First Batch - No Hydrometer

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Brewer #138699, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    Hi All,

    I've just started brewing my first batch (5L BIAB wheat beer) and I started without a hydrometer and airlock as I wasn't overly concerned with knowing the ABV - figuring as long as I left it long enough and it tastes good i will drink it and that I would start brewing on the cheap using what tools (pots etc) I have available in my kitchen and if I like it then I will buy more gear later (which I think I will). Only problem is that now I'm not seeing what i expected and i have no way of testing to see where i am at... so I'm hoping people with some experience might know where I'm at.

    My problem:

    I've been fermenting for about 10 days now and at no point have i really seen any significant krausen develop in my carbouy. I have been keeping it within the target temperatures stated on the yeast pack and I could smell some gasses when I open the cooler I've stored it in a couple times but otherwise the lack of physical fermentation evidence is worrying me.

    I suppose I'm thinking two things could have gone wrong.

    1.I got crappy yeast. Its a decent brand (safale) but it was on special so I'm wondering if the cells are dead?

    2. I live in Thailand at the moment and I can't use the tap water here for brewing (because of taste not because of safety), and all I have available is reverse osmosis water. I understand this is great if you want to build a water profile for your beer, but for my first batch I didn't want to get that complex so I just used straight RO water. Can the lack of nutrients in the water stop fermentation?


    Or am I overthinking it and it is possible for it to ferment fine without much krausen?
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well Gday from Aus.

    So No Hydrometer no airlock that's a tough start for a new Brewer but heck it's probably OKo_O:).
    Some questions we need to know before we get started. Did you brew extract or all grain? Did you pitch at or near yeast packet specifications that way you didn't cook em to begin with. You gave it a good shaking to oxygenate. Have you tasted a sample yet to get an ideah firstly of any spoilage and secondly if fermentation did take place it'll no longer be sweet and you should be able to taste it being similar to flat beer. If it was that English S04 yeast it may have ripped through that wort quick and dropped before you noticed a krausen also a krausen should have left a ring an inch or two above liquid level.

    My bro fermented kits for years without a hydrometer! He got one with the kit by just never used it lol but it's very handy tool to let you know when the yeast are done fermenting out all the sugars. So I'd get one you'll use it every brew 3 or four time and they don't cost an arm and a leg neither does an airlock it's a safety mechanism to keep out any nasty bacteria that may be wofting about your cooler wanting to land in your wort and make it sour and vinegary.

    What are you fermenting in too? In the meantime you could slap some cling wrap or plastic wrap over the top of the airlock hole or alfoil to just stop any spoilage.

    Good Luck you'll get some great advise from the others here and I hope I could help cheers!
     
  3. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    I brewed all grain and I pitched at 24 deg Celsius (75 for those playing in America) which is the top of the range for the yeast I used and I gave it a good shake for a minute or two as well. I'm just fermenting in to the 6L water bottle i used to brew with and i did cover the top with foil to keep out some nasty's but no air lock.

    I haven't tasted a sample because I was paranoid about letting any bugs get in to it, but I'll taste in a few days time when I go to bottle it. There is a small ring around the top of it like you mentioned, so maybe it did drop before I could see anything?

    I pulled it out of the cooler so you can see a photo of it, maybe that will help. Wheat Beer #1.jpg
     
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  4. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well the proof is in the pudding yes the krausen ring is there and see the bottom of your ferm vessel there is a clear build up of dropped out yeast down there. Also at 24c fermentation would of went quick! I usually ferment ales at 18c to hold back the esters. Yeah no probs with the alfoil on top that's what I woulda done.

    I think it all looks fine to me nothing to worry about I recon.
     
  5. AsharaDayne

    AsharaDayne Active Member

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    Second that, you're looking good there. Although 24°C is rather high, but hey it's your first brew, time to worry about the next time around
     
  6. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    Awesome! I thought it might be yeast but I also thought it just might be grain sediment that dropped because I never saw the yeast rise. I'll let you know when I've bottled it in a couple days if it tastes like beer anyway. Thanks heaps
     
  7. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    Also to clarify, I pitched it at 24 but to keep it cool I have just put a large frozen water bottle in the cooler with it and I've been replacing it once a day. I'm finding it is generally between 18 and 22 degrees depending how hot of a day it is and how much the ice has melted.
     
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  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    You're making beer the old-fashioned way! From the pic, your beer fermented - it happens sometimes that the fermentation happens so quickly you don't notice the krauesen. So congratulations, you have beer. Your no-airlock compromise looks solid, process wise. You won't get an optimum fermentation with RO water, it's deficient in calcium and given the color of your beer may result in too high a mash pH (if you're mashing - if you're doing extract, RO water is perfect). So congratulations on the first batch of beer!
     
  9. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    If no other organisms invaded, you'll have drinkable beer...heck, even if they did and they're not acetobacter making vinegar, you'll still have drinkable beer. :)
    It's most likely completely fermented but if you feel your sanitation is good, leave it for another few days and give it a taste. You could have a little sample now to confirm that it's not sugary and is definitely tasting like flat beer. You'll probably be very encouraged.
    When you feel like it's tasting good, chill it and transfer, bottle and prime for carbonation, let it sit for a week or two and enjoy! ;)
     
  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    You're probably good, a hydrometer would be handy if for nothing else than checking if the fermentation is done. But it looks drinkable.
     
  11. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Actually RO water is the perfect water to use for extract brewing, so that's great. It's perfect for all grain brewing as well, but brewers often add brewing salts to their all-grain beers for flavor. Since that was done in making the DME/LME for you, you actually want very low mineralization in extract brewing, so it's a perfect choice.

    It looks good, and buy a hydrometer when you can.
     
  12. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    When you say chill it, what sort of temperature do you mean? Fridge temperature or not quite that cold?
    Also a couple of questions on priming.
    1. What temperature should I keep the bottles at once closed? Same as primary fermentation or can I just put the bottles in the fridge?
    2. If it has to be the same as primary, does it matter if the bottles move during this process? i.e. I am going on a small vacation for 5 days next week so I won't be at home to change the frozen water bottles every day, will they be OK if I take them in the car with me (4 hour drive) or am I tempting fate and they may blow up or all the vibration will somehow ruin the beer?
     
  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    toss em in your cooler you fermented your beer in that way if you ovee carb its in a safe enclosed environmnt. dont worry about the ice you want them fairly warm.anyways for the secondary fermentation that happens from your priming sugar and this wont contribute to overall flavour so around 24c is fine the warmer the quicker carbonation.
    disclamer i dont bottle carb anymore so priming sugar is hazy i used 7g / long neck but there are other brewers here that will give you an amount. there is a priming calculator on this site which i would use;).

    just leave them at home for your car ride lol leave em for a couple weeks to condition slap a few in the fridge and let cold condition for a week than enjoy your beverage oh a post a pic
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Once it's completely fermented, dropping the temperature (fridge is fine) will cause the yeast and sediment to settle to the bottom. You can skip this step altogether and either just leave the beer a little cloudy for bottling or let it sit for longer at room temp. Either way, you'll make beer. The clearer it is before bottling, the less sediment you'll have in each bottle.
    When you prime, add the proper amount of sugar to each bottle and seal it very tight.
    Hold at room temp for 2 weeks, preferably in a dark place, especially if you're using anything other than brown beer bottles. You don't need to tend them... just forget them for a while. Then after a few weeks, chill them down for a few days and enjoy. Be sure it's had time to settle and chill and then pour each bottle slowly, leaving a little in the bottom.
     
  15. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    So I bottled them up tonight and I have successfully made something that tastes like beer! I think it smells better than it tastes at this stage but it still tastes ok. I’m not sure what raw beer should taste like so I don’t know how much it will improve.

    I’ve also learnt a couple lessons...

    #1. Know how many liters you have before you bottle. I weighed my little carbouy at 3.7kg which I assumed meant I had about 3.5 liters of beer (200gms for the carbouy). I used the priming calculator based on this and added the dextrose accordingly but I actually only had about 2.8 liters of beer by the time I got it all out. I only had about 400gms in the left over yeast and bottle weight so I’m assuming the other 500gms was a little bit of spillage, a small taste I took out and the density differences between beer and water. Does this sound right?
    Obviously this means I have now over carbed my beer. I put the volumes back in the carbonation calculator and my adjusted CO2 is now at 4. Will my beer explode?
    Also I half filled the final bottle as well, will that cause an issue because of more head space?

    The second lesson I learned was to read instructions properly! I used my auto siphon more like a pump because I didn’t put the beer pot above the bottles when I was siphoning. I realized at the end, what I was doing so I may have oxygenated the beer but anyway I’ll find out in a few weeks and at least it was fun if it doesn’t work out.
     
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  16. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I'd put your bottles in something you don't mind getting glass and beer on just in case, but at this point just let it buck.
     
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  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Yeah...that's approaching bottle bomb territory. Might work out, bet be prepared. Yes...always know your volume before adding priming sugar. Yes...siphons don't work without gravity. Live and learn. ;)
     
  18. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    only way to learn is to get in there and get your hands STICKY:p!

    try that half filled ones first and ya may just have some lively bottle openings ha ha!
     
  19. Brewer #138699

    Brewer #138699 New Member

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    Ok guys so I opened my first bottle tonight after 11 days in the bottle because I am impatient.

    I went for the half filled bottle to test the carbonation in particular... holy shit does it have some gas in there! The top just about blew off and she foamed up instantly!

    I did manage to get some beer for a taste though and whilst not perfect I’m reasonably happy for a first attempt. Colour wise it’s come out fine because It’s a wheat beer so the cloudy lighter colour is what I was expecting.
    Taste wise the one thing I noticed instantly is how alcoholic it is. As you know I didn’t have a hydrometer and I also made bad assumptions about my boil off, water loss from grain absorption and therefore final volume. When I plugged the numbers back in to the recipe calculator and assume 70% efficiency, I have a 7.82% beer. You can definitely taste it. Otherwise it does taste like a wheat beer but it’s still a bit green I think - there is a little bit of tartness to it That I’m hoping will go away with a bit more time in the bottles, which brings me to my next questions...

    This beer needs conditioning but is super carbonated. If I give it more time will it carbonate more and risk exploding or should it have done most of it by now?

    If I open a full beer (as opposed to my half bottle) do I risk wearing it or will it react better because there is less space in the bottle for gas to build up?
     

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  20. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Chill it down hard before you open it. That'll suspend the CO2 as much as can be done. You've got over-carbonated beer and you risk bombs, but as long as you keep it good and cold, you should be fine. Be prepared to pour into over-sized glasses and pour as slowly as possible so you can let the head settle and get a full beer out of it. I had an over-carbed batch that I had to pour from the bottle to a quart container each time I wanted one.
    Nearly 8 percent is pretty hot, but the extra carb is pushing the alcohol, too. If you chill and pour into a large container and maybe stir it once when the head dissipates to let it unfizz even further, you'll get a better sense of how the beer actually tastes.
    Better luck next time. :)
     

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