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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > pre-filling vs. topping off
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:20 PM   #1
jwic
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Default pre-filling vs. topping off

I thought I had read somewhere that one can add water - sterile, of course - to a sanitized carboy and then top it with a sanitized piece of foil, the day before the brew so that it's ready to go for brew day (wort goes in and it's already at 5 gallons). Is this true?

Does anyone have a preference for pre-filling the carboy with a couple gallons of water vs. topping off with water after the wort goes into the carboy?

Also, Chicago tap water is very good. Is tap water okay to add (pre- or post-wort) or should I boil it to get rid of any unpleasant things which might harm the beer?

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JWiC

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Old 03-06-2011, 09:28 PM   #2
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I'd still boil the water.

You can add the water before you add your wort, but you are running the risk of dilluting your wort down too much, but you can definately do it. You could even chill that water and use it to help cool your wort down. Ultimately I think its better to top off.

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Old 03-06-2011, 09:32 PM   #3
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Some of us make starters for the yeast that are covered with sanitized tin foil. But the fermenter? You might be miss-remembering. I've done that a couple times.
But I have put some spring water in the FV before pouring in the wort from as high up as I can to aerate it. Then top off to level with more spring water in the same manner. Tap water is ok if you don't have a lot of chlorine & such in it. I do,so spring water boiling brew kettle water is what I do.
Either way you add the water to the wort,just be sure you get the right amount & you should be fine. My 2c...
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:33 PM   #4
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Nothing wrong with having water ready a day ahead. I would add water to the wort instead of add wort to the water. If you miss calculate your water needs you can't take it out once you start blending. By adding wort and then topping off with water you can slowly add the water until you hit your intended OG without worry of over dilution. Just make sure to mix well before taking a reading.

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Old 03-06-2011, 09:37 PM   #5
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Thanks! You're right, I just made a starter this morning and I put foil on the top. I though for some reason, though, I had read a post about sanitizing a carboy the day before brew day and pre-filling it so that all one must do on brew day is brew and then add the chilled wort to the pre-filled/pre-sanitized carboy... I will avoid doing that, however, and chalk it up to a mis-remembering...

Another question but still related.

Both replies at least hint at having the right amount of water. I thought that the total volume should equal 5 gallons. Am I wrong? 2.5 of top-off water + 2.5 partial boil = 5 gallons? Or is this another time for the hydrometer? Does the amount of water I add depend on the gravity of the wort+water in the fermenter?

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Old 03-06-2011, 09:59 PM   #6
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That's kind of up to you. You definately should aim for 5 gallons if the recipe is designed to give you 5 gallons. You could just ferment your wort without topping off, but you will end up with a stronger and probably maltier version of what you set out to make. AND, you'll only have 2.5 gallons of it. TRY to boil down to about 2.5 gallons then top off to finish with 5. You may have 2.4 gallons of wort and top off with 2.6, etc.... If you are doing extract batches, aim for 5 gallons in the end and you'll be real close to your target. If you start doing all grain and full boils, it gets easier to 'mess up'.

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:03 PM   #7
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If you're using calculations like beersmith to get recipes just right before even buyin ingredients,yes. But it's beer,not rocket science. I just think some folks love the technical aspects of it. I think good beer can be made as much from experience as mathematical wizardry.
It also depends on how many gallons are intended for the recipe. & the hydrometer sample is drawn when the wort is mixed thoroughly to level & at the proper ferment temp. But before the yeast pitch.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:13 PM   #8
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Brewed extract for years and top off water always came straight from the tap. Never boiled it.

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Special Hops View Post
Brewed extract for years and top off water always came straight from the tap. Never boiled it.
Lucky you! we get too many chemicals here,& I'm only a couple miles from the shore of Lake Erie. And in a newer home. Thus the spring water. Works way better,no more off flavors from chloramines,etc.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:28 PM   #10
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Yeah, Chicago has pretty good drinking water. What's odd, though, is that water from my kitchen faucet smells very chemically (chlorine?) but water from my bathroom tap just steps away smells "normal."

Thank you, guys, for all the replies; and quickly at that!

I would say I'm in the category of homebrewer who likes to be pretty exact and know the science behind the brewing. On the other hand, if I get pretty close to what I'm going for without being perfectly exact, I'll live. Should still be potable and enjoyable!

Thanks, again!

Cheers,
JWiC

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