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Old 01-03-2010, 04:30 PM   #1
coach
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Default another n00b, another first batch

hey all. first post, which happens to be the story of my first brewing experience. i have to say thanks to the homebrewtalk forums for providing tons of helpful info (and creating tons more questions).

last night i brewed a yellow dog pale ale kit. i did a 3.5 gallon boil in a 20 qt. pot. i thought i'd be able to get 4 gallons into the pot, but the water level was only about an inch from the top (which made me question the accuracy of the pot size). anyway, i got the wort to a boil pretty easily and didn't encounter any boil over, even though i was prepared with a spray bottle of cold water. there was not much foam for most of the boil. hop additions at 50 and 58 minutes seemed to go well.

i got the deluxe brewing kit from homebrewery.com, so it came with a wort chiller. since my sink faucet isn't threaded, i had to fashion a connection with duct tape to get the chiller hooked up. that worked just fine, and i had the wort down to 70 in about 10-12 minutes.

racking to the primary went ok, but i think i sucked quite a bit of sediment into the fermenter. i don't think that will be a problem. i'll probably end up racking to a secondary though just to try to get rid of some of the gunk. i added about 1.75 gallons of distilled water to the carboy to get it up to 5 gallons, then took the hydrometer reading, which was around 1.033 (adjusted for temperature).

i had an 11th hour debate about rehydrating the yeast, but i just decided to follow the provided instructions, which directed to just dump it into the wort. it sat on top for a while until i moved the carboy to its cool, dark resting place, at which point it got mixed in a little.

now, about 12 hours later, i'm not seeing a lot of "action" in the fermenter, but there are a bunch of pea-sized "islands" of foam floating on top of the wort. so hopefully the fermentation is starting up.

i think i'm going to let it stay in the fermenter (whether primary or secondary i don't know) for 3 weeks, then bottle. and i'll spend the majority of this week debating whether to wait and see how this batch does before brewing another. right now, i'm leaning towards not waiting.

thanks for reading my wordy first post. and thoughts, advice and/or encouragement is greatly appreciated!

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Old 01-03-2010, 04:41 PM   #2
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relax, don't worry, have a (store bought) brew. (since this is your first batch)

What temperature is your beer fermenting at? What type of yeast is it? What is the target O.G. from the kit?

Most likely it is OK and will be just fine, but 12hrs isn't enough to get worried yet.

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Old 01-03-2010, 04:49 PM   #3
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well clearly you did your research before diving into your first brew. Gunk in the primary really isnt a big deal at all, and feel free to rack to secondary if youre interested in clarity, but the consensus seems to be that a secondary isnt necessary. Although some people swear by them.

The only other thing is that they say that distilled water isnt ideal for brewing, because it lacks minerals, but this might just be for hop utilization in the boil, someone else should be able to clear that up for you.

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Old 01-03-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Rook View Post
What temperature is your beer fermenting at? What type of yeast is it? What is the target O.G. from the kit?

Most likely it is OK and will be just fine, but 12hrs isn't enough to get worried yet.
it sat in my wife's work room last night at somewhere around 55-58. it was still 58 in there about an hour ago, so i moved it to a room at about 60-62. the yeast is Safale US-05 dry ale yeast. the target OG is 1.044. thinking back though, i topped off the wort with about 3/4 gal of water, and probably didn't mix it well enough before taking the reading, so that might've affected it. i'm hoping it did, since i guess my reading would be kind of low. could that be a problem?

oh, and i'm definitely not worried. i'm trying to stick to the "relax, don't worry..." philosophy.

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well clearly you did your research before diving into your first brew. Gunk in the primary really isnt a big deal at all, and feel free to rack to secondary if youre interested in clarity, but the consensus seems to be that a secondary isnt necessary. Although some people swear by them.

The only other thing is that they say that distilled water isnt ideal for brewing, because it lacks minerals, but this might just be for hop utilization in the boil, someone else should be able to clear that up for you.
i just took a good look at the carboy, and there's a TON of sediment in there, both at the bottom and also little balls of it floating around the middle. i need to be more careful with my racking next time. i think i got sloppy there towards the end.

as for the water, i used 3.5 gallons of tap water for the boil and just topped off with the distilled. i have to do a lot more reading up about water chemistry. for now, i'm not going to worry about it too much.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
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The pea sized islands you are seeing in your carboy are almost certainly CO2 bubbles from your already fermenting wort. It is also possible that some of the floating gunk in the middle is floating because of CO2 making its way to the top.

The sediment isn't really a big issue, just be careful when transferring to your bottling bucket. You probably will want to start the siphon towards the middle and then gently set it at the bottom. Also, don't get too greedy and try for every last drop of beer when you are transferring.

As far as water chemistry goes, you don't really need to worry about it with extract brews. You should be able to go 100% distilled if you really wanted to because the required minerals are in the extract. You can worry about water chemistry if you start mashing your grains, but as long as your water tastes okay its good to brew with for extract. I think the only exception might be if you want to add a bit of gypsum to help bring out the hop bitterness.

Good luck with your first beer. Sounds like you're doing fine.

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Old 01-03-2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by coach View Post
i had an 11th hour debate about rehydrating the yeast, but i just decided to follow the provided instructions, which directed to just dump it into the wort. it sat on top for a while until i moved the carboy to its cool, dark resting place, at which point it got mixed in a little.
To weigh in on this debate: rehydrate the yeast. John Palmer explains it better than I can:

"Often the concentration of sugars in wort is high enough that the yeast can not draw enough water across the cell membranes to restart their metabolism. For best results, re-hydrate 2 packets of dry yeast in warm water (95-105°F)...."

Sugar (and salt) are antrimicrobial because they are very hydrophilic (they love water)...sugar can draw out enough water from bacteria and yeast cells to kill them. This is why candy doesn't really go bad. Yeast needs to be healthy (and awake) in order to control the passage of sugar and water through their cell walls.

Next step for you: use liquid yeast and make an appropriate starter.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielinva View Post
The pea sized islands you are seeing in your carboy are almost certainly CO2 bubbles from your already fermenting wort. It is also possible that some of the floating gunk in the middle is floating because of CO2 making its way to the top.

The sediment isn't really a big issue, just be careful when transferring to your bottling bucket. You probably will want to start the siphon towards the middle and then gently set it at the bottom. Also, don't get too greedy and try for every last drop of beer when you are transferring.

As far as water chemistry goes, you don't really need to worry about it with extract brews. You should be able to go 100% distilled if you really wanted to because the required minerals are in the extract. You can worry about water chemistry if you start mashing your grains, but as long as your water tastes okay its good to brew with for extract. I think the only exception might be if you want to add a bit of gypsum to help bring out the hop bitterness.

Good luck with your first beer. Sounds like you're doing fine.
I was under the impression that extract DIDNT have a bunch of minerals and the rest, which is why some of the long time brewers here recommend a yeast nutrient when extract brewing.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:17 PM   #8
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well, i moved my carboy back into the kitchen a few hours ago (i have it wrapped in cardboard to keep the light out -- not covering the airlock though). it's about 64 degrees in there, and the yeast have really gone to work. i guess they weren't warm enough in the mid-to-upper 50s.

and so the long, arduous waiting process begins...

thanks for all your advice everyone.

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Old 01-03-2010, 11:42 PM   #9
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I was under the impression that extract DIDNT have a bunch of minerals and the rest, which is why some of the long time brewers here recommend a yeast nutrient when extract brewing.
According to John Palmer, the mineral profile that was used to mash the grains that eventually became extract still exists within the extract. Because of this, distilled water (or most any tap water) is fine as the necessary nutrients will be provided by the extract. You are more likely to run into water chemistry issues if you use tap or spring water, as certain mineral concentrations can be pushed over the brink to where they cause harsh flavors in the beer.

Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer talk about this and water chemistry in detail here.
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