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Old 12-30-2012, 01:22 AM   #11
aiptasia
 
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Definitely pick up a hydrometer so you can tell the approximate alcohol by volume ratio of your beer, and so that you can tell when your primary fermentation is complete.

Here's a few tips towards a clearer, properly carbonated beer:
  • Use fining agents like irish moss. Irish moss is a type of seaweed that binds chill hazing proteins in your wort. Add 1 tsp. at 15 minutes during your boil. Whirlfloc tablets also do the same thing, only better.
  • Cold crash your beer. A few days before bottling, cool off your beer in a fridge or freezer with a temperature controller to about 40 degrees f. The cold temperatures will cause remaining suspended yeast to flocculate out of the liquid.
  • If that still doesn't remove the chill haze, do the gelatin trick on your beers. Search gelatin here on the forums to find the technique.

Now, for carbonating. There are several online carbonation calculators (here, mr. malty, etc.) that can help you calculate how much priming sugar to add to your beer. I always try to err on the side of using just slightly more priming sugar than I need. For example, for most ales, i'll use 3/4 cup of dextrose added to a cup of boiling water to make a simple syrup, which I pour directly into my bottling bucket right before I rack my beer from the primary into it. This ensures proper mixing and even distribution of the priming sugar in the entire batch.

Second, be sure to let your bottles condition a full three weeks to properly carbonate up. Most beginning brewers suffer from "gottahaveit-itis" and open their beers too soon. Be patient and let them condition the full three weeks in a warm, dark place (top shelf in an interior closet).

Last, make sure you chill down your beers a full 48 hours prior to opening them. The colder temperatures will cause more re-absorption of CO2 from the pressure built up inside of the bottle, so you get more carbonation into the liquid instead of escaping when you open the bottle.

Hope these tips help.
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:27 AM   #12
Chinese
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I used Irish Moss with my recent Sweet Potato Ale. I have an artesian well. I imagined that my water would just be a subtle impact.

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:34 AM   #13
mikescooling
 
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I like Whirlfloc tablets and cold crashing the wort and then cold crash the beer in the carboy and again cold crash in the keg. Got that!!! Kegging is cool, takes it to another level, lots of fun at party's.

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:38 AM   #14
Atonk
 
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Four or five batches into this hobby is way too premature to quit, especially since patience is one of the hardest things to learn in homebrewing. I would suggest you take all the good, sound advice you've just been given and crank out a few more. It will be so worth it when you do brew that great one!

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:49 AM   #15
Chinese
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Good stuff Aiptasia! . . . And YES, Atonk. What was I thinking?! I bottled my Houblonmonstre on Dec 5. I chilled a bottle for about two days and tried it last night. Very little carbonation. I am fairly sure I didn't use enough priming sugar. I used what the directions called for. I had half the pack that came with the kit left. I triple check the directions and measurements. I guess a hydrometer will prevent that in the future.

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:08 AM   #16

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinese View Post
chilled a bottle for about two days and tried it last night. Very little carbonation. I am fairly sure I didn't use enough priming sugar. I used what the directions called for.
Here's the easy, fool-proof method to get standard carbonation for a five gallon batch:

1. Dissolve 2/3 cup of table sugar (no need for priming or corn sugar) in two cups of tap water. Boil for a minute or two to sanitize.

2. Let cool for a few minutes, pour into bottling bucket. Rack your beer into the bottling bucket onto the priming solution. Bottle and cap.

3. Let sit for two to three weeks in warmish temps (70F or higher is best).

4. Chill a bottle and give it a try. If its not carbonated, let the bottles sit another week and try another.

Hope this helps!

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:15 AM   #17
cluckk
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy-Klubb View Post
I can't speak for anyone else, but what helped me along in the beginning was brewing dark beers (stouts & porters mostly). they hide any cloudiness & flavor flaws, which helps boost your brewing confidence. listen to the old hands on specific issues & apply to your process when possible. sometimes it's the little things that can make a huge difference. be patient with your beer. it will improve to your tastes & applying different techniques will take it even further.
This would be my advice. Start with the darkest beers that are the most forgiving. Build your techniques that make these good--fermentation temps, pitching rates, aeration, boiling, etc. Later start going lighter and lighter and working on the techniques that are needed for these.

 
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:38 AM   #18
JLem
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinese
Good stuff Aiptasia! . . . And YES, Atonk. What was I thinking?! I bottled my Houblonmonstre on Dec 5. I chilled a bottle for about two days and tried it last night. Very little carbonation. I am fairly sure I didn't use enough priming sugar. I used what the directions called for. I had half the pack that came with the kit left. I triple check the directions and measurements. I guess a hydrometer will prevent that in the future.
1) for how long did you let it ferment before bottling?
2) without a hydrometer, how have you determined when fermentation was complete?
3) how much and what type of priming sugar did you use?
4) for how long and at what temperature did you condition the bottles before chilling/drinking?
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:41 AM   #19

1. Read "How to Brew" online. It's free.

2. Click over to the Beginners forum of this site and do some reading.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:20 AM   #20
feinbera
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How long are your beers sitting before you bottle them? Your beer's clarity will benefit a lot from letting it go at least four or five weeks (if not much, much longer) before you bottle it.

And, as other posters said, you also have to patient with the carbonation. It's gonna take at least three weeks. It sucks, but you can start another beer while the first one's carbonating, so, silver lining?

You'll always have dregs at the bottom of your bottles -- the yeast that carbonates your beer has to go *SOMEWHERE* after it's finished carbonating -- but, five weeks fermenting, three carbonating, and you'll pour crsytal-clear until that last half-inch of beer, which you can just leave in the bottle.

 
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