My first brew

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Just my 2 cents. Unless you plan to dry hop or use whole fruit additions, secondary is not necessary. It just adds another point in time for possible infection. Leave it in primary for the whole fermentation. You should check your FG after 2-3 weeks ( dependent on style) and if you get the same gravity on 2 readings, 3 days apart, fermentation is done. I personally don't even check gravity before 4 weeks. I like to give the yeast time to cleanup after themselves.

And remember. Nothing good in this hobby happens fast. Cheers!

Good info in general, though I will add that the ice bag idea seems like a great idea on the surface, but can actually become problematic.

The problem is that the water they use to make the ice is sanitary enough to drink, but not sanitary enough for brewing.

The small but non-trivial amount of bacteria will be introduced into the cooling wort once the temps get low enough (below 140F) and while there is still ice to melt.

That is the point where bacteria are at their prime and able to take root and then spoil the whole batch.

You will hear lots of times where folks will do this and it will in fact work a bunch of times.  Then, WHAM! you get nailed with an infection which ruins the batch.

Honestly, it is much less risky to use the ice outside the vessel (as in an ice bath), where it can't make contact with the wort.

Oh my, I never would suggest putting ice into the wort, that is rediculous, sorry if I some how came across suggesting that!! No, I did mean on the outside in the water, around the kettle. The best is buying a good wort chiller, but until then ice will speed up the process , on the outside of the kettle that is.

As for the water, if you use tap water, then run it through a carbon filter to remove chlorine, a brita filter will do this. I don't necessarliy agree tap water, if it's good to drink, is good for brewing. The water where I live is good to drink but after a few batches of beer that had off flavors, I realized my water wasn't good for brewing, even after running through a filter, I now use RO water purchased for a water machine in the local grocery store.

Glad to hear you HADN'T considered using ice in the wort to chill it.  I only brought it up because I HAVE heard others going down that path before and wanted to help steer you clear before you (or anyone else for that matter) ran into problems.

RO water by itself has its issues, too, though.  If you are doing extract batches, you can get away with it a bit more, but for AG, going pure RO will leave gaps in chemical content that can be detrimental to the beer as well.  

In AG, there are enzymes in the grains that activate and chop up the starches in the grist to produce the fermentable sugars.

These enzymes are active only within certain temperature & pH bands.  You need proper water chemistry in order for the wort conditions to reach these pH bands.  If the bands are hit, the wort won't convert, and you'll have nothing to ferment (other than a starch soup, which the yeast can't use).

Also, hoppy beers such as IPAs and other Pale Ales need sulfates to accentuate the hops and produce a proper hop taste profile.  Czech Pilsners have a boatload of hops in them, but the hops taste very smooth and rounded because of the low mineral content in Plzn water.

bitterness and flavor.  If you are making low-hopped beers, the difference will be far less noticeable.

Calcium and zinc (amongst other chemicals and minerals) are needed for proper yeast health.  You will get a weak fermentation if you don't have enough of these in your wort.

My point was that for extract brewing, you'll generally get a decent beer using your city water if it already tastes decent to drink plain. It will have enough mineral content for the hops and yeast to use without any adjustment.  RO water will not unless you add them back in using brewing salts such as gypsum, calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, epsom salt or table salt, or you go with a blend of RO and tap water, which is often an easy and very effective way to do it.

For AG, the pH requirements complicate things much more.  AG brewers will often adjust their water or start with RO and build a mineral profile up from scratch to mimic the water content of a particular city (such as Munich, Edinburgh, Cologne, Burton-on-Trent, or Plzn) so that they can produce a more stylistically accurate end product. 

I'm not saying everybody NEEDS to go to that extreme by any means, but simply that it is an area that can make a difference for advanced brewers.

Home brewing is one of those things where you can get deeper and deeper into the art and the science of it.  That's one of the things i love about it.  It can be as easy as boiling up an extract kit, or doing a complicated multi-step decoction mash.  The best thing is that you can get grreat beer (or bad beer for that matter) out of either method.  It's all up to how far you want to take it.

Have an awesome Labor Day! 

Glad to hear you HADN'T considered using ice in the wort to chill it.  I only brought it up because I HAVE heard others going down that path before and wanted to help steer you clear before you (or anyone else for that matter) ran into problems.

Have an awesome Labor Day! 
Haha, after 17 years and 300+ batches, someone should shoot me if I did that!!

My labor day should be pretty darned good as I will be smoking a shoulder and drinking good beer, may have to throw a fattie on as well! You have agreat labor day as well, cheers!
Update -

Just finished bottling.  All in all it was a pretty fun activity.  Came out to a total of 48 bottles.  I lost two when there was a miscommunication between me and my wife while transferring from the primary to the bottling bucket.  I asked her to hold the auto-siphon while I tilted the bucket and I didn't tell her "Hold it in the beer" so she lifted when I moved and it killed the siphon.  I attempted to restart it but it stirred the yeast at the bottom to the point the remaining beer went from brown to green.  I lost another bottle when my wife (who I shall now call Hercules) pushed the capper THROUGH the neck of a bottle.  It just disintegrated.  It was like the 30th bottle too so it wasn't a noob-move or anything.  Best part is she got upset and I thought it was about getting beer on the floor or glass shards or something, but she said "I can't believe I just wasted a whole bottle!"  That made me happy.  :)

Anyway, two more weeks and I'll put a few in the fridge and give them a try.  I tried a spoonful today.  I thought it tasted like lemons, but I was drinking a Sierra Nevada Extra IPA at the time.  My wife said it was really good.  I think she's more excited about this than I am!!
Your first batch may not be perfect, but I bet you will be pleasntly surprised when it comes time to start sampling. I'm thinking you should be more concerned about upsetting Hercules than that beer being perfect!!

Have a great labor day!

I just noticed your location is CT.  I grew up in RI (Westerly -- can't be too far from you
).  The water there used to be fantastic.  Where in CT are you?

I remember New London's water as being particularly high in chlorine, but that is easy to remove for brewing.  When I lived in Philly, the water there sucked.  It

left those white spots on dishes and around the sink from the insane amount of minerals in it and it tasted awful.

Oh, and Midwest Supplies is a solid outfit - their ingredients and service are great and their starter equipment kits are amongst the best values available.

(I'm in no way affiliated other than a happy customer in the past).
I'm more in the western side of the state. My wife found some chart online that listed water quality and our town was in the top 5, so we are pretty lucky!!!

I think I'll always use Midwest. They were not the cheapest, but only by a couple of dollars, but they were the easiest for a noob to order from! :)
So I popped the first couple beers off this batch.  I got a great head off them, but the beer itself tasted a little flat.  I've moved them to a different room and given them a bit of a swirl to change the temperature and move the yeast around.  All in all, it's good tasting, maybe in another week it will be more bubbly.  I do think this pic shows the need for a new phone though, the camera is pretty bad 
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