1 Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 4:13 PM

Is there an ideal temperature for carbonation after bottling? Or is it more of a range like 18C to 25C or something? I was encouraged by a friend who said you could try after 5 days if you weren't that fussed about cloudiness. It was my first brew (Coopers Craft kit 1.3kg Mr Beer Bewitched Amber Ale) and since the FG sample tasted OK, I thought what the heck. To say it was a disappointment is an understatement. It wasn't overly heady but that could also have been a badly washed glass. But its taste was initially very minerally and perhaps a bit sweet. It got better as the air got to it (or does all beer get better the more you drink?). It was stored at around 19C I reckon. Moved them now to a room where it is more like 22 degrees or maybe a bit more.

Also, is there a specific role for the refrigerator in all of this or is it simply to get the beer cold. I saw some information about putting the beer in the fridge for 24 hours but if there was a reason it wasn't explained.

2 Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 5:26 PM

My understanding of the time in the fridge thing is that the beer absorbs the carbonation better the longer it is kept cold (I dunno the tech terms for this). So yeah, more time in the fridge should help.

I would thing it would also carbonate more if you leave it for at least two weeks post bottling.

3 Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 11:29 PM

You are sampling too early. Patience is definitely the hardest thing to learn about brewing.

Bottles should be at 20C, or a little warmer during the carbonation period; if they are 18-19C they will still carbonate, but it will take longer. They won't carbonate well, if at all, <18C.

It usually takes three weeks to properly carbonate. After that, having the bottles in the fridge for at least a couple of days before you sample will also help.

Cheers,

Christina.

4 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 6:51 AM

I always used to sample one after a week, but the carbonation was hardly ever complete by then*. Basically you want to keep the bottles at 18C or higher (but not too high) for 2-3 weeks. Carbonation shouldn't take 3 weeks, the yeast will chew through the priming sugar in a week anyway.

The reason for putting them in the fridge for a while is mainly due to carbon dioxide absorbing better into liquid at colder temps. The 24-48 hour timeframe is to allow it to properly absorb into the beer before drinking it.

*I did have one batch where I bottled the beer at 0 degrees, left the bottles sitting at 0 degrees for the first two days, then allowed them to rise to 18 or so. The beer was fully carbonated and dropped clear 4 days after it was allowed to rise, or 6 days in total from bottling day. So it can happen quickly.

5 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 9 AM

DonPolo:

I was encouraged by a friend who said you could try after 5 days if you weren't that fussed about cloudiness.

Yeah, five days is a bit premature! Even a few more days would have likely made a lot of difference, depends on the yeast and temperature. I've sampled plenty after just a week and carbonation even at cooler temperatures 17 - 18ÂșC has most often OK-ish by this time with the yeasts I've been using, but as others have said… patience is key. Usually, my absolute minimum conditioning time is two weeks, if I'm running short, but three or more weeks is more often preferred.

6 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 11:08 AM

Thanks very much guys, this clears up a LOT of questions.

I'm one who likes to know WHY I should do something not just because someone says so.

So it seems that I'm going to have to be a bit more patient.

And as one of my colleagues at work said, "after a while you won't need to test the FG two days in a row etc. because really 6 days or 4 weeks fermentation doesn't make that much difference and you'll have a couple of batches carbonating so leaving them for 2-3 weeks will not be a problem.

Just a bit keen with my first batch I guess.

Thanks once again.

7 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:13 PM

DonPolo:

And as one of my colleagues at work said, "after a while you won't need to test the FG two days in a row etc. because really 6 days or 4 weeks fermentation doesn't make that much difference and you'll have a couple of batches carbonating so leaving them for 2-3 weeks will not be a problem.
.

Well, that depends on your palate. Bottling at 6 days is probably a bit early in most cases, usually it's just finished at that point and an extra week helps condition/clean up the beer more (it conditions faster in larger volumes), but there's no need to keep a beer in the fermenter for 4 weeks either. I do it with my lagers but they spend the latter 2 weeks of that period sitting at 0 degrees. If you bottle it as soon as it reaches FG, it will clean up in the bottles but it will take a lot longer than an extra few days to a week.

It is true that you get a feel for when fermentation is finished after a while but I would advise against getting lazy with checking FG. There are a few good reasons for checking it every batch. Sometimes a beer appears finished but may in fact be a stalled ferment. Bottling it at this point can wake the yeast back up and they ferment both the priming sugar in the bottles as well as whatever was left that they didn't finish in the fermenter. Result = bottle grenades. If kegging it may cause the beer to be too sweet. I still check FG even though I keg my beers now and there's no potential for explosions, because it helps me determine when to drop the temp for the cold crash, it tells me how well the yeast performed (I don't get stalled ferments but it's still peace of mind), and I like to know what the ABV is as well. The other benefit of it is a sample tasting, which allows you to get an early indication of how the beer turned out and/or pick up any problems that might be there before you go and put it all into bottles.

Cheers

Kelsey

8 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 4:20 PM

The Bewitched Amber Ale was also my first beer in the craft kit after a long absence from brewing. I had the same reaction to it, although I waited 2 weeks for carbonation and left it in the fermenter for 2 weeks prior.

Don't expect it to get a lot better with age, it's nasty and that be that. However, if you use that kit to do the School of Hops Cascade recipe, or something similar, it transforms into a very nice beer! I think I credit the Bewitched with making me realise kits can be pretty good if you do it properly.

If I had room for another brew fridge I'd cellar beer in one too - get nervous here in Brisbane with the extremely hot summer days, don't really know if it makes a difference once they're bottled but I feel like it might.

I know everyone would disagree with me but I generally don't check the FG anymore unless I'm brewing a beer I'm unfamiliar with or with a recipe I made up myself. I'm only brewing kits + additions using recipes that are quite predictable to someone with a bit of experience, and I feel like separating the beers into lowish/middleish and ‘egad!’ alcohol levels is sufficient for my purposes. I just go off a visual inspection and so far I've only had one stalled brew, gave it a couple days to see if I made a mistake - then bunged in more yeast and left it for an extra week than normal, and it turned out fine. If I was brewing extract or all grain I definitely would because there are so many more factors to consider.

That brings me to a question, part of the reason I don't usually bother with the hydrometer is I haven't had much luck getting accurate readings with the Coopers kit one, it just seems to bob around and change quickly and have a mind of its own. The FG's are always higher than they should be even with extra yeast and long first ferment times (like over 2 weeks). I think it might be the hydrometer. Are there any easier ways to measure alcohol content? I feel like there must be some chemist-y solution that's easier and more accurate and doesn't waste so much beer.


9 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 9:41 PM

Beervis:

If I was brewing extract or all grain I definitely would because there are so many more factors to consider.

Such as? You're pitching yeast into a mixture of water and various sugars. It matters none whether these sugars come straight from a mash or are concentrated into a syrup or tipped in from a packet. It's all the same to the yeast.

Beervis:

That brings me to a question, part of the reason I don't usually bother with the hydrometer is I haven't had much luck getting accurate readings with the Coopers kit one, it just seems to bob around and change quickly and have a mind of its own. The FG's are always higher than they should be even with extra yeast and long first ferment times (like over 2 weeks). I think it might be the hydrometer. Are there any easier ways to measure alcohol content? I feel like there must be some chemist-y solution that's easier and more accurate and doesn't waste so much beer.

You could buy a better hydrometer. Or you can use a refractometer, but the readings on those have to be corrected for the presence of alcohol if you use them post fermentation.

10 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 9:05 AM

You're right, once you are at the point of putting the yeast in it probably doesn't matter, but - with kits + bits you already know roughly what the OG should be right? Not much that can go wrong except for infection or stalled ferment. With AG brews you've got to check to make sure you've put the recipe together right - I thought. If the OG is off, then that would be a way to tell if you've done something wrong earlier in the piece. But I suppose you would check for that as you go along.

Anyhow I'm gonna try to get a new hydrometer, every new brew I put down I get more curious about what the finished alcohol content is. I have a suspicion that most of the high % kit recipes don't quite make it to the stated level, so I might need to start re-hydrating the yeast.

So much to learn…

11 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 12:22 PM

So some good points and as a result I will keep measuring SG. But this got me thinking, how do I pick a stalled batch? I've seen some posts that say that the usual FG is around 1005 but a. other posts quote other figures, and b. a particular batch could be either a higher or lower density because of its alcohol content so it would naturally have a different reading.

Consequently, a batch could have the same SG three days in a row and they all could have been from a stalled batch. Therefore if you bottled after the third day you would be potentially bottling bombs.

To make it a bit more tricky my Coopers hydrometer seems to be about .005 off (I guess that is riight. It measures water out of the tap (18 degrees?) at about .095 rather than 1.000). However that should not matter that much if I either correct or just compare the same readings.

But if it is the same reading on a stalled brew?

And what is the ‘cure’ for a stalled brew? 1. raise the temperature & 2. add more yeast? Only add the yeast if raising the temperature doesn't work?

12 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 2:22 PM

Beervis:

You're right, once you are at the point of putting the yeast in it probably doesn't matter, but - with kits + bits you already know roughly what the OG should be right? Not much that can go wrong except for infection or stalled ferment. With AG brews you've got to check to make sure you've put the recipe together right - I thought. If the OG is off, then that would be a way to tell if you've done something wrong earlier in the piece. But I suppose you would check for that as you go along.

Yes, you do check the gravity while brewing the batch when you are making AG wort. As such, you know what the OG is before you pitch the yeast, and can make adjustments to the yeast pitch if required . After a few batches though, you get your system dialled in and it makes it easier to predict the OG for most recipes.

13 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 2:26 PM

DonPolo:

So some good points and as a result I will keep measuring SG. But this got me thinking, how do I pick a stalled batch? I've seen some posts that say that the usual FG is around 1005 but a. other posts quote other figures, and b. a particular batch could be either a higher or lower density because of its alcohol content so it would naturally have a different reading.

The FG depends on the make up of the sugars in the wort as well as the yeast strain used to ferment it. There's no “one size fits all”, they are all different. Some beers can finish at 1.005, or lower, while some will finish in the range of 1.015-1.020. If you have a predicted FG for a recipe, then that makes it easier to spot a stalled ferment.

With your hydrometer reading low, you can either add .005 to every reading or snip pieces off the red tip until it reads 1.000 in 20C water. I have a glass one that reads .002 low, so this figure is added to every reading I take.

Cheers

Kelsey

14 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 2:36 PM

If you have a predicted FG for a recipe, then that makes it easier to spot a stalled ferment.

Thanks Kelsey. So if you don't have a predicted FG from the recipe are there other signs? I have a brew in at the moment that has probably been down for about a week (stupidly didn't record the start date). But it LOOKS pretty much finished. I'll start testing tomorrow.

Cheers,

Don

PS how do you get the quote box up?

15 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 2:41 PM

If you post the recipe you brewed, we can give an idea what the predicted FG would be. There is an Excel spreadsheet for designing kit and extract beers out there on the interwebs somewhere, I found this an excellent program when I was doing kits and extracts. Made life a lot easier.

Pretty well any brewing software will give a predicted FG based on the recipe make up.

16 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 4:36 PM

Its a bit embarrassing. I put in half a can of Morgans Old Beer and the water to about 9 litres. I tested in and it was about 1026. (so it was probably 1031 with the adjusted hydrometer). So I panicked a bit and put in about a cup of cane sugar. It was still low so I put in about half a cup of molasses on the basis that it was a dark beer (really winging it I know). Then I weight out half the yeast and put the rest in a zip lock bag in the fridge.

So there's the confession. Just chalk it up to experience?

17 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 4:42 PM

I might be missing something but I've never had a brew that didn't show visible signs of ferment. Even the really basic kit + BE1 has some kind of krausen.

Some of mine don't reach the target FG but they have foamed up, died down after a few days and more a few days after that, then I leave it for another week, haven't had any issues.

The couple of times that didn't happen, I started worrying but was able to fix it before I lost the brew.

Are you using enough yeast? Is the fermenter somewhere too cold? Is the yeast old or having been kept at room temp for ages?

18 Posted: Saturday, October 14, 2017 1:18 AM

A question for you all, Can you use the Coopers brew enhancers as priming sugars??? The boxes says it can be used in place of white sugar, So I'm thinking yes, BUT wanted a lil input on this. I've asked my local brewing supplier, But he didn't give me a Yes, or No, Only a you can try caster sugar too to see the difference answer. Basically an I don't know, Without saying it openly answer. ;)

19 Posted: Saturday, October 14, 2017 2:25 AM

Vyl:

A question for you all, Can you use the Coopers brew enhancers as priming sugars??? The boxes says it can be used in place of white sugar, So I'm thinking yes, BUT wanted a lil input on this. I've asked my local brewing supplier, But he didn't give me a Yes, or No, Only a you can try caster sugar too to see the difference answer. Basically an I don't know, Without saying it openly answer. ;)


No, don't use Brew Enhancers for priming. They are a mixture of ingredients which can include maltodextrin, which is unfermentable, so useless for priming purposes, and sometimes a bit of DME.

I use table sugar, which works just fine and is cheaper than dextrose, and carb tabs.

Cheers,

Christina.

20 Posted: Saturday, October 14, 2017 6:22 PM

DonPolo:

To make it a bit more tricky my Coopers hydrometer seems to be about .005 off (I guess that is riight. It measures water out of the tap (18 degrees?) at about .095 rather than 1.000). However that should not matter that much if I either correct or just compare the same readings.
?


Just checked my Cooper's hydrometers (I have 3) and they are all reading the same, .005 down. Can't believe I never thought to check that before! So that explains my problems.
Well maybe it doesn't because I usually thought my FG's were reading too high, if I add on another .005 that's even worse! Hasn't affected the quality of the beers at all.
Either the Cooper's recipes over-estimate the final alcohol content or I'm getting a bit of yeast cell death. I don't rehydrate so I suppose I might start giving that a try.