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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 07:38:35 PM

Title: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 07:38:35 PM
OK I tried a few batches of Mr Beer (my friend and I brewed four batches together with our two kits).  I quickly realized this wasn't enough for me.  The first Mr Beer batch didn't come out like I expected.  It was plenty dry and had lots of carbonation/head, but wasn't up to par taste wise (it was West Coast Pale Ale).  Second batch should be tasted this coming weekend.  Batch 3 and 4 were brewed on same day and experimentally mixed and matched a little when bottling, and also used both plastic Mr Beer bottles and glass bottles (12oz, 22oz).  Either way, it's interesting to experiment with, but I needed to move up to the really good stuff ASAP. 

Thus, I just bought a 5 gallon kit this weekend.  Was going to brew my first batch today, but I wasn't ready.

I got the kit in St Louis along with an ingredients kit to brew an IPA (crystal malt, UHMEx2, bittering, aroma and flavor hops, DME, corn sugar for priming, mesh bag, dry yeast, necessary hardware).  Here are the exact details of everything I have, what my first batch is going to be, and in the comments, why I did not brew today (just wasn't ready, too many questions). 

I know you guys are experts so any advice would be appreciated. 

https://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/my-new-brewkit-and-first-5-gallon-batch-pour-me-an-english-ipa/ (https://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/my-new-brewkit-and-first-5-gallon-batch-pour-me-an-english-ipa/)

I also apologize if it seems like I'm pimping my blog; I'm not, but copy/paste on large scale is frequently unacceptable on forums too, so I'm linking to the source.  If there is a policy/preference on this board that I need to know about, please let me know.  I didn't see anything in the rules stating one way or the other.

thanks. 

al
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 08:09:52 PM
Also, comments on how to crush the crystal malt would be helpful.  It says a rolling pin or heavy bottle, I presume on a cutting board?  Sanitization of the cutting board an issue? 

Another method I read about in one of my two books which said to crush up the malt in a plastic bag, then add to the mesh bag before steeping (recipe says 150F).

I have joy of homebrewing and how to brew as books, but they both seem to slightly contradict the recipe I have from the homebrew shop.

I won't be starting my first batch until I'm quite certain of all these things!  Thanks!!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: tygo on January 02, 2012, 09:14:13 PM
You could use a rolling pin to crush the grains.  Been there, done that, hope to never do it again.  Or you could try pulsing them in a food processor.

You should wait until the temperature of the beer is at pitching temps before aerating.  Pitching temp in this case should be 65F or lower.  Also on the issue of temp your closet may be 65-70F but your fermentation temperature is going to be several degrees higher.  If possible try to keep the fermentation temp below 70F.

To rehydrate I would follow the manufacturer's instructions.  They're the experts on their product.

Otherwise I'd say you're good to go.  Each brew is a learning experience.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 09:32:35 PM
I have a fan in the closet to keep the wort cooled.  I am thinking of experimenting with a fermenter full of water before next weekend's brew date to make sure the wort stays within the necessary temperature range.  I know the fermentation will give off a little heat and the fermenting wort might be a few degrees higher than ambient room temperature, but I should be able to keep it within the desired range.

Thanks for the advice.  I may be being a little picky but I'd rather be overly cautious than not enough on my first batch.  There's no real hurry to get it brewed and I want it to come out good!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: repo on January 02, 2012, 10:26:43 PM
How to Brew is a great reference, read over the sections pertaining to your intended method a few times. You gotta brew it to really learn it. But here are some quick answers for you, btw don't know how big your kettle is. But smash that grain however you can while keeping it somewhat intact(you dont want flower, but you want the husk broken open). The plastic bag method keeps it in an easier to contain smashable object so you can easily pour it into your mesh bag. Tie it shut and steep that pound in 3/4 gallon h2o, shoot for 160 but must stay between 150-170, for 1/2 hour then remove bag draining it without really squeezing it. Add it to 2plus gallons water for your boil(don't know your brewpot size). Bring to boil remove form heat and stir in 1 can extract and dme, thoroughly dissolve and return to heat and regain boil. Note soak that liquid extract in hot/warm water to make it easier to remove from can- extracts make a sticky mess. Be on top of your pot as it begins to reboiol as you'll need to stir like mad as the hot break occurs and foams over your stove with a sticky mess. A minute or so and this subsides then I would add your first hop addition and begin your 60 minute boil. Add that last can of extract at end of 60 minutesand stir in removed from heat, then cool however you can to pitching temp.(Now take a gravity reading-use the tube  hte hydrometer came with.)  Which should be in yeasts range and in the range you will keep it in. Pour it into carboy vigorously and shake it up some this will be enough aeration. Then add the yeast. Do not transfer it to secondary(fiddle with that in later batches if you want). In 14 days or so you'll be ready to bottle take a gravity reading from beer as you rack it to bottling bucket(bucket will priming sugar at room temp in it and will mix in during transfer. Boil 2 cups h20 and priming sugar then cool to room temp. Anything in contact with wort after boil must be sanitized. Avoid aeration  or oxygen exposure after fermentation begins. These are basic instructions ot help you get thru 1st batch. Good Luck, you will learn with every batch. I'm sure I missed something..
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: jeffy on January 02, 2012, 10:28:55 PM
Also, comments on how to crush the crystal malt would be helpful.  It says a rolling pin or heavy bottle, I presume on a cutting board?  Sanitization of the cutting board an issue? 

Another method I read about in one of my two books which said to crush up the malt in a plastic bag

Doesn't your homebrew supply shop have a gain mill?
Using a rolling pin would take a lot of pressure or strength to get a good crush, but if you had a very thin layer of grain ou could get it done.  No need to sanitize anything before the boil.  It only gets critical afterwards.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 10:35:48 PM
Thanks Repo, those are precisely the details I was lacking on to get it done today.  I will mark this thread and be brewing this coming saturday, will report back.  14 days fermentation time is perfect as weekend days are best for me to work with brewing.

Thanks Man!!

ETA: Jeffy, no I don't have a grain mill, lol.  Will be doing it the hard way on the first batch.  I think I understand how much they need to be broken up to work properly without being too crushed up.  I'm a long way from STL where I got the supplies and likely won't get back there for at least 4 weeks or more.  Will wing it on the grain crushing for the first batch.  Won't worry about sanitation before the boil but won't be a slob about it either!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: repo on January 02, 2012, 10:51:55 PM
Let me note that santitation is extremely important. Let me note that sanitation is extremely important and everything needs to be clean. The boil is sanitizing but anything you touch after that must be sanitized. 14 days is very general, sanitarily siphon some beer back to back days (maybe 12 and 13) and make sure there has been no change in gravity this insures fermentation is over- exploding bottles would be highly probable if it were not complete prior to bottling.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 02, 2012, 10:55:35 PM
Let me note that santitation is extremely important. Let me note that sanitation is extremely important and everything needs to be clean. The boil is sanitizing but anything you touch after that must be sanitized. 14 days is very general, sanitarily siphon some beer back to back days (maybe 12 and 13) and make sure there has been no change in gravity this insures fermentation is over- exploding bottles would be highly probable if it were not complete prior to bottling.

I'm going to practice siphoning before hand, to make sure I've got the technique down. 

And yes, sanitation will be my highest priority.  It seems it's about "72%" of brewing according to most sources, but 100% if you get it wrong  ;D
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: repo on January 02, 2012, 11:10:46 PM
You got it, if you like washing dishes you might like homebrewing. :) Also I forgot to mention to boil the water you need to top off with and store in sanitized container till you need it. Do it a day or two before and it will be cooled nicely. Also leave behind the trub/yeast/hop matter on bottom of fermenter when siphoning out.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: garc_mall on January 02, 2012, 11:23:49 PM
I agree with what everyone said so far, my 2 cents are:

 - Make sure you really get that wort moving when you are aerating. I usually plug the hole and pickup the carboy and really shake it good, foaming it up as much as I can.
 - Don't pitch the yeast until it is under 70. someone else posted this as well, but I feel like it needs to be emphasized.
 - When I topped off, I refrigerated my (boiled and cooled) water a couple hours before I started the brew, because it dropped the temperature of the wort from 90-100 down to 60-70. Those last 30 or so degrees are the hardest to get down.
 - Beating crystal malt with a rolling pin is a pain, I would recommend using the grain mill at the LHBS for the next batches. If you don't have a store that is close, you might be better off buying a grain mill for your home use.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: dzlater on January 05, 2012, 12:15:13 AM
I "milled" some grains once by putting them in a plastic bag and then beat them with a small sledge hammer.
kind of, sort of worked.   :o
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 07, 2012, 01:11:48 AM
Thanks for all the replies.  Fantastically, I've found an all-grain brewer who's experienced and is going to brew a batch with me this sunday.  I will learn a lot and also get to brew my first batch that day too (he's going to help me).  I will report and let everyone know how it went, and later, how the beer turned out!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 09, 2012, 02:28:55 PM
Here is the recipe and story of brew day with Old Guy from the garage brewers.  I learned a lot!  I postponed my first batch of extract till this one is done fermenting and bottled. 

Al's Celebration Ale

http://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/als-celebration-ale/ (http://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/als-celebration-ale/)
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: garc_mall on January 09, 2012, 05:57:39 PM
I would recommend starting the next batch sooner. It is amazing how fast good Homebrew goes.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 10, 2012, 12:13:58 AM
I would recommend starting the next batch sooner. It is amazing how fast good Homebrew goes.

LOL I'd love to but I need at least one more bucket or fermenter bottle, plus a couple more small pieces of glassware and equipment (recommended by Old Guy).  Mainly I need one more bucket.  Will be getting in the next week or so, btw.  I'm so hooked now!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: jamminbrew on January 10, 2012, 12:45:00 AM
Welcome to the hobby obsession...  This forum is a great place to learn. I've picked up a lot of great info here!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: madscientist on January 12, 2012, 01:28:50 PM
Welcome to the hobby obsession...  This forum is a great place to learn. I've picked up a lot of great info here!

+1

It goes beyond hobby.  My wife really supports it, but sometimes I get the "are you looking at beer forums again?!" comment. 
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 21, 2012, 01:49:42 PM
An update on this one.  Checked the SG and it's at 1.022.  We are targeting about 1.017 or 1.018 as the final gravity, so it needs to sit a little longer. 

The beer itself was quite cloudy still, kind of a tan color, and smelled and tasted quite good.  I think this batch is on course to come out really good.  I would like to see it clear up a bit, but we'll see what happens when the FG is reached.  I think I will check the SG again in about two or three days. 

Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: duboman on January 21, 2012, 03:13:51 PM
An update on this one.  Checked the SG and it's at 1.022.  We are targeting about 1.017 or 1.018 as the final gravity, so it needs to sit a little longer. 

The beer itself was quite cloudy still, kind of a tan color, and smelled and tasted quite good.  I think this batch is on course to come out really good.  I would like to see it clear up a bit, but we'll see what happens when the FG is reached.  I think I will check the SG again in about two or three days. 



Great to hear that all is going great with your new hobby/obsession. It sounds as though you are going into your beer quite often and that is definitely NOT a good thing while it's fermenting as each time you open it up you run the risk of inviting infection. I hope you are using a thief to check your FG and not putting the hydrometer right in the bucket, obviously a sanitized thief. A general rule of thumb is 2 weeks  for fermentation to complete.

As for cloudy, that's normal. When you siphon to bottle things will clear a bit as everything will settle out. In addition, in the future you may want to add a tsp of irish moss at the last 10 minutes of your boil to help clarify the wort, for me it works pretty well and does nothing to flavor at all.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 21, 2012, 06:36:55 PM
Actually that was the first time I got into the beer since it was made.  I was going to wait a few more days before taking another reading. 

And yes, I used a sanitized wine thief to obtain the sample. 

I think I'll pick up some Irish moss next time I'm at the homebrew store.  My next two batches will be extract/partial mash batches, is the moss needed in those? 

Tomorrow will be two weeks since it was brewed.  I'm anxious to bottle but afraid of making bottle bombs if the yeasties aren't done yet.  The final gravity was supposed to be 1.017-1.018.  I'm waiting to hear back from my friend who helped me on this batch to see what he thinks too.  If he says bottle, I'll just go for it tomorrow.  If he says wait, I'll wait.  I'm not sure about target FG verses actual FG here, especially since our OG was a bit higher than expected.

On the other hand, if I took another reading tomorrow and it remained the same, I would think that would be a sign that it was finished fermenting and ready for bottling. 

Thoughts on my ramblings here?  I've been reading lots of "first time" threads and we all seem to ramble a little with worries, concerns, questions etc  ;D
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: denny on January 21, 2012, 07:42:01 PM
I use Irish moss (or whirfloc) in every batch.  It doesn't make a world of difference, but it doesn't hurt.

I know it's hard on your first few batches, but I can practically guarantee you better results if you're patient.  Give your beer another week or 2 and I think you'll be rewarded with a better beer.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 21, 2012, 09:51:16 PM
Actually, given tomorrow has two big football games on TV (and I have other things to do), I can easily wait till next weekend to bottle.  The beer is sitting at about 68 degrees or so, covered in a towel against the wall in a dark closet.  The temperature is pretty steady in there, so I suspect it will be just fine if I wait till next saturday to bottle.

At the moment, that's sounding like the best plan.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 27, 2012, 04:27:04 AM
Bottling day today.  Getting the hang of this bottling thing with a friend and a couple of brewskies.  

FG = 1.020

I think I did good for the most part.  If anything, the addition of the boiled corn sugar was my iffy-est step.  I think I over-boiled the sugar longer than I wanted to (my buddy came over right at the critical moment, and I was distracted).  Slight color tinge when it was done.  But there was a slight residue on the pot I used and it tasted purely sweet and not burnt or caramelized, so hopefully it's good.  I guess it wouldn't be my first batch unless I sketched and worried about it.  Only time will tell at this point.

tomorrow I'm planning on brewing my first solo batch, the extract IPA I originally had planned before I met Old Guy.  There are some specialty grains but for the most part it looks pretty cut and dry.  I'm going for it one way or another, so wish me luck.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: euge on January 27, 2012, 08:12:10 AM
Go for it! Woohoo!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 27, 2012, 10:30:08 PM
OK.  Batch two, English IPA, completed.  Full procedure, with notes, here (https://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/its-finally-time-for-batch-two-english-ipa/).

The only major concern was the temp on the mash got up to about 164 for a few minutes, probably 2-3.  I quickly removed it from the heat and hopefully it never reached 168.  Can't guarantee anything as the thermometer isn't calibrated (D'oh!  Hindsight 20/20 error).  
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: morticaixavier on January 27, 2012, 10:32:10 PM
OK.  Batch two, English IPA, completed.  Full procedure, with notes, here (https://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/its-finally-time-for-batch-two-english-ipa/).

The only major concern was the temp on the mash got up to about 164 for a few minutes, probably 2-3.  I quickly removed it from the heat and hopefully it never reached 168.  Can't guarantee anything as the thermometer isn't calibrated (D'oh!  Hindsight 20/20 error).  

no worries it takes time at 168 to denature all the enzymes and there are plenty
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 27, 2012, 11:01:03 PM
OK.  Batch two, English IPA, completed.  Full procedure, with notes, here (https://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/its-finally-time-for-batch-two-english-ipa/).

The only major concern was the temp on the mash got up to about 164 for a few minutes, probably 2-3.  I quickly removed it from the heat and hopefully it never reached 168.  Can't guarantee anything as the thermometer isn't calibrated (D'oh!  Hindsight 20/20 error). 

no worries it takes time at 168 to denature all the enzymes and there are plenty

That's good to hear, as (of course) I'm finding a bzillion things to worry about, even though I think I really should be fine.  But I'm a semi-perfectionist (meaning I like my results to be perfect without having to use perfect technique, LOL). 
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: garc_mall on January 28, 2012, 01:22:49 AM
you also only (according to your recipe) steeped crystal malt, which doesn't actually need mashing, as the enzymes are already denatured as a part of the kilning process. You are fine as long as you don't bring that thing really high. Its recommended that you keep it under 170, but I have heard of people getting it a bit higher and not tasting any astringency. RDWHAHB.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 28, 2012, 02:16:26 AM
Unless my thermometer is WAY off (doubtful) there's no way it reached 170.

I tasted the SG sample* after I read the OG and it tasted fine, quite bitter from the hops, but then it's an IPA so that's probably expected.  It smelled wonderful brewing so I'm not going to spend two weeks worrying when I've already gotten two positive replies and I've had about five beers since I finished brewing it! 

Thanks everybody who's participated in this thread, btw.  This forum is a really great place to learn about brewing, I'm already spending too much time here!!  It's distracting me big time from my other useless internet pursuits!!! LOL

I already can't wait to brew my sweet stout that's up next!

I have decided that bottling with the carboy went just fine, and I'm keeping the plastic bucket as the primary fermenter.  If I decide on secondaries for whatever reason in the future, I'll get another glass carboy, but for now I'm happy with this arrangement.  There's going to be slight losses from transferring, so I'll start with 5.5 gallon batches and bottle from the carboy from here out, at least until something better presents itself. 

Although bottling is a pain in the butt so I might just invest in a keg or two in the somewhat near future anyway lol.

*not that my pallet is advanced enough to glean any useful info from that, but hey, you can't put the sample back in the bucket, so might as well, right?
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: garc_mall on January 28, 2012, 03:54:10 AM

I tasted the SG sample* after I read the OG and it tasted fine, quite bitter from the hops, but then it's an IPA so that's probably expected.  It smelled wonderful brewing so I'm not going to spend two weeks worrying when I've already gotten two positive replies and I've had about five beers since I finished brewing it! 

*not that my pallet is advanced enough to glean any useful info from that, but hey, you can't put the sample back in the bucket, so might as well, right?

I drink all my gravity samples as well, and I have noticed that taking good notes on what I taste in that original sample, along with the later samples, has given me a good idea of how I am going. The first beers I didn't know what I was tasting for, but now I can make assessments on whether I hit the bitterness I was going for and whether I made some mistakes prior to fermentation.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 28, 2012, 04:56:42 AM
My tricorder tells me that it's probably going to be somewhat extra bitter, possibly because I extended the 12 minutes to 25 because of the non-boil phase after adding the malt extracts and 2nd hops addition.  No doubt there's some extra bittering there, but how much I can't be arsed to attempt to calculate at this time and after this many beers.  Let's just say that I expect the IBUs to be higher than normal, except for the OG being lower than expected, thus leading to a definitive mathematical quantification of "I just don't f'in know." 

Whatever, the beer should be tasty when it's done.  The wort was pretty tasty, despite its slightly extra bitter nature.  I'm purely optimistic at this point.  Next time I brew I'll have homebrews to drink so I really won't be worried about it at all.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: morticaixavier on January 28, 2012, 05:32:38 AM
My tricorder tells me that it's probably going to be somewhat extra bitter, possibly because I extended the 12 minutes to 25 because of the non-boil phase after adding the malt extracts and 2nd hops addition.  No doubt there's some extra bittering there, but how much I can't be arsed to attempt to calculate at this time and after this many beers.  Let's just say that I expect the IBUs to be higher than normal, except for the OG being lower than expected, thus leading to a definitive mathematical quantification of "I just don't f'in know." 

Whatever, the beer should be tasty when it's done.  The wort was pretty tasty, despite its slightly extra bitter nature.  I'm purely optimistic at this point.  Next time I brew I'll have homebrews to drink so I really won't be worried about it at all.

unfermented wort tastes more bitter than the final beer will be in my experience. I suspect because alot of harsh bitterness gets driven off and carried away into the yeast cake.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: headhunter4hire on February 12, 2012, 05:52:01 PM
I'm new to this but learning fast from people here and a buddy at work that brews, one trick I've picked up that really helps is that I buy 1 gallon jugs of bottled water. It helps me know exactly how much water I'm using, it's purified already, and they fit in the refrigerator to quickly drop the temp of my wort.

You may also want to consider kegs if you are doing the 5 gallon route. I made the switch and only bottle a few to give away for friends to try. It is so much easier then cleaning bottles.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on February 12, 2012, 06:26:48 PM
When circumstances allow, I eventually plan to do the keg thing.  Right now that would be impractical.  

BTW this time I'm doing my yeast a bit different.  I aerated in advance, then I'm going to pitch the yeast according to the alternate directions on the website:

Quote
Alternatively, pitch dry yeast directly in the fermentation vessel providing the temperature of the wort is above 20C. Progressively sprinkle the dry yeast into the wort ensuring the yeast covers all the surface of wort available in order to avoid clumps. Leave for 30 minutes and then mix the wort e.g. using aeration.

Only deviation is that I've already aerated the wort, and plan to stir gently instead of aerating after pitching.

Anyone have any comment on that method?  

The yeast is safale S-04
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: euge on February 12, 2012, 06:46:28 PM
What do the instructions say on the package of yeast? I find optimum results with rehydration before pitching. I almost exclusively use dry yeast.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on February 12, 2012, 06:52:54 PM
What do the instructions say on the package of yeast? I find optimum results with rehydration before pitching. I almost exclusively use dry yeast.

Package has little info on it, just saying pitch between 15-24C.  I got the info from the website.  There is a rehydration method and an alternate direct pitching method.  For ease, and because my last batch worked well with direct pitching, I chose the simpler method.  I may try the rehydration method next time though (if using dry yeast again). 
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: erockrph on February 13, 2012, 03:29:42 AM
My tricorder tells me that it's probably going to be somewhat extra bitter, possibly because I extended the 12 minutes to 25 because of the non-boil phase after adding the malt extracts and 2nd hops addition.  No doubt there's some extra bittering there, but how much I can't be arsed to attempt to calculate at this time and after this many beers.  Let's just say that I expect the IBUs to be higher than normal, except for the OG being lower than expected, thus leading to a definitive mathematical quantification of "I just don't f'in know." 

Whatever, the beer should be tasty when it's done.  The wort was pretty tasty, despite its slightly extra bitter nature.  I'm purely optimistic at this point.  Next time I brew I'll have homebrews to drink so I really won't be worried about it at all.

unfermented wort tastes more bitter than the final beer will be in my experience. I suspect because alot of harsh bitterness gets driven off and carried away into the yeast cake.

I just experienced this firsthand myself. I started my second batch of beer a few days ago from a recipe/hop schedule I threw together myself. When I tasted the unfermented wort I was pretty worried that I overdid the bittering hops because it was bracingly bitter. I just took a gravity sample a few minutes ago and it tastes great. There is a nice bite to it, but it isn't overwhelming like the wort tasted. In five days it went from "I'm worried I screwed this up" to "this is going to be a nice one".  ;D
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on February 21, 2012, 11:32:37 PM
The "English IPA" I made with the 2oz dry hops...

WOW!!  Just popped a 12oz of this one, ten days after bottling.  It's freaking GOOD!  Very hoppy, not too bitter, has a nice light sweetness and a touch of fruitiness despite being pretty dry overall, and has tons of hops, both in the nose and on your taste buds!!

This recipe turned out great and I would certainly recommend that any homebrewer who wanted an easy recipe for a hoppy beer should try it!  Make sure to note the dry hops, 2oz cascade after a week in the fermenter (not shown on original recipe). 

I am so friggin' pleased right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Brew Doc on February 28, 2012, 05:15:05 PM
New to home brewing but excited to get started...couple of questions:
-Using the Zymurgy Introduction to Brewing recipe for the American Pale Ale to start--does it matter if you used a hopped or unhopped bitters malt extract?
-Reference cooling the wort at the end of boiling--do you have to put the wort on ice or is it okay to let it cool slowly?
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Hokerer on February 28, 2012, 05:37:41 PM
New to home brewing but excited to get started...couple of questions:
-Using the Zymurgy Introduction to Brewing recipe for the American Pale Ale to start--does it matter if you used a hopped or unhopped bitters malt extract?
-Reference cooling the wort at the end of boiling--do you have to put the wort on ice or is it okay to let it cool slowly?

Welcome to the obsession!

Haven't seen the exact recipe you're talking about but yes, hopped or not extract will make a difference.  Does the recipe call for you to add hops at times during the boil?  If so, you should use unhopped extract.  if the recipe never adds any hops, then hopped extract.

As for cooling, yes it's generally considered best to cool as quickly as possible (at least down to 140F or so).  Beyond that, plenty of folks make great beer letting it take it's time cooling.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: tschmidlin on February 28, 2012, 06:02:03 PM
New to home brewing but excited to get started...couple of questions:
-Using the Zymurgy Introduction to Brewing recipe for the American Pale Ale to start--does it matter if you used a hopped or unhopped bitters malt extract?
Yes, like hokerer said, it matters.  You should use what the recipe calls for - if it's not available, you'll need to change the recipe.  We can help with that if you tell us what the original recipe was and what ingredients you can get.  If it calls for hopped extract but you can't get any, you need to add bittering hops.  If it calls for un-hopped extract but you can only get hopped, you need to remove bittering hops.

-Reference cooling the wort at the end of boiling--do you have to put the wort on ice or is it okay to let it cool slowly?
Generally, best practice is to chill it quickly, but it is better to cool it slowly than to not make beer ;)
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Brew Doc on February 29, 2012, 01:44:47 AM
So the recipe specifically calls for:
-3.75 lb Cooper "Bitter" Brewing Kit--I purchased their English Bitter kit (hopped), my local brew shop did not have unhopped bitter extract
-2 lb light dry malt extract
-1 oz Cascade hops--added last 15 mintues of the boil

I'm ready to get started, I just wanted to make sure that the hopped bitter kit is appropriate.  Thanks for the help...
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: morticaixavier on February 29, 2012, 04:24:41 AM
So the recipe specifically calls for:
-3.75 lb Cooper "Bitter" Brewing Kit--I purchased their English Bitter kit (hopped), my local brew shop did not have unhopped bitter extract
-2 lb light dry malt extract
-1 oz Cascade hops--added last 15 mintues of the boil

I'm ready to get started, I just wanted to make sure that the hopped bitter kit is appropriate.  Thanks for the help...

yeah the hopped extract sounds right with the rest of the instructions. It is only asking for late hops (15 minutes) which will give flavour and aroma and only a very little bitterness while the extract itself is already bittered.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on March 01, 2012, 12:46:22 AM
So the recipe specifically calls for:
-3.75 lb Cooper "Bitter" Brewing Kit--I purchased their English Bitter kit (hopped), my local brew shop did not have unhopped bitter extract
-2 lb light dry malt extract
-1 oz Cascade hops--added last 15 mintues of the boil

I'm ready to get started, I just wanted to make sure that the hopped bitter kit is appropriate.  Thanks for the help...

A few things you should definitely do...

1. Before you brew, get all your ingredients, equipment, instructions, sanitizer etc together and make yourself a checklist of steps.  I've done this every time so far (I'm coming up on batch 4) and it really helps.  You will probably forget something or have a brain fart of some kind if you don't make a checklist.  I use large lined post-it notes and stick them to the cabinet and check off each step as I do it.  You may need to revise your list a couple times before it's perfect.

2. Keep good notes on everything you do, every ingredient, every calculation, everything that deviates from your plan, every worry, every concern, everything!  Write it down, talk about it with friends, post on forums (I'm on a bunch of forums, some beer, some non-beer), get conversations going and get yourself thinking about brewing.

3. Realize that despite the above two steps being highly recommended by myself, there is one step that is much more important.  Don't over-think think it.  RDWHAHB (relax, don't worry, have a homebrew).  Have a good commercial brew if you don't have any homebrew ready yet.  Your beer will probably come out good!  The first batch is the killer when it comes to suspense though. 

4. Cooling takes a lot of ice.  The first two solo batches I brewed I used twenty pounds of ice (5.5 gallon batches, about 3 gallons of boiled wort, topped to 5.5 with chilled spring water).  Get some ice before you've had four or five beers and realize it'll take hours to cool without it.  Sooner or later (probably sooner) after you've got the bug, you'll want a wort chiller.  I just got one.

5. Water.  If you're at all uncertain about your water, use bottled spring water.  My water wasn't good for beer (discovered when I was messing with Mr Beer).  I had a couple of meh batches of Mr Beer.  When I got my 5 gallon kit I switched to spring water and the difference is night and day.

Again, the biggest thing is relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.  I sense a great tasting bitter in your near future! 
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on March 01, 2012, 12:50:52 AM
Also I've had good results with cascade hops.  Very tasty.  I bought a pound of them and intend to use them again on my next batch, a hoppy red ale.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Brew Doc on March 08, 2012, 04:43:48 AM
Question for the pros out there...first batch brewed and now in fermenter.  I finished it all on Saturday.  After 48 hours went by with no bubbling through the airlock, I (by the guidace of John Palmer) proceeded through several measures:
1) Low pitch rate or bad yeast--at 48 hours I carefully rehydrated a new packet of Cooper's Ale Yeast and pitched it into the fermenter.  Well, 24 hours later-->no bubbling.
2) Maybe its not warm enough?  Well, I put the fermenter in a dark closet and put a heater in there so that the rooms temperature was effectively raised by 6-7 degrees (nearing 75 F)--24 hours later and no bubbling. 
3) Maybe the fermenter is not air-tight?  Well, I think it is because when I put a bit of downward pressure on the lid, the fluid in the airlock rises--I'm pretty sure its air-tight. 

I feel like my whole brew day process was good, I kept records of everything that I did and I can't figure out why I don't see bubbles to help me know fermentation is actually taking place.  Like I said, I've been through Palmer's diagnoses and cures and am just stumped--any ideas, or is my very first batch a loss?
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: morticaixavier on March 08, 2012, 04:48:25 AM
Question for the pros out there...first batch brewed and now in fermenter.  I finished it all on Saturday.  After 48 hours went by with no bubbling through the airlock, I (by the guidace of John Palmer) proceeded through several measures:
1) Low pitch rate or bad yeast--at 48 hours I carefully rehydrated a new packet of Cooper's Ale Yeast and pitched it into the fermenter.  Well, 24 hours later-->no bubbling.
2) Maybe its not warm enough?  Well, I put the fermenter in a dark closet and put a heater in there so that the rooms temperature was effectively raised by 6-7 degrees (nearing 75 F)--24 hours later and no bubbling. 
3) Maybe the fermenter is not air-tight?  Well, I think it is because when I put a bit of downward pressure on the lid, the fluid in the airlock rises--I'm pretty sure its air-tight. 

I feel like my whole brew day process was good, I kept records of everything that I did and I can't figure out why I don't see bubbles to help me know fermentation is actually taking place.  Like I said, I've been through Palmer's diagnoses and cures and am just stumped--any ideas, or is my very first batch a loss?

take a gravity reading. was there any krausen? (a layer of foamy stuff on top)

The good news is that you probably didn't hurt the beer to much by raising the temp because if it fermented then after a couple of days the worst of the temp related dangers are mitigated.

don't trust the bubbles from the airlock. particularly if using buckets. they do leak. It is possible that the downward presure on the lid sealed it just enough to get a little upward action in the airlock. this doesn't mean it is sealed when you are not pressing on it.

again. Take a gravity reading and you will know. I guess it's pretty close to finished.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: tschmidlin on March 08, 2012, 06:44:55 AM
Yeah, step one should always be take a gravity reading.  I think it is most likely fermenting away, you really can't trust most bucket lids.

Next time, don't heat the wort as high as you have, high 60s is as high as I would go for almost any ale strain.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: repo on March 08, 2012, 01:00:19 PM
Yeah, good advice abve. I however  might suggest that the first step be the easiest when diagnosing problems. In this instance as Morticai alluded check for the  krausen, a visual inspection of the beer can tell you what may be happening. Is there krausen or evidence of it having come and gone? Also using fermometers and monitoring temperature can also indicate fermentation is progressing, as it will rise.  I have a carboy blowoff hood that doesn't seal and  I have never seen one bubble through numerous fermentations, I can see the beer though and know that its fermenting.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on March 10, 2012, 02:00:14 AM
my batches haven't been bubbling in the airlock either.  they are clearly fermenting though, after a week I'm already at one point off target gravity on my latest batch.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Brew Doc on March 10, 2012, 03:24:21 AM
Thanks for all the replies, everyone's imput and guidance has been invaluable.  I popped the lid this evening and there are a few areas on the surface that still appear like foam, or like foam fading so to speak.  My OG was ~1.042 (brew date 3/3/12) and my gravity reading tonight was 1.010--I'm thinking this is good news, something ate the sugar. 

Being new to this and most of my education coming second-hand per books and the AHA, should I be concerned that the bucket doesn't seal airtight, doesn't this put the fermenting process at risk for mold contamination or over oxidation?  Should I use my carboy from now on, do you guys think this is easier and makes evaluation of the fermentation process less of a hassle? 

Thanks again, good weekend to everyone...
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: Hokerer on March 10, 2012, 03:27:57 AM
Being new to this and most of my education coming second-hand per books and the AHA, should I be concerned that the bucket doesn't seal airtight, doesn't this put the fermenting process at risk for mold contamination or over oxidation?

It's common for buckets to not seal.  You don't have anything to worry about as fermentation gives off CO2 and the pressure of that makes sure that things move in the right direction - away from your wort.  Whether it's out through and airlock or out through a leaky seal, keeping things moving outward makes sure that nothing like bugs or oxygen can move inward.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: morticaixavier on March 10, 2012, 06:06:21 AM
Thanks for all the replies, everyone's imput and guidance has been invaluable.  I popped the lid this evening and there are a few areas on the surface that still appear like foam, or like foam fading so to speak.  My OG was ~1.042 (brew date 3/3/12) and my gravity reading tonight was 1.010--I'm thinking this is good news, something ate the sugar. 

Being new to this and most of my education coming second-hand per books and the AHA, should I be concerned that the bucket doesn't seal airtight, doesn't this put the fermenting process at risk for mold contamination or over oxidation?  Should I use my carboy from now on, do you guys think this is easier and makes evaluation of the fermentation process less of a hassle? 

Thanks again, good weekend to everyone...

well there you go. you've got finished beer. bottle that stuff up and wait patiently for a couple more weeks and then drink them.

Yeah, the bucket lid not sealing doesn't seem to be an issue with contamination or o2.
Title: Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
Post by: alcaponejunior on March 13, 2012, 09:54:39 PM
My third batch, sweet stout (http://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/181/) has come out pretty good.  It's got pretty good body, could be thicker but it ain't bad, a good roasty flavor, a pretty nice head with some staying power and very nice sheets of lacing.  The taste is pretty good and not too far off the style, perhaps a little bit hoppier than I expected but quite tasty!

Batch 4 will have to be bottled tomorrow or thursday and won't be touched for six weeks.  Goin' on a mission, won't be able to taste it till may!!