Some questions to help me on my way - (basic equipment use)

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Stevoster

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Hi there,

Just about to get started and have a few questions. Any advice much appreciated!

Firstly the airlock - I presume I need to put liquid in the airlock but what liquid and how much?

Hydrometer - what do I need this for? I read somewhere that I test the brew and and if I get the same reading three days in a row then it is ready to bottle. However, do I need to keep taking the lid off the brew every day and siphon off some sample? I read a post here to get a turkey baster which I suppose makes more sense.
I also remember reading something about using the hydrometer to measre the alcohol content - how does this work again?
Also, when the hydromer gives same reading for three days or the airlock stops bubbling then it is ready to bottle but I plan on using a secondary fermentation bin after this happens for a further 2 weeks - is this a good idea?

I'm using a wheat beer kit and it says to use a 1/2 cup of priming sugar when bottling - would I be better off using a 1/2 cup of glucose instead?

Thanks for reading. Sorry - this post is a lot longer than I expected!

Cheers,
Steve.
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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Buckle in....
First, I suggest reading www.howtobrew.com. That should answer your questions and answer other questions you didn't even know you had....But I'll do a cliff notes version to answer your questiosns...

Airlock...Yes, liquid. Fill to the line etched on the side. Some fill with water, others cheap vodka, others sanitizer solution.

The hydrometer is the only way you know for sure that your beer has fermented. You take a reading before pitching your yeast, then other reading 7 - 10 days after you pitch. Yes, you will have to take the lid off the bucket if that is what you are using. Don't worry, you won't hurt anything.

Alcohol content...there is a formula to use taking your original gravity reading and your final gravity reading...check out the website I mentioned.

Pay no attention to the airlock bubbling. This is not an accurate sign of fermentation. HYDROMETER....

Check out the site. Let us know if there is still something that isn't clear.

Welcome to HBT, and to brewing!
 

malkore

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everything Kilted Brewer said is good info...and the link for howtobrew.com - read it, learn it, live it. the printed book is even better, but the online version is good to get you started.
 

Rick_R

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Re hydrometer: The hydrometer measures specific gravity; as the yeasty beasties eat the fermentables, the specific gravity of the liquid goes down (the dissolved sugars in the wort raises the gravity from that of just pure water; as the sugars are turned into alcohol, the SG goes down). When it stops going down -- and assuming it's in the neighborhood as expected -- you can suspect it's done.

Do make sure you sanitize the turkey baster prior to pulling a sample and, if it's going to take more than one dip into the solution, make sure you don't touch anything when you empty the first pull from the turkey baster prior to putting it back into the fermenting beer. Oh, and of course drink the sample to see how things are coming along.

Good luck!

Rick
 

BrianP

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Re: dextrose. You can use a variety of sugars for bottle conditioning, but the most popular is dextrose (corn sugar). Some people use dry malt extract. I'd suggest using one of the two. www.howtobrew.com goes into detail about your carbonation options.
 

TheFlatline

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everything Kilted Brewer said is good info...and the link for howtobrew.com - read it, learn it, live it. the printed book is even better, but the online version is good to get you started.
I have the printed book, but the online version is excellent for quick references. I suggest getting both.

Then again, my brewing library is already rivaling my smithing library at over a dozen references. I'm a book fiend.
 
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Stevoster

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Hi guys, thanks a mill for the replies and advice. I have my wheat beer wort in the attic here for nearly 20 hours now. Now I know that the bubbles are not a reliable indicator but I have a bad feeling that my yeast is dead. Absolutely nothing happening. I'll take a hydrometer reading today but what can I do if it is the same as pre-pitching? I don't have any yeast and I wont be able to get some into the wort for a week! Is this a lost cause and do I need to thow the whole lot out? I'm really really hoping that it will keep until I get new yeast. I was so very very careful with my first brew in terms of sanitising etc and put so much work into it. The temperature in teh attic is 19 or 20 degrees and the pack recommended 21. I tried to proof the yeast and it looked like some suds were on the top of it but I couldn't say fro sure that they weren't there beforehand. It did definitely have an alcohol smell from it?

Thanks,
Steve.

Edit: Forgot to mention I have ordered Mr Palmer's book and used online version to find out about the yeast proofing etc - thanks!
Edit II: Just looking at replacement yeast - should I get lager yeast or ale yeast? S-33 or T-58 mean anything to anybody?? Help!
 

trmacdonal

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Just calm down. It sounds like you did everything right. It should be fine. Visible activity can take up to 72 hours to appear.
 

Special Hops

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IN the attic? Where do you live? My attick this time of year is hot as balls. But if you are in the 21 deg (C?) range you should be OK.
 

Rick_R

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Just looking at replacement yeast - should I get lager yeast or ale yeast?
While I think you are jumping the gun on getting a replacement yeast, based on the temperature of the attic you need an ale yeast. Are you brewing in a pail or in a carboy? A pail is more likely to have activity going on that you miss because it isn't completely sealed around the lid -- but the same thing can happen with a carboy/cork as well. Is there some reason you are suspicious of the yeast you pitched?

S-33 or T-58
Just the descriptions from an online shop (morebeer.com), but:
S-33
T-58
 

Revvy

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Before you panic and repitch read the title of this thread...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=43635

This is the biggest n00b worry....that they killed their yeast...unless you dumped it into boiling wort, your beer is fine...just relax...Leave the beer alone (unless it's in the 80's+ in the attic).

Your beer is not any different from anyone else's whether or not it is your first beer, or my 50th...it will be fine. The yeast know what they are doing.
 

TheFlatline

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Hi guys, thanks a mill for the replies and advice. I have my wheat beer wort in the attic here for nearly 20 hours now. Now I know that the bubbles are not a reliable indicator but I have a bad feeling that my yeast is dead. Absolutely nothing happening. I'll take a hydrometer reading today but what can I do if it is the same as pre-pitching? I don't have any yeast and I wont be able to get some into the wort for a week! Is this a lost cause and do I need to thow the whole lot out? I'm really really hoping that it will keep until I get new yeast. I was so very very careful with my first brew in terms of sanitising etc and put so much work into it. The temperature in teh attic is 19 or 20 degrees and the pack recommended 21. I tried to proof the yeast and it looked like some suds were on the top of it but I couldn't say fro sure that they weren't there beforehand. It did definitely have an alcohol smell from it?

Thanks,
Steve.

Edit: Forgot to mention I have ordered Mr Palmer's book and used online version to find out about the yeast proofing etc - thanks!
Edit II: Just looking at replacement yeast - should I get lager yeast or ale yeast? S-33 or T-58 mean anything to anybody?? Help!
If you take a specific gravity reading after only 24 hours or so, you'll panic because it's entirely possible fermentation hasn't kicked in yet, and your SG will not have changed. Two days later fermentation could be done, but if you overpitch with multiple yeasts it'd be funky. Not undrinkable, but... different.

Go find my post in the newbie form called "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Brew" and read my first beer batch story. I didn't make the same mistakes that you did, but I did worry a lot.

You'll be fine. Just keep your beer cool while it ferments.
 
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Stevoster

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Hi guys,

Thanks for the help. I'll ask the missus to visually check on progress today. I wont be home again until the weekend so there's not a lot else I can do really. I'm relaxing a bit more now though. The reason I am fearful for the yeast is that I tried to proof it but I'm not sure that anything happened. There were some suds but they could have been there before I added the sugar solution. There was a smell of alcohol from it before I pitched it. I'm using a carboy (I think - a 5 gallon drum with a lid and bung and airlock?)

I live in Galway in Ireland and Irish Summers are a bit of a non event...... I planned on using under the stairs but temp there was 17 celcius. Attic is fine for now but if we get a few sunny days the temp could get fairly high alright. Fek it. I'm guessing it would be bad to move it? But would temperature variations like this be worse? In retrospect I should have used under the stairs and got a brewbelt. Learning learning......

I read those linked threads - very helpful. The one about 72hr fermentation mentions doing a "Starter" - what is this and is it worthwhile? Also, in terms of aeration - I poured my cold water in from a height in 2 litre parts and stirred it around with my stirring spatula stick thing. Not sure if this is enough - any better way to aerate? Would there be any point in going at it for 10 minutes with a hand wound egg beater thing?

In terms of sanitising - I'm using a chlorine bleach thing that came with my starter kit. I wore rubber gloves and rinsed everything with water. Now I'm thinking of getting Starsan and read here that the solution can be kept for ages in a tub and still work its magic - how long will it stay good? I'm thinking of just keeping a jar of it mixed up or maybe even a perfume bottle (with a spray thing) so I don't have to keep mixing it up everytime I want to take a hydrometer reading. Also, do I need to wear gloves or can I sanitise my hands with bleach (or will it burn me)?

Sorry for all the new questions - I figure it's better I just vom them all out here instead of starting a millin new threads!

Thanks again for all the advice. I owe you guys a beer, a decent beer, and with your further help I may just brew one that is worthy!

Cheers,
Steve.
 
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