure it can't get much lower!

    The beer doesn't taste that bad either, although I always find that difficult with warm beer, without bubbles.
    It's gonna be a light alcohol one, about 3.5%, but I'm OK with that, if it tastes good.
     
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  12. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    That's really low, like suspiciously low. Hopefully it all turns out though. Congrats!
     
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  13. Zambezi Special

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    I'll let you know in about 2 weeks time ;)
    I've seen a number of posts with this yeast ending at 1003 or there abouts. Anyway, fingers crossed.....
     
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