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I want to start brewing but i got a few questions?? - Page 3

post #41 of 56

Just noticed this thread.  Here are a few things that may help address some of the issues raised by several folks earlier in the thread.

 

 

1) If you are having trouble keeping your fermentation temps down, a good trick is to place the carboy/bucket in a big trough of water, and drape a t-shirt over it.  The t-shirt will soak up the water like a wick, and the evaporation will cool the fermenter down by a good 5-10 degrees F.  Blow a fan on it and add ice to the water and you get an even bigger drop in temp.

 

2) During high krausen (the most active point of fermentation when the yeast are bubbling away like crazy), the internal temperature of the beer can often exceed ambient temperature by up to 10 degrees F. This can be enough to produce excessive fruity esters or worse, harsh, solventy tasting fusel alchohols.

 

3) If you are doing higher gravity (> 1.060) or very hoppy beers, you will lose hop bitterness if do partial boils.

Hop alpha acids have a harder time "dissolving" into a wort the higher SG of that wort becomes.  Adding all of your extract at the beginning of a partial boil will essentially create a wort that has about 2x the OG of a full sized boil.  This causes the hops to saturate the solution.  Think back to junior high school science class when you dissolved sugar into water, eventually no more sugar will dissolve.  Similarly, you will not get all the bitterness that those hops can provide in a more dilute wort.

The solution to this is to do what's called the "extract late" method.  You add about 1/2 to 1/3 of your extract up front, do your partial boil with all the hops added at the proper times, and then add the remainder of the extract with about 5 or 10 mins or so left in the boil (just long enough to pasteurize it).  This also helps reduce something we Beer Judges call "extract twang", which is  an off flavor caused by concentrated boiling of malt extract.  It also helps if you want to brew an extract Pilsner or Kolsch (or other light colored beer) because it doesn't undergo as much Mailliard reaction due to the lower sugar content, keeping the color lighter.

 

4) When topping off partial boils to full volume, be sure to use boiled water so that you are not allowing any bacteria or wild yeasts to inhabit your wort.  Additionally, if you use city water, there are 2 forms of chlorine that the city sanitation folks add to keep the water clean:  Regular chlorine, which will come out in a boil or using a basic household charcoal filter, and chloramine, which will not come out in either the boil or will come out in a charcoal filter only if you are exceedingly patient and allow a very slow stream to fill your brew pot.  You can purchase Campden tablets to treat both types of chlorinated water.  Each aspirin sized tablet is enough to treat 20 gallons of water.  Split up one tablet (for 5 gallons, you only need 1/4 tablet) and crush it up before adding it to your water.  Chlorine problem solved.  (Chlorine in the water is the leading cause of chlorophenolic off flavors, which taste like band-aids or chloraseptic).  I find this to be the #1 most common flaw I come across in competitions, especially for new brewers.

 

 

HTH-

 

post #42 of 56

Excellent points BDawg.

post #43 of 56

A new Home brew shop opened up in my town and Iv been wanting to try it for awhile.I like the Idea of using cheaper plastic buckets for fermentors and a plastic water bottle instead of a glass carboy becasue of it being cheaper to get and not as breakable. My question is will the plastic change the taste of the beer or will it come out the same?

post #44 of 56

They will generally taste the same, unless some of the other pros and cons raise their head.  There are a lot of issues that may be relevent depending on what you want to brew.

 

 

Glass carboys:

 

Pro

1) Glass is impermeable.  No oxygen can get in to oxidize your beer (ie, it goes stale).

2) Glass can be cleaned to near perfection.  The smooth surface allows for complete cleaning prior to sanitization.

3) You can see the activity.  It can be a lot of fun to watch an active fermentation.  Plus, you can see when the krausen falls. 

4) They are cheaper than Stainless Steel conicals, but more expensive than plastic

 

Con

1) Glass breaks.  This is a biggie.  It can REALLY hurt you.  There are countless stories of emergency room visits due to dropping/breaking a glass carboy, not to mention the lost beer.

2) It can be a pain to clean through the neck hole of a carboy.
3) You need to keep the light away from a glass carboy.  Ultraviolet light will skunk a beer.  When UV light hits the hop resins, they break apart and bond with sulphur atoms in such a way that it forms a Mercaptan, which is the exact chemical that skunks produce.

4) The neck hole makes it nearly impossible to top-crop yeast and to dry hop in a hop bag.  You MUST dry hop loose in a carboy.

 

Plastic Buckets:

Pro:

1) Plastic is cheap, so you can replace it.

2) Plastic keeps the light out

3) You can top-crop yeast since the whole top comes off.

4) For sour beers, plastic is oxygen permeable so the bugs are a lot more effective.

 

Con:

1) Plastic scratches easily.  You WILL get infected batches eventually because the micro-scratches that you can't even see will hold bacteria and eventually, they will become noticeable.  This is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

2) Plastic can get brittle and break, too.

3) Plastic is oxygen permeable, so you can't leave the beer in plastic for long periods of time (ie, greater than 3 or 4 weeks).  the beer will get papery/cardboardy when oxygen gets to it.  Of course, this is unless you WANT the oxygen to permeate as in the case of brewing sour beers.

4) You have to open the top to see how the yeast is doing, thereby risking contamination.

 

 

Plastic Carboys (like a "Better Bottle")

These have a mix of the same assortment of pros and cons inherited from both glass carboys and plastic buckets.

Better bottles are oxygen impermiable, but scratch, and are cheaper than SS but even more expensive than glass.  They also have a neck so you can't top-crop.  They are clear so you can see through them. 

  

IMO, the best option are the stainless steel conical fermenters, but they are EXTREMELY PRICY!

 

If I were just starting out, I'd go for a good starter kit that had a plastic bucket primary fermenter and a either a better bottle secondary fermenter, or glass carboy secondary.  That way, you can brew just about everything, and still have a secondary vessel for beers that need one.  Most ales don't need a secondary, though it greatly aids in beer clarity.

 

HTH-

 


Edited by BDawg - 4/27/12 at 7:40pm
post #45 of 56

Good info to know. Im probably going to look at the brew shop here in town sometime this weekend. They were at a street fair with a starter kit but I beleive it just had either one or two plastic buckets and other standard items. I was looking at brewing a wide variety of beers especially ales as thats what I prefer. My wife likes mainly lagers so those will be brewed on occasion ( I drink more beer than her). Looking to brew ales in the style of Stone Brewing so very hoppy and aggressive as well as a nice porter and stout in the winter months. Its looking like I might need to look into a glass carboy. Only thing I was really worried about with that was the breaking. I know they have Carboy carriers but do they have carboy covers as well?

post #46 of 56

Great info BDawg. Thanks for posting it. You saved me a crap load of typing. biggrin.gif

post #47 of 56

(Glad to help out, AleLover!)

 

Carboy carriers work great! 

 

 

DO NOT CARRY A FULL GLASS CARBOY BY A SCREW ON HANDLE THAT ONLY ATTACHES AT THE NECK!

 

THIS IS WHEN THEY ARE KNOWN TO BREAK!  USUALLY AT THAT POINT, THEY ARE RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR LEG AND HAVE BEEN 

DOCUMENTED TO SEVER VEINS, ARTERIES, and ACHILLES TENDONS.  YES, I"M SHOUTING BECAUSE THIS IS IMPORTANT!

 

Those handles are only for moving EMPTY carboys.

 

HTH-

post #48 of 56

Ok the carrier I saw I believe was a strap/harness that went under and around the carboy. It looked much more secure than what your describing. My wife is starting to think Im collecting to many toys for my hobbies but she doesnt complain when the results are on the table.
 

post #49 of 56

Carboy Carrier w/ straps - great for carrying full carboys:

9068.jpg

http://morebeer.com/view_product/7446/beerwinecoffee/Nylon_Carboy_Carrier

 

 

 

Screw on handles like these (orange and plum colored ones are common too) - Carry when empty only because the necks will break:

screw on handle - safe for using when carboy is empty

http://morebeer.com/view_product/16660//Carboy_Handle_Blue_-_65_Gallon

 

 

post #50 of 56

Yep thats the one. Well It looks like im going to end up getting a glass carboy to go along with the plastic buckets. maybe not right away but not sure. seen some kits on the internet with them a about 90-100 so thats not that bad.

post #51 of 56

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BDawg View Post

(Glad to help out, AleLover!)

 

Carboy carriers work great! 

 

 

DO NOT CARRY A FULL GLASS CARBOY BY A SCREW ON HANDLE THAT ONLY ATTACHES AT THE NECK!

 

THIS IS WHEN THEY ARE KNOWN TO BREAK!  USUALLY AT THAT POINT, THEY ARE RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR LEG AND HAVE BEEN 

DOCUMENTED TO SEVER VEINS, ARTERIES, and ACHILLES TENDONS.  YES, I"M SHOUTING BECAUSE THIS IS IMPORTANT!

 

Those handles are only for moving EMPTY carboys.

 

HTH-

 


Yes this is very important. I have heard many a horror story about breaking carboys that are full of beer. Very bad thing.

post #52 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooligan8403 View Post

Good info to know. Im probably going to look at the brew shop here in town sometime this weekend. They were at a street fair with a starter kit but I beleive it just had either one or two plastic buckets and other standard items. I was looking at brewing a wide variety of beers especially ales as thats what I prefer. My wife likes mainly lagers so those will be brewed on occasion ( I drink more beer than her). Looking to brew ales in the style of Stone Brewing so very hoppy and aggressive as well as a nice porter and stout in the winter months. Its looking like I might need to look into a glass carboy. Only thing I was really worried about with that was the breaking. I know they have Carboy carriers but do they have carboy covers as well?

If you're just starting I'd suggest getting a pail as a fermenter first. If you're careful with cleaning it you won't have any problems. I've got two 6.5 gallon pail fermenters that I've used for years - more than 100 gallons of beer made - and have never had an infected batch.

You can always upgrade later, but the ale pail is cheap and it's a good way to see if it's something you want to do. And you don't have to worry about keeping it out of light like a carboy since it's not see-through.
post #53 of 56
Try the "forums" at www.northernbrewer.com
post #54 of 56

Another good site to visit is www.homebrewtalk.com  A lot of great info and a lot of very experienced homebrewers.

 

One thing to keep in mind is you will always make beer no matter what.  It might not taste like what you wanted but it will be beer with alcohol in it.  Now to make a good beer a great beer there are three things you need to remember...1) oxygen 2) pitching the right amount of healthy yeast cells and 3) FERMENTING temp.

 

Yeast need oxygen to start working so before pitching your yeast you need to get oxygen in the wort.  You can do this by shaking the crap out of it, buying a fish tank pump and pumping air into it or buying an O2 tank and pumping pure oxygen into it.  All three ways work you just need to figure out which one you want to do.  I like shaking.  It works and it is free.  Not enough O2 and you can get off flavors and your fermentation might not start right away.

 

After getting O2 into the wort you now need to pitch the right amount of healthy yeast.  If you are using dry yeast you should rehydrate (not necessary but I do recommend it) before pitching.  If you are using liquid yeast you CAN pitch directly into the wort but it is recommended you make a starter.  Check out www.mrmalty.com for more info on starters.  He also has a great yeast cell calculator that tells you how many packets/vials or dry/liquid yeast you need or how big of a starter to make.  Under pitching and over pitching will create off flavors.  It is very easy to under pitch which is why that calculator is great.  Over pitching can be done but it is a lot harder to do than under pitching.

 

The last part is FERMENTATION temp.  This is the biggest for me.  The reason I put it in caps is because a lot of beginners will take the ambient temp of the room and not the fermentation temp.  Fermentation creates heat and can sometimes raise the beer 10 degrees higher than the ambient room temp.  The easiest way to check fermentation temp is by using one of those stick on fermometers.  I like to ferment on the lower side of the yeasts range.  Each yeast will be different so check before you start.  Typically my fermentation temp is in the low 60s so at the peak of fermentation my fridge can be in the mid 50s to keep the beer in the low 60s.  If your ambient temp is in the high 60s that means your fermentation temp could be mid 70s which is usually too high and will create off flavors.  As long as you have within the temp range of the yeast you will be ok.  There are a ton of ways to keep your temps down or up depending on your location and time of year.  I use a fridge I bought from craigslist and a temp controller I made.  If you don't want to spend the money you can use a cooler of water and put frozen water bottles to lower the temp or buy a cheap fish tank heater to raise the temp.  Those would be exact but that is ok.

 

If you pay attention to those three things, you will be making some great beer.  Oh and sanitation is also a good thing to keep in mind lol

 

Once you put the lid on, DO NOT open it until at least 2 weeks...3 weeks would be even better.  You don't need to take a gravity reading until you are ready to bottle or keg.  I typically let them sit between 2 to 3 weeks unless I'm making a bigger beer.  Then I'll check the gravity 3 days in a row.  If it doesn't change you can bottle.

 

Just to touch on the bucket/carboy discussion.  It is a matter of what you want to use as both have pros and cons.  I like buckets.  They are much cheaper.  You don't have to worry about breaking one.  A lot easier to clean.  You don't need a funnel to transfer into them.  Carboys are cool because you can see into them but that also means light can get in.  O2 does go through plastic but for the 2 to 3 weeks you will have the beer in the bucket that is nothing to worry about.  You can scratch plastic which will be a good place for bacteria to grow but that is easily prevented by not using the green side of the sponge and be careful if you stack inside each other.

 

Brewing can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be.  Beer is very easy to make.  Great beer does take a little more thought but still easy to make.  It is also very addicting.  I started doing extract and bottling.  After bottling 2 or 3 batches I built a 3 tap kegerator because I hated bottled.  I then started doing partial boil partial mash kits.  I then bought a burner and 10 gallon pot to do full boil brew in a bag.  Now I'm doing full boil all grain.  I started off with a $150 beginner kit to probably spending over $2000 on kegging and brewing equipment.  Well worth it though

post #55 of 56

I get most of my info at www.northernbrewer.com   I've got an IPA and a Scottish ale fermenting right now at around 63 degrees.

Mon. or Tues. I plan to move the IPA to secondary and make a Black IPA and pour it on that yeast cake.

 

 

Happy brewing,

  Big AL  Beer.gif

post #56 of 56

I just got into brewing myself and my first home brew, an Irish red ale from Northern Brewers, has been fermenting in the bucket for the past 3 weeks.  The most important issue is sanitizing your equipment at every stage past the initial boiling stage.  The kits from Northern Brewer are very easy to understand as everything has been measured for you and it's simply a matter of following the procedure.  There are a few things that I would do differently the next time around:

 

1.  Get a propane heat source and boil the wort outside.

2.  Use a larger boiling container.  My 12 quart stainless steel pot was simply too small and I am going to use a much larger pot the next time. 

3.  After the wort has cooled, siphon directly into a 5 gallon carboy (this is a mostly aesthetic choice on my part) as per the directions for the bucket.

4.  Use a hydometer to take a original specific gravity reading prior to putting in (pitching) the yeast, and then taking 3 more readings when primary fermentation appears to be over.  This allows you to confirm that primary fermentation is over and will give you the ABV of your beer.

5.  Using a wet yeast method for creating and adding in a yeast mixture to the cooled wort.

 

As I said, this is my first home brew and the above considerations are merely what's occurred to me as a during my first brew attempt.  They also mean adding about $100 dollars to the original of the kit that ran about $75.  The folks at www.homebrewtalk.com have been very helpful and even have a forum for newbie extract brewers like me.  I've been asking about primary fermentation vs. primary/secondary fermentation and I believe that unless you are making a more sophisticated beer (either lagering or adding something for a deeper layer of flavor), fermenting in the primary for a little extra time is all that's needed to create an excellent product.  My primary bucket is in my basement that holds a consistent 65 degrees F during every season except the summer; in the summer I'll have to figure out a way to drop the temperature down a bit.

 

Best,

 

Steve

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