Help for new brewer please!!! (Wheat beer)

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Tom Powell

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Before I start, I am very new to this. This is my 3rd ever brew, 1st being without a kit...

So I've just started my latest brew - 1.8kg of Wilko limited edition Wheat Beer extract, 1kg brewing sugar, 500g light DME, 20 litres of water. Regular temp between 19-20C. OG was 1.046 and its been going for nearly a week now - planning on letting it go at least a few weeks from now. I'm hoping for at least 6% ABV (preferably more but prioritise on flavour)...

Question 1 - should I rack the brew and secondary ferment in a different vessel (and if so, how and what are the benefits??)

Question 2 - should I add finings? Is it worth it? How does it work? What should I use?

Question 3 - anything I can do to imrpove/learn from??
 

GoodTruble

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You won't get 6% starting with an OG of 1.046. It will be more like 4.7-5.2%. But don't worry about that. Alcohol percentage is one of the easiest things to control in later batches. For now, just worry about successfully making beer that turns out good. Once you learn the process and equipment, abv will be easy.

I wouldn't worry about finings. Wheat beer is supposed to be somewhat cloudy. I would just focus on fermenting at a decent temp, limiting unnecessary oxygen exposure, and then packaging and carbing correctly (the last two can be tricky to master early on).

I also wouldn't worry about a secondary. Just leave in the primary for 2-3 weeks. When you're first starting out, try to just keep things as simple as possible. Once you are comfortable with the basics, you can experiment with more complicated stuff.

[And the homebrew community is split on whether secondary is worth it at all - it may increase clarity (debatable) but it will usually expose your beer to unnecessary oxygen (which will likely negatively effect taste). I would definitely suggest new brewers not worry about it].
 
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RM-MN

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1. A small brewery will only have space (and maybe funds) for one fermenter so to keep ahead of demand they need to get beer out of the fermenter as quickly as possible so they can start the next batch. To do this they will move the beer to a secondary or "bright tank" to let the yeast and trub settle while the next batch is fermenting. On the home brew scale, we usually can find room for a second, cheap fermenter so we don't have to move the beer. We also don't usually have the pumps and the ability to transfer without oxygen exposure so it is in our interests to keep the beer in the fermenter until it is ready to bottle.

2. Some people use finings (not on a wheat beer) to clarify the beer quicker. I simply let the beer have time, time in the fermenter to let the trub settle, and time in the bottle to clarify. I have had wheat beers that are supposed to be cloudy turn completely clear since I didn't drink them up fast enough.

3. You have only just begun the learning process and there can be plenty to learn yet. One of the best things I learned was to monitor and keep the fermenting beer near the lower limit of the yeast's preferred temperature range as this limits the off flavor the fermenting yeast produce. As time goes on you may want to learn about steeping grains to change the flavor of your beer which give you more control of the beer than the kits you have started with. You may want to learn about starting with all grains and no extract as this will give you more control yet over the flavor of the beer. Be aware that having control and making good beer are not one and the same. All grain brewers can produce absolute swill by choosing the wrong mix of grains.
 

IslandLizard

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1. I'd omit the secondary, just leave it your current fermenter.
For most common beers there is NO benefit of using secondaries.
The less you tinker with your beer the better the outcome is. The yeast knows what to do, she has her own cycles.
You won't get clearer beer by racking to a secondary, just leave it where it is.

Many instructions are outdated. Secondaries do not improve beer, with some exceptions noted, but none in the beginners brewing realm.

Racking to a "secondary" can (and likely will) cause oxidation, especially in novice hands and/or without specialized techniques. There's also an increased chance of introducing (unwanted) infections turning your beer sour, putrid, making it undrinkable.

2. Most wheat beer will remain hazy for a long time, which is commonly accepted for the "style." It doesn't impact the flavor of the beer in a negative way if at all.

3. Search and read our forums. There's much information already, and you can always ask when in doubt or how to apply to your brewing case.
Once you know brewing is for you, I can recommend reading John Palmer's How to Brew, 4th Ed.
For a quick reference there's an old online (1st Ed.) version here, but the newer edition has many updates.
 
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