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Old 07-30-2007, 05:50 PM   #1
TallyBrew
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Default New Guy Concerns

Hello Gentlemen,

I started brewing for the first time yesterday. I am making an I.P.A. I think everything went ok but there are a few issues that concern me that I want to double check because I want this perfect.

1. When I poured my wort into the carboy I used a filtered funnel but there was tons of nasty sludge in the wort that clogged the filter and I had to clean it out like a million times. Is it normal to have that much solid in the wort?

2. It was recommended for the temperature to be 70-75 before pitching the yeast (but acceptable under 90). I don't think the temperature in my apartment ever drops below 75 but I added the yeast at around 82. Is it worth trying to get the temperature down really low or is it not that big of a deal?

3. If I have a kit with all the grain, malt, and everything measured - would using a hydrometer help at all? Or is the point of that when you are more independent and trying to make it perfect? I have a hydrometer and was prepared to use it but the direction made no mention of it and even if the reading was off, I would have no idea what to do in order to correct it? Can someone guide me on this or point me in the direction of guidance?

4. My airlock has two chambers that I filled halfway but after a little while, one chamber empties and one becomes nearly all the way filled? Does this matter or should I take action to keep both parts half filled?

Thanks for the advice!

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Old 07-30-2007, 06:05 PM   #2
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Welcome to the obsession!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TallyBrew
1. When I poured my wort into the carboy I used a filtered funnel but there was tons of nasty sludge in the wort that clogged the filter and I had to clean it out like a million times. Is it normal to have that much solid in the wort?
Yes, especially if you used pellet hops rather than whole leaf. It's called "break solids", and the way that I get around having to clean the screen a million times is by using a sanitized run-of-the-mill kitchen butterknife. In order to keep the screen clear enough to avoid complete backup, you just scrape the blade of the knife in a circular motion on the surface of the screen, continually. After awhile, it'll get to be too much, and you'll have to dump it, but this will definitely help matters.

Quote:
2. It was recommended for the temperature to be 70-75 before pitching the yeast (but acceptable under 90). I don't think the temperature in my apartment ever drops below 75 but I added the yeast at around 82. Is it worth trying to get the temperature down really low or is it not that big of a deal?
Yes, it is a big deal. No, the yeast won't die at that temp, they'll still work...but you're definitely going to get a lot of fruity esters in your beer, which is not really what you want. While it varies depending on the yeast strain you're using, a good rule of thumb is to keep the wort temp in the 60's. I've found, over time, that temperature matters quite a bit for the finished product---especially during primary fermentation. The best way to do this short of a refridgerator or freezer with temp controller is to get a big bucket, like those rubbermaid deals with the rope handles that frat boys use for kegs, or farms use for livestock feed. Get some empty 2L coke bottles or similar jugs, fill them with water, and put them in the freezer. Put the carboy/bucket into the big bucket. Fill the big bucket 2/3 with cold water. Put a few of the frozen bottles into the water, until you reach the temp you want. It's always a good idea to keep a few in rotation, so you always have some frozen bottles in the freezer to rotate out when the other ones thaw. Be careful, though, if you have a fermometer stick-on carboy thermometer. They don't like to stay submerged in water for too long.

Quote:
3. If I have a kit with all the grain, malt, and everything measured - would using a hydrometer help at all? Or is the point of that when you are more independent and trying to make it perfect? I have a hydrometer and was prepared to use it but the direction made no mention of it and even if the reading was off, I would have no idea what to do in order to correct it? Can someone guide me on this or point me in the direction of guidance?
A hydrometer is absolutely 100% essential. When I first started, I tried to get away with not using one, but I quickly found that making beer without a hydrometer is like baking without a thermometer. Take a reading once the wort is cooled, right before you pitch the yeast. Then take another one when you think fermentation has finished. This way you can tell when the yeast is done fermenting, and what your attenuation & ABV will be.

Quote:
4. My airlock has two chambers that I filled halfway but after a little while, one chamber empties and one becomes nearly all the way filled? Does this matter or should I take action to keep both parts half filled?
I've only ever used the 3-part econo-airlocks, never those other kind, so I'm not sure. I'd guess it's not that important, but don't take my word for it.

Most importantly, RDWHAHB.
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Last edited by Evan!; 07-30-2007 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:06 PM   #3
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I never considered using a hydrometer to make corrections, those kits are pretty solid. The hydrometer is used to check to make sure your brew has stopped fermenting, and to tell what the alcohol content is.

If the hydrometer reading hasn't changed on 3 consecutive days, you beer is done fermenting, and you can move it into the secondary or bottle.


The airlock is fine, that is what you expect to see. Soon should start bubbling

It's good to get the temp down, but don't over stress on it. In a big rubbermaid container with an inch or two of water can do wonders, specially using some ice bottles, or wrapping a t-shirt around it. Search the forums, it is a common problem.

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Old 07-30-2007, 10:41 PM   #4
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I consider a hydrometer pretty essential. My first 2 batches back into brewing after an 8 year hiatus...both were extract kits, and both were about .008 shy of where they shoulda been.

did my first partial mash yesterday, and I nailed the gravity.

you can start without a hydro reading, but you need one to test the beer for 3 days straight to know its really done fermenting and is safe to bottle, or rack to secondary.

you can peek at the link in my signature for a cheap way to keep your fermenter cool in the summer.

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Old 07-31-2007, 02:17 AM   #5
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Your two chamber airlock is doing just what it's suppose to do. The CO2 is pushing the water from one chamber into the other. Cool! It means your making beer.

BTW, get a hydrometer. The readings can tell the story if you have problems or questions later on.

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Old 07-31-2007, 02:27 AM   #6
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1 - no biggie. I wouldn't even use the filter in the future - especially if you're going to use a secondary

2 - pitching at that temp isn't THAT big of a deal, but try to keep it cool. You can use a wet towel or t-shirt - that helps.

3 - with extract, a hydrometer is FAR from essential. It might help you if there are problems along the way, but there are LOTS of guys that NEVER used a hydrometer with extract brews; including me. To be honest, I've forgot to take readings with all grain batches and they turned out fine.

4 - if one is full, I wouldn't worry about it

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