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How Do I Know If I Have Bottled Too Early?

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nickh

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Apologies if this is going over well trodden ground but looking to speen up the process of going from newbie to legitimate amateur brewer.



I have done a couple of batches with fresh wort kits/hops (very happy with them) and wanted to do a test comparison for quality against a decent tin with some decent additional ingredients.



I pitched a tin of 'Mangrove Jacks' Belgian Ale 11 days ago (along with 1kg of Brewer's Choice 'UltraBrew' malt and dextrose) and it has been fermenting at circa 22deg to 26deg. Original Gravity was 1.036 and when I racked it, it was at 1.012.

I knew I wasn't going to get a chance to bottle the beer for at least another 2 weeks if I didn't do it last night so I took a punt on bottling it up DESPITE the fact that the airlock was still producing a bubble once every 2 to 5mins.

I am now panicking that I went at this too early and should've let it carry on. The Hydrometer readings suggest alcoholic content is quite low. Have I:



1) Stunted the final alcoholic content of the beer... or does the info above give you enough evidence to conclude that it is simply a low alcohol content brew?

2) Just capped a load of grenades which are going to explode as the primary fermentation was still very much in progress based on the frequency of bubbles being produced?

3) What other things should I look for when trying to judge if it is 'early but ok' or 'too eearly to bottle'?



I normally am happy to wait as long as possible for nature to take its course but I have another, higher quality brew, I want to load into the fermenter!



Thanks in advance to all who provide feedback
 

bum

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How do you think anyone can help you without you reporting these hydrometer readings you have taken?
 

nickh

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How do you think anyone can help you without you reporting these hydrometer readings you have taken?

I'm not sure I understand.

I HAVE reported the hydrometer readings: SG on day 0 was 1.036, 'FG' on day 11 was 1.012. I should have added that FG on day 10 was also 1.012.

Apologies if I have misintetpreted what info you are after.
 

petesbrew

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How do you think anyone can help you without you reporting these hydrometer readings you have taken?
They're up there, Bum. 1036-1012.

Best practice is to not pay much attention to the airlock. A stable hydrometer reading over a few days is a better way of telling if it's stopped & ready to bottle.
If you'd have left it for another 2 weeks it wouldn't have hurt the beer at all. It would've been wiser, knowing it would be properly finished.

Can't say what it should have finished at... my thoughts are it's close, but a bit on the higher side.
A few things you could do:
1.release pressure after a few days, then recap. It might end up on the flat side, but safer.
2. ignore and pray you don't get any bottle bombs.
3. put a drop sheet over the bottles, to contain the blast if they do go.
4. not open them around kids, family, pets, friends, etc. It could lead to embarrassment.
5. learn from your mistakes.
 

Yob

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id be more concerned with the fluctuating temperatures than an FG of 1012.

If you are concerned, cover the bottles with a blanket or towel.

ed: I see pete prefers sheets... :rolleyes:
 

bum

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I was looking for FG at bottling - which you have not provided. Still, 1012 is safe enough. Barring infection or over-priming you'll have no bottle bombs.
 

wbosher

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Wow, 11 days at those temperatures? I've done a couple on MJ kits and in my limited experience, fermentation is done after 4 or 5 days at around 18-20C.

Sorry, I can't answer your question but that just strikes me as a little weird.
 

nickh

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I was looking for FG at bottling - which you have not provided. Still, 1012 is safe enough. Barring infection or over-priming you'll have no bottle bombs.

Thank you- FG at bottling was 1012. Thanks.

Good things come to those who wait- I will just suck up the extra 'dry time' in future.

Appreciate the other response too- good advice. I have both a child and pets so they will be kept well away!
 

nickh

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Wow, 11 days at those temperatures? I've done a couple on MJ kits and in my limited experience, fermentation is done after 4 or 5 days at around 18-20C.

Sorry, I can't answer your question but that just strikes me as a little weird.
I used a different yeast (11.5g pack of Safbrew T-58) so I am not sure if that is a potential differentiating factor.

Also, I may simply be poor at using hydrometer approprately- I twisted bubbles out but maybe not enough.

I was actually quite surprised at the inherent level of 'fizz' in the pre carbonated brew when I tasted it...
 

Nick JD

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For those paranoid about bottling - here's a tip.

Make one of your bottles a PET softdrink bottle. Take it from the middle of the fermenter and make damn sure it's clean and sanatised as well as can be (as a control it's important).

Use your PET bottle as a way to tell both: when your glass bottles are carbed, and if your glass bottles might be dangerous.

Drink the PET bottle last - and keep it in the dark if it isn't brown.
 

nickh

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For those paranoid about bottling - here's a tip.

Make one of your bottles a PET softdrink bottle. Take it from the middle of the fermenter and make damn sure it's clean and sanatised as well as can be (as a control it's important).

Use your PET bottle as a way to tell both: when your glass bottles are carbed, and if your glass bottles might be dangerous.

Drink the PET bottle last - and keep it in the dark if it isn't brown.
That's a useful tip- I have actually predominantly bottled this batch in PET bottles so I will be using these as a good indicator of the potential nuclear war that is about to break out in the glas versions.

However, having used PET before, if I keep opening to test carbonation (once bottle is fully expanded and cannot be squeezed to assess the extent of carbonation), it will ot give me a good impression of the pressure building up in the glass.

I was thinking perhaps open one of the PETs after around 10days- what do you think?
 

nickh

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id be more concerned with the fluctuating temperatures than an FG of 1012.

If you are concerned, cover the bottles with a blanket or towel.

ed: I see pete prefers sheets... :rolleyes:

What impact (on quality or otherwise) would fluctuating temperature have?
 

wbosher

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I used a different yeast (11.5g pack of Safbrew T-58) so I am not sure if that is a potential differentiating factor.

Also, I may simply be poor at using hydrometer approprately- I twisted bubbles out but maybe not enough.

I was actually quite surprised at the inherent level of 'fizz' in the pre carbonated brew when I tasted it...
I've never used that particular yeast, but I recently had quite and experience with US-05. Nothing bad, just very different to the kit yeasts I'm used to.

Have a look at this - http://www.fermentis.com/fo/pdf/HB/EN/Safbrew_T-58_HB.pdf - Recommended fermentation temperature: 15C 24C (59-75F)
 

bum

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(once bottle is fully expanded and cannot be squeezed to assess the extent of carbonation)
After a little time/practice you'll be able to feel the difference between just carbed, appropriately carbed and over carbed - even though the bottled feels tight for all.
 

sponge

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I was thinking perhaps open one of the PETs after around 10days- what do you think?
Pretty good idea, but if its well carbonated at that stage, id be uncapping the rest of them quick smart.
 

wbosher

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What impact (on quality or otherwise) would fluctuating temperature have?
Off flavours apparently. My first brew was all over the place as far as temp goes, still tasted ok to me.

Mind you, a few off flavours in a home brew would still taste 100% better than some of the bland commercial shit I've had. ;)
 

nickh

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People, I am impressed with both the pace of responses and the willingness to help others. I suppose we are all trying to get to the same thing: a world with better beer.

Thanks for your time on this.

One last question- can I continue to store all this bottled beer out of the fridge indefinitely (being up to 2mths whilst being consumed) while I get going on a new batch of lager fermented in a temperature controlled fridge? Or does it need to be chilled to live on and prevent it going bad or exploding???
 

verysupple

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As it's an ale you don't need to lager, so yes, you can leave it at room temp while you're brewing other stuff (providing your place doesn't get stupidly hot). It won't go bad and as for the explosion concern, even if you did fridge it fermentation could continue (albeit slowly) and they may still explode. If you're really worried about bombs, do as Pete said and recap 'em.
 

wbosher

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So long as you keep them in a coolish dark place, you should be fine. I have very limited fridge space, so mine generally just sit in a shady corner of the garage. I'll pop one in the fridge a few hours before I drink it.
 

black_labb

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If you notice some becoming overcarbed I'd either release pressure or chill them all to fridge temps. You will get overcarbed beers before bottle bombs happen. Feel free to check one by warming it up to 30-35 degrees for a week (water bath or similar and make sure it is somewhere where a bottle bomb isn't going to cause much trouble). If it hasn't exploded open it (carefully) and see where it is carbonation wise. If it's ok then the rest should be fine. The beer won't taste it's best like this but it's a single bottle.
 

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