Not stirring additional sugar into wort
October 18, 2012 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Have brewed a 5 gal batch of beer which due to old yeast did not begin to ferment til better yeast was added, resulting in 72 hrs of bad things floating to the surface. Now fermenting nicely, don't want to discard the batch, but don't want to stir it when I add the sugar water at the end to carbonate in the bottle. My question, do I need to stir it in or will it achieve the same level of sugar dissolved by itself, and how long should I give it before bottling ?
posted by fkeese to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
You can add sugar directly to your bottles when you fill them, though imprecise measurement risks exploding beers.
posted by pullayup at 4:55 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

(I've only home brewed ~5 batches of beer, but I've read a lot.) Bad things? Anyway, is there a reason you don't want to just rack to another vessel for bottling and mix the sugar in there? It might even make sense to rack from primary to secondary if you want to get the beer off of the "bad yeast".
posted by skynxnex at 5:00 PM on October 18, 2012

Why don't you want to stir in the sugar? Because you'll stir up the solids?

You can do a couple of things here.

1) As mentioned, you can add sugar to each bottle. I don't recommend this.

2) You can rack the beer into a secondary fermenter when fermentation settles down.

2a) If you don't have a secondary fermenter, rack into your sanitized brewing kettle, wash and sanitize your fermenter, and rack back again. You will oxygenate the beer a little bit, but if you're careful this won't be the worst thing in the world.

3) You can also stir the sugar into the fermenter and then wait a few minutes for it to settle back down. Relative to the amount of time in bottle fermentation, this won't affect it much at all, either.

4) Or, you can pour the sugar in without stirring and wait, again, for it to spread throughout the beer. This seems to me like it's tied with putting the sugar directly into the bottle for least effective way to ensure a consistent product.
posted by gauche at 5:03 PM on October 18, 2012

Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew. Once fermentation finishes, all the floating stuff should flocculate out and sink to the bottom, even if it looks very active right now. You should be able to siphon the liquid into another container (racking, as described above) and mix in your bottling sugar there. If you don't already have another container, an extra carboy or food-grade fermenter bucket will be a very useful investment.
posted by ecmendenhall at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

Seconding ecmendenhall right down to the Homebrew Talk quote!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:08 PM on October 18, 2012

Is the floating stuff just foam and yeast crud, or are we talking about mold here?

Heck, either way, once the bubbles stop (or slow way down) siphon your beer off into a sanitized secondary (a glass carboy works great) and add your boiled sugar solution half way through that siphoning session (to encourage mixing). Bottle.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:41 PM on October 18, 2012

My God, I hope you don't bottle directly from the primary ferment! You'll end up with bilge.

You should rack to a 5 gallon carboy, and put in an air lock, and let it sit for a long time (weeks) before bottling. When you rack to the carboy, you leave behind all the junk that settled to the bottom.

When the secondary ferment is done, you rack it again, back into the now-clean tub you used for the primary ferment, leaving behind all the gunk that settled to the bottom of the carboy.

Then you add bottling sugar to the tub, and then you bottle!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:52 PM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

By the way, you don't use sucrose for the bottling sugar. You should use dextrose.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:09 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Like Kid Charlemagne mentioned - what does this "bad stuff" look like?

If it's yellowish brownish foamy stuff, that's normal yeast crud. No problems.

If it's grey or blue or green and fuzzy, or with little black spots after a while, and form floating patches then that's mold and you should discard the batch. If you have a lot of mold it can smell bitter or dry attic-ey.

Bacteria is harder to detect, but it'll smell bad. Sour, rotten.

If you're handy with a microscope, some of the stuff in your batch of beer might be interesting to look at both live and fixed and stained.
posted by porpoise at 7:16 PM on October 18, 2012

You could rack it to a another container, just before bottling, a half batch at a time, to stir the sugar. Regardless, don't throw it out, this is how you learn the results of deviation or experimentation. Good luck, and always remember that Abbey ales are open fermented using natural yeast and bacteria. Trust the dust, when in doubt.
posted by Brian B. at 8:02 PM on October 18, 2012

If you're new to brewing (and I'm just guessing about that--no offense intended if not), I'm a huge proponent of Palmer's How to Brew.

And, like everyone else said, racking is your solution here. There are lots of techniques for bottling, but I'm partial to using a bottling bucket with a spigot attached via clear plastic tubing to a bottling wand (the spring loaded ones are a million times better than the gravity-controlled ones). I usually dissolve my priming sugar in about a cup of water, boil it for a few minutes minutes to sterilize, then pour that into the bottling bucket first. When you siphon from your fermenter into the bottling bucket, enough mixing will take place that you don't even need to stir anything before bottling.
posted by wondercow at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eh, I've done stuff like this. I bottle straight from the primary ferment and usually just prime the bottles. I've never had an off batch and a lot of mine end up pretty damn nice, if I do say so myself. (Others say so too...)

In my experience you can get away with all kinds of crimes as long as you clean and sterilise really well. I wouldn't worry about the wort sitting for a while with dead yeast, you'll be right.

YMMV, I'm a little gung ho about this stuff, but I make nice beer.
posted by deadwax at 12:19 AM on October 19, 2012

I'm a relatively new brewer, but I've been reading a ton about it, so I'll throw in a couple of comments.

First, re your question: your beer is either infected or it isn't. Whether you stir it or not has nothing to do with that now, it has been mixed pretty thoroughly by the fermentation. So if your fear is that you will mix actual, you know, bad things into your beer that will cause it to go bad, don't worry, it already happened if there were bad things in there. But, really, dead old yeast are not a problem in beer. The new yeast you added ate the dead yeast for food during reproduction. If your vessel was sealed you have a good chance to still having a good batch.

You're right in general, though, stirring your priming sugar into the beer in the primary is likely to kick up a lot of sediment. It's best to bottle from another vessel, like a bottling bucket. You don't need to do what Chocolate Pickle is talking about (a secondary fermentation) for your beer to clear, but you need to wait for fermentation to finish (usually within two weeks), carefully siphon to a bottling bucket, and then bottle from there. The bottling bucket is where you add your priming sugar (after dissolving it in boiling water), and you should stir that in (or at least add it while siphoning so that it gets mixed in.)

You can use sucrose to prime your beers, or dextrose, or even malt extract. There are many calculators that will help you figure out how much to add for how much beer you've got. One is here.
posted by OmieWise at 5:57 AM on October 19, 2012

Again, mind clarifying (HAHAH, get it?) why you don't want to stir?

If it's for fear of oxidizing the beer then I think you're being too paranoid. Bottle conditioned beer should be pretty resistant to that sort of thing.

If it's clarity then your racking procedure should take care of that as well. By that I mean you should rack off the gross stuff into a container, prime that volume of liquid (less sediments/yeast cake) with your sugar, and then rack to bottles. Or you can prime directly into the bottles if you prefer that sort of torture. Your choice.

So, yea, what?

posted by RolandOfEld at 8:20 AM on October 19, 2012

There is some disagreement over whether secondary fermentation is necessary. In my opinion it really depends on the style, how much aging you're doing, and whether you are dry hopping or anything similar. You can certainly leave a beer on primary for 3 weeks without any problems, and most simple beers don't need a secondary fermentation.

But you do need a second container for bottling so you can stir in sugar without kicking up the trub. When doing anything with a beer post-fermentation, be careful not to oxidize it (no splashing).
posted by ilikemefi at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2012

Response by poster: Racking does seem like the best answer, I will do that, and I thank all the knowledgeable brewers who were so kind to answer. I really should have known this but am running around doing three things at once, trying to get the outside work finished before bad weather, so thanks all, I think this batch will be just fine. Fred
posted by fkeese at 4:31 PM on October 19, 2012

« Older [academic filter] know nothing, must give comment...   |   How can I argue more civilly? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.