Author Topic: Also new to brewing, question about bittering  (Read 802 times)

Offline goudron

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Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:33:30 PM »
I'm waiting to get paid to buy a kettle bigger than the 8 qt stock pot I have on hand, and I'm reading up.  I have a few questions.

1. I've been reading through "How to Brew" and it's definitely more enlightening than other references, but I got to section 5.4, hops measurement, and it says:
Quote
The gravity of the boil is significant because the higher the malt sugar content of a wort, the less room there is for isomerized alpha acids.

So why don't we boil the water and add hops while gravity is low, boil X amount of time before adding extract?  If the hops would make everything way too bitter, couldn't you just use less hops?  I'm assuming there's a good reason why everyone doesn't do this.

Next, I've read all about how secondary fermentation is not usually necessary, but I also have the 5 gallon glass carboy (feels like I ought to shove a u into that word) with my Christmas kit.  I like to experiment with variables, so what I'd *like* to do with my first batch is this: ferment 5 gallons in primary until the airlock slows down.  Then bottle a few, rack 1/2 of the remainder in a secondary fermentor, and leave the rest to sit in primary.  I also read though that lots of headspace in secondary may be a problem, and I suppose the same may be true of primary?  My intent would be to bottle from both primary and secondary the same day a week or so later.

2. is this just asking for trouble, and assuming it is, how much trouble?

3. My basement is around 60 F - is that too cold to condition beer after bottling?  Everything says 65-75, preferably the low end, but what happens when it's too low?  Takes longer to finish?

Offline garc_mall

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Re: Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 10:00:56 PM »
I'm waiting to get paid to buy a kettle bigger than the 8 qt stock pot I have on hand, and I'm reading up.  I have a few questions.

My recommendation is to get a turkey fryer, which should come with a 30QT pot, thats what I use, and now I am looking to upgrade to a 40 or 60 QT pot.

1. I've been reading through "How to Brew" and it's definitely more enlightening than other references, but I got to section 5.4, hops measurement, and it says:
Quote
The gravity of the boil is significant because the higher the malt sugar content of a wort, the less room there is for isomerized alpha acids.

So why don't we boil the water and add hops while gravity is low, boil X amount of time before adding extract?  If the hops would make everything way too bitter, couldn't you just use less hops?  I'm assuming there's a good reason why everyone doesn't do this.

There has been some evidence that adding hops to boiling water extracts a vegetal(sp?) flavor which is noticeable. I have not tried this on my own though.

Next, I've read all about how secondary fermentation is not usually necessary, but I also have the 5 gallon glass carboy (feels like I ought to shove a u into that word) with my Christmas kit.  I like to experiment with variables, so what I'd *like* to do with my first batch is this: ferment 5 gallons in primary until the airlock slows down.  Then bottle a few, rack 1/2 of the remainder in a secondary fermentor, and leave the rest to sit in primary.  I also read though that lots of headspace in secondary may be a problem, and I suppose the same may be true of primary?  My intent would be to bottle from both primary and secondary the same day a week or so later.

Biggest problem with alot of headspace is that you will introduce oxygen and that can cause staling of the beer. If you do this as you are planning, you will probably not notice the difference. This is the reason that secondary is usually recommended against. It doesn't really offer any benefit, and the possibility of introducing oxygen or wild yeast/bacteria is an issue.

2. is this just asking for trouble, and assuming it is, how much trouble?

3. My basement is around 60 F - is that too cold to condition beer after bottling?  Everything says 65-75, preferably the low end, but what happens when it's too low?  Takes longer to finish?

If the beer gets too cold, the yeast will fall out of solution without fermenting the priming sugar. I doubt 60 F would be low enough for that, but it would take a bit longer to carbonate properly.

Last but certainly not least, welcome to the obsession.
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline euge

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Re: Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2012, 12:48:21 AM »
I have no personal experience with the "hop tea" but reputable homebrewers who've tried it say vegetal. That means cooked cabbage, broccoli etc.

Skip the secondary. Trouble? More like a waste of time and there is the "potential" for problems. It's a tool you use at appropriate times.

A good procedure is to let your ales sit in primary for at least 10 days. Often I'll go three weeks. Just concentrate on making consistent drinkable beer then worry about experimenting when you've gathered some experience.

If you can, bring the bottles into a warmer area. Also if your basement stays that cool year round then you are a lucky man. :) However your beers will take longer to be ready. But the rewards are worth the patience!
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline brushvalleybrewer

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Re: Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2012, 05:12:35 AM »
Some extract brewers add a small portion of their extract at the beginning of the boil so that they establish a low boil gravity, but not so low that they extract the vegetal hop flavors that garc_mall referred to. This lets them get better hop utilization than they would in a concentrated boil as well as reducing kettle caramelization. The remainder of the extract is added before the end of the boil, just long enough to pasteurize it.
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Offline goudron

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Re: Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2012, 05:28:32 PM »
Thanks for all of the good advice.  Not sure I will go through with the experimentation on the first batch.  Kind of impatient though.

Offline garc_mall

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Re: Also new to brewing, question about bittering
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2012, 10:35:55 PM »
Thanks for all of the good advice.  Not sure I will go through with the experimentation on the first batch.  Kind of impatient though.

Best remedy for impatience: Brew another batch!
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison