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A new brewer with a question

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Lateraliss

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I just started brewing, in fact I bottled my first brew just a few days ago, using a pre-made wort kit with instructions that were left wanting.

But 2 days ago I started brewing with Extract and hops, and the fermenting process is well under way.

I am left with a couple questions because frankly I am on my own with this brew, no instructions other than the recipe.

I'm wondering if I am able to open the primary fermenter from time to time to check the gravity with the hydrometer? because I'm afraid of contaminating it.

I also was wondering what a good general rule for fermenting time was. I had heard the 1-2-3 method. Does carbonating time factor in to that? Or is it 1 week for fermenting, 2 for secondary, 2 for carbonating, then 3 for aging?
 

android

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i would let it ferment for 10 days at least before you start sampling it. as long as you sanitize what you use, you should be fine.

carbonating/conditioning is the '3' in 1-2-3. often however, beers will need more than the '3' to get really good. a lot of people are leaving the beer in primary for 3-4 weeks and just bottling it from there, no need for a secondary.
 

McGarnigle

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You might want to think about buying a book on brewing, as kit instructions don't go into much detail.

You must clean and sanitize a turkey baster/wine thief before taking a sample, and don't pour the sample back in. Discard it. To be on the safe side,don't take too many samples. Maybe take your first after a week or more.

Rather than 1-2-3, 2-2-3 or maybe even 2-1-3 might be better. I personally like more than 1 week in primary (and you don't necessarily need to do a secondary, so 2-3 or 3-3 is fine).

The last 3 weeks are in the bottle and allows for both carbonating and conditioning.
 

Parker36

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GO ahead and open up your primary every once in a while. Just make sure nothing falls in and anything that does touch the beer is sanitized and you will be fine.

The 1-2-3 method is kind of a general rule, and a pretty good one for beginners in my opinion. It goes 1 week in primary, 2 weeks in secondary, 3 weeks in bottle. The 3 weeks in the bottle should get it all carbed up right, but do set aside a few of the beers to try a few months down the road to see how they age.

*Before somebody starts hating in the 1-2-3 rule, just know that it is not hard and fast and that after you get your process down you, like most brewers, will start doing what works best for you and the recipe. Just make sure the hydrometer reads the same for a couple days in a row before bottling.
 

brewmasterpa

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usually it depends on what youre making. i tend to go 14 days on most brews in the primary. secondary time varies more greatly depending on what youre making. again a good rule of thumb is 10-14 days in the secondary, however, if youre doing a barley wine, or other high gravity beer, or youre doing a lager, 21-40 days is not uncommon in the secondary. on the other hand if youre doing a wheat beer, you can cut your seconary time to 5-10 days. sedondary is more for clarifying than anything and wheat beers dont clear, so youre only sedimenting suspended trub from racking from primary pretty much. bottle conditiong should go 2-3 weeks at room temp.
 

brewmasterpa

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oh and as far as opening the primary for checking numbers, let it go for atleast 10 days before you open it and make sure its open for the shortest amount of time possible, and make sure everything is sanitized including your hands. and dont breath in it you should be fine. dont open it more than necessary.
 

JPicasso

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Best thing to remember is that brewing is like cooking and nobody has the exact same technique. I used the 1-2-3 method for a while, but found that I'm pretty lazy, and racking to a secondary is harder than just leaving the beer in primary for 3 or 4 weeks.

I check the final gravity after that time and if it's reasonable, I'll bottle it. If it seems high (1.020 + ) I sanitize a spoon, roust the yeast with a light stir and leave for another week or two at a higher temp (room temp, instead of basement).


..and dang looks like there are already 3 more responses.
 
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Lateraliss

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Thanks everyone, I'll wait to sample, and I'll try the 1-2-3 method until i feel comfortable enough to start experimenting. Thanks again.
 

JohnnyO

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While the 1-2-3 method is a good rule of thumb, you should always trust in your hydrometer. I wouldn't bottle until you have reached your FG and it is stable over a few days.
 

Schnitzengiggle

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If you are using a bucket fermenter, sanitize the lid and remove the airlock, use a sanitized racking cane to take a sample by sticking it in the hole and placing your finger over the end, this way you don't have to remove the lid, this will limit the area over which your beer will be exposed. It will also help to get a sample from more of the middle or bottom of the fermenter rather than from the top. re-sanitize and refill airlock and replace. Easy peasy.

Of course if you have a Thief, then tak e the lid off it will be quicker and easier. :)
 
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