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Old 02-02-2011, 01:40 AM   #21
meirick
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Admittedly, the 10# of dme/lme recipes were more along the lines of Imperial IPAs.

http://hopville.com/recipe/281864/im...ve-ninjas-i2pa
http://hopville.com/recipe/257042/im...lo-torpedo-ipa
http://hopville.com/recipe/332588/im...recipes/asylum

My point is that though it may be on the high side, it should be do-able.

When I was referring to % of water to extract, I was wanting to just get an idea. I started with steeping in about 2gal, but in the 1st batch that resulted in a large amount of hot wort and a hot primary. The last two batches I did much less (didn't measure) so of course that is too little. That is my point. I either steep and boil in too much water and it is all too hot for the primary or I do too little and I burn the wort. Could it be that there is that small of a window of how much water to boil with?

I admit, I haven't been sticking to one detailed recipe or directions, but taking bits and pieces of a lot of different sources and creating it myself. So far it hasn't gotten me in a ton of trouble... like I said, none of these batches seem like they will turn out too bad...

I've been reading up on ways to quickly cool the wort (without buying a chiller of some sort)...
http://www.brewfanatics.com/how-to-s...-to-cool-wort/

That is probably the solution or the next thing I'll try, doing a full boil and cooling it quickly.

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Old 02-02-2011, 04:24 AM   #22
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You absolutely should cool that wort quickly. You can't add yeast to wort while it's over 90F, and it is shocked/strained less when added to wort which sits at the temp you'll be fermenting at (say, room temp like 65F, dependent on the yeast strain). The longer the wort sits without that yeast starting to make ethanol, the more likely it is to develop an infection.

However, that's not answering your big problem. I've done half batches indoors when it's just too danged cold in the garage. I used to use a 16qt. cheapy stainless steel kettle on my gas stove. I had similar issues with burnt wort, but never had it in my thick 40qt. aluminum kettle on a Bayou burner at far higher BTU ratings. I switched to a thicker bottom 20qt. stainless kettle for indoors (and I still steep grains indoors while striking temp on the big kettle outside), and that problem went away. The thick bottom (three layers) helps to evenly spread the heat.

Also, I find LME to be far easier to stir in, but you have to make certain it's fresh. DME's much better for long-term storage.

I've done full boil with and without late additions of extract. I haven't really noticed a difference. YMMV.

Do you have a hydrometer, and are you taking readings before adding yeast? It's pretty important... It could at least tell us what your true amount of sugars are at the end of the boil. Hydrometers are cheap; get a new turkey baster, and a sample jar (like a fat test tube large enough to hold the hydrometer and the liquid), sanitize them, and pull a sample. Without that one simple tool, you're blindly throwing darts at the wall. And I'll admit, it makes our job easier when trying to help you.

Finally, I use Beer Alchemy on my Mac (like BeerSmith for Windows) to track my recipes and results. When I tell it to take a 5 gal batch down to 2.5, it's never given me a straight 50% split recipe.

Good luck!

EDIT: One more thing: start with lower gravity recipes until you get your process straightened out. I made the same mistake, and had crud Imperial recipes starting out. I was asked to try some simple brown ales and wheats, and those came out great. Practice with the training wheels, even if it should be doable to jump right in at the more difficult levels. Don't mean to sound condescending, but it made me a far better brewer.

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Old 02-02-2011, 03:04 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirick View Post
Admittedly, the 10# of dme/lme recipes were more along the lines of Imperial IPAs...My point is that though it may be on the high side, it should be do-able.
As other have mentioned, trying to make big, high-ABV beers as your first homebrew is making things much harder for you. I understand that this style is popular right now, and you may like it, but it is not the easiest beer to pull off well.
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That is my point. I either steep and boil in too much water and it is all too hot for the primary or I do too little and I burn the wort. Could it be that there is that small of a window of how much water to boil with?
Okay, I think we're getting somewhere. If you're hoping that you'll be able to take the hot wort at the end of the boil and directly pour it into the Mr Beer fermentor along with some cold water and be at pitching temperature, you're going to be disappointed.

Mr Beer recipe kits can do that because you pasteurize their HME/UME in only 1 quart of boiling water (and there is no hour-long wort boil at all). But you need way more water than that for any standard extract kit using steeping grains and pellet hops.

Quote:
I've been reading up on ways to quickly cool the wort (without buying a chiller of some sort)...
http://www.brewfanatics.com/how-to-s...-to-cool-wort/
It can be even simpler. You can use a ice/cold water bath in your sink and cool down a pot with 1-2 gallons of hot wort in 20 minutes or less by exchanging the water in the sink a couple times.

On your next batch, do your steeping/boil with 2 gal of water, and I bet your burning problem will go away.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:54 AM   #24
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You don't need to boil all of the malt extract. I've made a lot of Mr Beer sized batches where I boil the hops in about 6-8 cups of water and a pound or so of LME. When the boil is at an end, I add the rest of the LME, stir and pour into the fermenter (with cold water in it).

With DME, you probably want to take it past the hot break. It's not technically necessary from a sanitation standpoint, but it gives you a clearer final product.

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Old 02-04-2011, 09:06 AM   #25
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I regularly do half batches for the same reason, stupid small UK houses! Don't know if this will be of use but here is the technique and kit I normally use. I haven't had any problems with burning the wort and the wort itself doesn't seem particularly viscous during the boil.

I use an aluminium pot to do my boil on the kitchen stove (gas). The pot has a capacity of 15 litres / approx 4 US gallons. It's a decent quality Meyer commercial cookware pot but in my opinion its worth the money if you're going to be making a few brews throughout the year.

Basically I go for a final brew length of 13.5 litres / 3.55 US gallons. I steep my speciality grains in muslin bags in 6 litres / 1.57 US gallons of water at the correct temp for 30 mins. I then remove the grains, rinse them with around 1 litre of water which gives you a volume of 7 litres / 1.84 US gallons for boiling. I then add my DME (I always use DME as its hard to get fresh LME where I live) BEFORE I bring the wort to the boil. Stir well to ensure that the DME is dissolved. Then bring to the boil, make first hop addition and boil for 60 mins adding hops when the recipe requires you to do so. I tend to stand over the stove and stir the pot every few minutes to ensure nothing is sticking. It's quite theraputic and I just listen to the radio to keep my mind occupied while I'm standing there. After all, RDWHAHB!

After the boil I place the pot in a sink of cold water with the lid on to cool the wort. As a previous poster said you may need to change the water a few times to get a good heat exchanger effect. I then strain it into the fermenter and rinse the hops with a little hot water to get the sugars out of them. I've never been sure if I'm rinsing any break products into the fermenter doing this but it hasn't caused me any noticable problems to date! Then top up to the final brew length with cold water. Stir well to aerate, check temperature and if its ok pitch yeast and you're off!

Regarding amounts of DME I've recently made an English bitter and a Sierra Nevada pale ale knockoff which used around 1.75kg / 3.86 pounds of DME each for a 3.55 US gallon batch. Therefore, for an average strength brew you're boiling 3.86 pounds in 1.84 US gallons. I ended up with an original gravity of around 1.051 and a final gravity of around 1.014 giving an ABV of around 5% (maybe the bitter was a bit stronger than style but it tasted nice!!).

Hope this is useful and I'm not telling you stuff you already know. Good luck and enjoy your brewing!

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Old 02-04-2011, 05:33 PM   #26
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Thanks all for the solid advice. I'm scoping out where to buy a larger and better pot and planning for a full boil next time. I may do a change up of when I add my extract, but the full boil and new pot really should solve the burning problem.

And I will probably modify my recipes a little. To some degree, I want to see how the current ones work out though before I start modifying significantly. It will probably mean less fermentables, but we'll see.

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Old 02-04-2011, 06:02 PM   #27
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Something I liked to do when cooling a 2.5 gal boil was to use cold water to do an initial cool. Then I replace that water with new cool water and add ice. If you use the ice at the beginning it will melt the ice really quick and you'll wind up needing more to get to pitching temps. Not many people mention this little trick and my first batch I did with an ice bath I ran out of ice with my wort still over 150 degrees. If you look you might be able to find a smaller sized wort chiller for a reasonable price, they're a great investment because they make cooling a breeze.

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Old 02-04-2011, 06:39 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicratlhead51 View Post
Something I liked to do when cooling a 2.5 gal boil was to use cold water to do an initial cool. Then I replace that water with new cool water and add ice. If you use the ice at the beginning it will melt the ice really quick and you'll wind up needing more to get to pitching temps. Not many people mention this little trick and my first batch I did with an ice bath I ran out of ice with my wort still over 150 degrees. If you look you might be able to find a smaller sized wort chiller for a reasonable price, they're a great investment because they make cooling a breeze.
I agree with the above. Also, use nature!!! It snows in IL right? Well it sure as heck does in central NY where I live. I have been using the snow and the temps outside to my avantage all winter. With a smaller pot, I had a bus pan of water and then put the pot in the bus pan. Get a shovel and keep putting snow in the water and stirring the DME (the snow melts and makes ice water and chills). I stir constantly for ten minutes and add snow all the while - I could get the wort chilled in about 10-15 minutes (4-4.5 ish Gallons). Fill your chilling water buckets and stick them outside when you brew - free refridgeration!

I just upgraded my pot to a 60 quart and did a 6 gallon batch last night - well the pot was too big for the bus pan, so I stuck it in a snow bank off my porch and stirred constantly (kept pushing the snow up against the pot sides) - I was at 76F in 9 minutes. It was also friggin' freezing out there so that helped too.

Now when summer comes I will have to think about a chiller...

Just because you don't want to go big doesn't mean you shouldn't be creative. Some of the brewing methods are there for a reason though, a good water volume on your boil is important.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:56 PM   #29
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I made a small chiller for half batches out of 10 ft of copper tubing for under fifteen bucks and it works great, saved me money when I first started cuz I kept having to buy ice. I still use my small chiller for making starters with

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Old 02-04-2011, 07:05 PM   #30
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I made a small chiller for half batches out of 10 ft of copper tubing for under fifteen bucks and it works great, saved me money when I first started cuz I kept having to buy ice. I still use my small chiller for making starters with
+1 there. It's pretty cheap and easy to make a small IC so you can cool full boils. There are fittings readily available to let you connect it to the kitchen sink.

When you move up to big batches this baby IC can be recycled into a pre-chiller for a larger IC.
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