Hi all. I'm glad to find such a great community that I'm hoping to soon be a part of.
I just finished brewing my first two extract beer kits. The first was an Altbier, and the second was an Irish Red Ale. I have a couple questions that came up during the process.
First of all, both of the beers had significantly higher starting gravity than expected. The kit recommended a starting gravity in the 1.050-1.054 range for both I believe, but they were both in the 1.060 range. I did a full boil of 6 gallons of water, and in both cases was left with around 4.5-4.75 gallons of wort, which I then topped off to 5 gallons with boiled water. Should I be concerned about how high the starting gravity was? From now on I'll start with 6.5 gallons so hopefully it won't happen again. How important is it to match the starting gravity that is suggested on the kits? Will it affect the taste/quality of the beer?
Second, there was a lot of sediment left in the bottom of the kettle after the boil. I imagine a lot of it dropped due to adding the whirlfloc tablet. Do I want to transfer any of that stuff into the carboy to add flavor, or should I try to add as little of it as possible?
Third, I'm currently performing secondary fermentation on the Altbier, and about 5 days into primary on the Irish Red (I plan on not doing a secondary on the Irish Red so I can see if I can taste/see a difference). Unfortunately, I don't have any 5 gallon carboys for secondary fermentation, so I just did it in one of my 6 gallon carboys. I then found out that you want as little oxygen as possible after fermentation has started. Does the added oxygen from a 6 gallon carboy offset any benefits from a secondary fermentation, and therefore the secondary should be foregone until I get a 5 gallon carboy?