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Old 11-16-2012, 02:14 AM   #1
bfinleyui
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Default A couple beginners questions

First post, I apologize ahead of time for the dumb questions, and I apologize if they've been answered elsewhere. I've tried searching as much as possible (my lack of productivity at work today can attest to that...), but a few questions remain. First, my situation:

Picked up a Brewer's Best Deluxe kit (primary bucket, better bottle secondary, bottling bucket + accessories) as my first foray into the scene.

My first extract kit I picked up (might be partial mash, i guess, since there's steeping involved...), was the Brewer's Best Witbier. The (extremely helpful and knowledgeable) guy at the shop said I didn't need a secondary on a wheat , that I'd probably be fine with about 7-10 days in primary, then when I hit the right FG, going right to the bottling. The instruction sheet in the extract kit still suggested a secondary.

A few questions:

1. Is there somewhere I can go to figure out which beers work best with/without a secondary before bottling? Would a secondary hurt it, beyond the possibility of contamination?

2. Similarly, is there anywhere (other than a general search of google/forums) that has recommended guidelines for primary/secondary fermentation times? Obviously the hydrometer is the only true 'when is it done?' determining factor, but just in terms of planning, it'd be nice to have some way of knowing "Oh, I can knock this wit out in 2 weeks, but this holiday ale is going to take 2 months..."...

3. I've seen all sorts of information out there on water. The tap water here isn't particularly awesome, drinking-wise. I run it through a Brita filter to drink, personally. For an extract kit, should I use tap water? Brita? Bottled? Magical unicorn tears?

4. Outside of collecting bottles from friends, where's the best place to buy some 12oz bottles? Is there a 'secret' online shop that everyone uses, or just wherever you happen to run across a good deal?

For now, that's about all I've got. I'm sure I'll be back here freaking out on Saturday afternoon as I'm halfway through my first brew day. Then I'll be on Amazon Monday ordering a second primary (didn't realize a second primary was so cheap, o lawd).

Thanks for the community that's already been developed here, I hope to become a part of it. Haven't even brewed my first batch and I think I'm already hooked.

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Old 11-16-2012, 02:26 AM   #2
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Hi there. I'm new to the forum, but have been brewing a while. Many will argue for or against a secondary. I always secondary for a few reasons. 1) it will clear your beer a bit more than just a primary. 2) it gets the beer off od the inactive and dead yeast cells. 3) I find it easier to harvest yeast when I transfer. 4) I get to have a few cold ones when I'm "working" on something
It took me about a while to get enough bottles to have a surplus for more batches, but a hint for removing the labels is to soak them overnight in oxiclean... awesome stuff (and lots of other uses in the brewery). Also ALWAYS cleab sanitize and check each bottle before you rack (aka bottle). Bottle bombs are dangerous and leave a horrible mess.
Regarding how long to ferment, definately rely on the hydrometer. When you think it's done, take a reading... wait 2-3 days and do it again. If no change, THEN you know youre done. Can't always rely on what the recipe says. Also, the recipies here are great and filled with "How I did it" so search the recipe form and try to mimic some of the other Brewer's technique. The best part about this hobby is you get to experimsbt a lot and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Cheers

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Old 11-16-2012, 02:33 AM   #3
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1/2. Just keep reading and experimenting. Huge debates on this site about need for secondaries. I personally only use secondary when adding fruit, aging on wood or with long (>6 weeks usually) fermentation/conditioning. The general feeling is no need to use a secondary for most beers.

Timing for fermentation is up to the yeast. As you said, once FG stabilizes for a couple days, it's technically done fermenting. Leaving it to condition helps flavors and clearing of your beer though.

I've worked out a deal w my local beer shop where I pay $0.05 for empty bottles (that's free + the bottle deposit). Guy there told me they get something like seven cents per bottle they return, but since I give him a brew every once in a while, he's cool with losing a few cents. I'd also suggest getting full bottles and drinking them. Yes, it's more expensive, but you get to enjoy/research.

I forgot your other questions and I'm on my phone app so can't flip. At least this starts to answer your question. Good luck with your first adventure!

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Old 11-16-2012, 02:45 AM   #4
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Thanks. I'm going to stick with extract right now for my first half dozen or so, then I'll look into all grain recipes for a bit more control.

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Old 11-16-2012, 03:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfinleyui View Post


1. Is there somewhere I can go to figure out which beers work best with/without a secondary before bottling? Would a secondary hurt it, beyond the possibility of contamination?

2. Similarly, is there anywhere (other than a general search of google/forums) that has recommended guidelines for primary/secondary fermentation times? Obviously the hydrometer is the only true 'when is it done?' determining factor, but just in terms of planning, it'd be nice to have some way of knowing "Oh, I can knock this wit out in 2 weeks, but this holiday ale is going to take 2 months..."...

3. I've seen all sorts of information out there on water. The tap water here isn't particularly awesome, drinking-wise. I run it through a Brita filter to drink, personally. For an extract kit, should I use tap water? Brita? Bottled? Magical unicorn tears?

4. Outside of collecting bottles from friends, where's the best place to buy some 12oz bottles? Is there a 'secret' online shop that everyone uses, or just wherever you happen to run across a good deal?

For now, that's about all I've got. I'm sure I'll be back here freaking out on Saturday afternoon as I'm halfway through my first brew day. Then I'll be on Amazon Monday ordering a second primary (didn't realize a second primary was so cheap, o lawd).

Thanks for the community that's already been developed here, I hope to become a part of it. Haven't even brewed my first batch and I think I'm already hooked.

Answers are IMO:

1. Secondary isn't needed unless you are going to let the beer sit for a very long time, dry-hopping or adding something post active fermentation. Inactive yeast that fell out of suspension won't harm the beer unless you let it sit for many months. The beer will still clear up without a secondary.

2. Primary depends on how high of a gravity, pitched yeast and temperature. If you secondary it'll be done when gravity is close to target FG. Lasts as long as you want.

3. Try to stay away from tap due to chemicals to clarify the water. Brita is good and so is bottled water.

4. Don't buy bottles online and keep saving from friends or buy from LHBS as shipping costs almost double the purchase price. There may be a site worthwhile, but from what I see is most sites list a 12oz case for $11-15 w/ shipping being $8-12 because of glass being fragile.

Check out www.howtobrew.com for a good read on brewing. It's in an easy beginner-advance brewing order.

Don't forget to read the sticky on extract brewing. Talks about crummy kit instructions.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:17 AM   #6
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Forgot to mention I dry hop almost everything...I live in the Northwest and, well, brew a lot of Nw Pale ales and double NWPAs too... love me some hoppy goodness
I always use bottled h2o from a disributor that delivers 5 gal bottles. Happy brewing! Cheers to all

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Old 11-16-2012, 03:29 AM   #7
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Thank you. It makes sense, but if I'm reading that right, the primary can last (within reason) as long as you want it to? It's not going to go bad or anything if it sits a week longer, but it *can* be bad (as in exploding bottles bad) if I bottle too early.

Duh, makes sense. The yeast has x amount of energy it can generate, when it runs out, you're done, but if you stop early, kaboom.

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Old 11-16-2012, 04:04 AM   #8
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In a way yes, but there are factors that contribute to beer going bad in time. I leave my beers in primary for 3-4 weeks if I don't rack to secondary. If I secondary its only if I dry-hop or add fruit which adds 7-14 days.

SG reading to get your FG is important before you bottle so you don't get exploding bottles. This where people just think that the bubbling slowed so I can just prime and bottle.

Keep bottle conditioning temp between 70-72F as the yeast goes active again and high temp brings off-flavors that may not go away.

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Old 11-16-2012, 10:12 PM   #9
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What he said! I primary for 5-10 days, then secondary for approx 2 weeks. Let the yeast work it's magic. This, for me, was the hardest part in the beginning cuz I wanted to try the brew. Now I patiently wait for fermentation while I enjoy a delicious homebrew. Good luck! I hope this helps.

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Old 11-17-2012, 12:21 AM   #10
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Currently steeping and having a lot of trouble getting it to stick between 148-152,the temp varies depending on the part of the pot I measure from... Any tips/how much have I fudged things up if I've varied between 145 and 155?

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