New to brewing, lots of questions (brooklyn brewshop)
My girlfriend got me a 1 gallon all grain kit from Brooklyn Brewshop. I've never brewed before, but always wanted to. My old neighbors would do it pretty regularly, and my cousin used to as well. My neighbors would let me watch, and I've seen the Brewmasters series as well as the Good Eats episode on brewing. I've read stuff on here and read the book associated with the kit I have. That's gives you an idea of my knowledge of brewing; not much at all and no actual experience. So I have a lot of questions.
First off, here's what I have.
What was included in the kit:
This includes a 1 gallon glass carboy, racking cane with cap, thermometer, airlock, cbrite sanitizer, carboy stopper, tubing and clamp, and ingredients for their IPA.
It has an intro, goes over the equipment included and what you'll need to get yourself, has a bit on beer styles, a section that goes over the process of making beer, and a bunch of different beer recipes.
What I picked up:
Hydrometer, io-star sanitizer, wine theif, bottle capper, bottle caps, and a funnel. The rest of the equipment needed I already have in the kitchen.
So I read the book for this kit a bunch of times and I really think I got the basics down pretty well. I've found some threads on here about 1st brews with this kit. Seems to be the general consensus is that these kits are very basic and are a great way to get started brewing. Since they're very basic, people seem to frown upon some of the directions given with the kit. I've looked around here, and compared some things I read here to the directions from the kit. So naturally I have a heap of questions.
Ok, here are the questions:
I got the wiki/faq bookmarked and I'll be using the search bar plenty. I know that my brew will most likely turn out just fine and taste good. I'm not really worried about that. I'm taking this seriously and unless I have some godawful experience when doing this, I'm assuming I will upgrade to a 5 gal system when my situation allows (limited space, time, and money right now). Before I start this, I would like to make sure I have a clear understanding of it. While I should be satisfied with the final result, I'd like to minimize any error. I'd like to start this off right. So, any advice?
Any feedback, advice, and comments are much appreciated, thanks!
1 I use 1.5qts water to1 lb of grain
2. I would only add water to adjust temp
3. I batch sparge so I drain first runnings then measure volume. Then sparge with the difference between pre boil volume an what I collects from 1st runnings
4. Some add more hops when using whole but it really depends on alpha acids of hops used and how many ibu you want.
5. No don't break hops up just toss then in
6. Pitch yeast at 70F is general recommendation but ideally you want to ferment in the ideal temp range for type of yeast using. Most yeast companies list the ideal temps on their website.
7. I use the outer tube of my racking cane to collect wort for hydrometer sample
8. I prefer to use a hydrometer as a refractometer is inaccurate with alcohol present
9. Priming sugar I believe is generally 1oz./gallon of beer not positive on that one.
10. I would cap and shake if you can't stir it with a spoon. Sanitizer properly diluted wont harm your skin
11. I use a blowoff tube for the first few days ten swap it out for an airlock.
12. If a 3 piece airlock the floating piece will rise enough to vent co2 out the. Fall back in place to seal fermenter.
13. No the yeast in your trub are mostly alive still.
14. I use a bottling wand fill to top of bottle then when removed it leaves proper headspace.
15. 2 weeks is general accepted but really depends in the style if beer. Heavier beers will take longer.
16 c-brite is a cleaner not a sanitizer.
17. Everything should be "cleaned" first the. Sanitized.
18 yes spray bottle very handy.
19. I don't wear gloves some do some don't your choice.
20. Star San when diluted leaves no taste not sure on other no rinse sanitizer I use star San.
Hope that covers your questions.
Caution hobby is highly addictive.
7.) Like previous poster commented, look at the directions on the yeast package. Pitching the yeast into wort that is TOO hot will kill the yeast, TOO cold and they will not be activated efficiently. (Additonal advice that I learned the hard way, KEEP THE FERMENTING BEER in the correct temperature range!!) Too hot and you get fruity esters and phenols being produced and they can adversely affect the flavor of your beer.
10.) Dextrose (corn sugar) is readily available at your LHBS, table sugar is fine too, as far as honey is concerned, I am not sure of the amount. (1 oz. per gallon for corn sugar)
13.) I would recommend sanitizing the cap, putting it on and swirling the wort mixture around for a minute or so before pitching the yeast. Also make sure when you dump the cooled wort into the jug that you make sure to splash it (into the jug of course!) and aerate it as much as possible. (this is the only time that you want to introduce oxygen into the wort as it helps the yeast get kick started.)
14.) Being that you are doing a one gallon batch, when the fermentation starts it can sometimes produce a lot of krauesen on top that can bubble up and clog your airlock (this can be very messy and disastrous as it can cause an explosion of sorts.) so I would agree to do the blowoff setup (hose into the bucket of sanitizer) until things calm down and then replace with the airlock.
15.) Sanitizer or vodka in the airlock, regular water can get bacteria baddies in it and possibly infect the batch. You want something in the airlock that critters can not grow in.
17.) The yeast sitting in the bottom (trub) is merely dormant. My understanding is that can eventually die.
18.) If that works for you then do it, but the important thing is to leave the 1 inch of headspace at the top of the bottle to minimize the amount of oxygen contact with the beer.
19.) Keep the bottled beer in the same temperature range that you did for the fermentation, and after 2 wks or so, you should bring the temp down (either in the fridge or someplace where it will be cooler, as this cooling will help clear the beer and blend the taste effectively.
20.) More or less, 2 wks is the norm, but only time will tell. Make sure to write everything down though, as this is a learning process. The nice thing about the beer is that you will drink some after 2 wks, write down what it tastes like. Then when you drink some more at 3 wks, write down if it tastes better or worse, etc....
23.) Technically after the wort is boiled, anything that comes into contact with it should be sanitized (I even treat the boiling wort carefully and with sanitized equipment when possible)
25.) I use my 6.5 gallon bottling bucket with 5 gallons of sanitizer in it on brew day and racking days (I do not need the bottling bucket until later anyway)
26.) A portion of the sanitizer in the bucket above is put into a spray bottle (this is your best friend)
29.) The only sanitizer that I use is StarSan and when mixed properly, adds no adverse flavors to the beer ( it actually helps the yeast ). It will foam, and you can mix beer right with the foam (DONT FEAR THE FOAM!!!)
Ok. First things first. Sit down, relax, breathe, and have a good beer, or two
Oh, and I predict you'll be doing 5gal by your next brew.
Question 15 (I believe) regarded the airlock. Take a close look. The top has holes in it. It will keep large objects like dust bunnies and spiders, etc. out of the airlock while allowing CO2 to vent.
Take a deep breath. You're going to be fine. Keep things reasonably clean (you don't have to be crazy) and everything will probably be fine. Also, as far as skin contact goes, I wash my hands in a bowl of sanitizer so that my hands are pretty sterile and then feel free to touch anything I want. Not sure if it is good practice, but it has never noticibly affected me or the brew.
Something tells me we would be good friends.
The most important thing to remember while doing this is to relax and not worry. If you follow the instructions well enough, you're going to make beer, and it'll probably be pretty good :)
oh my god. i have no idea how to even approach replying to that legendary post. please don't wear gloves.
You will be fine dont panic. Thats what this forum is for :) throw the book away! And forget everything anyone has told you and start from the groud up. Lots of crummy advice out there but theres a lot of great advice too! Always get second opinion thats how ya learn. I still say recipe book no! Lol they dont know the beer you like. Jump in there make mistakes thats part of it just becareful with glass be a lot of injuries lately. I switched to pet plastic bottles got tired of snapping necks off! Autosiphon also a good gadget. Just keep it simple and breath BREATH! :)
Thanks for all the replies.
3. Ok, perfect. That makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.
4. That makes sense as well, thanks. The book doesn't really give any exact measures on the alpha acids. The recipes don't list that, instead they tell you what kind of hops and how much in weight. Then you refer to a page in the book that lists the different kinds of hops and gives them a bitterness rating. They rate from low, to medium, to high. They use average percents of alpha acids, and associate ranges to each of the bitterness ratings. So low is 0-6%, medium 6-9%, and high is above 9%. So this seems to be a very general way of measuring. They even rate some from "low to medium" and "medium to high".
Thanks for explaining, I'll keep that in mind when I start making my own recipes.
6. Yeah, we'll see if it says on the packet. I didn't look since they throw the packet of yeast, the package of hop pellets, and the milled grains all in one package. I didn't want to make a mess with the grains so I haven't opened it yet. It's hard to even work the packets around the grains to see what they say on them. I can get a little of the hops to show, but not they yeast. I'll try to remember to post whether they say or not.
16. Good to know, thanks. I'll keep it around just in case, but I'll probably never use it.
18. Good to know as well. I'll be making sure I have one.
That definitely helps, thanks! :mug: Yeah, I don't doubt how addictive this can be :).
15. Got it. I had wondered about water since Alton Brown said he filled his with water on the Good Eats episode. It's rare that he'd ever give bad advice, but we're all human.
18. I don't have a bottling wand, and I'm not sure if I'll pick one up until I upgrade to a 5 gal system. So I'll probably fill it, as best I can, to a predetermined mark. If it turns out to really be a pain (as it seems to be for many others) I might get a bottling wand and do it that way. Thanks for the tip on limiting oxygen contact.
20. Great idea on logging everything. I had meant to do that but completely forgot. I'll be adding a notebook to my supplies.
23. Thank you, I wish the book had clearly stated when you should worry about this.
26. Will definitely have a spray bottle of that handy. Adding that to the supplies. Anybody know where you can get them for cheap? Seem to be like $6 for a new one (kinda expensive IMO).
29. I will do my best to not fear the foam! :D
Thanks for the response! :mug: Some of these really cleared things up for me.
7. 'MURRRICA!!!! lol
8. Sweet, I'll be using that then. Yeah, overflow makes sense. It's something I wouldn't really think about until I'm about to drop in the hydrometer lol. Thanks for the heads up!
11. Yeah, I wasn't really clear on it either. I think they mean that if it's too thick, add water, but I'm not sure so I'm asking.
12. OK, got it. So I get it's fine to add more than needed, but any reason it's not proportionate to how much beer you're making? I just would have thought they'd say 1/5 straight up.
16. WOW, I feel like an idiot. :o Don't know how I missed those holes before. I mean they are small, but not that small. Makes complete sense now, thanks!
17. Great, good to know. I'll definitely look that up, thanks!
20. I'll probably just wait till 3 weeks or 4. I'd rather be sure than pop one off, well, without much of a pop.
21. Haha, same here. But I was thinking of saving 1 or 2, and after I've done a dozen or so brews, just having me and a friend drink them in order one night, tasting the evolution of it all so far :) So say I theoretically wanted to save one forever, how would I store it, and how long would it stay good for?
23. Yeah I think I'll go with that rule, once the burner's been turned off. Definitely making the spray bottle too.
24. Sweet, it sound like they work pretty fast then.
27. Great! That makes sense now that I know when you need to worry about sanitation.
Thanks a million for the very thorough response, it's greatly appreciated!
I think I've been coming off as tense and worrysome, but I really am relaxed, and I will be when I'm brewing. It's just like cooking, and I love cooking. I know I'll have a great time doing it.
As for the 5 gal upgrade, well lol, we'll have to wait and see. But I really am a patient person, and it's not feasible right now, so I don't think that's gonna happen. But I might be doing 2 gal next time :).
I have 2 growlers, and I'd just need to get 2 more stoppers, tubes, and airlocks, and I'd be good to go right? The growlers are brown bottles, and carboys are clear, but it should work right? From my understanding carboys are clear so you can see how cloudy the fermenting wort/beer is, and how much trub has accumulated, correct? If all is good, then it'd just take twice as long (2x 1 gal batches) and in that case, well, I'd just have to drink for twice as long :D.
Let me know what you think of that. And anyways, thanks again, cheers! :mug:
Yeah, I'm not really worried about it, but I just wanted to cover my bases before I jumped in over my head lol :D. Thanks for the advice!
I'm pretty sure everything's gonna be fine, just wanted to clear up somethings before I started. I know I'll be having plenty of fun. Thanks! :)
I'll be careful with the glass though. Don't want to deal with any of that type of problem. Snapping necks as in you went to open a fresh homebrew and the neck snaps off? Wow, hope that doesn't start happening to me. Just like the bottling wand, I might pick up an auto siphon down the line. Oh, and I'll be sure to breathe! Thanks! :D
I think you'll find that the cost of a 5 gallon batch is going to be very close to the cost of a 1 gallon batch. They take the same time to brew, and you can ferment in a $10 6.5gallon bucket with little risk of blowoff.
It takes almost the same amount of time to brew one gallon of beer as it does to brew 1000 gallons of beer. Bottling 52 bottles versus 10 definitely takes longer, but that's what your second and third beers are for.
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