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Old 12-29-2012, 12:31 PM   #1
bolus14
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Default First Brew Questions

Hi Everyone. For the most part I have looked around and found answers to most of my questions, thanks to many of you here. I'm hoping to do my first brew today or tomorrow, an Irish Redhttp://www.midwestsupplies.com/irish-red-ale.html
Here are my questions:
1. should I use the yeast that came with the kit or go to my LHBS and get yeast, if so what should I get?
2. Ill be "cooking" outside, then cool the wort outside and then dump into the fermenter pitch yeast, cover and bring inside, is there anything wrong with this approach?
3. This is what I've been having the most trouble with. I only have the option of putting the fermenter in my clothes closet. The temp stays within a couple degrees of 60, for the most part it is pretty steadily at 60 though. Is this temp ok? And, do I need to worry about the smell, I have to wear dress shirts and ties everyday and that's what is in the closet?
4. If the closet temp is ok is there anything else to worry about? I will try to drape a towel or curtain to block any light but exposure should he very limited to only when I get clothes out in the morning or at night, the lights comes from a lamp across the room?
5. When its time to bottle I am planning to put two case boxes in a tote, on top of each other and put the lid on. In case of the bottles exploding this will contain it.

Thanks in advance, can't wait to get my first brew going!!

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Old 12-29-2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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1) Use the yeast that came with the kit it will be fine.
2) Just make sure to get the wort cooled to around 65 before you pitch.
3) That temp is just where it needs to be your lucky.
4) Search for a blow off tube. If the airlock gets clogged the pressure will build in the bucket till the lid blows and a lot of sticky goo will be all over your clothes.
5) Yes but if you bottle the right way you should not have to worry about it.

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Old 12-29-2012, 12:38 PM   #3
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Dude, your clothes are gonna smell if you ferment in there. I just pitched the yeast to my first batch yesterday and it's already giving off this "off" smell.

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Old 12-29-2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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Did you check the premium yeast option? I do when I get midwest kits,& got US-05. Good clean yeast,but medium flocculation.
Doing the boil & cooling outside is fine,just keep it covered as much as possible to keep contaminents out. I'm anal that way. How are you going to cool it down?
US-05 or the equivilent would be ok at 60F. I don't think I'd keep my dress cloths in there though.
I always cover my fermenters to keep light out. The lamp will not hurt it,if it's incondescent rather than floresent.
The tote for the bottles is fine,just keep it covered or in a dark place to prevent skunking.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bolus14 View Post
Here are my questions:
1. should I use the yeast that came with the kit or go to my LHBS and get yeast, if so what should I get?
It depends on the kit. Some kits, especially ones from LHBS, have been sitting around a while. I'd probably trust some of the bigger online stores to have viable yeast. Most yeast packets will have "born on" dates on them, and most ales will require 2 packets for a typical 5 gallon batch (more if it's a high gravity beer). Yeast is cheap, so if you're worried about it, go to your LHBS and pick up some fresh Fermentis packets or White Labs or Wyeast liquid yeast.

Quote:
2. Ill be "cooking" outside, then cool the wort outside and then dump into the fermenter pitch yeast, cover and bring inside, is there anything wrong with this approach?
Nope. In fact, it's probably better in case you have an accident or an overboil. It's no fun trying to clean malted wort off of your stove eyes inside.

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3. This is what I've been having the most trouble with. I only have the option of putting the fermenter in my clothes closet. The temp stays within a couple degrees of 60, for the most part it is pretty steadily at 60 though. Is this temp ok? And, do I need to worry about the smell, I have to wear dress shirts and ties everyday and that's what is in the closet?
The closet approach is fine, except that the yeast will be expelling a lot of CO2 while the beer ferments. The whole room is going to smell like a brewery, and if your work clothes are in there, they will, too. Relocate your clothes.

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4. If the closet temp is ok is there anything else to worry about? I will try to drape a towel or curtain to block any light but exposure should he very limited to only when I get clothes out in the morning or at night, the lights comes from a lamp across the room?
No worries. Instead of a blowoff tube, i'd suggest you pick up some fermcap from your LHBS. It "should" be in the refrigerated section (don't buy it if it isn't, it must be stored cold). It's an anti-foaming agent that will prevent blowoff issues in your fermenting batches. Add 2 drops per gallon to your fermenter right after you pitch the yeast and gently mix it in. Odorless, flavorless, non-toxic and it settles out after about a week or so. If you use it, you won't need a blowoff tube, just an airlock.

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5. When its time to bottle I am planning to put two case boxes in a tote, on top of each other and put the lid on. In case of the bottles exploding this will contain it.
Sounds fine. Bottle bombs usually result from the brewer being in a hurry and bottling their beers too soon before the primary fermentation has finished. The residual malt sugars combined with the priming sugars can overcarbonate the beer and they'll start to pop. An infection from an unwanted bacteria strain can also cause bottle bombs but this is usually rare if you're rigorous about sanitization.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:46 PM   #6
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Thanks for the quick responses. Sounds like the clothes and fermenting isn't going to be a good combo. I will most likely look at transporting after closing up the fermenter. Best place would be to my in-laws about 5 miles away and put it in their basement, temp is still about 60 but ill have to get some readings to confirm that.

I will also look at fermcap, sounds ideal. Surpised this is the first I've seen it mentioned.

As for the bottles in tote idea, more of a precautionary step. Easier to dump a tote than scrub beer out of a closet and hope to get it out of clothes.

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Old 01-11-2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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Just wanted to throw an update out there, I know I've gotten a lot from reading others posts about their first attempts.

Ended up boiling in the garage, worked out great.
Put a 20 gal tote in snow and lined it with about 30 frozen water bottles and pored water and ice cubes in it with about 30 min left to boil. Got my temp down to 67 in about 15 minutes.
Didn't have a tube to take an OG reading, have since picked one up though.
Used Wyeast 1084 instead of the yeast that came with the kit, I'll keep that for something else down the road.
Ended up pitching yeast and then put the bucket into a warm vehicle. Drove to my in-laws and put in their basement. Ambient basement temp was about 68 so I put it on the floor, figured it would be 2 -3 degrees cooler there.
Checked it about 16 hours later and no bubbling in the air lock.
Wife checked it at about 48 hours into, it and saw nothing but she only watched it for about a minute.
I checked at about 77 hours and saw no bubbling from the airlock.

So, wondering if the fermentation ever took off I got my nose by the lid and pressed down gently, sure enough you could smell beer, with some alcohol to it. Figured I was in good shape and left it. I didn't want to risk infection.

Planning to open it up and transfer to second fermenter this Sunday, that'll be 8 days in the primary. Planning to keep it in the secondary for 2 weeks or so and then bottle.

Once moved to the secondary I'm going to start a Honey Ale, I figure that'll be good for early spring drinking

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Old 01-11-2013, 04:22 PM   #8
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8 days seems a little short for the primary. Is that what the recipe you're working from says to do?

No bubbling after 16 hours is a little concerning. How long did you watch it? My airlock is usually flowing hard in the 24 - 48 hour window. Are you sure the basement floor is in the 60's?

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Old 01-12-2013, 11:34 AM   #9
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The kit doesn't say when to transfer to the secondary, so I'm going by the 1-2-3 rule.

Also I agree that not seeing any bubbling is a little concerning. I watched it for about 10 min at the 77 hour mark. I just may have missed the period that the airlock was showing a lot of activity. Since it's not sitting at my house it's a little more difficult for me to check on.

I may end up transferring today. I will get a hydrometer reading then. That should tell me for sure if the fermentation took place. If not should I dump this batch?

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bolus14 View Post
...
Ended up pitching yeast and then put the bucket into a warm vehicle. Drove to my in-laws and put in their basement.
...
I checked at about 77 hours and saw no bubbling from the airlock.
...
So, wondering if the fermentation ever took off I got my nose by the lid and pressed down gently, sure enough you could smell beer, with some alcohol to it....
I've only brewed 5 batches of beer in my life, and 3 of those were 10 years ago so take what I write with the proverbial grain of salt, but it sounds to me like you didn't have the lid on the bucket pressed down all the way so that the rubber o-ring formed a good seal.

I just started brewing again recently (hence signing up here) but already I decided that I much prefer being able to see what is going on in the primary fermenter without having to pop open a lid so I bought a 6 gal. "better bottle" (made of PET plastic). Easy to see if your yeasty beasties are doing anything when you ferment in a clear bottle.
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