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moscoeb

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Hey all, I just signed up here after lurking for a week or so. I have my first batch of America Amber Ale fermenting right now. I will be racking to secondary on Friday.
I can't wait for this stuff to be done so I can try my first attempt at it!
Already learned alot, look forward to learning more and meeting everyone.
 

Shooter

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Hey all, I just signed up here after lurking for a week or so. I have my first batch of America Amber Ale fermenting right now. I will be racking to secondary on Friday.
I can't wait for this stuff to be done so I can try my first attempt at it!
Already learned alot, look forward to learning more and meeting everyone.
Welcome and don't bother racking to secondary, just leave it a couple extra weeks in the primary.
 
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moscoeb

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Doesn't the secondary help clear and blend the beer? This is what I have taken from reading.
There does appear to be a debate between to do a secondary or not though, correct?
Still learning and trying to take it all in. Any and all advise is welcome!
 

wilsojos

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I went to secondary on my first batch recently and for a new guy like me it just gave another point for potential error or contamination. I am not going to secondary on my current batch. From what I understand clarity and flavor are just as good if not better than going to secondary. Search palmer jamil secondary to see a great thread started by revvy.
 

SwivelHips

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Nevermind the secondary, congrats on your first batch -- my first was also an Amber Ale (Alaskan Amber clone, actually a North German altbier), just finishing my second pint of the evening right now...
 
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moscoeb

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I will definitely look that up.
So how much longer should I wait to bottle, I brewed on 4/1. Give it another week or so?
Also, what final gravity should I have if fermentation is done?
 

duboman

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moscoeb said:
I will definitely look that up.
So how much longer should I wait to bottle, I brewed on 4/1. Give it another week or so?
Also, what final gravity should I have if fermentation is done?
If its still in the primary, leave it for a total of 3 weeks, if you already transferred it to secondary, leave it for 2 more. As for FG, that should be on your recipe sheet. You did not provide your recipe or the yeast used so we can't help you figure that out without knowing the OG and the recipe and the yeast
 

JonK331

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Welcome! Give it a good three weeks. Depending on the style/recipe, you should finish around 1.014 for an extract batch.
 

Qhrumphf

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+1 on the three weeks in primary before bottling and skipping secondary. And while you should finish somewhere in the mid 1.01- range, it's almost impossible tell exactly. At about 2 weeks in, start taking hydrometer readings. If the readings stay the same over a 3 day period, it's done fermenting. If it's lower on the third day than the first day, it's still going and needs more time. The last thing you want to do is bottle a beer that's still fermenting, as that can be dangerous (bottle bombs).
 
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moscoeb

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Awesome, thanks for the info everyone. I will look over the recipe when I get home tomorrow.

So when is it advised/advantageous to do a secondary? A heavier beer like IPA that needs to ferment longer?
 

Shaneoco1981

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Only if you are dry hopping, something that needs to sit for a LONG time (i.e. Belgian Tripel, Barley wine, etc), or if you are adding something to the beer after fermentation (i.e. fruit, coffee). Most beers, 90% of them, are good with 3 weeks in Primary and then bottling.
 

eljefe

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Welcome to homebrewing! The one thing that you will learn quickly is that every possible thing you can do has multiple points of view. You will find the following topics are constant points of debate:
- All grain vs Extract
- Bottle vs Kegging
- Primary vs Secondary
- Glass Carboys vs Plastic Ones
- etc, etc, etc.

The best advice is to experiment, keep great notes and find what works best for you.

I will transfer beer to a secondary (carboy) to free up the primary fermentation bucket/carboy. Some of the styles like Barley Wines, Belgiums, Imperials, should age longer so those tend to get racked toa secondary. Others like wheat, IPAs, ambers, etc stay in the primary until ready.

There is a ton of great information on this site and an even better group of people who are willing to help. For the most part, anything that you have a question about has probably been asked so search around. If you don't find anything, ask and as your initial post shows, we are all eager and willing to share our opinions.

Good luck and enjoy
 

duboman

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Alemann said:
Secondaries aren't needed .
Generally secondaries are only used if racking over fruit, some people will dry hop as well as other types if additions like oak chips and such, otherwise the secondary isn't needed.
 
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moscoeb

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Again, thanks. Trying to take it all in, y'all remind me of my jeep forum, extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I look forward to learning, and I am learning right now that patience sucks!! :)
Can't wait to try my first batch. I'll have to update and load some pictures whenever I get there.
Thanks for all the information everyone.
Feel free to offer any advice or lessons learned!
 

Qhrumphf

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Patience is probably the hardest part for a new brewer. Once you've got a few brews under your belt and have a pipeline going, you'll always have drinkable homebrew while others are still fermenting or conditioning or aging. Makes the waiting a lot easier.
 

Squirrels

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In my opinion secondaries are only needed if:
  1. You are adding fruit
  2. You are dry hopping/oak chipping
  3. Doing a big beer and want to bulk age it
  4. You want to - biggest reason of all

Personally, I haven't used a secondary in almost a year. I haven't regretted it at all. Good luck and welcome to the hobby!
 
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moscoeb

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No kidding, I am thinking about starting on a second batch in about a week or two. But I won't have enough bottles for them both. Gotta drink more Sam Adams or buy some bottles.
I think I'll drink!
 

eljefe

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No kidding, I am thinking about starting on a second batch in about a week or two. But I won't have enough bottles for them both. Gotta drink more Sam Adams or buy some bottles.
I think I'll drink!
Go to a local bar and see if they have some returnable that they would be willing to sell to you. Ideally find a bar that sells Grolsch. Those are like gold!
 
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moscoeb

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Squirrels said:
In my opinion secondaries are only needed if:

[*]You are adding fruit
[*]You are dry hopping/oak chipping
[*]Doing a big beer and want to bulk age it
[*]You want to - biggest reason of all


Personally, I haven't used a secondary in almost a year. I haven't regretted it at all. Good luck and welcome to the hobby!
Thanks, I am looking forward to being able to try more things, but I figured I would do a few easy kits first before I branch out on my own. The secondary over fruit does sound interesting though. Maybe after a few more batches I'll do one over some hand picked blackberries from the back yard. Hmmmm...
 
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moscoeb

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eljefe said:
Go to a local bar and see if they have some returnable that they would be willing to sell to you. Ideally find a bar that sells Grolsch. Those are like gold!
Good idea, I'll have to ask around.
 

Qhrumphf

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Try beer stores, too. My preferred local bottle shop holds tastings regularly, and they just posted a call out on their Facebook page for any local homebrewers who wanted a few free cases of empties before they recycled them.
 
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moscoeb

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Qhrumphf said:
Try beer stores, too. My preferred local bottle shop holds tastings regularly, and they just posted a call out on their Facebook page for any local homebrewers who wanted a few free cases of empties before they recycled them.
Sweet, I got a buddy that works at a beer store, maybe he can hook me up!
 

wilsojos

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moscoeb said:
No kidding, I am thinking about starting on a second batch in about a week or two. But I won't have enough bottles for them both. Gotta drink more Sam Adams or buy some bottles.
I think I'll drink!
It is nice of the commercial brewers to include free bottles with their beer. Oxyclean overnight in a five gallon bucket to clean and get labels off. I bought a case of 22 oz bottles from my lhbs. They take less time to fill and are a more reasonably sized beer.
 
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moscoeb

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wilsojos said:
It is nice of the commercial brewers to include free bottles with their beer. Oxyclean overnight in a five gallon bucket to clean and get labels off. I bought a case of 22 oz bottles from my lhbs. They take less time to fill and are a more reasonably sized beer.
22oz huh?
I swear officer, I've only had two!
 

WickedLB

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The best advice is to experiment, keep great notes and find what works best for you.
+1 on this advice! When you go to re-brew something that comes out great or you are trying to refine your process, notes are sooo helpful! My first 5 or 6 brews I just wrote down recipe and wished I had mash temps, OG, FG, time in primary, and temp of fermentation.

Welcome to the hobby & the community!
 

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Go to a local bar and see if they have some returnable that they would be willing to sell to you. Ideally find a bar that sells Grolsch. Those are like gold!
I avoid green bottles.

Start beer hunting; try new beers. Save the bottles. Get bombers when you can. You can cap American Champagne bottles.

I try to add one or two swing tops to my bottle collection every few weeks. I've found German and French swing tops at my local liquor store. They're generally $3-4 apiece and you have to empty them on your own ;).

I use a jet bottle washer to clean bottles and carboys. I make about 5 gallons of sanitizer on brew day and use it to sanitize everything, including the bottles (I bottle the previous beer when I brew a new batch).
 
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moscoeb

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Ok, I have a few noob questions.

I understand OG and FG, but how do you predict before you brew and know if you "hit" it. And what difference does missing your mark make, and what causes it to be off?
I assume it affect your abv%, and you miss it by under boiling or over boiling your wort?
I'm sure I'll think of other things I need more explanation on, throw them out if you think of any!!
 

ludomonster

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You can do calculations by hand or use brewing software. Choose a style that you want to brew. Generally, recipes have a significant amount of lighter malt. Brewers add specialty grains to get the color and malty flavor they want, as described in the style. They keep tweaking this until they have the right ABV and color. Both of these things tend to have wide ranges, so it's pretty easy to plan for a recipe to hit those targets. Then, people plan to add their bittering hops to get to a target IBU. Then they add flavor and aroma hops to add the appropriate taste and smell.

There are a lot of options along the way.

A given type of extract usually gives a certain amount of "points" per pound per gallon. For example Pale Dry Malt Extract will give 44 points per pound per gallon. Dissolving 1 lb in 1 gallon will yield a solution with an OG of 1.044. Take that value, multiply it by the weight you're using and divide it by the the total volume. That's how much it contributes to your OG.

With grain, you can't just say that you'll get 44 points out of a 1lb of Pale 2-row (that number isn't even correct, as Dry Malt Extract has more carbohydrates than grain). The mashing process will not get all of the carbohydrates into your wort. You can calculate an expected gravity value and compare it to a measured gravity at the end of sparging to get your mash efficiency, which should be between 75% - 85%, where 85% is really good.

People will measure the efficiency of their process and assume that value when making recipes.

One of the other thing that affects ABV is how much of it is actually fermentable. Malty beers taste malty because some of those carbohydrates weren't converted into fermentable sugars.

Finally, the yeast you use plays a critical role in determining your ABV, as it makes beer. Different strains of yeast have different attenuation rates, which is how much it will convert. Furthermore, yeasts have different alcohol tolerances. For high gravity beers, you may use more tolerant strains. Different amounts of yeast and how old it is also affects the beer.
 
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moscoeb

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Great info, thanks. So it is more of educated guess or a range to be tried to obtain for pure grain recipes? Is this why the full grain brewing is harder? Or should I dive into it after a few kits? I was planning in doing a couple more kits to practice, then trying a recipe of something I like.

If don't use DME and LME how are they processed? Same as the grains? Boil in a bag?
Any other equipment needed before taking that step? Like filter, more cheesecloth bags?
 

Qhrumphf

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Different malts and different extracts have different amounts of fermentables and solids they contribute. Between different grains, there's variance between each malt and even between each maltster (for example one maltster's domestic 2 row may yield a max of 36 ppg of fermentable sugar, where another may yield 38). If you know the max yield of your given malt and how much you'll actually get out of a malt- the efficiency of your mashing system/process mentioned above (efficiency is irrelevant with extract- the sugar yield is going to be that particular extracts stated yield every time) you can devise a constant formula for gravity based on volume. At any given volume, you can tell what the gravity will be. If you've got some info from your maltster, know your system and take good measurements, you can for all practical purposes know the gravity of your wort exactly at any given point during the brew day.
 

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When you go all grain, water chemistry becomes much more important. The brewers that make your malt extract essentially do the hard work for you. DMS also become more of an issue. You'll need enough heat to bring 5 gallons of wort to a boil and maintain it. People tend to move outside and use propane burners for all grain systems. Given all of the equipment changes, there's a fair degree of work to bring your system to where it was with previous methods.
 
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moscoeb

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Qhrumphf said:
Different malts and different extracts have different amounts of fermentables and solids they contribute. Between different grains, there's variance between each malt and even between each maltster (for example one maltster's domestic 2 row may yield a max of 36 ppg of fermentable sugar, where another may yield 38). If you know the max yield of your given malt and how much you'll actually get out of a malt- the efficiency of your mashing system/process mentioned above (efficiency is irrelevant with extract- the sugar yield is going to be that particular extracts stated yield every time) you can devise a constant formula for gravity based on volume. At any given volume, you can tell what the gravity will be. If you've got some info from your maltster, know your system and take good measurements, you can for all practical purposes know the gravity of your wort exactly at any given point during the brew day.
Makes sense, thanks

ludomonster said:
When you go all grain, water chemistry becomes much more important. The brewers that make your malt extract essentially do the hard work for you. DMS also become more of an issue. You'll need enough heat to bring 5 gallons of wort to a boil and maintain it. People tend to move outside and use propane burners for all grain systems. Given all of the equipment changes, there's a fair degree of work to bring your system to where it was with previous methods.
So no partial boils for all grain? So till I can set up with burner and larger pot for full boil I should stick with extracts, correct?
 

Qhrumphf

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You CAN do a partial boil with all-grain, but full boil is ideal, and doing a partial boil is going to prevent your brews from being the best they can be. You could also do partial mashes. But for ANY method, full boil is still the best bet.

There's a couple of ways apartment brewers (and those who otherwise can't brew outside with propane) deal with it- additional heat sources like heat sticks (or build an all-electric rig), split boils (boiling half the batch in different kettles on different stovetop burners), or simply just doing smaller batches that'll fit in a smaller kettle and boil on the stove. So going outside isn't required. There's plenty of ways around it you can find on here.
 

ludomonster

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You can do partial mash recipes. That will allow you to brew many more styles. There's a great guide in the partial mash forum.

When you're mashing, you need a certain amount of water to achieve the right pH. The ratio is around 1.33 qt/lb. This means that 10lb of grain will need 3 1/4 gallons of water. Bigger beers will need more grain and water. You'll lose some water to the grain, but you'll also need enough sparge water to rinse out all of the converted sugars. Full volume boils are common. You might need to boil down to 5 gallons.
 
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moscoeb

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Well, bottled tonight. Got 47 bottles out of it. FG 1.009 for an ABV of 4.732%. Just shy of the 4.75% that recipe stated. Initial taste seems to be decent, anxious to see how it tastes after conditioning!!

I think I did ok for first attempt. Already got the kit for my second batch!! It's an American Cream Ale. Just gotta get the water and find the time now!
 

wilsojos

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I would suggest you try it at 1 week, 2 weeks and 3 weeks leaving it at 70 degrees and chilling just before drinking. I found it very interesting to see how it changed week to week. I also like to buy a similar style from the store to compare against.
 
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moscoeb

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I may have to try that. Will satisfy my impatience too!
 
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