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NGD

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I have never brewed before. This seems like a great place to start, before I start. Can I get a recommendation for starter kits? I really want to learn the process thoroughly.
Best recommendation I can make is to purchase “How to brew” 4e by John Palmer and read the first 2-3 chapters or Charlie Papazian’s book “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing”. Both will
give you an excellent starting point.
 

westhearcher

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This is probably campden for removing chlorine/chloramine. It should be added to the water before it is mixed with the malt extract.
The instructions on the Harris Pure Brew Beer Kit water treatment is to crush one tablet and add along with a teaspoon of powder before adding the yeast, so that's what I did. I've done the same once before in a previous kit, which worked just fine, so I'm guessing that isn't the issue here.

If you bottle before fermentation is finished, it will finish in the bottle. This can cause gushers or bottle bombs - you don't want that! I check gravity after 19 days, and again at 21 days- and bottle if it is stable. It almost always is. (Three days between readings is better if using a standard hydrometer. I use a bottling hydrometer and can detect small changes.) I wouldn't bottle after less than three weeks if I hadn't checked for stable gravity.
Ah, I'm not bottling, but transferring to a pressure barrel as I've done a number of times before (but not with a Coopers Irish Stout), so my next step would be to syphon into my pressure barrel for the secondary fermentation.

@ncbrewer - did you see my photo of my FV posted a little earlier? @VikeMan seems to think my fermentation may have come and gone, which is why I question whether this is a duff batch or not as 72 hours seems really short, especially when my ambient room temperature has been between 18 and 20°C (sorry, UK based so I guess that is 64.4 to 68°F).

These are the notes from Coopers themselves (found here):

Hint: Temperature Control. Whilst the yeast that comes with the brew can will ferment effectively at 18°C - 32°C, we recommend a brew temperature of 21°C-27°C for optimum results. Some techniques for controlling temperature are; hot box (box with a low wattage light globe attached inside), heat pad, heat belt, immersion heater, place FV inside in a temperature controlled area, insulate FV, place in disused fridge, drape wet towels over FV.

After about 6 days at 21°C or 4 days at 27°C (higher temperatures shorten the ferment time) test the SG with a hydrometer. Test the SG each day. Final Gravity (FG) is reached once SG is stable 2 days in a row.

Important: Lower ferment temperatures extend the fermentation period. See Brewing notes for European Lager.
So I'm stumped now - do I wait and see what happens, or should I stick with the instructions supplied by Coopers and transfer my batch into my pressure barrel on Saturday / Sunday (which would be 6 days (Saturday) at around 21°C, maybe 7 days (Sunday) for a slightly lower temperature)?
 

NGD

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let's not forget that to brew a 10-20-1000 gallon batch, time doesn't increase just size, and weight.....
Yeah, my pant size and my weight. 😆

Seriously though the time it takes to heat up that much volume for mashing does take quite a bit longer. With extract you have the benefit of using half or less volume and topping off with prechilled water which shortens your time chilling wort.
Plus my extremely time efficient (or extremely lazy, your choice) method of short boils means I only boil for 20-30 minutes.
 

bracconiere

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Yeah, my pant size and my weight. 😆

Seriously though the time it takes to heat up that much volume for mashing does take quite a bit longer. With extract you have the benefit of using half or less volume and topping off with prechilled water which shortens your time chilling wort.
Plus my extremely time efficient (or extremely lazy, your choice) method of short boils means I only boil for 20-30 minutes.

i'd figure you'd have a bigger burner for more volume, bigger mash tun, pumps and the like....

yeah extract beer can be made in 5 minutes! just add your extract to a bucket of water, toss in a bag of hops to dry hop. and add yeast! ;) :mug:
 

NGD

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i'd figure you'd have a bigger burner for more volume, bigger mash tun, pumps and the like....

yeah extract beer can be made in 5 minutes! just add your extract to a bucket of water, toss in a bag of hops to dry hop. and add yeast! ;) :mug:
I almost just picked up my bucket, garden hose and a bag of DME to see if I can beat 5 min, lol

Might be my new go-to method😆:mug:

Biggest draw back to me with extract is getting more flavor development from different malts or malt combinations. You really can’t do it without going partial-mash. At that point...might as well go AG and enjoy the ride.
 

bracconiere

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I almost just picked up my bucket, garden hose and a bag of DME to see if I can beat 5 min, lol

funny you should say that, my bank account just got f'd this morning! i priced out a 50lb sack of DME to see how much it would cost to skip the weekly brew day once in a while! but at $170 for a 50lb sack, that'd be close to $50 a 10 gallon batch, it's only $30 to get 10 gallon of apple juice deliver from the store in an hour......

and as far partial mash, when prcing, i notied they had pale, amber AND dark dry extract!
 

NGD

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@westhearcher I think @VikeMan is on point. Fermentation happened. Question is did you get enough fermentation.

Using your hydrometer to test now and approximating your OG with how much of the coopers kit you used + water volume will give you an idea if you reached final gravity. It won’t be precise but it will show if your way off the mark.

I found this on an american distributor for Coopers stout. Not sure if this is the same since I’ve never used a Coopers kit before.
Coopers Irish Stout Malt Extract
Coopers 3.75 pound cans are designed to make 6 gallons with an original gravity of 1.040 (with 2.25 LB of dry malt extract or sugar) giving about 4.1% ABV. We prefer to make 5 gallons with 3 LB of dry malt extract to give an OG of about 1.054 and 5.5% ABV.
 

westhearcher

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Thanks @NGD, appreciate the input. Still getting my head around a lot of this, as I've only done a handful of kits myself and they all seem to be quite straight forward, whereas this is the first one that doesn't seem to have gone to plan, so just trying to save my batch if it is possible! One question though...

Question is did you get enough fermentation.
What would you recommend if not? Based on my limited experience of previous batches, 3 days seems very short, especially given the weather in the UK hasn't been that warm! My last batch was brewed when it was quite warm here in the UK, but that spent 5 days in the FV before being syphoned out into my pressure barrel (and there were clear signs of fermentation with that one - bubbles, krausen and the smell of beer!) whereas this has been 3 days and it doesn't seem like it's done much...
 

NGD

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Thanks @NGD, appreciate the input. Still getting my head around a lot of this, as I've only done a handful of kits myself and they all seem to be quite straight forward, whereas this is the first one that doesn't seem to have gone to plan, so just trying to save my batch if it is possible!
I think most of us have been there. Occasionally there is a batch that seems to do its own thing. Only thing I can suggest when something happens this early on in the fermentation is to be patient. Unless there is noticeable pellicule growth going on then waiting a few more days is usually best.


What would you recommend if not? Based on my limited experience of previous batches, 3 days seems very short, especially given the weather in the UK hasn't been that warm! My last batch was brewed when it was quite warm here in the UK, but that spent 5 days in the FV before being syphoned out into my pressure barrel (and there were clear signs of fermentation with that one - bubbles, krausen and the smell of beer!) whereas this has been 3 days and it doesn't seem like it's done much...
I agree, 3 days does sound a little soon. The only way to know is to take a sample. I’m not sure if Cooper kits provide a suggested final gravity (FG), but if its below 1.020 then your getting probably close. If its 1.011 or lower then its likely done.

Again, I would suggest waiting a few more days at the least. I typically set and forget for minimum of a week unless theres a dry hopping schedule involved.

If you wait a few days and your sample is above 1.020, then its time to start thinking about things like
  • Increase ferm temps to 75
  • Gently stir to rouse more yeast back into suspension
  • Adding a yeast with higher attenuation. US-05 is a good one to keep on hand and stores well in the fridge.
Hopefully that helps alleviate some of the stress.
Before I forget, when you take a sample...taste it. See if it tastes close to what you think it should. Any carbonation? Off flavors? Etc.
 

westhearcher

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That's awesome advice, thanks @NGD - much appreciated. I'll take a reading on the weekend and see what that reveals - lesson learnt, always take a gravity reading from now on as it takes the guess work out!

See if it tastes close to what you think it should...
Go on then. If I have to drink a smidge of beer, then I guess I'll have too... :p

Thanks again.
 

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@ncbrewer - did you see my photo of my FV posted a little earlier?
The photo shows you had fermentation - even up to the lid. You still need to see if it's finished, as NGD suggested. You're lucky it didn't plug the airlock and blow the lid off. Looks like you could use more freeboard in the fermenter. Many brewers use a blow-off tube that's less prone to plugging. I use a 7.9 gallon bucket for 5 gallons batches.
 

westhearcher

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Thanks for the info @ncbrewer. The FV is 25L - it came with my first kit and most brews are 23L but it is a bit close! I’ve had no issues though, even with quite an active fermentation- happily bubbles away through the airlock.

Just took a gravity reading - 1010 I think (first time using it). The kit said the OG (if used with the recommended fermentables) would be 1038, so I’m guessing this is a good sign! I’ll take another reading tomorrow and Monday and see what happens.

Also, no odd smells from the brew so hoping it’s just not as active as my previous John Bull kit.
 

VikeMan

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Just took a gravity reading - 1010 I think (first time using it). The kit said the OG (if used with the recommended fermentables) would be 1038, so I’m guessing this is a good sign! I’ll take another reading tomorrow and Monday and see what happens.
To minimize oxygen exposure and wasted beer samples, it would be better to wait 2-3 days before pulling the next sample. One day apart isn't really the best way to know if your gravity has stabilized.
 

westhearcher

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To minimize oxygen exposure and wasted beer samples, it would be better to wait 2-3 days before pulling the next sample. One day apart isn't really the best way to know if your gravity has stabilized.
I sterilised my hydrometer and put it straight in the FV as to not waste any beer, but will wait until Monday / Tuesday before taking another reading then.
 

erlltroll2002

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I am looking to get into home brewing and looking at a deluxe all in one kit. I have a few questions though. Is bottling really very frustrating or tedious? Should I consider just investing in a keg kit? How quickly do people grow out of the extract kits and go full grain? Should I start off with the extract kits just to dip my toes in the water, or can I just go full grain from the start? I like the idea of home brewing because of the thought of creating my own brews, and I just don't get that feeling from the extract kits. Its really seems that it is just making a brew from a box. Is it difficult to make good brews from full grain?
 

cmac62

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Is it difficult to make good brews from full grain?
It is not difficult, but it does require more process. I recently bought a all in one and really like it so far. I also have two different 2&3 vessel systems. One is a pot, a cooler and a burner. If there is a local home brew shop (LHBS) near you or can find a brew club either will likely help you get started. My LHBS was who first showed me what is required for all grain, and that is where I started. I've never really brewed a extract batch, but I have put extract into my all grain beers. Anyway, good luck and BREW ON!!! :rock:
 

IslandLizard

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@erlltroll2002
Before investing tons of money you need to first find out if you like homebrewing enough, for the long haul.

It's easy to get started with a large pot, some DME, hops, and yeast. Ferment in a (small) bucket, and bottle away. Investment is low. Save and clean commercial 12 oz bottles, ask friends for them, etc. You can do mini mashes to learn the ropes [Added] of mashing, with little risk.

==> Get a copy of John Palmer's How to Brew, 4th Ed.

You can often find used equipment on semi-local market places of the (original) CraigsList type. Last I heard/noticed CL was being increasingly ruined by commercial listings/spam.
And watch offers from commercial homebrew retailers, etc.

As @cmac62 said, try to find a local homebrew club. Although most activity is still online, not in person as much, they may prove to be a good resource too.

Kegging:
Used corny kegs can be had for $20-40. New ones can be as low as around $200 in a 4-pack from some online retailers (e.g., AIH).
At minimum you'd need a CO2 tank (20# is the best option if you're serious, they can be found used), a regulator, 6' of 3/16" vinyl beer line and a picnic tap, a 2 keg disconnects, as well as an (old) fridge or freezer with an external temp controller (InkBird).

For a "real" tap system with (Stainless) faucets and shanks you can spend another $200-300 easily. Only use EVA Barrier lines for those, vinyl's out!
 
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IslandLizard

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I like the idea of home brewing because of the thought of creating my own brews, and I just don't get that feeling from the extract kits. Its really seems that it is just making a brew from a box.
There are different kinds of extract kits. The "Duncan Hines" type of beer kits ("just add water") make far worse beer than Duncan's kits make brownies.
Anything that comes with (canned) pre-hopped extracts should be avoided like the plague. Fancy, showy labels create the illusion of brewing that beer with very little resemblance to that promise in the end. 95% marketing, 5% beer.

Most of the common beer kits include a can or 2 of liquid malt extract (LME), or a jug filled from a large barrel at the brewstore. That stuff doesn't age well, and is often a few months old, if not worse. So best to avoid those too.

No need to buy "kits." Plenty of good recipes around. Then just buy the ingredients at your LHBS, or order online:
  1. DME (Dry Malt Extract). Avoid LME unless you know it's very fresh (by manufacturing date). Any recipe spelling out LME can be easily converted to DME only.
  2. Hops. Typically sold in 1 or 2 oz vacuum sealed or Nitrogen flushed mylar bags, stored refrigerated, or preferred, deep frozen. Some places will sell in 8 oz or pound bags, for when you brew much or very hoppy beers (IPAs).
  3. Yeast. Start with dry yeast for now, there's a excellent selection available.
  4. Water. It needs to be good quality and "soft." If using municipal tap water, it needs to be treated with Campden to remove Chlorine/Chloramines. RO water from dispensing machines is a good option and can be had for $0.39 a gallon (Walmart, Supermarkets, etc.). Bring your own containers.
Most extract brews benefit from steeping some grain for style, flavor, color, and aroma. 1-2 pounds of mixed grain (in a 5 gallon batch) usually does the job.
 

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Scale down and do your first batch(es) with kitchen gear and empy bottles that you probably already have on hand. Brewing at 1 gallon does not require much in the way of special equipment. You will probably want a good scale, a small bucket with an airlock, and a bottle capper with caps. If you want to start with all grain, add a mesh bag, hydrometer, and thermometer to the mix. If you decide to scale up to 5 gal or more, then you will probably need more gear.
 

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Agree with much of what has been written above. You need not spend a pile of money to brew really good beer. I started with a Mr. Beer kit and over the course of 12 years have progressed to all-grain and have gradually upgraded my equipment, learned alot (mostly by making mistakes), and refined my technique, I still brew extract kits now and then. Simple is better when just getting started. I have brewed some excellent beers using prehopped extract beer kits. In my experience the major brands tend to give the best results. Just follow the instructions and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
 

bwible

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I am looking to get into home brewing and looking at a deluxe all in one kit. I have a few questions though. Is bottling really very frustrating or tedious? Should I consider just investing in a keg kit? How quickly do people grow out of the extract kits and go full grain? Should I start off with the extract kits just to dip my toes in the water, or can I just go full grain from the start? I like the idea of home brewing because of the thought of creating my own brews, and I just don't get that feeling from the extract kits. Its really seems that it is just making a brew from a box. Is it difficult to make good brews from full grain?
First, how much beer do you drink, how quickly do you go through it, and how many neighbors, friends, and relatives do you think you’ll be supplying?

The homebrew world has traditionally revolved around 5 gallon batches. In years gone by, some people decided that was a good return for investment on the brew day. 5 gallons will be about 50 bottles of beer when all is said and done. That’s 2 cases plus a couple bottles of the same beer.

In more recent times, some people started brewing smaller batches. I brew 3 gallons, which works out to about 30 bottles, or a case plus a 6 pack. I like variety and having a few different beers on hand. I found if I brew 5 batches, that’s over 10 cases of beer in 5 gallon batches. 5 cases plus 5 six packs in 3 gallon batches. Some guys brew 1 gallon batches, figure that’s 10 bottles of beer.

The stores and online places sell equipment packages that are mostly designed around 5 gallon batches. After buying the basic equipment kit, which usually includes a plastic fermenter bucket, syphon cane and tubing, bottle filler, bottle capper, hydrometer, stick on thermometer and few other bits - you need a brew pot big enough to hold more than your entire batch. You can’t boil 5 gallons in a 5 gallon pot. The pot should be stainless steel, and the big pot is one of the biggest initial investments starting out.

I would also recommend a quality SS brewing spoon which won’t cost much. Then your next investment should be a wort chiller. Everyone starts out trying to cool their boiling pot in the sink in cold water. The bigger the batch the more mass the longer it will take to cool. A wort chiller will be your biggest bang for the buck at that point.

Kit beers are not a bad way to start out. They are recipes someone put together for you, since you are not up to creating your own recipes yet. Some guys only brew extract and that’s a common question - “when is it time to graduate to all grain?” There is no answer to that. It’s up to each brewer what they want to do. After you get a few batches under your belt and start to learn what the different grains are and what they are for, then you can start building your own recipes. There are some good software packages you can buy for this.

Brew in a Bag (BIAB) is a good place to start if you want to start trying all grain. You can read about it online. Or now there are electric all in one systems which are more convenient to use.

Far as bottling, I don’t find it that much of a chore. But again, I’m filling 30 at a time. I think it’s part of the total homebrew experience and you should do it if nothing else for the experience before you decide whether you want to make that investment in kegs. I have a kegerator set up for homebrew kegs and I still bottle. I do both.

Hope some of this helps
 

amber-ale

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Start simple and small.
Learn how to brew and basic sanitation first.

The "ready to ferment" or "just add water" kits may not be fancy or "gourmet" but you need to practice FIRST. Otherwise you will be one of those disappointed people selling brewing equipment on eBay and will never realise why nothing worked / or tasted good and just cost a lot.

Buy a ready to use / all water already added kit and ferment it using basic equipment (a bubbler, food grade bucket with lid, sanitising solution, flip top bottles etc)
Consider a "mr beer" fermentor (it's a half size, 2.5 gallon, 10 litre fermentor).

I started off with two used "mr beer" fermentors (built in bubbler, and spigot for filling bottles) I bought on Craigslist. I bought a box of ready to ferment wort and saved the flip top bottles our commercial beer came in. Also bought Sanitizing solution and some carbonation tablets. I followed the simple instructions and was able to stumble through basic sanitation/fermenting and still produce beer that everyone seemed to love. I gradually added more equipment.
Or start making mead instead of beer. It is a bit easier to start with.
 

Bluekat

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Please don't hesitate to reach out with thoughts or questions.
 

ncbrewer

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you need a brew pot big enough to hold more than your entire batch. You can’t boil 5 gallons in a 5 gallon pot.
I think most extract brewers these days use a partial boil. By adding only 1/4 - 1/2 of the extract at the beginning, and the rest at the end of the boil, you're still boiling at a good SG. And it makes it practical to chill in an ice water bath without a wort chiller if desired. This makes the equipment much cheaper, with very little if any down side.
 

IslandLizard

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Moderator's Note:
I've moved @Yjie91's posts about his Black Flake Starter, and all replies to it, to his own thread:
 

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let's not forget that to brew a 10-20-1000 gallon batch, time doesn't increase just size, and weight.....
Imma have to disagree a little bit; time increases to bring 2 times water to heat, boil, and definitely to chill. 10 times even more so. Darned thermodynamics laws.
 

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doesn't it just take more energy?
Yes, but my chiller in particular, does not have a 2x or 10x turbo mode. And in my case, my burner is flat out to heat to strike and to boil, so I can't 2x/10x that either. Others may not be so constrained.
 

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I'm figuring out my BIAB set up and I'm ordering parts right now - so far I have some stainless steel pots I use for another hobby which also involves fermentation. I always poor boiling water into my fermenter to pasteurize it, in fact T° is above 100°C because of a higher density... What I have in mind, is to pump my wort directly to the fermenter after boiling it with hops, leaving it there the time T° rises in the fermenter, allowing it then to circulate back down to the boiler, and after that, pumping it back to the fermenter, but through a CFC this time (T type three ways ball valve). The purpose is to pasteurize the fermenter with the boiling wort, while loosing a few °C in the operation. Does that make sense?
 
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