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Old 09-26-2011, 01:28 PM   #1
Rob-O
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Default Addressing a few myths...

HomeBrewTalk sent me an email saying I haven't done much lately (not that I ever did), so here goes:

I'm an extract-with-grains brewer. I've been doing it heavily for just over 1.5 years. I have no competitive aspirations at all. I have two children, so I have no desire to become an all-grain brewer; I can brew 1 or 2 batches of beer in 4 hours, which suits me and my schedule just fine. I love beer, so I make it and drink it. I was a nervous brewer at first, but have since taken a few chances that have helped to make it more fun and more productive. All I can say is that while I've not entered any competitions, and never will, many friends and all-grain brewers drink my beer and love it. I have done all of the things listed below successfully, with no change in taste or quality, despite being told that I should not. I don't think I'm the first to do these things; I'm just offering a definite opinion rather than speculation.

1) You CAN do secondary fermentation in a plastic primary bucket. If you're using fruit, then you MUST use a bucket. You DO NOT HAVE to use a glass secondary.

2) Get a 5-gallon pot, double all ingredients, start with 3 gallons of water, do a 4.3-gallon boil (top up before start of boil, if necessary), split the wort evenly into two buckets and top-up--you just increased your efficiency by brewing two batches at once.

3) Make a starter, regardless of gravity. You can split the starter into two different batches from above. This cuts the cost of yeast in half.

4) You can dump a new load of wort into a bucket with yeast from the previous batch (provided you transfer the first batch to secondary the same day as you brew the second batch). Scrape as much of the old hops off the top as possible first. Fermentation will start in 2 hours. You can also split the yeast into yet another bucket. I've made 5 batches of beer using the same yeast begun with one vial of WLP.

5) The best way to give beer "mouth-feel" and body (a problem for extract brewers) without just throwing in more extract (and driving up the alcohol) is to steep 1 lb of flaked or rolled oats in it at 158 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes, with the grains, if using them.

6) Steep, sparge, boil, remove from heat and add extracts, then put it back on the heat after the wort is uniform and crank it right up to High to get it to your hops boil. It's faster, and there's no difference between doing that, and bringing it up slowly, or doing some kind "rest" step before going back to boil.

7) Iodophor doesn't need to completely dry before using the item that you sanitized in it. It's basically Iodine, and we all MUST drink a minimum amount of Iodine to keep our thyroid functioning properly. Also, Iodophor doesn't stink, it's reusable, it's easy to rinse, and it won't burn your hands or throat, like bleach.

8) You CAN microwave the water that you will use for the priming sugar for 3:30 to boil it and then dump in the priming sugar. Microwaves are terrible for cooking food, but good for boiling things.

9) You CAN use a half cup of liquid extract to make your starter the night before brewing and put tinfoil over the jar and put the lid back onto the jar without attracting mold or otherwise ruining the extract, provided that you use the opened jar in your brew the next day. I hate dried extract--makes a mess.

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Old 09-26-2011, 01:38 PM   #2
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Yes, I don't disagree with anything you wrote. For #7, I would go farther - if you let Iodophor (or Star San, also) dry, it is no longer effective. Its not just ok to use the sanitized items wet, its preferable.

And while I don't disagree with #9 that you can use LME to make a starter, my preference is to use DME for exactly the same reason you like LME - I find LME to be messy and DME to be very convenient.

Edit: The first part of #1 is right - you can use a plastic bucket for secondary, if you need a secondary at all, for dry hopping or fruit additions. But you go on to say that you must use a bucket if you are using fruit, which is not true. I've added fruit many times to my beer, using a glass carboy. Cut the fruit up into small-ish chunks, or puree it. Easy-peasy.

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Old 09-26-2011, 01:39 PM   #3
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I love #8. So obvious, yet why didn't I think of that?

Anything else is probably a matter of opinion. I do wonder about headspace in secondary (assuming primary fermented dry). The beer has CO2 in it, and that should force some of the O2 out of the headspace... plus CO2 is heavier. I think that should give you a deep enough layer of CO2 to be safe from oxidation, but I'm not sure.

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Old 09-26-2011, 01:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malweth View Post
I love #8. So obvious, yet why didn't I think of that?

Anything else is probably a matter of opinion. I do wonder about headspace in secondary (assuming primary fermented dry). The beer has CO2 in it, and that should force some of the O2 out of the headspace... plus CO2 is heavier. I think that should give you a deep enough layer of CO2 to be safe from oxidation, but I'm not sure.
Agreed, the issue of possible oxidation is a reason not to use a secondary or bright tank at all. But if you are doing a fruit addition, then the secondary fermentation that kicks off will produce enough CO2 to fill up the head space.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:53 PM   #5
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Great list.

Here is another myth that you can add to the list.

"You need to go all grain to make good beer" Good beers are made all the time by extract/steeping grain brewers if they know what they are doing and sanitize well, pitch enough healthy yeast and control fermentation temps..

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Old 09-26-2011, 02:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beergolf View Post
Here is another myth that you can add to the list.

"You need to go all grain to make good beer"
Out of all the dispute, even sometimes with arrogance, I still have never heard anyone say you can't make good beer with extract. I've heard, "My beers have greatly improved going AG" or "It cost a lot less for each batch" and "It allows me to really tweak my beer". Worst I've heard is people saying there's an extract twang you can't avoid with extract, though I've never noticed it.

Either way, I've not yet heard anyone here say that.


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Old 09-26-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-O View Post
1) You CAN do secondary fermentation in a plastic primary bucket. If you're using fruit, then you MUST use a bucket. You DO NOT HAVE to use a glass secondary.
Never heard this......Why? What is the advantage, what does it do that a carboy does not?
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev2010 View Post
Out of all the dispute, even sometimes with arrogance, I still have never heard anyone say you can't make good beer with extract. I've heard, "My beers have greatly improved going AG" or "It cost a lot less for each batch" and "It allows me to really tweak my beer". Worst I've heard is people saying there's an extract twang you can't avoid with extract, though I've never noticed it.

Either way, I've not yet heard anyone here say that.


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You haven't been here long enough. It used to be a constant argument/battle on here. It even prompted me to write this blog back in '08.

I don't know if that blog helped, but the argument is less and less prevalent on here these days then it was. If it does appear it usually comes from recent converts (you know all about Zealots, dontja Rev? ) Or those new to brewing who have read it "some where."

One of the things that helped shift the perception was so many of the "big guns" on here talking about occasionally still doing extract batches, or having to take a break from ag and still wanting to make beer.

Plus my challenge for folks to go grab an extract recipe and apply everything they've learned since their last extra batch, and see if they don't make a decent batch of beer.

The old debate has mellowed and has really come out as preferences these day, BUT it still rears it's ugly head on occasion. It's just that most folks on here have gone waaay past those silly and boring arguments.
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:49 PM   #9
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Blueberrries in particular will float and restart fermentation enough to build up CO2 in the carboy and block the narrow opening. While it has never happened to me, carboys will explode--that is, the carboy will crack and break, not just pop off the airlock--so I'm told.

Oh, and I guess "MUST" is a bit harsh...it is truly a reaction to those you told me, "NEVER use a bucket for secondary." However, imagine putting 5 lbs of blueberries into a narrow opening of a carboy...

--BWIP---
That's one...
--BWIP---
That's two...

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Old 09-26-2011, 02:52 PM   #10
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My ONLY rule:

Who cares what anyone else is doing?

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