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Old 04-20-2006, 05:16 AM   #1
chask31
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Default First brew questions

Two things..

I am deciding between a mini mash and an extract kit for my first brew. Is the mini-mash too involved for a first brew? I am pretty good in the kitchen so I didnt think it would be a problem.

Second...I wanted to set up a secondary fermentation with a 5 gallon poland spring bottle I have. I dont have to worry too much about cleaning it cuz it is a returnable...so as long as the plastic is see through I should be fine. What else do I need to set this up with the bottle?



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Old 04-20-2006, 05:46 AM   #2
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Partial mashes are not that big of a deal, as long as your grain is crushed and in a muslin bag or nylon. bring your water to 150 - 160. Drop in the bag of crushed grain in for an hour try to hold your temp steady. Rinse grain and remove bring your water to a boil turn off your heat add malt extract, completely dissolve it make sure its not stuck to the bottom then heat back to boiling and add your bittering hops. brew on. No mini mashes are not that big of deal. I am not sure how much it matters with partial grains but temps closer to 150 will give you more fermentables resulting in a dryer beer while closer to 160 will give you a tiney bit more sweetness. As far as the plastic bottle they are not recommended because they absorb oxygen but you will need something to clean and sanitize it a stopper to fit and an airlock. Good luck!



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Old 04-20-2006, 05:48 AM   #3
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Welcome to the addictive world of home brewing!! As a newer brewer myself, I know right where you're at. Here's what I've found recently.

Mini mash just requires a little more temp control than "boil, add hops, cool..."

I chose to mini-mash my second brew, mainly because I wanted to understand what was involved in the beermaking process and make sure I could follow the basic steps, learn where to stage everything in my small kitchen, etc. Basically, all mini-mash entails is another 45 minutes of cook time over all-extract. Put your grains (generally 4ish lbs) in a mesh bag and steep them at a constant temperature (generally 155*F). Once you figure out your stove setting for maintaining the temperature, all you need is to grab a pair of tongs and swirl the bag around some every so often so as not to burn the grains on the hot pot bottom. The guy at the LHBS said it was just like making tea, and I think that's a pretty accurate description.

Still, I would recommend a standard extract brew for your first batch just so you can see how it all comes together. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at making a yeast starter for your brew. I feel it made a big difference in the amount of fermentation in my second brew compared to just pitching the smack-pack into my first, not to mention how quickly it took off from when I pitched.

And there's nothing wrong with going just two weeks in a primary fermentor for your first batch. Adding a secondary gives the new brewer more opportunity to contaminate his beer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to scare you into doing something if you're capable... but I think many folks here would at least recommend a glass carboy or a PET bottle for a secondary. If I'm not mistaken, the Poland Springs bottles are air-permeable, and leaving your brew in that for a couple weeks might let unwanted air into your brew. Many great brews have come from a single-fermentor setup.

My advice:
1st brew - all UNHOPPED extract, make a yeast starter, add your own hops at the right boil times, 2 weeks in a primary. Learn the ABC's.
2nd brew - mini-mash, and use a glass secondary. a 5-gallon carboy shouldn't put you back more than $25-$30 at your LHBS, and it'll last you many many batches.

Disclaimer: My feelings will not be hurt if you differ from this advice. Just let us know what you did and how it turns out

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Old 04-20-2006, 04:52 PM   #4
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Im going to go with the single fermentation and a dry extract kit. Gonna start with a Fat Tire Clone...maybe a Hefeweizen, havent decided yet. Thanks for the advice guys.

What should I use to sanitize everything? I am ordering off Austin HB and was wondering if there was one product I could use to sanitize everything. My dishwasher also has a sanitize setting. Is that good enough for the bottles?

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Old 04-20-2006, 05:04 PM   #5
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Star San or Iodophor can be used to sanitize everything.

Bleach is controversial but perfectly acceptable if you use it right. But don't use bleach to sanitize anything made of stainless steel.

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Old 04-20-2006, 11:03 PM   #6
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For your first brew I would suggest an extract kit. It's simple you can get a kit from your on line or from an your LHBS. The beer from a kits are excellent. If you find you like the hobby you can always move up to mi9ni grain or all grain brews.



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