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First brew - few questions

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jchester404

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Hey all, decided to give this hobby a go. Went to the local brew store and picked up the equipment needed and some ingredients for my first brew. Here it is:

Pumpkin Ale - 5gal recipe

6.6lb Premier Gold Liquid
1lb Gold Dry; Northwestern
29.0 oz Pumpkin (canned)
2 oz Fuggle
1 oz Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 WYeast 1056 American Ale

Now, I have some simple questions

1. The recipe calls for the hops to be added to the beginning of the boil. I know adding hops at different times during the boil create a more bitter or less bitter beer. When do you recommend adding them for this Pumpkin Ale?

2. I'm doing a 5gal patch, how much water do I need to bring to a boil?

3. Recipe understanding. When it says "add spice at 10min", does that mean 10min INTO the boil or 10min REMAINING of the 60min boil?

4. Sanitation. I know it's very important. I bought a no rinse solvent cleaner. 1 tbsp per 1 gallon of warm water. When using, I thought I'd put it in a spray bottle. Do I just spray my equipment and leave it to dry or is it OK to use a clean rag?

5. Last question. Let's say I wanted to add some nutmeg (not sure if that's a good idea) or some other spices to this beer, generally how much would I add and when during the boil would I add something like that? Any other ingredient suggestions?

Thanks for helping!
 

chickypad

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- Unless you have a reason for changing up the recipe then add the hops when instructed.
- Are you doing a full boil? If so you need to know how much boil off for your kettle and add that to your intended post boil volume (most plan for a little more into the fermenter than you want to package, to account for trub losses). If you don't know your boil off 1-1.5 gal/hr is a typical range for a 7+gal kettle. Keep in mind the extract will add volume. If you are doing a partial boil then boil as much as you can and top off the fermenter with extra water.
- Additions are generally expressed with time left, not time into the boil.
- I'm not sure what type of cleaner you have. Most folks use PBW or oxiclean for cleaning, then a no rinse sanitizer like starsan or iodophor. Don't confuse cleaning with sanitizing.
- I hope that's not really an ounce of spice. That would be like 15 tsp I think, which is a crap ton. Most pumpkin recipes use more like 1-2 tsp per 5 gal. Pumpkin pie spice is usually a mix of spices including nutmeg among other things. Again, if you are new I probably wouldn't mess with the recipe too much unless you have a specific reason for changing it. In general I would err on the side of restraint with spices, you can always add more later to taste but you can't take it out.
:mug:
 

Chefflahertycec

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I would agree with chickypad. Thats a huge amount of spices for this size batch. It would end up like a glass full of cinnamon challenge... 1 - 1.5 tsp is a good amount for just the right amount of spice presence.
 
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jchester404

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I'm pretty sure it's intended to be a full boil. I'll do a 6gal boil tonight and see how much boils off in an hour. If 1gal boils off I'll shoot for 6.5gal on brewday to count for the extract

My no-rinse cleaner does not indicate that it's a sanitzer, only a cleaner. I'll pick some up at the store

And yes, the recipe calls for 29oz canned pumpkin and 1oz of pumpkin pie spice. So you all suggest to dial that down to 1tbsp of spice? Does 29oz canned pumpkin sound right?

Thanks for the help!
 

william_shakes_beer

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To the OP: hops additions count backwards. For instance, a recipie that says:

1 OZ Saaz 60 minutes
1 oz Fuggles 15 minutes

Means

1. bring wort to a boil
2. Add SAAZ hops
3. boil 45 minutes
4. add Fuggles hops
5. boil 15 minutes

it's done nthat way because some people boil 60 minutes, others boil 90 minutes. By conting backwards the intent is clear regardless.
 

rodwha

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Topping off with water isn't so bad, though it is preferable to do a full boil. It mostly effects the IBU's as it "waters it down" a bit. Detrimental in an IPA, but not so important in most other styles unless using the least possible amount.

I'd recommend Star-San. It's a no rinse and it can be reused for quite some time. Great stuff!

1 can of pumpkin is probably a bit light, but it's hard to really get a strong pumpkin flavor in a beer. I used 5 lbs of roasted pumpkin in mine and it was vague.

As pumpkin and the spices are the star of the show you don't want too much hop flavor/aroma in there. I'd just use it at the beginning of the boil (bittering addition).

I used 2 tsp of pumpkin spice in mine and it was vague as well. However I think it probably best to make it as is so you know where it is compared to your expectations. Maybe my taste is more extreme (and likely is as I wanted PUMPKIN).

You can always revise your recipe next time, and you certainly don't want an overdone beer. You can't take it back out!

You do have a means of maintaing the fermentation temperature, right?
 

chickypad

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I use the equivalent of 1.5 tsp mixed spices per 5 gal and it's plenty for me. I will say I'm not a huge fan of spiced beers in general, I usually make it for friends in season but they all like it. Without a mash you're likely not getting much from the pumpkin anyway, and even then I think it's questionable how much flavor it actually contributes as most of the flavor associated with these beers comes from the spice. The brewing radio guys did a show comparing a recipe with pumpkin and one with just the spices, as I recall it was difficult to tell which was which. I usually do throw some in but I'm doing a mash. How do they instruct you to use the pumpkin?

Edit: that's tsps not Tablespoons, as I see you noted in your last post
 
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jchester404

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The instructions say to add canned pumpkin at 60min and spices at 10min. Would I just dump the pumpkin in the boiling water? I think I'll scale to about 1.5 tsp of spice. So far most people recommend 1-2tsp (tea spoon NOT table spoon, correct?)

Fermintation is another concern of mine. I don't have a basement, only a spare bedroom in my house that I was going to use. Obviously the room temp will fluctuate, what do you recommend I do?
 

rodwha

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I'd recommend a huge muslin bag meant for grains for that pumpkin.

You'll need a plastic storage bin with water close to where the beer's level will be when frozen water bottles are added. As it generally takes quite a bit I used 2 lit bottles along with 1-2 one lit bottles that I froze. It took 2-3 per day to keep the beer's temp in the mid-high 60's, but because it took so long for a 2 lit bottle to freeze fairly solid I kept an additional 2 lit in the rotation.

If you can't give up the room necessary to keep 4 two lit and 4-8 one lit bottles frozen you'll need to brew beers that can handle much warmer temps (Belgians) using the appropriate yeast.

It's tough, and you can't allow it to get warm because it's very difficult to bring the temp back down.
 

chickypad

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Yes we were talking teaspoons. I agree, I'd use some kind of bag for the pumpkin.
 
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jchester404

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2 things, can you explain both the addition of the pumpkin method along with the cooling method?

Just add two 2lit and one 1lit bottle of frozen water to a tub and switch them out as they begin to melt?
 

rodwha

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Once boiling was achieved I added the roasted and scraped insides that I put into muslin bags for the full 60 min boil. Once done I pulled it out allowing it to drip for quite some time.

For cooling I fill 2-3 gal jugs with tap water and chill overnight, if not longer, along with filling a large bowl with ice. But first I stop the sink and use cool tap water as the temp difference is plenty until it gets closer, at which time I use chilled water and ice.

One of each ought frozen water bottle simultaneously to do well.
 
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jchester404

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Oh I'm sorry, I meant for a more indepth explanation for the storage of the fermentation bucket to keep it at an appropriate temperature
 

rodwha

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It's often called a swamp cooler, though I'm told that's not correct. I've also seen it called a water bath.

In essence you use a large plastic storage bin or something similar, and fill it high enough that when you place frozen water bottles it won't go higher then the beer inside or the fermometer you've placed on the side.

If you overfill it it will raise up and tilt. But you need as much as possible as the water creates thermal mass that helps to keep it from raising quickly or too high. At 65* it would be much easier for fermenting beer to raise 10* above that in just air, whereas, what I saw, was that in chilled water it didn't get but about 5* warmer.

There's a fellow here named skitter who built a small insulated fermentation chamber for 2 Mr Beer fermentors that uses a frozen water bottle and a fan to keep things in check. I'm not sure of the cost, but the theory would be the same for a regular sized fermentor.

I usually had to rotate bottles about every 8-10 hours. But if it ever got warmer than intended it was very difficult to get it back down.

You'll only need to maintain that temp for about 4-7 days, and many seem to think it best to allow it to raise up to room temp after the initial fermentation is over as the warmer temp will allow the yeast to work better to finish up. It's the first ~3-5 days where major off-flavors are created. After that it eats byproducts created during fermentation and cleans it up.
 
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jchester404

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Alright great. How long would you say it takes to achieve the temp I want in the water bath before adding the bucket to it? In addition, what temp would you recommend for this pumpkin ale?

Lastly, after a week you recommend taking it out of the water bath and just keep it in my spare room at whatever the toom temp is?

Thanks again for all the help. I really appreciate it
 

rodwha

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I'm not really sure how long it takes, but it takes the yeast quite some time before they are active enough to generate any real heat. That gives plenty of time to cool down.

One way you can get cool quickly is to chill some water to use, as well as use ice. You just need a good idea of how much space you'll need for the water bottles as you don't want to over fill it.

The temp will be dependent on the yeast you use. What does it say? It's best to be in the middle or lower end, especially if the temp raises a bit on you. It would give you a little breathing room, but cooler is generally better anyway.

I'm using mostly US-05 and S-04 dry yeast, and I keep my chamber at 64*.

If you do not have a fermometer (the stick on thermometers much like what you see on an aquarium) you can use a floating (or other) thermometer to keep an eye on the water. I used to do that and found that the beer was about 5* warmer. So if your yeast calls for 65* try to keep the water around 60*.

I'm not sure how high the ambient temperature can be without any side effects, but my house is kept around 75*.

Any time. I've been greatly helped here (and still am) and it's only right to help others in return.
 

Neutron

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Suggest spreading your canned pumpkin out on a baking sheet and baking it at 350 for an hour, or so, until it starts to brown on the top. I think this gives it a much better flavor.



Neutron
 
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jchester404

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Rodwha - so you're saying after 7 days in the water bath that I should take it out or keep it in there the full time until bottling?

Neutron - after baked would you add right into the boiling pot or add to a muslin bag then add it as a previous poster recommended? What's the purpose of the muslim bag
 

rodwha

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I used to keep mine in there for 3-4 weeks, but now I've tried leaving them for just one as many have said that allowing it to warm up may gain a slightly higher attenuation and helps to keep the yeast a little more active while they clean up what they created.

With that advice I'm saying pull it out or quite icing it down after a week.

The muslin bag keeps the mess mostly contained. Otherwise it will be all over your pot and more will also end up as trub in your beer. There's no good reason not to. They only cost a few dollars for the large ones.
 
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jchester404

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Fantastic! Thank you all for the advice. I'm sure I'll be back looking for more advice
 

Neutron

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Yeah, like Rowdha said, the bag keeps all the pumpkin gunk out of your fermenter. I use a paint strainer bag, rather than a muslin sock. The larger size keeps the pumpkin from staying compressed in a a tight cake and allows more of the flavor to get into the wort.
Cheers,
Neutron


Neutron
 
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jchester404

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Perfect, I had actually picked up a paint strainer yesterday since I couldn't find any muslin bags.

Problem. I can't seem to get my pot to a roiling boil without it being covered. It's boiling but it's not an intense boil. Is this still OK or should I find another pot and boil 3gals in each and add them later?
 

rodwha

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I'm now in the same boat as you. I used to be able to boil 4 gals well enough, but now I need a lid, though, being a tamale steamer, has a bottom with large holes, and so I use that to allow as much MSD (?) out.

I've read something about a near boil being used in England way back when. I'm unsure of where the cutoff point to being doable is, and what's important.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will pipe in…
 

rodwha

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Certainly hope someone more knowledgable will pipe in as I'm interested in the answer as well.

You need to get on this pumpkin beer though as time is ticking if you want it for fall! And that reminds me of something someone pointed out that these seasonal beers sure do come out before the ingredients are available and ready, much less the time to brew, bottle, and ship!
 
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