So...finally have these things going...hopefully I'm using them correctly
RoggenBier Watch: Super Happy Yeast Time
February 12, 2014
Today was meant to be a big day in the life of my young RoggenBier. It had been in primary fermentation for a little over a week and today was graduation to secondary, where it would shed the rest of its floaties (yep floaties, it’s a technical term…yeah that’s it) and become the rye-tastic nectar of awesome I am hoping for. The yeast that’s been churning away on the wort has decided to stop its feet and scream “NO!” It is still very much active and feeding away, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although it did decide to throw up through the airlock as you can see quick video I posted on Flickr…that yeast is so grounded).
I had initially anticipated this beer being somewhere around 5.5-6% ABU (alcohol by volume) which is about average for a rye ale. A few extra days in primary won’t boost that number too significantly, but it should give the beer a little extra something (oh yeah….how you doin’ RoggenBier?) How will I know for sure? That’s where using a nifty little instrument called a hydrometer comes in. If you read my post about the equipment you need to brew properly (what’s that you say? You didn’t read it? Well, you should fix that buddy and get some learnin’ in you).
A hydrometer is used to measure the specific gravity of a liquid, in our case beer, and in so doing helps determine both the volume of alcohol and whether a fermentation has finished. Most hydrometers will come with multiple ways to measure alcohol as this is also a tool used for measuring wine and some liquors. I will do a more detailed post on the use of a hydrometer when the RoggenBier is ready to go into secondary (oooh, throwing in a cliff hanger), but for now I’ll just give you the high level synopsis.
Using this tool is a simple matter of consistency and subtraction. You need to make sure that the conditions in which you are measuring are as consistent as possible each time you draw and measure a sample (think high school chemistry class). It’s important to record your initial specific gravity of your wort before going into fermentation. When you take each subsequent sample, you simply subtract that reading from your initial wort’s number to see what your gravity is. Once those measurements have leveled off, your yeast has decided its full and fermentation is complete.
Of course, you can always rack to secondary before your beer has hit that plateau, just a matter of preference on how potent you want your end result to be. I’ve decided to see how far this yeast wants to go with this brew, and hopefully that will work to my benefit. This all relates to one of the most rewarding parts of brewing at home, which is that you can experiment with almost every aspect of the process and keep things interesting.
What I was drinking during this post: Ruthless Rye IPA by Sierra Nevada