Today I purchased the remaining pieces to get started in homebrewing. I am using a Brewer's Best 6.5 G ale pale, which I will use for Primary. I have a 5G PET (recycle code 1) Plastic carboy I will use for secondary in about a week. The equipment I purchased came with a Midwest Supply Autumn Amber Ale ingredient kit. Here are some pictures as I take the plunge. Please comment if there are things I should have done, or done differently along the way..
1.) Here I am using some Star-San to sanitize the bucket and other pieces/parts. I sanitized the lid by simply using a sponge to rinse it down. How long can the equipment be "dry" before it needs another sanitization?
2.) I have a device called an iGrill that I use to track temperature. I was bringing the water up to 155 so I can steep the grains.
3.) The ingredient kit came with some specialty grains. I placed them in a large zip lock bag and crushed them down a bit with a roller before adding them to the muslin bag.
4.) Once the water hit 155, I placed the grains (in bag) into the water for 28 minutes.
5.) While the grains were steeping, I placed the LME into a hot water bath to "loosen up".
6.) I added the LME to the pot.
7.) ---hmmm looks like a boil over waiting to happen! (It didn't, thankfully, but I will be buying a new kettle)
8.) I was getting ready for the hops..
9.) Once we had a boil, I added the bittering hops.
10.) The Hallertau bittering hops (pellets) were put in for a 60 minute boil. the Fuggles were put in for the final 2 minutes of the 60 minute boil.
11.) After 60 minutes I placed the wort into an ice bath...got the temp from 213 -> 85 in about 25 minutes. I stopped at 85 cause I was topping off with cold water.
12.) I used a sanitized pyrex measuring cup to top off with cold tap water into the primary fermenter to hit the 5G mark.
13.) I placed the airlock onto the lid (filled to the marks with a Star-San/water solution), pitched the yeast, closed the lid, and placed on an elevated platform in the basement.
A couple concerns/questions.. When I was transferring the cooled wort to the primary, I had a large funnel with screen.. There was a bunch of "stuff" at the bottom of the kettle...I wasn't sure how much to include in the primary. I was thinking, the less "wort" that goes in, the more top-off water needed, the weaker the beer???
Also, I have refractometer that I used to take a reading before I pitched the yeast. It was calibrated with TAP water to 0. The initial reading was 1.065 ( I think...I'll have to look at it again tomorrow). That seemed high?