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Old 02-25-2013, 01:39 PM   #1
Kashue
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Default Making my first beer. Questions!

So I started a stout a couple days ago. This is my first beer (and given my wife's reaction to the smell, perhaps my last) and I had some questions:

There is a LOT of sediment in my carboy right now (3 pounds of grain to 1 gallon of water will do that I guess). Do I need to worry about avoiding all that when I rack or is it okay if some gets through?

What's a good secondary ferment time for stouts? The recipe I have just suggests (unhelpfully) that the primary should take 3 weeks or so, then you should rack to secondary.

What's the best sugar to back-sweeten with for carbonation? Also, I've heard that some stouts are sweetened for taste with dairy sugars; Is this something I can fabricate by caramelizing milk (like perhaps a Mexican condensed milk caramel) or do I need to buy the pure sugars from a homebrew store?

I mostly make cider, and at the end of bottling, I pasteurize it by dunking my bottles in off-the-heat 170 degree water for 10 minutes. Will that work with beer, or will it totally kill it?

Thanks!


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Old 02-25-2013, 01:49 PM   #2
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You don't need to backsweeten beer, it already has some unfermentable sugars in it, with extract there is a mix of fermentable/unfermentable, and with mashed grain it depends on the temp you mash at. Lower temp will give more fermentables, higher temp will give more a mix of unfermentables.

I think beer is easier than cider because of this. You have a leg up.


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Old 02-25-2013, 02:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kashue View Post
There is a LOT of sediment in my carboy right now (3 pounds of grain to 1 gallon of water will do that I guess). Do I need to worry about avoiding all that when I rack or is it okay if some gets through?
You're going to want to leave as much of that sediment as possible. If you're bottling, there will be yeast and sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but the more you can leave in the carboy, the less of a chance for developing off flavors or drinking particulate.

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What's a good secondary ferment time for stouts? The recipe I have just suggests (unhelpfully) that the primary should take 3 weeks or so, then you should rack to secondary.
Take a look around the forum and you'll see this question is a can of worms. Some people say you don't need to secondary, some people swear by it. From the sound of the amount of sediment you have, you may want to move the beer off of it into secondary. The length of time is up to you. The longer you let it sit, the more it will mellow out and develop flavor. Also remember that it's going to take an extra couple of weeks to carbonate after you bottle, so you can add that in to your aging time. If you're going to secondary, I'd let it sit at least a couple of weeks.

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What's the best sugar to back-sweeten with for carbonation?
Use corn sugar/dextrose to carbonate (or use carbonation tabs). You're not actually sweetening with it, it's just there for the yeast to eat and build up enough pressure to carbonate. After the fermentation completes, there's just enough yeast left in suspension to eat the sugar to carbonate.

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Also, I've heard that some stouts are sweetened for taste with dairy sugars; Is this something I can fabricate by caramelizing milk (like perhaps a Mexican condensed milk caramel) or do I need to buy the pure sugars from a homebrew store?
Lactose is typically added in the boil and contributes to mouthfeel and sweetness. I wouldn't recommend adding anything at this point. Being that this is your first brew, I'd try to keep it as simple as possible.

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I mostly make cider, and at the end of bottling, I pasteurize it by dunking my bottles in off-the-heat 170 degree water for 10 minutes. Will that work with beer, or will it totally kill it?
There's no need to pasteurize the beer you're making, unless you want to kill the fermentation (and also kill your chances of carbing with corn sugar). As long as you practice good sanitation, you'll be fine. Sanitize the bottles before you put the beer in them, and you'll be good to go. If you do want to pasteurize, wait until it's fully carbonated.
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:03 PM   #4
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Oh just a tip about your wife not wanting you 2 brew in the house because of smell. Get a outside Turkey fryer with propane. Works great and you can brew in the garage with the music cranked up loud. That what i did at least.
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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Thanks BDKelly! And yeah, I meant pasteurize as a means of halting fermentation after carbonation.

I guess for secondary I'll just see how it tastes after primary is done. Good to know I won't have to wait too long, the bubbles from the airlock already smell delightfully bready.
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Old 02-25-2013, 04:20 PM   #6
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No problem. Just let it roll for a while and you'll be fine. I don't think there's any real need to pasteurize. The yeast will stop what they're doing once you chill it anyway.

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Oh just a tip about your wife not wanting you 2 brew in the house because of smell. Get a outside Turkey fryer with propane. Works great and you can brew in the garage with the music cranked up loud. That what i did at least.
+1. I've got a buddy that does extract with very little time on his hands, so when he brews he does 2-3 batches at a time. This leads to him creating a lot of smell and a side effect of shorting out his microwave, making everyone unhappy. I'm a garage brewer, too, and it makes everyone much happier.
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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Beer is happening slowly! No activity on day 1, strong krausen on day 2. Airlock activity has already slowed down but you can see bubbles rising pretty constantly. I also had this batch at the cold end of the basement with the cysers; I've moved it to the warmer end where it won't catch drafts. It's my understanding that a slow ferment is typical of stouts, however (in particular this recipe recommended a longer wait).

I am super excited.
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EPS
Oh just a tip about your wife not wanting you 2 brew in the house because of smell. Get a outside Turkey fryer with propane. Works great and you can brew in the garage with the music cranked up loud. That what i did at least.
Crab/crawfish boilers in the south give it a nice spicy twang. And make the whole neighborhood smell like fresh crawfish and beer :thumbs up:
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:50 PM   #9
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Beer N00B panic horror time zero hour 9000!

Last night the thermostat died and the house dropped to just shy of 60 with my furnace room, er, brewery, falling slightly lower. Today there is no bubbling from the stout, and the airlock vodka has sucked back to the inner chamber. I have wrapped it in a towel for light protection and moved it to a nice dark bedroom where things are a little warmer.

Did I kill my yeast, or just stun them? Or is this behavior typical in dark beers?
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:32 AM   #10
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First thing to do.......is relax. You didn't kill your yeast, they are quite hardy. You may have put them to sleep but they will wake up when it gets warmer.....but only if there is something for them to do. They may have just finished the second of 3 phases and are silently hard at work. Warm them up, give them some time, and you will have beer. Here's a good description of the 3 phases that yeast go through. http://www.brewgeeks.com/the-life-cycle-of-yeast.html


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