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Old 11-03-2007, 02:26 AM   #1
Lankhoss
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Default First batch, couple of questions

Hello,

I am new to the forums, and brand new to (trying) making beer. I literally just ordered a kit and book, and have been trying to follow all of the steps and see how things turn out. I have a two stage kit, with a 6 1/2 gallon glass carboy and 5 gallon glass carboy.

My first question is about "lagering" the beer. I am using Coopers Lager canned malt extract. I have mixed it and put it into the first carboy with an airlock on top. I am wondering when I should change it to the second fermenter. Do I wait until my hydrometer readings are the same for a few consecutive days, or do I swap it over once the beer has changed color and has sediment on the bottom? Also, when should I move it to a cool temperature (I was going to use my fridge)? Do I do that when I put it in the second fermenter, or wait until I've bottled it?

I was also curious what a good method for checking the temperature/gravity is while it is in the first fermenter. Do you usually just stick a racking cane down through the rubber top and siphon it into a test tube?

Any tips and advice are certainly welcome, thanks in advance

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Old 11-03-2007, 02:37 AM   #2
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Well, for lagering, a fridge is fine. What kind of yeast did you use? That is what determines the temperature of the fermentation.

Check the sg before you rack to secondary- it should be at the projected fg before you move it. To check the sg, I use a sanitized turkey baster and put the sample in the tester jar. You can buy a "wine thief" which works great for this. I'm happy with my turkey baster system.

If you are using a lager yeast that needs a diacetyl rest, you would do the rest before you rack to secondary. Again, that depends on your yeast. After that you can begin lowering the temperature gradually to lagering temps.

A lager is usually considered a little more difficult that an ale, because of the close attention to fermentation temperatures. But if you have the ability, why not?

I had some trouble keeping my first lager at 50 degrees for the first 2 weeks of primary fermentation but then I rigged up a cooler system that worked great.

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Old 11-03-2007, 02:47 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

I am using the yeast that came with the beer kit. There was no mention of diacetyl rest with the instructions, only that the yeast should be added once the wort was between 70 - 80 degrees. It also mentioned that timing was more important than temperature when adding the yeast, as long as the temp was between 64 - 90 degrees. I waited about 2 hours and got a reading of 84 degrees when I added the yeast.

I guess another question I should ask is how quickly the fermenter needs to be capped. I capped it as soon as I put the hot wort in with the cold water, and mixed it up. But I did remove the cap for a bit as I was trying to siphon some from the carboy to my test tube for measuring temperature and weight.

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Old 11-03-2007, 01:30 PM   #4
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For that kit, you are actually making an ale, not a lager. So, no need to lager it. You can make a fine beer with ale yeast, so don't worry about that. A true lager, though, is fermented at 50 degrees for a couple of weeks before a d-rest, etc. A little more involved.
Lots of kits that say "lager" on them are not lagers at all, but ales. Here's some great reading on this: http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter10.html
Actually that whole howtobrew.com online book is great. I got the "real" copy for christmas last year, and use it all the time.

You can open your fermenter without worrying about it. The beer is still going to be offgassing some co2 even after fermentation and before fermentation it can use all the oxygen it can get. You won't to avoid aerating it after it's finished, so you don't want to stir it or splash it, but taking samples is fine. I mean, you do take the lid off of it to transfer (rack) it and to bottle it without harm.

RDWHAHB really applies to making beer. Don't worry- just follow standard sanitary practices and it'll be really drinkable beer!

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Old 11-03-2007, 03:41 PM   #5
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You'll be making a 'lager like' beer, but with ale yeast at ale temperatures.

as long as you're not sticking dirty equipment into the fermenter when you uncap it, its ok to pull the cap for testing gravity, or racking.

you always wanna wait for fermentation to complete 100%, then rack to secondary. secondary is NOT for fermentation...its for clearing the beer. its almost like pre-aging it a little before you bottle.

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Old 11-03-2007, 06:33 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum and welcome to homebrewing, once you have that first finished brew there is no going back.
Let your primary fermentation run until the SG stops dropping, standard rule of thumb 1 week. When you rack off to your secondary try to keep the cane off of the bottom layer, same when you rack again to your bottling bucket. The standard rule is two weeks in the secondary but you can let t go a lot longer than that with no ill effects.
As the others have already said your kit is using an ale yeast so no need for a fridge, just keep the primary and secondary in an area where they stay in the upper 60's, low 70's and all will be good.

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Old 11-03-2007, 08:37 PM   #7
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Thankyou all for the replies, that is very helpful.

As of right now, it has been about a day and a half and the brew has a very amber color to it, without an inch of foam on the top. Sediment is also very evident and lining the entire bottom. There are periodic bubbles coming up through the airlock, and a delicious smell as well!

I will definitely post when it is finished and let everyone know the results!

Thanks for the warm welcome

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Old 11-03-2007, 08:40 PM   #8
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I suppose I could throw this in here as well. I did not mix any sugars in with the canned malt extract, as I wanted a more "pure" beer taste. The can was 3.75lbs, and I am making 4.5 gallons. It should be very low in alcohol content, but I was more concerned about the taste and want it to be as little sweetened or altered as possible.

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Old 11-03-2007, 09:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lankhoss
I suppose I could throw this in here as well. I did not mix any sugars in with the canned malt extract, as I wanted a more "pure" beer taste. The can was 3.75lbs, and I am making 4.5 gallons. It should be very low in alcohol content, but I was more concerned about the taste and want it to be a little sweetened or altered as possible.
Good for you.

If you need more alcohol you can always bump up the amoung of extract you brew with. Keep your sugar for priming.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:47 PM   #10
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the sugar that normally gets added with those Cooper's kits is corn sugar, and it ferments 100% into alcohol. no residual sweetness is left behind.

your beer will probably be very very light bodied, light on alcohol, but it WILL be beer.
and this is just my opinion, but I don't really care for the Cooper's kits. they are decent for first time brews to understand the fermentation process, but their 'recipe' really sucks.
in other words, if this batch is 'ok' to you...just think of the possibilities using better kits, or going all grain an making your own recipes.

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