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first EVER brew today... hope it's going right

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jmhooten

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Hello,
I started my first ever batch of brew today (been dieing to do this for 3 years, finally got my starter kit) anyway, I wanted to check a couple of things -

(1) I am using a 4lb can of extract (Mountmellick Export Ale) which said to mix with "warm water" but I have the "Complete Joy of Homebrewing" which said to ignore this and boil the extract for 45min for better beer - is this the right way to proceed?

(2) The aformentioned book stated that I should mix sugar at the initial boiling stage - the can instructions say I should add sugar to "condition" the beer after fermentation directly before bottling - which is better?

(3) Regarding sugar the book says that sugar is not reccomended - however the ABV for this mix (4lb can for 5 gal) would produce a "light beer with low alcohol content" since I preferred a stronger beer I added 1lb of corn-sugar to my boiling mix... I this a cardinal sin or what - IE is my beer still going to taste right?

(4) Oh, I also have a yeast "smack-pack" that the store gave me with my kit - VS the included yeast - is the "smack-pack" better?

...any further input would be welcomed!
 

david_42

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1. Boiling extract, even pre-hopped extract will result in better beer.
2. Sugar added to the boil will ferment out and raise the ABV, sugar (only 1/2 cup) is also added after fermentation just before bottling to provide carbonation.
3. Corn sugar will increase ABV without hurting the flavor. Table sugar is to be avoided.
 

D*Bo

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What yeast used depends on the style of beer ytou are brewing, and your prefrences (which you will figure out in due time). The smack pack will work fine. Pop the inner bag several hours prior to use and keep it in a warm spot. You can do it a day or three beefore you brew. If it is fully swelled and you aren't going to brew for another day or two, you can put it in the fridge to slow the yeast down. Just take it out a few hours before you brew to let it warm back up to room temperature.

Following Papazan's directions will work fine.

Judging by your 3rd question it looks like you may have already brewed, but corn sugar shold be fine, it will just bump your alcohol up a bit. Next time some brown sugar might be nice in the same recipe. Dark brown sugar will give you a heavier beer (thicker mouth feel) due to the molassas. I addd it with the extract. Trying a diffrent brew with some specialty grains can get you some nice complex brews.

Did the kit you used have you adding hops? Or was the kit pre-hopped? (if you didn't addd any it's pre-hopped)

You may want to try a kit that has you doing all the hop additions, bettter controll and better tasting beer.

Wort chillers are great to have.

Don't get discouraged, ask plenty of questions, if your beer dosen't quite taste right, don't dump it. Ask questions (keeping track of everything you did, how and when, will help to guide you in the right direction) and let it age for a little while, be patient. That foul brew might mellow out and taste fine in a month or two.
Your homebrew shop may be able to help you a little better,as they will be able to sample your brew, but be weary, not all brew shops know what they are doing.

And sanitation is key. Brewing is 85% sanitation.
 
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jmhooten

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Wortchiller?

I did add the sugar and I'm actually glad to hear it raises the alcohol content (my next batch is barley wine - any reccomendations?)

Josiah
 
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jmhooten

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I doubt anybody has dealt with this but I have sulpher in my tap-water... I've used bottled water for the beer but I sanitize with tap water - is this going to create a problem you think?
 
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jmhooten

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Okay, just noticed that the smack-pack (yeast propigator) says it is supposed to be added to a 1 ltr. solution of "starter wort" 24 - 48 hours before adding to 5 gal of wort... do I need to do this or can I just add it once the wort reaches 70 degrees?
 

D*Bo

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An immersion type wort chiller would be good.

Just a copper coil. Usually about 25-30 ft of tubimg coiled up so it fits in your brew kettle with space on the sides. Plastic tubing connected to both ends, one with a fitting to hook up to the faucet/garden hose, the other for discharging water.

You put it into the boil for the last few minutes to sanatize it, then after removing from the heat you run cold water thru the chiller to cool the wort. Usually around 5 minutes to cool the wort below 80*.

Helps with clearer beer by getting a better cold break, reduces your chance of infection, and possibly with the taste of your beer.
Haven't proved that one yet, but without seeing my boss' sanatation process or his attention to boiling times, that really seems to be the only diffrence in our brewing set-up's and he claims my beer is bettter than his.
(not taking into account diffrences in brewing water)
 

Shambolic

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jmhooten said:
Wortchiller?

I did add the sugar and I'm actually glad to hear it raises the alcohol content (my next batch is barley wine - any reccomendations?)
Yep: don't brew a barley wine for your second brew!

You'd be much better off sticking to simple styles like pale ales for your first few batches. Once you understand the brewing process better, you can start to experiment a bit more.

I would have appreciated that advice when I first started. I enjoyed lagers, so wanted to brew lagers. Having no idea what I was doing, I made about four really bad beers in a row. :(
Now I'm going to try a lager again (a pilsner), because I have ten or so successful beers under my belt, and a much better idea of what to do!
 

Jsin

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If you can, go to your homebrew store and get 3# of DME to add instead of the sugar. You will get a much better beer if you do. Having made that can of extract before going to all grain I know from experience. :mug:
 
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