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Old 05-07-2007, 05:04 AM   #1
bpcsatx
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Default A few Newbie Questions???

Well, I purchased my first pieces of equipment for my planned home brew system today. I bought two chest freezers from craigslist. I bought a small 5 – 6 cub ft and a larger 14.8 cub ft for very reasonable amounts. Now that I have temp under control I wanted to ask a couple of questions. I like what I have read on Better Bottles. They seem safer and easier to work with. I am also considering purchasing kegging equipment as well. So my questions are as follows:

1. I plan on ordering (3) 6 gallon BB’s. Should I have all of them pre-plumbed with the racking adapter? They also sell other products do you recommend their other products.
2. After much reading; kegging seems to be much easier than bottling. If I invest in kegging equipment, can I later bottle for convenience without losing carbonation? Is the investment worth the final quality of your product?
3. I had a quote “experienced” home brewer tell me that he can have any beer ready to drink in 4 or 5 days (post 1 wk primary, 2 wks secondary) using a special corny keg filling process. Is there any truth to this?
4. If you prefer a higher ABV is there a safe way to increase a beer to lets say 8 – 9% without affecting the taste?
5. Partial mashing (mini-mashing) does not seem very difficult, would you recommend a partial mash for a first attempt?

I would like to thank you all for your responses. I am not very worried about cost; I just want to purchase sensibly to ensure greater success right off the bat. That being said, I want to purchase a system that I can learn with before I jump into AG brewing and have to start all over again!!

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Old 05-07-2007, 05:46 AM   #2
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1 Better bottles will scratch, glass will not, but glass is heavier and fragile. I personally would not want racking adapters because the level of trub is going to vary from batch to batch, you'll be better off with an auto siphon IMO. Don't know of their "other products"
2 Kegging is much easier than bottling. There are a few ways to get beer into bottles after you have racked to a keg, or before for that matter with equal carbonation. Don't know that the quality changes at all but IMO it is worth the money.
3 He was talking about force carbonation, this is where you pressurize the keg beyond serving pressure and shake, repeat, repeat, until the beer absorbs enough CO2. Just because it is carbonated does not make it less "green"
4 Higher alcohol content comes from using more sugar/extract/grains. Being able to hide the alcohol depends on the style of beer.
5 Partial mashing is not hard at all because it doesn't matter what kind of efficiency you get out of it. If you feel comfortable with it, I say go for it.

If you think you will be going into all grain eventually, and cost isn't an issue, buy equipment that will serve you in all grain brewing as well as extract/specialty so you don't double buy. Have Fun

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Old 05-07-2007, 09:00 AM   #3
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1. I don't like that BB's can scratch, but I have yet to break a carboy.

2. I wish I had the money to keg. If you can by all means go for it.

3. already answered

4. Like said certain beers can mask it. Typically these have a big grain bill. Check Imperial, Double and Triple Styles of beer. ie. Imperial IPA. What I would not do is add corn sugar just to boost the abv. If the abv for a style isn't high enough drink 2, or check out the spirits isle at you local liquor store .

5. I am doing my first PM here real soon, doesn't seem to hard. If you think you can do it, then do it. It looks like you might be going AG real soon anyways from the quick investment you've already made.

Welcome to the addiction!

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Old 05-07-2007, 12:03 PM   #4
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One thing is for certain: your equipment will be useless for over a month! What's with all the kegerators, multiple fermenters, etc etc etc? You don't even have the basics covered yet..

And other than the one about higher alcohol, none of your questions are really newbie questions. Sure, the alcohol one is. When you start brewing, you just kind of have got to find out what you can brew... hehe. Personally, I'm shooting for a batch over 20%ABV, but it's going to take me two months just to get the yeast trained and prepared for the task. Your other questions are things that have been debated ad nauseum by more experienced brewers than you or I and there are no clear cut answers. You asked them, of course, because you are excited about brewing and I think that's awesome, but hopefully I'll be able to steer your in a more fruitful direction...

Here's what you need to do before you worry about kegerators and other unnecessary things: Buy one carboy (maybe two), an airlock, a carboy cap/bung/plug and some sanitizing solution such as starsan. Buy 6 pounds of extract, some hops, and some yeast. Stick it in a two gallon pot, boil for an hour, add it to 3 or 4 gallons of pre-boiled and cooled (sanitized). That's really all you need.

Then as that is fermenting, worry about bottles/kegging, etc. I think you are getting ahead of yourself. The beer's not going to be ready for a month or more anyway.

As for carboys, buy one better bottle and one glass carboy and make up your own mind. Personally, I think they each have their place and I am happy to use both.

As for high ABV brews, you cannot raise ABV without affecting taste. Even adding neutral spirits will affect taste. It will also affect perception as well. But just go and read a little bit and educate yourself on the subject. Better yet, brew a few "normal" beers first and then, once you've developed a feel for the process and the ingredients, you will be able to answer simple and silly questions like that for yourself.

For a first attempt, I would recommend boiling up some extract and hops, cooling it, and adding yeast. Why complicate matters? The first beer you ever make will be the best beer you've ever had and also, we hope, the worst one you will ever make. Hate to tell you this, but while your first beer will be delicious, it also won't win any awards. Set your sights lower, Relax, don't worry, have a beer, and brew something up. Fussing too much over kegging/bottling, or refrigerating, or recipes or higher alcohol brews is silly when you still aren't completely comfortably with your equipment or the process itself. It's a lot to learn and a lot to get comfortable with. Just take it easy.

Seriously, just brew something up. Grab 6 pounds of Light Malt Extract, 1 to 5 ounces of your favorite hops (depending on how hoppy you like your beer), add 1/3 at the start of the boil, 1/3 after 30 minutes, and 1/3rd after an hour. Add some yeast that you like. Seriously, it's that simple.


Have you read www.howtobrew.com yet?

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Last edited by Sir Humpsalot; 05-07-2007 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toot
One thing is for certain: your equipment will be useless for over a month! What's with all the kegerators, multiple fermenters, etc etc etc? You don't even have the basics covered yet..

And other than the one about higher alcohol, none of your questions are really newbie questions. Sure, the alcohol one is. When you start brewing, you just kind of have got to find out what you can brew... hehe. Personally, I'm shooting for a batch over 20%ABV, but it's going to take me two months just to get the yeast trained and prepared for the task. Your other questions are things that have been debated ad nauseum by more experienced brewers than you or I and there are no clear cut answers. You asked them, of course, because you are excited about brewing and I think that's awesome, but hopefully I'll be able to steer your in a more fruitful direction...

Here's what you need to do before you worry about kegerators and other unnecessary things: Buy one carboy (maybe two), an airlock, a carboy cap/bung/plug and some sanitizing solution such as starsan. Buy 6 pounds of extract, some hops, and some yeast. Stick it in a two gallon pot, boil for an hour, add it to 3 or 4 gallons of pre-boiled and cooled (sanitized). That's really all you need.

Then as that is fermenting, worry about bottles/kegging, etc. I think you are getting ahead of yourself. The beer's not going to be ready for a month or more anyway.

As for carboys, buy one better bottle and one glass carboy and make up your own mind. Personally, I think they each have their place and I am happy to use both.

As for high ABV brews, you cannot raise ABV without affecting taste. Even adding neutral spirits will affect taste. It will also affect perception as well. But just go and read a little bit and educate yourself on the subject. Better yet, brew a few "normal" beers first and then, once you've developed a feel for the process and the ingredients, you will be able to answer simple and silly questions like that for yourself.

For a first attempt, I would recommend boiling up some extract and hops, cooling it, and adding yeast. Why complicate matters? The first beer you ever make will be the best beer you've ever had and also, we hope, the worst one you will ever make. Hate to tell you this, but while your first beer will be delicious, it also won't win any awards. Set your sights lower, Relax, don't worry, have a beer, and brew something up. Fussing too much over kegging/bottling, or refrigerating, or recipes or higher alcohol brews is silly when you still aren't completely comfortably with your equipment or the process itself. It's a lot to learn and a lot to get comfortable with. Just take it easy.

Seriously, just brew something up. Grab 6 pounds of Light Malt Extract, 1 to 5 ounces of your favorite hops (depending on how hoppy you like your beer), add 1/3 at the start of the boil, 1/3 after 30 minutes, and 1/3rd after an hour. Add some yeast that you like. Seriously, it's that simple.


Have you read www.howtobrew.com yet?
Toot,

No offense, but please re-read the area you are responding to. This subject is for new home brewers and the reason I posted hear and not in one the other subject areas. I did not need a response regarding my silly questions or worrying about my equipment and how to brew a basic batch of beer. If you did not like my questions simply read on and answer someone elses question. The subject matter of these threads is for those who want to ask any question...any question. I simply wanted some objective answers, not a subjective analysis of my writing or how I am progressing in this hobby.
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:55 PM   #6
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Fair enough. I didn't realize the subject was for new brewers. I thought it was for more experienced brewers to throw in their two cents. I certainly didn't mean to analyze your writing, and I'm sorry if you felt I was correcting your grammar or something like that.

Seems to me that putting the focus on the wrong part of the hobby is a recipe for dusty equipment 3 years down the line... I do hope I'm wrong though. And hey, whatever makes you happy, I suppose. I was just trying to point out that if you were really excited about brewing, you should start doing it sooner, rather than later.

I'm not trying to dishearten you or tell you you're wrong. I'm simply trying to point out that you're putting the cart before the horse and honestly, I don't think you can say I'm wrong about that. Also, I am, honestly, a little concerned that maybe you aren't aware of what you don't know about the hobby and I was only trying to get you to focus on the things that matter. Such as learning to make good beer. Sorry if that hurts your feelings. If you feel the equipment is more important than your ability to brew good beer, then I am sure I will not convince you otherwise.

Anyway, you didn't answer my question. Have you yet read www.howtobrew.com?


Happy brewing.

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Old 05-07-2007, 03:37 PM   #7
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Regarding better bottles, I currently use a 6.5 gallon glass for my primary and have 2 5 gallon BB's for my secondaries. I really love the BB's. Speaking from experience, I would not worry about scratching the BB in a secondary. I have always been able to clean simply by soaking in a cleaning solution (I use oxyclean with great results). As for my primary, it depends, but most of the time, I do not need to scrub that either. As for racking outlets, I have one BB with and one without. I got the racking outlet because I was having trouble with my autosiphon. I've since worked out my problem and auto-siphoning works great. Because of that, I bought the second BB without the outlet and would probably not by an outlet again (mostly because it doubles the cost). Still, the racking outlet is not bad, don't worry about trub levels as the racking outlet has a directional tube inside the bottle that you can adjust to avoid trub when you rack.

Final thought, if you plan on using a secondary (and almost everyone on HBT will tell you that you should), you should get a 5 gallon carboy (whether glass or BB) because you want to minimize head space and exposure to air when you rack to the secondary.

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Old 05-07-2007, 04:06 PM   #8
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I have one BB (5 gallon) and I got the racking outlet. I never use it, though- it's seems so slooooow that I can just rack it faster anyway. Also, a 6 gallon is ok- but I recommend at least one bigger primary- either a 6.5 gallon carboy or 7.5 gallon bucket. You can get alot of krausen in active fermentations, and need the headspace if you're doing 5 gallon batches.

Some cool things to read: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=2910 about starting a siphon with a carboy cap. I love the carboy caps, and prefer those over a bung.

Also, I don't keg so I can't help you with that- however, you certainly can bottle from the keg and quite a few brewers around here do it.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have- and welcome to the obsession!

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Old 05-07-2007, 04:37 PM   #9
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I've been using the 6gal BB as primary with no problems but I do keep my post boil volumes to 5-1/2 g max. Ok, better bottles can scratch, but not if you don't use a brush on them. Just soak a little with oxyclean and hot water, shake, rinse, done. I know a lot of folks like glass carboys, but there are quite a few emergency room stories on the books. I don't anyone has mentioned getting an infection due to a non sanitary better bottle. Cost is about the same, so that's a moot point.

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Old 05-07-2007, 04:48 PM   #10
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1. I have one Better Bottle and like it as a fermenter. However I decided against the adapters and accessories as they made an inexpensive fermenter very expensive. If you don't mind the cost (2-3x the price of the bottle) then they look to be pretty useful.
2. I havn't kegged yet but I think this is the direction most brewers dream of going. I think you can bottle part of the batch and keg the rest without a problem. It is also possible to bottle from the keg but I think shelf life will be shorter.
3. I think it is possible to have drinkable beer in a week but I think it will be much better in 6 weeks. The 1, 2, 3 schedule (1wk primary, 2wks secondary, 3wks bottle/keg) seems to be the most recommended conditioning schedule.
4. Bigger beers will taste different than lower gravity beers. Using corn sugar in limited amounts will add alcohol with little affect on the flavor but too much will result in off flavors including hot alcohol flavors. Try some different styles then look up some recipes for the styles you like. Use this as a starting point and experiment from there.
5. I did a partial mash for my third brew and an AG for my fourth. Its not that hard so it is a reasonable thing to do on a first brew. The nice thing about partial mash is you can use any grain and get the flavors from the grain but you don't have to worry about mash efficiency and boiling down larger volumes of wort. Late addition of DME provides much of the fermentables.

Good luck. Sounds like you are jumping in with both feet. I started out a little slower with a starter kit and a premeasured extract + grains kit. Temperature controlled fermenting and lagering and kegging is a possible future upgrade in addition to upgrading my AG equipment some.
Craig

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