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TheFratGuy

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Hey Y'all,

I'm new to this board. I just began brewing my first batch of home brew last thursday. I became interested in home brewing when I tried a homebrew that one of my frat buddies brewed this spring. Then about three weeks ago, the culligan man accidentally left two 5 gal. carboys full of spring water on my front door step. I did some internet searches to find the simplest recipie for good homebrew and came up with this website. (http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter1-1.html) if the link doesn't work just go to howtobrew.com and navigate around.
I purchased all the supplies I needed from beer-wine.com.

Here are some questions I have. You can refere to my recollection of the brew below if you don't understand where I'm coming from with my questions.

1. Should you pour all of the cooled wort into the fermentor or should you leave out the green clumpy stuff on the bottom?

2. How long does the fermentation process last after an air lock discontinues it bubbling?

3. Is 'racking' necessary or recommended, and if so, how many days after the start do you rack your brew.

4. I brewed a 2nd. batch two days ago, and avoided the boil over during the addition of bittering hops by keeping the heat low 190 - 200 deg. (still boiling), Everything seemed to go allright, except for that I had a full 5 gal carboy. I started with an air lock, but by yesterday afternoon the foam add came up into the airlock. I replaced the airlock with an 8ft 1/4 hoze that is submerged in a 2 liter bottle of santized water. The pop bottle is now bubbling like crazy (looks like an airator in a fish tank). Is that Normal?

5. Also both of my brews are a dark to medium brown color. Will they stay that color or will they lighten up.?

6. Finally, I have almost ten gallons of brew going and no bottles. I thought about buying some 1 gal jugs or just having my frat brothers donate some empty bottles. Any suggestions. Should I use clear class, brown, green etc.

Heres how the first brew day went.
Anyways I followed the recipie that Mr. Palmer gave and now I have a few questions. First of all the online store I ordered from sent me Munton and Fusion Amber LME instead of the pale malt extract that was called for. Now keep in mind the recipie calls for both DME and LME. Anyways I folled the recipie and I had an inevitable boilover immediately after I hadded the bittering hops 15 mins into the boil. I lost at least half a gallon of the wort, but I contined boiling. I didn't have a large enough brew pot so I was using two smaller ones (is that a bad Idea?). Only one of the pots boiled over. I took every possible precautionary to prevent contamination. After I finished the boil and cooled the wort in an ice bath I added it to 2 gal of spring in water which I had poured into a santized 5gal bucked and then added the prepared yeast at 80 deg. F. , I poured the wort in, mixed it well, then trasferred it to the plastic culligan carboy. I capped the carboy of and put an airlock on it. There was just a little more than 4 gal. in the carboy. That was all thursday, by saturday the airlock had completely stopped bubbling.

The second brew day was pretty much the same, but I knew what I was getting into and was a bit more prepared.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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welcome aboard fratguy! here's my $0.02 worth:
1. put a large strainer over your primary bucket and pour through that. that way all your hot break stays out of the primary. it'll help the flavor and the clarity. if you use a carboy to primary, just siphon from the brew pot into the carboy. leave all the spent hops behind. they've done their part...
2. you should use a hydrometer to see when fermentation is complete and ready to rack to secondary, but i don't. let it sit in the primary 3-5 days for average ale. once you see no activity for a minute or so, your good to transfer to secondary. i let mine sit in the secondary for at least 10 days, again for an average strength ale.
3. i prefer to rack mine from primary to secondary. IMO, it helps w/ clarity and flavor. again, some will dispute this.
4. yep, it's normal, especially for a weizen style of yeast. ferm temp may be a little high too, which causes a little extra activity and blow-off. but, it'll be fine. good job w/ the blow-off tube and no need to panic.
5. they'll always look darker in the carboys as opposed to in the pint glass (more dense due to volume). unless it's a stout or porter. browns may look a little lighter in color once poured.
6. when i bottled, i tried to always use brown pop top bottles. the best way is to get friend who drink import or micro brews, and have them save them for you. or, you can buy them new from the HBS or on-line.

you can always top off your primary w/ cooled and sanitized water to 5 gal. and lot's of people boil their wort in two batches, just because of capacity. no problem there. try to get a glass carboy to ferment in. plastic can harbor nasties and will retain odors.

over all, i think you did good. as you brew (and read the forum) you'll pick up ton's of way's to improve the brew proces and the beer. just be a freak about cleaning and sanitizing your equipment, use fresh ingedients, and be patient.


what school do you go to?

good luck!
 

bikebryan

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DeRoux's Broux said:
welcome aboard fratguy! here's my $0.02 worth:
1. put a large strainer over your primary bucket and pour through that. that way all your hot break stays out of the primary. it'll help the flavor and the clarity. if you use a carboy to primary, just siphon from the brew pot into the carboy. leave all the spent hops behind. they've done their part...
2. you should use a hydrometer to see when fermentation is complete and ready to rack to secondary, but i don't. let it sit in the primary 3-5 days for average ale. once you see no activity for a minute or so, your good to transfer to secondary. i let mine sit in the secondary for at least 10 days, again for an average strength ale.
3. i prefer to rack mine from primary to secondary. IMO, it helps w/ clarity and flavor. again, some will dispute this.
4. yep, it's normal, especially for a weizen style of yeast. ferm temp may be a little high too, which causes a little extra activity and blow-off. but, it'll be fine. good job w/ the blow-off tube and no need to panic.
5. they'll always look darker in the carboys as opposed to in the pint glass (more dense due to volume). unless it's a stout or porter. browns may look a little lighter in color once poured.
6. when i bottled, i tried to always use brown pop top bottles. the best way is to get friend who drink import or micro brews, and have them save them for you. or, you can buy them new from the HBS or on-line.

you can always top off your primary w/ cooled and sanitized water to 5 gal. and lot's of people boil their wort in two batches, just because of capacity. no problem there. try to get a glass carboy to ferment in. plastic can harbor nasties and will retain odors.

over all, i think you did good. as you brew (and read the forum) you'll pick up ton's of way's to improve the brew proces and the beer. just be a freak about cleaning and sanitizing your equipment, use fresh ingedients, and be patient.


what school do you go to?

good luck!
Plastic or not plastic for the primary fermenter really doesn't matter one bit. I've never had the need to take anything but a soft cloth and some oxyclean to the inside of my plastic fermenter, so I'm not causing any scratches - and it's those scratches that could harbor your so-called nasties. The only advantage of the glass carboy for primary is being able to see the fermentation taking place.
 

Born Brewing Co.

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Fratguy, good luck keeping the brothers out of your brew. This line may work with the sorority girls, "Hey, wanna come up and see my blow off tube." :D
 

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TheFratGuy said:
1. Should you pour all of the cooled wort into the fermentor or should you leave out the green clumpy stuff on the bottom?
Leave out the green clumpy stuff if you can. It's just used up hops.

2. How long does the fermentation process last after an air lock discontinues it bubbling?
Let it sit for a few days after bubbling stops... or even better, rack it to a secondary to clear and condition.


3. Is 'racking' necessary or recommended, and if so, how many days after the start do you rack your brew.
Recommended. Rack as soon as the krausen has fallen and the bubbling has slowed considerably (but not necessarily stopped)


4. I brewed a 2nd. batch two days ago, and avoided the boil over during the addition of bittering hops by keeping the heat low 190 - 200 deg. (still boiling), Everything seemed to go allright, except for that I had a full 5 gal carboy. I started with an air lock, but by yesterday afternoon the foam add came up into the airlock. I replaced the airlock with an 8ft 1/4 hoze that is submerged in a 2 liter bottle of santized water. The pop bottle is now bubbling like crazy (looks like an airator in a fish tank). Is that Normal?
Perfect. You just created a huge airlock (called a blow off tube). Looks like you need a bigger fermenter :)

5. Also both of my brews are a dark to medium brown color. Will they stay that color or will they lighten up.?
They'll pretty much stay that color. Extract brews are always a little dark for the style. And every brew looks very dark in the carboy. It will look much lighter in a pint glass.


6. Finally, I have almost ten gallons of brew going and no bottles. I thought about buying some 1 gal jugs or just having my frat brothers donate some empty bottles. Any suggestions. Should I use clear class, brown, green etc.
You have frat brothers and you can't come up with 100 bottles? Use brown... they let in the least amount of light. You can get a capper and caps from your homebrew supply source. Oh.. and get a bottle scrubber. Just scrub them out to get the mold and cigarette butts, then sanitize. Good as new :)

I admire your spirit! Sounds like you're the type of person to just jump in head first and learn from your errors. And it sounds like you've done lots of research. Good luck and welcome to the forum!
 
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TheFratGuy

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Thanks alot for the replys that I got from everyone.

I go to school at Westminster College in Fulton Mo. I'm a senior this year, and I'm no longer living in the frat house. So I probably won't have to fight the guys off when it comes to the homebrew. As far as the sororiety girls go, that's a great line, however I actually picked a sororiety girl up the first week of school (and didn't need anything as cool as a blow off tube) and now I'm living with her. Not exactly the wild party that most people think of, when your talking college experiences. However I've had my share of those. Anyways...

I had actually purchased the tube for syphoning from my fermentor to the bottling bucket. My step-dad told me that I should always syphon beer after its done brewing (fermenting). So I'll probably wait to rack the first batch until the second batch has slow'd down some. All I have for a secondary fermenter is a five gal food grade plastic bucket with a sealing lid. I've already punched a hole in the top of it for an airlock, but I think that was unnessissary. The first batch is now a redish brown color and all of the foam on the top has fallen out. The second batch is still bubbling like a aerator. How important is it that I rack that first batch soon? I have eight feet of tubbing that I could cut up to use for both. Well thanks again for all the help.

As for the bottles, I think I've got a handle on that. School starts in a week and the guys are starting to come in for formal rush. I'm sure there will be plenty of bottles laying around to collect. Does anyone know how many bottles I'll need for 9 gallons? I think about 50 or so, but I'm not sure.

Oh, and about my step-dad... He's a native of the Ozark Hills in North central arkansas. He was raised on the Buffalo River and learned about homebrewing when he was a teenager. He's got a recipe for homemade beer that is made from common household ingredients that you can purchase at the local feed store. If this batch turns out I'm going to see if he'll trade a case of brew for that recipie. I know its not a great tasting homebrew but I've heard its like an 8 point beer. I'll share it with anyone interested. He brewed his in an 8 gal glass carboy and used a civil war generals sword to stir the batch. I think he cooked his brew in a ten gallon cast iron pot, over an open flame.

Well thanks again the help and I look forward to more replys.

TheFratGuy
 
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TheFratGuy

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Ok,

Well that's not going to be a problem, I'm sure I can find that many bottles and my friend has a capper and caps, but where should you store that many bottles? I was planning on finding four or five of those bud light cases of 20 and just putting the bottles in them and stacking them up in the corner for a few weeks. My step-dad used to have a bottle storage rack on our garage wall. Do the bottles need to be kept in a dark room and at room temperature or cooler? Also is it possible to bottle the new twist top bottles or do you need the import beer pop tops? Most of my frat bros like to drink Natty Light or Bud Light. Only a couple drink Corona but I'm sure I could bribe some freshmen guys into upgrading to some higher quality stuff.
Right now I've got the thermastat set at 72. I know that it should be a bit cooler for a slower, better fermentation, but I can't afford to pay the bill for 69 degrees or even lower. I'm going to talk to my buddy about brewing the next batch in his basement. Its dark and cool down there.

Thanks again.

TheFratGuy
 

Born Brewing Co.

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I think twist off bottles would present a problem, JMO. I've only used non twist off bottles. Just keep the bottles in cases of 24, I keep mine in the basment. You'll be ok with temps around 70 degrees. Corona bottles are fine, keep them in the DARK. Clear or Green + light = SKUNK

I can get a new case of 12oz. amber bottles at the HBS for $10. I bought 4 cases that should last "nearly forever". I keep reusing them. It's crazy, but when I go to parties I bring all my empty bottles home. My friends are on a rinse, return, refill policy.
 

bikebryan

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TheFratGuy said:
All I have for a secondary fermenter is a five gal food grade plastic bucket with a sealing lid. I've already punched a hole in the top of it for an airlock, but I think that was unnessissary.
Will a plastic bucket work for secondary? Yes. It is recommended? NO.

Plastic works great for a primary because of the volume of CO2 being produced during fermentation. Once that is done, though, the beer will produce very little CO2. Also remember that plastic is permeable to air. Add all that up - large surface area inside the bucket, an air-permeable container and very little CO2 being produced to protect the beer - and you'll see why glass is preferred for secondary. A glass carboy for secondary will virtually eliminate any spoilage due to exposure to oxygen during conditioning.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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bikebryan said:
Plastic or not plastic for the primary fermenter really doesn't matter one bit. I've never had the need to take anything but a soft cloth and some oxyclean to the inside of my plastic fermenter, so I'm not causing any scratches - and it's those scratches that could harbor your so-called nasties. The only advantage of the glass carboy for primary is being able to see the fermentation taking place.
matter of preference and sanitation. more value than to just "see the fermentation taking place".
 

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I second the recommendation for glass over plastic for a secondary. I'd also recommend pop-tops over twist-offs.

That said, I accidentally filled and capped a screw-top that got mixed in with all my pop-tops (I have a rinse, return, refill policy, too, and somehow one slipped in). It turned out just fine. But it stands to reason that they might not seal as well, so why take the chance?
 
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TheFratGuy

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This is all very helpful information. And as soon as I get my check cut from the school I'll make an investment in a couple of glass carboys. However I do have a batch of Cincinnati Pale Ale that has been in the primary for 5 days. I'm thinking of racking it to a plastic bucket. Should I just forget about it and leave it in the primary for the duration of 2 weeks? Or is it worth my while to rack it into a plastic bucket since I don't have a glass carboy yet?

Thanks again,
 

Rhoobarb

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TheFratGuy said:
... I'm thinking of racking it to a plastic bucket. Should I just forget about it and leave it in the primary for the duration of 2 weeks? ...
As long as the plastic fermenter is in decent shape, I'd vote for racking into it. IMO, getting the beer of the trub helps to eliminate off-flavors and just makes for a clearer, better tasting beer.

Also, I've been prowling yard sales in the hope of finding glass carboys on the cheap.
 

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You don't have to rack to a secondary. You could just go ahead and bottle it if it is done in the primary.
 
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TheFratGuy

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Well,

I'm not planning on bottling atleast until Aug 27th. Maybe even later than that depending on how badly I want to try the brew and how busy I am with school. Though, can someone tell me how to syphon without disturbing the trub?

I was planning on sitting my fermentor on the kitchen table and submerging the the tubing in it. Then I was going to submerge 2-3 feet of the tubing in some sanitized water, to start the syphon. Then dump the water into a bowl and shift the hose over to the 2nd bucket after the brew starts coming out. I'm going to have a friend help so that there are no lose ends. Does anyone have and suggestions to minimize disturbance and aeration?

Thanks
 

Somerville

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Leave it for some more days then bottle it...no longer or else the yeast will start to eat eachother creating off flavors...i think? yeah Im pretty sure...
 

El Pistolero

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TheFratGuy said:
I was planning on sitting my fermentor on the kitchen table and submerging the the tubing in it. Then I was going to submerge 2-3 feet of the tubing in some sanitized water, to start the syphon. Then dump the water into a bowl and shift the hose over to the 2nd bucket after the brew starts coming out. I'm going to have a friend help so that there are no lose ends.
That will work, or you could get an auto-siphon. :cool:

TheFratGuy said:
Does anyone have and suggestions to minimize disturbance and aeration?
Get a racking cane.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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either way will be fine. let it sit in the primary for another 5 days, then bottle. or, rack to secondary, let it sit there for 7-10 days, then bottle. i think you would find that racking to secondary and then bottling would lend a better flavor to the beer. a little more maturation time, and get it off the trub in the primary. some people say it doesn't matter, but i prefer to rack to secondary for conditioning.......
 

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DeRoux's Broux said:
matter of preference and sanitation. more value than to just "see the fermentation taking place".
OK, I'll bite. What are the other advantages of the glass over plastic for primary? I'm not being sarcastic or argumentative - I'd truly be interested in another perspective!
 

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bikebryan said:
OK, I'll bite. What are the other advantages of the glass over plastic for primary? I'm not being sarcastic or argumentative - I'd truly be interested in another perspective!
I like them because you can see when the kreautsen has fallen, and how much trub you've got down there. You can see this all without opening it up and increasing your risk of infection. If I feel the need to take a sample, I can do so by pulling a little plug, not having to expose the entire top of my beer (or wort) to the open air.

Also some buckets leak so badly that you won't see airlock activity, but I guess that's just luck of the draw.

I personally don't think there's anything at all wrong with a bucket for primary. They are definitely easier to clean....I can touch every inch of it with a cloth, and know it's clean. But when I have both to choose from, I'll use my carboy every time.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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bikebryan said:
OK, I'll bite. What are the other advantages of the glass over plastic for primary? I'm not being sarcastic or argumentative - I'd truly be interested in another perspective!
the advantages are as follows:
1. they are air tight
2. easily cleaned w/ a carboy brush and sanitized
3. do not hold odors
4. you can gauge fermentation

people complain about moving carboys around, bla, bla, bla. i have carboy handles and carriers for mine, and they are a sinch to move. i load them in and out of my fermentation freezer w/ ease, and have never broken one (knock-on-wood). i have no problem if someone wants to use a plastic bucket. i just believe glass is better than plastic.

do you drink your beer out of a plastic Dixie Cup? :confused: i'll pass. i prefer a nice, clean pint glass for my brews........
 

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Ditto all of the above. It's really cool to witness a vigourous, rolling fermentation through the glass. It makes you realize you really have a living, breathing 'thing' there!

Plus, no matter how freakin' careful you are, plastic just scratches too easily, IMHO. And I'm not talking big gouges, but small, thin, barely detectable scratches that can harbor bacteria.

I just noticed one on the inside of my plastic bottling bucket last weekend. And I treat that thing with kid gloves! I only use the soft side of a sponge to clean it with and I let it air dry. Still - there it was - a scratch! :mad:
 
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TheFratGuy

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I just wanted to let you all know that I syphoned my first batch into the secondary fermentor (5gal plastic) yesterday afternoon. That was the biggest mess I've made so far. I'm deffinately investing in an auto-syphon and a racking cane before I get a glass carboy or two.

I didn't have a clamp to position the tube in the primary so I attempted to balance the two ends between the buckets. That didn't work to well. So I had my girlfriend hold the one end to the 2nd-ary up in the air even with the primary while I readdjusted the hose in the primary. The hose had sucked up to much air, so I filled the 2nd-ary end with some city water through a funnel, only because that's all I had on hand at the moment. I guess she wasn't paying much attention, because when I told her to quickly lower the tube in to the empty bucket, in order to drain the city water, she lowered it into the half full 2nd-ary. So now I have about a 1/2 cup of city water in with the 2nd-ary.

I'm thinking about making a racking cane out of a half inch diameter pvc pipe or something similar. I've never seen a racking cane before, but I have a good Idea of what I need to make the racking go smother. I'll drill a hole in the side of the pipe right at the bottom and attach a clamp of some sort at the top to position it just above the trub. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.

All in all yesterday, I lost about two - three quarts from spilling and leave an inch or so on the bottom of the primary with the trub. And I not only risked contamination but I also aerated the 2nd-ary a bit. I've been closely watching it, and so far so good, ie no activity.

Thanks again for the help
 

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TheFratGuy said:
I just wanted to let you all know that I syphoned my first batch into the secondary fermentor (5gal plastic) yesterday afternoon. That was the biggest mess I've made so far.
If you think that was fun, wait till you try to bottle. :D Trying to start a syphon going "the old fashioned way" is just a cluster goof waiting to happen...for a clutz like me anyway. :(
Get an auto-syphon, and just buy a racking cane...they're only 3 bucks. Stay away from that nasty pvc stuff. ;)
 

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Cheesefood said:
Seriously, what's wrong with a hit of mouthwash followed by the old suck and pour?
Probably nothing, unless you're a klutz like myself. The best I can see happening is a facefull of beer with a little more on the floor. At worst I see that mouthfull of beer being the last straw, so to speak, and myself waking the next morning with 5 gallons of wort or flat beer seeping into myself, and the floor around me. :D :D Oh, hold it...that wouldn't really be funny, would it. :( :(
 
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TheFratGuy

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Well, the batch that I brewed on saturday is still in the primary and the airlock is showing slow but steady activity. Tomorrow will be the fifth day and it looks like I'll be syphoning it into a 2ndary fermentor to buy some time to obtain bottles and such. I found some cheap ale, Pete's Wicked Ale, that comes in dark pop-top bottles for $6.25/ 6er. I've planned a party where I'll have $1 beers or $5 bottom less cups. Once I've got all the bottles I need they should last a while. The wicked ale also taste pretty good.
Since I haven't been by a homebrew store, I'm going to attach some sort of weight to the end of the one hose. I think a kitch table spoon or something might work. As soon as I get ahead on the bills, I'll be purchasing an auto-syphon/racking cane combo. I found one on the net today for $6. I'll let you all know how tomorrows racking goes.
 

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Cheesefood said:
Seriously, what's wrong with a hit of mouthwash followed by the old suck and pour?

I'm with you Cheese. Plus the guy said that his girlfriend helped him the first time. You'd think that she could put the hose in her mouth and su...oh, sorry, this might be the wrong forum. :D

Later...
loop
 

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Not only would I invest in an Auto-siphon, but a bottle filler as well..You can get one for real cheap and it make bottling a lot easier.....
 

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Cheesefood said:
Seriously, what's wrong with a hit of mouthwash followed by the old suck and pour?
Nothing. It's just that the Auto-siphon is much easier, IMO. Plus, I like to have a brew - preferably a homebrew - while I'm working. Ever mix mouthwash and brew? :( Plus, on occasion, I had stopped siphons using just a racking cane and tubing. You have to put down your beer, go get more mouthwash, etc. With an auto-siphon, on the one occasion I did get a stopped siphon, its just one stroke and you're back in business.

Is it a neccesity? Nah. Do I love mine? You bet!
 
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TheFratGuy

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Ok, my cincinatti pale ale has been in the 2ndary for ten days now. I'm wondering what I need to do to ensure a good fermintation. I've got some priming sugar redy, but I'm not sure if the yeasts are still active. Do I need to pitch anymore yeast or will they be ok.
 

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El Pistolero said:
Your yeasts are fine...relax, have a brew. ;)
Yep. You'll gather up enough yeast simply by racking to your bottling bucket. No need to add any more. :)
 
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