Author Topic: First attempt.....  (Read 4912 times)

Offline smthgfshy

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First attempt.....
« on: December 21, 2010, 12:57:41 PM »
Hello boys and girls!!  As you can see this is my first post and you won't be an asshole if you assume that I'm new to brewing.  I've been enjoying "quality" beers for a little over a year now and as my midsection and appreciation for good beers has expanded, my thirst to try new styles has not been quenched.  Just about a month ago my girlfriend gave me a homebrew kit (2 carboys) for my b-day.  I read Papizan's book and made the canned beer/extract kit that came with it.  I've yet to taste the results as I'm away from home currently visiting the relatives, etc...  My beer hasn't been the only thing fermenting and conditioning in the last month.....my mind and taste buds are going crazy thinking of what to brew next.  This is where the collective wisdom of the beer drinking cyberweb of the AHA gets pitched.....

I've decided, for my second only brew (first partial/mini mash), to brew an imperial red IPA.  I tried to find (and found) recipes for Shark Attack, Lagunitas, Hop Head Red, etc....  I found myself confused not from too much homebrew, but, obviously, from a lack of it.  I found this recipe for an imperial red:

Mini Mash- 2.5 lbs Munich
.5 lbs Crystal 120
.75 lbs Crystal 60
.25 lbs Chocolate
6 lbs Pale LME
3.15 lbs Munich LME
Hops: 1 oz Pacific Gem @ 60 (16% AAU)
2 oz Whole leaf Cascade @ 30
2 oz Whole leaf Cascade @ 5
Dry Hop: 2 oz Whole Leaf Cascade
Yeast: 1056 American Ale

...but decided to add . 5 lbs of rye malt, substitute the 3.15 lbs of Munich LME with 3 lbs of Wheat Malt extract, use 1oz of Chinook hops instead of the Pacific Gem, reduce the amount of chocolate malt, and use 1 oz of Amarillo too.  Here's the new recipe that I'm thinking of:

Mini Mash- 2.5 lbs Munich
.5 lbs Crystal 120
.75 lbs Crystal 60
.5 lbs rye
.125 lbs Chocolate
6 lbs Pale LME
3 lbs Wheat Malt extract
1 oz Chinook @ 60 (pellet)
1 oz Amarillo @ 60 (pellet)
2 oz Cascade @ 30 (pellet)
2 oz Cascade @ 5 (pellet)
Dry Hop: 2 oz Whole Leaf Cascade
Yeast: 1056 American Ale
1 oz Irish Moss

....so what's next...????  Where do I go from here?  How the heck do I not waste $80 of ingredients?  Yes, I've read Papizan's appropriate sections and I'm still nervous....(need another homebrew I guess).  What suggestions do you have?  I've never done a partial mash...steeping grains, never added hops, never had to hold temperatures, never dry hopped.  No longer do I want to be on the consumer side of homebrew.....I want to produce!!!  Go big or go home.  The woman at the register scoffed at my experience and hacked a very sarcastic "good luck" as I walked out.  She'll never know.  Help me make it great!!

How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt? 
What temp should I steep at?
How many grain bags should I use?
Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time?
Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times? 
I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?

I'm a complete NOOB!!!  I know, I know.  And I'll re-read my books (Papizan & Palmer) again before starting this batch.  I'm sure most of these questions have been addressed here....and yes I've read the 101 section...but I want your opinions and suggestions boys and girls...ladies and gents....fellow zymurgists. 

Thank you!!!!

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 03:06:48 PM »
My best piece of advice would be to keep a note book with detailed notes of each brewing session.  As you learn, you'll change certain elements of your approach.  You'll also learn that what works for others may not work for you.  Which is fine.

Fermentation and conditioning temps are important.  There're simple ways to control them, such as a swamp cooler.

Dry hops are best in the secondary or, if you prefer not to use a secondary, are best added after fermentation stops and the beer is clearing.

Lots of people add extract late.  Or you can add it early.  The longer extract boils the more it caramelizes and the darker your beer will get.  Degree if difference I do not know.

I use a bag for my pellet hops.  The fine mesh job with a draw string.  Or a nylon can work.  Muslin bags are too loose in the weave for my taste.

Transfer to secondary (or don't, there are solid arguments against transferring to secondary and you can find interesting discussions on this forum) when fermentation has stopped (use your hydrometer).  Bottle when the beer has cleared sufficiently.  IMO there are no set time frames.

Hops go in at different times depending on the recipe.  Early in the boil for bittering, late for aroma.  This should be in Charlie's book.

Welcome!  Have fun. Relax.

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Offline ipaguy

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 03:08:57 PM »
Just my $0.02.  

How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt?
About 6 quarts 
What temp should I steep at?
152F sounds good
How many grain bags should I use?
as many as it takes
Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
yes. 6 qt @ 170F
When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
opinions vary. I add mine for a full 60 min boil
Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
I don't use grain bags with pellets but leave them in the kettle w/ the hot & cold break
How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
when fermentation is done. leaving beer in primary for a week or so extra doesn't hurt. many feel that a secondary is unnecessary
How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
if you are dry hopping into the secondary, a week after dry hopping is about right
Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time? when transfering to the secondary
Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times?
not sure. I'd have to run it through ProMash and see what your IBUs look like 
I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
about the last 15 - 20 min of the boil.  rehydrate with a little water B4 adding
Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
WYeast recommends 60 - 72F fermentation temp for 1056.  If you can hold temp around 60-62F you should get a really clean fermentation.

For a big beer like this you should probably be doing a starter

Primary: gotlandsdricke/alt/dunkel hybrid
Secondary: pale barleywine,
Bottled:  Gotlandsdricke
               Oatmeal/blackberry stout
               Honey Kolsch

Offline majorvices

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 06:11:06 PM »
As you can see this is my first post and you won't be an asshole if you assume that I'm new to brewing.

No need to assume that. We are a friendly group (and not a bunch of teenagers, neither.  ;) ). Welcome to the forum.
Keith Y.

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Offline oscarvan

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 10:49:05 PM »
I applaud your courage. Me, I've been brewing partial mash kits, and am now getting ready to go All Grain, but still with recipes. When the science becomes more routine, I will start getting more creative.
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I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline euge

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 11:45:40 PM »
Welcome smthgfshy (something fishy?) to the AHA forum.

All good questions that can be fleshed out as experience grows. Go ahead with the recipe. What you'll actually be doing is steeping- not really a mini or partial mash. The steep is something you can do in one grain bag. Think dunking a tea-bag.

The woman at the register scoffed at my experience and hacked a very sarcastic "good luck" as I walked out.  She'll never know.  Help me make it great!!


And for the store clerk scoffing at you? Is it the LHBS? That would be the last time spending any money there for me. And the owner would know about it. Or is it your local beerstore? Well now you have the means for revenge. Never spend a dime in there again! No longer relevant in the beer picture. Tada.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 03:08:00 AM »
Damn, you ask a lot of questions! :)

>How much water do I use when steeping almost 4.5 lbs of malt? 
Whatever.  6 or 8 quarts if fine.  Don't worry too much.

>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.

>How many grain bags should I use?
Yeah, as many as it takes.  How big are the bags? :)

>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

>When should I add the extract?  How much? Which types?
If it's a full boil, add the full amount of extract at the beginning.  If it's less than a full boil, add less extract and add the rest with ~15 minutes left.  Or add it all in the beginning, it'll be fine.

>Should I use a bag for the hops or let them go into the primary fermenter?
Your call, there's no right answer.

>How do I know when to transfer (siphon) the beer into the secondary?
When the gravity is roughly where you expect it to be and is stable for 3 days, rack it to secondary.

>How do I know when to bottle (rack)?
Dry hop for 3 - 14 days typically, bottle after that.  Taste it and decide when it tastes the way you want it to.  It might be hard to know since it will be warm and flat, but you've got to learn at some point to predict the final flavor of the beer based in how it tastes in the carboy.

>Do I add the dry hops when transfering into the secondary or do I steep them and add to the wort with sugar at bottling time?
In secondary.   Not at bottling, although that could be an interesting experiment.

>Should I add the hops in a different order and/or boil for different times? 
I boil with whole hops and dry hop with pellets, I find it easier on my system but yours might be different.  And I think pellets give me better dry hop flavors and aromas than whole hops.  Your hop schedule seems fine otherwise, you'll have to taste it and decide how/if to tweak it based on how you want it to taste.

>I've also got Irish Moss.  When should I add this?
Last 15 minutes of the boil.  I've never heard of rehydrating Irish moss though. :-\  And an ounce is WAY too much, try a tsp instead.

>Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
Yes.  Ferment on the low end and you'll probably like it better.  Don't let it hit 70F if you can help it.

Let us know how the batch turns out.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline hokerer

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 06:39:14 AM »

>Should I ferment/condition at certain temps?
Yes.  Ferment on the low end and you'll probably like it better.  Don't let it hit 70F if you can help it.

And, just so you know, the 70F is not the air temp where the fermenter is but rather it's the actual temp of the fermenting wort.  Fermentation generates its own heat so the wort temp can be 5-10F higher than the air.
Joe

Offline ipaguy

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 08:39:12 AM »

...
>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.
...
>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

If I'm reading the OP's modified recipe right it looks like he's got 2.5 lbs of Munich malt in his grain bill in addition to the 0.5 lbs. of rye malt.  That sound like enough to justify doing a true mini-mash & sparge.  I would suggest that if he wants to make things a little easier on himself he could reformulate his recipe to use more of the Munich LME and use crystal rye rather than rye malt.  Then it's just a matter of steeping in a fairly small grain bag.  There should be no shame involved in doing extract w/ steeping grains rather than a mini-mash.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 08:53:22 AM by ipaguy »
Primary: gotlandsdricke/alt/dunkel hybrid
Secondary: pale barleywine,
Bottled:  Gotlandsdricke
               Oatmeal/blackberry stout
               Honey Kolsch

Offline smthgfshy

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2010, 11:22:04 AM »
Holy hops batman!!  the responses have been great!!  Ok, so, I won't worry about it and try to follow all the suggestions that have been illuminated.  These have, of course lead to a further set of questions such as:

What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep? 
What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?
Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?
What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?
How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing) 

and, yes, I was scoffed at for attempting this beer as my second ever batch.  this was a homebrew store in northern VT.  I'd still go there, as they were helpful piecing together the recipe.  Although the real info I was after was more along the lines of "should I add the rye or wheat extract?", "what hops do you recommend?", "is going to be heavy/light or too complex/simple?". 

the steeping method seems best for me at this time....living in a tiny (500 sq ft) cabin in AK with my girlfriend and dog that has mediocre and constantly fluctuating temps.  Maybe a german swartzbier next.......??

once again....thanks a ton for all your input!!  everyone is invited to AK for some killer homebrew....and if it sucks we can get a beer a block away at denali brewing co.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2010, 11:28:00 AM »

...
>What temp should I steep at?
Whatever.  ~150 is fine, you're mostly dissolving sugars not mashing.  The difference in your final product between mashing .5 lbs of rye malt at 148F vs 158F is negligible.  Everything else is being steeped.  Don't stress about it too much.
...
>Do I need to sparge at a certain temp? and how much water do I use?
No, just rinse the grains.  Don't go above 170F, but 150F is fine.  Again, don't worry about it.  Use about the same amount of water as you used for steeping, but don't worry about it too much.

If I'm reading the OP's modified recipe right it looks like he's got 2.5 lbs of Munich malt in his grain bill in addition to the 0.5 lbs. of rye malt.  That sound like enough to justify doing a true mini-mash & sparge.  I would suggest that if he wants to make things a little easier on himself he could reformulate his recipe to use more of the Munich LME and use crystal rye rather than rye malt.  Then it's just a matter of steeping in a fairly small grain bag.  There should be no shame involved in doing extract w/ steeping grains rather than a mini-mash.
You're right, my eye totally skipped over the munich malt.  So with 3 lbs, I'd definitely pay a little more attention to your temps.  But I'd go for a lower mash temp of around 150F, since there's 9lbs of extract in the recipe plus some crystal.  And I still wouldn't worry too much about the sparge water temps, as long as it is below 170 or so it will be fine.

Check the gravity and volume once you are done with your minimash and then you can decide if you want to change your procedure for the next batch.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline euge

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2010, 11:37:07 AM »
Steeping is generally just extracting the sugars from the grain. Usually they don't need conversion. Mashing is different. It needs to be done within a temp range ie- 145 to 158 and it's purpose is to have enzymes in the grain start to break down the sugars. Within the temp range depending on which temp is used a different fermentability profile will result. Generally, the lower the temp the conversion is towards more fermentable sugars and in the upper range there will be sugars (dextrins) that the yeast will have difficulty eating.

This is a simple explanation. You should research it. Brewers usilize this range of temps to affect how the resulting beer turns out.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2010, 11:40:54 AM »
>What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep?  
Partial and mini mash are the same thing, full mash means no extract.  If you're mashing you're trying to convert the starch to fermentable sugar.  Some grains are already converted (like crystal malts) so you're just trying to dissolve sugars by steeping.

>What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?
When steeping, temperature is less important.  Just don't get it over 170 as a rule of thumb, although it really depends on your grist, water, and water/grist ratio

>Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?
It depends on you efficiency.   Find an online calculator to calculate your expected OG.  Adding malt extract is 100% efficient, it's the steep or minimash that is not, so it would be best to take a gravity reading of just that part.  Expect about 70% efficiency, but this can vary widely.

>What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?
Word choice.  They are essentially the same thing, but one might be less intimidating than the other.

>How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing)  
If you are using unhopped malt extract, a 60 minute boil will get you better efficiency on your hop bitterness.  Later if you start mashing other grains or trying different recipes you might want to boil for even more than 60 minutes, but in general that is fine.

Reread your books again :)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2010, 11:41:03 AM »
Quote
What is the difference between a partial-mash, mini-mash, full mash, and steep? 

Mashing is converting starches to sugars.  Steeping is dissolving already converted sugars.  A full mash is when you mash all of your grains.  A mini-mash and a partial-mash are synonymous; they just mean that you are mashing some of the grains and using extract for the remainder.

Quote
What are the advantages of steeping/mashing at certain temps other than others?

Mashing at different temperatures encourages different enzymes to be active, all of which do different things.  In general, lower temperatures break down more complicated structures.  Between (roughly) 140F and 160F, you are converting starches to sugars.  Higher temperatures in this range give you a thicker, more dextrinous wort.  Lower temperatures give you a more fermentable wort.  You do these things to control the final gravity, body, and balance of your finished beer (among other things).

Steeping at different temperatures doesn't really matter, as long as you are dissolving the sugars.  Anything between 150F and 170F is fine.  Too hot and you can extract off flavors.  Too low and you aren't dissolving the sugars.

Quote
Where should my specific gravity stabilize at?  How do I figure out what it should be now that I've added other grains/hops?  What do high/low gravity readings mean for my beer (other than alcohol content)?

Specific gravity readings are simply a measure of the amount of sugars in solution.  Comparing the starting and ending gravities allows you to calculate the amount of alcohol in the beer.  A higher gravity reading at the start means that you can make a stronger beer.  A higher gravity reading at the end means that you have a sweeter beer.  You don't have to adjust the gravity readings for adding grains or hops.  Just take a reading before you pitch the yeast and after fermentation is done.  The starting gravity is directly related to the amount of grain/sugar you used, but is modified by the efficiency of your system.  The ending gravity is affected by the fermentability of your wort and the performance of your yeast.

Quote
What's the difference between sparging and rinsing?

Nothing.  Sparging is rinsing.  Generally, homebrewers talk about rinsing steeped grains and sparging mashes, but they mean essentially the same thing.

Quote
How do I know whether or not I need to boil for 30 or 60 min?  (my last batch (canned) I boiled for 30.  this recipe calls for boiling for 60 to let the hops do their thing) 

If you are making an extract beer, you don't really have to boil much at all as far as the malt is concerned.  You're just boiling to get the desired hop profile.  Boiling hops for a longer time extracts more bitterness from them.  Boiling becomes a bigger issue in all-grain brewing.  Boil as long as your longest hop addition.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline ipaguy

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Re: First attempt.....
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2010, 12:21:08 PM »
Very good advice from Gordon.  Another point:  Grains can be roughly divided into those that do or don't require mashing.  Some, like your Munich, have starch in them which needs to be converted to sugar by the mashing process.  Others, like crystal malts, have already had their starches converted for you.  For those (and your chocolate malt) steeping is fine because you don't have to worry about what a bunch of enzymes are doing.  You're just extracting the sugar, color, and flavors out of the grain.

Although you can calculate it by hand, I think that most of us who design our own recipes use some type of software tool to calculate what our original gravity is going to be.  That's a pretty important thing to know because it's a big factor on the style of beer you get.  Also, very strong beers are more difficult to ferment.  I use ProMash software myself, which costs around $30.  Some other forum members may be able to point you to free software, or something that has a free trial period.

Brew Strong

Edit:  btw, if someone at an HBS is unhelpful or condescending tell them that the the guys on the AHA forum think they're a bunch of douche-nozzles.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 12:33:47 PM by ipaguy »
Primary: gotlandsdricke/alt/dunkel hybrid
Secondary: pale barleywine,
Bottled:  Gotlandsdricke
               Oatmeal/blackberry stout
               Honey Kolsch