Author Topic: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry  (Read 1791 times)

Offline doubledown11

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Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« on: August 05, 2013, 06:40:34 AM »
Hi everyone-

Just joined the AHA and ready to brew my first batch. Purchased the True Brew start-up kit as well as the ingredients for their Double IPA.

I'd appreciate any advice or feedback you'd be willing to offer...with a newborn at home, it'll be tough to get out and grab my favorite brews so I might as well bring the brewery to me.

Look forward to meeting all of you.

Jayson

Offline In The Sand

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 06:54:30 AM »
Best decision you will ever make. My advice would be to start as big as you can. Get to know your equipment and brew as often as you can. Make sure you have a couple of refrigerators. Other than that, it's mostly just trial and error (hopefully minimal error).
Trey W.

Offline thebigbaker

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2013, 07:07:14 AM »
Congrats and welcome to the obsession!  I too started homebrewing after my daughter was born. 

I think two of the main items to keep an eye on as a beginner is sanitation and fermentation temps.  Try to pick the coolest part of the house to ferment your beer.  There are many ways to keep your fermenting beer at the ideal temps.  My first brew I didn't pay close attention to the fermenting temps and it got way too high (mid 80's).   Most ale yeast is best to keep below 70 degrees and I like to ferment most of my ales in the low-mid 60's.

Also, many beer kit instructions will tell you to transfer your beer from your primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter after two weeks or so.  You can skip this step and just leave the beer in your primary fermenter for about 3-4 weeks before bottling/kegging your beer. 

Feel free to ask and post any questions you have as there is a wealth of knowledge and experience from the members of this board.  Good luck and have fun!
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Offline doubledown11

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 07:15:16 AM »
Thanks so much for the feedback- I do have a quick question. The equipment kit came with small packets of CBrite cleanser (which I'm assuming is for cleanup). I'd like to start the sanitizing process today...is there a product you'd recommend for the stainless steel brew kettle and plastic fermenters?

Thanks!

Offline hokerer

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2013, 07:19:01 AM »
Thanks so much for the feedback- I do have a quick question. The equipment kit came with small packets of CBrite cleanser (which I'm assuming is for cleanup). I'd like to start the sanitizing process today...is there a product you'd recommend for the stainless steel brew kettle and plastic fermenters?

Thanks!

Personally, I love Starsan as my sanitizer
Joe

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 07:55:21 AM »
Thanks so much for the feedback- I do have a quick question. The equipment kit came with small packets of CBrite cleanser (which I'm assuming is for cleanup). I'd like to start the sanitizing process today...is there a product you'd recommend for the stainless steel brew kettle and plastic fermenters?

Thanks!

no need to sanitize your kettle. plastic fermenters get star san or idophore or similar. don't sanitize too far in advance of brew day because it doesn't stay sanitary for long.

I'm not familiar with CBrite but if you look at the package instructions it should be fairly clear. you will need that after the brew day to clean up your kettle and after the batch is fermented to clean out your fermenters. It's like oxiclean so you mix it with hot water and soak/scrub. Be gentle with plastic because it scratches and becomes difficult to sanitize in the future.

all that being said, I am of the somewhat heretical opinion that, short of blatant disregard for common sense, sanitation is less important than temperature control. Figure that part out now.

Sanitation is easy, clean everything so it LOOKS clean, hit with a good cleanser CBRite, PBW, oxi-clean, whatever. and a good sanitizer and your done. but even without these steps, you can make great beer. it just might not stay great for long.

Without good temp control it's hard to make great beer. So look at your home environment. Where will you be keeping this beer while it ferments? It wants to be dark and the temp wants to be steady. If the temp is steady in the low-mid 60's then you are golden. if it's in the 70's you can still be okay with a big tub of water and some ice or even a simple swamp cooler (little tray of water with a cotton towel or shirt that covers the fermenter and sits in the water).

If, like me you live somewhere with stupid hot summers and no AC, and have ambient temps that swing wildly from the low 100's to the mid 50s day to night, you use a fridge with a temp controller or you ferment saisons exclusively.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline doubledown11

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2013, 08:04:37 AM »
Wow...you are all so generous with your insight. We'll be fermenting in a dark utility closet that stays in the mid 60's pretty much all day and night so we should be OK there.

Online theDarkSide

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2013, 08:19:46 AM »
Dark closets are good.  The ferment will raise the temperature but you should be fine.

Good for you starting this hobby with a newborn.  Several of the veteran homebrewers disappear for years after there is a child in the house.

For sanitation, I personally think star san is the best.  Colorless and odorless, unlike iodophor (basically iodine).  Check out some local homebrew clubs too.  There are a great source of information and it's nice to get out of the house at least once a month.  Usually, there are varying levels of homebrewing skills, so don't be shy about be a beginner.

Read up on homebrewing, ask questions here or other forums, and most importantly, BREW.  The best way to learn is brew often, learn your system, learn from mistakes and maybe develop your own techniques.

Welcome to the obsession!
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Online Steve in TX

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2013, 08:26:47 AM »
+1 for StarSan.

Don't fear the foam! If made with RO or DI water, and stored in a bucket with a tight lid, a batch of StarSan can last for months. I use mine until I spill enough that it is too shallow to sanitize a 22oz bottle.

Offline doubledown11

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2013, 06:21:08 AM »
Well, just brewed the maiden batch yesterday and I'm already starting to see bubbles.

We have to add another round of hop pellets in a couple days, except the kit gave us an extra cascade packet instead of an Amarillo...will that kill the recipe if I dry hop with 2 cascades instead of a cascade and Amarillo?

Offline duboman

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2013, 06:31:16 AM »
Well, just brewed the maiden batch yesterday and I'm already starting to see bubbles.

We have to add another round of hop pellets in a couple days, except the kit gave us an extra cascade packet instead of an Amarillo...will that kill the recipe if I dry hop with 2 cascades instead of a cascade and Amarillo?

Cascade instead of Amarillo should not be a big deal to swap and congratulations on getting started! If yo find the temperature rising you can place the fermenter in a large tub of water to help regulate and maintain the temp. You can also add frozen water bottles to the water if you need to bring the temperature down (This is known as a swamp cooler).

As for dry hopping-be sure to not rush the beer! Many directions have you follow a calendar type schedule and yeast really don't work that way. Ideally let the beer ferment for about 10 days to not only reach final gravity but also to begin clearing. Don't worry if the airlock stops bubbling, this is normal as active fermentation dies down. At about day 10 open the vessel and take a gravity reading, then two days later, take another. If the two readings are the same the beer is done and you can begin dry hopping, then package!

Cheers!
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Offline doubledown11

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2013, 07:02:46 AM »
Great feedback...thanks. Quick question: I'm fermenting in a plastic carboy- what's the best way to take a gravity reading without making a mess/disrupting the process? Thanks!

Offline In The Sand

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2013, 07:10:55 AM »
Great feedback...thanks. Quick question: I'm fermenting in a plastic carboy- what's the best way to take a gravity reading without making a mess/disrupting the process? Thanks!

I use a turkey baster.  Make sure it's sanitized before you plop it down in your beer.  Try not to stir the beer up either, so as not to oxidize. 
Trey W.

Offline doubledown11

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2013, 07:25:35 AM »
That's brilliant..thanks!

Online theDarkSide

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Re: Popping My Homebrewing Cherry
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2013, 08:02:31 AM »
Great feedback...thanks. Quick question: I'm fermenting in a plastic carboy- what's the best way to take a gravity reading without making a mess/disrupting the process? Thanks!

I use a turkey baster.  Make sure it's sanitized before you plop it down in your beer.  Try not to stir the beer up either, so as not to oxidize.

Same here.  Those little pipettes are a pain to get in to get a sample.  And with the turkey baster, you have a little left over to sample the beer (I use a refractometer for my gravity readings so I don't need a lot)
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