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Old 01-08-2012, 07:00 AM   #1
Tusz
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Default New 5-Gallon Brewer

Hey everybody! Just did my first 5-gallon batch tonight! It was quite a change from the Mr. Beer batches I was doing. I used the Octane IPA kit from Midwest [Adj. OG: 1.066], and it was a delicious-smelling brew by the end of it. All-in-all, it was a good time, and I hope to hear my airlock bubbling away by the time I wake up tomorrow. I do have a couple questions though:

-My recipe involves putting oak chips in the secondary. Should I put them in one of my reusable hop bags? Also, am I right in thinking that you rack to secondary when the airlock bubbling rate drops low (~5/min)? My primary is a bucket, so I can't easily see when the krausen is going back into the brew.

-Should I just buy the cheap 10-gallon aluminum pots they sell at the store near my house? I'm dealing with a 3-gallon now, with only an electric range for heat.

-If I buy it, would it be big enough to do 5-gallon BIAB?

-I know that a beer is ready for bottling when it gives the same hydrometer reading several days in a row. My question is, how will I get a sample for a reading if my beer is in a better bottle? I have no wine thief, though I do have an autosiphon if that helps (probably not?).



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Old 01-08-2012, 12:48 PM   #2
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Congrats on stepping up your game!

I use a 15gal aluminum pot. Aluminum is fine, just make sure you boil water in it for 30 mins or so to build up a passive oxide layer before you brew in it.

A turkey baster makes a cheap and easy "wine thief" to take hydrometer readings, which is the only reliable answer to your transfer & bottling timing


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Old 01-08-2012, 12:55 PM   #3
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The idea of putting hop pellets into a hop sack is to keep them from clogging up the siphon. Your oak chips probably aren't that small to worry about so just dump them in.

You only want to rack to secondary when the primary is finished and the yeast are settling. Bubble rate doesn't tell you much. They only tell you that your fermenter isn't leaking and that there is an exchange of gasses which could happen from temperature or atmospheric changes. Your hydrometer is the only sure way to tell.

If you leave your beer in the primary fermenter for a longer time you will be pretty sure the fermentation is over. 2 to 3 weeks is a good range and it won't hurt it to leave it longer. After that period, open the bucket (carefully) and take a sample for the hydrometer using a sanitized wine thief or turkey baster and close it up again. You really should take another sample a couple days later to verify that it hasn't changed (good brewing practice) but at the end of 3 weeks if the reading is at the expected FG I usually consider it done. Then you can rack to secondary for your oak chips.

Most electric ranges will have difficulty boiling 6 1/2 gallons so to do the full volume of wort you need a bigger burner. Many of us have turned to a turkey fryer kit as an inexpensive way to get a burner and bigger pot. The 7 1/2 gallon pot is barely big enough to do a full volume BIAB with a medium gravity wort's grain bill. Ten gallons would be preferred but you still need a big burner.

I've compensated for the limitation of the turkey fryer pot size by modifying the BIAB process, using 5 gallons for the mashing and then letting the bag of grain drain into the pot followed by putting the bag of grain into my 20 qt pot that I had started bring with and doing a modified dunk sparge to get the remain sugars out. I put the bag into the empty pot and then run cold (yes cold) water through the grains until I have the correct amount to get my 6 1/2 gallon amount for the boil pot. Using cold water may not get quite as much of the sugars out as hot would but the grains will be cool enough to squeeze the bag without burning my hand so I collect more wort.

Now for your last question about taking a sample from your secondary before bottling, since you already had verified that you had reached final gravity before transferring to the secondary to oak, you already know that the beer has completed fermentation so you wouldn't need to take another hydrometer sample. If you do want to (and you should) use a wine thief or turkey baster to grab that sample.
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tusz View Post
. . . . . .-My recipe involves putting oak chips in the secondary. Should I put them in one of my reusable hop bags? . . . . .
You can but it's not necessary, you're auto syphon will filter them out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tusz View Post
. . . . . Also, am I right in thinking that you rack to secondary when the airlock bubbling rate drops low (~5/min)? My primary is a bucket, so I can't easily see when the krausen is going back into the brew.
. . . . .
Incorrect; you should not secondary until primary fermentation is complete, that's when the gravity is the same over 3 days. Most people leave their brews in primary for 3 weeks to allow the yeast to clean up after themselves, you can "push" an IPA, and wheat beers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tusz View Post
. . . . . Should I just buy the cheap 10-gallon aluminum pots they sell at the store near my house? I'm dealing with a 3-gallon now, with only an electric range for heat.

-If I buy it, would it be big enough to do 5-gallon BIAB? . . . ..
Aluminum pots are fine, don't clean off the black "patina" after the first brew though, it's not necessary. A 10 gallon pot will work, you will have to watch the boil closely for most brews.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tusz View Post
. . . . . I know that a beer is ready for bottling when it gives the same hydrometer reading several days in a row. My question is, how will I get a sample for a reading if my beer is in a better bottle? I have no wine thief, though I do have an autosiphon if that helps (probably not?).
I've taken samples with my autosyphons but it's a bit messy and has a little waste. The beer is NOT ready for bottling when the hydrometer reading stabilizes, it's ready to bottle after it has conditioned/cleared properly.

Brew on my friend
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:10 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses, everyone! Looks like I'll be off buying a turkey baster later today. I'll probably be getting a 10-gallon pot just to make my life easier for extract batches, and then getting a burner for when I'm ready to step up to 5-gallon BIAB (once I've done a few Mr. Beer sized SMaSH brews). And now I think I understand how two-stage fermentation works, so that will help a lot.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:19 PM   #6
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I pour my oak chip/bourbon mixture (after soaking during fermentation) through a hop sack. Tie it off,& drop it in. Then rack the beer onto it. I don'y want people getting splinters in their throats from the smaller pieces. Just good practice,imo. Better safe than sorry.


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