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Old 01-08-2011, 01:45 AM   #1
FerroPlasm
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Default First ever brew - day before prep

Tomorrow my assistant brewer (SWMBO) and I are brewing our first beer: a Brewers Best Smoked Porter. I can't wait.

I'm wondering what are some key things I can do tonight to make tomorrow go as smoothly as possible. So far, I've done the following:

1. checked kit for all ingredients and read recipe a couple times
2. gathered all required equipment
3. sanitized carboy with star san and covered with saran wrap and foil
4. remaining sanitizer solution placed in 5 gal bucket with carboy cap, 3-piece sanitizer, funnel, hydrometer, thermometer all soaking to sanitize

I also have a couple questions.

The kit comes with 2 lbs of specialty grains and instructs to steep at 150-165 degrees. How much will the grains lower the water temperature? I'm guessing I can safely boil 3 gallons water + 6.6 lbs liquid malt extract, so I'll be steeping in 3 gallons water. Should I heat to the high end, 165 degrees, and assume a couple degree temp drop?

Also, the kit instructs to add "clean water" to the cooled wort in fermenter. Should I (a) use city water straight from the tap, (b) boil water tonight and allow to cool, covered, until tomorrow, or (b) use bottled distilled water?

Finally, the kit comes with 11.5 g Safale s-04 dry ale yeast. The kit instructs to pitch directly into the wort, but I've read it's better to rehydrate in 1 cup previously boiled water 20 minutes prior to pitching. Yay or nay? It's a simple step that I have no problem doing if it's beneficial.

Hopefully I'm not overthinking, but I'd rather be prepared and make sure SWMBO and I have a positive experience and will want to brew again. Oh yeah, recipe below.

Brewers Best Smoked Porter, kit

Fermentables
6.6 lb. Porter liquid malt extract

Specialty Grains
1 lb. smoked
8 oz. chocolate
8 oz. caramel 80L

Hops
1.5 oz. cascade, bittering
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood, aroma

Yeast
11.5 g Safale s-04 dry english ale yeast (best by 10/2012)

OG: 1.058-1.062
FG: 1.014-1.017
IBUs: 30-36

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Old 01-08-2011, 01:51 AM   #2
MyNameIsPaul
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Use bottled (not distilled) spring water if your city water isn't any good.

You can heat to the high end, but mine never drops too much on the stove in a covered stockpot.

Just sprinkle that yeast in when the wort has cooled, no real need to rehydrate IMHO

What are you going to do to cool by the way? Ice baths take a lot of ice, so you may want to go to a gas station in the morning and get a few bags.

Just have fun with it, don't stress, and remember, it's ok to drink beer while brewing, even if it's at 8am.

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Old 01-08-2011, 01:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FerroPlasm View Post
Tomorrow my assistant brewer (SWMBO) and I are brewing our first beer: a Brewers Best Smoked Porter. I can't wait.

I'm wondering what are some key things I can do tonight to make tomorrow go as smoothly as possible. So far, I've done the following:

1. checked kit for all ingredients and read recipe a couple times
2. gathered all required equipment
3. sanitized carboy with star san and covered with saran wrap and foil
4. remaining sanitizer solution placed in 5 gal bucket with carboy cap, 3-piece sanitizer, funnel, hydrometer, thermometer all soaking to sanitize

I also have a couple questions.

The kit comes with 2 lbs of specialty grains and instructs to steep at 150-165 degrees. How much will the grains lower the water temperature? I'm guessing I can safely boil 3 gallons water + 6.6 lbs liquid malt extract, so I'll be steeping in 3 gallons water. Should I heat to the high end, 165 degrees, and assume a couple degree temp drop?

Also, the kit instructs to add "clean water" to the cooled wort in fermenter. Should I (a) use city water straight from the tap, (b) boil water tonight and allow to cool, covered, until tomorrow, or (b) use bottled distilled water?

Finally, the kit comes with 11.5 g Safale s-04 dry ale yeast. The kit instructs to pitch directly into the wort, but I've read it's better to rehydrate in 1 cup previously boiled water 20 minutes prior to pitching. Yay or nay? It's a simple step that I have no problem doing if it's beneficial.

Hopefully I'm not overthinking, but I'd rather be prepared and make sure SWMBO and I have a positive experience and will want to brew again. Oh yeah, recipe below.

Brewers Best Smoked Porter, kit

Fermentables
6.6 lb. Porter liquid malt extract

Specialty Grains
1 lb. smoked
8 oz. chocolate
8 oz. caramel 80L

Hops
1.5 oz. cascade, bittering
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood, aroma

Yeast
11.5 g Safale s-04 dry english ale yeast (best by 10/2012)

OG: 1.058-1.062
FG: 1.014-1.017
IBUs: 30-36
Depends on how big your kettle is. You want to have room in case of boil overs so if your kettle can only hold 3.5 gallons of water I would not do 3 gallons. Also use bottled by the gallon or boil tonight. Steeping your grains is not going to cause too much heat loss just be above the minimum a bit before you do steep. Also rehydrate your yeast and make sure your wort is at temp to pitch the yeast
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:57 AM   #4
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When I make kits, I boil 2 gallons of water with all the extract, liquor from the grains, etc. I then have 3 gallons of cold water in the fermenter. After the 1 hour boil, there is about 1.5 gallons or so of wort left that I carefully pour into the awaiting carboy. The downfall of this method is that the wort is pretty thick (high gravity) so the hops are fully utilized. But, I don't really like very hoppy beer anyways, so it works for me. Don't have to worry about cooling at all then.

I agree with MyName.... have fun with it and don't over analyze the entire process.

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Old 01-08-2011, 02:35 AM   #5
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Everyone, I appreciate the comments. I'm certainly not a perfectionist, but I like to be prepared. It's the Eagle Scout in me.

The city water is quite good (Raleigh). Source is surface water, so it's pretty soft and quarterly reports never mention coliforms. Regardless, I'm now boiling 2.5 gallons and will let cool, covered overnight.

I have a stainless wort chiller, so no need to use an ice bath. That's one reason I'd like to use as large a boil as possible. I can cool it quickly. Also, we both love hops, so I'd like to extract as much bitterness as possible. The kettle holds 4 gallons just below the rim. I plan to add extract with kettle off the heat and watch it like a hawk during boil to minimize potential for boil over.

I probably will rehydrate the yeast because it will get me into the habit of doing something with it aside from pitching and get me closer to liquid yeasts and starters.

Edit: Can i cover periodically during the boil to minimize water loss, or will it certainly boil over?

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Last edited by FerroPlasm; 01-08-2011 at 02:41 AM. Reason: One more question!
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:38 AM   #6
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You missed an important prep step. You have cold beer ready, right?

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Old 01-08-2011, 02:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FerroPlasm
Everyone, I appreciate the comments. I'm certainly not a perfectionist, but I like to be prepared. It's the Eagle Scout in me.

The city water is quite good (Raleigh). Source is surface water, so it's pretty soft and quarterly reports never mention coliforms. Regardless, I'm now boiling 2.5 gallons and will let cool, covered overnight.

I have a stainless wort chiller, so no need to use an ice bath. That's one reason I'd like to use as large a boil as possible. I can cool it quickly. Also, we both love hops, so I'd like to extract as much bitterness as possible. The kettle holds 4 gallons just below the rim. I plan to add extract with kettle off the heat and watch it like a hawk during boil to minimize potential for boil over.

I probably will rehydrate the yeast because it will get me into the habit of doing something with it aside from pitching and get me closer to liquid yeasts and starters.
Make sure you know how much 5 gallons is in your fermenter that way you can add water as needed.

Just keep tinkering with new ideas everybody likes their beer differently. Find a way to make it the way you like it.

Lastly have fun with it, I'm sure you'll get hooked!
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:04 AM   #8
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Don't cover, the boil-off is good for removing off-flavors, just add more water into fermenter.

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Old 01-08-2011, 03:19 AM   #9
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Yeah, def don't cover and def do measure your own 5 gallon mark if you can.

Also, 3 gallons in a 4 gallon pot is fine...and its cool that you're going to watch it like a hawk, but be prepared to just lift it off the heat if need be, as boil overs can happen in about 2 seconds with that size boil in that size kettle. After the hot break you dont' have to watch it like a hawk..but I pretty much do just because its so damn cool.

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Old 01-08-2011, 03:25 AM   #10
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Yeah, I realized I forgot to graduate my carboy after I sanitized. So I went ahead and did it a minute ago. I'll just have to sanitize again tomorrow morning. We do have beer at hand to facilitate the process. I hesitate to mention the name, but I will say it won a blue ribbon in 1893. I'll be seeking my redemption later in the day at a local brewery tour, so don't rag on me too hard.

VTBrewer, what's this "hot break" you speak of?

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