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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Getting ready for first batch
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #1
LovesIPA
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Default Getting ready for first batch

My girlfriend got me a homebrewing kit from a local supply store. It's not an out-of-the-box kit, the guy that worked there basically pieced together the kit from the stuff on his shelf, including the ingredients that I would need to make the first batch. My girl knows nothing about brewing beer and she picked a recipe out of a brewing magazine for a Racer 5 clone.

I love Racer 5 so that's not a problem but the fact there are no instructions at all with the kit is leaving me a bit overwhelmed and slightly confused.

(I just realized this will probably be a long post - sorry!)

The kit contains:
5 gal carboy
6.5 food grade bucket with a hole for a spigot
auto siphon
sanitizer
3' piece of soft plastic tubing
1' long piece of hard plastic tube with something on the end that I don't really know how to describe
carboy cap
hydrometer
what looks like a sock - is this a grain bag?
bottle brush
bottle caps & cap tool

Also included are all the ingredients to make 5 gallons of Racer 5.

I've been doing a ton of reading here and elsewhere over the last few days and I think I have a handle on the basic process but I have a few questions.

From what I can gather, the recipe for making Racer 5 is a little advanced for a first brew but I think if I put enough time and effort into the project I can do it right the first time (someone correct me if I'm way off base with that assumption). I'm good at cooking following directions, figuring stuff out, noticing when something doesn't make sense which all seem to be good home-brewing skills to have.

The recipe (shortened for brevity):

6 lbs DME
4 different types of malt in the form of crushed grains, totaling about 3 lbs
dextrose
6 different types of hops
liquid yeast

The recipe in the magazine assumes a level of knowledge about brewing that I do not yet possess.

"Mash in at 145* then ramp temp to 152* for conversion. Mash out to 170*. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at the times specified. Ferment at 68*" is what it says.

Ok, my questions:

- Why do I have both a carboy and a food grade bucket? The recipe does not say anything about a two-stage fermentation process. Do I need the carboy for this recipe?

- What does "mash in at X" mean? How do I ramp the temperature? What does "mash out to X" mean?

- What does an airlock look like? I have something that I think might an airlock but I'm not sure.

- The recipe says to steep the grains, which is pretty straightforward. I will need a thermometer (any recommendations for a style that works well?). I have also been reading up on mashing hoping to figure out what "mash in" and "mash out" mean but it's really only confused me.

Thanks for any help... there is a lot to learn about this new hobby of mine!
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:00 PM   #2
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The mash in temp is what you first strike your grains and extract with. You heat your water and add the grain and or extract at that point for the specified time. At that point you raise the heat up to 152 and hold it there for the amount of time specified. At the point you either add water at 170 degrees to stop the process this is mash out.

As for the carboy and the bucket different strokes for different folks. Usually you need 6.5 to start because you will not have enough head room for fermentation. If the airlock gets stopped up you could explode you glass carboy and get hurt or make a big mess. If you want to use the 5 gallon carboy use a blow off tube into a bucket of starsan mixture. I recommend taking back the 5 gallon carboy and see if he will let you swap it for a 6.5 . I use a thermopen. It is the fastest most accurate one made.

Please post a picture of your airlock.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:11 PM   #3
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Sounds like you got an "Extract with steeping grains" kit. No mashing required.

Pick up a copy of "How to Brew" by Palmer. You will refer to it again and again.

And, hang on to that girlfriend! She sounds like a winner.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by frazier View Post
Sounds like you got an "Extract with steeping grains" kit. No mashing required.

Pick up a copy of "How to Brew" by Palmer. You will refer to it again and again.

And, hang on to that girlfriend! She sounds like a winner.
You are right about that!!!! Thumbs up
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:32 PM   #5
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Posting from my phone so these are very simple:

Bring water to ~150 and steep your grains in the grain bag (sock) for 20 min. Remove.

Bring water to a boil and add about a pound of your extract, stirring well to prevent clumps and scorching.

Add hops according to the hop schedule. Where it says @## min, it means ## minutes from the end, so @60 means "with 60 min left in the boil". Your boil time is however long your first hop addition says (60 min standard).

After your last hop addition, turn the flame off and add the remaining malt extract, stirring well.

Cool your wort to 65ish degrees, pour into your bucket, and top off to 5 gallons. Pitch yeast, seal the bucket, put your airlock in, and wait! The waiting is the hardest part.

Check out www.howtobrew.com it's the free 1st edition, it will go into more detail and is a quick read
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvess View Post
The mash in temp is what you first strike your grains and extract with. You heat your water and add the grain and or extract at that point for the specified time. At that point you raise the heat up to 152 and hold it there for the amount of time specified. At the point you either add water at 170 degrees to stop the process this is mash out.
Unfortunately the recipe does not give a time for any of those. It says exactly what I posted above.

Do I boil the wort for 90 minutes *after* the mashing in/out?

Quote:
As for the carboy and the bucket different strokes for different folks. Usually you need 6.5 to start because you will not have enough head room for fermentation. If the airlock gets stopped up you could explode you glass carboy and get hurt or make a big mess. If you want to use the 5 gallon carboy use a blow off tube into a bucket of starsan mixture. I recommend taking back the 5 gallon carboy and see if he will let you swap it for a 6.5 . I use a thermopen. It is the fastest most accurate one made.
I would rather use the carboy than the fermentation bucket but I was worried about the size of the carboy too. I will see if I can exchange it for the correct size.

So the chilled wort goes from the kettle, into the bucket (for aeration and yeast pitching), and then into the carboy for fermentation? And back to the bucket for bottling?

I'll get the thermometer today at the HBS store. Thanks for the info!

Quote:
Please post a picture of your airlock.


Quote:
Pick up a copy of "How to Brew" by Palmer. You will refer to it again and again.
Is the print version different from the online version? I've read the online version (most of it, anyway - the parts that seemed relevant).

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And, hang on to that girlfriend! She sounds like a winner.
Already part of the plan. She's awesome.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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More questions...

The recipe calls for various different weights of hops. I have hop pellets.

- I've seen threads here where people said they wanted to avoid using hop pellets. They wanted whole hops. Why? What are the advantages/disadvantages?

- If a recipe calls for 0.2 oz of hops, is that whole hops or hop pellets? Is there a difference? I would imagine that the pellets are much more concentrated than whole hops.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:52 PM   #8
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I would guess that you have a partial mash kit, because 3 lbs. of gain is quite of bit just for steeping. Do you know the types of grain in the kit? If any of them are 2-row or pale malt then you have a partial mash kit. The Palmer book will explain this, but here's what I'd do.
Basically you heat up 1.5qt of water per lb of grain to mash. In your case heat 4.5 qt water to about 160F and then add the grains in the bag. Check the temp and heat it to get to 152-154F if necessary. Maintain this temp for 30-40 minutes. When finished, add another 2-3 gallons of water and heat this to a boil. Then add your malt extract and hops according to the schedule provided. You'll only need to do a 60 minute boil. When done, cool the wort to 68F and transfer that to a bucket or carboy. Then add water to get the total volume to 5 gallons. You can add tap water if you think it is "clean" enough. Some people are against this. They boil water for 15-20 minutes, allow to cool, and use that as their top-off water. Then pitch your yeast, install your lid/stopper and airlock, and wait.
And you use the dextrose for priming sugar when bottling the finished beer.

Edit: I forgot to mention you'll need to aerate the wort in your fermentor somehow. You could just shake the heck out of it, and that should be good enough.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:53 PM   #9
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Pellets vs whole is a personal preference. Pellets are a little more likely to clog something but not by much, I've used both interchangeably.

The weight doesn't matter, 1 oz is 1 Oz whole or pellet. You'll just have a much smaller volume of pellets

Also, the print book is 3rd edition which has updates, but the online version will still make you beer
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Originally Posted by SittingDuck
Even ales take too long. I need something I can ferment during the boil and drink from the kettle!
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovesIPA View Post
More questions...

The recipe calls for various different weights of hops. I have hop pellets.

- I've seen threads here where people said they wanted to avoid using hop pellets. They wanted whole hops. Why? What are the advantages/disadvantages?

- If a recipe calls for 0.2 oz of hops, is that whole hops or hop pellets? Is there a difference? I would imagine that the pellets are much more concentrated than whole hops.
Whole or pellet hops will not make a huge difference. You will extract a little more bitterness from pellet hops. Just follow the recipe. And put your hops into the bag that you used to steep your grains.
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