I just want to start out by saying a general thanks to everyone on this board. Over the last couple of months I have been trying to soak up as much information about brewing as I could, and many members of this site really helped out a lot. So...thanks.
My interest in homebrewing started sometime late last year, and I began to mention it to my wife and other family members. Then for XMas, my sister in law got me a Mr. Beer kit. Obviously, Mr. Beer was not what I was referring to when I was talking about homebrewing, but I figured it would be a good way for me to get my feet wet on some of the basics in brewing. None of them turned out great (which was basically expected), but none were terrible either.
Then I figured I had gathered enough info through books and online (thanks again!) to start a "real" homebrew. I went to the local homebrew store and bought my first kit and some ingredients. I figured I would post my recipe here, and ask a few questions (some dumb ones I am sure). It is a pretty basic recipe.
3lbs Munton and Fison light hopped extract
2.5 lbs dark DME
1/2 ounce East Kent Goldings hop pellets
2 packets edme ale yeast
Boiled 1.5 gallons of water and added my extract and DME, then boiled for about 20 minutes. After that I removed from heat and added my hop pellets and let them steep for about five minutes. I strained into my primary fermentation bucket which already had 1.5 gallons of cold water and was sitting in an ice bath in the sink. After that I added cold water until it reached five gallons. I then stirred heavily and let it cool to about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point I took a hydrometer reading that came out to 1.050. I added my yeast, stirred again, put on my lid and airlock, and put it in a dark 68 degree area. Within about 10 hours (maybe less I didnt check it until 10 hours had passed) it was pretty active, and has remained active for the couple days since.
Anyway, now that you know my story, I have some dumb questions
With my DME, I added it to about 2 quarts of cool water and slowly mixed it, and then added the liquid mixture to the wort. I did this because with my Mr. Beer batches, if I just added the DME straight to the hot wort, it would clump up and not dissolve properly. Is this something I should have done? Are there any disadvantages to this method?
Also, after straining I had a good chunk of hops in the strainer. I meant to boil some water to pour over strained hops but totally forgot. Is my beer going to lose a lot of character since I forgot to do this, or will it be relatively fine?
Also, I have a fermentation question. Please correct me if I am wrong. I have heard some conflicting reports on how long to ferment. Primary I am going to go with 7-10 days, or until the action in the airlock slows considerably. I am guessing a bubble every minute would be about time (it is bubbling every few seconds as of now). Then secondary fermenter is about the same amount of time I believe (7-10 days). After that I should see almost no bubbles, and the beer should become pretty clear. My main questions on this are, does these timelines sound right? If in the secondary it stops bubbling, but the beer is not clear, what do I do? Bottle, or let it ride?
Anyway, I apologize for the super long post, I promise they wont be this long in the future. Also, I apologize for what I am sure are stupid questions, but keep in mind I am totally new to this. Anyway, thanks again!!