07-28-2010, 11:58 AM   #1901
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Temp matters most for primary fermentation. When you are bottle conditioning you want a temperature of about 70F, so the yeast can do their work. If it is much lower than that then the beer might never carb.

Hydrometer gives a measure of density. Sugar dissolved in water is more dense than alcohol dissolved in water, so as the sugar gets turned into alcohol, the little floating thing sits lower in the water. Beer gravity never really gets lower than the density of water itself (1.000), but if you brew wine it will go lower than the density of water (.998 is a common spot for it to stop, but I've gotten wine down to .992 before).

To use a hydrometer make sure you wash it, then sanitize it. Often people will use a wine thief (or a turkey baster, doesn't matter as long as it is clean and sanitized) to fill a "test jar", which is pretty much a test tube without the markings on the side. Then you float your hydrometer in that -- spinning it to detach any bubbles that might make it float higher than it should -- and read the numbers off the side. Good recipes will have starting gravities (density measurements) usually labeled as 'OG', and then they provide a final gravity that you should target. An example for a lighter beer might be OG=1.045, FG=1.014.

Remember that all hydrometers are not exactly calibrated, so it is helpful to test your hydrometer in water at room temperature, and it should be pretty close to 1.000. If it isn't, just see how far off it is and subtract that number from all future measurements. If yours reads 1.004, then subtract .004 from all future measurements. If it reads .998, then subtract -.002 (same as adding .002) from all future measurements.

It's pretty simple really, but if you just start out not knowing what it is then it can confuse.

07-28-2010, 10:08 PM   #1902
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hmm it sounds like it could be simple yet confusing at the same time.

Alright well i bottle in a few days so i'm a little worried. the house has been up to 80 degrees at the hottest point in the day. So should i leave all the bottles in the swamp cooler during the bottling process?

I'm pretty sure they'd all fit in there, still using those PET bottles. Should i stay on the warmer side of 70 or keep it under 70?

I got 2 more batches of beer from Mr. Beer yesterday.. and... *drum roll* a bottling spigot thingy with the wand.

oh and thanks for all the help! Learn something new everyday.

Last edited by Ringmaster; 07-28-2010 at 10:29 PM.

07-29-2010, 10:39 AM   #1903
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Once the primary fermentation is done, i.e., the first few days, temperature is far, far less important. The by-products have already been made, if they are going to be made, and now the yeastie-beasties are just cleaning up after their little sugar-orgy... so temp is not necessarily to be feared. There's also far less sugar around for them to eat and heat things up, so it's not as big a deal at this point.

The exception is, of course, you don't want your bottles to explode. You also don't want your bottles so hot that the yeast die off. A comfortable room temperature is fine for bottle conditioning, AFAIK -- the mistake most people make is keeping the bottles too cool so that the yeast can't do a proper job of carbing and cleaning up the waste products.

So, should you swamp-cool your bottles? In most cases, no. If you live in GA and the AC is out... then you might wanna.

07-29-2010, 11:01 AM   #1904
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Umm.. i live in california but it's been in the 90's for the last few weeks. Luckily recently it's only been in the 80's but that's higher then it's supposed to ferment.. Can the yeast still do their job in the 80's? Should i just not worry about it? Ordered a couple of more batches and i'd really rather get them going instead of using the swamp cooler for bottling.

I've been kinda paranoid about the temperature since i started.

Oh and i kept hearing about how much cheaper homebrewing is but i keep finding cheaper beer.. Given the beer i'm making is a lot better.. But i'm kind of curious, is this because i'm using the mr. Beer packets? Is extract brewing more expensive? or is it the type of beers i'm making?

Just got a Mr. Beer refill thing for \$20 and saw a 24 pack at bevmo for \$15 so i was a little taken back. I mean either way i still really enjoy this and i don't plan on quitting i'm just curious. And i'm kinda curious where the breweries profit margin comes from.

07-29-2010, 11:11 AM   #1905
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When using the standard MB dry yeast that ships under the can lids, you'll want your wort temperature somewhere between 68-78ºF as an optimal pitching temperature. After brewing 27 MR recipes I've found that filling the 2 gallon keg halfway with cool filtered tap water, adding your extracts after boiling the 4 cups of water and then topping the keg off to the 8.5 quart mark with more cool filtered water will leave the wort right in the 68-78ºF range.

In a small fermenter such as a 5-gallon (19-L) carboy the difference between the air temperature and the beer temperature is usually within about 5 ºF (3 °C). So if you have a yeast strain that produces the best beer when fermentation is held at 70 ºF (21 °C) the surrounding air temperature should be around 65 ºF (18 °C). You can periodically monitor this by inserting a thermometer into the fermenting beer.

I've used this method exclusively to produce some of the best tasting and varied beers and I don't even own a thermometer yet! In the warmer months I keep my 6 fermenters and carbonating PET bottles in a small room with a window air conditioner set to 68-70°F and I have never had a problem with fermentation or carbonation, plus it keeps my home office cool.

Screwy Brewer
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Last edited by ScrewyBrewer; 07-29-2010 at 11:15 AM.

07-29-2010, 11:53 AM   #1906
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ringmaster Oh and i kept hearing about how much cheaper homebrewing is but i keep finding cheaper beer.. Given the beer i'm making is a lot better.. But i'm kind of curious, is this because i'm using the mr. Beer packets? Is extract brewing more expensive? or is it the type of beers i'm making? Just got a Mr. Beer refill thing for \$20 and saw a 24 pack at bevmo for \$15 so i was a little taken back. I mean either way i still really enjoy this and i don't plan on quitting i'm just curious. And i'm kinda curious where the breweries profit margin comes from.
Check this: Austin Homebrew 50 cent beers

Extract is more expensive than all-grain. Mr Beer is more expensive than other extract. There is absolutely no reason in the world that you *must* keep using Mr Beer recipes just because you have a MB fermentor. In fact, the small size of the MB fermentor is pretty much ideal for going to AG with Deathbrewer's BIAB method (brew-in-a-bag).

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy-stovetop-all-grain-brewing-pics-90132/

Once you get addicted to fresh beer, though, you won't want the commercially bottled stuff anymore. I can't say what exactly it is about fresh beer that I love, but I really don't enjoy the BMC stuff anymore. I can't explain it, that's just the way it is. *shrug*

So, if you want fresh beer, cheap, then try DB's stovetop method. Just size down the 10 gal. AG recipes to 1/4th, or the 5.5 gal. recipes to 1/2 and go to town!

07-29-2010, 10:00 PM   #1907
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Cool thanks for the heads up!

I was planning to do a few extract brews on the next step.. I was hoping to make ed's apfelwein sometime.. sounds simple and straight forward.

I'm a little worried about All Grain being all scary and confusing.. i'm kind of easing my way into the cold pool instead of just jumping in.

Although i hear you can make your own recipe's when you do all grain I'll have to make a lot of beer before i'm ready for that though.

07-29-2010, 11:57 PM   #1908
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The natural progression is from Mr. Beer to extract brewing, which is basically just like Mr. beer but you add your own hops. Then you go to partial mash, which is adding hops and specialty grains to the extract syrup. Thats really when you get to make your own recipes. After that is all grain brewing.

07-30-2010, 11:12 AM   #1909
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ringmaster I was planning to do a few extract brews on the next step.. I was hoping to make ed's apfelwein sometime.. sounds simple and straight forward.
Edwort's apfelwein is super easy. It doesn't taste like beer or cider, though... it tastes like wine. The version I made was backsweetened with juice and apple schnapps, then I added sorbate (but not k-meta -- I wanted to prevent the yeast from reproducing, but I didn't want them dead). When it was carbonated 2 months later I put the bottles in the fridge (to halt the fermentation) and it is SWMBO's favorite thing I've brewed so far.

Quote:
 I'm a little worried about All Grain being all scary and confusing.. i'm kind of easing my way into the cold pool instead of just jumping in.
Yeah, it can be a bit confusing, but if you read Deathbrewer's thread and look at the pictures (linked above) it is pretty encouraging. Starting with small batches also makes it lower risk (less beer to spoil) and easier (less weight and water to lug around). You'll try it when you're ready.

Like the poster above said, the usual progression is MrB --> Extract --> Partial Mash (specialty grains) --> All Grain... but people pretty much stop in that progression anywhere they want, or they skip around. It's totally up to the individual.

Quote:
 Although i hear you can make your own recipe's when you do all grain I'll have to make a lot of beer before i'm ready for that though.
You can make your own extract recipes. My third brew was my own recipe for wheat beer and it turned out fantastic (SWMBO's second favorite thing I've brewed so far). It's just like cooking -- when you know how to do it, it is easy to experiment.

You're well on your way now! Just keep at it.

07-30-2010, 11:20 AM   #1910
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Oh i was hoping it'd be closer to cider..

I'm really not a fan of wine, although i guess i can still give it a shot. It's so simple i want to atleast try it once..