Hey, I've been lurking for a while but finally decided to post :P
3 friends and I decided to brew some beer in retaliation to some other friends who told us they'd let us brew with them... and then (intentionally) didn't tell us
In return we decided to start brewing some SECRET beer. More specifically, two extract batches: a pilsner and an IPA.
The pilsner is with a dry malt extract and the IPA is with a liquid malt extract. Both brews are 23L.
Some of our equipment is new and some is old. We had to buy a second primary fermenter (5 or 6 gallon bucket), a new siphon hose, thermometer, etc.
A participating friend's dad had brewed beer in the past so we had some stuff from him:
-two 23L carboys
-the "drop stick" or whatever the attachment to the end of the syphon is called (lol)
and on and on.......
I'm just wondering where we've screwed up (because I know we must've... haha) so if anyone could give some constructive criticism that would be great... any criticism is deserved, I'm sure, anyways.
Specifically: sanitation, transferring (by siphon) and the whole primary-secondary fermenting/fermentation
Keep in mind the brewing is not being done at my house so I don't have specifics on hand right now.
-cleaned out the buckets with soap and water, rinsed etc.
-sanitized with a sodium metabisulfate solution. (we simply poured a cup or so of the solution into each bucket, stuck the lids on for a few minutes and then poured it out and rinsed the bucket... should we have used a different/better sanitizer?
-mixed the cans of goo with water as per instructions... it was a no boil kit as far as the guy at the store told us. should we have boiled it/them?
-topped up the buckets with purified water (free with each can of brew we bought at the store
-allowed to come down to appropriate temp... the yeast was added and we popped the tops on and waited about 8 or 9 days (i think)
The instructions we were given told us to transfer into the secondary fermenters at the point of a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.015. We racked at 1.020. I know one of our first mistakes (already) was that we didn't record an initial specific gravity reading.
At day 8 or 9 or 10, we checked the specific gravity (probably improperly) by washing off the hydrometer, dropping it into the primary fermenter, giving it a spin and then reading off of it. I know it came in a tube and I'm sure we probably should have used it but do people usually siphon into the tube to get a reading? Is it ok to just test in the buckets?
-we cleaned and sanitized our 23L carboys (with the sodium metabisulfate solution, again)
-siphoned (BY MOUTH)
each brew into their respective buckets
-cleaned the bungs and airlocks, filled with water and stuck them in
I feel like siphoning by mouth would be an easy way to get an infection in the beer. Is there a better way to draw on the liquid or is this normal for homebrewers?
This might sound stupid but with our mixing spoon, should we be wearing gloves or just being careful to not touch the part of the spoon that is entering the liquid?
We're currently waiting for our secondary fermentation to settle down so we can begin bottling (we first have to buy bottles... cheaper is better, any reccomendations? we're thinking large PET bottles so we don't have to buy so many :P )
Any other tips before we bottle? Thanks!
/goes back to lurking