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Old 06-21-2013, 03:03 PM   #1
Jun 2011
Posts: 172
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ok so after a year or so of seeing if i have the time and space. i am taking the plunge . i do have one question that i cant seem to find an answer for.

im doing a kit from aih, it comes with grain and extract. with that being said, i am confused with the 5 gallon issue and what way is best to get there. if i boil the whole 5g then i should only have to top off what evaporated. if i do a 2.5 then add another 2.5g, wouldnt this cool the wort down to much to pitch the yeast? to my noob perspective, this is the most critical part of the whole thing.

also in my garage, which is where i will be storing this, gets cold at night but warms up somewhat in the day, N.E penn climate. is this a big factor?
thanks in advance.

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:16 PM   #2
kh54s10's Avatar
Aug 2011
Tiverton, Rhode Island
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You can either do a full boil which would usually be starting with something like 6.5 gallons to end up with 5 gallons. I think you should follow the directions which are probably for 2.5 gallons then top up. The use of the hops is probably calculated on this method.

As to cooling with top up water, you will probably have to cool the 2.5 gallons or wort first then add the cold water to get to pitching temperature. Get the temperature to the mid sixties before pitching.

If you ferment in your garage set up a swamp cooler to control the fermentation temperature. That is a container filled with water to about 1/2 - 3/4 the way up you fermenter. Do not immerse your stick on thermostrip if you have one. Change out ice bottles to control the temperature of the wort. You want to keep the wort temperature in the low to mid sixties if possible.
You also don't want the temperature fluctuating too much.

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
Apr 2013
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Depends on what size pot you have. Many people feel that a full boil will give you better hop utilization and color. A full boil would be starting off with 6.5 gallons of water which will boil down to 5 once you're finished. The only problem with this is that if you don't have a wort chiller it can take quite some time to bring the temp down to pitch your yeast.

If you do a 2.5-3.5 gallon boil you can just top off to 5 gallons and no this will def not cool the wort down too much. Even topping off 2.5 gallons of room temp water you will still have to cool down your wort. Basically cool down your 2.5 gallons before you even add the other 2.5.

Yes temp control is a huge factor. I live in Eastern PA so I know we are looking at 80-90+ degree weather in the next 5 the previous poster said make a swamp cooler, you don't want your beer getting above 70.

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:26 PM   #4
Apr 2012
Kent, Ohio
Posts: 70
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This is your first brew and all I can say is don't worry about much, you'll probably end up with pretty good beer. If you want exact numbers you'll need much more information like your boil off rate and equipment capacities. What I recommend is that you start off with 6 gallons of water on the kettle and when you finish up you'll probably be a little under 5 gal but my thought is you're better off with a slightly higher SG the than not being able to fit all of your wort into the fermenter. If you don't have a full size kettle to boil in, no worries, you can do it the partial boil way and add the cool water later on. Just make sure the water you add to top off has already been boiled, cooled and covered. Even if you added 2.5gal room temperature water to 2.5gal boiling water you wouldn't get down low enough to pitch the yeast yet. you should generally be around 70F before pitching, and yes, it is a critical part to not pitch at to high a temperature. Near 80F plus could kill the yeast. Fermentation control is something you will worry about more later on. My first year of brewing we didn't bother with it at all and still had good results. That being said, you really want to store it in a location that has a stable temperature around 60-70F. One easy way to keep more consistent fermentation temperatures is to put the fermenter in a "swamp cooler". basically just submerge about 3/4 of it in a large gardening bucket or tub or whatever filled with water. The water acts as a thermal mass helping to keep temps consistent when the ambient temperature swings.

If you want more solid numbers I'm sure I, or someone else will be happy to help but we need more specific info; boil kettle volume, heating method, recipe details, and probable something else I'm forgetting right now :-)

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:30 PM   #5
Jun 2011
Chehalis, WA
Posts: 449
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You spent a year trying to figure out if you had time to brew jk

Relax, try to find a way to keep the temp swings in control, and to keep the temps in the range for the yeast that you choose. Also it is better to pitch your yeast cold than to pitch you yeast too warm.

Good luck!

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:39 PM   #6
mcbaumannerb's Avatar
May 2012
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
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Since you got a kit and this is your first batch, just follow the instructions that came with the kit. As kh54s10 said, the hop schedule has been formulated for either a partial boil (2.5 gal boil and 2.5 gal top-off) or full boil and not following the directions will make it either way under or over bitter. With the temps forecast to start going up this weekend you'll definitely want to use a swamp cooler to help keep that temperature down during the fermentation or you'll get off flavors. In addition to using frozen water bottles, but a t-shirt or towel over the bucket (making sure you don't block the blow-off tube or bubbler) and make sure it dips into the water. Then have a fan pointed at the cooler - that will help get it down a few more degrees.

Good luck and welcome the obsession!
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:45 PM   #7
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Jan 2013
Pasadena, MD
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Congrats on taking the HB plunge! The reward can be amazing. This board is one of the best resources available. Reading John Palmer's How to Brew will give you a very solid understanding of the brew process and how the plethora of ingredients influence your beer, from simple, straight forward extract brews to total control over your beer with All Grain brewing.

Strange enough, the temperature at which you ferment has probably the largest influence on the flavor of your final beer. This detail is too often overlooked, and even Palmer doesn't go into much depth on that topic.

+1 on everything said before.

You want to place your fermentor in an area where the temperature remains fairly constant and the low to mid-60s are perfect temperatures for fermenting ales.

Using a swamp cooler in such an area helps in keeping temp. fluctuations to a minimum. The swamp cooler also helps in draining off heat generated by the fermentation process.

A cellar or basement is ideal.

Your garage may be suitable if the temps in there don't go up too high during the daytime, when the sun blazes on the roof.

The size of your boiling pot determines how much wort you can boil, although you could boil in 2 large pots, which is easier on a kitchen stove.

Add about 1/3 of your malt extract (or even less) at the beginning of the boil, and the balance at flameout. It makes for a better tasting, more attenuated, and lighter colored beer than boiling it all up for an hour.

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Old 06-21-2013, 04:26 PM   #8
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Feb 2011
Sheffield, Ohio
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Just one correction to make here. Yeast won't be killed at 80F. more like 120F. I do 2.5-3.5 gallon partial boil/partial mash biab beers in the same 5 gallon SS kettle I've been using. I also do late extract additions for the reasons mentioned. Besides the fact that most of my PM beers have the fresh wort as 50% of the fermentables. So I just use that for the 1 hour boil.
This equals 4-6 pounds of grains.
Def use some sort of temp control. I've even used just a very damp tee shirt with a small turbo fan pointed at it. This will cool the fermenter down 2-3 degrees.
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:45 PM   #9
Dec 2012
Posts: 57
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+1 to every thing said here!

a few more tricks that I have done when using kits are:

start the boil with 3 gallons and about 40% of the extract giving in the recipe. I added the second half of the extract at the end of the boil and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooling.

I would also put 3 gallons of water in the freezer before I started my brew day. That way you will have zero issues reaching pitching temps!

Here was my brewing process if it helps any. My first two batches were meh until I developed this system... ( I only have a 5g brew kettle btw)

1) put 3 gallons of "top up water" in freezer
2) steeped grains with 1.5 gallons for whatever the recipy called.
3) added another 1.5 gallons and ~ 30 percent of extract to start boil
4) fallow directions regarding hopping
5) after boil time added remaining extract and let sit for 10 minutes
6) put BK in sink and filled with ice and water carefully stirring the wort until it reached ~100*
7)I pored the wort and now very cold top off water into my botteling bucket.. let the sediment fall out as the temp dropped to ~ 70 and then opened the spigot and let that splash/ poor into the fermenter to aerate.
8)pitch yeast and ferment!

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Old 06-21-2013, 07:21 PM   #10
Apr 2012
Kent, Ohio
Posts: 70
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Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
Just one correction to make here. Yeast won't be killed at 80F. more like 120F. .
Thanks for the correction. I was being way to general and just pointing out what we shoot for temperature wise. I did not recall the actual temperature, and actually killing the yeast will indeed take more than 80.

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