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Old 05-05-2013, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Starting Very First Batch, Any Suggestions?

Hi, I'm just getting started and am looking for some advice. I do not have all the equipment yet, but it's expensive and I would like to get started. I have a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, electric stove, 3 - 5 gallon carboys, a fermentation thermometer, easy-siphon with bottle filler, sieve, airlock with plug and blow-off hose, Iodophore, glass bottles, bottle caps, capper and a can of Mangrove Jack's Tyneside Brown Ale. The can contain's Malted Barley, water and hops, and comes with a small packet of dry yeast.

I've been doing some reading on this forum, I know everything needs to be clean and sterilized. I have done some reading about putting the yeast into the wort in the carboy. I see there are some different opinions. Love lots of opinions!
__________________________________________________ __________

The recipe on the can says:
1. Thoroughly clean and sterilize all equipment.

2. Remove plastic lid and put yeast packet to one side. Remove can label. Stand can in warm water for 10 minutes to soften.

3. In a sterilized fermenter mix 2L (.5 US Gallons) boiling water with 1kg (2.2 lbs) of Dextrose. Open can and add malt to the fermenter. Rinse the can with warm water to extract all malt. Stir thoroughly to mix.

4. Top up fermenter with cold water so you have a total of 23L (6 US Gallons) in your fermenter. Make sure brew temperature is between 18-30C (64-86F). Open yeast sachet and sprinkle on surface of brew. Stir well.

5. Fit airlock and grommet to fermenter lid. Fit lid to fermenter, making sure seal is air tight. Fill airlock "U" with water to protect brew while fermenting.

6. Leave to ferment for 5-7 days (or until fermentation is complete). Monitor temperatur and maintain at 18-30C (64-86F). In cooler temperatures use a Copper Tun heating pad.

7. Check Specific Gravity (S.G.) with hydrometer. Bottle when SG is stable below 1.008. (Note that if you are using a Copper Tun Beer Enhancer your SG will be higher.) Clean and sterilize before bottling. Use Copper Tun PET or Flip Top bottles. Don't use non-resealable bottles.

IMPORTANT WARNING The SG must be stable for at least 2 days before bottling. Never bottle until fermentation is complete.

8. For best results clear your beer with Copper Tun Beer Finings. Add to beer just before bottling. Stir well.

9. For fast easy bottle priming use Copper Tun Carbonation Drops.

10. Store your beer in a warm place for 7 days then move to a cool, dark place to mature. Ready to drink in 2 weeks, but will improve with age.
__________________________________________________ _____________

Of coarse my equipment won't handle a whole batch so I was thinking of splitting everything in 2 and trying that. Would that be ok?

I have read reviews of this kit and found that it tends to be sweet. I was thinking I would like to incorporate some of the hops I grew last year, dried and have in a ziplock freezer bag in my freezer. Any suggestions on how to go about that?

I neglected to pick up the dextrose. Could I use granulated sugar or brown sugar from the grocery store and how would I do that?

I don't have a hydrometer so am hoping to guess when it is done fermenting. Would take suggestions here as well.

I am hoping to brew next weekend when I can keep a close eye on the first couple days of fermentation. My supply store is a 5 hour round trip away and I am not sure if I would get a delivery before then.

I'm sorry this post is so long, but I am headed to work for the next 24 hours and won't be able to answer questions until after that. Thank you and have a great day!

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Old 05-05-2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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I would try to get all the extract in without rinsing with hot water. Sounds like an opportunity for infection. I would say boil to avoid this but I believe the hopped extracts don't and shouldn't require this. Someone else might have better advice on that.
Try and keep it fermenting in the 65F to 70F range. 86F is way too hot.
If its an ale, 14 days is minimum. Longer for lagers and higher gravity beers. You can find lots of info for the style your brewing via google and this site.
Let the bottles condition for at least three weeks at ~70F. They will get better with time and proper handling.
Good luck and have fun!

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Old 05-05-2013, 08:02 PM   #3
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Boil enough water in your 5 gallon SS kettle to mix the canned LME in. 2.5 gallons is good. Mix the canned LME into the boiling water off the heat,as it's like syrup & will go straight to the bottom otherwise & burn. Then,using a sanitized ladel,fill the can with the boiling hot wort from the kettle to wash it out. It will not infect the wort,since boiling is 212F & pasteurization happens about 162F. Once it's mixed in well,& any foamy hot break you may get subsides,remove from heat & cover. Get a big bag of ice before hand to chill the wort with in the sink. And 2-3 gallons of water in the fridge a day or two before to get nice & cold.
I put the kettle in the sink with the drain plugged & fill sink with cold water. Do this a time or two to knock off the higher heat. Drain & replug sink. Fill space around kettle with ice to the top of the sink. Then top off with cold tap water. You can use a floating thermometer to see when the hot wort gets down to 70-75F.
After sanitizing fermenter,pour chilled wort through a fine mesh strainer if you have one. Pouring through it in a circular motion makes the wort & top off water come out the strainer like rain,aerating the wort. Top off with cold water to recipe volume. Then using your long spoon or plastic paddle,stir roughly for 5 minutes to mix them well. Take hydrometer sample,pitch yeast,& seal up fermenter. Fill airlock with cheap vodka or sanitizer solution.

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Old 05-06-2013, 02:17 AM   #4
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But neither of you are addressing the issue that he has 5 gallon carboys and 6 gallons of wort. He's asking if it's okay to put 3 gallons of wort in a 5 gallon carboy.

I'm actually not sure. I think it probably is. But I'm too much a newbie to say so with confidence.

To original poster: If you are planning on doing 5 gallon batches you will probably need 6 to 7.5 gallon carboys or fermentation bucket. There'll need to be overhead during fermentation. Are you sure these are not 7.5 gallon carboys and they were called 5 gallon carboy because they were used for brewing five gallon batches?

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Old 05-06-2013, 02:54 AM   #5
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I think it is fine to split the batch between the carboys. The CO2 will rapidly displace the air. Pitch about 1/2 the yeast into each carboy. Some people would say one little yeast package is not enough, but this is your first batch so it is fine, don't get tied up trying to do everything at once. Woozy had a good idea - measure how much water the carboy can actually hold.

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Leave to ferment for 5-7 days (or until fermentation is complete). Monitor temperature and maintain at 18-30C (64-86F).
No hydrometer? 7 days is not long enough. Let it ferment 2 or 3 weeks at approximately 65 to 70 or close to that. That should ensure it is complete. When you are ready to bottle, I think it is easier to add priming sugar to the batch rather than to each bottle. If you prefer priming each bottle, that is fine.

If you are concerned about glass bottle bombs you can use sanitized plastic soda bottles. Might be a good idea to use at least one plastic bottle to watch the carbonation occur. When you fill it, squeeze in the sides just a bit and cap it. You know the bottles are being carbed when the plastic bottle expands and gets taut. Keep the clear plastic bottles covered with a cloth or in a closed box. Visible light can cause the beer to become skunky.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:02 AM   #6
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It would be OK to split the batch like that.
You will need a hydrometer to check the gravity. There is no other way (except a refractometer).
Chilled top off water and ice ready is a good thing!
You can use sugar, but too much will thin out your beer. Can you get some DME (Dry Malt Extract) from the LHBS (Local Home Brew Store)?
It's best to keep the fermentor under 68*.
3 weeks is closer to ideal for fermenting and for conditioning. I give many of mine 4 weeks now...
Any water that isn't boiled is likely best if filtered in some way. Straight tap water may not be good.
Carbonation drops aren't necessary. I used to use them, but now use sugar. Far cheaper and easy enough.

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...tasting a beer at 1 week, and again at 2....that to me just means there 2 less beers that are actually tasting good and are ready at the end.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowe1 View Post


I have read reviews of this kit and found that it tends to be sweet. I was thinking I would like to incorporate some of the hops I grew last year, dried and have in a ziplock freezer bag in my freezer. Any suggestions on how to go about that?
Yes.

But first some patronizing talk about "real brew" vs. "kit and kilo" to get some fundamental concepts across. (Sorry in advance for the school-marm mode...)

Basic concept 1: The boil and adding hops: The "kit and kilo" is meant to be a condensed instant beer that because it's got all the ingredients in it you just mix and dunk it into the fermenter.

Actual extract brewing (and meanwhile the All Grain snobs will snark at me for considering extract brewing to be "real" brewing) consists of boiling the extract and water and adding hops at various times during the boil.

Hops can serve three different purposes: bittering, flavor, and aroma. If the hops are to be bittering hops than they should boil for a a full hour (more or less). If the hops are to be flavoring hops then the should be boiled for fifteen minutes. If the hops are to be aroma hops then they should be added to the boiling wort and then immediately have the wort taken off the flame.

Those "the boil" consists of bringing the wort to a boil; add the bittering hops at the beginning of the boil. Add the flavoring hops after 45 minutes and then end the boil at 60 minutes and add the aroma hops.

If, however, you have no bitter hops, there is no need to boil the wort for the full hour. Add the flavor hops and boil fifteen minutes; add the aroma hops and turn off.

And if there are only aroma hops: Bring wort to a boil; toss in the hops; turn off.

So you need to decide how much of your hops will be bittering, how much will be flavor, and how much aroma. What types of hops are they?

Basic Concept 2: Late additions: The sugar and the extracts are fermentables. They do not need to be all added at the beginning of the boil. some can be added at the end. People often prefer to do "late additions" to avoid an overcooked or scorched taste. Also less cooking of the extract keeps it from getting dark in color. So you can add all the sugar and canned syrup at the start of the boil or just a bit (maybe just the sugar) and the rest at the end of the boil. But you don't want to add it in the middle of the boil because it will cool the boil down and disrupt the boil

So that was my patronizing, talking down to you as though I'm hot stuff, 'cause I've been brewing for a full *two months*.

So here's what you do:

Boil 2.5 gallons of water and sugar. (Why 2.5 gallons? Why not. You will be making a concentrate and 2.5 gallons is decent size.) Bring to a boil.

Set a timer for 1 hour. Add your bittering hops.

At 45 minutes add your flavoring hops.

At 60 minutes add your aroma hops and turn off the burner.

Add the syrup. Reread uniondr's advice above. S/he know s/he's talking about.

Cool your wort down quickly. Put wort in fermenter. Top up to 6 gallons. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.


Quote:

I neglected to pick up the dextrose. Could I use granulated sugar or brown sugar from the grocery store and how would I do that?
Yes. Um, I think the measurements are the same or negligibly different. (Others more knowledgable than I would know). I don't know what brown sugar vs. white sugar will do.

Better than sugar would be dry malt extract though.

Quote:
I don't have a hydrometer so am hoping to guess when it is done fermenting. Would take suggestions here as well.
You have a a week or so to buy one. And .... nghnhhhh...... I realize this is sacrelege and bad advice but ... As someone whose very first beer was a Mr. Beer I followed their advise that "it'll probably be done in two weeks and will definitely be done in three. There'll be a large layer of flaky white yeast on the bottom of the fermentor and when you taste it, it will taste like flat beer and not be sweet" and that was how I knew it was ready to bottle and it was.

But no, that's bad advise. You don't need a hydrometer on brew day. You'll need one to test for readiness when fermentation is done. (Gravity will be stable on readings two or three days apart.)
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:03 PM   #8
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Look at the pic on my profile page;def a he. Last 3 minutes works great for aroma addition to me.

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Old 05-06-2013, 02:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Look at the pic on my profile page;def a he. Last 3 minutes works great for aroma addition to me.
Well, never want to assume...

There's a lot of variation to style as to exactly when to add flavor and aroma hops. I didn't mean to imply aroma hops have to be at the very end. Nor did I wish to imply flavoring hops need to be precisely at the 45 minute mark. And some recipes indicate some flavoring hops at 30 minutes.

I don't know why I put my aroma at the very end. Aesthetically I like the idea, I guess. (Aroma at the end; well you can't get ender than flame-out.) I don't have enough brewing experience to compare with other times (5 till, 3 till, 1 till) nor do I have any reason to assume I'd notice a difference. I assume that the earlier you put flavor hops in the bitterer they'll be?
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:01 PM   #10
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I've wondered what exactly a 30 min addition really is. It seems to my ignorant understanding that it's a bit of bittering and flavoring. But I do not know.

For me a flavoring addition is a 15 or 20 min addition. A bittering addition has been as little as 45 mins and as much as 90 mins.

Aroma I've always given 5 mins even when a recipe calls for 1 min or 0 as I don't quite understand what is going on, and at flameout is when I'm adding the bulk of my extract and cooling it down as quickly as possible as that's what I've read is best.

I like to boil as much water as possible (4 gals in my 5 gal pot for a 4.5-5.8 gal batch) and use a small amount of extract/steeped grains for the boil as you get greater utilization of the hop acids. And it helps keep the color closer to what it's supposed to be.

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