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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: bwn on December 14, 2010, 02:18:29 PM

Title: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 14, 2010, 02:18:29 PM
I am going to start home brewing, I just became a member of this forum but have been reading/ browsing it for about a month or so.  I have a few questions before I get started.  I apologize if this is posted in the wrong place on the forum.

I will be extract brewing.  Are there any good recommendations for a good first beer?  I have gathered that ales are good to start with and am a big fan of IPA's, and would like to try one but also don't want to screw it up either.

When I buy an ingredient kit what else do I need?  I think I also need to buy yeast and priming sugar.  Or should I buy the ingredients separately instead of a kit? 

Is there an advantage to dry malt extract or liquid?

What are the advantages of secondary fermentation?  The kit I plan on getting will have the extra 5 gallon carboy, I think I could have 2 batches going after I move the first batch to the 5 gallon carboy.  Would this work?

any help would greatly be appreciated, thanks

Brian
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: theDarkSide on December 14, 2010, 02:30:51 PM
If you like IPA's, I say go with an IPA.  A lot of people start out with Pale Ales, but I think they are harder to do for your first, since there's not a lot to cover up any off flavors you may get.  Start with a kit, get your process down and learn the ingredients.  Later you can start to develop your own recipes or get your ingredients seperately.

Dry or Liquid doesn't really matter as long as they are fresh.

I personally do not do secondaries.  I feel the potential danger of exposing it to oxygen or bacteria doesn't warrant it.   Some things you should do secondary on, like adding fruit or longer fermentations.  I dry hop right in the primary with no adverse affects.  I went the same route as this kit and have 2 5 gallon better bottles that I never use.  I now wish I had just got another 6 gallon better bottle.

Good luck and welcome to the obsession.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: dzlater on December 14, 2010, 04:20:45 PM
A good kit should include yeast and priming sugar.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 15, 2010, 04:58:50 PM
Thanks for the replies.  I talked to my local homebrew shop, they can hook me up with what I need.  Their expertise is in winemaking but they still seem to know more about beer than me. ;D
Brian
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: euge on December 15, 2010, 07:34:42 PM
Dry extract is supposed to be more "fermentable" than liquid, and stays fresher longer.

Unless you're doing an actual secondary fermentation, like adding fruit then primary fermentation for 3-8 days is more than adequate. Once expected final gravity has been reached you can bottle.

I say brew an Amber ale with a good hop schedule. Straight amber extract no steeping grain. This way you get your feet wet and a baseline for all your future brews. And it isn't complicated.

Welcome to the obsession.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bluesman on December 16, 2010, 01:55:38 AM
Welcome to the AHA Forum.

Here's a great website.

http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html

You can also purchase the book "How to Brew" by John Palmer which I highly recommend before you start brewing.

I would start out with an AAA extract kit...like this.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/american-amber-ale-extract-kit-2.html
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 16, 2010, 05:42:12 PM
Thanks again.  I have been reading how to brew online while I'm at work ;D.  I have also ordered The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian(something to read at home).  It will keep me occupied until Santa can bring me my kit :)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: kgs on December 16, 2010, 08:16:37 PM
Thanks again.  I have been reading how to brew online while I'm at work ;D.  I have also ordered The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian(something to read at home).  It will keep me occupied until Santa can bring me my kit :)

I recommend the Basic Brewing DVDs. If you don't have other homebrewers to guide you, a DVD is very useful for seeing the process in work, and the Basic Brewing videos are well-made. They recently updated their beginners' DVD:

http://basicbrewingshop.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=26

I find their DVDs (and their podcasts) very helpful.

Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Podo on December 17, 2010, 02:44:02 AM
I would brew what you like.  I recommend a kit with thorough instructions, or study the section on extract brewing on the how to brew website that was posted earlier.  Main thing for your first  batch is to use good sanitary practices and be careful, but don't worry if the brew doesn't go exactly as planned. 
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 17, 2010, 07:08:36 PM
If the kit I buy comes with yeast, the one mention above recommends using Wyeast 1056 American Ale, will one package be sufficient?  If I understand correctly I need to activate the yeast a few days before I brew right? I have also read about steeping and have gathered that steeping small and boiling big is the way to go.  Does that mean steep the specialty grains in a small amount of water for the required time, then add more water to meet the required amount, bring to a boil and add the extract?  I know these questions are probably annoying and you have heard them before, but I am trying to find out as much as I can before I post.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Hokerer on December 17, 2010, 07:30:46 PM
If the kit I buy comes with yeast, the one mention above recommends using Wyeast 1056 American Ale, will one package be sufficient?

Basically, no.  In some special (very low gravity) cases, one package by itself might be Ok but, in general, you should always make a starter.  Check out this earlier post for a little more info...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1895.msg23519#msg23519 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1895.msg23519#msg23519)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Wheat_Brewer on December 17, 2010, 07:49:31 PM
Thanks again.  I have been reading how to brew online while I'm at work ;D.  I have also ordered The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian(something to read at home).  It will keep me occupied until Santa can bring me my kit :)

I recommend the Basic Brewing DVDs. If you don't have other homebrewers to guide you, a DVD is very useful for seeing the process in work, and the Basic Brewing videos are well-made. They recently updated their beginners' DVD:

http://basicbrewingshop.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=26

I find their DVDs (and their podcasts) very helpful.



+1 to this.  While you may only watch the DVD's a few times I found them invaluable since I'm a very visual learner.  You may find them online, or something close, but the comfort feeling for me when I brewed my first batch of being able to run to the computer and re-watch the next step was amazing! 

As for any other helpful hints, never forget that this is supposed to be fun!  I bet you'll love it and welcome to the community!
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: oscarvan on December 17, 2010, 08:15:01 PM
I have been reading how to brew online while I'm at work ;D.

Wouldn't that be cool..... ;)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: jeffy on December 18, 2010, 01:30:46 AM
If the kit I buy comes with yeast, the one mention above recommends using Wyeast 1056 American Ale, will one package be sufficient?  If I understand correctly I need to activate the yeast a few days before I brew right
You don't need to make a starter when using dry yeast.  It does help to rehydrate it, but you can do this just before you want to pitch.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: capozzoli on December 18, 2010, 01:48:16 AM
My first batch was a sort of Belgian Wheat type beer with raspberries. I made it with Muntons German style "lightly Pre-hopped" wheat extract. Then I added about ten lbs of raspberries to the primary.

It was real easy and it was very good. I still make it every now and again. Mostly for the wife, she likes it cause it is "Champagne-y".

Other than that I just make extract ESA. Boring me.

I dont know what all this AG hype is about.  ;D


Maybe I will go crazy and try this next.

(http://media.midwestsupplies.com/media/catalog/product//1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/m/u/muntons-mexican-cerveza-style-hopped-malt-extract.jpg)

Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: euge on December 18, 2010, 08:21:28 AM
Now cap what are you going to do with 40 Mexican ales?
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: capozzoli on December 18, 2010, 05:54:50 PM
Oh man, you just gave me a great idea for my brewery name and label. My name is Bill BTW.

Im gonna call it Bill's . Not very imaginative I know; but consider the slogans. They work on so many levels.

Bills, because you always have too many.

Bills, its the swill of the gods.

For the label I picturing a guy passed out on his desk, strewn with open envelopes and papers mixed with empty bottles. Around his head some flies.

My three main beers would be.

Friendly Notice Bitter.

Past Due Premium

and of coarse the...

 Final Notice ESA . (Extra Sour Ale.)  ;D

Is there a label thread here?
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 19, 2010, 12:28:23 AM
Thanks for the replies.  After more reading and research I am going to make a yeast starter.  Everytime I think I am ready to start brewing I find out something else I need to do.   :)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Hokerer on December 19, 2010, 01:47:17 AM
Thanks for the replies.  After more reading and research I am going to make a yeast starter.  Everytime I think I am ready to start brewing I find out something else I need to do.   :)

At least you're doing things in the right order - figuring out what you need to do BEFORE you brew your first brew
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Wheat_Brewer on December 19, 2010, 02:29:20 AM
Thanks for the replies.  After more reading and research I am going to make a yeast starter.  Everytime I think I am ready to start brewing I find out something else I need to do.   :)

At least you're doing things in the right order - figuring out what you need to do BEFORE you brew your first brew

What's this preparation stuff?!  I say throw some grains in a cooler, drain it off, boil the heck outta it, pitch some yeast and see what comes out the end.  If it's tasty, THEN figure out what you just made, not before  ;D
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: ipaguy on December 19, 2010, 06:11:14 PM
My $0.02:
1) Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.
2) Make a starter.  Pitch big (into cool, well oxygenated wort)
3) Even for extract, do a full boil.  Try to get at least a 30 qt (7.5 gal) kettle for 5 gal. batches.
4) Ferment at a steady, appropriate temperature.
5) Did I mention sanitation?
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 19, 2010, 10:12:35 PM
I would do a full boil, but I already have a 5 gal. stockpot to use.  So for now I will just do what I can.  My wife already thinks I have spent too much money ;D
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: ipaguy on December 19, 2010, 11:00:52 PM
I would do a full boil, but I already have a 5 gal. stockpot to use.  So for now I will just do what I can.  My wife already thinks I have spent too much money ;D
Totally understandable.  I was just trying to give some tips on priorities if you do happen to have some extra cash in the future;  what will give you the most bang for you buck.  Don't let anyone tell you that you need some mega all grain setup or conical fermentors to make quality beer.  Just try to get as much liquid into your kettle (without boiling over) as you can and you should be just fine.  Making a real starter with around a half gallon or wort rather than just re-hydrating dry yeast would probably be a good idea.  Also, anything to cool your wort down to pitching temperature a quickly a possible is important.  No-rinse sanitizers are great, but if you have to use bleach make sure that you rinse like crazy with boiled water.

If after a while you decide that you really like brewing keep your eyes open at yard sales, e-bay etc for a 'turkey fryer' type setup with a propane burner and big kettle.  An aluminum kettle is fine.  You don't really need stainless.

As far as what to brew?  That one is super-easy:  Brew whatever your wife likes.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 20, 2010, 12:47:44 AM
I would do a full boil, but I already have a 5 gal. stockpot to use.  So for now I will just do what I can.  My wife already thinks I have spent too much money ;D
Totally understandable.  I was just trying to give some tips on priorities if you do happen to have some extra cash in the future;  what will give you the most bang for you buck.  Don't let anyone tell you that you need some mega all grain setup or conical fermentors to make quality beer.  Just try to get as much liquid into your kettle (without boiling over) as you can and you should be just fine.  Making a real starter with around a half gallon or wort rather than just re-hydrating dry yeast would probably be a good idea.  Also, anything to cool your wort down to pitching temperature a quickly a possible is important.  No-rinse sanitizers are great, but if you have to use bleach make sure that you rinse like crazy with boiled water.

If after a while you decide that you really like brewing keep your eyes open at yard sales, e-bay etc for a 'turkey fryer' type setup with a propane burner and big kettle.  An aluminum kettle is fine.  You don't really need stainless.

As far as what to brew?  That one is super-easy:  Brew whatever your wife likes.

As long as it comes out good, and she likes it I think I will be able to stay in this hobby for a while :)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 20, 2010, 12:49:53 AM
How much can I get into a 5 gallon pot without boiling over?  Is 4 gallons too much?
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: capozzoli on December 20, 2010, 01:29:08 AM
It depends on your burners. Some kitchen burners wont even get four gallons to a full boil. Maybe more of a rolling simmer.  With four gallons in five gallon pot you may boil over. I think in most circumstances you want 2 gallons of head room.

Be extra careful when you add hops. The boiling increases with this addition and it can tend to boil over then.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: Malticulous on December 20, 2010, 03:43:57 AM
I found a good deal on a Mr. Beer keg. You know what I did? Made a all grain starter! It's also a good beginner brew. I wish I had started like this. I started 17 years ago with can and kilo kits.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/super-simple-mr-beer-all-grain-212639/
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: ipaguy on December 20, 2010, 02:59:45 PM
I think it's very important to give good tips to those on a tight budget.  It's too easy for new brewers to get a false impression from pimped-out systems; that they have to have a trust-fund to brew.

bwn, because wort aeration is very important here is a $2.25 gadget you may be interested in:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/siphon-sprayer.html (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/siphon-sprayer.html) 
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 20, 2010, 06:40:01 PM
I am looking at the device above and am not quite sure how to use it.  You put it on the end of 3/8' tubing and then what?  Do you pump air into it?  I can't imagine you are supposed to dump your wort through 3/8" tubing.  I will just be using an ale pail for a primary fermentor and plan on dumping it through a strainer.

Brian 
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: euge on December 20, 2010, 06:51:06 PM
If you use the aerator then yes- you must run your wort through 3/8" tubing. Myself? I usually just use a strainer.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: ipaguy on December 20, 2010, 08:24:23 PM
If you use the aerator then yes- you must run your wort through 3/8" tubing. Myself? I usually just use a strainer.

What euge said.  I've used an auto-siphon to do the transfer and it doesn't take all that long.  To be on the safe side I cover my kettle with aluminum foil after getting the siphon started to keep out any dust-fall.  You just set up your gear so that the siphon sprayer hangs near the top of your fermenting bucket.  The cone shaped part diverts the wort into a thin sheet that looks like it has really good air contact.  I have to admit that I'm going to stop using mine because I've got an oxygen injection system arriving any day now.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 20, 2010, 09:00:38 PM
I'll try the strainer first maybe move up to that after a while :)
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: ipaguy on December 20, 2010, 09:29:12 PM
I'll try the strainer first maybe move up to that after a while :)
Just make sure that after you make the transfer you really shake that wort up.  Either rock the bucket back and forth (violently) for a good 15 or 20 minutes or stir the hell out of it with a sanitized spoon.  It's kind of a trade-off.  On one hand you want to get a bunch of air into your wort.  On the other hand you want to minimize the amount of airborne bacteria you might get in there.
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: bwn on December 28, 2010, 12:58:00 AM
Just wanted to thank everyone for their opinions and advice.  I had my first "Brew Day" Sunday and things went pretty well.  I shook my yeast starter up too much the day before and blew the top off, I grabbed it and stuck it back on without thinking about sanitation.  It was a foam stopper that I had soaked in starsan and I didn't touch the part that went into the flask. It was a natural reaction I guess.  When I steeped the grains the temperature got up to 176 at the 10 minute mark and I shutoff the burner and it went down to 166 by the end of the 20 minutes.  I didn't boil enough water(didn't take evaporation into consideration) and had to boil more and cool it after I had dumped the wort and water into the fermentor, luckily I had lots of snow to help with that.  I also had to wait about 3 hours for the fermentor to get cool enough to pitch the yeast.  I didn't have a thermometer that read low enough for the extra water and wort(I already ordered one for next time :))  So I hope those few things don't affect the beer.  When I pitched the yeast I had bubbling in the airlock 4.5 hours later and it is still bubbling away.  Now the hard part, waiting ;D
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: tygo on December 28, 2010, 01:15:59 AM
Sounds about par for the course for a first brew day.  Congrats on getting one under your belt!
Title: Re: Getting ready to start brewing, have a few questions.
Post by: euge on December 28, 2010, 01:36:45 AM
Wait till you encounter the wort faeries... ;)