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Old 11-02-2009, 05:27 PM   #1
emilybeth
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Default First time--random questions

I am in the middle of my first brewing process, and it is really fun. I have some randoms questions though, and have searched the forum, but really am not sure of all of the answers.

Being a good Texan and having lived in Munich for a year in college, I like beers like Shiner Bock, Shiner Black, anything Paulaner, Andechs, etc.

So the LHBS guy thought I should get a basic canned kit to start and add some malt to get a "bock" type of beginner beer.


So, Day 1: brewed my wort, which contained:
filtered water
a can of 1.7kg Coopers Lager Extract
1.5 lb Briess Dried Malt Extract (sparkling Amber)
1/2 cup of corn sugar (wasn't sure why, just thought I'd add a little sugar)

yeast packet primed and added after cooling wort. (this came w/ the can)

I put this in my 6 gallon glass carboy to ferment with more water. I thought this added up to 5 gallons, but am not sure now.

Specific Gravity was 1.053 (is that high?)

About 50 hours later, I finally got some signs of kreusen, and for the next 3 days I had some really good kreusen activity, foamy, lots of airlock bubbles.

Day 6, the kreusen was gone, but still lots of air coming through.

Day 7, gravity is 1.0265

Day 9, gravity is 1.020
I moved the brew into a "conditioning" or whatever you want to call it, 5 gallon glass carboy. One, I thought I was supposed to but now am not sure, Two, I want to start brewing another batch of something else!

Questions:
1. Are my gravities too high?

2. My beer is fermenting at about 64 degrees, obviously not at lager temps, so should I have tried a different kit that wasn't lager to do this? I'm not ready to do grains and things yet.

3. In my 5 gallon carboy, the beer only comes up to the 4th "line" on the glass (I'm not sure what this means, the first "line" I'm talking about is really close to the bottom edge. Then there is one more line above my beer right before it starts curving up to the top.)Does this mean I have 4 gallons of beer? How do I know how much sugar to add during bottling so that I add the proper amount?

4. From other posts, it seems like I should have either racked this after another 5 days or so (instead of at day 9) OR not racked it until 3 weeks in primary straight into the bottling mix. So, can I do anything now or will it just have some off flavors?

5. Comments?

Thanks, I am really excited about this, and my husband is deployed with the Army right now, and I promised him some homebrew when he returns. I don't want it to suck too bad.

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:43 PM   #2
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1. You shouldn't have racked to the secondary (if at all) until your gravity was the same for 3-4 days. They aren't too high, sounds about right (considering you adjusted it according to your room temp.

2. Absolutely, you want to to brew an ale if you will be fermenting at ale temps. you most likely have made a "steam beer", which is fine and some people love them. it is when you use lager yeast and ferment at ale temps. (popular in san fransico back in the day when refrigeration was lacking.

3. you should have used a gallon jug and water to mark the 5 gallon mark in your carboy. this makes it easier to know how much priming sugar to use (about an ounce per gallon is common). just learn from your mistakes, thats all you can do.

4. you will never get a straight answer on whether to rack to a secondary or leave in the primary for 3-4 weeks to bottle...it is a highly opinionated answer. the trend lately is to just leave it in the primary because the yeast tend to clean up after themselves and make your beer overall cleaner and have less off flavors. most people just use a secondary as a "brite tank" to clear the beer and let particles fall out of suspension or to dry hop or add fruits, oak, etc... you should simply try both methods and see what works for you...

5. just relax and enjoy the process... you more than likely havent done anything to seriously harm your final product. it is all a learning process, just remember, take it easy don't stress over things patience is the key to brewing good beer. good luck on your first batch!

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:52 PM   #3
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1. Your starting gravity sounds fine to me. 1.020 sounds a *tiny bit* high for a final gravity, but you might just shake the carboy a little bit to rouse the yeast from the bottom, and let it sit there for a 2-3 more weeks. It won't hurt the beer, I promise.

2. What kind of yeast did you use? 64 is definitely high for lager yeasts, but it's perfectly fine for your typical ale yeast. More than likely, the guy at your LHBS gave you an ale yeast. Even if it's a lager yeast, it's not the end of the world. You'll just have a "California Common".

3. You probably do have 4ish gallons of beer if it's a 5 gallon carboy. Don't worry about it, the beer you have will just be a little higher alcohol content. You'll want to add about 3.2oz of sugar (by weight, not fluid ounces) for that volume and assuming you keep the beer at 64F until you prime it.

4. Relax! Don't worry about it. A lot of off flavors will go away if you just store the beer for a while, and you're jumping the gun on that whole line of thought anyway. If you taste it in a couple of months after you've finished fermentation, primed, carbonated, and conditioned it, and you get off flavors, THEN come back and we can help you diagnose any issues. In the meantime, just take good notes. It seems like you're dong a decent job of that already, though.

5. Relax! More than likely your beer is going to be fine. Just give it a little time.

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Old 11-02-2009, 06:04 PM   #4
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I'd stir up the yeast and see if the gravity will go lower. Extract generally doesn't finish as low as All Grain, at least from what I've heard, but it does sound too high yet. Better to be safe than make bottle bombs.

More than likely, if your gravity doesn't change over three days, it's done and you will be drinking your first homebrew in a couple of weeks. You might want to start planning the second batch now!

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