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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: smthgfshy on December 21, 2010, 07:57:41 PM

Title: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 21, 2010, 07:57:41 PM
Hello boys and girls!!  As you can see this is my first post and you won't be an asshole if you assume that I'm new to brewing.  I've been enjoying "quality" beers for a little over a year now and as my midsection and appreciation for good beers has expanded, my thirst to try new styles has not been quenched.  Just about a month ago my girlfriend gave me a homebrew kit (2 carboys) for my b-day.  I read Papizan's book and made the canned beer/extract kit that came with it.  I've yet to taste the results as I'm away from home currently visiting the relatives, etc...  My beer hasn't been the only thing fermenting and conditioning in the last month.....my mind and taste buds are going crazy thinking of what to brew next.  This is where the collective wisdom of the beer drinking cyberweb of the AHA gets pitched.....

I've decided, for my second only brew (first partial/mini mash), to brew an imperial red IPA.  I tried to find (and found) recipes for Shark Attack, Lagunitas, Hop Head Red, etc....  I found myself confused not from too much homebrew, but, obviously, from a lack of it.  I found this recipe for an imperial red:

Mini Mash- 2.5 lbs Munich
.5 lbs Crystal 120
.75 lbs Crystal 60
.25 lbs Chocolate
6 lbs Pale LME
3.15 lbs Munich LME
Hops: 1 oz Pacific Gem @ 60 (16% AAU)
2 oz Whole leaf Cascade @ 30
2 oz Whole leaf Cascade @ 5
Dry Hop: 2 oz Whole Leaf Cascade
Yeast: 1056 American Ale

...but decided to add . 5 lbs of rye malt, substitute the 3.15 lbs of Munich LME with 3 lbs of Wheat Malt extract, use 1oz of Chinook hops instead of the Pacific Gem, reduce the amount of chocolate malt, and use 1 oz of Amarillo too.  Here's the new recipe that I'm thinking of:

Mini Mash- 2.5 lbs Munich
.5 lbs Crystal 120
.75 lbs Crystal 60
.5 lbs rye
.125 lbs Chocolate
6 lbs Pale LME
3 lbs Wheat Malt extract
1 oz Chinook @ 60 (pellet)
1 oz Amarillo @ 60 (pellet)
2 oz Cascade @ 30 (pellet)
2 oz Cascade @ 5 (pellet)
Dry Hop: 2 oz Whole Leaf Cascade
Yeast: 1056 American Ale
1 oz Irish Moss

....so what's next...????  Where do I go from here?  How the heck do I not waste $80 of ingredients?  Yes, I've read Papizan's appropriate sections and I'm still nervous....(need another homebrew I guess).  What suggestions do you have?  I've never done a partial mash...steeping grains, never added hops, never had to hold temperatures, never dry hopped.  No longer do I want to be on the consumer side of homebrew.....I want to produce!!!  Go big or go home.  The woman at the register scoffed at my experience and hacked a very sarcastic "good luck" as I walked out.  She'll never know.  Help me make it great!!

How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt? 
What temp should I steep at?
How many grain bags should I use?
Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time?
Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times? 
I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?

I'm a complete NOOB!!!  I know, I know.  And I'll re-read my books (Papizan & Palmer) again before starting this batch.  I'm sure most of these questions have been addressed here....and yes I've read the 101 section...but I want your opinions and suggestions boys and girls...ladies and gents....fellow zymurgists. 

Thank you!!!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 21, 2010, 10:06:48 PM
My best piece of advice would be to keep a note book with detailed notes of each brewing session.  As you learn, you'll change certain elements of your approach.  You'll also learn that what works for others may not work for you.  Which is fine.

Fermentation and conditioning temps are important.  There're simple ways to control them, such as a swamp cooler.

Dry hops are best in the secondary or, if you prefer not to use a secondary, are best added after fermentation stops and the beer is clearing.

Lots of people add extract late.  Or you can add it early.  The longer extract boils the more it caramelizes and the darker your beer will get.  Degree if difference I do not know.

I use a bag for my pellet hops.  The fine mesh job with a draw string.  Or a nylon can work.  Muslin bags are too loose in the weave for my taste.

Transfer to secondary (or don't, there are solid arguments against transferring to secondary and you can find interesting discussions on this forum) when fermentation has stopped (use your hydrometer).  Bottle when the beer has cleared sufficiently.  IMO there are no set time frames.

Hops go in at different times depending on the recipe.  Early in the boil for bittering, late for aroma.  This should be in Charlie's book.

Welcome!  Have fun. Relax.

Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 21, 2010, 10:08:57 PM
Just my $0.02.  

How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt?
About 6 quarts 
What temp should I steep at?
152F sounds good
How many grain bags should I use?
as many as it takes
Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
yes. 6 qt @ 170F
When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
opinions vary. I add mine for a full 60 min boil
Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
I don't use grain bags with pellets but leave them in the kettle w/ the hot & cold break
How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
when fermentation is done. leaving beer in primary for a week or so extra doesn't hurt. many feel that a secondary is unnecessary
How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
if you are dry hopping into the secondary, a week after dry hopping is about right
Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time? when transfering to the secondary
Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times?
not sure. I'd have to run it through ProMash and see what your IBUs look like 
I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
about the last 15 - 20 min of the boil.  rehydrate with a little water B4 adding
Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
WYeast recommends 60 - 72F fermentation temp for 1056.  If you can hold temp around 60-62F you should get a really clean fermentation.

For a big beer like this you should probably be doing a starter

Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: majorvices on December 22, 2010, 01:11:06 AM
As you can see this is my first post and you won't be an asshole if you assume that I'm new to brewing.

No need to assume that. We are a friendly group (and not a bunch of teenagers, neither.  ;) ). Welcome to the forum.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: oscarvan on December 22, 2010, 05:49:05 AM
I applaud your courage. Me, I've been brewing partial mash kits, and am now getting ready to go All Grain, but still with recipes. When the science becomes more routine, I will start getting more creative.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on December 22, 2010, 06:45:40 AM
Welcome smthgfshy (something fishy?) to the AHA forum.

All good questions that can be fleshed out as experience grows. Go ahead with the recipe. What you'll actually be doing is steeping- not really a mini or partial mash. The steep is something you can do in one grain bag. Think dunking a tea-bag.

The woman at the register scoffed at my experience and hacked a very sarcastic "good luck" as I walked out.  She'll never know.  Help me make it great!!


And for the store clerk scoffing at you? Is it the LHBS? That would be the last time spending any money there for me. And the owner would know about it. Or is it your local beerstore? Well now you have the means for revenge. Never spend a dime in there again! No longer relevant in the beer picture. Tada.

Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tschmidlin on December 22, 2010, 10:08:00 AM
Damn, you ask a lot of questions! :)

>How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt? 
Whatever.  6 or 8 quarts if fine.  Don't worry too much.

>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.

>How many grain bags should I use?
Yeah, as many as it takes.  How big are the bags? :)

>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

>When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
If it's a full boil, add the full amount of extract at the beginning.  If it's less than a full boil, add less extract and add the rest with ~15 minutes left.  Or add it all in the beginning, it'll be fine.

>Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
Your call, there's no right answer.

>How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
When the gravity is roughly where you expect it to be and is stable for 3 days, rack it to secondary.

>How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
Dry hop for 3 - 14 days typically, bottle after that.  Taste it and decide when it tastes the way you want it to.  It might be hard to know since it will be warm and flat, but you've got to learn at some point to predict the final flavor of the beer based in how it tastes in the carboy.

>Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time?
In secondary.   Not at bottling, although that could be an interesting experiment.

>Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times? 
I boil with whole hops and dry hop with pellets, I find it easier on my system but yours might be different.  And I think pellets give me better dry hop flavors and aromas than whole hops.  Your hop schedule seems fine otherwise, you'll have to taste it and decide how/if to tweak it based on how you want it to taste.

>I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
Last 15 minutes of the boil.  I've never heard of rehydrating Irish moss though. :-\  And an ounce is WAY too much, try a tsp instead.

>Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
Yes.  Ferment on the low end and you'll probably like it better.  Don't let it hit 70F if you can help it.

Let us know how the batch turns out.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Hokerer on December 22, 2010, 01:39:14 PM

>Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
Yes.  Ferment on the low end and you'll probably like it better.  Don't let it hit 70F if you can help it.

And, just so you know, the 70F is not the air temp where the fermenter is but rather it's the actual temp of the fermenting wort.  Fermentation generates its own heat so the wort temp can be 5-10F higher than the air.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 22, 2010, 03:39:12 PM

...
>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.
...
>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

If I'm reading the OP's modified recipe right it looks like he's got 2.5 lbs of Munich malt in his grain bill in addition to the 0.5 lbs. of rye malt.  That sound like enough to justify doing a true mini-mash & sparge.  I would suggest that if he wants to make things a little easier on himself he could reformulate his recipe to use more of the Munich LME and use crystal rye rather than rye malt.  Then it's just a matter of steeping in a fairly small grain bag.  There should be no shame involved in doing extract w/ steeping grains rather than a mini-mash.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 22, 2010, 06:22:04 PM
Holy hops batman!!  the responses have been great!!  Ok, so, I won't worry about it and try to follow all the suggestions that have been illuminated.  These have, of course lead to a further set of questions such as:

What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep? 
What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?
Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?
What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?
How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing) 

and, yes, I was scoffed at for attempting this beer as my second ever batch.  this was a homebrew store in northern VT.  I'd still go there, as they were helpful piecing together the recipe.  Although the real info I was after was more along the lines of "should I add the rye or wheat extract?", "what hops do you recommend?", "is going to be heavy/light or too complex/simple?". 

the steeping method seems best for me at this time....living in a tiny (500 sq ft) cabin in AK with my girlfriend and dog that has mediocre and constantly fluctuating temps.  Maybe a german swartzbier next.......??

once again....thanks a ton for all your input!!  everyone is invited to AK for some killer homebrew....and if it sucks we can get a beer a block away at denali brewing co.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tschmidlin on December 22, 2010, 06:28:00 PM

...
>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.
...
>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

If I'm reading the OP's modified recipe right it looks like he's got 2.5 lbs of Munich malt in his grain bill in addition to the 0.5 lbs. of rye malt.  That sound like enough to justify doing a true mini-mash & sparge.  I would suggest that if he wants to make things a little easier on himself he could reformulate his recipe to use more of the Munich LME and use crystal rye rather than rye malt.  Then it's just a matter of steeping in a fairly small grain bag.  There should be no shame involved in doing extract w/ steeping grains rather than a mini-mash.
You're right, my eye totally skipped over the munich malt.  So with 3 lbs, I'd definitely pay a little more attention to your temps.  But I'd go for a lower mash temp of around 150F, since there's 9lbs of extract in the recipe plus some crystal.  And I still wouldn't worry too much about the sparge water temps, as long as it is below 170 or so it will be fine.

Check the gravity and volume once you are done with your minimash and then you can decide if you want to change your procedure for the next batch.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on December 22, 2010, 06:37:07 PM
Steeping is generally just extracting the sugars from the grain. Usually they don't need conversion. Mashing is different. It needs to be done within a temp range ie- 145 to 158 and it's purpose is to have enzymes in the grain start to break down the sugars. Within the temp range depending on which temp is used a different fermentability profile will result. Generally, the lower the temp the conversion is towards more fermentable sugars and in the upper range there will be sugars (dextrins) that the yeast will have difficulty eating.

This is a simple explanation. You should research it. Brewers usilize this range of temps to affect how the resulting beer turns out.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tschmidlin on December 22, 2010, 06:40:54 PM
>What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep?  
Partial and mini mash are the same thing, full mash means no extract.  If you're mashing you're trying to convert the starch to fermentable sugar.  Some grains are already converted (like crystal malts) so you're just trying to dissolve sugars by steeping.

>What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?
When steeping, temperature is less important.  Just don't get it over 170 as a rule of thumb, although it really depends on your grist, water, and water/grist ratio

>Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?
It depends on you efficiency.   Find an online calculator to calculate your expected OG.  Adding malt extract is 100% efficient, it's the steep or minimash that is not, so it would be best to take a gravity reading of just that part.  Expect about 70% efficiency, but this can vary widely.

>What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?
Word choice.  They are essentially the same thing, but one might be less intimidating than the other.

>How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing)  
If you are using unhopped malt extract, a 60 minute boil will get you better efficiency on your hop bitterness.  Later if you start mashing other grains or trying different recipes you might want to boil for even more than 60 minutes, but in general that is fine.

Reread your books again :)
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: gordonstrong on December 22, 2010, 06:41:03 PM
Quote
What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep? 

Mashing is converting starches to sugars.  Steeping is dissolving already converted sugars.  A full mash is when you mash all of your grains.  A mini-mash and a partial-mash are synonymous; they just mean that you are mashing some of the grains and using extract for the remainder.

Quote
What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?

Mashing at different temperatures encourages different enzymes to be active, all of which do different things.  In general, lower temperatures break down more complicated structures.  Between (roughly) 140F and 160F, you are converting starches to sugars.  Higher temperatures in this range give you a thicker, more dextrinous wort.  Lower temperatures give you a more fermentable wort.  You do these things to control the final gravity, body, and balance of your finished beer (among other things).

Steeping at different temperatures doesn't really matter, as long as you are dissolving the sugars.  Anything between 150F and 170F is fine.  Too hot and you can extract off flavors.  Too low and you aren't dissolving the sugars.

Quote
Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?

Specific gravity readings are simply a measure of the amount of sugars in solution.  Comparing the starting and ending gravities allows you to calculate the amount of alcohol in the beer.  A higher gravity reading at the start means that you can make a stronger beer.  A higher gravity reading at the end means that you have a sweeter beer.  You don't have to adjust the gravity readings for adding grains or hops.  Just take a reading before you pitch the yeast and after fermentation is done.  The starting gravity is directly related to the amount of grain/sugar you used, but is modified by the efficiency of your system.  The ending gravity is affected by the fermentability of your wort and the performance of your yeast.

Quote
What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?

Nothing.  Sparging is rinsing.  Generally, homebrewers talk about rinsing steeped grains and sparging mashes, but they mean essentially the same thing.

Quote
How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing) 

If you are making an extract beer, you don't really have to boil much at all as far as the malt is concerned.  You're just boiling to get the desired hop profile.  Boiling hops for a longer time extracts more bitterness from them.  Boiling becomes a bigger issue in all-grain brewing.  Boil as long as your longest hop addition.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 22, 2010, 07:21:08 PM
Very good advice from Gordon.  Another point:  Grains can be roughly divided into those that do or don't require mashing.  Some, like your Munich, have starch in them which needs to be converted to sugar by the mashing process.  Others, like crystal malts, have already had their starches converted for you.  For those (and your chocolate malt) steeping is fine because you don't have to worry about what a bunch of enzymes are doing.  You're just extracting the sugar, color, and flavors out of the grain.

Although you can calculate it by hand, I think that most of us who design our own recipes use some type of software tool to calculate what our original gravity is going to be.  That's a pretty important thing to know because it's a big factor on the style of beer you get.  Also, very strong beers are more difficult to ferment.  I use ProMash software myself, which costs around $30.  Some other forum members may be able to point you to free software, or something that has a free trial period.

Brew Strong

Edit:  btw, if someone at an HBS is unhelpful or condescending tell them that the the guys on the AHA forum think they're a bunch of douche-nozzles.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 23, 2010, 02:25:53 AM
to all:  sweet advise.  I hope it becomes more digestible after I get my hands dirty, cuz I had no idea that some grains were already converted.  I think I remember seeing that somewhere in the book, but the original recipe didn't say anything about mashing the munich.....and it wasn't like the grain bin at the store was labeled or color coded differentiating converted grains vs. non-converted grains. 

I think I'll still use the term sparge.  it sounds cooler. 

Thanks!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 23, 2010, 02:23:02 PM
How many gallons is this recipe for?  I'm figuring an OG of around 1.046 for a 10 gal. batch.
Edit:  woops. just realized this is for an imperial IPA, so it looks like 1.092 OG for 5 gal.  This is certainly a HUGE beer for a first time attempt.  OP, you really need to make a yeast starter for this and make sure that your wort is well oxygenated before pitching.  You're going to have to make sure that this stuff is completely fermented before bottling it.  Otherwise you risk ending up with bottle-bombs.  This actually looks more like a barleywine recipe than an IIPA.  If it tastes terrible after a month or so don't dump it.  It could be great after aging a year or 3.
Edit #2:  btw, OP, if you really have your heart set on brewing something like this on your first go, you should download and listen to a Brewing Network show about high-gravity brewing which can be found here:

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Sunday-Session/The-Sunday-Session-03-05-06-High-Gravity-Brewing (http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Sunday-Session/The-Sunday-Session-03-05-06-High-Gravity-Brewing)
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 23, 2010, 11:47:38 PM
ipaguy: I added in the rye, subtracted a little chocolate, swapped some extract and hops around based on availability, but everything else has remained the same.  the original recipe is for an imperial red ale that steeps I wanted to lighten, freshen, crisp up the body a little, hence the wheat extract, rye, and chocolate malt reduction.  I'd ask that you make a recommendation of something to eliminate as I don't have the skills or knowledge to construct a starter culture.  I've experienced bottle bombs in the past...not very fun...and I don't want a repeat especially considering I'm using 1l fliptops.  My first thought would be to eliminate the rye, but all the grains are currently in one bag....maybe I could refrain from adding the wheat extract...??  I'll check out the link too.  Thanks for all the tips, info, ideas, and good karma....  This buds for you!!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 24, 2010, 12:22:35 AM
Do you have the 2.5 lbs. of Munich malt in your grain bag?    This is what I calculated the 1.092 OG for:

2.5 lbs Munich malt
.5 lbs Crystal 120
.75 lbs Crystal 60
.5 lbs rye
.125 lbs Chocolate
6 lbs Pale LME
3 lbs Wheat Malt extract

Just want to make sure we're on the same page before I crunch some more numbers.  I think if we can get you more down into the 1.070 - 1.080 area you'll be a lot less likely to have problems an still have an Imperial IPA.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 24, 2010, 03:34:13 AM
ipaguy~ 

yes, that is what I have.  Did you calculate that using promash or similar software?

thanks for the number crunching.....listening to the podcast now.....

 :o
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 24, 2010, 02:02:37 PM
ipaguy~  

yes, that is what I have.  Did you calculate that using promash or similar software?

thanks for the number crunching.....listening to the podcast now.....

 :o

Yes, that was calculated with promash.  I forgot to ask, but I assumed that the wheat extract in the recipe is DME.  If it's LME that would change the numbers a little bit.  Assuming that it's wheat DME we're talking about and you've already bagged up you grains to mini-mash, then the wheat is probably the easiest to change to bring your gravity down  I figured that if you leave it out completely you get 1.064 OG, which isn't really Imperial any more.  I suggest that you cut the wheat back to around somewhere between 1 lb to 2.5 lbs to give these kind of numbers:

with 1 lb wheat ---> 1.073
        1.5 lbs      ----> 1.078
         2  lbs.      -----> 1.083
        2.5 lbs      -----> 1.087

If you look at ingredient  kits for IIPAs, double IPAs, triple IPAs, etc. the OGs run around 1.075 to 1.085 so you can use you judgment from there.  I don't know how I'd survive without ProMash
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 24, 2010, 05:30:42 PM
I don't have the skills or knowledge to construct a starter culture. 

Sure you do.  If you can make beer you can make a starter.

Boil a couple pints of water and some extract.  Cool it down, put it in a container (ideally an erlenmeyer flask, but heck a mason jar would work) and add the yeast.  You can grow this to as large a starter as you want/need.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on December 25, 2010, 05:26:42 PM
JD~ ok, that gives me confidence...I'll look into doing that a couple days before I start....thanks!

ipag~ um....LME = light malt extract or liquid malt extract??  DME = Dark malt extract or dry malt extract??

its definitely a liquid (syrup), came from muntons, and as far as light or dark...i dunno?? maybe you know more?

Happy Festivus!!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 25, 2010, 05:49:46 PM

ipag~ um....LME = light malt extract or liquid malt extract??  DME = Dark malt extract or dry malt extract??

Happy Festivus!!!

DME = dry malt extract.  I plugged in the 3# of Alexander's wheat LME and got an OG of 1.086.  Definitely a big beer, but about exactly right for an IIPA.  I'd say go for it, but a starter is strongly recommended.  Good brewing.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: kgs on December 25, 2010, 07:08:16 PM

Edit:  btw, if someone at an HBS is unhelpful or condescending tell them that the the guys on the AHA forum think they're a bunch of douche-nozzles.

... and the gals think so too. I avoid one guy at the LHBS who was not only condescending (it was about my 20th AG batch and he was incredulous that I was brewing all-grain--excuse me?!) but spent the entire time complaining to someone else about his shift hours. I didn't weigh the grains when I got home, but I'm pretty sure he shorted me a pound or so of my base malt, simply because he was blathering too much. (Note: I now check my weights when I get home, and I watch the clerks like a hawk. A smiling hawk but a hawk all the same.)

Anyway, if the shop clerks were simply skeptical (versus outright rude) it could be that they were thinking what I was thinking, which is that it's not a bad idea if your first brews follow the KISS factor--they may actually be trying to ensure you're a repeat customer. Big brews are more expensive to make and it's also much harder to isolate what's going wrong. Kudos to you for your "go big or go home" approach, but at least for the next batch plus one, you might consider something very simple that will allow you to focus both on technique and on understanding and improving your equipment setup. Also consider small batches, which will give you room (financially but also literally--that beer that didn't turn out so great can take up a lot of space while you're waiting for it to turn into gold) to practice and experiment.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: ipaguy on December 25, 2010, 08:59:01 PM

Edit:  btw, if someone at an HBS is unhelpful or condescending tell them that the the guys on the AHA forum think they're a bunch of douche-nozzles.

... and the gals think so too.
Sorry, kgs.  I really should have used a more inclusive term.  I'm always thrilled to hear about female homebrewers.  White males seem to be overrepresented in our hobby, but I would surely like to see that change.  I'm mystified about tales of bad customer service at HBSs.  People starting out are bound to have a lot of questions.  These places have a pretty limited customer base, so they really can't afford to offend anyone.  I also find condescension  to a customer based on gender to be totally vile.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tubercle on December 25, 2010, 09:52:41 PM
A smiling hawk but a hawk all the same.)

 Tubercle likes that ;D ;D ;D

Sitting on limb watching the world go by.

 Just don't screw up... 8)
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on December 25, 2010, 10:13:24 PM
I just go in now. Buy what I need. Only one or two simple questions is tolerated by the owner. Convenience for me- money for him.  :)
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: kgs on December 26, 2010, 04:09:53 AM

Edit:  btw, if someone at an HBS is unhelpful or condescending tell them that the the guys on the AHA forum think they're a bunch of douche-nozzles.

... and the gals think so too.
Sorry, kgs.  I really should have used a more inclusive term.  I'm always thrilled to hear about female homebrewers.  White males seem to be overrepresented in our hobby, but I would surely like to see that change.  I'm mystified about tales of bad customer service at HBSs.  People starting out are bound to have a lot of questions.  These places have a pretty limited customer base, so they really can't afford to offend anyone.  I also find condescension  to a customer based on gender to be totally vile.

No harm done whatsoever. It is still a very male craft, so it's easy to assume we're all guys.

Mostly things are fine at the LHBS. The person who worked with me yesterday was focused and on his game, and we had a good chat about Safale yeast profiles (at what other store could I have that conversation). Just that one fellow who has yet to learn not to run afoul of hawk-eyed SWMBO brewers...
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Kit B on December 29, 2010, 09:03:55 PM
Jeebus!!!
$80 in ingredients!?

Dude...They robbed you.
I wouldn't go back, with those kinds of prices...Even if they acted nicely.
That's nearly twice what I would pay, for the same recipe.

I'd cut the wheat out & maybe use a little corn sugar to boost the gravity.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 12, 2011, 09:25:51 AM
Ok, so I brewed it tonight. 

Started a yeast starter yesterday by boiling 2/3 cups LME with 1 quart water for 10 min and 1 hop pellet, added yeast packet and let sit for 28 hours in a brown growler.

I think everything went OK, up till the end.....nothing major, but I pitched my yeast before taking my OG reading.  I took it anyways.....1.080.

I did have a hard time keeping my steeping temp. constant. I brought my 6 quarts to 1600 and dropped in my 3 grain bags.  the temp dropped to 157.....uh......yeah....  so I cooled it down and was able to hold it between 148 and 154 for 30 min.  I then sparged with 6 quarts of water that was somewhere between 160-170.  I was unsure whether to squeeze the bags to extract every last bit of wort (I told her that was unnecessary).  I added a little water to bring my total volume to 3 gal, brought to a boil and added my extract and hops.  hops were added at the indicated intervals and I was able to cool the wort relatively quickly to 120 in the 4 ft snow bank and 15 degree temps outside.  I added 2 gallons of cold water to my fermenter and poured in the wort.  I then grabbed my yeast starter and dumped that in.....only to realize I forgot to check my OG and temp.  Based on my previous batch, adding 3 gal of 120 degree wort to 2 gal of cold water got the wort down to 70.  I didn't double check this this time......hmmmm.  I vigorously swirled the wort to aerate and poured a little off into the gravity flask only to discover the temp was at 78 degrees!!!!  I let it get to 60 and took the OG reading.  Now the wort is sitting in a cool dark place in my tiny cabin in AK.  It'll sit for at least 10 days before I start to take FG? readings.  I hope all goes well!!

Thank you all so much for your input.....I think out of the 500+ views of this post I read all your comments 500 different times.  I'll let you know how it progresses and be sure to ask more q's if something doesn't appear right.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on January 12, 2011, 09:37:30 AM
Why the hop pellet in the starter?

It'll be OK.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Mark G on January 12, 2011, 03:43:52 PM
Sounds like it went pretty well. Keep us up to date on the progress. You'll probably start seeing signs of active fermentation this afternoon sometime.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 12, 2011, 09:06:20 PM
euge~

i heard that adding a tiny amount of hops will help to inhibit bacteria growth in the starter.  I had no idea how much to add, so 1 pellet seemed a good starting point!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 15, 2011, 12:45:10 AM
ok, here's an update....

beer has been fermenting for last 2.5 days.  the krausen started forming within 12 hours and at 36 hours was at it's peak.  since then, it's been dropping a bit, but there is still 2 inches of head on top.  the air temp surrounding my fermenter has been 50 degrees or so.  I just moved it today to an area that I think is about 60 degrees.  the airlock is still bubbling away at about 1 bubble per 8 seconds or so.  the wort is very cloudy and murky. 

Should I be concerned with the original low fermentation temp?  What effect will this have on the end result?  Should I keep it at 50 or 60 degrees while it's in the primary?  I'm still not sure how to know my FG.  I know that you are not supposed to muck about in your wort too much or disturb it while in the carboys, but I have to pour a little out to take readings to know when it stabilizes...right?  Am I missing something here.  I plan to let it sit in the primary for another couple days before racking to the secondary and throwing in some hops. 

comments, suggestions, concerns...???  In the mean time...I won't worry about it!!

D-
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: denny on January 15, 2011, 01:12:05 AM
Keep it in the low to mid 60s (or as close as you can get) and forget about it for 2 weeks.  Then check the gravity.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: denny on January 15, 2011, 01:13:12 AM
euge~

i heard that adding a tiny amount of hops will help to inhibit bacteria growth in the starter.  I had no idea how much to add, so 1 pellet seemed a good starting point!!

It doesn't hurt, but it really doesn't help, either, as far as I've been able to tell.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on January 15, 2011, 01:59:38 AM
Keep it in the low to mid 60s (or as close as you can get) and forget about it for 2 weeks.  Then check the gravity.

Good solid advice.

An autosiphon will help you get the beer out more easily than a regular siphon. You can check the gravity then.

Or-

I've heard of people using a sanitized turkey baster to collect beer samples for gravity checks.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tygo on January 15, 2011, 02:11:56 AM
I've heard of people using a sanitized turkey baster to collect beer samples for gravity checks.

The turkey baster is one of my favorite beer tools.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 21, 2011, 05:17:01 AM
Another question..... :o

What concerns (and actions) should I have (take) if the primary ferm. temp. dropped to below normal fermentation temps?? 

Here's the dealo.......we just got out of a cold snap here in AK.  Temps surrounding my fermenter went from about 60-65 to 35 degrees ( :o)after the power went.  After power came back on, the temp has slowly risen to 60-65.  There is also a HUGE temp gradient top to bottom in my place (the floor is about 40, head level is about 70).  I've got the fermenter in the most consistent place in the cabin. 

So, back to my original Q....what concerns should I have?  Should I just leave it alone for another week before starting to check for a consistent FG? 

The beer is not clearing at all and is still bubbling at at about 2/3x per min at it's 65F temp. There is still a little krausen on top, but it's mostly gone, and what's there looks nasty as hell. 
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tubercle on January 21, 2011, 05:22:10 AM
Another question..... :o

What concerns (and actions) should I have (take) if the primary ferm. temp. dropped to below normal fermentation temps?? 

Here's the dealo.......we just got out of a cold snap here in AK.  Temps surrounding my fermenter went from about 60-65 to 35 degrees ( :o)after the power went.  After power came back on, the temp has slowly risen to 60-65.  There is also a HUGE temp gradient top to bottom in my place (the floor is about 40, head level is about 70).  I've got the fermenter in the most consistent place in the cabin. 

So, back to my original Q....what concerns should I have?  Should I just leave it alone for another week before starting to check for a consistent FG? 

The beer is not clearing at all and is still bubbling at at about 2/3x per min at it's 65F temp.  There is still a little krausen on top, but it's mostly gone, and what's there looks nasty as hell. 

You're fine. The concern would be if the temp went up. They just went to sleep and rested for a little while.

 BTW, get a fan to stir that air around.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 21, 2011, 07:52:12 AM
" BTW, get a fan to stir that air around."

No need, my cabin is drafty enough as is!!!

Ok, I won't worry about it......just not sure if I should give it a swirl to wake 'em up!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 23, 2011, 08:51:07 PM
Update:  for all those who care...... ;)

After reading more and more I realized that I probably should have filtered my wort while transfering to the primary and thoughts of off-flavors started percolating through my thoughts.....so I transferred to my secondary and added 2oz of cascade for some dry hopping.  I took a gravity reading and it read 1.028.  I was hoping for it to be a little lower to increase the alcohol level... ;D...maybe it will drop a little more in the secondary??  I plan to let it sit for another 2 weeks before bottling.  The temp is back up to about 65.  I did taste my sample and it tasted a lot like a Lagunitus lucky 13.  Granted my taste buds are about as refined as a sledge hammer in a china shop.  It did exhibit a good balance of bitterness and sweet maltiness.  I am hoping that the dry hop will add a moderate amount of hop nose. 

If anyone swings by TKA in March or April hit me up and you can tell me what you think of this crazy concoction I call Big Red Ryding Hood. 

Thanks again for all the advise!! 

btw...next on tap...belgian IPA.

go packers!!!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: Hokerer on January 23, 2011, 10:22:30 PM
After reading more and more I realized that I probably should have filtered my wort while transfering to the primary and thoughts of off-flavors started percolating through my thoughts.....so I transferred to my secondary and added 2oz of cascade for some dry hopping. 

Really no need to filter going into the primary.  Some do, some don't and it doesn't seem to make a huge difference.  You certainly didn't need to worry so much about off flavors.

I took a gravity reading and it read 1.028.  I was hoping for it to be a little lower to increase the alcohol level... ;D...maybe it will drop a little more in the secondary?? 

Unfortunately, racking it to secondary probably wasn't a good idea.  1.028 sounds pretty high which means that fermentation is probably not completely finished.  The best way to have it complete would have been to leave it on the yeast so they could continue to do their job.  When you rack to secondary, you're greatly reducing the amount of yeast that's there.  Secondary is not meant as a place for gravity to drop any further.

That said, not much you can do to change things now so don't worry too much about it.  You made beer.  Just chalk it up as a learning experience for next time.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tubercle on January 23, 2011, 10:25:22 PM
Update:  for all those who care...... ;)

After reading more and more I realized that I probably should have filtered my wort while transfering to the primary and thoughts of off-flavors started percolating through my thoughts.....so I transferred to my secondary and added 2oz of cascade for some dry hopping.  I took a gravity reading and it read 1.028.  I was hoping for it to be a little lower to increase the alcohol level... ;D...maybe it will drop a little more in the secondary??  I plan to let it sit for another 2 weeks before bottling.  The temp is back up to about 65.  I did taste my sample and it tasted a lot like a Lagunitus lucky 13.  Granted my taste buds are about as refined as a sledge hammer in a china shop.  It did exhibit a good balance of bitterness and sweet maltiness.  I am hoping that the dry hop will add a moderate amount of hop nose. 

If anyone swings by TKA in March or April hit me up and you can tell me what you think of this crazy concoction I call Big Red Ryding Hood. 

Thanks again for all the advise!! 

btw...next on tap...belgian IPA.

go packers!!!!

 
First rule of brewing when you start worrying about such things:

 Sit down, close you eyes, deep breaths, take another swig....
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: euge on January 23, 2011, 10:35:33 PM
[sigh] You did not follow Denny's advice.[/sigh]

It is essential one checks the gravity before removing the beer from the primary fermenter. Now it needs to sit in the "secondary vessel" for longer. Due to the cold-snap you had a problem- however a gravity check would have let you know the beer still needed to be on the yeast.

Chalk it up as a learning opportunity!

As a warning- if your current beer is bottled before it is done fermenting you could experience bottle bombs or gushers. At the very least the beer will be over-carbonated.

Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on January 24, 2011, 12:01:01 AM
DOH!!!!! 

I've experienced bottle bombs before.......very scary.... :o

I'm not gonna worry about though....I'll let it sit for a good three weeks or longer in the secondary.  I'll take gravity readings every week. 

Any possibility of pitching some more yeast in there??
How 'bout reducing the amount of priming sugar used at bottling time??

There's only thing to do.....conduct a detailed comparison of Celebrator VS. Salvator.....here goes.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: tschmidlin on January 24, 2011, 05:53:54 AM
If possible you can try warming it up too.  Since the bulk of fermentation is over there is very little risk of off flavors, and it can help the yeast dry it out.  If possible, I'd move it up to 70 or 72 F and see what it does.
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on February 03, 2011, 08:07:13 PM
Update #4763...

I checked my gravity and its still 1.028.  The beer is mostly clear.  Hop leaves are still floating on top, soaked through, but haven't sank.  I moved it back to an area that sits right around the 40-55 degree area in preparation for bottling.  I'm hoping the cooler temps will settle the yeast and smooth out the flavor.  After the warnings of bottle bombs, I plan to prime with only 1 cup of DME, instead of 1.25cups.  I'll condition the bottles in a safe, cool area. 

on tasting notes, the beer is fairly bitter, not overly coyingly sweet.  Hops are present for sure, not overly aromatic like a ruination.  Color is a bright med. amber, with overt shades of ruby or scarlet.  Tastes fairly similar to Lagunitas lucky 13, mondo large red or maybe a hop rod rye....it's been a while since I tasted that one though....I'll take a bottle over to Denali Brewing Co. and have them do a more involved tasting in a month.


If the bottles don't explode, it'll be the best second batch of homebrew I've ever brewed.

Hope all your winter brewing projects are going well.  Thanks to all for the advice!!
Title: Re: First attempt.....
Post by: smthgfshy on February 14, 2011, 10:51:40 PM
I popped open a bottle of the big red ipa yesterday and here is what I found....

Poured a deep deep red...mahogany, garnets, rubies, reddish brown.
Head formation was slow and modest, 1 finger, slightly reddish, very dense, thick, rich, sticky, creamy, tiny bubbles
Carbonation was low - too low - only a very few tiny bubbles rising to the surface.
Mouthfeel was creamy, malty, sweet - too sweet (high FG?) to balance bittering hops
Aroma was of rich malts, bready, caramels, hops came in late, never overpowering - even the dry hops
Drinkability was great albeit sweet (a touch cloying), alcohol was unnoticeable, but I could feel it after 25 ounces.

Wish I could've got my FG down a little to dry things up.  I added 2/3 corn sugar instead of 3/4 to help reduce the possibility of bottle bombs.  And of course the temp plummeted after bottling.....so they never got to sit at 70 to prime properly.   I'll open another in 10 days or so and I moved the bottles in front of my heater so maybe after some more time things will improve.

Thanks again everyone for the wonderful help, ideas, recommendations, and criticism.  I'm very happy with the result as is.  I might even enter it into a homebrew competition next door at DBC.  My second batch (Belgo-Am IPA) is well under way and I'm picking ingredients up tomorrow for a Levitation clone.

D-