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-   -   what should my first batch be? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/what-should-my-first-batch-358524/)

pollykraker 10-03-2012 04:49 PM

what should my first batch be?
I will be starting my first batch EOM October. What should I brew first ? Looking for something simple, extract.

I've been told ingredient kits that are pre bagged do not taste that great... Any merit to that claim?

Matt3989 10-03-2012 05:07 PM

No, for your first batch i think it is very helpful to use a kit. I brewed a brewers best kit, the robust porter, it had steapping grains too, which is nice because it's a simple additional step that introduces you to grains.

Kits, in general use quality ingredients. My only complaint with them is that the instructions typically rush the fermentation (they say bottle after 5-7 days, when in reality, you should wait at least 2 weeks, preferably 3 or 4).

As for what to brew, you should tell us some of your favorite beer styles.

pollykraker 10-03-2012 05:14 PM

Thanks for the advice... Sounds good. I love IPA'S... Stone is my fav

pollykraker 10-03-2012 05:16 PM

Going to go take a look around morebeer

zeg 10-03-2012 05:17 PM

In contrast to Matt3989...

I started without a kit, and I don't see the advantage of kits. It's not very hard to find a recipe and order the components. Ok, I guess it is a little bit easier, but if you don't order the kit, you won't get the useless sheet of bad instructions that you'll have to use your willpower to ignore. Otherwise, as long as you're getting your kit from a reputable source, it really is just the same stuff you'd buy if you were putting together the same recipe yourself.

I do think starting all-extract plus specialty grains is a great idea. Managing a mash is not hard, but it's one more fiddly step that you have to plan and worry about. Better to focus on the boil and sanitation for the first time, then add complexity.

My first batch was an ordinary bitter, made with steeped crystal, DME, and hops. I used Nottingham dry yeast. For my recipe, I looked at a bunch of sources, probably using Papazian's book for the most inspiration. Picked out an OG somewhere in the middle of the style range, which was 1.035 or so IIRC. It's low gravity, and Nottingham is voracious, so I chose this style because it was very unlikely to stick.

The only speed bump here is that, from what I'm told, Nottingham can get weird at normal ale temperatures and wants something colder. For me this wasn't a problem because it was winter and I was fermenting in my garage, so it was a big effort involving a fridge and bottles of hot water to keep the temperature that HIGH. You might want US-05 or S-04 if you're not confident that you can keep your fermentation temps down, I think they're more tolerant.

pollykraker 10-03-2012 05:23 PM


Thanks for the reply.

I have been spending the last 3 weeks reading, watching videos, about the whole process... So feel pretty comfortable using extract recipe without buying a kit. I guess I will just wonder into a store and check it out...

I was planning using closet inside house to ferment... Thermostat has digital readings , so would easiest way for me to control the temp... Waiting til end of October for weather to cool down for this purpose. So will def be starting off with an ale of some type

zeg 10-03-2012 05:45 PM

I had success fermenting mead, cider, and maybe one beer in my closet during the winter, though I think I used it only for secondary. I'd suggest not relying on the thermostat of your house if at all possible. If you have a thermometer you can use right in that closet, check it before you start. Ideally, use a digital thermometer with max and min to get some idea of how the temperature varies. Mine was fine for secondary, settling a few degrees cooler than the house.

Doing a primary in the closet may not be a great idea. The yeast put out a lot of heat during that process, so they are likely to heat the closet way up. The thermostat in your hallway or wherever isn't going to notice that, so the temperature will stay quite high. If you can, a refrigerator or swamp cooler would give you a much better chance at success.

Well, let me rephrase that, it'll make beer just fine in your closet, but it's more likely to have some of the off flavors if it gets too hot. Better thermal regulation will give you a better chance at unmitigated success. :-)

Good luck!

pollykraker 10-03-2012 06:25 PM

Very good point you make there. What happens if ideal fermenting is say 68 ... And it ferments at a much cooler level?

First batch I am looking at brewing will be an ale that needs that 68 range fermentation... No access to extra fridge... Any suggestions then where to ferment ?

Matt3989 10-03-2012 06:26 PM

I still use an outdoor trashcan i used to use as a keg cooler during bbqs. I just fill it up with water, put my carboy in it, and regulate the temp to what i need by using frozen water bottles/milk jugs. Because of all the water/beer, it has a lot of thermal inertia, so it will maintain a constant temp pretty easily.

I wrap the trashcan in an old wool blanket, and it'll hold between 61 and 63 for a week without me changing the frozen bottles.

zeg 10-03-2012 06:45 PM

I think the swamp cooler (what Matt describes) is the most common solution. If you have a garage, you may be able to get away with just sticking it in there for a few days before moving it to your closet if the weather cooperates

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