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Common questions re: extract brewing

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rcella

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I've been brewing for about a year now and all I've every brewed has been via extract methods. I'm kinda learning by doing (and reading some books, etc...) but I'm still unclear on a few things. I'm hoping those who are experienced can lend some assistance:

1.) is it common to have about 1 inch of sediment (usually a white cloudy stuff) at the bottom of my fermenter during primary? If not, what could be the cause? If this is common, is it best to siphon everything from my primary into my secondary? My concern is that I lose a lot of beer this way.

2.) I can never get my color to turn out correctly. That is to say, my blonde ales look like a brown ale. What can I do about this?

3.) Storage is sort of an issue for me. I don't have a basement so I generally try to keep my beer in a controlled tempature room (i.e. 68 to 72 degrees). Is it fair to assume that ale yeast is better for me?

4.) I would like to explore kegging options, maybe using 2 corny kegs in one refridgerated units. Any thoughts on how I can do this on the cheap (for both the fridge and the kegs)?

5.) Some of my beers pour well into a glass--that is, it has head. Others don't but I typically use the same amount of priming sugars. Why is this? Any thoughts on increasing the general carbonation?

Loaded question, I know. I'm sure I'll have a thousand other questions. This should help for now.

Cheers!

Ryan
 

Mirage

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Firstly, welcome to the forums!

1) Yes, this is the yeast and you should try to rack over it when you transfer to the secondary as it will give you clearer beer (as this is the main reason for even doing a secondary). To minimize your beer loss, tip the primary carefully so that the beer will be deeper over the trub (white stuff) on the bottom.
2) A lot of that has to do with extracts themselves. Are you using liquid or dry? Dry will help you maintain color better as you can get really light dry and then steep grains to achieve the color you desire.
3) Yes, unless you have means to actually change your fermentation temps, it would be better to stick with yeasts that are supposed to be higher (ales and heffes).
4) Not sure as I haven't kegged yet.
5) Not sure as well.

Hope this helps somewhat and feel free to ask away! I have learned A TON from this forum and you will too! Happy brewing!
 

wyzazz

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1.) Yes, that's yeast and trub, if you're worried about losing beer to yeast/trub there are things that you can do to minimize that loss. Brew 5.5 or 6 gallon batches, use gelatin or other finings, cold crashing, just to name a few.

2.) Use DME instead of LME, use the late extract addition method, do full boils, use higher quality Extract. I like Briess for DME.

3.) Yep, if you don't have temp control then you definitely can't lager.

4.) Pick up a used fridge on Craigslist, keep your eyes out for even a used kegerator I see them all the time.

5.) Some beers have more head forming proteins in them than others, it's completely dependent on the recipe/ingredients used. Wheat helps with head, as do many other things.

6.) I'm adding this because it'll give you the most help, use the search function. 99% of the questions you'll ask have already been asked hundreds of times before. Since I've been a member here, I think I've only started one thread to ask a question, everything else I've need to know I've searched for.

Cheers!
 

Mirage

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Lol, wyazz!! Same time post! Thanks for answering the questions I didn't know the answers to.
 
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1.) is it common to have about 1 inch of sediment (usually a white cloudy stuff) at the bottom of my fermenter during primary? If not, what could be the cause? If this is common, is it best to siphon everything from my primary into my secondary? My concern is that I lose a lot of beer this way.
Yes. That's the trub (settled out yeast, hot/cold break, hop sludge, etc.). Most of us will try to get about 5.5 into the fermentor, so after racking/bottling we end up with 5 gallons bottled

2.) I can never get my color to turn out correctly. That is to say, my blonde ales look like a brown ale. What can I do about this?
Extract notoriously causes darker than anticipated beer. Your best bet is to pull the pot off the heat source to avoid scorching.

3.) Storage is sort of an issue for me. I don't have a basement so I generally try to keep my beer in a controlled tempature room (i.e. 68 to 72 degrees). Is it fair to assume that ale yeast is better for me?
Yes. Ale yeast works in that range, but your beer will be better off if you can get it down a little cooler. Even putting a wet shirt on the fermenter in a bigger container filled with water will help. Fermentation is exothermic, so even if room temp is 72, your beer may be 8-10 hotter.


4.) I would like to explore kegging options, maybe using 2 corny kegs in one refridgerated units. Any thoughts on how I can do this on the cheap (for both the fridge and the kegs)?
I don't keg, so I'm no help here.

5.) Some of my beers pour well into a glass--that is, it has head. Others don't but I typically use the same amount of priming sugars. Why is this? Any thoughts on increasing the general carbonation?
It can depend on a variety of factors, but when you bottle, pay attention to your beer temperature and use this (from Palmer's How to Brew) to get the correct amount of priming sugar:




:mug:
 

Mirage

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Yes. Ale yeast works in that range, but your beer will be better off if you can get it down a little cooler. Even putting a wet shirt on the fermenter in a bigger container filled with water will help. Fermentation is exothermic, so even if room temp is 72, your beer may be 8-10 hotter.
We have done this trick with great success. Put a fan on high and aim it at the wet t-shirted carboy and get even better results!
 
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rcella

rcella

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Well that was efficient/effective/etc...

Thanks for the feedback and the tips. I haven't used the 'search' function to date--will utilize it moving forward, probably for recipes.

Around the Philadelphia area we are evidently supposed to have monsoon like conditions. Translation: back-to-back brew days. I'm thinking of a Delirum tremens styled clone and maybe something along the lines of a breakfast stoudt.

Glad to have some solid resources. Cheers for Friday!
 
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