First Brew Worries

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by witwer95, Nov 22, 2019.

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  1. witwer95

    witwer95 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2019

    Hey there - another first-timer! I am making an Amber ale from Northern Brewer (5 gal). I think I did everything right but when I transferred from the kettle to the 5 gal bucket, I created some foam. I pitched the yeast on top and came back the next day to still find it sitting on top of the foam layer. I stirred it once with a sanitized stirrer to ensure the yeast could get to the beer and actually consume the sugars. It is now day 4 and I’m not seeing any activity in the airlock or the bucket (I’ve peeked a few times to check). Anyone have advice? The yeast bag they gave me looked pretty small so I’m not sure if there are enough yeast to ferment, if I need to be patient, or if I may have ruined my first batch!
     
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  2. scream

    scream Meyvn (1,363) Dec 6, 2014 Wisconsin

    Hello @witwer95 welcome to the BA Forums and enjoy ! Did you cool down the wort before pitching the yeast ?
     
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  3. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,671) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Welcome to the BA site, witwer95. Your question is a bit difficult to answer, and I'm not an 'expert' like many other BA members who hang out in the Homebrewing forum. Was this beer from a kit that had the yeast pack stored inside and the kit was on a shelf? Was the packet dated? What temp is the wort fermenting at? Do you have a hydrometer?

    It's good that you poured the wort into the bucket and created foam because that aerates it and helps the yeast multiply. It's also possible that enough yeast made it thru the foam to do their job that quickly if it was fresh and had been stored refrigerated, and it may be what you saw for the foam the next day was actually the krausen from the fermentation. The only sure way to know is to take a sample and use your hydrometer to see if the wort has reached the final gravity that should be listed in the recipe (or is close to it).

    At this point, I'd make sure the lid on the bucket is tight, as well as the air lock so the CO2 has nowhere else to go. (Bucket lids are sometimes warped and not tight.) Give it a few more days to do its thing, then take a sample to see where you stand. In the meantime, if you can get another packet of yeast in case a re-pitch is needed, now is a good time to do it. It's always nice to have spare, fresh yeast on hand for situations like this.

    You can also post your question in the Homebrewing forum to reach those 'experts' because most of them do not spend time in this forum. Answers to my questions above questions would be good to include in a new post.

    Good luck, and report back when things are going good.
     
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  4. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    Hi! As @PapaGoose03 pointed out, the only way to be sure is to take a sample. Lack of airlock activity is not necessarily an indication that fermentation has not/is not taking place. Is this northern Brewers block party Amber ale? That was my first brew and I saw zero airlock activity for that batch.

    Rdwhahb

    Cheers!
     
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  5. witwer95

    witwer95 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2019

    Okay, a few notes! I think I over boiled my wort originally. My original gravity was 1.070. I know that it’s supposed to be around 1.045. I just took a sample and my hydrometer reads 1.011. I also took a sample and tasted it and it taste like an amber ale and the color is good. Perhaps the Krausen later was hiding under the foam layer before and the fermentation is basically complete! I think I’ll do as y’all say and put the lid on and wait for the 7-10 day range. Thoughts?
     
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  6. witwer95

    witwer95 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2019

  7. barleyhead

    barleyhead Initiate (103) Jun 5, 2008 New Jersey

    No worries on over boiling. It will just result in higher original gravity and lower volume (due to boil-off), and perhaps a higher ABV. It's a good sign that the gravity decreased to 1.011. I recommend taking hydrometer readings over a few days. If it hasn't changed, fermentation should be complete. You could let it settle out for a few days.
    I hope you enjoy it.
     
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  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,032) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Assuming a 5 gallon batch, you'd have to boil what would otherwise have been a 1.045 wort down to about 3.2 gallons to hit 1.070. Much more likely, assuming this was a partial boil with water topped off after the boil, is the wort and the water were not thoroughly mixed when you took the hydrometer OG.

    Also, for a typical amber ale (especially an extract kit), 1.045 to 1.011 (76% Apparent Attenuation) makes much more sense than 1.070 to 1.011 (84% Apparent Attenuation).

    Also also, I recommend reading "How to Brew" by John Palmer.
     
  9. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,671) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    With an OG of 1.070 I'd be surprised if a beer that big finished that quickly. I agree with VikeMan that your kit instructions had you add water after the boil and that you may have taken your reading before adding the water, or it wasn't mixed well and you pulled a faulty sample. Did you add water?

    Regardless of the water addituon, as suggested by barkeyhead, I'd wait a few more days and then take a couple readings a couple days apart to see if the gravity has stabilized. If so, you can bottle or keg the beer.

    If you didn't add water yet to get your beer to the 5-gallon mark, you can add it as your priming solution when bottling. Boil whatever amount of water it requires to reach 5 gallons along with the correct amount of priming sugar for that amount, and add it to your bottling bucket before siphoning your beer into it. Stir the mixture gently to be sure it is mixed thoroughly and then proceed to bottle the beer.
     
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (511) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The typical response is simply RDWHAHB. Look it up. That has been the standard response since around 1976 when Charlie P coined the phrase. Really. If you worry too much the yeast will sense this, they are like dogs. Worrying will not make your beer better. Worrying will make take away from the enjoyment. So simply, RDWHAHB.

    A typical 11 gram bag if dried yeast can produce a hundred billion cells if everything goes well. Now, without getting into the advanced topic of beer yeast and fermentation, because a doctoral thesis could be written on perhaps 1,000 individual elements, trust that your NB yeast package can get the job done.

    Good luck. Come back often.
    Cheers.
     
  11. witwer95

    witwer95 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2019

    I let the pot “boil” for a few hours which seemed ridiculously long to me but I couldn’t get a boil going. If it was a “rolling boil” as the instructions said, it was definitely undefined and below the surface :/ when I transferred, I did have to put almost 2 gallons of water on top. Still the water should have dispersed the solids content and brought the reading back down though, right? In any case, any thoughts on how this will affect the brew if it does happen?
     
  12. witwer95

    witwer95 Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2019

     
  13. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,032) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    If you didn't mix the water and wort together thoroughly (by stirring), it can take a long time for the mixture to homogenize. I'd say this is the most common cause of new brewers being puzzled by OG readings of partial boil/top off recipes.

    Eh, it probably won't have much effect at all. Ideally, you want it thoroughly mixed, so that you can get a good reading and so that the yeast have a nice homogenous environment. Yeast assess their environs, including food (sugar) density, and decide how much to grow before shifting to other metabolic modes. That said, I've never heard of any noticeable effects in the final beer from starting off this way.
     
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