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Old 12-20-2011, 11:56 PM   #11
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I use bottled water; Crystal Geyser Spring, it has a nice soft profile that can be adjusted to just about any chemistry I need....it does add about $7 to a 5 gallon batch but I have a water softener that I use Potassium Chloride in and I just don't trust using it for brewing.

When rehydrating your yeast, don't use distilled water.

Looks like a great process...be sure to keep it handy and take notes if anything doesn't go as planned.

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Old 12-21-2011, 01:01 AM   #12
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Thanks guys for all of the comments.

- I reversed steps 7 and 8, will get it to a boil before adding in the hops
- Will do a nice rolling boil
- Will do a temp of 60-70 prior to pitching the yeast.
- Will turn down the burner instead of turning it off
- Will heat up the malt extract prior to adding it
- Will use distilled water overall.

So questions:
1) If I do the ENTIRE batch with distilled, how many gallons do I need to buy for a 5 gallon batch? Was thinking of maybe buying 8 for a little cushion. If I find out the tap is good enough down the line I'll certainly use that but for this first run distilled seems like a good (relatively inexpensive) investment

2) Now that I understand that I will be topping off the batch. If I am starting with only 3 gallons, at a minimum I have to add 2 and that doesn't account for any water boiling off. My question is about temperatures and using the IC. At what temp should I stop the chiller and dump into the bucket? Since I'll have further to go down when I top off. I don't want to end up too cold for the yeast, right? Any general ideas. I had planned to cool all the way down with the chiller, but that seems like a bad idea now that I think about it.

Fermentation
2) I guess the general consensus is that the carboy isn't worth it and that I can just do the entire fermentation in the bucket? Why is this? When is carboy usage warranted?

3) I'm glad I posted because I'm also confused about the amount time needed to ferment in the bucket, carboy (if used), and then sit in the bottles. I was planning on about a week each in the bucket then carboy, then about 4 weeks in the bottles.

The comments here (BBL, Yooper, and RM-MN) seem to indicate the just going for longer (upwards of 3 weeks) in the bucket should do the trick.

All the reading that I've done seems to indicate that the second fermentation gives beer clarity? For you guys with lots of experience how do you decide whether to do a secondary fermentation and how long each should be?

As always I am super appreciative of you guys helping me out. Everyone has to start out somewhere and it would be a lot harder without folks like you sharing your collective experience!

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Old 12-21-2011, 01:36 AM   #13
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1) If I do the ENTIRE batch with distilled, how many gallons do I need to buy for a 5 gallon batch? Was thinking of maybe buying 8 for a little cushion. If I find out the tap is good enough down the line I'll certainly use that but for this first run distilled seems like a good (relatively inexpensive) investment

You may need about 6.5 gallons total.


2) Now that I understand that I will be topping off the batch. If I am starting with only 3 gallons, at a minimum I have to add 2 and that doesn't account for any water boiling off. My question is about temperatures and using the IC. At what temp should I stop the chiller and dump into the bucket? Since I'll have further to go down when I top off. I don't want to end up too cold for the yeast, right? Any general ideas. I had planned to cool all the way down with the chiller, but that seems like a bad idea now that I think about it.

chill to about 70 degrees, then add the water to top off, if the water is chilled or cool. You want to end up with 5 gallons of 65 degree-ish wort

Fermentation
2) I guess the general consensus is that the carboy isn't worth it and that I can just do the entire fermentation in the bucket? Why is this? When is carboy usage warranted?

If you're making a lager, or oaking a batch, or otherwise plan on doing "something" with the beer, using a carboy is useful.

3) I'm glad I posted because I'm also confused about the amount time needed to ferment in the bucket, carboy (if used), and then sit in the bottles. I was planning on about a week each in the bucket then carboy, then about 4 weeks in the bottles.
I rarely use a carboy unless I'm oaking, but two weeks in the fermenter (or longer if you get busy) sounds fine.

The comments here (BBL, Yooper, and RM-MN) seem to indicate the just going for longer (upwards of 3 weeks) in the bucket should do the trick.
I've never gone longer than 3 weeks, usually less, but the beer will be fine until 3 weeks if you want to bottle then.

All the reading that I've done seems to indicate that the second fermentation gives beer clarity? For you guys with lots of experience how do you decide whether to do a secondary fermentation and how long each should be?
First, secondary fermentation is a misnomer. Since fermentation is done before you rack, there isn't any "secondary fermentation" going on. In a brewery, the second vessel is called a "bright tank"- a clearing vessel. They use it to get the finished beer out of the fermenter when they want to put another beer in the fermenter. The bright tank is where clearing takes place but it's not necessary, as if the beer is left in the fermenter, it'll clear there as well. There is nothing magical about moving the beer. It clears when it clears- the only reason to move it is if you need the fermenter.

As always I am super appreciative of you guys helping me out. Everyone has to start out somewhere and it would be a lot harder without folks like you sharing your collective experience!
I answered any questions in bold. Keep in mind that it's a forgiving hobby, so you can leave the beer longer, or for less time, or bottle it later, and it'll still be perfectly fine!
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:59 AM   #14
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I noticed in the original instructions that the first hop addition was added before the boil but I thought maybe they were meant to be first wort hops.

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Old 12-21-2011, 10:52 AM   #15
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It takes however long the yeast want to get all the sugars eaten and then some more time to digest the esters and phenols before the yeast clump up and drop out of suspension. By 3 weeks in the fermenter the beer should be clear. It may be clear before that but I use a bucket and can't see what it is doing and perhaps if I used a carboy I would be ready to bottle sooner but I have several beers in bottles and don't feel any need to rush.

When I rack to the bottling bucket I usually end up sucking some yeast with my siphon as I try to get that last half bottle of beer but since this yeast had clumped up, it settles out pretty fast in the bottling bucket and the beer going into the bottles is pretty clear again. I know that there will be more yeast activity in the bottles as it carbonates and that will settle too so I'm not terribly concerned if I happen to get a little extra.

I've used my carboy twice to rack my beer onto some fruit and I used it once as a fermeter vessel but I hate trying to get the wort down that little hole since it is so much easier just to pour it into that wide opening of a bucket and the buckets are so easy to clean and cheap to replace if needed. I won't be using the carboy much in the next year as I only intend to do one batch with fruit addition.

Many people are concerned about leaving the beer in the primary for too long as they fear autolysis (dying) of the yeast causing undrinkable beer but it doesn't seem to happen in the smaller fermenters and at least one member of this forum has reported leaving beer in the fermenter for over 6 months with good results. The only caution on that is to keep checking your airlock as they can dry out if left unattended too long.

I hope our experience helps you make good beer. When I started I had only the instructions that came with the kit. I made fair beer, not great beer but it was MY beer. As I kept on I learned some things and like to pass on my experience. I learned that you shouldn't bottle as soon as some kit instruction say when I started getting bottles that were way over carbonated, I learned to ferment cooler when I noticed the hot alcohol from too warm of a ferment, and I learned how the flavor changed as I went to a longer time in the fermenter and how it changed again with more time in the bottle.

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Old 12-21-2011, 12:20 PM   #16
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Thanks again to you guys for your responses.

I am certainly intrigued by the discussion on carboys. I almost bought a kit with 2 carboys but am glad I went with only one at this point since I may not end up using it as much as I had originally thought/planned. One of my big goals is to minimize chance for infection so frankly opening the bucket and siphoning into a carboy just makes for another chance to get infected, apparently for little other gain.

I will only, at least at this point, consider moving to a carboy if I decide I want to do another batch at the same time. Frankly, though, I don't have the bottles for that so it may be a while before I bother.

Initial post updated, I may create a carboy poll thread later on

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Old 12-21-2011, 07:03 PM   #17
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I will only, at least at this point, consider moving to a carboy if I decide I want to do another batch at the same time. Frankly, though, I don't have the bottles for that so it may be a while before I bother.
You can buy another fermenter bucket with a lid and airlock for about $15 and you may be able to get bottles from a bar or the recycle center or you could buy empties for around $12 per case or maybe a little more and they can be reused indefinitely so they are a real bargain.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:09 PM   #18
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You can buy another fermenter bucket with a lid and airlock for about $15 and you may be able to get bottles from a bar or the recycle center or you could buy empties for around $12 per case or maybe a little more and they can be reused indefinitely so they are a real bargain.
If you can't find cheap or free empty bottles, buy some of your favorite craft beer with crimp on caps and re-use those. Usually, for about the same price as empties from the LHBS, you can get bottles with beer in them
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:56 PM   #19
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Updated process looks great, I would re-edit #5. You NEED to turn that burner OFF. Adding heat (even a little) is going to raise the temp of your steeping water over the course of 30 minutes, probably way into the danger zone (170F plus). I promise you won't be losing a significant amount of heat. There is more than enough thermal mass in 3 gallons of liquid to be extracting plenty of flavor and color from the grains for more than half an hour. As long as you're above, say, 145, you're getting what you need from the grain.

A few more comments after a very thorough reading (other peeps, feel free to jump all over these if I'm off base)

#11- This was me being stupid, but I should mention that I accidentally was being an idiot last week and left the silicone hoses attached to the chiller while it was boiling. The heat from the flame melted the hoses. That was awesome. Don't connect the hoses until you have the pot off the flame- silicone will take a lot of temperature but it doesn't need to be directly on the flame to melt. I use some silicone oven mitts and screwdriver to tighten the hose clamps. Just something to take note of.

#12- Your warm water for rehydrating should be boiled first. Didn't see it mentioned, but you want that water to be as sterile as possible.

#15a- I'm going to disagree on this one and say your water should be boiled before topping off. Tons of people do it without, some people use water straight out of the tap, but the cleaner you know that water is, the better. You never know what's on the outside (or the spigots, or around the caps) of those containers of distilled water that have been trucked around the country and stored in odd warehouses. Maybe I'm too anal about it, but I can boil water the day before and not worry about it if I know I'm doing a partial boil batch. Up to you, I suppose.

#16- you can use some leftover sanitizer in the airlock- that's what I do. That way I can save all the vodka for drinking. Haven't had an airlock go dry yet. I would imagine you'd have to ferment for months before that was an issue as long as your airlock has a cap on it.

#18-20- Didn't see this mentioned anywhere, but you will be 100% more satisfied with your beer if you give it 5-7 days on the yeast AFTER you hit your FG before bottling. Please do this- anything worth doing with the attention to detail you're giving it, deserves to be done right.

#21- I like to spray down the bottle tree with some starsan before I hang up my first bottle. Again, that could just be me being anal.

#27- No real need to cool the sugar solution- there's so little of it that it will be mostly cool (big surface area in the bottom of your bottling bucket) by the time you start racking onto it, and the huge thermal mass of the beer won't be affected by the tiny cup of sugar water.

#32ish- somewhere I hope you intend to FILL the bottles before capping, and after grabbing them?

#33- you really should shoot for 70F, the warmer you are, the faster they will carb

Another tip/step: give your bottles a some time (say 30 seconds?) before capping them- some residual CO2 will come out of solution and make a happy little blanket over your beer so there's no oxygen trapped in the bottle when you cap it. This will give you a little security should you want to age your beer, which a stout will appreciate.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

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Old 12-21-2011, 10:02 PM   #20
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I think you are very wise to have thought all of this through, written it down, then asked questions to understand the entire process.

My one other suggestion is to be physically organized. Know where all your hardware is, wipe or spray it with Star San (this way you know everything has been hit at least once), think about the brewing steps and organize your layout so you're not running around looking for stuff as the kettle is about to boil over......if you are doing this indoors, warn the wife or GF that the place is going to smell like a brewery for a few hours (they don't always like that smell)....have some damp rags handy (soaked in Star San and wrung out) and some dry ones....pot holders/oven mitts...if your bucket has a spigot, make sure it doesn't leak (run Star San though it while open, remember to close it!!).....Star San is reusable, collect it back into your sanitizer bucket (I use a 2 gallon pail for Star San solution with sponges with the white scrubbie, not the green).

Have fun!!!

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