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This picture contains two extract batches made on two successive days approximately two weeks ago.

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One is a Honey Weizen (OG=1.048; Wyeast 1010 American Wheat Yeast), and the other is a Phat Tyre (OG=1.052; Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey I), both from Northern Brewer.

The instructions for both of these say to do 1-2 weeks in primary and 2-4 weeks in secondary. What I have usually done when I see this instruction is to leave it in primary for 4 weeks and then bottle.

I was hoping to get away with doing two week primaries before bottling.

The Honey Weizen still has a krausen. The Phat Tyre's krausen has dissipated. (To be honest it could possibly be the other way around, I forgot to put a post-it on each container ... I will know with certainty which batch is which when I disconnect the temperature probes (those black cords you see in the picture) from my Raspberry Pi, as per my temperature monitoring, and I'll edit this if I was wrong)

A) What is the reason for dissipation or non-dissipation of krausen? I'm assuming it has to do with the yeast.

B) Does it matter if I bottle when the krausen has not dissipated?

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I've always attributed a krausen like what you have on the left as meaning there's an active fermentation (which means no for bottling). Have you been keeping an eye out on the beer to see if it is undergoing a second fermentation? I've seen it happen before with Saisons and 100% Brett beers, so it definitely is possible. –  Scott Oct 26 '13 at 23:18
    
@Scott by what do you mean as "if it is undergoing a second fermentation"? I ceased to siphon my beer from primary to secondary a few months ago on the suggestion of this stackexchange.. I am unfamiliar with using the term "secondary fermentation" in any other manner. Please excuse the ignorance... –  Matthew Moisen Oct 26 '13 at 23:48
    
I mean second fermentation in a very literal sense (whereas "secondary fermentation" is as unnecessary as it is misleading). Did it start fermentation, stop, and then just recently start back up again? –  Scott Oct 27 '13 at 0:06
    
@Scott I wish to say "no, not at all", because the airlock did not stop bubbling completely during the first three days, but in fact I do recall that I thought the airlock bubbled much less than I thought it ought to during its second and third night, but then it started to bubble at the rate at which I expected it to (i.e, the second and third night) during its fourth and fifth night. Am I articulating what you mean by stopping and starting? –  Matthew Moisen Oct 27 '13 at 0:16
    
Has the krausen ever subsided to look similar to the carboy on the right, before it re-appeared to what it is on the left, or has it remained all 2 weeks? Also, is the airlock still going after 2 weeks? It sounds like it may just be a really, really unbelievably slow fermentation. What temperatures are they being kept at? –  Scott Oct 27 '13 at 0:32
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Kraeusen, airlock activity and other signs of active/inactive fermentation are not reliable indicators of when to bottle. You should bottle only based on gravity readings - that the gravity is unchanged for 3 days and is at or close to the expected final gravity.

A persistent kraeusen is quite common for wheat beers, and so not surprising your Honey Weizen still has a kraeusen. The main difference is the higher percentage of proteins that help maintain both a good head in the finished beer and also in the kraeusen. Also, low flocculating yeasts can hang around longer - and wheat beer yeasts including WY1010 are low flocculators which also contributes to the persistent kraeusen.

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