Few More Questions from a Newb

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its02003

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Few things i was wondering as i approach the end of the first week.

#1: When i siphon from the primary to the bottling bucket (i will be skipping secondary fermentation) are there any tips to get the most liquid into the bottling bucket while keeping the most sediment where it belongs in the fermenter (at the bottom)? I was advised against using some sort of screening device for fear of aerating the brew.

#2: I just bought a kit from a local home brew shop that didnt come with a carboy for secondary fermentation. As i read these posts, 99.8% of you are using Primary--> Secondary--> Bottle as the method of choice. I am more concerned with the quality of my beer than anything else and i am wondering if i am not producing a full quality end product by skipping the secondary step. I was thinking of taking my Primary fermenter, drilling a hole near the bottom, putting the spout from my Bottling bucket in there and buying a carboy. Then discarding/craigslisting my bottling bucket. Good Idea???!!!

#3: When i bought this kit to kick off this hobby, my plan was to NOT use a brewer's kit from a shop. Maybe using those at first was a good idea, but i wanted to develop some tastes of my own. Now that i have come to the rather bothering realization that a brew takes over a month to reach maturity, "experimenting" with my recipes seems like a threat to my free time and opportunity to enjoy good beer. So i was looking for some tips for developing recipes of my own. From suggestions for hops and malts to extras to add/not to add for flavoring, etc.

Im sure you will be seeing my name on many many posts for a while to come but as i am sitting here at work absolutely REFUSING to touch my new project, these are the major queries i have at this point. Any and all responses appreciated.

Thanks
 

Yooper

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Skipping secondary is fine- I would think that way more than 99% of us don't even use a clearing tank. I almost always use the carboy but sometimes I don't. But, I have plenty of beverages in stock so it's a bit easier for me to wait! The batch I have in primary now is going to be dryhopped so I'll be using a clearing tank for that when the time comes. The brown ale is in secondary now, just to clear up some more. I've also bottled a few from the primary with no issues at all.

When you rack from primary into the bottling bucket, just leave the stuff on the bottom without disturbing. Some yeasts are very flocculant and make a hard-ish cake on the bottom, so it's easy to just rack from above it. If you want to get every inch of beer you can, you can put the primary up on the counter (or wherever you're bottling) the night before with a wedge or phone book under one side, so that most of the crud is on one side and then rack from the other area. I don't bother with that, but some do.

I don't understand why you want to make your primary into a bottling bucket and then get rid of your bottling bucket. You can use both, and you need a bottling bucket. An autosiphon is a relatively easy way to start a siphon, in the bucket or carboy, so if you don't have one I'd recommend getting one. I just recently got one, and it does make things easier.

I followed kit instructions and recipes for a long time before heading out on my own making up recipes. Even now, I look at other recipes for ideas and then decide if I'm wanting to change a few things. A good resource for learning different malts is here: http://www.realbeer.com/jjpalmer/Malt101.html
The Northern Brewer catalogue (call and ask them to send you one!) is a great resource for hops. It has them all listed with the type (bittering, aroma, etc) and the flavor you can expect from them. Some are more citrusy, some piney, etc. I refer to it all the time.

I also started finding recipes for clones online. I made lots of beer in the type I like and then found the key ingredients that made it work for me. In that way, I learned that I really like biscuit malt in amber ales and I don't really like centennial hops. It's really trial and error, so I recommend following some basic recipes for a while to you know what it is you like.
 

malkore

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I feel a secondary is very useful for most beer styles and does give you a little better end product.

I would caution you against putting a spigot on to drain your primary into anything. its hard to clean and sanitize the inside once you've attached it, and its not gonna stay stanitized for your 1-2 week primary.

As Yooper says, its easier to siphon, and I too recommend an auto-siphon.

I'd also get a bottle of star-san and a spray bottle to make sanitizing odd equipment like an auto-siphon a WHOLE lot easier.
 
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its02003

its02003

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What is the HBers Suggested "best" method (as inexpensive as possible) for cooling the wort after boiling? I put it in my tub with cold tap water and between the constant pushing down into the tub and the 20 minutes+ it took to cool, I would rather not have a repeat.

Also, what is the best "spoon" to use to stir the wort once you have made 5 gallons. I was using a plastic one from bed bath and beyond and it was easily 2 feet short of the bottom of the bucket.

Also, any other off beat equipment that Home-Brew supply shops forget to hand out would be appreciated. I want my next brew (a hopefully successful attempt at a stout) to be a little less labor intensive and hectic.

Thanks
 

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If you are doing small boils and then topping off with water, there are several options. I used to put it in the kitchen sink with lots of ice and then when it was under 80 degrees, I put it in the fermenter and added cold water to it for a perfect 65 degrees. If you are doing larger (5 gallon) boils, you'd need a wort chiller which is fairly expensive.

A good spoon is like this: http://www.northernbrewer.com/stir-strain.html
I have the 28 inch one.

You might need an auto siphon to siphon your beer easily. You definitely need tubing for racking, and a bottling wand makes bottling so much easier. I have a bottle tree and sanitize my bottles and put them on there. It's not necessary, but it's convenient.

There are lots and lots of things you can get! But I'd recommend reading this: http://howtobrew.com/section1/chapter1.html and this: http://howtobrew.com/section1/chapter1-3.html and make sure you have all that you need before you start bottling. That stuff in there is the minimum you'd need.
 
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its02003

its02003

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When you say 5 gallon boil, do you mean boiling the full 5 gallons then cooling it and that is it? Or is that boiling 5 gallons to make more than 5 gallons for your final product?
 

Yooper

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Right. Some extract brewers follow kit instructions to bring like 2.5 gallons to a boil and then add the malt extract and then boil that. After the boil, you add cool water to bring it to 5 gallons. Some brewers have bigger pots and boil the whole batch. It depends on what you're doing and how big your pot is! Alot of people can't get 5 or 6 gallons to a boil on their stove so that's limiting sometimes. If you tell us which you do, we'll have more specific ideas for you on cooling.
 

BrewDey

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I'm a relative n00b too-but here's what I've learned in 9 months:

its02003 said:
#1: When i siphon from the primary to the bottling bucket (i will be skipping secondary fermentation) are there any tips to get the most liquid into the bottling bucket while keeping the most sediment where it belongs in the fermenter (at the bottom)? I was advised against using some sort of screening device for fear of aerating the brew.
I had a few really tough bouts with siphoning. The auto-siphon (~$11) was the best remedy for this. Just a pump or 2 and it flows really nice...keeps the sediment out too. It honestly made the process 10x simpler, and I have to imagine more sanitary

its02003 said:
#2: I just bought a kit from a local home brew shop that didnt come with a carboy for secondary fermentation. As i read these posts, 99.8% of you are using Primary--> Secondary--> Bottle as the method of choice. I am more concerned with the quality of my beer than anything else and i am wondering if i am not producing a full quality end product by skipping the secondary step. I was thinking of taking my Primary fermenter, drilling a hole near the bottom, putting the spout from my Bottling bucket in there and buying a carboy. Then discarding/craigslisting my bottling bucket. Good Idea???!!!.
The 'secondary debate' seems constant. I've done it both ways and have had great beers using both methods. The use of a secondary will make it cleaner, but IMO it's nothing that a little more time in the primary-and more importantly-more time in the bottle won't make up for. Still-the use of a secondary will make it noticeably clearer. I'd keep the bottling bucket as it is, as well as the primary. If you want to do a secondary-rack into the carboy for the secondary phase, then rack into the bottling bucket.

its02003 said:
#3: When i bought this kit to kick off this hobby, my plan was to NOT use a brewer's kit from a shop. Maybe using those at first was a good idea, but i wanted to develop some tastes of my own. Now that i have come to the rather bothering realization that a brew takes over a month to reach maturity, "experimenting" with my recipes seems like a threat to my free time and opportunity to enjoy good beer. So i was looking for some tips for developing recipes of my own. From suggestions for hops and malts to extras to add/not to add for flavoring, etc.
This has been the most enjoyable part IMO. You just want to not get too crazy and risk a whole batch. www.beertools.com has an extensive library of recipes. What I've done is look through several recipes of the same style, so you get a general feel for the kinds of malts, hops, yeast that are used-then make your own minor tweaks. You can always post a proposed recipe here and let the experts critique it before you brew....but the cool thing about this is it's a whole new set of rules that you can break! In terms of the month+ timeline...the best remedy is to buy another bucket or carboy and make more beer!
 
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its02003

its02003

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BrewDay, that was a very informative post and thank you very much. Thats not to take away from the obviously invaluable information being passed along by everyone else that has helped me, my mood is just improving as I feel more and more comfortable with the batch I have in the primary right now.

I guess another few questions i have are:

Are there any rules for brewing a batch UNDER 5 gallons? I like good beer (Sam Adams style lagers, Oktoberfests, Stouts, etc.) and my girlfriend is prone to the Bud Lights and Summer sweeter beers. I want to brew in smaller batches so that i dont have to down 5 gallons of this wonderful stuff and suffer through a massive weight gain, and brew her some batches of the less popular stuff so that she keeps letting me stink up our apt with the sweet scent of burping yeast.

My racking cane is plastic and has a black rubber cap on the straight end of it. Does this stay on during the racking process to try to keep the crap on the bottom from infiltrating my lovely bottling bucket, or was this some sort of ornamental torture included by my local HB supply shop?

To answer the previous question, i have a stove and a 12 dollar stainless steel pot from Ocean State (purchased because i wasnt sure my enthusiasm was going to make it past 1 batch) and i can bring the mix back up to a boil after adding the extract as is. So I am slightly limited technologically in that respect.

I am leaving work for the day so i look forward to more information making it my way in the morning. Thank you all for the information thus far and the information to come. :mug:
 

TexLaw

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There really aren't any rules about doing a batch smaller than five gallons, as far as I know (and I may not know anything). I don't see any big problem with scaling down to three gallons or less, except for fermenter size. There are three gallon carboys available, and I know folks who use those for meads and wines, but they aren't much good for beer. You also have to do a little ciphering to adjust recipes, and maybe measure out some hops more often than not, but that's not a big deal.

If you really want to unload some beer, invite some friends over for an "I Want to Brew Again So Come Drink My Beer" party. That'll get you some storage room in a hurry.

That cap on the end of your racking cane is not ornamental torture, although you may think it is when you try to search for it sometime. It is there to help keep crap from getting into your bottling bucket (or secondary, or whatever), and it actually does a fairly nice job of it. It's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better than nothing.

Your stove and pot does limit you. I couldn't do a full wort boil for a five gallon batch on an electric range. It took something like an hour for it to come to a boil, and it didn't boil well. However, if you are considering smaller batches, anyhow, your limits may not be a problem for extract or even partial mash brewing. Of course, if you ever want to move to all grain brewing, that's a different story.


TL
 

BrewDey

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5 gallons isn't as much as you think...if you have friends who fancy beer it can go really quick. Plus, the longer it sits around, the better it gets (within reason)
 

Crazytwoknobs

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if you don't have a special little cap thingy on your racking cane you can get one from midwestupplies.com
 
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its02003

its02003

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When you say all grain brewing i am assuming that you mean using the actual malted barley and not a malt extract. Does this brewing style match a certain STYLE of beer or is this the "purists" style of brewing?

I was also wondering about the priming sugar. As i understand it, the fundamental brewing quartet is barley (malt), yeast, hops, and water. And i see that almost EVERYone and EVERY kit i look at uses priming sugar. Now being a super newbie myself, i am not one to complain, but i was wondering if anyone is able to create good quality beer using just those main 4 ingredients or if the beer is being made with extract and priming sugar because those shortcuts produce a better final product.
 

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You can make any style beer with extract. The all-grain is done by some of us because it gives you more control over the final product, it's cheaper, and some would say it makes better beer. Plenty of awards have been won by extract brewers, though- and some brewpubs even just use extract for their beers. I think I've had some great extract beers, but the AG has a cleaner taste to me. Some say there is a "twang" you get from using malt extract. I've tasted that twang but couldn't tell you if it was from liquid malt extract or not. Overall, I prefer the taste of my AG beer over the ones I made with extract. I know some very experienced brewers would disagree with me and they could be right.

Priming sugar is used by people who bottle to bottle carbonate. If you are a purist, though, and don't want to use anything but yeast, hops, water and barley (the Reinheitsgebot Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law)) you can prime your bottles with 1.25 cup DME the same way you do with the priming sugar. Priming sugar is just an easy precise way to get bottle carbonation without a "ring" around the bottle neck from DME or tons of sediment in the bottle.
 
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its02003

its02003

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All fears of sounding inexpierienced aside, if commercial beer producers can create a clean final product in a bottle are they using sugars, or is it some commercial level additive?
 

Yooper

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Well, many commercial beers are lagers which are "cleaner" to begin with, and then filtered besides. The big companies (Bud, Miller) use corn or other adjuncts.
 

Yooper

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Well yes and no. The boil starts with about 6.5 gallons so the pot is bigger, but the fermentation is the same, the yeast is the same, etc. The difference comes with the ingredients. Extract brewers buy a few grains, and some extract. I buy several different times of grain and then MAKE the liquid that I boil. So, in a way, you're making your own extract. It's just another step before you start the boil.

Here's some great reading on all of this, both extract and AG: http://howtobrew.com/intro.html
 
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its02003

its02003

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OK so like i mentioned before, i didnt get the BEST collection of equipment from my local home brew shop. So i am buying some more equipment before this batch hits the bottles.

What i need the best suggestion for a NO RINSE sanitizer (in a large quantity), suggestion for best bottle cleaning method (i will not be buying new bottles for this batch), suggestion for bottle drying rack, and any other tips/tricks/etc that anyone has for the bottling phase.
 
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its02003

its02003

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I guess my main question would be is it worth buying one of these bottle jet things and if so, is it worth buying a double jet one?
 

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its02003 said:
OK so like i mentioned before, i didnt get the BEST collection of equipment from my local home brew shop. So i am buying some more equipment before this batch hits the bottles.

What i need the best suggestion for a NO RINSE sanitizer (in a large quantity), suggestion for best bottle cleaning method (i will not be buying new bottles for this batch), suggestion for bottle drying rack, and any other tips/tricks/etc that anyone has for the bottling phase.
Bottling tips:

1) Clean and Sanatize EVERYTHING really, really well. I personally use C-brite for my sanitizer. Other brewing friends I have use iodaphore and bleach(which needs rinsed). I really like the C-brite though.

2) Spend the money and buy a bottle drying rack. And get the big one. I opted for the smaller one, and now when I bottle two batches at a time, its a chore because I don't have enough room.

3) Clean and Sanatize EVERYTHING!!!!!!!

4) A bottle washer attachment for your sink is the best investment you'll make, not only for bottles, but for carboys even more. Single or double is your perogitive.

5) This goes back to your siphoning question. I actually use water (bottled) in the siphoning tube to create negative pressure, then put the tube into the carboy/bottling bucket and let it roll. The small amout of water won't affect your gravity or anything, and its cheap.

You remind me a lot of myself when I started brewing (all the way back in April) wanted to make sure you do everything absolutely correctly. There is a heck of a lot in the phrase "Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew." The good folks of this board, as you have seen, are very helpful and always try to help out every noob that comes through. They did for me.

As for some of you previous questions. I agree with Brewdey about the whole beertools.com dealy. The program, and site, have been a tremendous help in creating my own recipes, some of which have really kicked ass. Writing recipes is a blast. As for know what hops to use and such, do some research on styles through looking at recipes and look at types of hops, amounts, and such. I would also invest in some writing software, be it promash, beertoolspro or whatever. As I said, BTP has been really easy to use, easy interface, and very helpful. Oh, and you will be buying more fermenters and carboys very soon. I know within the first month of brewing I doubled my fermentation capacity and tripled my secondary capacity.

Otherwise, just read all that you can. Getting as much info as you can will make this hobby more enjoyable, and will quickly make it borde on obsession. Recomendations:

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing - Papazian (of course)
Homebrewer's Companion - Papazian
Homebrewing for Dummies (My first, and so far, favorite brewing book)
www.howtobrew.com
beertoolspro.com

Hope I helped.

Cheers,
 

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its02003 said:
What i need the best suggestion for a NO RINSE sanitizer (in a large quantity), suggestion for best bottle cleaning method (i will not be buying new bottles for this batch), suggestion for bottle drying rack, and any other tips/tricks/etc that anyone has for the bottling phase.
Star San. By far the most used and well liked on this site. It is great. Bubbles can be left in and will not effect taste.

http://morebeer.com/view_product/16023/

My bottling trick? Use a wallpaper tray or drywall tray to sanitize bottles. Relatively small and perfect for rolling the bottle so you don't have to stand it up and shake it to get the sanitizer around the whole bottle. I have a drywall bucket and put about 7-10 22oz bottles in at a time. Let them sit for 10 minutes, roll each before pulling out, then one at a time pull them out and bottle it.

One more thing.....request catalogs from morebeer, northernbrewer and midwest. They will send them free to you and they taught me a lot. That trick was from Yooper a while back. Props Lorena!
 
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