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Old 11-14-2008, 03:36 PM   #1
Hegh
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Default First Brew Sunday

On Sunday I'll be brewing my first batch, a Scotch ale. Definitely looking forward to it. Picked up everything from the LHBS yesterday, looked at the directions, and decided to ignore them; they were obviously written for someone who grabbed the stuff on a whim and has no idea how anything works (no mention of sanitizing anywhere, ...).

But anyway, I had a couple questions to make sure I don't make a stupid mistake:

1) I only have an old 3-ish gallon stock pot very much like this one and a plastic stirring spoon. I'm planning to give the pot a good soaking with oxyclean first, but is the choice of materials going to be a problem? Should I go get a real stainless steel pot? Will the plastic on the spoon matter? I'll leave it in the boiling wort for a good 5 minutes to make sure it's sterile, just in case I need to use it for something else (heat can get places that sanitizer can't).

2) I'm going with a 6g glass carboy because I want to be able to see what's happening and take pictures, and I don't want to keep pulling the top off of a bucket. Anything I might need to know when using one of these? Other than to not pour hot liquid into it/drop it, that is...

3) I didn't get a chance to look at the yeast packet very closely... is it going to tell me what temperature range is best, or should I just assume 65*? That's the temp of the basement room I'm going to be fermenting in, so I'm hoping I don't need to figure out any special arrangements.

4) I only have the one carboy at the moment (although you can bet I'll be getting another at some point, if this goes well), so I'm basically stuck doing a long primary (guessing 10-14 days) and no secondary. Should I try to do a cold crash? I have a back porch that I could probably use in combination with a blanket to keep out sunlight and keep the beer from freezing at night (although so far I haven't seen many cold nights here), but then again it's a dark beer, so clarity isn't going to be much of an issue. Can you even do a cold crash in the primary? Or does it need to be in the secondary?

5) It came with specialty grains, which I was hoping for and am looking forward to using, but I just wanted to be absolutely sure of this: 3qt of water per pound for steeping at 150* to 160* for about 30-45 minutes, then sparge with some (how much?) 170* water. Should I use just 2-3 quarts, or should I sparge with enough water to fill the brewpot for the boil (probably about 6qt in that case)?

6) With liquid extract, should I try to warm up the container before pouring it into the pot? Should I wait until the pot is boiling before adding it (with the heat off to prevent scorching), or should I add it as soon as I take out the specialty grains and start heating towards a boil?

Wow, I guess I had more questions that I expected...

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Last edited by Hegh; 11-14-2008 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:57 PM   #2
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With liquid extract, should I try to warm up the container before pouring it into the pot?
is about all i can answer here. yes it pours a lot easier. and having a rubber spatula if its in bucket for helps.

Illustrated Beer Brewing Primer - German Pilsner Partial Mash
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:58 PM   #3
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I'd watch out with the plastic spoon; it might not hold up to boiling temperatures. I'd pick up something metal, but maybe that's just me.

As far as everything else... it sounds like you're overthinking steeping. You're not mashing; put all your boil water in the pot (in a 3-gallon pot, probably only 1.5-2 gallons), heat it up to 155ish, stick the grains in, and lid it up for a half hour, maybe in a warm oven. Then turn the heat back on, take the grain bag out, and get on with the boil. Watch for boilover: that's a small pot.

Liquid extract does flow better when it's a little warm, and definitely don't add it over the flame. You can think about late addition (I am all for it), but on your first brew, maybe don't worry about it.

Likewise, don't worry about cold-crashing and so-forth. Add some irish moss to the boil, give it enough time in primary, and you'll be fine. Heck, my mild only spent 10 days in primary, and it's clear enough to read through. I wouldn't give much thought to clarity until you've got the process down.

Take your time; sanitize, sanitize, sanitize; and have fun!

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Old 11-14-2008, 03:59 PM   #4
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Illustrated Beer Brewing Primer - German Pilsner Partial Mash

yes warming the extract helps a lot for pouring. if its austin homebrew they send it in buckets so i bought a rubber spatula for scraping
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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Lots of stuff there. Let me start with question 1. I'm assuming you are doing a partial mash. You will need to keep a close eye one it for boil overs. I'm also assuming that you will be steeping with 2 gallons.

As for sterilizing the pot (or soaking in Oxyclean) - as long as it's clean there should be no problem. The boil will sanitize everything. As for cleaning the spoon - just use a no-rinse sanitizer then there should be no problem with it melting. No need to over egg the pudding.
Use common sense and all will go well with you, grasshopper! (just kidding - I've only done 4 batches so far so I'm far from an expert!!!)

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Old 11-14-2008, 04:00 PM   #6
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sorry bout the double post.... the submit button quit responding

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Old 11-14-2008, 04:04 PM   #7
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For the steeping grains, use 155F water at 1.5-2.0 qts/lb. and steep for 30 minutes. I use a large muslin bag, like a hop bag and put the grains in. At the end of the 30 minutes use a "tea bag" technique (cue FPS jokes) to "sparge" the grains. If you like you could put the bag in a strainer and pour 155F water over them to extract even more flavor. However, you're not really going for fermentable sugars here, you're just after the malty and grainy flavor that it will add to your finished product.

For the liquid extract, I simply poured it in without warming it. After pouring it I would spoon some of the hot wort back into the container and let it sit for a few minutes. When it is all loosened up, you can pour the remaining extract in the kettle.

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Old 11-14-2008, 04:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by uncleozzy View Post
You can think about late addition (I am all for it), but on your first brew, maybe don't worry about it.
Anything special to worry about with late addition? Or do I just wait until the last 15 minutes or so before dumping in the rest of the extract? I assume the only things in the pot up until then would be the steeped grain-water and the bittering hops...
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:47 PM   #9
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Also, any suggestions for aerating? I don't have a bubble-stone or pump, and I don't think that would be a worthwhile investment for a first timer...

I was thinking that after I cool my wort, but before I pour it into the carboy, I'll take a sanitized whisk to it for a couple minutes.

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Old 11-14-2008, 04:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hegh View Post
Anything special to worry about with late addition? Or do I just wait until the last 15 minutes or so before dumping in the rest of the extract? I assume the only things in the pot up until then would be the steeped grain-water and the bittering hops...
The thing about late addition is that you'll get increased hops utilization during your boil (due to lower wort gravity). The flip side is that you're doing a very small partial boil, so you probably want a lot of bittering (since you'll be diluting with 3+ gallons of water). I'd put maybe a pound of the LME in at the start of your boil, and then the rest at 15 minutes or so (removing the pot from the flame while you incorporate it), or even at flameout.
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