First Brew General Questions. Please help!!!

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Firry15

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Hey all. I am a new member and a first time brewer. I brewed my first batch on 4/2/2009. All seems to be going well but i have a few questions for going forward.

When i boiled the wort it seemed like i had a lot of boil off. When i syphoned to the fermentor there was only 1.5 gallons of wort. Is this typical. If so, was i correct in adding enough water to make it an even 5 gallons.

When removing the wort from the kettle, what is the best way to leave the trub behind? I have read many different ways and am not sure which route to take.

I have read numerous posts on here that say leave it in the fermentor for 10-14 days. I have no problem being patient but at the same time i dont want to waste time. Please advise.

When bottling, do the bottles need to store at room temp for 2 weeks and then i move it to the fridge to cool for drinking?

Sorry if these are repeat questions but i could not find the answers in any other threads.

Thank you for your help in advance,
David
 

phatuna

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I'll give a stab:
1) boil as much wort as your stove will handle - if that's only 2 gallons, fine just top off with fresh water to make 5 gallons. most primary buckets have a 5 gallon water mark, if not, you may want to fill your primary with 5 gallons of water or something and mark it off.
2) I pour the trub into the primary, others rack the wort (syphon).
3) Ferment for 21 days depending on the style of beer, although there is nothing set in stone. lots written about this
4) bottle for 3 weeks. try a couple each week.
 

SumnerH

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Hey all. I am a new member and a first time brewer. I brewed my first batch on 4/2/2009. All seems to be going well but i have a few questions for going forward.

When i boiled the wort it seemed like i had a lot of boil off. When i syphoned to the fermentor there was only 1.5 gallons of wort. Is this typical. If so, was i correct in adding enough water to make it an even 5 gallons.
Yes to topping it off. Maybe don't boil quite as hard (hard boils are important in all-grain brewing but less so in extract brews), and start with as much water as possible.

When removing the wort from the kettle, what is the best way to leave the trub behind? I have read many different ways and am not sure which route to take.
I put a paint-strainer bag (sanitized!) over the fermentor and then just pour through that and lift out the trub in the bag.

I have read numerous posts on here that say leave it in the fermentor for 10-14 days. I have no problem being patient but at the same time i dont want to waste time. Please advise.
What kind of beer is it?

If it's a normal beer, I'd wait 10 days, take a hydro reading, and then take another reading 2 days later. If they're the same, you could bottle. If it's a bigger beer (OG > 1.060) then I'd wait 17 days before the first reading, and I'd generally want to let it go a bit longer in primary to help condition.

When bottling, do the bottles need to store at room temp for 2 weeks and then i move it to the fridge to cool for drinking?
That's about right. Sometimes it's longer than 2 weeks (particularly with big beers or things that spent several months in secondary). Wait 2 weeks, put one in the fridge for 24 hours, crack it open--if it's fully carbed you can move them all to the fridge. If not, try again every week until they're ready.
 

llazy_llama

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1) Get a bigger pot. Doing a full 5 gallon boil is ideal, but if you can't do that, at least boil 2.5.

2) Get a large strainer that fits in your funnel. This will not only eliminate some of the trub from your kettle, but will help aerate your wort as well. Alternatively, you can stir the wort into a whirilpool which, if done properly, will make all that trub pile up in a small cone in the center of your kettle. Siphon the remaining wort from outside that cone to avoid most of it.


3) 2 weeks is good. 4 weeks is better. Leave the beer alone for however long your patience will allow, with the knowledge that time will make it taste better.

4) 21 days at 70+ degrees to carbonate, then 48 hours in the fridge before drinking. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to brewing. Learn it, live it, love it.
 
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Firry15

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First off, thanks for the quick response. This a great forum and i am excited to be a member.

I followed a recipe from a pale ale beer kit and it said to start with 2 gallons of water and add the ingrediants per the instructions.

I have a 5 gallon pot. Do i need a bigger pot than that? Will it hurt the wort if i start with 3 or 4 gallons of water instead of 2 (although the kit says 2)?

So the gerneral concensis is the ignore the instructions and leave the beer alone for 2 weeks. Can it hurt it to be in the fermentor for too long?

Thanks!!!
 

Louielizard

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Welcome Firry,

I too am a newb. I too cooked my first batch 4-2-09.
This is what I know.
1.Yes it's normal for boil off and topping off is fine. But if you started with 5 gallons and only had 1.5 I'd think that would be a little abnormal.
2. I poured it all out of the pot into the primary, not siphoned. It added oxygen by doing this and I wanted to get all the hops in there during the fermentation.
3.I plan on racking to secondary to clean it up and that's when I will remove the trub.
depending on your beer only way to know if it is done fermenting is to use your hydrometer. My starting gravity was 1.050 when I get to 1.013 I know I'm ready to bottle.
4.Once in bottles that's where my patience will end. After 2 weeks I will sample them and hopefully I will have a beautiful well carbed Blackberry Blonde Ale!

I think this is correct, but I'm a newb too.

One more thing, I am David too!
 

SumnerH

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First off, thanks for the quick response. This a great forum and i am excited to be a member.

I followed a recipe from a pale ale beer kit and it said to start with 2 gallons of water and add the ingrediants per the instructions.

I have a 5 gallon pot. Do i need a bigger pot than that? Will it hurt the wort if i start with 3 or 4 gallons of water instead of 2 (although the kit says 2)?
It won't hurt. It will help. Start with 3.5ish on your next brew day, if you don't have problems with keeping it boiling and/or boilover, then try 4 gallons the time after that.

So the gerneral concensis is the ignore the instructions and leave the beer alone for 2 weeks. Can it hurt it to be in the fermentor for too long?
It can hurt to be in the primary fermentor for too long, but "too long" means "several months, probably 6+", and "can" doesn't necessarily mean "will".

Usually if you're going to leave it in a fermentor for more than a month or two, you rack it into a secondary fermentor (so that it's not sitting on the yeast any more--dead yeast is the source of problems if you leave it for several months).

Now flavor-wise aging makes a difference, but that's different from really hurting/ruining your beer. Some beers are best off aged for a long time--big porters, barleywines, Belgian strongs, Russian imperial stouts, etc. Others are best young--most wheat/rye beers. Learning how aging affects things is part of the fun of brewing. Hops tend to mellow over time, so if you have a really hoppy IPA you may want to drink it young-ish if you like that, or you may prefer a more mellow aged taste.
 

llazy_llama

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First off, thanks for the quick response. This a great forum and i am excited to be a member.
You're welcome, and we're glad to have you.

I followed a recipe from a pale ale beer kit and it said to start with 2 gallons of water and add the ingrediants per the instructions.

I have a 5 gallon pot. Do i need a bigger pot than that? Will it hurt the wort if i start with 3 or 4 gallons of water instead of 2 (although the kit says 2)?
A bigger pot is ideal, but not 100% necessary to brew beer. You get better hop utilization from doing a full boil, which means if your recipe calls for 2oz of bittering hops, you can just use 1.75oz for the same effect. I found that my beer improved greatly when I upgraded to a larger pot and a propane burner.

So the gerneral concensis is the ignore the instructions and leave the beer alone for 2 weeks. Can it hurt it to be in the fermentor for too long?
4 weeks, 4 weeks, 4 weeks. Trust me on this, it will be clearer and will taste better after 4 weeks. It is possible to leave the beer on the yeast cake for long enough to ruin it, but we're talking 3 months or more here.
 

SumnerH

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So the gerneral concensis is the ignore the instructions and leave the beer alone for 2 weeks.
Oh, yes: ignore the instructions. Go here and read How to Brew for free online, or buy the newer version to support the author:
How to Brew - By John Palmer - Introduction

Kit instructions are usually geared toward the fastest and easiest method, not the one that results in the best beer.
 

SumnerH

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If it's a normal beer, I'd wait 10 days, take a hydro reading, and then take another reading 2 days later. If they're the same, you could bottle.
Note that I said _could_ bottle here. Another week or two is almost certainly worthwhile in general, but for a first beer where you're really antsy you make the call on how much having it good vs. having it now matters to you.

For a pale ale, I'd typically do 2 weeks and then transfer it to a secondary for 2 more weeks to help clear it up a bit, or just leave it all 4 weeks in the primary. Then bottle and wait the 2-5 weeks for it to carb.
 
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Firry15

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If i transfer it into a secondary can i use another food grade bucket or is it best to use a glass carboy.

Also, when i transfer it to the secondary do i need to get more yeast?

I am more than patient enough to wait for the best end result. I can just brew another batch while i am waiting.

Thanks!!!
 

SumnerH

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If i transfer it into a secondary can i use another food grade bucket or is it best to use a glass carboy.
Don't bother. Save that for later. Not all beers benefit from it, many experienced home brewers never secondary unless they're going to add oak or fruit or dry hop or something along those lines.

A carboy shape is preferred for long secondaries (PET vs. glass is a matter of preference; I prefer PET), but for a shorter secondary you can use a bucket. The issue is oxidation--carboy shapes have less O2 exposure. But you'll usually get a protective layer of CO2 from the beer anyway, so for a short secondary it's not a huge deal (especially if you're not going to be aging the beer for months or years before drinking).

For a pale ale, I wouldn't bother. Just leave it in primary the 4 weeks.

Actually, the other reason to secondary is space: if you have a carboy, you can rack into that and free up a primary bucket for a new brew. Sounds silly but it might be the most common reason that I've secondaried.

Also, when i transfer it to the secondary do i need to get more yeast?
Nope. The primary reason to move to secondary is to ensure that you're not on the yeast anymore.

I am more than patient enough to wait for the best end result. I can just brew another batch while i am waiting.
Excellent idea; I had 4 or so batches in fermentors before I cracked my first brew!
 
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