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OBX

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Just found this forum today. I can tell much is way over my head. I bought a "kit" from http://www.homebrewers.com that came with 2 6 gal buckets, sanitizer, spoon, two books, and a "Kit" that makes the beer. I got the Northface Nutbrown kit. I read here that many say to avoid kits and buy the various ingreadiants. That would be way over my head and I have no store near me to visit. The kit I did get came with hop pellets, seeping grain, liquid unhopped extract and powdered yeast. I boiled for an hour and pitched the wort in the fermenter. The OG was 1.042. One book suggested taking a one cup sample after the yeast was added and leving it in a covered jar to use as a sample to take daily (if you wanted to) specific gravity reading. That way you don't take any more wort out - that worked great and I have a nice table showing the reading every day. The bubbling stopped after about 5 days and I left it in the fermenter for 10 days. I bottled yeasterday and am now waiting a week to try one. I'll then wait another 1-2 weeks before refrigerating. Does that sound right?

Question: what is wrong with these kits? They seem liek they are pretty good compared to the ones I have read about here where you dump a can in, add water and no boiling. Is that the type of kit to avoid or is the one I got something to avoid as well? http://www.homebrewers.com/product/NORTHFACENUTBROWNKIT

I think next time I will upgrade to the iodine sanitizer and liquid yeast. What do you think?
Tim
 

ryser2k

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There is nothing wrong with the kits at all. I started out with a kit like that, and I'm sure everyone else here did too. The first time I did it, I just thought to myself "wow, that was way too easy". I felt like there should be more involved in it, and that is the great thing about this hobby. You can choose how much work you want to put in and still make great beer.

My suggestion to you is to keep making kits as long as you're happy with it, but if you ever finding yourself asking if there is more you can do, just realize there is. When that day comes, the people here will be more than happy to help you along :)

A side note... if I was you I wouldn't worry about taking hydrometer readings. I did that the first time too, since my kit came with one, but quickly realized there wasn't much point. If you just let your beer sit for 5-7 days in the fermenter, it should be plenty of time.
 
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OBX

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Wow, you say that wasn't much work. Wow, I was telling my wife how much I have wanted to brew my own beer for so long and when I finally did I was amazed at the time involved. Hours to do the boil. Hours to sanitize and wash them darn bottles and everything else. I would have to retire to spend more time at this. I only hope the results are worth the effort. I can't imagine more effort - wow. I think I will be getting the carboy for the next batch. No stopping now!! Doing the specific gravity reading was fun and only took 5 min a day and it gave me something to do for the 10 days waiting for the racking. I'll do that again since it didn't require opening the fermenter.

:D
 

bikebryan

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OBX said:
Wow, you say that wasn't much work. Wow, I was telling my wife how much I have wanted to brew my own beer for so long and when I finally did I was amazed at the time involved. Hours to do the boil. Hours to sanitize and wash them darn bottles and everything else. I would have to retire to spend more time at this. I only hope the results are worth the effort. I can't imagine more effort - wow. I think I will be getting the carboy for the next batch. No stopping now!! Doing the specific gravity reading was fun and only took 5 min a day and it gave me something to do for the 10 days waiting for the racking. I'll do that again since it didn't require opening the fermenter.

:D
You mentioned hours to do the boil - what were you boiling, and what was it on? Surely you weren't trying to do a full 5 gallon boil on an indoor gas, or electric range!

Do yourself a favor and get a turkey fryer - a propane one works real well - and you won't regret it. I paid $35 for mine, including the 7 gallon aluminum kettle, and it works great. 30 minutes from cold to adding the extract, at most, another 10 to 15 to full boil, then 60 minutes and done. From starting the heating to sealing the lid on the fermenter only takes maybe 2 to 2.5 hours.

I also don't know what took you hours to do your bottles. I just bottled a batch of California Common (Steam) beer. It took me a little over half an hour to sanitize 2.5 cases of bottles using iodophor. I ate lunch while they drip-dried. Another 30 minutes was all it took to transfer from secondary to the bottling bucket, add the priming sugar, bottle and cap.

I'm no old hand at this either. I've been brewing beer for almost two years, but only started doing it at home in February. Before that I was using a BOP where they provided all the equipment and instructions. I think the key is practicing good time management. Sanitize while you are boiling for the brewing/fermenting stage. When bottling, use your bottling bucket to sanitize your bottles, which sanitizes the bucket at the same time. Use the sanitizer left over in the bucket to sanitize your racking cane, tubing, and bottling wand while the bottles are dripping dry. The only thing that adds extra time when I brew, bottle, or keg is cleaning up the remants afterwards - you know, my autosiphon, hoses, carboys/fermenters, etc - with a little oxyclean and rinsing with nice clean water. Even that only takes me maybe ten minutes tops.
 
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OBX

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Sorry, what I meant is the time to do everything, not the actual boil itself. Sanitizing, washing, boiling the water to add to the boiled wort(not using tap water) and the time to cool it, then the cooling process of the boiled wort in the sink with ice. It all adds up and took several hours. Then the prep for the bottling took a good amount of time as well. It is not just the hour to boil, it's much more than that unless you cut a lot of corners. Maybe I can learn what corners to cut, but I cut very few this time.
 

ryser2k

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If you can't use water straight from the tap, you could buy spring water from the store or boil your water ahead of time to allow it time to cool. Also, some people add a bag of ice directly to the wort to bring the wort up to the right level and cool it at the same time. If you can eliminate this step from your brew day, that should bring you closer to the 2 hour mark that bryan mentioned.
 
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OBX

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The more I read the more conflicting info I get. One books says to avoid tap water since it could have nasties in there that could taint the beer and others say it's ok to use bottled spring water while others say to boil everything. Alot is going to be learned via experience or trial & error (my normal method) but I wanted to do everything right the first time (a change for me) so I boiled everything. I didn't realize how long it takes boiled water to cool. I will do that a few days ahead next time for sure. Thanks for the advice. I watched a show where Alton Brown used spring water and ice. That show made me go buy my beer kit, but the book by Palmer says to avoid doing that - so I boiled everything. I see that some do and some don't use the method. :confused: :confused:
 

ryser2k

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Well, I use straight tap water, but they bottle "spring" water from tap systems around here :D From my experience at beachfront towns like Outer Banks, the water can have a weird "ocean" smell sometimes, which you probably wouldn't want in your beer. Basically though, if you can drink your tap water and it tastes good to you, then you can probably use it in your beer.

Some people say that you can just draw your 5-6 gallons of water from the tap the night before, and just leave it sit out to let chlorine and other things dissipate.

You're right about the conflicting info though. A lot of the books say that you should adjust the mineral content and pH of your water before brewing and all these other things, and they act like your beer will just not turn out if you don't do this. That's just not true... most people here don't bother modifying our water at all, and we've all been enjoy good beer for a while now.

And I saw that Alton Brown show too, he made a few mistakes ;) Brew a few batches and then go back and watch it again...
 
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OBX said:
Wow, you say that wasn't much work. Wow, I was telling my wife how much I have wanted to brew my own beer for so long and when I finally did I was amazed at the time involved. Hours to do the boil. Hours to sanitize and wash them darn bottles and everything else. I would have to retire to spend more time at this. I only hope the results are worth the effort. I can't imagine more effort - wow. I think I will be getting the carboy for the next batch. No stopping now!! Doing the specific gravity reading was fun and only took 5 min a day and it gave me something to do for the 10 days waiting for the racking. I'll do that again since it didn't require opening the fermenter.

:D
The 1st batch you do does seem to take some time as you are both confused and tentative during the process. It'll get quicker for you to a point. In the end a typical brew day for me (extract/steep) will take 3 hours or so but a lot of that is sitting around reading the paper etc. and waiting for the wort to cool and cleanup. To me, brewing is now a relaxing process as long as the wife leaves me alone :eek:

Bottling is tetious but I was way anal the first time and now I have it steamlined pretty well. My process is to take recently emptied bottles and toss them in tub of 2oz bleach to 5g water and let them soak. Pull em out after 24h or whenever it's full. Drain them and throw them on my bottle shelf. Come bottle day I hot rinse them to get bleach remnants out and throw them in sanitizer (iodophour) for 1+ minutes. Pull em out and let them drain; keep doing this 'til I got enough bottles. Then transfer brew to the bottle bucket and start filling them up. I'm done in about 1.5h. I don't soap up bottles or use a bottle brush. No nasties yet after 8 batches...
 
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OBX

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ryser2k said:
And I saw that Alton Brown show too, he made a few mistakes ;) Brew a few batches and then go back and watch it again...

I wish someone could tell me how to find that program again to watch it. I wish I had set TIVO to record the darn thing. If I ever see it listed to broadcast again I sure will record it.

Yea, the water here (I am 60' west of the Atlantic ocean) is from wells that then runs thru an osmosis filtering system. There are traces of salt in the water which shows up easily when you wash your car and let it air dry. The water tastes ok, but I will never use it in beer without boiling it. Next time I'll buy spring water and maybe boil it.
Thanks!
 

bikebryan

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OBX said:
Sorry, what I meant is the time to do everything, not the actual boil itself. Sanitizing, washing, boiling the water to add to the boiled wort(not using tap water) and the time to cool it, then the cooling process of the boiled wort in the sink with ice. It all adds up and took several hours. Then the prep for the bottling took a good amount of time as well. It is not just the hour to boil, it's much more than that unless you cut a lot of corners. Maybe I can learn what corners to cut, but I cut very few this time.
I don't cut corners. I am fairly meticulous in my sanitation; it is just that I learned how to multi-task everything involved in brewing and while one task is going on I'm working on the next one or two already.
 

bikebryan

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ryser2k said:
If you can't use water straight from the tap, you could buy spring water from the store or boil your water ahead of time to allow it time to cool. Also, some people add a bag of ice directly to the wort to bring the wort up to the right level and cool it at the same time. If you can eliminate this step from your brew day, that should bring you closer to the 2 hour mark that bryan mentioned.
I add bottled spring water to my fermenter to bring the volume to about 5 1/2 gallons - meaning right at about five gallons a couple of weeks later when the fermentation and secondary is finished. I have heard of people adding ice, but have also heard too many bad stories to try it. I do know that many bags of ice I have bought have small rips and tears in them, and are a haven of unknown numbers of bacteria just waiting to infect my brew. Commercial ice is usually (actually, only rarely) processed through reverse osmosis or even run through any kind of filtration.
 

bikebryan

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OBX said:
I wish someone could tell me how to find that program again to watch it. I wish I had set TIVO to record the darn thing. If I ever see it listed to broadcast again I sure will record it.

Yea, the water here (I am 60' west of the Atlantic ocean) is from wells that then runs thru an osmosis filtering system. There are traces of salt in the water which shows up easily when you wash your car and let it air dry. The water tastes ok, but I will never use it in beer without boiling it. Next time I'll buy spring water and maybe boil it.
Thanks!
Just FYI - boiling the water won't get rid of any of the salt in it. In fact, it will likely concentrate the salt in what is left in the pot. Now, if you boiled it, caught the vapor in coils and cooled/condensed it (IOW, if you distilled the water) THEN you would have salt free water. I don't know all that many folks who distill their own water, though. I know a few folks who may well distill something ELSE, but not water.
 
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OBX

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bikebryan said:
Just FYI - boiling the water won't get rid of any of the salt in it. In fact, it will likely concentrate the salt in what is left in the pot. Now, if you boiled it, caught the vapor in coils and cooled/condensed it (IOW, if you distilled the water) THEN you would have salt free water. I don't know all that many folks who distill their own water, though. I know a few folks who may well distill something ELSE, but not water.

Thanks, but you are assuming way to much. I certainly know boiling will not get rid of the salt that is there. I know you mean well. I have crappy water and I won't use it unless I boil it. I know boiling won't make a silk purse from a cows ear, but it helps. :rolleyes:
 

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I use tap water filtered through a PUR filter.

I also put 4-5 gals (1 gal containers) in the freezer several hours prior to brewing.

After brewing I put 2 gals of water into the primary and pour my wort into it then top off with the remaining water. When I take the temp it is almost always below 75% (and sometimes in the 60s) almost immediately.
 

ryser2k

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OBX said:
I wish someone could tell me how to find that program again to watch it. I wish I had set TIVO to record the darn thing. If I ever see it listed to broadcast again I sure will record it.

Yea, the water here (I am 60' west of the Atlantic ocean) is from wells that then runs thru an osmosis filtering system. There are traces of salt in the water which shows up easily when you wash your car and let it air dry. The water tastes ok, but I will never use it in beer without boiling it. Next time I'll buy spring water and maybe boil it.
Thanks!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ea/episode/0,1976,FOOD_9956_21011,00.html

It is airing again on May 16, 2005 at 7:00 PM ET/PT
 

sause

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I use tap but i boil it the night before and set it out side to cool. I leave the covers on almost the whole time to try to sanitize the covers and leave the covers on over night and then i have 3.5 gallons of sanitized water and it is cold enogh here in the winter that it cools the wort down to close the pitching temps.
 

bikebryan

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OBX said:
Thanks, but you are assuming way to much. I certainly know boiling will not get rid of the salt that is there. I know you mean well. I have crappy water and I won't use it unless I boil it. I know boiling won't make a silk purse from a cows ear, but it helps. :rolleyes:
Sorry. However, if you look at the post I was replying to, it basically read that you were trying to get the salt out of the water by boiling it. You may not have meant that, but that's what you wrote!
 

brewhead

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I paid $35 for mine, including the 7 gallon aluminum kettle
i've been told to stay away from aluminum kettles - or i'd already have this setup. any one else have the same reservations about aluminium?

also - to wade into the water discussion (rimshot) i use bottled spring water from north carolina. i was told that distilled water would have all the essence boiled out of it - the character of the water as it were - that would give the beer the flavor

and as for chlorine - the chloramine won't evaporate out or off of the water or objects you rinse. here in sc - this is a common additive to our water supply.
 
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