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Old 01-12-2011, 05:30 AM   #1
cghill
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Default Beginner questions

Hi all. I'm glad to find such a great community that I'm hoping to soon be a part of.

I just finished brewing my first two extract beer kits. The first was an Altbier, and the second was an Irish Red Ale. I have a couple questions that came up during the process.

First of all, both of the beers had significantly higher starting gravity than expected. The kit recommended a starting gravity in the 1.050-1.054 range for both I believe, but they were both in the 1.060 range. I did a full boil of 6 gallons of water, and in both cases was left with around 4.5-4.75 gallons of wort, which I then topped off to 5 gallons with boiled water. Should I be concerned about how high the starting gravity was? From now on I'll start with 6.5 gallons so hopefully it won't happen again. How important is it to match the starting gravity that is suggested on the kits? Will it affect the taste/quality of the beer?

Second, there was a lot of sediment left in the bottom of the kettle after the boil. I imagine a lot of it dropped due to adding the whirlfloc tablet. Do I want to transfer any of that stuff into the carboy to add flavor, or should I try to add as little of it as possible?

Third, I'm currently performing secondary fermentation on the Altbier, and about 5 days into primary on the Irish Red (I plan on not doing a secondary on the Irish Red so I can see if I can taste/see a difference). Unfortunately, I don't have any 5 gallon carboys for secondary fermentation, so I just did it in one of my 6 gallon carboys. I then found out that you want as little oxygen as possible after fermentation has started. Does the added oxygen from a 6 gallon carboy offset any benefits from a secondary fermentation, and therefore the secondary should be foregone until I get a 5 gallon carboy?

Thanks all!

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Old 01-12-2011, 05:51 AM   #2
northernlad
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Welcome,

First, when you add water it rarely gets mixed perfectly so that is probably where your difference in gravity comes from. Don't worry about it.

Second, some whirpool and spend immeasurable amounts of time and energy keeping the trub out of their fermenters. I add tha whole damn lot, it'll settle out anyway.

Third, you can't tell the difference between a beer you have racked to secondary and one you have not. Clarity is the issue here so think about this: If you leave your beer in the primary for 4 weeks, it has been dropping sediment and clearing since fermentation stopped.
If you primary for 2 weeks and secondary for 2 weeks, you stir some of it up during the transfer and then it has only 2 weeks to clear. If you are not adding additional ingredients leave it in the primary for 3 or more weeks and you will get much better beer.

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Old 01-12-2011, 05:51 AM   #3
Smokeater233
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Welcome to the hobby!

1. The high OG most likely comes from the fact that the top off water was not being completely mixed with the wort. There's nothing at all wrong with this, but if you got more wort than water in your sample your OG will be higher than expected.

2. The matter left at the bottom of the kettle is left over hops and other cold break materials like protein. Most strain it out - you can toss it into the fermenter, but it imparts no additional flavors and can be a headache to content with during particularly vigorous fermentations (even with a blow off tube).

3. Most here generally feel there are few circumstances where a secondary is necessary, and what you are describing I'd leave in the primary from pitching yeast all the way to racking to a bottling bucket. There is risk of oxidation and contamination when racking to secondary - although if you are careful it's minimal - but that being said, why do it if there's no need?

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