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Old 12-06-2007, 03:23 PM   #1
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Default Help a noob out, couple of questions on primaries and OG

I have my first batch ever bottled, and my second batch has just been put in the fermenter last night, but I have a question regarding what type of primary is best. So far I have been using a 6.5 gal carboy, which means once the cooled wort goes in, I have to add more water to reach 5 gal. My question is what is the best way to mix the wort and top off water when the opening is only 2 inches? I have have noticed low OG readings from my batch last night, even though i tried really hard to rock the carboy after being topped off. I think that a pail would be easiest, as I could stir things thoroughly before taking a reading. Also, when the dry yeast is added in, its impossible to really stir it, so all i can do once again is rock the carboy to hopefully mix it in.
Am I doing this wrong with the carboy rocking, as my OG was supposed to be 1.045 for a Brewer's Best Red Ale, but my OG was about 1.035 corrected. All ingredients were added, and i boiled for the full hour. It seems to be that a pail would allow me to more vigorously stir the wort and water, as well as the yeast before closing the lid. Is there any disadvantage to a pail over a carboy?
Also, I have been boiling in a 16 quart pot, which boils down to about 13 quarts by the end of everything. When that ends up in the carboy it looks to be less than half filled, so I have to top off with alot of water... is that causing too much dilution in the wort? Recipe calls for only 2 gallons of wort, with top off of 3 gallons, but that just doesnt seem to make sense to me.
sorry for hte long post, any help is appreciated!

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Old 12-06-2007, 03:44 PM   #2
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I should test the carboy on my own, but when i bought it the guy at the store measured and marked it off for me... assuming it was right could be my first problem. in regards to the fill mark though, i do have plenty of air space, its just that i dont know what my options are for reaching in the 2 inch opening and stirring... its just too small. Since i cant really reach anything in the small mouth to stir, I have been rocking the whole jub to get things mixed. Is that totally wrong? The pail would afford me the ability to stir, but everyone seems to tell me that glass carboy is preferred.

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Old 12-06-2007, 03:53 PM   #3
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Well, to be honest, it really doesn't matter that much if it's well mixed or not. To take an accurate sg, yes, but otherwise, no. And with extract brewing, an og is really not that important. The reason is actually pretty simple when you think about it- you can't "lose" sugars. The sg is determined by the amount of sugars in the solution, and if you're using extract, you have a set amount of sugars.

I don't mix in my yeast, just pour it on top and seal up my fermenter. I always use plastic fermenters, but that's only because that's what I have. I use glass for my clearing tanks, though.

If you really want to stir, though, that's fine. How about a long sanitized wooden dowel, or a paint stirrer? Or, one of these: http://pivo.northernbrewer.com/nbsto...stir&offset=10

I use the other end of a long handled spoon if I have to stir a carboy. The handle end fits in there.

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:02 PM   #4
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That makes sense to me, thank you for the help. I am trying to make sure i start brewing with correct habits, so as to continue to get better... not just lucky. So to get this clear, having the cooled wort and top off water stirred is not tremendously important, nor is stirring in the dried yeast? It makes sense that all that stuff would meet each other sooner or later in the fermenter, I just want to be sure. Also, is is safe to assume that boiling as much water as my pot can contain is best for brewing as it would need the least amount of top off water?

This forum is the best, I would not be able to get into this hobby without all the help i have received here so far!!!

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:09 PM   #5
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I use a 6.5 gallon carboy as well and I have found shaking it vigorously for a few minutes is more than enough to get the top-off water mixed in and aerate. Like Yooper, I do not mix in my yeast (dry or liquid).

As far as boiling goes, you are correct that boiling more water is better; HOWEVER, if you are using ingredient kits, the amount of ingredients is calibrated to a specific amount of water in the boil which should be detailed in the kit's instructions.

If you want to boil more (or less) water than the kit calls for you will need to adjust your hops in order to attain the correct IBUs. This is because the more water you boil, the higher your IBUs for the same amount of hops (one of the chemistry guys can explain why as I will probably say something incorrect if I try).

Since you are just starting out I would highly recommend following the kit directions for a few more brews before experimenting with boil amounts and ingredient adjustments.

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:29 PM   #6
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So its really not a problem if the top off water amount is more than the actual wort amount? Just trying to wrap my brain around the whole process...

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drscott266
So its really not a problem if the top off water amount is more than the actual wort amount? Just trying to wrap my brain around the whole process...
Not at all. Kits routinely call for a 1.5 gallon boil with top-off to get to 5 gallons.

Unlike AG where the volumes matter for purposes of extracting sugars, in extract brewing, the sugars are all there already so there is no need to be concerned.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:45 PM   #8
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Is there anything I can do to improve my OG readings? I take a sample, then drop the the hydrometer in, give it a spin but the foam bubbles around it keep coming back and it regulary rests against one side of the test tube... anything I am doing that is really wrong?

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Old 12-07-2007, 12:22 AM   #9
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I give my 6.5 gallon carboy a good shaking to mix the top off water with the wort and to aerate. To be on the safe side I would cover the opening with some saran wrap and place my hand over it, but I just sanitize my hands in my bucket of sanitizing solution and put my hand directly on top. It gets the job done and I haven't had a problem yet. A little rocking isn't going to cut it, you've got to really shake it. If you're nervous from hearing about broken carboy horror stories, sit with it on your lap and shake it like crazy.

With regards to boil volume and volume of topping off water, it'll mainly effect your hop utilization (check out Palmer's How to Brew for equations) and the color of your beer. Your SG won't be effected because the gravity points that you add from your extract or grains don't boil out, just the water.

I disagree with Yooper about the OG not being that important in extract brewing though. Sure you could figure out a range that your original gravity would be in, but you want to know that to see where your fermentation started, where it's ending, and what your abv is. If you read any threads about questions concerning a particular batch of beer one of the first questions will inevitably be "What was your OG?" (and I bet Yooper's asked that question once or twice as well!! )

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