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Old 01-03-2012, 10:43 PM   #1
rlg5150
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Default First brew almost done; want advice on second

I've been wanting to get in to homebrewing for a long time now, and it just so happens that my wonderful fiancee bought me a Coopers DIY kit for Christmas. I brewed up the Coopers Lager that it came with on the 29th. It's at 1.015 today, which is the same as yesterday. I have a few questions regarding my first brew first:

1. My OG was 1.036 and I think my FG will probably be 1.015. I assumed the Coopers lager was probably going to be a very generic lager, but should it really be that low ABV?

2. Being a very basic LME and sugar brew, how long should I leave it in the fermentor after the FG stabilizes? It still smells a little yeasty but I took a sip and it doesn't taste yeasty.

3. Has anyone brewed this before? It tasted kind of like a Budweiser American Ale to me. Very fruity tasting even though my yeast went in around 22C. I'm fine with the taste, I'm just wondering if that's how it's supposed to taste.

4. The sample I tasted from my hydrometer tube was a little bit fizzy. That normal?


Now, I apologize for such a lengthy post but I still have some questions regarding my next brew .

1. Do the ingredient kits from Midwest Supplies include directions? I'm thinking about getting the Hex Brown Ale and since it comes with grains and hops in addition to LME, I'm assuming it needs to boiled (as opposed to simply mixing with hot water like my Coopers Lager).

2. For the kit, should I select "yes" or "no" for the "Crush Grains?" option?

3. Do I need any special equipment for the extract/grain kit mentioned above? Or any extra ingredients? I'm thinking all I'll need is a big pot to boil in and something to chill the wort with. This leads me to my last question:

4. Would having pre-refrigerated water to mix with the partial mash kit be okay to chill the wort or do I need some special equipment?


Sorry again for being long-winded but I really appreciate the help. Thanks!

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Old 01-03-2012, 10:55 PM   #2
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Were in the same boat near identical readings on that kit im going to let mine ferment for about a week more

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Old 01-03-2012, 10:55 PM   #3
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My Rule of thumb is 5-7 days after FG is stable. Fermentation smells typically don't carry over to the finished beer. You may have guessed that the Cooper's Lager kit is actually an ale. 22C is very warm, which will give you a lot of fruity flavors. Ales like to be around 16-18C (in the beer, not ambient room temperature), and no higher, for clean taste.

Other ales that depend on fruity esters and other flavors for the style, like saisons and hefeweizens, are often fermented warmer. Too warm, though, and you will get all sorts of weird off flavors. 22C is too warm for your beer (a lesson for next time).

If it were a real lager kit, you would ferment at 10C and then cold condition (lager it) at around 1-2C for maybe a month.


The midwest kits will come with directions, but if you do a lot of reading here, you'll find that like the Cooper's directions, they're designed to get you drinking beer fast so you'll buy another kit (like almost every kit instruction ever), but not to make the best beer. Once you've read all the stickies here and done more reading of the forums, you should haev a pretty good idea of what to do.

The grains will need to be steeped in hot water (150F-170F NO HOTTER) before adding the LME and bringing to a boil. Once the boil has started, you add the hops. Hops additions are typically counted backwards (60 min additions go in FIRST, as in they get boiled for 60 minutes, 5 min additions go in with 5 minutes left of the boil, 0 min additions go in when you turn off the burner).

You will need your grains crushed, but I don't think they usually ask that for extract+grains kits. Maybe a link? You may have selected a partial mash or all-grain version. Partial mash isn't much harder than extract+steeping grains.

Get the largest pot you can possibly afford. If you can get your hands on a 15 gallon pot, go for that. That way, you can actually go right to all-grain if you WANT. Search BIAB or "brew in a bag" if you want to know more (or just ask me!).

If you're going to do partial boils (add your LME to some volume less than 5 gallons) and then add water to top up to 5 gallons, you don't need a huge pot (but you can always do smaller volumes in a big pot, but not the other way around). Also, with partial boils, you can usually cool your wort in an ice bath. With full boils, you will need a wort chiller (some people will dispute this, but if you want to pitch on the same day you brew, you will need one). Having pre-refrigerated water is a great idea. I would combine this will cooling your wort initially in an ice bath and then adding your refrigerated liquid. You want to add your yeast at fermentation temperature, so shoot for 16C for ales.

Hope this is helpful, and good luck on your next beer!

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Old 01-03-2012, 11:01 PM   #4
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Here is a link to the kit. (I'm also wondering how much beer this kit will make?)

Do you think my beer will taste unpleasant since it fermented at 20-22C? Also, what do you mean by ice bath? Actually putting ice in or sitting my pot in a sink full of ice? And is there a minimum amount of water I should do with a partial boil?
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
1. My OG was 1.036 and I think my FG will probably be 1.015. I assumed the Coopers lager was probably going to be a very generic lager, but should it really be that low ABV?
The Kit probably had what the OG was supposed to be. I'm sure it was higher than that.
1.036-1.015=0.021
0.021 x 131.25=2.8%
(By the way, this is the formula for ABV if you didn't know it already)

Two major things could have happened.
A.) Your water wasn't measured properly. If you used more water than called for, your OG would be lower than expected.
or (and perhaps more likely)
B.) Your wort wasn't mixed when you took the reading. Extract has a tendency to not mix with water, especially if you used top off water. Even shaking the hell out of it won't guarantee it mixed well. The lighter wort was probably on top, while the heavier wort was probably on the bottom. More likely than not, this is the culprit.

If you posted the recipe, or even put it into an online calculator like tastybrew.com, you could figure out what the OG should have been.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
2. Being a very basic LME and sugar brew, how long should I leave it in the fermentor after the FG stabilizes? It still smells a little yeasty but I took a sip and it doesn't taste yeasty.
Although you could probably get away with bottling within a few days, you are probably better off waiting at least another week. I noticed my beers tasting much cleaner and crisper when I left them in the primary for 2, then 3 weeks.

Quote:
4. The sample I tasted from my hydrometer tube was a little bit fizzy. That normal?
This could indicate that C02 is still being released, which means that the yeast may still be fermenting. I would wait about 2 or 3 days, and make sure that the reading didn't go down a few points before bottling.

Quote:
1. Do the ingredient kits from Midwest Supplies include directions? I'm thinking about getting the Hex Brown Ale and since it comes with grains and hops in addition to LME, I'm assuming it needs to boiled (as opposed to simply mixing with hot water like my Coopers Lager).
It will probably come with directions.

But do yourself a favor, don't use them. Use these.

Trust me. These directions (which come from a sticky atop the beginner page) are way better than the directions that come with the kit.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
3. Do I need any special equipment for the extract/grain kit mentioned above? Or any extra ingredients? I'm thinking all I'll need is a big pot to boil in and something to chill the wort with. This leads me to my last question:
If you have a kettle that can handle 2-3 gallons of wort, or even 2, you can get away with using it. So long as you have a fermenter and airlock, sanitizer, and ingredients, you can brew.

When I started brewing, I split the batch into a 1.5 gallon pot and a 2 gallon pot. I added the extra water to the fermenter and combined them (please do it in this order, I made the mistake of adding hot wort to the fermenter and ended up with a very warped better bottle, were it glass, it would have shattered).

That said if you decide you are going to stick with the hobby, I strogly recommend getting a kettle dedicated solely to brewing, the bigger the better. A 5 gallon is good, but you will more likely than not have an overflow if you do a full 5 gallon boil.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:29 PM   #8
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I apologize if I'm throwing too much info at you, but I have a little left. Here goes.

I found that the things that I bought that simplified the process for me more than any of the other equipment I have bought are:

A.) A wort chiller. A simple immersion wort chiller can be purchased for around $80 bucks. Or you could make one yourself if you are handy for much cheaper (I paid, I suck at building stuff).

Seriously, if you plan on brewing ever again, this is the number one piece of equipment you should get. They usually come with garden hose fittings, but you can buy sink adapters.

They chill your wort in anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes, far faster than an ice bath. They are also much more sanitary than using chilled water, plus, you then wouldn't have to account for the extra water, and you could do a full five gallon boil.

and B.) a propane burner.

I bought a Bayou Classic propane burner (turkey fryer) for about 70 bucks. It came with a 7.5 gallon aluminum pot. Although many prefer stainless steel, aluminum is fine, especially if the price is right.

My stove can't really handle boiling 5-6 gallons of water. It takes forever. So I upgraded to the propane burner. When I did extract batches (still will from time to time) I could boil the water in about 20 minutes, maybe less.

Not to mention, the kettle enabled me to do a full 5 gallon boil. I've noticed a slight positive difference in the outcome of my brews, but my OG readings are MUCH more accurate because of this.

Huge timesaver, free brewkettle, and I have gotten 6 batches out of my propane canister (so far).

If you really enjoy the hobby, these two devices will make your brewday MUCH faster, and MUCH easier.

Hope this helps.

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