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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: ethanjhall on January 18, 2011, 05:30:19 AM

Title: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: ethanjhall on January 18, 2011, 05:30:19 AM
Hi guys, just started brewing w/ a buddy of mine. 3 batches in (still fermenting), and, surprisingly enough, we've got a few questions.

So here goes - If you only have answers to 1 or a few, please reference which question, to keep us all sane :)

1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?
2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?
6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?
7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?
8. What controls/effects the body of the beer?
9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?
10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?
11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.
13. Malt Extract - how well does that keep? We're looking at buying materials in larger bulk - and the question is pretty straight forward - how long does liquid malt extract keep? How should we store it?

Thanks again in advance, feel free to point us to valuable reference resources if necessary, we're naught but humble newcomers, anxious to learn :)
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 18, 2011, 06:36:34 AM
Whew! I'll tackle a couple:

Quote
1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

I believe it is just co2 being agitated out of solution, and have heard this is a common occurrence.

Quote
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

Use dissolved oyclean and scrub very lightly/gently with a soft wet cloth. I remove all the gunk first with a rubber spatula and then spray. Then scrub. It's ok for the fermenter to take on some color- I think it's from the hops. Starsan is a contact sanitizer so soaking is overkill.

Quote
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

Yes quite possibly and see previous comment.

Quote
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

Ignore them. Yes I know it is hard to as we know soap is nasty. Different beast altogether.

Quote
6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?

Good question. Yes. Go a bit longer- like 14 days.

Quote
9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?

Don't bother with primary. Lid cracked on bucket is fine. I just place the lid on. Secondary fermentation yes, and as far as I can see no real difference except the s-shaped appears harder to clean.

Enough for me. Somebody else jump in.





Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: 1vertical on January 18, 2011, 06:48:16 AM
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

I make a rubbermaid tote container with 4-5 inches of Idophor solution in the vessel. Then I submerge the bucket lid...and hit it with a brushor something akin to  a dishcloth...then take the bucket lay it on it's side in the solution and use a dedicated dishrag to contact the surface needing cleaned while the bucket is submerged in the sanitizer.  Then I put the bucket lid upside down on the lid of the sanitized tote lid....and after the bucket proper is finished I set it upside down on the sanitized bucket lid so that it will drain onto the lid...I do not fear idophor solution as much as the starsan bubble stuff .  Dificult to visualize I know.


Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 18, 2011, 07:00:53 AM
No I totally see it. A darn good approach. I do similar in my sink. Except I clean the lid first and sanitize it last then place it on the sanitized bucket. I apply the starsan liberally with a clean cheesecloth type material. What soaking time?

Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: myh3adhur7s on January 18, 2011, 07:50:06 AM
7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?

Don't use the Beer thief to hold the wort for measuring you want to buy a test jar to hold the wort for measuring. But if you plan on doing this for a while I would suggest getting a Refractometer. Easier to read and more accuate. but then again I just hated reading a hydrometer.

10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?

IF you are using a five gallon bucket for a five gallon batch you are going to get a nasty little mess to clean up from fermentation blowing off the lid/airlock. You want a larger vessel to avoid this problem. It really only is an issue during primary.

11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?

I have found out that that strainer works just fine as long as it is fairly fine cause the particulate will clogs it up and esentially make it finer screen. And i don't know other peoples belief on this but i have found it helps aerate the wort for pitching too. And when my main primary bucket is in use and i need to use a 6.5 gallon carboy the funnel and screen works but it clogs alot fast so then i use a combition of both.

 
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.

That ius the great thing about starsan is that it keeps for a while and it is recyclable since it is not used for cleaning but only sanitizing. and the way to check if it is still good is to get some ph strips. Since starsan is acid based you need to check the ph. If my memory severs right it needs to be at a ph of 3 or less. But I would check on that again.

And I am tapping out cause my beer is empty and sleep is calling my bed. Enjoy brewing.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: oscarvan on January 18, 2011, 01:58:29 PM
I am the noob from a few months ago.....8 batches into it, just started all grain......

1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

Hmmm, never seen much bubbles. Buy another one and see.....they're cheap.


2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?

A few bubbles won't kill anything. But, I prefer the autosiphon......it works well for me.

3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

I fill the bucket about 1/4 of the way with sanitizer (I use an iodine based product) and put the lid on at the start of brewing. I pick it up and shake it around ever 20 minutes or so. After three hours of that I can't imagine it not being sanitized.


4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

I only use PBW if things are visibly soiled. I do religiously clean things as soon as I am done with them to avoid drying and caking. If things are not very dirty to begin with I can't see the need to soak for very long. The only exception is when I get a new used keg....they get to soak for 24 hours. Yes, some discoloration of the buckets is normal. More important than spitshine clean is that the surface stays as smooth as possible, as bacteria set up shop in scratches where the sanitizer has a hard time getting to them. So, over scrubbing is worse than some discoloration. Some people replace their buckets every six months or so.....haven't gotten to that point yet.


5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

I Don't use Star-San, started with the iodine, which doesn't keep but like the idea of fresh sanitizer. A large bottle goes a long way. I have a bunch of measuring spoons and can make a few size batches without thinking about it anymore.

6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?

I've been getting good results waiting until process slows down to a bubble every few minutes.... How many days that is I record, but don't really care about.

7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?

Spin it.

8. What controls/effects the body of the beer?

Proteins is the short answer, I'll let the sages give the long answer.

9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?

The three piece are easier to clean. It's all I use.

10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?

Depends on the beer/yeast/temp and a thousand other factors. The short answer: sometimes a LOT. If you want to do 5 in a 5 you MUST use a blowoff hose and collection bucket or it will only be a matter of time before you are cleaning the ceiling and replacing the carpet. I use 6 gallon buckets and 5 gallon carboys for secondary. Still, I've had airlocks clog up on a 6 during primary with visible pressure on the lid, and a "whoosh" when I took the airlock out to clean it. So, I was heading for disaster. I now use a blowoff hose for the first few days in the grommet on the lid.

11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?

I use a strainer, it works. (because I use buckets)

12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.

Again, I don't use Star-San, but for what you want to do I have heard of people having it in a spray bottle.

13. Malt Extract - how well does that keep? We're looking at buying materials in larger bulk - and the question is pretty straight forward - how long does liquid malt extract keep? How should we store it?

It keeps well, if you store it in a dry and cool place. But, if you are serious about this hobby you WILL, like I have, go to all grain. $1 a pound versus $3-4 OK, most recipes use a few more pounds than they would with extract, but in the end you save, a lot. My "case cost" for my house APA, which I compare to a $40 case of SNPA, is now around $13, versus $20 for the extract recipe, and soon coming down to $10 as I am preparing to harvest/repitch the yeast. Another buck or two can be saved by buying hops in larger quantities, the goal being $8-$9 a case..... THAT's what I'm talking about..... ;D

OK, hope all this helps. The sages will probably whack me on a few items, but hey, that happens.  ;)
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 18, 2011, 02:01:47 PM
#3 - Get a spray bottle, fill with Star San and spay the lid down.  For the carboy, put something over the neck, and turn over and shake around so that everything gets coated.  Or take the advice of some others already given.

#5 - Don't fear the foam.  To taste the Star San you would need to get a high concentration in the beer.  Not going to happen with the foam.

#12 - I have a bucket to keep some things soaking, so they are ready if I need them.  Keep the bucket covered.  Use distilled or RO water for this if your water is alkaline, it will last a long time.  If your water is alkaline, the Star San will turn cloudy fairly quick, and once it turns cloudy it is suspect for effectiveness.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 02:37:56 PM
1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

Before you toss that one, see if you can tell where the bubbles start.  Lots of folks mention air getting in where the tubing connects to the top of the auto-siphon.  One thing you can try is to install/tighten a hose clamp on that connection.  Alternatively, you can use one size smaller tubing.  That is, instead of the 3/8" ID tubing you're probably using, force a piece of 5/16" onto there instead.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 02:40:33 PM
2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?

That little bit of "aeration" really isn't going to make much difference.  I use the "old-fashioned" method but, instead of water, I fill the racking canes/tubing with my hydrometer sample - no water added to my wort that way.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 02:50:22 PM
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

You only need to clean when necessary. If you thoroughly rinse/clean after use, you'll probably not need to clean again before you use something again.  The cleaning is to get any physical pieces of gunk off.  If there's still physical gunk present, no amount of sanitizer will be able to do it's job.

As for the sanitizing, starsan is great and what'll make it seem even greater for you is that the required contact time is 30 seconds not minutes.  but give it at least a full minute to be safe.  All you need to do is wet all the surfaces with starsan, wait, and then you're good to go.  No need to soak.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: 1vertical on January 18, 2011, 03:31:50 PM
No I totally see it. A darn good approach. I do similar in my sink. Except I clean the lid first and sanitize it last then place it on the sanitized bucket. I apply the starsan liberally with a clean cheesecloth type material. What soaking time?

Yeah I try to give it the directed 2 min contact. Probably really give it longer as It just sits there upside down dripping
onto the lid which is IMO contact time.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 03:32:41 PM
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

"Don't fear the foam" - yeah, it may be a marketing slogan but, in this particular case, it's actually true.  Don't worry about it, it doesn't affect anything.  Also, don't rinse afterwards since you may be rinsing with possibly unsanitary water and just re-introducing the bugs you just got rid of with the sanitizer.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Steve on January 18, 2011, 03:46:58 PM
1. – A few bubbles of air from the siphon which will rise and escape though the beer has never destroyed a batch. There could be some tiny cracks in the auto siphon or some air infiltrating at the joint with the hose. Relax, don't worry....

3. – You don't need to soak to sanitize.  Mop it or spray it on (see later) with Star San or BTF Iodophor and let it set for the recommended contact time and let it dry.

4. – PWB is a cleanser like Oxyclean®.  Not a sanitizer.  Star San or BTF Iodopor is not a cleanser.  If you have a messy fermenter use the PWB to clean it well and always use Star San, BTF Iodopor or chlorine to sanitize!  The directions on the Star San package say it can be sprayed on, wiped on, mopped on or immersed in and must remain wet for at least 1 minute, not 30 minutes.  It should air dry like iodophor and should not be rinsed.

5. – If you use Star San you can wipe away the bubbles with a wrung-out Star Saned mop cloth as long as you've had the 1 minute contact time per the directions. Mopping or spraying will also eliminate most of the bubbles too

6. – 1, 10, or 15 days are guidelines, but you need to use your hydrometer to measure towards your target gravity.  Time for fermentation will vary with the seasons and the environment.  a bubble count is good too but not as definitive as your hydrometer.

9. – The 3 piece airlock will make a clicking sound as bubbles pass and the parts return into place. The twin bubble type makes a bloop sound as the bubbles escape.  The bubble type is "old school."  You cans still find a few made of glass in catalogs and flea markets. The 3 piece is easier to clean.

11. - You're exactly right... the funnel screen it fine and can clog quickly.  You have to use a spoon to keep scraping the material off to let the liquid through.  The strainer lets too much material through, but that material can be left in the yeast cake.  It's your preference with no correct answer

12. - Star San made with tap water (as directed) and left in a closed bucket will last for a week keeping the correct ppm of acids.  Only a couple of days if left open to the air.  I think it's a few days less for Iodophor.  Keep your batch of sanitizer in a plastic bucket with a lid. You can submerge a pump spray bottle into the bucket and spray the sanitizer onto objects rather than dunking them into the solution.

I've used both BTF and Star San with positive results and like Star San as a spray-on sanitizer and BTF as a soaking sanitizer.  I'd buy whichever one went on sale.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: 1vertical on January 18, 2011, 03:49:31 PM
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 04:09:14 PM
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.

Yeah right, the Everclear is only for sanitizing purposes :)
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: tygo on January 18, 2011, 04:15:10 PM
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.

Yeah right, the Everclear is only for sanitizing purposes :)

And one for the doctor:

(http://www.episil.co.uk/images/image_1.jpg)
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 05:19:47 PM
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.

The "shelf life" of starsan can be quite long.  You can test it with a ph strip and, as long as the ph is 3 or less, it's still good.  If you don't have ph strips, a good (but less reliable) indicator is the clarity of the solution.  Once it clouds up, it's probably no good any more.  Also, give it a good shake, if it still foams up, you're probably ok.  The type of water you use to mix the solution also has an effect on "shelf life".  If your water has lots of minerals or is alkaline, you're probably better off buying some distilled or reverse osmosis water to use.

Next time you finish a gallon of milk, clean out the plastic jug real well.  Mix up your starsan in it and keep it closed up.  The solution will keep for months this way.  Also, once you've mixed it up, pour some out of the jug and into a regular spray bottle.  Use that to spritz anything that needs sanitizing and you're in business.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: morticaixavier on January 18, 2011, 05:20:56 PM
That little bit of "aeration" really isn't going to make much difference.  I use the "old-fashioned" method but, instead of water, I fill the racking canes/tubing with my hydrometer sample - no water added to my wort that way.

I fill the tube with sanitizer (Idophor) and run it off into another vessal until it is all beer coming out. that way I don't water the beer or risk infection by running water or tainted beer into my secondary/bottling bucket.

Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 05:30:07 PM
That little bit of "aeration" really isn't going to make much difference.  I use the "old-fashioned" method but, instead of water, I fill the racking canes/tubing with my hydrometer sample - no water added to my wort that way.

I fill the tube with sanitizer (Idophor) and run it off into another vessal until it is all beer coming out. that way I don't water the beer or risk infection by running water or tainted beer into my secondary/bottling bucket.


Needless to say, I sanitize my thief, sample tube, & hydrometer - no "tainted beer" here.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: 1vertical on January 18, 2011, 06:09:02 PM
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.

Yeah right, the Everclear is only for sanitizing purposes :)

It is at  my house, I have trouble enjoying that bite...Oh and FYI, be cautious because
it is both flammable and it will Craze your acrylic racking tube or hydrometer tube making them useless.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 18, 2011, 06:19:05 PM
I keep a gallon of Everclear on hand at all times. Very useful stuff...
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 18, 2011, 06:26:34 PM
Oh and FYI, be cautious because
it is both flammable and it will Craze your acrylic racking tube or hydrometer tube making them useless.

+1, learned the hard way when I crazed a plastic bottling wand.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: kgs on January 18, 2011, 06:48:13 PM
Tip for filling spray bottles with Star San: put the water in first, and then add the Star San with a measuring spoon. That way it won't fizz up while you're trying to fill the bottle. Be sure not to add too much Star San; don't just pour it in, *measure.* I remember hearing the manufacturer of Star San on a podcast say that adding too much is as bad as adding too little.

I have gone from filling entire carboys with Star San (wasteful of both Star San and water, plus awkward) to doing a lot of spritzing or at most relying on a gallon or two of sanitizer to do the job. Before bottling, I sanitize the spigot, put it in the (clean) bucket, put a (sanitized) baggie over the spigot with a rubber band, add a gallon of Star San, and push the Star San through the (clean) autosiphon. The tubing I use to transfer the wort to the bucket becomes the tubing I attach to the bucket and the bottling wand.

I don't use Iodophor because it stains and because I read somewhere that Star San is easier on the environment. I may be wrong on that last point, and if so, I am sure I'll find out very quickly!

You didn't bring up bottling (yet :-) ) but I find a Vinator sanitizer filled with Star San (again, put the water in first) is the easiest way to sanitize bottles; I drain the bottles in a clean dishwasher. (I have a not-safe-for-forum nickname for the Vinator which other lady brewing friends find hilarious.)

Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: richardt on January 18, 2011, 09:26:42 PM
Quote
10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?

You need the "headspace."  Fermentation can get quite vigorous with plenty of foaming, so give it some room.  You can reduce some of the foaming by using FermCap-S in the boil.

Brewing 5 gallon batches in 5 gallon buckets isn't going to work well.
You don't serve 12 ounce beers in 12 ounce glasses right up to the rim, do you?  The beer glasses are oversized for a reason.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 19, 2011, 12:30:06 AM
Headspace is a very good idea. If you want to do smaller batches a fiver is fine.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: ethanjhall on January 19, 2011, 04:45:10 AM
Thanks so much for the overwhelming response. Several of you mentioned "don't use starsan" while failing to say "use Brand X"

What is brand x and why?

Quote from: hokerer

You only need to clean when necessary. If you thoroughly rinse/clean after use, you'll probably not need to clean again before you use something again.  The cleaning is to get any physical pieces of gunk off.  If there's still physical gunk present, no amount of sanitizer will be able to do it's job.

As for the sanitizing, starsan is great and what'll make it seem even greater for you is that the required contact time is 30 seconds not minutes.  but give it at least a full minute to be safe.  All you need to do is wet all the surfaces with starsan, wait, and then you're good to go.  No need to soak.

So - no physical (ie - VISIBLE) crap, and all I need to do is sanitize? And only sani for 1-2 minutes?

Quote from: hokerer

Before you toss that one, see if you can tell where the bubbles start.  Lots of folks mention air getting in where the tubing connects to the top of the auto-siphon.  One thing you can try is to install/tighten a hose clamp on that connection.  Alternatively, you can use one size smaller tubing.  That is, instead of the 3/8" ID tubing you're probably using, force a piece of 5/16" onto there instead.

Nope - we threw 2 hose clamps on the top - it's quite tight. It's come in from the rubber gasket inside (at the base of the racking-cane-type-pump thing). I'd be happy to host a poorly photo-shopped picture if that description wasn't good enough.

Again - we pump it 2-3 times, it's SEAMLESS - no aeration, nothing, then about 30 secs in, it starts leaking and aerating, and there's no stopping it.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: oscarvan on January 19, 2011, 05:50:08 AM
This (http://www.bacchus-barleycorn.com/catalog/iodophor-iodine-sanitizer-liter-p-3740.html?utm_source=googprod&utm_term=24272) is what I use.....
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 19, 2011, 07:01:17 AM
Again - we pump it 2-3 times, it's SEAMLESS - no aeration, nothing, then about 30 secs in, it starts leaking and aerating, and there's no stopping it.

Again consider that it is a point of turbulence and it's agitating CO2 out of suspension and that it isn't aeration. Not something to worry about anyway.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Kit B on January 19, 2011, 05:00:15 PM
I don't think anyone was really saying "don't use StarSan"  as in giving a command or advice.
I think they were just saying that they don't personally use it.
I use StarSan & love it.

Idophor is a good alternative.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on January 19, 2011, 09:08:23 PM
Only one other member (Steve) addressed your question re: duration of primary fermentation, so I'll touch on it again. It's very important that you actually measure the gravity of your beer to determine when it's done fermenting. And contrary to what some of the brewing literature indicates, you can leave your beer in the primary fermenter for several weeks (between 4-6, IME) with no adverse effects. Determining whether your beer is done fermenting using other metrics (e.g., a specific number of days or waiting until there is no airlock activity) is just not the best practice. Your fermentation may not even be visibly inactive within 7-10 days.  Also, just because there is little or no airlock activity doesn't mean the beer is done fermenting. The yeast may still be "cleaning up" byproducts that could lead to off-flavors.  So, get in the habit of using your hydrometer to determine whether your beer is ready for bottling, kegging, or transferring to a secondary fermenter (although a quick forum search will demonstrate that the latter is not usually necessary and is even becoming a somewhat disfavored practice).
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: ethanjhall on January 20, 2011, 03:54:14 AM
(although a quick forum search will demonstrate that the latter is not usually necessary and is even becoming a somewhat disfavored practice).

I've been gathering that... :)

Thanks to everyone for the answers.

Oscarvan - you said "this is what I use..." and then nothing. Am I missing something?

Idophor - why is that preferred over StarSan? Cheaper? Faster? Better? Or, what else do people use?

Refractometers - I love technology. And getting a big sample, cooling it, etc to use the hydrometer. Pain in the ass. A refracto seems way cool.
http://morebeer.com/view_product/18739/ - This is what we're talking about, right? There aren't "crappy cheap ones" and "nice ones" really, are there?


Also - any good brewing podcasts that people can recommend? It's nice to learn while driving :)
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: oscarvan on January 20, 2011, 04:11:58 AM
Quote
Oscarvan - you said "this is what I use..." and then nothing. Am I missing something?

Yes, the word "this" is a link (not in this post, in the previous one).

Which leads to a case in point. On the "suggestions for the forum" forum I have asked if the color/contrast of hot links can be improved.....
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: ethanjhall on January 20, 2011, 04:13:35 AM
Awesome :) I would second the "greater contrast in links" request :)

Why do you use that instead of starsan?
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: oscarvan on January 20, 2011, 04:15:47 AM
Awesome :) I would second the "greater contrast in links" request :)

Why do you use that instead of starsan?

Well, that's what the dude in the LHBS shoved in my hands when I first started, and I'm happy using it...... no better reason.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 20, 2011, 04:36:44 AM
Awesome :) I would second the "greater contrast in links" request :)

Why do you use that instead of starsan?

Well, that's what the dude in the LHBS shoved in my hands when I first started, and I'm happy using it...... no better reason.

I have both. Iodophor is a quick-use disposable type that is good for soaking things. It's efficacy is short-lived, unlike Starsan which will last nearly forever if treated properly.

My experience is that I had problems when using Iodophor on my fermenters.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: oscarvan on January 20, 2011, 12:48:32 PM
My experience is that I had problems when using Iodophor on my fermenters.

What kind of problems?
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: kgs on January 20, 2011, 01:42:53 PM
Also, as a meta-observation to OP, I once again highly recommend the Basic Brewing DVD series. They're reasonably-priced and well-made, and a picture is worth a thousand words. Their (free) podcasts are great, too. James Spencer understands how to produce radio shows and gets right to the point in a friendly, humorous, but always "safe for work" manner.

Their new DVD for new brewers:

http://basicbrewingshop.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=26
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: Hokerer on January 20, 2011, 02:20:57 PM
Refractometers - I love technology. And getting a big sample, cooling it, etc to use the hydrometer. Pain in the ass. A refracto seems way cool.
http://morebeer.com/view_product/18739/ - This is what we're talking about, right? There aren't "crappy cheap ones" and "nice ones" really, are there?

One thing to know about refractometers is that they're not accurate once alcohol is present.  Measuring hot wort as you progress through the various stages is fine but, once you get things fermenting, you'll need to use correction tables to manually adjust your refractometer readings to account for the alcohol.
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: denny on January 20, 2011, 04:07:26 PM
My experience is that I had problems when using Iodophor on my fermenters.

What kind of problems?

In my case, I developed a persistent low level infection that iodophor couldn't knock out.  I decided to try StarSan due to the lo pH.  It knocked out the infection and I've stuck with StarSan ever since, although I still use iodophor sometimes. 
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: euge on January 20, 2011, 06:24:29 PM
My experience is that I had problems when using Iodophor on my fermenters.

What kind of problems?

In my case, I developed a persistent low level infection that iodophor couldn't knock out.  I decided to try StarSan due to the lo pH.  It knocked out the infection and I've stuck with StarSan ever since, although I still use iodophor sometimes. 

Ditto. Problem disappeared when I went back to Starsan. Sorry baby I shouldn't have left ya!
Title: Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
Post by: ethanjhall on February 10, 2011, 04:27:34 AM
In my case, I developed a persistent low level infection that iodophor couldn't knock out.  I decided to try StarSan due to the lo pH.  It knocked out the infection and I've stuck with StarSan ever since, although I still use iodophor sometimes.  

Why do you still use it? Cheaper?

Also, (and I know this has been asked many times, but I'm curious about YOUR opinions for good resources) I'd like to brew an IPA - where can I find some good recipes?

We've got LME on the way, as well as some fun hops, but don't really know how to pick yeast, and REALLY don't know how to pick out grains. ???