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Old 12-10-2010, 04:01 AM   #1
boomtown25
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Default Brand new and have a couple of rookie questions

Hey peeps. I am brand new to the beer brewing scene and have a couple of questions. I have been an avid wine maker for some time now so I have a general background, but I am a bit of a perfectionist if I am going to dedicate time to something, so I have simply been studying for several weeks now on the ins and outs. Here are my questions for now and I apologize for any that are outright stupid:
1. In wine, the carboys are usually 6 gallons and you want the least amount of room for oxygen during fermenting and aging. A lot of the recipes I have seen are for 5 gallons. Do I need to downsize my carboys or not worry about it?
2. How do you gather the ingredients? Do you simply order the amount it takes and have extra of a great deal (ex.- I see recipes for 1.8 lbs of DME, but I have only seen purchase ability in lbs)
3. Should I suck it up and keg right off the bat, or start with bottling?
4. I love all kinds of beers, but am unfamiliar with the type or the effect of more/less of certain ingredients or the different types of ingredients (varieties of grains or hops). How can I find what I like without spending hundreds of dollars in experimentation? (ex.- If I like Flat Tire, where do I start?) How do I know how to change a flavor from the next one I do?
5. Is brewing from extract compared to whole grain sort of comparable to cooking a frozen beef patty or a master chef in a restaurant (or not that bad?)
6. When given a time in a recipe to add certain ingredients, does it mean past boil time, or does it mean how much longer to go. Here is a example: If recipe tells you to boil for 60 minutes and then says "x ingredient 40 minutes", does this mean you add it after 40 minutes of boiling or does it mean add 20 minutes past boil point and boil for the remaining 40 minutes?

Thanks folks and sorry for the rookie questions!!!

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:12 AM   #2
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1. 6 gallon is better...gives room for krausen (foam the ale yeast produces). The yeast will produce CO2 as it ferments and it will force all of the O2 out of the carboy. Most brewing carboys are 6.5 gallons...but 6 will work just fine.
2.Always good to have a little extra DME laying around for priming sugar for bottles, making yeast starters, etc. Ordering a kit will give you exactly what you need. Once I found a few beers that wanted to brew regularly I started buying 50lb bags of base grain (2row, pale malt, etc) just to save some money.
3.your choice...I still do both but 80% keg and 20% bottle...you can always bottle a few beers out of a carbonated keg by building a cheap bottleing wand.
4.Stick to a tried and true recipe....experimenting too early in the process will probably produce some funky beers. Get your system and processes down first then experiment. Ordering kits is a good way to start. Each style of beer follows certain guidelines to make that particular beer....if you stray too far off the path you start making something that may not be in the style your looking for.
5.you can produce great beers either way....Award winning beers come from both methods. All grain is more complicated and takes more equipment. I started simple and then was bitten by the DIY bug quickly....now I have a $2000 RIMS machine with all the bells and whistles....I think I brewed 5 Extract batches and then my curiosity for all grain took over...I haven't looked back since.
6.How much time is left....set your timer for 60 minutes....at that point add 60 min hops....when the timer says 40 minutes...add 40 minute hops....when timer says 10 minutes...add 10 minute hops...etc.
hope this helps

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomtown25 View Post
Hey peeps. I am brand new to the beer brewing scene and have a couple of questions. I have been an avid wine maker for some time now so I have a general background, but I am a bit of a perfectionist if I am going to dedicate time to something, so I have simply been studying for several weeks now on the ins and outs. Here are my questions for now and I apologize for any that are outright stupid:
1. In wine, the carboys are usually 6 gallons and you want the least amount of room for oxygen during fermenting and aging. A lot of the recipes I have seen are for 5 gallons. Do I need to downsize my carboys or not worry about it?
2. How do you gather the ingredients? Do you simply order the amount it takes and have extra of a great deal (ex.- I see recipes for 1.8 lbs of DME, but I have only seen purchase ability in lbs)
3. Should I suck it up and keg right off the bat, or start with bottling?
4. I love all kinds of beers, but am unfamiliar with the type or the effect of more/less of certain ingredients or the different types of ingredients (varieties of grains or hops). How can I find what I like without spending hundreds of dollars in experimentation? (ex.- If I like Flat Tire, where do I start?) How do I know how to change a flavor from the next one I do?
5. Is brewing from extract compared to whole grain sort of comparable to cooking a frozen beef patty or a master chef in a restaurant (or not that bad?)
6. When given a time in a recipe to add certain ingredients, does it mean past boil time, or does it mean how much longer to go. Here is a example: If recipe tells you to boil for 60 minutes and then says "x ingredient 40 minutes", does this mean you add it after 40 minutes of boiling or does it mean add 20 minutes past boil point and boil for the remaining 40 minutes?

Thanks folks and sorry for the rookie questions!!!
1) you're gonna need that extra head space for krausen. The yeast creates CO2, so no oxidation worries

2) There are premade kits available from Northern Brewer, MoreBeer, Midwest, Brewmasters warehouse......

3)It really depends. there are those who do not mind bottling. If the only option available to me was bottling, I'd be buying instead. This is personal preference.

4)Stick with tried and true recipes and read about various contributions different ingredients lend to the finished product.

5)No. In all grain, you're making extract. All grain can be cheaper, but it's more complicated, too. Fresh extract and steeping grains make fine beer.

6)I'll answer in terms of hop adds. A 60 min hop add means you add with 60 minutes of boil time remaining. 15 min hop add means you have 15 minutes of boil length remaining. etc......

Welcome and good luck...
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:22 AM   #4
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Lots of questions here, but I'll take a stab at it. I'm re-arranging the order of the questions a little, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boomtown25 View Post
1. In wine, the carboys are usually 6 gallons and you want the least amount of room for oxygen during fermenting and aging. A lot of the recipes I have seen are for 5 gallons. Do I need to downsize my carboys or not worry about it?
Unlike wine, beer will generally form a very large head of foam and gooey looking crap on the top (krausen) as it ferments. You need extra space in the fermenter for this to form or you will have a mess on your hands when it comes up and out of the airlock or blows the stopper out of the thing.

Most people use a 6.5 gallon or larger fermenter for 5 gallons of beer for this reason. If you have 6 gallon carboys, you are cutting it close, so you might want to use a blow-off tube instead of a normal bubbler airlock. A blow-off is just a large hose jammed in the next of the carboy. The other end goes into a small jar or bucket of water or sanitizer. A very large airlock that lets the krausen escape if necessary.

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3. Should I suck it up and keg right off the bat, or start with bottling?
That's your call, but a kegging system is a larger investment (kegs, CO2 tank, regulator, taps and lines, some sort of fridge to keep it all in.) The kegs are usually $30 or so each, so you are looking at maybe $150 or more to get started with a kegging system. You might want to just do the bottling for the first few batches until you are sure that you want to get serious about this. I hated bottling with a passion, but I did it for the first 10 years of my brewing.

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Originally Posted by boomtown25 View Post
2. How do you gather the ingredients? Do you simply order the amount it takes and have extra of a great deal (ex.- I see recipes for 1.8 lbs of DME, but I have only seen purchase ability in lbs)

4. I love all kinds of beers, but am unfamiliar with the type or the effect of more/less of certain ingredients or the different types of ingredients (varieties of grains or hops). How can I find what I like without spending hundreds of dollars in experimentation? (ex.- If I like Flat Tire, where do I start?) How do I know how to change a flavor from the next one I do?
As a beginner, I would suggest starting with kits or recipes that others have created that are tried and true. Most of the good online homebrew shops offer packaged kits (including clone kits for fat tire and other commercial beers).

As you start getting some experience, you will start to gain a better understanding of what ingredients bring to the table. I brewed from kits for a long time before I took a stab at making my own recipes up.

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5. Is brewing from extract compared to whole grain sort of comparable to cooking a frozen beef patty or a master chef in a restaurant (or not that bad?)
Not that bad at all. You can make EXCELLENT beers with extract. Brewing with all grain is less expensive on ingredients, but more expensive on equipment (though, it doesn't take long for the all grain equipment to pay for itself through the savings on ingredients.)

Extract brewing takes less time than all grain brewing, but gives you some more control (as well as more opportunities to goof something.)

Starting with extract is a normal thing. The key may be to make sure that the equipment you buy for extract brewing can still be used when you move to all grain.

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6. When given a time in a recipe to add certain ingredients, does it mean past boil time, or does it mean how much longer to go. Here is a example: If recipe tells you to boil for 60 minutes and then says "x ingredient 40 minutes", does this mean you add it after 40 minutes of boiling or does it mean add 20 minutes past boil point and boil for the remaining 40 minutes?
Times are generally listed with hops and spices, and the time quoted will tell you how long the stuff spends in the boil kettle. So, if a recipe says "1oz of Cascade hops @ 20 minutes" it means you add it when there are 20 minutes left until the boil is done.

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Thanks folks and sorry for the rookie questions!!!
No problem! Welcome to the clan.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:31 AM   #5
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That was awesome. I think we went three for three with everyone on point, answered the question and all having the same advice. Thanks for your time. I think what I have gathered is: 6 gallon fine, but get a blow off, buy kits for the styles of beers I like, bottle first, use extracts first (no sense in blowing the paycheck on expensive hardware only to fall out of love, and timeframe is add it for the legnth left to boil!!!!

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:35 AM   #6
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That was awesome. I think we went three for three with everyone on point, answered the question and all having the same advice. Thanks for your time. I think what I have gathered is: 6 gallon fine, but get a blow off, buy kits for the styles of beers I like, bottle first, use extracts first (no sense in blowing the paycheck on expensive hardware only to fall out of love, and timeframe is add it for the legnth left to boil!!!!
Don't listen to Hugh_Jass and buckeyebrewer. They don't know what they are talking about.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:37 AM   #7
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Sounds like a plan Stan....I think we were all typing at the same time. Nice that three people give the same advise. I started the same way....It's a bit confusing at first. Hang in there and read, read, read....oh ya and buy a hydrometer...it's your best friend when brewing.

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Old 12-10-2010, 12:08 PM   #8
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A couple of additional notes:

Get some Fermap and use it in the kettle and the fermenter. You won't have to worry about boilovers on the stove or blow-offs in the fermenter. It does not affect the taste of the beer.

Research partial mash techniques. After doing a couple of kits you will want to do something that is your own, and if you can mash a few of the grains, it opens up a much wider variety of ingredients to you.

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Old 12-10-2010, 02:11 PM   #9
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Don't listen to Hugh_Jass and buckeyebrewer. They don't know what they are talking about.
Boomtown,
This is what happens.

You start with basic extract kits, move on to all grain kits and recipes, then you begin to formulate your own recipes, then perfect those recipes.

Eventually, you'll post these recipes on HBT, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get those recipes published in a periodical like, oh I don't know, maybe Popular Mechanics. Then all of us lowly pee-on brewers will have to marvel at your awesomeness.

Congrats to Walker
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:59 PM   #10
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I can't express my gratitude more to all responders, happy to have joined the forum. I belong to an identical forum for my other hobby, poker, and you get on there, get 80 different recommendations on what to do and half giving you the advice, "give it up, you suck". I already feel positive about my adventures starting because all of you are supportive instead of degrading!

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