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Newbie question about wort concentration and priming and bottling

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Sirenus

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Hi Everyone,

I'm just about to bottle my first (almost) 5 gallon batch of homebrew! It's the "Twelfth Night Stout," an extract and specialty-grain recipe I got from the iBrew app.

A little background: On brew day, when I first poured the wort into the primary (I have a 6.5 gallon glass carboy), I made a rookie mistake and realized that my carboy does not have gallon markers and that I'd never poured five gallons of water into it to figure out where the five gallon line should be (I've since done this). I estimated where I should fill the carboy up to with top-off water and it turns out I didn't add enough. My wort measured out to a little less than 4.5 gallons, total. I let it sit in the primary for 17 days, and it's been in my secondary (a five gallon glass carboy) for 11 days.

I'm planning on bottling my beer after it's been in the secondary for a little over two weeks. Here's my question: When I'm boiling my priming sugar in water, should I use a half gallon of water to get my beer back up to 5 gallons, or should I just use the recommended amount of water, which I think is 16 ounces? Will my not topping off with enough water on brew day negatively affect my beer?

Also, I'm thinking of using Munson's Kreamyx for priming instead of regular corn or cane sugar. Does anyone have an opinion on the Kreamyx vs other sugars?

Thanks in advance to anyone who reads this. I've been reading these boards for while and I've been really impressed by how welcoming and helpful everyone is!
 

Captain Damage

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Congratulations! You've taken your first step into a larger world.

Prime it as-is, without trying to make up the volume. Your beer will be slightly stronger than expected, but not by much - you probably wouldn't even notice if I hadn't just suggested it. And you'll get a few bottles less than expected, but there are other variables involved in how many bottles you get out of a batch anyway.

I haven't used KreamyX, so can't comment from experience, but if the point of it is to make your beer head thicker, why not see if your first batch needs a thicker head, and maybe use it in your next batch and compare the result?
 

zzARzz

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Congrats on your first brew and welcome to the site!

I've heard of people topping off to 5 gallons before bottling without too much of "NO! DON"T DO IT," (personally I'd leave it the way it is), though you may want to check your gravity readings to be sure it won't water your brew down too much. Brewer's Friend has a dilution/top-off calculator you could use to keep your gravity around where you want it here.

Something else you may consider, if you're bottling to 12oz bottles, is that 4.5 gallons will give you exactly 2 cases (48 bottles), but you may be a few bottles shy due to trub loss.

I've always used dextrose to prime so I can't offer anything as far as the KreamyX is concerned. It may be worth using normal priming sugar (corn sugar/dextrose) your first time out and if you decide to make this recipe again, try the KreamyX next time and see which you like better.

Welcome again and good luck on finishing up your first brew. :mug:
 
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Sirenus

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Thanks so much to you both for the advice! I went ahead and bottled the stout tonight (the first and last time I'll ever do that on a work night!) and had a bit of a rough time of it. It turns out the tubing connecting the spigot of my bottling bucket to my racking cane was too big to form a good seal around the spigot. So, my (long suffering yet loving) wife was kind enough to hold the tubing up against the spigot while I bottled. I'll have to talk to the owner of my LHBS about this.

Could you tell me how you sanitize your bottles? Do you do them all at once in a big tub of starsan, take them out, then fill with beer? Or do you sanitize one by one? Or by small batches? Will starsan still work if some beer gets into a big tub of it?

Anyhow, I tasted the uncarbonated beer and it was good! It was a bit sweet (my hydrometer gave a reading of 1.026 at 70 degrees, which is higher than 1.016 what the recipe says it should be, but that might be because my wort was concentrated) but very palatable. I left too much head space in my bottles; not sure how that will affect things. But I can't wait to crack one open in a few weeks and sample my beer!

Either way bottling today was a great learning experience (as in learning what not to do next time!) and it will serve me well in the future since I have 5 gallons of porter fermenting in my primary as I type!

Thanks to you both for the great advice and the warm welcome to the board! I truly appreciate it.

PS I used regular priming sugar and decided to skip the Kreamyx this time out.
 

freisste

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If using a bottling wand, press the pin against the bottom of the bottle until you have the bottle absolutely full to the brim. Like about to overflow. Then pull the wand straight out the top. The volume displaced by the wand leaves (IMO) the perfect amount of empty space. Very uniform. Good luck.
 

sweetcell

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as mentioned by others: welcome :mug:

Thanks so much to you both for the advice! I went ahead and bottled the stout tonight (the first and last time I'll ever do that on a work night!) and had a bit of a rough time of it. It turns out the tubing connecting the spigot of my bottling bucket to my racking cane was too big to form a good seal around the spigot. So, my (long suffering yet loving) wife was kind enough to hold the tubing up against the spigot while I bottled. I'll have to talk to the owner of my LHBS about this.
bottling does get a lot more efficient with practice. it can be done on a work night, once you get the process down. do look into getting a bottling wand.

Could you tell me how you sanitize your bottles? Do you do them all at once in a big tub of starsan, take them out, then fill with beer? Or do you sanitize one by one? Or by small batches? Will starsan still work if some beer gets into a big tub of it?
i used to use a contraption called a vinator. it's a hand-pumped "fountain" that sprays star san into the bottle as you press the bottle down on it. i believe the one i bought was slightly defective and was a slight pain the in behind to use, so my current method is to dunk the entire bottle in star san (while wearing rubber gloves to keep the stuff off my hands, too much exposure dries out my skin to the point of cracking), spin the horizontally floating bottle in the star san to ensure that the insides are completely coated, then suspend the bottle upside-down on a rack that hangs over the star san bucket - thus allowing the excess star san to fall back into the bucket. my bottles have previously been soaked in One Step and/or Oxyclean, so they are already clean. star san is used to sanitize just before bottling.

if working solo typically i'll dunk 12-15 bottles, let them drip, fill them, cap them and then repeat. if the missus is helping me (bless her heart), i'll be filling non-stop while she dunks bottles, brings me dried/dripped ones, and caps. it's a ridiculously efficient operation at this point. we can get 50 bottles done in well under 30 minutes.

welcome to the obsession!
 

zzARzz

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I use an auto-siphon attached to a bottling wand for bottling and it works really well for me. I only use the spigot on my bottling bucket to get the last of the beer. I'll share that it helps with any spillage if you keep an old roasting pan underneath to catch any mishaps (brown ale + concrete = stain :mad: )

As far as sanitizing my bottles, I just rinse them pretty well in the sink with hot water, scrub with a bottling brush and put them in my dishwasher on a high heat / sanitizing cycle with heated drying. I usually do that the day before I bottle and cover the mouths with a sheet of plastic wrap to keep anything from falling in once they're dry. I've bottled a few hundred using this method and never had an infected one.
 
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Sirenus

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Thanks so much for the advice, everyone! I really appreciate it. It was all really helpful and will be put to good use when I bottle my second batch; a porter.
 

MindenMan

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I too use my dishwasher for sanitizing my beer bottles. I always rinse out all my beer bottles before they go to the garage. On brewing day, I will put my bottles in the dishwasher, add a small amount of bleach, and set to heated dry.
 
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