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Old 01-08-2008, 04:55 AM   #1
eurc51
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Default Rookie brew questions

I just completed my first batch of beer, which is now fermenting. I've been reading the instructions for the next steps i.e. siphoning and bottling and have some questions:

First, my manual says to fill the siphon hose with water to begin the siphoning process. Won't this added water end up in my bottling bucket? If so, I'm assuming that I need to use my good water?

Also, the manual says to stop filling the bottles when the foam reaches the top. Once the filler is removed, the bottle should be filled to about the "shoulder" of the bottle. As far as I can tell, this leaves about 2 to 3 inches of empty space. I understand that I must leave room for the CO2, but will the beer expand to fill the bottle like a purchased beer? In a purchased beer, the beer level is near the top fo the bottle - how does this happen?

I am thoroughly terrified of bacteria after reading my instructions. I get it - sanitation is key, but does anyone have a good method for cleaning everything. My kit came with a sanitation powder, but no instructions on how to use it. Would anyone recommend bleach instead?

Finally, what water should I use. My manual cautions against "city water". I live in a city and I'm sure my water is as bad as it comes. We use a Brita and the water coming out of it tastes good. Is this good enough? I've already decided to use spring water in the next batch, but I'm wondering if I ruined my first.

Thanks.

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Old 01-08-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
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Have you read this book yet? It answers alot of your questions.
http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/index.html

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Old 01-08-2008, 10:49 AM   #3
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Reading one set of questions can raise more questions than it answers.

There is usually more than one valid method of doing things.

The site above is good, have a look at the wiki link above and read the what sanitisers to use thread in the equipment and sanitisation forum.

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Old 01-08-2008, 10:57 AM   #4
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Relax. Don't Worry. You don't have any homebrew yet, so you have two options: Bum a couple bottles of someone else's homebrew or have a quality commercial beer.

I used city water for years. No problems. The packaging micro at which I worked used filtered city water, and they're on year 12 in business. These days, I have well water and it's fine. I also use spring water on occasion - like when I want to brew a London Porter and forgot to load my water softener. But water treatment and mineral composition is not something you'll need to worry about for a while, until you get some brews under your belt (literally and figuratively!).

It's really really unlikely that your water will ruin your beer. It's sanitation or lack thereof that ruins beer. So long as you keep things clean and sanitary, you'll be fine. Speaking of which, if you don't trust the sanitizer that came with your kit, and you do trust the good ol' Papazian bleach solution, use the one you trust.

Yes, use pre-boiled - your "good" water - to fill your siphon. There are two other ways to start the siphon - get one of the special siphon-starting racking canes, or suck on the end of the tubing. I'm presuming you don't have the former, and I'm telling you that you don't want to do the latter.

For filling bottles, my method is to allow approximately 1.5 inches of headspace in the neck of the bottle. You don't want to fill it to the tippity-top; neither do you wish to fill it only to the shoulder. Did you get a bottling wand with your kit? That'd be the straight bit of clear, hard plastic tubing with a widget on the end. That's the key - if you fill the bottle until the fluid is within a couple of millimeters of the lip, not foam. When you remove the wand the fill level will be appropriate. If you get foam when you're bottling, something is wrong.

So what did you brew?

Cheers,

Bob

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Old 01-08-2008, 12:51 PM   #5
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Congrats on your first brew.

On the sanitation question, +1 on the using bleach to kill everything. Its cheep, very effective and most people already have it at home. I will bleach off my counter and sink to give me a work space that i can put my sanitized equipment down on.
For the siphoning there is a 3rd option. Fill the siphon with water and start it into a cup to clear out the water. When beer comes out, stop it with your finger and put the hose into your bucket. (Do this with washed hands. I have never had a problem with infection)
Also if you didn’t get a bottling wand, go get one. its the best $5 you will ever spend. It is going to make bottling so much easer. (The first bottle you fill will have foam in it because of the air in the tube.)

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Old 01-08-2008, 02:20 PM   #6
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In terms of siphoning I would highly recommend getting an autosiphon and then you won't need to worry about filling the hose with water.

Use a bottle filler, it will make your life much easier. Commercial breweries tend to filter out the yeast and force carb, so they don't need the extra space in the bottles for CO2.

I'd recommend getting some Star San or Iodophor for sanitizing. Everyone sanitizes a little differently, but as long as you are using the right amount in solution and getting contact with every surface you should be fine.

I use tap water for my boil when brewing with extract and bottled water for topping off. Works pretty well for me.

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Old 01-08-2008, 02:23 PM   #7
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Here is how i siphon stuff up without putting my lips to the hose. First i sanitize the racking cane and put that in the beer or wort. Then i coil up the hose so it will fit into my bucket that has the sanitizing solution. I make sure that the hose gets filled with sanitizer. Then, placing a thumb on each end, i remove the hose and let it uncoil and attach one end to the cane, making sure that i keep the other end below the end of the cane. I remove my thumb and let the sanitizing solution start the siphon, i let it drain into the sanitizing bucket and let a little beer go in there to clear the line out. I clamp the end when the line is clear and then move the end to whatever i am siphoning too. Vola! Easy sanitized siphoning.

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Old 01-08-2008, 03:10 PM   #8
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You just drain that initial bit of water or whatever into another bucket, rather than one of your bottles. Then you fill from that point. I've just filled the hose with tap water for many years, and I've had only one infected batch (so far).

On the fill level, I agree that shoulder level is too low. However, the level you see with commercial beers also is too low. That level is there because of the bottling equipment and custom (i.e., customer expectations). I found about a half inch of headspace was optimal for carbonation. If you are bottling properly, you should have very little or no foam in your bottle as you add the beer. If you have so much foam that it fills the neck of the bottle, you may have some kinks or bubbles in your line that you need to remove. You also could be filling to quickly.

If you have a bottling wand, give it a shot. You may like it. Many people do. I didn't, so I just used the hose clamp/clip and placed it high enough up to get the hose all the way to the bottom of the bottle. With some practice, I could fill the bottle to the point where, after removing and draining the hose below the clamp, I had that half-inch headspace fill that I wanted.

Don't worry about bottling. Chances are you will mess something up along the way. That's homebrewing!


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Old 01-14-2008, 09:24 PM   #9
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Bob - thanks for the response. I brewed an English IPA. The other night, I had Weyerbacher's Winter Ale and it was awesome. My next attempt will be something similar if I can find a recipe.

Best,

Ers


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
Relax. Don't Worry. You don't have any homebrew yet, so you have two options: Bum a couple bottles of someone else's homebrew or have a quality commercial beer.

I used city water for years. No problems. The packaging micro at which I worked used filtered city water, and they're on year 12 in business. These days, I have well water and it's fine. I also use spring water on occasion - like when I want to brew a London Porter and forgot to load my water softener. But water treatment and mineral composition is not something you'll need to worry about for a while, until you get some brews under your belt (literally and figuratively!).

It's really really unlikely that your water will ruin your beer. It's sanitation or lack thereof that ruins beer. So long as you keep things clean and sanitary, you'll be fine. Speaking of which, if you don't trust the sanitizer that came with your kit, and you do trust the good ol' Papazian bleach solution, use the one you trust.

Yes, use pre-boiled - your "good" water - to fill your siphon. There are two other ways to start the siphon - get one of the special siphon-starting racking canes, or suck on the end of the tubing. I'm presuming you don't have the former, and I'm telling you that you don't want to do the latter.

For filling bottles, my method is to allow approximately 1.5 inches of headspace in the neck of the bottle. You don't want to fill it to the tippity-top; neither do you wish to fill it only to the shoulder. Did you get a bottling wand with your kit? That'd be the straight bit of clear, hard plastic tubing with a widget on the end. That's the key - if you fill the bottle until the fluid is within a couple of millimeters of the lip, not foam. When you remove the wand the fill level will be appropriate. If you get foam when you're bottling, something is wrong.

So what did you brew?

Cheers,

Bob
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