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rightwingnut 12-28-2004 05:14 PM

New to brewing
I haven't brewed my first batch of beer yet. What I've learned is that you must add your 2 or 3 gallons of wort to 2 or 3 gallons of fresh water in the fermeter. Can you just make 5 gallons of wort to begin with, and add it to the fermenter with no extra water? What are the pros and/or cons of doing this?

pilkinga 12-28-2004 06:19 PM

you definitely can just make 5 gallons of wort. Actually this is the best method as you definitely sterilize all 5 gallons and kill anything that might be in the water when you boil the wort. The reason most people do a 2-3 gallon wort is their kettle is not large enough to do all 5 gallons. I brew 5 gallon batches, but I usually preboil 2.5-3 gallons of water for 10-20 minutes the night before I brew. I store this sterilized water in the fermenter with airlock. The next day I brew my wort with 2.5-3 gallons, it usually boils down a little so I end up with 5 gallons total or a little more when combined. When I add my hot wort to the fermenter it mixes with the other water and the total volume cools a little fater this way. Since I have yet to make a wort chiller, I like this method. It takes a long time to cool 5 gallons of hot wort without a chiller.

rightwingnut 12-28-2004 09:00 PM

Thanks for your advice. I read that a 7.5 gallon pot is ideal, so I ordered one. Then when I read about boiling only a few gallons, I wondered if I wasted money. I may try your method, though, as I have no chiller either. Can't wait to get brewing. Wish me luck! :)

rdlamb2 12-28-2004 09:45 PM

wort chiller
It's not too difficult to make a simple wort chiller. I can usually pitch the yeast in 30 minutes or so. I made a simple one out of copper tubing.

rightwingnut 12-28-2004 10:47 PM

Is it simple enough to explain how to make it?

Janx 12-29-2004 09:54 PM


Originally Posted by rightwingnut
Is it simple enough to explain how to make it?


You definitely made the right move. Your beer will always be better if you boil all of the wort. There are several reasons for this:

1) You sterilize all of the wort rather than contaminating it with tap water at the end.

2) If you use city water, you boil off a lot of the crap they add to it.

3) Your hop utilization is much better and you can more accurately replicate recipes. Hops are not utilized as well in concentrated wort. If you boil just a portion of your wort, you will necessarily be brewing a more concentrated (higher gravity) wort than your batch will end up being when diluted. By boiling all of the wort, you make better use of your hops and get better flavor.

In my opinion, you must boil all of the wort to make quality beer.

As far as the chiller, the type referenced here is an immersion chiller. It works like this:

Make a coil of copper tubing about 8 inches in diameter (the coil not the tubing). Coil up a good 15 feet of tubing. Then solder garden hose fittings to either end. You'll want to bend the intake and outflow so they are conveniently accessible at the top of the chiller.

About 15 minutes from the end of your boil, you throw this contraption into the boiling wort. That sanitizes it. Then when it's time to turn off the heat, you do so, and then run a bunch of water through this thing for a half hour or so (been a while since I used immersion chillers or made 5 gallon batches). Connect garden hoses to either end. It'll chill your batch in pretty short order.

You can only chill about 5 gallons of beer effectively with an immersion chiller. If you want to do larger batches, look into a counterflow chiller. In that scenario, wort flows through the copper tube in one direction, while cold tap water flows in an outer tube in the other direction. You can chill any ammount of wort with one of those.

I'm sure you can find designs by googling immersion chiller or counterflow chiller. Or go look at pictures at morebeer.com or someplace that sells them. Very simple devices, but very useful.

Lastly, in my opinion, you *need* a chiller if you are boiling all of your wort and making 5 gallons of beer or more. Waiting for 5 gallons to cool naturally can take 24 hours or more, and all that time with no yeast in it invites infection in a big way. If you really want to brew, you need a chiller.


rightwingnut 12-29-2004 10:22 PM

Thanks a lot for taking the time to clarify...it's good to know what the right way to do things is before you get started. I'll be looking into chillers. It'll be a couple days before my kettle arrives, so I have time to whip one up. I'm getting antsy, though...can't wait to get brewing!! Thanks again.

Janx 12-30-2004 12:35 AM

Don't get me wrong. If you don't have a chiller your first few brews, it won't kill you. I had a couple brews where I dunked carboys in cold bathtubs ;)

But if you kerep brewing and get into it, you'll want a chiller sooner rather than later. It's essential.


rightwingnut 01-04-2005 02:07 AM

Done built me a chiller...It didn't work at first. I put the ends of the copper into garden hose, secured with hose clamps, but they leaked, so I got a couple fittings and soldered them to the copper...works great now. Now the agonizing wait for my kettle. :(

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