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Old 01-06-2009, 03:24 AM   #1
dna_alexov
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Default Newbs first beer batch - couple questions

I just got into homebrewing and kegging over the holidays. Was at one of my in-laws and he had the whole keg and tap setup which got me excited to do the same. He however makes his brew at the local u-brew (actually the u-brew makes it, he just fills up his keg). I though want to make my own brew.

I now bought all my homebrew equipment including two home brewing kits, kegging & tap equipment. I just started my first beer kit two days ago (the standard type in a can where you mix with water and sugar and add yeast). I have a few questions:

1) I have two 23L glass carboys with airlocks and two plastic primaries - one of the plastic has a lid while the other is missing the lid but has a nice spout 1" from the bottom to make it easy to transfer into secondary. Which should I use as my primary fermenter? I've been told to use the plastic one with spout at bottom and use use plastic wrap over the opening to avoid particles from falling in. What would you recommend? Is it critical in the primary fermentation stage to be air tight, or can it be exposed to air as long as the brew is not disturbed?

2) I took OG at 1.032 - does this sound low?

3) the kit instructions were very poor. Basically I took the liquid extract (splashed it into the bottom of the plastic fermenter with the spout, added two litres of hot water and then 20 litres of cool water, mixed with 1.1KG of dextrose (entire contents were at 23L once mixed) - then I added the yeast on top within about a minute, and covered the opening with plastic wrap and left undisturbed now for 2 days. Does anything sound like I've made a mistake? Read that I can use alternatives instead of sugar - can someone please explain? Also read that I can add a litre or two of apple juice in substitute for some of the water - is this recommended for most beers? What other additives are common for extra flavour (ie. can I use cut up fruits)?

4) I've been told to transfer to my glass carboy after 2 to 3 days, and then leave it in there for another 4-5 days until it is ready for kegging? But I've read that secondary fermentation is not even necessary, though if you do that it should be done once FG is steady within 24 hour period. Is checking the FG the best method? Should I even bother transferring to my glass carboy? Even if FG is not steady, what harm is there transferring to secondary early, as it continues to ferment there too? If I used my glass carboy and airlock initially instead of the plastic, could I have avoided the need for secondary into my 2nd glass carboy?

5) once my beer is ready for kegging, I've been told to fill keg to 95% full and then to leave 25 to 30 psi CO2 pressure on the keg for 2 to 3 days to carbonize the beer, and then to lower to 10 psi after that to pour. Does this sound correct? I was also told that I could fill the 5% gap with CO2 and then shake the keg rapidly when the beer is cold, which would carbonize it instantly - is this correct?

6) can drinking homebrew be dangerous (other than the obvious hangovers, etc). If I really mess it up but can't taste anything too bad, could there still be a danger drinking it?

Thats it for now, but I'm sure the respoinses will stir up more questions.

Thanks

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Old 01-06-2009, 03:39 AM   #2
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Wow, I would be really surprised if your beer turned out at all as it sounds like NO sterilization/sanitation was done.

1. The one with the spigot is your bottling bucket. I would suggest NOT using it as your primary as nasties can hide in the spigot. Use your primary with the lid and airlock.
2. Depends on the brew. No, this doesnt sound low though...
3. Im thinking infection here... You are supposed to BOIL the extracts/water to kill nasties. Also, adding applejuice to boost the alcohol content in your BEER will make it taste like **** (IMO) Unless you are shooting for an apple brew?
4. Dude, give your beer time to ferment COMPLETELY. Transferring it to secondary is not necessary (debatable) and increases your risk of oxidation. Leave it in the primary for 2-3 WEEKS (Longer is better)
5. This sounds right (provided you followed all other instructions correctly and your beer is done fermenting)
6. I dont think the nasties will 'hurt' you - chances are if your beer is infected it will be too nasty to drink anyway.

Now lets see who beat me to this post
-Me

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:21 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

Just to clarify, I did clean and somehwat sanitize all equipment before I started. I had some of that pink powder and used it to clean the plastic fermenter with the spout on bottom. Sounds like I should have concentrated more on cleaning the spout, but hopefully I did OK cleaning the stuff.

So when you buy the beer kit, am I suppose to first boil this stuff? Or am I suppose to boil it after adding the 23L water? The instructions never said anything about that, plus the instructions said that once I open the can and add the water, it is at its most vulnerable and said to add yeast as soon as possible (basically after adding the water and sugar and mixing).

My post said I started my batch 2 days ago - actually it has been about 30 hours only. As stated, I used the plastic jug with the spout on bottom, and covered the opening with plastic wrap with an elastic around it. The plastic wrap is tight, but not totally sure if it is air tight. Does the primary fermentation need to be in an air tight container, such as a glass carboy with the airlock?

I also just checked the batch, and notice that I have about a 1" thick layer of head (big air bubbles) on top - I do not see any actually bubbling, just looks like major head on top. Does this sound normal?

Thanks

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:34 AM   #4
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I'm a newb too, and I started with a similar kit with the malt pre-hopped. But I disregarded the instructions and mixed it with more liquid malt extract and hops on a long boil. I haven't tasted it yet as it's still fermenting.

I've heard lately that the malt+hops kits shouldn't be boiled long, so your method sounds about right. But make sure you sanitize with bleach (my kit came with some pink powder 'Diversol') and rinse thoroughly the equipment.

Also the yeast likes a specific temperature range, so try to get the wort to room temperature before tossing the yeast in. Use a thermometer that is sanitized to test the temperatures.

Keep in mind i'm a newb too, so take with a grain of salt.

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:36 AM   #5
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Good luck man, I know you have to be patient and be sterile with all your equipment otherwise you will get something that you hadn't originally intended to create. Also spend a lot of time researching, there are several methods to brewing, but there is a common basis on all brewing. I know when it comes to fermentation using plastic food grade buckets works and produces beer but if the plastic becomes scratched from cleaning it can develop space for bacteria to claim it's territory and produce off flavors. Glass carboys are honestly your best choice, just because it's impossible to scratch it. Also when it comes to yeast the temperature of your beer to be fermented shouldn't be hot no more than somewhere around 75 degrees because you'll kill the yeast cells and not ensure a productive fermantation and airating your beer before fermantation can help the yeast eat all fermantable sugars to produce alcohol. and the thicker and heavier head means that your beer is on it's way to becoming beer.

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:38 AM   #6
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Whoa whoa whoa...you simply opened the can of extract and dumped it into the fermenter, then dumped hot water over it, mixed with cool water, pitched yeast and called it a day?

Please tell me I read that wrong. haha

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:47 AM   #7
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You don't want it to be totally air tight because carbon dioxide is released and will build up pressure. The air lock is ideal because pressure can escape, but a soft breeze along the opening won't blow into the fermentor.

The head on top sounds about right.

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panzermann View Post
Whoa whoa whoa...you simply opened the can of extract and dumped it into the fermenter, then dumped hot water over it, mixed with cool water, pitched yeast and called it a day?

Please tell me I read that wrong. haha
Sadly - I've actually read kits that have those EXACT instructions. Seriously.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panzermann View Post
Whoa whoa whoa...you simply opened the can of extract and dumped it into the fermenter, then dumped hot water over it, mixed with cool water, pitched yeast and called it a day?

Please tell me I read that wrong. haha
Actually, pritty close. The only extra is that I added 1.1KG of dextrose (sugar) to the mixture and then added the yeast. Is this not the corrct method? The instructions on the can/kit basically gave these extra directions - they never said anything about boiling.

In the future, am I suppose to boil the liquid extract and then start adding the water? Or am I suppose to add the 23L water, mix in the extract and sugar and then bring this to a boil before adding the yeast????? Please explain what is the proper method for one of these premixed hops/extract kits.

Thanks
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:07 AM   #10
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Here is something that will really help, go to youtube.com and watch videos on brewing. Yes you have to boil the malt extracts with water and hops to produce beer. This is essential to produce a beer like beverage.

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