Slow fermentation?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by sbaclimber, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    So...I've been using the same yeast (WLP007) for every beer I've brewed since going all-grain, with overall great results (high flocculation & >80% attenuation).
    After over a dozen brews now, I have the feeling that it ferments consistently "slower" than I would've expected though. I am not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that I rack all of my brews into a secondary for dry hopping, but with only minor differences this is pretty much what happens with each brew....
    1) I brew evenings. So, I generally end up filling the primary (no chill) roundabout 11pm-12am. I siphon off ~1/2l wort, cool to room temp, measure OG (e.g. last brew = 12.7°), mix with 1/2l H2O and add the yeast (liquid) for a starter.
    2) 12-18hrs later (next afternoon) the starter is very active (1-2" krausen), so I add it to the now cool wort in the primary.
    3) 3-5 days of very active fermentation, another 2-4 of consistently active (<30sec airlock activity). On the 9th day, regardless of activity (it is normally still around 1-2min between bubbles), I rack the beer into the secondary, measure SG (e.g. last brew = 3.3°) and add hops.
    4) 14 days later, I bottle. FG is always about where it should be (e.g. last brew = 2.1°) but...
    a) there is still a fair amout of airlock activity (~5-10min between bubbles)
    b) the FG drops another 1-2 points in the bottle
    ...and depending on the beer, sometimes it still has a pretty green taste after 3 weeks.

    BTW, I ferment and bottle condition at room temperature.

    Is this normal, or should I be trying to get the fermentation to really finish before bottling? If so, any ideas how?
     
  2. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    SBA,
    Are you reusing your yeast? From primary?
    What is room temperature? Any temp control?
    Why are you transferring to Brite?
    Are you brewing the same beer every time?

    If you're saving yeast and getting it from the primary, you may, after a couple of times notice a slower finish. Through natural selection, you are only capturing the yeast that want to work fast and go to sleep at the bottom. The slower less flocculant ones go to the brite in the transfer. Those help finish up and work on the green flavors you speak of.

    Most Ale yeast strains including WLP007 ferment best @ about 68°. If your 'Room Temperature" is in that range, your beer may actually be fermenting much warmer than that. Monitor the fermentor temperature with a stick on thermometer and look into using a swamp cooler to stabilize the temp swings created during active fermentation.

    You can leave your beer in the primary. Moving it opens it up to oxidation and possible infection. There are plenty of articles and discussions on this. The most recent is in the last Zymurgy issue. Also check this out. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/second ... gh-176837/

    Different beers require different handling. A smaller beer can ready in under 2 weeks total and a larger beer may require months to mature. My general rule of thumb is for beers 5.5% abv or lower, 2 weeks in the primary and then keg or bottle. Beers bigger than that, 3 weeks at least in the primary and then more conditioning time as well.

    I hope this helps.
    Brian
     
  3. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    As far as leaving it in the primary, that's a double edged sword. A lot of resources say to pull it off the yeast after most carbonation is done, in order to prevent the dead/inactive yeast, as well as any trub, to emit off flavors to the beer.

    I would transfer to a secondary, and not bottle until the activity has finished.
     
  4. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the feedback!
    Every 3rd brew is new yeast. I then harvest from that primary, split the yeast into 2 bottles, and use those for the next 2 brews.
    Room temp is 18°C, no temp control. (which is why things went a bit haywire in summer when it hit 30°+ outside...)
    I will probably pick up some stick-on thermometers with my next supplies order.
    The transfer to Brite is more of a historic thing that I have simply "always done".... I have read many of the discussions regarding brite vs. no-brite, and never really read a convincing argument to stop doing it....other than it might of course be one reason why the fermentation is taking longer.
    I am not brewing the *same* beer every time, but similar (IPA style). The OG/FG has varied (anywhere between 12° and 17°), depending on the brew, but the fermentation has been relatively consistent.
     
  5. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    This is the main reason why I have always done it.
    I haven't actually done a head-to-head comparison with and without secondary to test whether or not it would actually make a difference though.
     
  6. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    How do you aerate?

    Sounds like typical symptoms of a yeast culture that doesn't get enough O2 from batch to batch.

    Kai
     
  7. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you might be right! I had thought of that, but I really don't do any sort of *proper* aeration. I always kind of assumed that pouring the wort out of the boil pot into primary, due to the splashing that inevitably occurs, would be enough aeration for the wort.
     
  8. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    Simple splashing doesn't get enough O2 into the wort. You need to shake it vigorously, use a MixStir or O2 with a sintered stone.

    Here is something that may give you an idea: http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2010/12 ... ated-pipe/

    Kai
     
  9. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I wonder if a paint stirrer (the kind that hook up to drills) would work? It would need to be made of food safe material.
     
  10. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    The food grade issue is why people generally use the MixStir for this. http://www.midwestsupplies.com/mix-stir ... r-rod.html (was the first to come up in Google) others well it as well.

    Kai
     
  11. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Cool! The MixStir (or something similar) looks like it might be the very solution to my issue. :)
     
  12. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Too bad it gets 2 stars at the mid-west site, a lot of people are saying it is junk.

    I'm wondering if I can DIY something out of food grade plastic.

    This one looks good, and its way cheaper:
    http://www.brewgadgets.com/p-156-plasti ... Qgodg30A8w
    But it might not fit into a carboy.
     
  13. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Just had a bit more of a poke around on the internet.... Considering how inexpensive an aquarium aeration set is, I think I will just go with one of those. Plus, I can probably buy one at the pet shop on my way home this evening, and try it out tomorrow. :p
     
  14. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    That should work fine for you.
    Stabilizing your temps will help in reducing those "green" flavor you speak of.
    Good Luck
    Brian
     
  15. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Cheers!
    Stick-on thermometers are definitely on my shopping list.
     
  16. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    I have one and would not say that it is junk.

    Kai
     
  17. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again for the aeration tip! I picked up an aquarium kit Friday evening (only cost 16 bucks! :cool: ) and gave the cooled wort a blast Saturday afternoon. Was hoping to be able to aerate for a good 1/2 hour, but had to stop after about 20 minutes as the mountain of foam in the fermenter threatened to overflow (26.5l. in a 30l. bucket doesn't leave much headspace).
    Fermentation definitely kicked off faster than usual! Now I'll just have to wait and see if it also finishes faster... :p
     
  18. chessking

    chessking New Member

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    You don't have to blast it with air. Just a gentle flow that turns over the surface area. Its not the amount of air bubbling through, but the turnover of the surface and the exchange or mix of wort within the vessel. If you look at the surface and see movement, that's good enough. 20 min is plenty IMHO.
     
  19. chessking

    chessking New Member

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    Also excess foaming in the carboy can reduce the proteins that help form and stabilize foam later on in the pour. Head retention can be reduced as a result
     
  20. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    I don't think that this makes much of a difference. Check out this experiment I did: http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2010/03 ... retention/

    Kai
     

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