Author Topic: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit  (Read 14844 times)

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« on: January 02, 2012, 12:38:35 PM »
OK I tried a few batches of Mr Beer (my friend and I brewed four batches together with our two kits).  I quickly realized this wasn't enough for me.  The first Mr Beer batch didn't come out like I expected.  It was plenty dry and had lots of carbonation/head, but wasn't up to par taste wise (it was West Coast Pale Ale).  Second batch should be tasted this coming weekend.  Batch 3 and 4 were brewed on same day and experimentally mixed and matched a little when bottling, and also used both plastic Mr Beer bottles and glass bottles (12oz, 22oz).  Either way, it's interesting to experiment with, but I needed to move up to the really good stuff ASAP. 

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

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

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

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

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

thanks. 

al

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 01:09:52 PM »
Also, comments on how to crush the crystal malt would be helpful.  It says a rolling pin or heavy bottle, I presume on a cutting board?  Sanitization of the cutting board an issue? 

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

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

I won't be starting my first batch until I'm quite certain of all these things!  Thanks!!

Offline tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 02:14:13 PM »
You could use a rolling pin to crush the grains.  Been there, done that, hope to never do it again.  Or you could try pulsing them in a food processor.

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

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

Otherwise I'd say you're good to go.  Each brew is a learning experience.
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 02:32:35 PM »
I have a fan in the closet to keep the wort cooled.  I am thinking of experimenting with a fermenter full of water before next weekend's brew date to make sure the wort stays within the necessary temperature range.  I know the fermentation will give off a little heat and the fermenting wort might be a few degrees higher than ambient room temperature, but I should be able to keep it within the desired range.

Thanks for the advice.  I may be being a little picky but I'd rather be overly cautious than not enough on my first batch.  There's no real hurry to get it brewed and I want it to come out good!

Offline repo

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 326
  • San Diego CA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2012, 03:26:43 PM »
How to Brew is a great reference, read over the sections pertaining to your intended method a few times. You gotta brew it to really learn it. But here are some quick answers for you, btw don't know how big your kettle is. But smash that grain however you can while keeping it somewhat intact(you dont want flower, but you want the husk broken open). The plastic bag method keeps it in an easier to contain smashable object so you can easily pour it into your mesh bag. Tie it shut and steep that pound in 3/4 gallon h2o, shoot for 160 but must stay between 150-170, for 1/2 hour then remove bag draining it without really squeezing it. Add it to 2plus gallons water for your boil(don't know your brewpot size). Bring to boil remove form heat and stir in 1 can extract and dme, thoroughly dissolve and return to heat and regain boil. Note soak that liquid extract in hot/warm water to make it easier to remove from can- extracts make a sticky mess. Be on top of your pot as it begins to reboiol as you'll need to stir like mad as the hot break occurs and foams over your stove with a sticky mess. A minute or so and this subsides then I would add your first hop addition and begin your 60 minute boil. Add that last can of extract at end of 60 minutesand stir in removed from heat, then cool however you can to pitching temp.(Now take a gravity reading-use the tube  hte hydrometer came with.)  Which should be in yeasts range and in the range you will keep it in. Pour it into carboy vigorously and shake it up some this will be enough aeration. Then add the yeast. Do not transfer it to secondary(fiddle with that in later batches if you want). In 14 days or so you'll be ready to bottle take a gravity reading from beer as you rack it to bottling bucket(bucket will priming sugar at room temp in it and will mix in during transfer. Boil 2 cups h20 and priming sugar then cool to room temp. Anything in contact with wort after boil must be sanitized. Avoid aeration  or oxygen exposure after fermentation begins. These are basic instructions ot help you get thru 1st batch. Good Luck, you will learn with every batch. I'm sure I missed something..

Offline jeffy

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2881
  • Tampa, Fl
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2012, 03:28:55 PM »
Also, comments on how to crush the crystal malt would be helpful.  It says a rolling pin or heavy bottle, I presume on a cutting board?  Sanitization of the cutting board an issue? 

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

Doesn't your homebrew supply shop have a gain mill?
Using a rolling pin would take a lot of pressure or strength to get a good crush, but if you had a very thin layer of grain ou could get it done.  No need to sanitize anything before the boil.  It only gets critical afterwards.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2012, 03:35:48 PM »
Thanks Repo, those are precisely the details I was lacking on to get it done today.  I will mark this thread and be brewing this coming saturday, will report back.  14 days fermentation time is perfect as weekend days are best for me to work with brewing.

Thanks Man!!

ETA: Jeffy, no I don't have a grain mill, lol.  Will be doing it the hard way on the first batch.  I think I understand how much they need to be broken up to work properly without being too crushed up.  I'm a long way from STL where I got the supplies and likely won't get back there for at least 4 weeks or more.  Will wing it on the grain crushing for the first batch.  Won't worry about sanitation before the boil but won't be a slob about it either!

Offline repo

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 326
  • San Diego CA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2012, 03:51:55 PM »
Let me note that santitation is extremely important. Let me note that sanitation is extremely important and everything needs to be clean. The boil is sanitizing but anything you touch after that must be sanitized. 14 days is very general, sanitarily siphon some beer back to back days (maybe 12 and 13) and make sure there has been no change in gravity this insures fermentation is over- exploding bottles would be highly probable if it were not complete prior to bottling.

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2012, 03:55:35 PM »
Let me note that santitation is extremely important. Let me note that sanitation is extremely important and everything needs to be clean. The boil is sanitizing but anything you touch after that must be sanitized. 14 days is very general, sanitarily siphon some beer back to back days (maybe 12 and 13) and make sure there has been no change in gravity this insures fermentation is over- exploding bottles would be highly probable if it were not complete prior to bottling.

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

And yes, sanitation will be my highest priority.  It seems it's about "72%" of brewing according to most sources, but 100% if you get it wrong  ;D

Offline repo

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 326
  • San Diego CA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2012, 04:10:46 PM »
You got it, if you like washing dishes you might like homebrewing. :) Also I forgot to mention to boil the water you need to top off with and store in sanitized container till you need it. Do it a day or two before and it will be cooled nicely. Also leave behind the trub/yeast/hop matter on bottom of fermenter when siphoning out.

Offline garc_mall

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 852
  • [1892.9, 294.9deg] AR Lynnwood, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2012, 04:23:49 PM »
I agree with what everyone said so far, my 2 cents are:

 - Make sure you really get that wort moving when you are aerating. I usually plug the hole and pickup the carboy and really shake it good, foaming it up as much as I can.
 - Don't pitch the yeast until it is under 70. someone else posted this as well, but I feel like it needs to be emphasized.
 - When I topped off, I refrigerated my (boiled and cooled) water a couple hours before I started the brew, because it dropped the temperature of the wort from 90-100 down to 60-70. Those last 30 or so degrees are the hardest to get down.
 - Beating crystal malt with a rolling pin is a pain, I would recommend using the grain mill at the LHBS for the next batches. If you don't have a store that is close, you might be better off buying a grain mill for your home use.
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline dzlater

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 425
  • Dan S. New Jersey
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2012, 05:15:13 PM »
I "milled" some grains once by putting them in a plastic bag and then beat them with a small sledge hammer.
kind of, sort of worked.   :o
Dan S. from NJ

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2012, 06:11:48 PM »
Thanks for all the replies.  Fantastically, I've found an all-grain brewer who's experienced and is going to brew a batch with me this sunday.  I will learn a lot and also get to brew my first batch that day too (he's going to help me).  I will report and let everyone know how it went, and later, how the beer turned out!

Offline alcaponejunior

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Latest creation: Big Smash Saturday
    • View Profile
    • alcaponejunior.wordpress.com
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2012, 07:28:55 AM »
Here is the recipe and story of brew day with Old Guy from the garage brewers.  I learned a lot!  I postponed my first batch of extract till this one is done fermenting and bottled. 

Al's Celebration Ale

http://alcaponejunior.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/als-celebration-ale/

Offline garc_mall

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 852
  • [1892.9, 294.9deg] AR Lynnwood, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Questions on my first batch, 5 gallon kit
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2012, 10:57:39 AM »
I would recommend starting the next batch sooner. It is amazing how fast good Homebrew goes.
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison