Author Topic: A few newbie questions  (Read 4423 times)

Offline anje

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A few newbie questions
« on: January 06, 2012, 10:58:24 AM »
I'm new and planning to cook my first batch of beer tomorrow, and I hope/believe I have everything I need.  (The kit came with an O2-based cleanser but no sanitizer, so my hubby's supposed to bring some Star-San on his way home, since he has a local homebrew shop near his apartment and my nearest is an hour away.)  Batch 1 is an extract-based Old Speckled Hen clone with some crystal malts that I'll need to boil and un-hopped syrup.

1)  I'm planning on using Wally-world "drinking water" for brewing, since the local water is chloraminated and tastes a bit weird. I see conflicting information -- Do I want to boil the first few gallons that go into my fermenter, or am I safe to dump them in cold and trust that they're sufficiently clean to just pour in before adding my boiled wort?

2)  What's the best way to sanitize? How much can I rely on a spray bottle of Star-San solution and how much do I really need to soak?

Working ahead...
3)  I have 2 cases of 22 oz bottles which I plan to supplement with some used 12 oz ones.  Do I have to worry about amounts of priming sugar given the different bottle sizes, or should that be OK?

4)  What's this I've read about bottling into a few pop bottles to assess carbonation?

5)  What's the best procedure to sanitize all those bottles?  Due to funky water, the dishwasher has a rinse agent in it, so that's out. Do I fill the bathtub with sanitizer solution? Am I better off just capping them all with foil and borrowing my lab's autoclave?
<-- microbiologist brewster n00b.

Hops and toothpaste don't mix.

Offline euge

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 11:09:41 AM »
I'm new and planning to cook my first batch of beer tomorrow, and I hope/believe I have everything I need.  (The kit came with an O2-based cleanser but no sanitizer, so my hubby's supposed to bring some Star-San on his way home, since he has a local homebrew shop near his apartment and my nearest is an hour away.)  Batch 1 is an extract-based Old Speckled Hen clone with some crystal malts that I'll need to boil and un-hopped syrup.

1)  I'm planning on using Wally-world "drinking water" for brewing, since the local water is chloraminated and tastes a bit weird. I see conflicting information -- Do I want to boil the first few gallons that go into my fermenter, or am I safe to dump them in cold and trust that they're sufficiently clean to just pour in before adding my boiled wort?

I do this all the time.

2)  What's the best way to sanitize? How much can I rely on a spray bottle of Star-San solution and how much do I really need to soak?

Very good choice. One minute contact time for all your sanitizing needs.

Working ahead...
3)  I have 2 cases of 22 oz bottles which I plan to supplement with some used 12 oz ones.  Do I have to worry about amounts of priming sugar given the different bottle sizes, or should that be OK?

Mix the sugar into the beer well and it doesn't matter about bottle size unless you have extremely high volumes of carbonation.


4)  What's this I've read about bottling into a few pop bottles to assess carbonation?

I don't bother since most bottles are fully carbonated in three days.

5)  What's the best procedure to sanitize all those bottles?  Due to funky water, the dishwasher has a rinse agent in it, so that's out. Do I fill the bathtub with sanitizer solution? Am I better off just capping them all with foil and borrowing my lab's autoclave?

Get two buckets. Starsan in one- dunk the bottles in and drain. Then place upside down to further drain in the other bucket and stack the bottles concentrically. until you can't fit any more in.


Good luck welcome to the obsession... er, hobby.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 11:23:09 AM »
you can also clean the bottles well and then stack them in the oven the night before bottling and bake @ 350* for about 20 minutes and leave them in there till you are ready to bottle. you might lose one but I figure that one was weak anyway and might have busted with beer in.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 11:26:27 AM »
Just to add to what euge said:

Batch 1 is an extract-based Old Speckled Hen clone with some crystal malts that I'll need to boil and un-hopped syrup.
If the instructions actually say to boil the crystal malts, throw them away right now!  Steep the crystal between 150 and 170F for 20-30 minutes or so.  We can talk you through the rest of it, let us know.

4)  What's this I've read about bottling into a few pop bottles to assess carbonation?
It's just a test so you know when the rest of the bottles should be carbonated.  Occasionally useful for diagnosis, but not required.

If the instructions tell you to rack to secondary, ignore it.  Leave it in primary for 2-3 weeks, then bottle.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 11:27:25 AM »
you can also clean the bottles well and then stack them in the oven the night before bottling and bake @ 350* for about 20 minutes and leave them in there till you are ready to bottle. you might lose one but I figure that one was weak anyway and might have busted with beer in.
If you do this, put them in a cool oven and let them come to temp along with the oven.  Cool them the same way, just turn the oven off and walk away.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 11:29:23 AM »
you can also clean the bottles well and then stack them in the oven the night before bottling and bake @ 350* for about 20 minutes and leave them in there till you are ready to bottle. you might lose one but I figure that one was weak anyway and might have busted with beer in.
If you do this, put them in a cool oven and let them come to temp along with the oven.  Cool them the same way, just turn the oven off and walk away.

right, what he said
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 11:31:43 AM »
you can also clean the bottles well and then stack them in the oven the night before bottling and bake @ 350* for about 20 minutes and leave them in there till you are ready to bottle. you might lose one but I figure that one was weak anyway and might have busted with beer in.
If you do this, put them in a cool oven and let them come to temp along with the oven.  Cool them the same way, just turn the oven off and walk away.

right, what he said
I knew you knew that, but wasn't sure the OP did ;)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline anje

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 11:34:06 AM »
Just to add to what euge said:

Batch 1 is an extract-based Old Speckled Hen clone with some crystal malts that I'll need to boil and un-hopped syrup.
If the instructions actually say to boil the crystal malts, throw them away right now!  Steep the crystal between 150 and 170F for 20-30 minutes or so.  We can talk you through the rest of it, let us know.
The instructions actually say to keep it under 160F. Kit came from Listermann in Cincinnati, so I'm hoping they know their stuff and have a high enough turnover that everything's good.

Another question (I keep coming up with these...)
The instructions do say to dump the dry yeast (I only got one packet...) directly on the cooled wort.  Should I follow these, or am I better off rehydrating the yeast first?  
<-- microbiologist brewster n00b.

Hops and toothpaste don't mix.

Offline euge

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 11:37:06 AM »
Rehydrate my friend!
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline anje

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 11:41:06 AM »
In that case, some rehydration instructions suggest giving the yeast a bit of a sugar solution after they've rehydrated for a few minutes, others just say to use boiled/cooled water.  I'm not quite clear on what the circumstances are surrounding this -- are the instructions to give the yeast some food just there for when it's taking the wort forever to cool?

Yet another question (I told you, I'm full of them!)
Do I need gloves for handling the diluted Star-San?

By day I'm a microbiology grad student, so I'm probably used to handling more caustic stuff and needing a higher level of sanitation that is required here.  I'm obsessing about whether I need to disinfect the floor of the bathroom where I'm doing the fermentations...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 11:43:47 AM by anje »
<-- microbiologist brewster n00b.

Hops and toothpaste don't mix.

Offline thetooth

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 11:42:29 AM »
Re-hydrating is preferred, but I've just poured it on top plenty of times with no issues.

Offline euge

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2012, 11:46:10 AM »
In that case, some rehydration instructions suggest giving the yeast a bit of a sugar solution after they've rehydrated for a few minutes, others just say to use boiled/cooled water.  I'm not quite clear on what the circumstances are surrounding this -- are the instructions to give the yeast some food just there for when it's taking the wort forever to cool?

Use normal tap water- about 150ml. I place in pyrex measuring cup, cover with cling-rap, poke small hole in it and microwave for 3-5 minutes. Then let cool to 85. Sprinkle yeast on this- after 10 minutes stir it in and leave for another 5 minutes. Then pitch directly into fermenter.

You will get much better results this way than just sprinkling the package on top of the wort.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline garc_mall

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2012, 11:47:59 AM »
In that case, some rehydration instructions suggest giving the yeast a bit of a sugar solution after they've rehydrated for a few minutes, others just say to use boiled/cooled water.  I'm not quite clear on what the circumstances are surrounding this -- are the instructions to give the yeast some food just there for when it's taking the wort forever to cool?

I have never had an issue just rehydrating, and adding to the wort. I usually wait until the wort is cool and in the fermenter before rehydrating though.

Yet another question (I told you, I'm full of them!)
Do I need gloves for handling the diluted Star-San?

No

By day I'm a microbiology grad student, so I'm probably used to handling more caustic stuff and needing a higher level of sanitation that is required here.  I'm obsessing about whether I need to disinfect the floor of the bathroom where I'm doing the fermentations...

Nope, the airlock will keep you safe there.

In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline anje

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2012, 11:49:16 AM »
Use normal tap water- about 150ml. I place in pyrex measuring cup, cover with cling-rap, poke small hole in it and microwave for 3-5 minutes. Then let cool to 85. Sprinkle yeast on this- after 10 minutes stir it in and leave for another 5 minutes. Then pitch directly into fermenter.

You will get much better results this way than just sprinkling the package on top of the wort.
Cool.  My regular tap water (mistyped that as "whater," which is rather descriptive given the flavor) is chloraminated, though.  I'm afraid it might kill the yeast.
<-- microbiologist brewster n00b.

Hops and toothpaste don't mix.

Offline jiggs26.2

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Re: A few newbie questions
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2012, 11:52:10 AM »
I've just poured it on top plenty of times with no issues.

+1
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 12:10:01 PM by jiggs26.2 »
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