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Old 03-02-2012, 03:35 AM   #51
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I believe the text and image instructions were both reliable. thanks for posting the pictures, a lot of it for me was determining the right pot to heat it from, thanks for showing that picture.

@unionrdr, thanks for the technical stuff post. really helpful.

cheers!

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:21 AM   #52
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Thanks, its been an effort that many have contributed to

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Old 05-02-2012, 02:56 AM   #53
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Default Lessons learned

Have been doing extract kits for abt 9 months now. IPA's and stouts. Some turned out OK (but not great), and some had that nasty homebrew "twang" to their taste. Believe I have gotten it down now. Nothing but success with the last efforts. Going back to the beginning of this thread, I agree, there are a few things the kit instructions don't tell you that are, in my mind, critical to success. In my experience, it came down to two major topics throughout the process: Temperature and Aeration. Again, this is my experience with ales and stouts.

Temp Control:

1) During steeping, keep the temp below 165. I now stay at 160.

2) Cool as rapidly as possible after the boil. A chiller is a great investment.

3) Don't pour out of the boiling pot much above 80F. At this stage you don't want to change the chemistry or molecular structure of the wort, and you risk doing so if you pour it out into the fermentor at higher temps.

4) After you pour your ~80F wort into the fermenting bucket and start adding water, stir to keep the temp constant, and don't let it get below 65F. Remember also that you're attempting to strike two objectives: temp (above 64F) and target OG. If you have to err on one side or the other, I've found that temp is the more critical. Don't drop below 65F in order to hit a target OG. In the end, taste is more important than the ABV.

5) Ales and stouts need to ferment in the upper 60's. Don't let the temp INSIDE the ferementor get above 72F. Just because you have your fermentor in a 68-degree basement doesn't mean that you're fermenting at the right temp. Remember that this is an exothermic reaction. I've seen it take the temp inside a 5 gal fermentor more than 6 or 7 degrees above ambient. I finally caved in and bought a ~$150 chest freezer and a Control Products dual HV controller ($68 from Amazon). Best investment I ever made in this hobby. If you can't do that, make sure you move your fermentor to a place where the temp of the liquid stays below 72.

6) After fermentation stops, and you rack to the secondary, they say that temp control is far less critical. True, but on the Low side only. OK to get down into the low 60's or even high 50's, but STILL don't let it climb above ~71 or you're inviting that nasty taste again.

7) After priming and bottling, keep the bottles between 68 and 71 degrees to carbonate. If you let them get much lower in temp, carbonation can take much longer. If you let them get up into the mid to upper 70's, you again risk adverse effects on your flavor.

Aeration:

1) After you've added your cooling water following the boil, hit your OG and are at about 66-67 or so, it is very important to aerate. I've seen references to using airstones. Never tried that approach but am sure it works. I simply make sure my bottling bucket is also sterilized, and I pour the wort back and forth between the fermenting bucket and bottling bucket twice (four pours) until there is a good froth on top. At this point, I pitch my yeast. Most often I simply sprikle dry S05 on top of the froth without mixing it in. Other techniqes (with liquid yeast, e.g.) are also fine.

2) When racking to secondary, and most important, when transferring to the bottling bucket prior to bottling, aeration is your enemy. Again, they don't tell you this in most kit instructions. Boil your priming sugar solution, let it cool a bit, pour it into the bottom of your bottling bucket and then siphon (do not pour) your beer into the bottling bucket with no splashing. Stir the priming solution in VERY slowly so as not to aerate at all. Then proceed with bottling ASAP.

I'm no expert, but since I made these adjustments, my brews have been top notch. Good Luck!

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Old 09-07-2012, 04:34 PM   #54
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If beginners are not sure on what kits to buy we are starting a review site for kits and craft beers. There is a homebrew section and content should be getting up rapidly! http://thebarflys.blogspot.com/2012/....html?spref=tw
Everyone should check it out

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:05 PM   #55
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I just finished my first beer from an extract kit, Nut Brown Ale. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed at the flavor - it seems kinda weak. Is this because of using extracts, or did I need to leave it in the primary fermenter longer than the 2 days the brewing store guy recommended? (I have experience in several years of cider, mead and wine making.)

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:47 PM   #56
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Casner, that's a hard one to answer, first off, though,mis that you almost always want to leave your beer in primary fermentation 10 days to 2 weeks. Even if the yeast is done in two days with the sugars, it still does a lot of work on the flavor, cleaning up the off flavors, among other things. Also, 2 days is a random choice, not based on any data. You should base the decision on if fermentation is done on hydro enter readings, not how many days. Yeast is a living thing, so variability is the norm. Now, why weak? There are too many variables to know for sure. In your boil did you boil over and lose some hops? That may diminish the bitterness a little. Did you accidentally put in too much water or too little extract? Maybe? To know for sure you need to take an initial gravity reading, to be sure the wort is the right gravity. To really know, you should always take detailed notes in each batch of every step you take to help you or others on this board determine what may be the culprit.

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Old 12-31-2012, 07:09 PM   #57
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Thanks to all the contributors. This site has been invaluable in planning my first brew.

Regarding primary vs secondary fermenters, I was planning to use the bucket with lock for primary (10 days or so I think) and then transfer to the glass carboy with lock for secondary. Is there any disadvantage to this? Also, I read a lot of people saying they just shook their carboy before pitching for aeration. Can I shake up my wort in the bucket in the same manner?

btw, I'm going to be brewing from an extract kit using some specialty grains and dry yeast. Thanks in advance!

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Old 12-31-2012, 09:13 PM   #58
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kennyg,

the primary vs secondary debate is a hot one. Basically there are two trains of thought.

1. always do it.
2. ONLY do it if you're putting some fruit/spices in the beer after fermentation or dry hopping. Otherwise never do it.

The reasons for 2 are:

1. you can end up getting an infection in the transfer, (not a serious issue if you're very fastidious about sanitation)
2. you should leave the beer on the yeast cake, so that the yeast can clean up really thoroughly.

At any rate its your call.

As far as shaking go to town, it works great for most people, just remember to cover that lock port so you don't spray wort all over yourself

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Fermenting/Kegged/Bottled NONE :( I moved to the NW and haven't had time to setup my brew rig since! (but hey, I'm in the Pacific NW so there's so much awesome beer I don't need to brew it as much hah!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:25 PM   #59
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Phil, great thanks. I'm going to brew on Saturday. I've been over-thinking it a bit and need to just get in there and get my hands dirty.

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Old 01-05-2013, 03:25 PM   #60
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For my beers,3 weeks in primary are the norm. About two weeks or more to finish up,& 3-7 days to clean up & settle out clear or slightly misty. 2 days is maybe enough time to get through initial fermentation. It'll then slowly,uneventfully creep down to FG.
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