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Old 01-31-2013, 09:13 PM   #51
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Looks nice! 3.6oz of corn sugar isn't too bad for 4 gallons of beer. It'll be a little fizzy, but should be good.

If you need a good scale, the one I use is here. Does up to 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs) and weighs in both metric and standard. I use mine all the time (the tare function is especially useful) and it measures in 1/10th of an ounce units. Can't beat the price for a good digital pocket scale either.

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Old 01-31-2013, 11:36 PM   #52
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Nice scale. A good scale is my next investment in this wonderful hobby. I like yours, it's pocket size too! I was going to attemp to wash my yeast this go around but I think I will save that for another go around.

Here's a picture of the final product!

This one I didn't fill up as close as I did the others. Some I got within 1- 1.5 inch of the top

Going to cross my fingers I don't have an explosion and mess on my hands.

image-3742340366.jpg  
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:51 PM   #53
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That's a fine looking home brew! As long as you reached your FG and it held there for a few days you shouldn't have any bottle bombs. To be on the safe side, my first few go arounds I put my bottles in a large Rubbermaid bin. I only had 1 bottle leak due to a fracture in the glass, but better safe than cleaning up a mess.

I have a friend who uses the Mr. Beer kits and on his first one he primed and bottled it only 3 days after pitching (because the air lock stopped), then put it in his 85F closet to condition. That resulted in a $200 dry cleaning bill, lol. He learned to be patient after that.

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:07 AM   #54
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Well, you just taught me something then. I have been on travel to Connecticut this past week so I had my wife time the bubbles for me every night. This morning when I got home, I timed the bubbles again and it was at 1 min and 17 sec intervals. Not sure how long it's been sitting at the FG. I know better now for next time.

I will put them in a Rubbermaid container tonight. I store them in our nook area in a box that the bottles came in... This keeps it out of the sun light and kinda protects it if one were to bust.

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:59 AM   #55
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Yeah, air lock activity pretty much means squat. When your FG holds for about 3-4 days then you're ready to bottle. I've had plenty of brews drop 10 points or more after air lock activity ceased in secondary.

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Old 02-01-2013, 08:30 PM   #56
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So you recommend only using the air lock to prevent the nasties from getting in?

Also, is there a better method of getting samples from the fermenter, other then removing the airlock and taking a small sample? I would think this method would give a much large risk of infection.

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Old 02-02-2013, 02:37 AM   #57
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Yeah, airlock activity is exciting because it's something immediately tangible to the brewer, but as far as when the beer is done or not comes down to gravity readings.

I use a refractometer (this is the one I use) to track the activity and once it stabilizes I'll use a hydrometer to get a true FG reading.

Refractometers are nice because you only need 3-4 drops of beer to take a sample reading but the alcohol content of the beer will throw the reading off. There are compensation calculators out there, but even then they tend to be inaccurate by several gravity points. So, like I said, they're nice to track a steady march to FG until the activity plateaus off, but a good hydrometer is really the best method of getting an accurate FG reading to record, though the downside is that the hydrometer uses a lot more beer. I find a combination of the two tools limits how much I lose to the "scientist's share."

To pull reading for the refractometer I use a 25mL glass Mohr pipet (like this one) and for the hydrometer I use a 2oz glass turkey baster, both of which I sanitize in iodophor before taking a reading. The pipet is long enough that I can pull the sample from anywhere in the column of liquid in the fermenter, but it's unnecessary to fill it since you only need 3-4 drops of beer for a refractometer . The baster has the advantage of pulling a lot of beer quickly for the hydrometer test jar, limiting how much exposure the beer has to the outside world. As long as you follow sensible sanitation precautions there is little risk of infection.

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:40 AM   #58
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Btw, if you're looking for something new to try, here is a recipe for a Scottish Heavy I developed for a friend of mine from Scotland. He loves it and it's the reigning favorite among my ilk. It has a really nice floral aroma and flavor to it thanks to the combination of adding hops to the mash and the use of treacle at flameout. If you have an international food store near you I use Lyle's Black Treacle imported from England. You can also order it from Amazon. It comes in 1 lb cans and is pretty inexpensive.

Donald's Scottish Heavy
Type: Scottish Export 80 Shilling
Size: 5 gal
Water Needed: 7.75 gal
Pre-Boil Vol: 6.25 gal
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.035 @ 75% eff.
Carb: 2.1 vol
SRM: 16
IBU: 19
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.4%

Water Treatment
I use a combination of different water treatment chemicals based on the water profile of my area, but for you I would suggest just using a single

1 oz pkg of Burton Water Salts; Mix in with all 7.75 gal of water before starting mash

GRAIN (7 lbs 14 oz Total)
6 lbs -- Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Munton's) 71.6%
1 lb -- Aromatic Malt (Dingemans) 11.9%
8 oz -- Carapils (Briess) 6%
4 oz -- Special B Malt (Dingemans) 3%
2 oz -- Roasted Barley (Briess) 1.5%

Mash Schedule (Medium Body, Single Infusion)
Mash-In: 12 qts water @ 166F (152F Step Temp) for 60 minutes
Mash-Out: 7 qts water @ 200F (168F Step Temp) for 10 minutes
Sparge with 3 gallons of water @ 168F

Hop Schedule
0.50 oz -- Sovereign (5.5% AA) in Mash for 70 minutes (Add to grain when mashing in)
0.50 oz -- Sovereign (5.5% AA) Boil @ 60 minutes
1 oz -- Fuggles (4.5% AA) Boil @ 10 minutes

Other
1 tsp -- Irish Moss @ 30 minutes
8 oz -- Lyle's Black Treacle @ Flameout (8 oz by weight, not volume)
3.25 oz -- Priming Sugar (Dextrose); 2.1 vol @ Bottling

Yeast
1 pkg -- Wyeast Scottish Ale (1728); 0.75L Starter on stir plate (or 1.25L simple starter) @ 65F for 2 days

Fermentation Schedule
Chill and Pitch @ 65F
Primary: 7 days @ 60F
Secondary: 14 days @ 55F
Cold Crash: 2 days @ 40F
Condition 30 days w/ 3.25 oz Dextrose (2.1 vol) @ 65F

This recipe will introduce you to more refined methods of controlling temperature, cold crashing, water treatment as well as mash hopping. For this beer to really shine the temps must be held very stable (this recipe was the reason I built my temp controlled fermentation chamber). Scottish Ale Yeast has a temp range of 55-75F, but the really clean, crisp flavor of Scottish heavies happen at the low end of the spectrum. Like I said, this is one of my favorite ones to make and it's so smooth that Donald and I tend to get ourselves in trouble with them.

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Old 02-02-2013, 02:20 PM   #59
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Interesting that you use both a refracto and hydrometer. I have a saltwater aquarium and I use a refracto to measure the specific gravity of the water every so often. I am fairly sure it might have the brick scale on one side too.

That recipe looks intense! I have never heard of a heavy ale before. What could I compare it to?

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Old 02-02-2013, 04:09 PM   #60
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Refractometers for salt water are calibrated to measure salinity where as those for brewing are calibrated to measure sugar content. Each has a different refractive index since salt bends light differently than sugar (I think 1.5:1.38 respectively). But I suppose your salt water one would work just to watch the activity and once it stops the hydrometer would give you a real gravity reading.

"Scottish Heavy" is a bit of a misnomer because they are lower ABV session beers. The closest thing I could compare them to would be a Newcastle Brown Ale, but they are less carbonated, more malt forward and much "heavier" in mouth feel (maybe something in between a brown ale and a porter). Scottish heavies also tend to have a slight smokiness to them in the background.

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