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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: whitey on September 30, 2010, 03:01:32 PM

Title: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: whitey on September 30, 2010, 03:01:32 PM
Hi everyone. I'm very new to brewing. I've made about 7 batches of "Brewer's Best" kits. I figured I'd make these for a while whilst I get a feel and hopefully an understanding of the process before I jump into the more technical stuff.

I do have a few questions though.

One of my favourite styles that Brewer's Best makes is their Belgian Tripel. The first time it seemed to work out well. I made it again recently and for some reason, the APV isn't anywhere near where it's supposed to be. It's also a heck of a lot darker than the last time too.

So my questions for now hinge on OG and FG, the hydrometer and the addition of water to the wort.

The recipe calls for wort to be made out of 2.5 gal of water. I have an entry level 5 gal brewpot that I use. I have also added a ball lock faucet and mash filter to the pot, because I read this was a good way to filter out the hops and what notwhen it comes time to pour off the wort.

First Question
Once this is done, I end up with about 2gal of wort in the primary, is this normal?

The recipe then tells me to add water to the wart until I get to about 5 gals but to make sure the OG rests in the tolerances of the recipe.

Second Question
The only way I know how to do this is to drop a sanitized hydrometer into the wart and keep adding water till I get to the OG range, is this accurate? I also have trouble with foam that has built up on the wort from pouring it out of the brewpot into the primary.

So, if anyone has the time to critique my process, I'd appreciate it, and depending on the answers I may have some follow up questions.

Thanks
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: denny on September 30, 2010, 03:38:49 PM
Since you're using extract, your OG pretty much has to be what the kit says it is if you make the volume that the kit is designed for.  There's a set amount of sugar from your extract.  If you dissolve that amount of sugar in the correct amount of water, your OG will be what they tell you it will be.  If you add more water (greater total volume), you dilute it and your OG is lower.  If you add less water (lower total volume) your OG will be higher.  Does that make sense?  Since the wort has sugar dissolved in it, it's heavier than water.  Once you add top up water after the boil, the heavier wort sinks to the bottom of your fermenter, meaning that if you take an OG measurement you get mainly the lighter, diluted wort form the top.  I wouldn't even bother taking an OG reading, to tell you the truth.  Just use all the ingredients in the kit, make the correct final volume, and your OG will be what they tell you it is.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: tschmidlin on September 30, 2010, 03:58:32 PM
I agree with Denny, you're probably not getting sufficient mixing when you add the water so your gravity reading will be artificially low.  Unless you spilled wort or otherwise lost some of your sugar, calculating the amount of water to add is the way to go - and the kit maker has already done that for you.  Just add enough water to get 5 gallons and away you go.  Then RDWHAHB (Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew).

Welcome to the hobby. :)
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: tygo on September 30, 2010, 03:59:48 PM
Welcome to the hobby and the forum.


First Question
Once this is done, I end up with about 2gal of wort in the primary, is this normal?

The recipe then tells me to add water to the wart until I get to about 5 gals but to make sure the OG rests in the tolerances of the recipe.

Yep, you're starting with 2.5 gallons, boiling off 0.5 gallons and ending up with 2 gallons.  That sounds about right.  Then top it up to the recipe volume.

Second Question
The only way I know how to do this is to drop a sanitized hydrometer into the wart and keep adding water till I get to the OG range, is this accurate? I also have trouble with foam that has built up on the wort from pouring it out of the brewpot into the primary.

Just add water up to the volume you're shooting for.  Like Denny said for an extract kit that will most likely put your right on the money.  If you want to do a reading anyway (which I always did when I was using extract, just for piece of mind) shake up the carboy really well and take a sample of that wort to test.  That way the wort will be well mixed.

Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: bonjour on September 30, 2010, 04:14:31 PM
The recipe calls for wort to be made out of 2.5 gal of water. I have an entry level 5 gal brewpot that I use. I have also added a ball lock faucet and mash filter to the pot, because I read this was a good way to filter out the hops and what notwhen it comes time to pour off the wort.

First Question
Once this is done, I end up with about 2gal of wort in the primary, is this normal?
If you are leaving wort in the kettle, this could be a cause of a low gravity, either OG or FG
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: Steve on September 30, 2010, 04:39:59 PM
Welcome to home brewing.  Sharing homebrew is joy!

Ditto on the mixing. Your using kits which should give you the same results every time.  Keep using the hydrometer for practice for all-grain and record keeping.  Remember... your first inkling that you had a problem was because you used your hydrometer.

Kits should remain consistent, but sometimes errors or substitutions may happen as well.  I worked for a LHBS which made it's own kits to fill in what, at the time, Brewers Best and True Brew didn't make.  Occasionally we had to substitute ingredients due to supplier or inventory issues which changed the kit a bit (i.e. IBU swapping during the hop crisis).  We had a recipe/check list which we checked off as we added ingredients to the box, We signed it and added it in the kit so the customer would see what we substituted or what we may have forgotten to add and of course who was responsible for boxing up the kit. $%1# happens during the work day to everyone!

Your kit was assembled by people who work for one of the two major distributors in the US.  Errors could have happened on the line so always check the ingredients to make sure they are the correct ones and the proper volume or mass.  If something is incorrect, call your LHBS and let them know what's up.  They'll replace anything wrong for you and let the distributor know too. 

After a while with the kits, you'll be itching to come up with your own extract recipes and then grow to all-grain. After you've grown, don't feel guilty about going back to a kit now and then.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: BrewArk on September 30, 2010, 04:59:18 PM
I like the idea of brewing the kits and perfecting your techniques.  You should be fine adding water to volume to hit your gravity.  I'd recommend stirring the wort with a sanitized spoon (your primary is a plastic bucket right?) and taking a sample just to verify the gravity.  One watch out is to measure at a consistent on the temperature,  The warmer the wort the thinner it is (or lower the gravity). 
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: Hokerer on September 30, 2010, 05:12:19 PM
First Question
Once this is done, I end up with about 2gal of wort in the primary, is this normal?
If you are leaving wort in the kettle, this could be a cause of a low gravity, either OG or FG

I'm with you, Fred.  At first glance I read it the same way you did.  He says he added a valve and screen to his brewpot and then follows that statement saying he gets 2 gallons into the fermenter.  That could mean that he's leaving 1/2 gallon in the brewpot which would cause gravity issues.  On further thought, it could just mean that he's not leaving anything in the pot but just boiling off 1/2 gallon which would be fine.  Or it could be a combo of the two.  It would be easy enough to clarify, is there wort left in the kettle or not?
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: whitey on September 30, 2010, 07:24:41 PM
Wow, you guys. Thanks so much for all the info. Already I'm seeing where I've been going wrong.

1st, there is some wort left over. The screen tends to clog up, so I try a gentle swirl to loosen it up and get the flow going, and that which remains tends to be full of hops etc, so I don't send it into the primary

2nd, once I've added water, I've never stirred it (partly because the instructions don't tell me too), the light water ontop of the wort could be part of the problem.

Another thing, is the foam that accumulates ontop of the wort during the transfer to the primary, it hangs around over the entire surface, and makes it difficult to read. Any suggestions on what to do with that foam?

Once it was in the primary, there was a very active fermentation on the go, I mean it was bubbling like a kettle for a good 2 days, and only slowed toward the end of the 3rd. So I was more than supprised when 2 weeks later when I lifted some out to get a gravity reading that the hydrometer (it has an estimated APV scale) says it has an APV of about 3% which is ridiculous if it's true.

Ahhh well, what can one do :), except try again.

Thanks so much of all the advice thus far



 
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: denny on September 30, 2010, 07:34:17 PM
That scale is giving you the current reading, not an indication of alcohol %.  To do that you need to subtract that reading from one that you take before fermentation starts.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: whitey on September 30, 2010, 07:57:44 PM
Well, it's a triple scale hydrometer. One scale is the Gravity, one is the estimated APV, and the third is
Balling. So do I still need to subtract the final from the original.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: denny on September 30, 2010, 08:00:06 PM
Yep, you sure do.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: whitey on September 30, 2010, 08:18:42 PM
Ok, subtract the original from the final it is then :)

I'll remember that for next time...I have a vienna lager kit that I'm gonna take a stab at, it will be my first attempt at a lager.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: tschmidlin on September 30, 2010, 10:21:43 PM
Make that subtract the final from the original and you're set :)
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: denny on September 30, 2010, 10:34:16 PM
If the kit tells you what the OG is supposed to be and you make the volume they intend, I wouldn't even bothering measuring the original.  If you want want to use the gravity scale, the formula is (OG-FG)*.132=ABV.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: a10t2 on September 30, 2010, 11:31:47 PM
I'll remember that for next time...I have a vienna lager kit that I'm gonna take a stab at, it will be my first attempt at a lager.

Do you have a way to keep the temperature at 55°F or lower? If not, you just can't brew a lager. The yeast that comes with the kit probably isn't very good for a lager either. Sorry to sidetrack, just wanted to let you know.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: Steve on October 03, 2010, 05:15:41 PM
I'll remember that for next time...I have a vienna lager kit that I'm gonna take a stab at, it will be my first attempt at a lager.

I looked at the Brewers Best Vienna Lager Kit information PDF http://www.brewersbestkits.com/pdf/1005_Vienna_Lager.pdf (http://www.brewersbestkits.com/pdf/1005_Vienna_Lager.pdf) and the instructions said at the top:
"Munich, Vienna and caramel malts combine to provide a rich malt aroma.
When lagered this beer will finish clean and dry with no fruity esters. Vienna Lager is moderately hopped.
This kit includes a lager yeast that will also perform well if fermented at ale temperatures."

There is more about this on p. 2 of the instruction sheet.  I suspect this yeast is more like a Kölsch or a Steam Ale which will top-ferment at lower temperatures. Often kit makers will call a kit a lager but include an ale yeast because:
 
I think you'd make out okay with this kit as your first lager.  The package instructions are pretty good as to the lagering process.

Try an experiment... Make this kit once and then try it again later, but next time substitute one of the of Saflager http://www.fermentis.com/fo/60-Beer/60-31_product_rangeIB.asp (http://www.fermentis.com/fo/60-Beer/60-31_product_rangeIB.asp) dry yeasts instead of the kit's yeast and compare the two profiles.  Repeat the process as exactly as you can except for the different yeast.  Does the second have a different flavor?   Don't forget to save a few bottles of the first batch to compare with the second!  Try again with a liquid Wyeast or White Lab lager yeast for a third comparison.

But remember to stir!

Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: whitey on October 04, 2010, 01:01:14 PM
That sounds like a great idea steve. Now, when you say 'remember to stir', what are you refering to?
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: denny on October 04, 2010, 03:38:36 PM
Try an experiment... Make this kit once and then try it again later, but next time substitute one of the of Saflager http://www.fermentis.com/fo/60-Beer/60-31_product_rangeIB.asp (http://www.fermentis.com/fo/60-Beer/60-31_product_rangeIB.asp) dry yeasts instead of the kit's yeast and compare the two profiles. 

Based on my experience, I'd recommend steering clear of Saflager S-23.
Title: Re: Greetings from a n00b brewer
Post by: Steve on October 04, 2010, 03:48:47 PM
That sounds like a great idea steve. Now, when you say 'remember to stir', what are you refering to?

 ;) Your original question answered... Mixing?