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Old 11-15-2007, 05:49 AM   #1
aliu630
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Default Brewing Process questions

I've been trying to read up on how to brew before I try my first batch. It seems that from difference sources, there are a few different variations to brewing that made me kind of confused and I hope you guys can help me out by answering some of these questions for me.

1) Does it matter how much boiled water to add into the brewpot? From one source, it tells me to add one gallon while another it says to use 3 gallons (both are for 5 gallon batch). I would think it would be the same once everything is mixed to make 5 gallons.

2) How important is it to have a thermometer and is it really necessary to get the water boiling up to a certain temperature? What happens if the boiling temperature is too low or too high?

3) Is it really necessary to have an airtight primary fermentor? I've been browsing the forum and it seems people are worried about oxygen getting into their batch. It seems that if the oxygen can travel through the plastic, does it really matter if the lid is airtight?

I think those were the main questions that have been bugging me. Any input would be great. I hope I wasn't to vauge or confusing when asking these questions.

Thanks in advance

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Old 11-15-2007, 05:58 AM   #2
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If you are starting out by using extract then the boil volume really doesn't matter, however i'd suggest around 3 gallons, it just works a little smoother.

Unless you are steeping grains you don't need a thermometer, water boils at 220*F. You'll know when it's boiling.

Airtight is a must....

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Old 11-15-2007, 06:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadYetiBrew
If you are starting out by using extract then the boil volume really doesn't matter, however i'd suggest around 3 gallons, it just works a little smoother.

Unless you are steeping grains you don't need a thermometer, water boils at 220*F. You'll know when it's boiling.

Airtight is a must....
I hate to split hairs but unless your below sea level water boils at 212*F, but your right in that you'll know when its boiling because its pretty obvious.

I wouldn't really worry about the fermenter being airtight, as long as you can keep particles from failing down into it and insects flying/crawling into it. I frequently will just put foil loosely over my carboys.
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon
I hate to split hairs but unless your below sea level water boils at 212*F, but your right in that you'll know when its boiling because its pretty obvious.

I wouldn't really worry about the fermenter being airtight, as long as you can keep particles from failing down into it and insects flying/crawling into it. I frequently will just put foil loosely over my carboys.

Sorry i meant 212, i didn't have a good brew day today lol...

I'd say it's a need for a while just to keep any wild yeast out till the beer yeast can get going, once it's got that constant output of CO2 it could be loose fitting... But to be safe i always keep mine airtight.
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Old 11-15-2007, 01:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aliu630
...

1) Does it matter how much boiled water to add into the brewpot? From one source, it tells me to add one gallon while another it says to use 3 gallons (both are for 5 gallon batch). I would think it would be the same once everything is mixed to make 5 gallons.
I would say it's a lot easy to dissolve a bunch of LME or DME if you have more volume. I think that 2-3 gallons is good for extract brews, depending on how much you can boil in your pot - a boil over is very possible at some stages and something of a disaster in terms of lost ingredients and very messy clean up!

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Originally Posted by aliu630
2) How important is it to have a thermometer and is it really necessary to get the water boiling up to a certain temperature? What happens if the boiling temperature is too low or too high?
My understanding is that it just needs to boil, at whatever temp that happens where you are (lower if you are in the mountains, for example). Temp control will be more important a) when cooling your wort, to make sure temp is ok for the yeast and b) if you move on to steeping speciality grains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aliu630
3) Is it really necessary to have an airtight primary fermentor? I've been browsing the forum and it seems people are worried about oxygen getting into their batch. It seems that if the oxygen can travel through the plastic, does it really matter if the lid is airtight?
You just want to keep stuff out, as the guys say - having an air tight lid is the easiest way to do that. Oxidation will only be a problem in a plastic primary if you leave it there for 4+ weeks, and you won't be doing that. For secondary it's probably best to use glass (or better bottle plastic). Oxidation is much more of an issue after fermentation is done and you are moving the brew to secondary or bottling bucket - I speak from experience here!

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I think those were the main questions that have been bugging me. Any input would be great. I hope I wasn't to vauge or confusing when asking these questions.

Thanks in advance
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aliu630
1) Does it matter how much boiled water to add into the brewpot? From one source, it tells me to add one gallon while another it says to use 3 gallons (both are for 5 gallon batch). I would think it would be the same once everything is mixed to make 5 gallons.
Short version depends on if you are doing full boil or not. Do you have propane burner or use a stove. Personally I always do full boils and typically start with 6 gallons figuring to loose a gallon during the boil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aliu630
2) How important is it to have a thermometer and is it really necessary to get the water boiling up to a certain temperature? What happens if the boiling temperature is too low or too high?
The thermometer isn't necessary for the boil. You need a good thermometer for partials so you can be sure you steep the grains at the correct temp. And then its needed again to be sure you achieved pitching temp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aliu630
3) Is it really necessary to have an airtight primary fermentor? I've been browsing the forum and it seems people are worried about oxygen getting into their batch. It seems that if the oxygen can travel through the plastic, does it really matter if the lid is airtight?
The air tight container is good to have since there will be less chance of infection, you will see airlock activity better (and we all live for the bubbles).
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Old 11-19-2007, 06:07 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies, the answers were very helpful

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