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Fermentation Help

I have need some thoughts on what I should do with this batch of beer. I am brewing a clone kit which is called Belgium Wit. The directions were a little off based on the equipment kit I had purchased, so I had to improvise. To begin, I put the wort into a fermenting bucket ad sprinkled the dry yeast on top. The original thought was that it would be a 2 step fermentation process, as after a week, the plan was to transfer to a plastic carboy for another week, and then bottle. (2 weeks fermentation total.) Well, being a real newbie, I didn’t realize the bucket was supposed to have a lid and airlock. (Mine didn’t come with one so I had just covered my bucket with a towel so dust particles wouldn’t get in.) So after about 14 hours there was a little bubbling that had taken place, but nothing like everyone describes. (Obviously) That’s when I realized I needed the lid and air lock. So after consulting with someone at a brewing store, they suggested that I siphon it into the carboy and then use the airlock. I did this and then within an hour or two, I noticed the bubbling and “foam” buildup everyone speaks of. Here is what I need help with. After about 4 days, the bubbling started to decrease. I would say now, after 5 days, the bubbling has pretty much decreased and there is no foam or bubbles on the top. I decided to taste it, and everything seems fine. It tasted like a good, but flat beer, not sugary, but when I did a reading, this is where I got really confused. The wort before fermentation was at 1.042. Now, the reading is 1.076. I thought it was supposed to be lower? Like in the 1.012 range?

Before doing the reading, I was inclined to just let it go for the full 2 weeks in same fermenter and then bottle. The reading concerned me though. Should I add more yeast? If so, should I first siphon to a new carboy and then add the yeast? Should I move it to a new carboy, but not add more yeast? Should I go ahead and bottle? Or should I just leave it alone and continue as originally planned?

Sorry for all the newbie questions, but any help would be much appreciated!

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Was your initial reading - the 1.042 reading - taken at a high temperature? –  hookedonwinter Jan 8 '10 at 18:07
    
Good point, remember that hydrometers are typically calibrated to 60 degrees, and the readings should be adjusted for temperature. The 1.042 seems right for OG. –  comat0se Jan 8 '10 at 18:14
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2 Answers 2

I'd leave it be in the carboy as is. Racking again and again increased your chance of infecting it with wild microbes. Let it continue for another week and check the reading again. Bubbling in teh airlock is never a good indication of whether something is done or not. Its all about the hydrometer.

I'd put your hydrometer in some water and just look at the reading you got. Be sure you are reading it correctly. It should be close to 1.001.

If you did your initial reading while the wort was hot that would have screwed up your reading too. So be sure that when you take a hydrometer reading you are using wort in the 60-70F range.

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1.001 is extremely dry for a wit, and most things. BJCP says FG: 1.008 – 1.012 for a wit, it should have some body and not be watery. –  comat0se Jan 8 '10 at 18:25
    
1.001 is very dry for a wit, but its "sweet" for water! Reread my post. I am talking about the poster putting the hydrometer in some water and being sure he reads it as 1.001 not something else. I suspect maybe the guy read his hydro wrong. –  brewchez Jan 8 '10 at 18:33
    
oops, read it too fast :) –  comat0se Jan 8 '10 at 19:01
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I would assume that you have read the hydrometer incorrectly if it's saying 1.076 and it's a Belgian Wit. 1.042 for an original gravity sounds about right. I would take a close look again and make sure you know what you are looking at... hydrometers can be confusing for the first-timers, as there are typically more than one scale on them. I'm guessing that your beer is probably mostly fermented just based upon the physical description of the foam falling back into the wort. You could transfer it and let it condition for another week or so, to play it safe, or if you are able to get a good reading on the gravity and it is around 1.010-1.012 range, you are probably ready to bottle. Time isn't the important factor here, it's the question of if the yeast have completed their job. Wit's are intended to be drank young and fresh, so it's not important to age it like if you had a russian imperial stout or barleywine. Sounds like your beer will be good! Remember to relax, don't worry, and have a homebrew!

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