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faustie 10-28-2010 05:38 AM

total beer n00b
Hi guys and gals!
I'm brewing my first ever batch of beer in a fancy brewer's best kit. So far, everything seems to be going alright. I got a little nervous when my airlock stopped giving me bubbles, but some sleuthing around on here has proven that apparently I have nothing to worry about. But I DID have some questions I'm hoping one of you kind folks can help me out with.

1. I'm going completely off the kit instructions, which are a bit lacking. One of the first discrepancies I'm finding between the kit instructions and what forum posters say is the time. My kit says to ferment the beer for 4-6 days. Is that enough time? Seems like I'm seeing a couple weeks at least on here.

2. oh my god, what the heck do I do with the hydrometer? I THOUGHT I understood it, but the first reading I took made no sense to me, and I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to be looking for, other then a pretty drastic change from my first reading o_o

3. I have a secondary carboy that came with my kit. I'd like to try it out, if that seems like a good idea, but how do I know when I should switch over into it? My manual says 5-7 days before you are finished. The same one that says fermentation will take 4-6 days @_@

your expertise would be greatly appreciated!

northernlad 10-28-2010 05:48 AM

1) 3 weeks
2) Take a reading before ptiching yeast, take one before bottling.
3) Most people only use their secondary when adding dry hops, fruit, etc. If you aren't doing one of these use it to ferment another beer.

MattCA 10-28-2010 05:59 AM

You take a reading of the unfermented wort. Then you take readings when you think it is done and when they are the same reading for at least two days you subtract the first (Orignal Gravity) from the second (Final Gravity).

It probably means 5-7 days in the primary and 4-6 days in the secondary. But just do 3 weeks in the primary. It will be cleared up.

Verio 10-28-2010 10:58 AM

You're going to need to find one of those nifty charts that converts Hydrometer readings to actual gravity numbers for you, based upon temperature. I believe as the temperature fluctuates, the gravity readings do as well... so if you use a chart, you can figure out the baseline gravity numbers.

carrotmalt 10-28-2010 12:04 PM

Here's a good explanation of hydros (nifty chart included).

and I'm in the primary only camp for what it's worth. Give it 3 weeks-ish, then another 3 or 4 weeks in bottles if you're bottling.

faustie 10-30-2010 05:25 PM

thanks for the advice! I'll just let it sit here then and stare impatiently at the fermenter. That should make it go faster...

mrkeeg 10-30-2010 05:45 PM

... and always remember that answers to your questions here are likely to be correct, but not necessarily the ONLY correct answer (ie... everything is subject to opinion)

1)Fermentation time: Depending on the beer, the fermentation conditions, and personal preference for aging it, this can vary. The shortest possible time is about 2 weeks before bottling, however, count on a month and your beer will generally taste better by then.

2) Oh my god, what the heck do I do with the hydrometer?
- did it come in a little package or storage container? Leave it there.

3) primary/secondary: also a matter of opinion. A few threads can be found on the subject.
- The argument for using a secondary is that it gets your beer off of the trub (the yeast and beer by-products that settle out into a gunk on the bottom), which some believe results in a cleaner tasting beer. Also, if your primary is plastic and secondary is glass, some believe they get less exposure to air in the glass secondary.
- The argument for NOT using a secondary is that it is less work, and you eliminate the chance of oxidizing or contaminating your beer during transfer.

faustie 11-01-2010 04:01 AM

those are all awesome points as well :D I'll be delighted if the beer turns out beer-y. if it doesn't taste vile, I'll be even more elated ^_^ I'll be sure to post how it turns out tho, if anyone is still interested in a week or so!

PanzerBanana 11-01-2010 03:16 PM

I would like to mention the value of using a blow-off tube rather than trusting the airlock to withstand primary fermentation.

My very first batch was a kit, and the airlock worked just fine. My first original batch on the other hand. I'm glad I opted for the blow-off tube from the start. As by the next day the batch was bubbling right through the hose. British Ale yeast is very active. At least it is for me. hehe

faustie 11-26-2010 05:33 PM

so far so good! i took everyone's advice and let the beer sit for 3 weeks. I've since opened up the fermenter with great trepidation only to find...beer! tada! I added in the sugar that came with my kit and have since bottled it up, with 1 week to go until it is hopefully carbonated. I ended up losing almost a gallon of beer in the process however, as I did not have enough bottles. I tried to accumulate the remaining 20 or so that I needed before bottling, but that's just way too much beer for me lol. Anyway, i just wanted to say thanks to those of you that gave me advice, it looks like in a week I'll be able to sit back and toast you guys! Cheers! :D

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