home brewing questions

Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
Well, I didn't feel like joining a new forum and I know that some of ya'll make your own brew, so I thought I'd ask here: 1. Do I really need a secondary fermenter? 2. Do I really need to feed the yeast before pitching it into the fermenter? 3. Are those side bucket stick on thermometers any good? 4. Water: Tap, bottled spring or distilled or a little bit of a mixture of both? 5. Does adding crushed grains really make a extracted beer taste better? 6. Do I really need a priming bucket? Can I prime in the fermenter if I pre-filtered the wort going into it? I'm thinking the less exposure to anything, the better. 7. Priming solution: corn sugar or DME? I know not to use table sugar. 8. Chilling the wort. If the wort is 2.5 gallons after boiling for 60 minutes, I then have get 2.5 gallons of almost freezing water, dump them together in the fermenter, wouldn't that help lower the temperature to the cold break? Or is mixing them that soon not good? 9. I'm worried about bottles exploding, will 3.4 quarter cup of corn sugar dissolved in two cups of water, be about right? Appreciate any replys. Thanks.
 
Messages
47,776
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
quote:
1. Do I really need a secondary fermenter? 2. Do I really need to feed the yeast before pitching it into the fermenter? 3. Are those side bucket stick on thermometers any good? 4. Water: Tap, bottled spring or distilled or a little bit of a mixture of both? 5. Does adding crushed grains really make a extracted beer taste better? 6. Do I really need a priming bucket? Can I prime in the fermenter if I pre-filtered the wort going into it? I'm thinking the less exposure to anything, the better. 7. Priming solution: corn sugar or DME? I know not to use table sugar. 8. Chilling the wort. If the wort is 2.5 gallons after boiling for 60 minutes, I then have get 2.5 gallons of almost freezing water, dump them together in the fermenter, wouldn't that help lower the temperature to the cold break? Or is mixing them that soon not good? 9. I'm worried about bottles exploding, will 3.4 quarter cup of corn sugar dissolved in two cups of water, be about right? Appreciate any replys.
1) Yes for a lager and almost always yes for an ale unless you go into a 5 gallon keg within the next week. You really don't want the beer sitting on the spent yeast. 2) Not always but you want the yeast to be as active as possible. Bad things can grow while in the lag phase. You want the fermentation to start ASAP. 3) Not really necessary imho. 4) Depends on your water quality and beer style. 5) Well just "adding" crushed grains won't do much - with malt you'll still need to do the extraction (sparge), but crystal malt will add some fermentables with good flavor (and some more dark malts will had flavor/color as well) 6) Don't understand. You can't prime in the fermentor as you'll stir the yeast lees. 7) Actually you can use table sugar to prime for bottling or brown sugar or any other fermentable if you know the right quantity. Or if kegging, is CO2. 8) If the freezing water is sterile then that will work/help. 9) 3/4 cup of sugar should not be too much, but this assumes the beer is fermented out all the way.
 
Messages
9,785
Location
Central Coast, Calif.
pablo gave you the same answers I would have. I just wanted to add that EVERYTHING must be sterile. when you add cold water it needs to be boiled first! then covered and chilled. that is why the instructions you'll find don't just tell you to boil 2.5 gallons and add 2.5 gallons of cold water. your other vessels must be sterlized with iodine or equivilent before you transfer. the reason for secondary fermentation is to remove the trub that has settled out of solution out of the beer. the reason for a priming bucket is to once again get the clear beer away from the sediment. this is also known as "racking".
 

KW

Messages
1,686
Location
Central Arkansas
Wow you guys are making me want to brew up a batch of beer. But I'm trying o loose a little weight and homebrew will sure but it on ya.
 

HEV

Messages
327
Location
Great Central Valley, CA
1. Do I really need a secondary fermenter? -- Total waste of time. Trub will settle out just fine after a couple of weeks. 2. Do I really need to feed the yeast before pitching it into the fermenter? -- Yes and no. A good pitch is one of the best ways to ensure a solid, clean fermentation. If you are using White Labs pitchable yeast, then the answer is generally no. If using Wyeast, then I like to grow a starter to build up the cell titer. 3. Are those side bucket stick on thermometers any good? -- No 4. Water: Tap, bottled spring or distilled or a little bit of a mixture of both? -- If your tap water is good (mine is) then it’s fine to use, providing you can boil off the chlorine disinfectant. Water and mineral chemistry in water is an entire subject on its own. 5. Does adding crushed grains really make a extracted beer taste better? -- YES YES YES. My must successful extract brews were when I used Alexander’s LME with crushed grains in a nylon bag. A pound to a pound and a half are about right for 5 gallons. It’s very easy to do. Just stick the bag of grains in the pot and while you are heating up the water. When the water reaches 175 to 180 degrees, remove the grain bag. This added step can make the difference between good beer and great beer. 6. Do I really need a priming bucket? Can I prime in the fermenter if I pre-filtered the wort going into it? I'm thinking the less exposure to anything, the better. -- Yes. After your beer is done fermenting, the only thing you want to do to it is very carefully (with out splashing or agitation) rack it off into the priming bucket. A valve at the bottom of the priming/bottling bucket is very useful. After your beer is fermented, you want to painfully avoid any oxidation. 7. Priming solution: corn sugar or DME? I know not to use table sugar. -- Dry Corn Sugar. DME has unwanted protein that will add to chill haze. 8. Chilling the wort. If the wort is 2.5 gallons after boiling for 60 minutes, I then have get 2.5 gallons of almost freezing water, dump them together in the fermenter, wouldn't that help lower the temperature to the cold break? Or is mixing them that soon not good? -- That might work. I’ve always tried to brew with full volume boils. That means for a five gallon batch, an initial volume of about 6.5 to 7 gallons. You’ll easily boil off 1 to 2 gallons after a 60-90 min boil. I like to get my boiled wort down to 70-80 degrees before I pitch. I use a copper immersion wort chiller. Your proposed method may work. Be sure to give your wort about 30 minutes to sit allow the chunkies to settle out a bit. Irish Moss the last 15 min. of boil helps with this. After it’s sat for a while, take its temperature with a sanitized thermometer. If you are in the 80 degree range, go ahead and rack off into your fermenter and pitch your yeast. 9. I'm worried about bottles exploding, will 3.4 quarter cup of corn sugar dissolved in two cups of water, be about right? Appreciate any replys. Thanks. -- 3/4 cup is about right. Just dump a cup into your priming bucket. When you rack your fermented beer into the priming bucket, most of the sugar will dissolve. Once your bucket is full, give the beer a very gentle stir to evenly distribute the dissolved suger. Remember, sanitation is probably the most important key to successful brewing. Buy some Iodophor.
 

HEV

Messages
327
Location
Great Central Valley, CA
quote:
Originally posted by HEV: 1. Do I really need a secondary fermenter? -- Total waste of time. Trub will settle out just fine after a couple of weeks. 2. Do I really need to feed the yeast before pitching it into the fermenter? -- Yes and no. A good pitch is one of the best ways to ensure a solid, clean fermentation. If you are using White Labs pitchable yeast, then the answer is generally no. If using Wyeast, then I like to grow a starter to build up the cell titer. 3. Are those side bucket stick on thermometers any good? -- No 4. Water: Tap, bottled spring or distilled or a little bit of a mixture of both? -- If your tap water is good (mine is) then it’s fine to use, providing you can boil off the chlorine disinfectant. Water and mineral chemistry in water is an entire subject on its own. 5. Does adding crushed grains really make a extracted beer taste better? -- YES YES YES. My must successful extract brews were when I used Alexander’s LME with crushed grains in a nylon bag. A pound to a pound and a half are about right for 5 gallons. It’s very easy to do. Just stick the bag of grains in the pot and while you are heating up the water. When the water reaches 175 to 180 degrees, remove the grain bag. This added step can make the difference between good beer and great beer. 6. Do I really need a priming bucket? Can I prime in the fermenter if I pre-filtered the wort going into it? I'm thinking the less exposure to anything, the better. -- Yes. After your beer is done fermenting, the only thing you want to do to it is very carefully (with out splashing or agitation) rack it off into the priming bucket. A valve at the bottom of the priming/bottling bucket is very useful. After your beer is fermented, you want to painfully avoid any oxidation. 7. Priming solution: corn sugar or DME? I know not to use table sugar. -- Dry Corn Sugar. DME has unwanted protein that will add to chill haze. 8. Chilling the wort. If the wort is 2.5 gallons after boiling for 60 minutes, I then have get 2.5 gallons of almost freezing water, dump them together in the fermenter, wouldn't that help lower the temperature to the cold break? Or is mixing them that soon not good? -- That might work. I’ve always tried to brew with full volume boils. That means for a five gallon batch, an initial volume of about 6.5 to 7 gallons. You’ll easily boil off 1 to 2 gallons after a 60-90 min boil. I like to get my boiled wort down to 70-80 degrees before I pitch. I use a copper immersion wort chiller. Your proposed method may work. Be sure to give your wort about 30 minutes to sit allow the chunkies to settle out a bit. Irish Moss the last 15 min. of boil helps with this. After it’s sat for a while, take its temperature with a sanitized thermometer. If you are in the 80 degree range, go ahead and rack off into your fermenter and pitch your yeast. 9. I'm worried about bottles exploding, will 3.4 quarter cup of corn sugar dissolved in two cups of water, be about right? Appreciate any replys. Thanks. -- 3/4 is about right. Just dump a cup into your priming bucket. When you rack your fermented beer into the priming bucket, most of the sugar will dissolve. Once your bucket is full, give the beer a very gentle stir to evenly distribute the dissolved suger. Remember, sanitation is probably the most important key to successful brewing. Buy some Iodophor.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
THANKS BREWING BRETHREN!!!!! I've read so many different web sites that I was totally brainwashed. I've read on water that if it taste good, your beer will be good. To be honest, my daughters Nursery water, Walmart, taste absolutely great, but it's distilled with some minerals and stuff added. I've read that distilled water should not be used because it doesn't contain some of the trace elements that yeast need for good fermenting. If I do use ice cold sterile water to dump into the hot wort to cool it off, will all the stirring around, you know dumping the cold in with the hot, screw up the cold break from all the agitation? Or maybe that could be a good thing???? What's the best yeast to get? Dry or liquid type?
 
Messages
47,776
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
Pure distilled is not best, but with all the sanitation right and all the other ingredients good - your beer will still be great. In fact have spent many an hour trying to duplicate the water of the area where the beer style orginated. I have added CaCl, CaS04, NaCl, CaCO2, etc in tiny varying amounts. The mineral and pH are most important for all grain beers, for taste yes, but also for better extraction rates. This all said - don't sweat it until you've brewed a lot. Cold break is important, but it will happen with agitation. Your wort needs O2 at this stage! I used to use liquid yeast and I would do starters in qt mason jars. I was very disappointed occaisonally as to the viability of the yeast from Wyeast - but this was a LONG time ago.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
The thing about distilled water is that it's cheaper to buy it rather than boiling it for 20 or 30 minutes or so. I'd figure on putting roughly three gallons in the deep freeze and time it so that it is slushy when I'm ready to dump it in with the boiled wort and it would drop the temperature down considerably. What would be the best way in doing that with a glass carboy? I know, from working in a lab for years, never ever add boiling hot water to an empty glass container. Would pouring in the slushy cold water into the carboy first and then adding the wort be good enough to keep it from cracking? Sorry for all the questions but you guys have GREAT advice and I'm getting ready to start brewing here pretty soon. Just need to make an equipment list. I feel those "starter" brew kits are kind of expensive and some of the items needed, I already have at the house. The only thing I really need to buy is a bottling bucket, glass carboy, probably 4 cases of bottles with caps and cap press and racking hose.
 

HEV

Messages
327
Location
Great Central Valley, CA
Ditto what Paul said. For the water, you can always use "spring" water. It will be sterile and purified and will still have mineral content for your yeast. Regarding yeast, steer wide and clear from dry yeast. At best they are a slightly impure culture that will make you adequate beer. At worst it will completely ruin your beer with awful off flavors. I like White Labs yeast over Wyeast. www.whitelabs.com Check with your local homebrew supplier to see what they have available. A good neutral and forgiving yeast is the California Ale Yeast or, if you must, Wyeast 1056. You can experiment with other yeasts later as you get the hang of things. Also, most micro breweries will happily give you some of their yeast slurry (makes things very easy for you). Put on your list to purchase a pot capable of holding at least 6 gallons of boiled wort. A cheap, enameled canning pot works well (just no Aluminum). After you boil your wort, shut off the heat and add the slushy water to the pot to bring the wort up to your final volume (shoot for 5.5 gallons; there will be some waste). Allow for things to settle out for 20-30 minutes in the pot (this is your “cold break”). Now, rack the cooled, boiled wort right into your fermenter, then, pitch your yeast. Try to find a cool place to ferment your beer (65-75 F). Make sure you use an air lock. Have fun. It’s very cool to watch the beer ferment. It’s amazing – It’s alive.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
See??? This is WHAT I'm talking about....great advice. Ay Caramba! 24 quart non-aluminum pot? I got a really nice 14 quart s.s. pot the I already got "permission from the other half" to use. I was hoping on doing that to offset some of the cost. But, from what all I've read on how to chill quickly, that method would by far be the most simplest.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
Narrowing it down here before I head out to OKC this weekend and stop at the brew shop to get started. Of course, I'm reading everything I can get my eyes on and naturally, I'm more confused.....Fermentor: Glass or plastic pail with secure lid? Each have an advantage....I'm kind of leaning towards the pail since this is my first time. Will a secondary fermentor really make that much of a difference in the final product? Cleaning and sanitizing...what's the best stuff to use? Boil timing....do I start the clock once the hot break is done? Or start once the wort gets to a roiling boil?
 
Messages
47,776
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
Get a large "acid" carboy for a primary. Secondary I like. I always used hot dishwasher detergent to clean spotless. Good rinse and sanitize with bleach solution followed by a DI water rinse. Start boil time at rolling boil.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
Probably a stupid question....can you use the liquid version of AD detergent, or is it something about the powder stuff? I think for the first couple of runs, I'll go with only using a primary and try to catch as much hot break as I can when I dump the wort. Is there a lot of trub that will accumulate from the cold break as well. I've read some articles that say no to really sweat the trub, it's also necessary for the yeast.
 

HEV

Messages
327
Location
Great Central Valley, CA
If you can find a large glass carboy, go for it. You will find watching the fermentation fascinating. They are durable, and unless you break it, you will never need to buy another fermenter. However, I've made plenty of fine beers in a food grade plastic pale. If you go with plastic, be very careful how you clean it. If you scratch it, bacteria and wild yeast can set up an infection in the scratch and can ruin your beer. I prefer Iodophor (BTF) for my sanitizer over bleach. But, I used to use bleach to clean off fermentation goo stuck to the inside the fermenter. Like Pabs, I now use powdered automatic dishwashing detergent (Cascade or Kirkland from Costco) is a great cleaner because it contains enzymes that “eat” organic material; it will leave your fermenter sparkling clean. To clean a dirty fermenter, pour in a quarter cup of detergent, and fill it completely with warm water. Leave it overnight in the detergent. By the next day everything should be clean. Just rinse it out well. Unlike Pabs, I’ve never appreciated the benefit of a secondary fermenter. I abandoned that technique a decade ago after a master brewer friend of mine did a number of experiments comparing the two methods. In fact, most micro breweries not use a secondary fermenter. Try for yourself and see what works best for you.
 

Schmoe

Thread starter
Messages
7,775
Location
Oklahoma
School me on this one. Getting the terms "hopped" and "unhopped" confused. I prefer a sweeter or malty brew over a bitter one anyday. That's what I'd like to try and brew first this weekend after all the football games and will be in a good mood hopefully after Oklahoma wins. Since I'm doing an extract, would I get a unhopped or hopped extract? Hopped means more bitter, right? Should I steep some grains before full boil or cut down the boil times if I use flavoring hops? I had read that the longer you boil the hops, the bitter it will become. The shorter the boil, the better the aroma and flavor.
 

HEV

Messages
327
Location
Great Central Valley, CA
Get unhopped malt extract. You want to have as much control in the beer as is possible. By a wide margin, I prefer liquid malt extract by Alexander's. Actually, I'm a all grain brewer now, but I believe that Alexander's has the best malt profile for an extract. Do you have a basic home brew book yet? The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is a good start. They are very helpful in lots of this stuff. Also, if you haven't already, get a catalog from a major homebrew supply store such as Norther Brewer, Williams Brewing, or Hoptech. They contain lots of useful info. Regarding the trub. Don't worry too much about it at first. There are more important things to think about during your first few brews. As you become more advanced, you can modify your techniques.
 
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