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Old 10-12-2011, 09:06 PM   #1
natev
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I did up my first brew (8gallons) we did everything so-so with a hiccup on each stage. I'll just ask for comments on whatever.

1. I got a wyeast pack and split it into two 2-liter flasks with DME wort for 24hours, shaking somewhat often. I figured I needed 400b cells. Do you think that came close?

2. With a recirculating mash I wasn't sure if I needed to stir it at all. I stirred it for a few minutes at the beginning then stopped. Is that acceptable?

3. Our mash cooked for longer than expected because we had trouble getting the pump to prime (actually a valve was closed instead of open). We wanted 60min but probably went 90. Is this ok?

4. Sparge went fast because I thought the fly sparge arm should spin and the water should stay above the grain. Is it fine if the sparge arm just slowly drips? it seems pointless for it to spin if the water is above the grain. Also, i've read a sparge should be much longer maybe 45-60min.

5. Boil went ok. We didn't have any problems with boil over because we had 8 gallons in a 26 gallon pot. Is it fine to just let it foam like crazy if it's all staying in the pot?

6. We poured the wort out of the pot through a screened funnel into the carboy. It's splashed and foamed. Do you think it's aerated enough?

7. Moved to a second fermentation after a week. What ways do you use to determine when this should be done? Should it be fully fermented when we do this?

thanks

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Old 10-12-2011, 09:10 PM   #2
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did you take any gravity readings?

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Old 10-12-2011, 09:10 PM   #3
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1. Depends on the gravity of the brew you are doing. For a normal gravity beer, you're probably close.

2. No need to stir once you dough in and get all the grain hydrated.

3. No problem.

4. I batch sparge, so no comment.

5. Yes, that's fine.

6. Depends on the gravity of the beer. Bigger beers require more O2. You're probably okay.

7. Wait until its fully fermented before moving it around.

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Old 10-12-2011, 09:16 PM   #4
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Most of what you did should work just fine. As Papazian always says, "don't worry dude, have a home brew"... Or something like that!

My only suggestion based off my experience (translation screw-ups) is to get better yeast control under your belt. That one step effects the flavors in your beer more than over mashing or aerating in my humble experience. I use the Mr. malty calculator so you never have to "guess" if you have the proper yeast count. Works like a charm. Plus, get a stir plate. It's not that expensive and well worth it. Finally, try to manage your fermentation temps and take a reading before kegging or bottling.

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Old 10-12-2011, 09:27 PM   #5
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1. I got a wyeast pack and split it into two 2-liter flasks with DME wort for 24hours, shaking somewhat often. I figured I needed 400b cells. Do you think that came close? This should be fine. If you didn't achieve the 400b population, then fermentation will just be a little slow getting started.

2. With a recirculating mash I wasn't sure if I needed to stir it at all. I stirred it for a few minutes at the beginning then stopped. Is that acceptable?I can't really advise on recirculating systems (I use tiered), but I would think that as long as the grain is well soaked with the strike and you didn't have a stuck sparge, then it was fine.

3. Our mash cooked for longer than expected because we had trouble getting the pump to prime (actually a valve was closed instead of open). We wanted 60min but probably went 90. Is this ok?This depends on temps and rests. What did your mash schedule look like? Depending on the temperature, it would affect your starch/sugar conversion (possibly affecting body and alcohol levels), but that's not the end of the world. You will still make good beer.

4. Sparge went fast because I thought the fly sparge arm should spin and the water should stay above the grain. Is it fine if the sparge arm just slowly drips? it seems pointless for it to spin if the water is above the grain. Also, i've read a sparge should be much longer maybe 45-60min.The purpose of the sparge is to get every last drop of sugar out of your grain. Best practice is to have a spinning drip that keeps water about an inch above the grain bed, until the wort leaving the mash tun is clear. Everything else is boil off or watering down your beer IMO.

5. Boil went ok. We didn't have any problems with boil over because we had 8 gallons in a 26 gallon pot. Is it fine to just let it foam like crazy if it's all staying in the pot?The only thing I can think of is if the boil is too hot you might burn wort at the bottom, and this could give some off flavors. I personally bring it to a boil and then lower the flame until I get a steady bubble but no foam.

6. We poured the wort out of the pot through a screened funnel into the carboy. It's splashed and foamed. Do you think it's aerated enough? Aeration is a hot topic. How much air is enough? I've made great beer just shaking the fermenter. As long as the wort is room temperature (avoid hot side aeration) it's to your preference.

7. Moved to a second fermentation after a week. What ways do you use to determine when this should be done? Should it be fully fermented when we do this?This is another debated topic. I'm on the side that leaving it in the primary for 3 weeks (but no longer) provides benefits of a cleaner, more mature tasting beer. The idea, put simply, is that the yeast will actually clean up after itself, ridding what some of us identify as off flavors. Ultimately if you leave it in the secondary long enough for it to completely ferment out, you're fine.

Hope that helps. Perhaps some of the RMS guru's will chime in here for you. =)

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Old 10-13-2011, 01:33 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies.

I did take a gravity reading. We ended up post boil with 1.050 instead of the projected 1.060 which I attribute to at least two things. We ran the mash at 160F for the entire duration and the sparge was probably too quick to leech out everything.

At the time of transfer to the second carboy we were at a 1.016 which isn't bad, but also not right. I hope when I check it in a week it will be a bit lower as to achieve a alcohol percentage of 5 or so.

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Old 10-13-2011, 02:18 PM   #7
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I wouldn't worry so much about whether you get a 4.5% or 5% brew. The main thing you want to look for is the taste of the beer.

And getting a brewing pipeline going.

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