Several Questions

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Banderson, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. Banderson

    Banderson New Member

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    Hi everyone!

    I'm new to this site, new-ish to brewing, and definitely NOT new to drinking beer! I'm on my 3rd batch from extract and have done a lot of comparing recipes, reading-up, and paying close attention to detail. Most of my concerns lie in the lack of detail provided by the kit recipes.

    So, here are my questions (I understand I could probably find most of the answers online in various places, but I wanted conversation and depth, so I thought this might be best).

    1. How fast do you need to chill the wort? I use an ice bath and it takes 15-20 minutes. Is this the next upgrade for me?

    2. For now, I aerate by sloshing the carboy around. Is that good enough? Is THIS the next upgrade for me?

    3. The first brew I did was a session IPA - I used a Wyeast smack pack. It worked great. Primary fermentation began within a long 36 hours and lasted 4-5 days with a very gradual activity increase and decrease. The second was a Red Ale with higher ABV. I used a can of "Fast Pitch" to start the Wyeast and had to delay it a couple times with added starter wort. The primary fermentation was vigorous! Within 24 hours it had blown off the airlock. I did a blow-off set-up and everything was over within 48 hours. Is this normal? The main question then is - when yeast is more active because of a yeast starter, do you really have to leave it in primary fermentation for a whole week if it's basically stopped bubbling after 3 days?

    My 3rd batch is a Chocolate Milk Stout. Same thing. Fast Pitched the Wyeast, and it got going in day 2, but was done by day 4. Should I leave the Kreusen and Trub alone in the primary for the allotted 1-2 weeks anyway? Or, will more flavor come from secondary?

    4. How cool should the priming sugar solution be when added to for bottling? Some recipes don't even say to cool it.

    5. I'm adding cool tap water after chilling the wort. Is that sanitary enough? I've heard Minneapolis has great tap water for brewing. Also, it's the time to take a hydrometer reading. Yet, nobody suggests taking a temperature reading while doing so. That's crazy! 80 degree-ish wort + Unknown degree Tap water + ??? degree priming sugar solution = some sort of hydrometer calculation adjustment that I can't wrap my head around. I did pretty well in Science classes, and this is some bullshit.

    6. Primary fermentation 1-2 weeks. Secondary: recommended 1-2 weeks. Bottle condition: 1-2 weeks. Then cold storage 2-4 weeks. Seriously? 5-10 weeks range? Can you all recommend whether to go short or long in each case? I like the flexibility, but it would be nice to know what makes a difference, and what doesn't.

    Thanks for any help!!!!

    Ben
     
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I'm a 20 year rookie, and I'm typing on my iPhone. For those two reasons, my answers are short.

    1. If you're chilling in 15-20 minutes, you're doing great.

    2. Carboy sloshing is a great free way to aerate. I go about 5 minutes and then get tired/bored.

    3. When your hydrometer shows no change for 3 days, you can consider primary fermentation complete.

    4. I pour the priming sugar solution immediately into the bottling bucket. I'm sure I kill a few yeast cells, but enough survive to do the job.

    5. I've added cool tap water in the past to my wort. You'll get the hang of it eventually, and you'll have your desired post-boil volume and gravity almost every time.

    6. For ales, you don't really need cold storage. That'll knock a couple weeks off. I'd recommend making a few batches relatively quickly, and then slow to a brew-as-you-drink pace. That way, you'll always have ready brew on hand. Myself, I'm set up to do 2 different lagers, which take about 3 months. But that's way slower than I drink. So I fill in the gaps with ales.
     
  3. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    for ferm time, it varies from batch to batch, i always let mine go a full two weeks, just because i don't have a good way of taking readings from my small batches. Like jeffpn said, depending on what you make will also depend on the fermentation temp you want, and how long that'll take. I do all ales, and all of them at 60ºF. I'd let them go a full 14 days anyway.

    for priming sugar, i dilute my 1 oz of sugar and half cup tap water, (no temperatures taken) per gallon of beer, boil that small solution, don't worry about cooling that down, and then rack my cold crashed beer right on top of it, then bottle that new solution. hasn't failed me.

    your hydrometer should tell you what it's calibrated to in terms of degrees, mine is 60ºF. It won't hurt to take a temp reading of whatever sample you have on hand, and then a hydrometer reading. make note of both, and then punch it in here: http://www.brewersfriend.com/hydrometer-temp/, that'll compensate for any off readings.

    As for secondaries, sometimes i don't do a secondary aging, but i like doing a week or two in a secondary container, glass preferably, just to age and clear the beer, tastes better in the long run to me. And then cold crash it at 48ºF for another week to really clarify it.

    Bottle conditioning can very, I've always had better results waiting at least 2 weeks. And leave your bottles at room temp for that time. THEN chill em down, and drink a lot.
     
  4. EbonHawk

    EbonHawk New Member

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    All good advice here, Banderson. Sounds like you've pretty much got the hang of it already. All we can really do is just offer some insight, and maybe what works for us. Everybody settles into their own routines and tend to stick with the things they can readily repeat and deal with on a repetitive basis...

    I like to primary ferment for about 2 weeks, then bottle for 2 weeks, then drink. I've pushed it to 7 days primary and settle (primary ferment is usually done in about 72 hrs, maybe a day more; then the other 4 days is settling/clearing). Then 7 days in bottle to condition, clear, and "age" a little bit and it's definitely drinkable, but the longer you can wait the better usually (up to a limit of course). I think 2 weeks for primary and 2 weeks to bottle condition are pretty much the sweet spot for "ready fairly quickly yet the best drinkable final product you can get". Experience will teach you which recipes require longer at each step.

    I just did an all-grain batch of a honey pale ale that I really like, and I did the usual 14 days in primary, then tried to drink it at 7 days (it'll carbonate and clear in that time) but it wasn't quite ready in my opinion. After 7 more days, it was ideal. But, I say ideal and I'll open another bottle in another month and it will be a completely different brew and I will smile and say, "I shoulda waited till now for all of it to mature".

    Patience is a virtue in brewing, but trying to wait is sometimes impossible. :)
     
  5. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you're itching a little bit to get a bright shiny new gadget, so I'll throw in my 2¢

    It might be better to wait until you have a few more batches under your belt before looking to upgrade anything. You'll have a better sense of where things are difficult or inefficient. If you move into creating your own recipes, a scale might be a good purchase to weigh out partial bags of hops. If bottling sucks, then maybe a bottling wand or a Vinator is what you need. If you use a lot of spices, maybe get a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

    I've got a box of unused beakers, a thief, thermometers, etc. that I probably should have thought twice about. Could have spent that money on another batch of beer :D
     

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