New brewer needs a little help folks- Cold crash?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Adambrew, Jan 14, 2014.

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  1. Adambrew

    Adambrew Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2014 Michigan

    So I have recently invested in a pretty decent starter set up for home brewing. I have an IPA Bitter by Muntons at day 6 in the primary. Had great bubbles after about 12 hours in the airlock and they are now starting to slow. My cautious side says to make this first beer by the book... prime and bottle to rest; but the adventurer and hoppy IPA lover in me wants to add more hops and dry hop this thing into a dank hoppy mess of wonderful.

    My question is: Cold crash? if so when? how do I know when its ready? Dry hop before? after? I have not opened the primary yet and am nervous to... The beer store I originally bough my kit from missed telling me I needed the hydrometer, so i do not have OG measured. I do, however, have a hydrometer now. Should I secondary the beer at all?

    I have read some things in a Palmer book, the directions on the Muntons can, and read a bunch of posts on here and others and have more advice that kind of dances around my situation. I figured I would post my exact situation and hope for answers!

    Thanks to anyone that can offer some help!

  2. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,145) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Your questions indicate you haven't learned enough to brew a batch. I suggest you go here, though, for the answers you seek. Reading this book will make you a much better brewer.
    FATC1TY likes this.
  3. premierpro

    premierpro Savant (1,060) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    Reading that book and having it on hand is an excellent idea. I screwed up this weekend and did not take a gravity reading. Depending on the yeast strain I always trust that they will do it's job. If you want to dry hop your beer go for it although I think you will enjoy the beer as is. I find it much easier to find good IPA's over good Bitters.

    Although not the best way my process for dry hopping is to get a nylon paint strainer and some stainless steel ball berings for weight. Boil the bag and berings for a few minutes. Dump your hops and berings in the bag tie a knot and put in fermentator. I will do this after 2 weeks of fermentation then keg or bottle at 3 weeks. Good luck.
  4. Adambrew

    Adambrew Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2014 Michigan

    I do have the book and will read it. I just got a little excited and gave er a go before reading it cover to cover.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Grand Pooh-Bah (3,043) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    My advice is to not go too far off script for your first batch. That would include not cold crashing/changing up your hop schedule until you know what you're doing.
    PapaGoose03, Ilanko and cavedave like this.
  6. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Pooh-Bah (2,502) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    I second the "leave it the hell alone" camp.

    I would follow it along and see how it goes.

    Not only that, but take note of temps that you are pitching and fermenting at. Something tells me, that if you pitched and it went wild for 12 hours and then slowed... chances are you pitched too warm, fermented obviously way to warm, and the beer it probably closer to done.

    If you followed the directions pretty easy, it'll be an easy thing to figure out what your OG was based on volume and how much extract you used. You did take notes on your volume going into the fermenter right? If not, I'd put that on the list to do so as well.

    As a pre cusor to your cold crashing question. You cold crash when the beer is done. Done meaning it's reached it's final terminal gravity. Not before. If you are using pellets, you can add to primary, and allow it to dry hop in there however long you want. I'd suggest doing so at room temp for 5-10 days roughly. After which point you will "crash" the beer to precipitate the hops debris and yeast to settle out to the bottom. Colder is better, longer is good. It's not instant, and it won't always go away in a short enough time as well.

    At which point when you are happy with the clarity of the beer, you will rack it to your keg, or bottling bucket. If bottling, you'll add your priming sugar, bottle it, and cap it. Store it somewhere warm. If you are cold, it's cold.
    cavedave likes this.
  7. Adambrew

    Adambrew Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2014 Michigan

    Good insight for sure. To clarify one thing- I pitched yeast when temp had cooled to 70 degrees, as recommended. It then started to slowly bubble after 12 hours and was consistently bubbling through the airlock every 5-8 seconds after that point for 4 or so days. This is day 5 and the bubbles have slowed to about a minute or two apart from one another.
  8. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2012 Virginia

    I don't cold crash but have read multiple sources on the topic. From what I have read it seems like people who keg use this method more than people who bottle condition. There is some concern that if you cold crash and then try to bottle condition you might not have enough viable yeast to carbonate the beer. But this is only second hand knowledge I can't say from experience.

    I do believe that leaving the beer in primary for at least three weeks allows enough time for everything to settle so cold crashing isn't necessary. Anything left in suspension will end up settling as it bottle conditions and will definitely fall out when you refrigerate the bottles.

    Transferring to a secondary is probably not necessary. I usually throw dry hops loose in the primary after two weeks. Let it sit for another week and then bottle. I use a paint strainer bag over the bottom of the siphon when I transfer to the bottling bucket to filter out the hops.

    You don't need to know the OG to make use of the hydrometer. Maybe take a reading when you open the fermenter to put your dry hops in and then take another reading a couple days before you plan on bottling. If the readings are the same you are good to go.
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Grand Pooh-Bah (3,043) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    70F is a common beginner recommendation for cooling prior to pitching. I'm not sure why, unless it's because it's easier to get down to 70F than to 65F without a wort chiller, which most beginners don't have. Anyway, for most ale yeast strains, a better pitching temp will be between 60F-65F, with the peak fermentation temp reaching a few degrees higher. The reason is to control the amount of esters and fusel alcohols produced/retained.
  10. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    "My question is: Cold crash? if so when? how do I know when its ready? Dry hop before? after? I have not opened the primary yet and am nervous to..."

    As is true with almost everything about brewing, opinions vary about these things. Here are mine:

    Cold crashing is a good thing to do if you have the capacity. It gets the yeast to drop (floculate) more quickly. But if you don't have the ability to do that, the yeast will still drop out over time. I assume you're probably bottle conditioning. If so, doing a cold crash will get most of the yeast out of suspension before you bottle, which will result in less sediment in your bottles.

    When? My opinion is that this should happen 2-3 days after you reach final gravity. Some would say that you can cold crash as soon as you reach FG, and you can. But I like to leave the yeast at fermentation temperature (or a few degrees higher--ie, if I fermented it at 66F, let it go up to 70F) for a couple days after final gravity is reached. This can help keep the yeast active enough to 'clean up' some of the byproducts of fermentation that can give off flavors. The yeast will do this eventually anyway, but it will clean up more efficiently at a higher temp.

    How do you know when? In the beginning, you will have to take a hyrdometer reading. Once you're more experienced, you'll be able to tell just by looking at the beer much of the time. But for now, take a reading, then take another one three days later. When the gravity doesn't change for three days, you're at FG. It's good to be cautious about opening the fermenter, but you will need to do this in order to dry hop anyway. Just be sure to sanitize everything that's going to touch the beer--except for your dry hops.

    When to dry hop? My opinion is that the best time to add the hops is at the very tail end of primary fermentation. Because the yeast is still relatively active at that point, it will consume the oxygen you are inevitably introducing as you drop in the hops. I usually leave the beer on the hops for a week, cold crash, and keg/bottle. Many people would argue with this, btw: some say add the hops after cold crashing, some say 4 days, some say 10 days etc etc. I'd say experiment with different techniques and find out what makes sense for you.
    mattbk likes this.
  11. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Pooh-Bah (2,502) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    70 is a bit warm, so know going forward that you want to get it cooler. Always side with the lowest temp stated for the yeast strain you are using. Keeping in mind that once fermentation takes place it will heat up even higher. If you pitched at 70, and had no control over the temp, if it was in your house, and let loose, it near the high 70's maybe even 80 at the height of fermentation. That will cause off flavors.
  12. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Grand Pooh-Bah (3,338) May 21, 2010 Texas
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Ten secrets to tasty beer:

    1. read how to brew
    2. KISS (keep it simple, stupid)
    3. fermentation temperature control
    4. yeast pitching temperature
    5. sanitation
    6. full boil / cooling wort after the boil
    7. PATIENCE (i.e.don't mess with your beer for at least two weeks dead minimum)
    8. brew within your skill level
    9. have a plan and a procedure BEFORE you start, and follow them!
    10. read how to brew
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