Author Topic: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions  (Read 3795 times)

Offline ethanjhall

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New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« on: January 17, 2011, 10:30:19 PM »
Hi guys, just started brewing w/ a buddy of mine. 3 batches in (still fermenting), and, surprisingly enough, we've got a few questions.

So here goes - If you only have answers to 1 or a few, please reference which question, to keep us all sane :)

1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?
2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?
6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?
7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?
8. What controls/effects the body of the beer?
9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?
10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?
11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.
13. Malt Extract - how well does that keep? We're looking at buying materials in larger bulk - and the question is pretty straight forward - how long does liquid malt extract keep? How should we store it?

Thanks again in advance, feel free to point us to valuable reference resources if necessary, we're naught but humble newcomers, anxious to learn :)
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Offline euge

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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 11:36:34 PM »
Whew! I'll tackle a couple:

Quote
1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

I believe it is just co2 being agitated out of solution, and have heard this is a common occurrence.

Quote
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

Use dissolved oyclean and scrub very lightly/gently with a soft wet cloth. I remove all the gunk first with a rubber spatula and then spray. Then scrub. It's ok for the fermenter to take on some color- I think it's from the hops. Starsan is a contact sanitizer so soaking is overkill.

Quote
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

Yes quite possibly and see previous comment.

Quote
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

Ignore them. Yes I know it is hard to as we know soap is nasty. Different beast altogether.

Quote
6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?

Good question. Yes. Go a bit longer- like 14 days.

Quote
9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?

Don't bother with primary. Lid cracked on bucket is fine. I just place the lid on. Secondary fermentation yes, and as far as I can see no real difference except the s-shaped appears harder to clean.

Enough for me. Somebody else jump in.





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

Offline 1vertical

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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 11:48:16 PM »
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

I make a rubbermaid tote container with 4-5 inches of Idophor solution in the vessel. Then I submerge the bucket lid...and hit it with a brushor something akin to  a dishcloth...then take the bucket lay it on it's side in the solution and use a dedicated dishrag to contact the surface needing cleaned while the bucket is submerged in the sanitizer.  Then I put the bucket lid upside down on the lid of the sanitized tote lid....and after the bucket proper is finished I set it upside down on the sanitized bucket lid so that it will drain onto the lid...I do not fear idophor solution as much as the starsan bubble stuff .  Dificult to visualize I know.


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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 12:00:53 AM »
No I totally see it. A darn good approach. I do similar in my sink. Except I clean the lid first and sanitize it last then place it on the sanitized bucket. I apply the starsan liberally with a clean cheesecloth type material. What soaking time?

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

Offline myh3adhur7s

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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 12:50:06 AM »
7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?

Don't use the Beer thief to hold the wort for measuring you want to buy a test jar to hold the wort for measuring. But if you plan on doing this for a while I would suggest getting a Refractometer. Easier to read and more accuate. but then again I just hated reading a hydrometer.

10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?

IF you are using a five gallon bucket for a five gallon batch you are going to get a nasty little mess to clean up from fermentation blowing off the lid/airlock. You want a larger vessel to avoid this problem. It really only is an issue during primary.

11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?

I have found out that that strainer works just fine as long as it is fairly fine cause the particulate will clogs it up and esentially make it finer screen. And i don't know other peoples belief on this but i have found it helps aerate the wort for pitching too. And when my main primary bucket is in use and i need to use a 6.5 gallon carboy the funnel and screen works but it clogs alot fast so then i use a combition of both.

 
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.

That ius the great thing about starsan is that it keeps for a while and it is recyclable since it is not used for cleaning but only sanitizing. and the way to check if it is still good is to get some ph strips. Since starsan is acid based you need to check the ph. If my memory severs right it needs to be at a ph of 3 or less. But I would check on that again.

And I am tapping out cause my beer is empty and sleep is calling my bed. Enjoy brewing.

Offline oscarvan

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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 06:58:29 AM »
I am the noob from a few months ago.....8 batches into it, just started all grain......

1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

Hmmm, never seen much bubbles. Buy another one and see.....they're cheap.


2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?

A few bubbles won't kill anything. But, I prefer the autosiphon......it works well for me.

3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?

I fill the bucket about 1/4 of the way with sanitizer (I use an iodine based product) and put the lid on at the start of brewing. I pick it up and shake it around ever 20 minutes or so. After three hours of that I can't imagine it not being sanitized.


4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

I only use PBW if things are visibly soiled. I do religiously clean things as soon as I am done with them to avoid drying and caking. If things are not very dirty to begin with I can't see the need to soak for very long. The only exception is when I get a new used keg....they get to soak for 24 hours. Yes, some discoloration of the buckets is normal. More important than spitshine clean is that the surface stays as smooth as possible, as bacteria set up shop in scratches where the sanitizer has a hard time getting to them. So, over scrubbing is worse than some discoloration. Some people replace their buckets every six months or so.....haven't gotten to that point yet.


5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

I Don't use Star-San, started with the iodine, which doesn't keep but like the idea of fresh sanitizer. A large bottle goes a long way. I have a bunch of measuring spoons and can make a few size batches without thinking about it anymore.

6 - What's the benefit to wait the full 10 days when it says 7-10 days (for primary fermentation) before transferring to secondary? It's probably worse to do so early, rather than late, right?

I've been getting good results waiting until process slows down to a bubble every few minutes.... How many days that is I record, but don't really care about.

7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?

Spin it.

8. What controls/effects the body of the beer?

Proteins is the short answer, I'll let the sages give the long answer.

9. Any downside to using the 3-piece airlocks for 1st and 2nd stage? Is there a reason that the S-shape ones are better for one or the other?

The three piece are easier to clean. It's all I use.

10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?

Depends on the beer/yeast/temp and a thousand other factors. The short answer: sometimes a LOT. If you want to do 5 in a 5 you MUST use a blowoff hose and collection bucket or it will only be a matter of time before you are cleaning the ceiling and replacing the carpet. I use 6 gallon buckets and 5 gallon carboys for secondary. Still, I've had airlocks clog up on a 6 during primary with visible pressure on the lid, and a "whoosh" when I took the airlock out to clean it. So, I was heading for disaster. I now use a blowoff hose for the first few days in the grommet on the lid.

11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?

I use a strainer, it works. (because I use buckets)

12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.

Again, I don't use Star-San, but for what you want to do I have heard of people having it in a spray bottle.

13. Malt Extract - how well does that keep? We're looking at buying materials in larger bulk - and the question is pretty straight forward - how long does liquid malt extract keep? How should we store it?

It keeps well, if you store it in a dry and cool place. But, if you are serious about this hobby you WILL, like I have, go to all grain. $1 a pound versus $3-4 OK, most recipes use a few more pounds than they would with extract, but in the end you save, a lot. My "case cost" for my house APA, which I compare to a $40 case of SNPA, is now around $13, versus $20 for the extract recipe, and soon coming down to $10 as I am preparing to harvest/repitch the yeast. Another buck or two can be saved by buying hops in larger quantities, the goal being $8-$9 a case..... THAT's what I'm talking about..... ;D

OK, hope all this helps. The sages will probably whack me on a few items, but hey, that happens.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 07:14:21 AM by oscarvan »
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 07:01:47 AM »
#3 - Get a spray bottle, fill with Star San and spay the lid down.  For the carboy, put something over the neck, and turn over and shake around so that everything gets coated.  Or take the advice of some others already given.

#5 - Don't fear the foam.  To taste the Star San you would need to get a high concentration in the beer.  Not going to happen with the foam.

#12 - I have a bucket to keep some things soaking, so they are ready if I need them.  Keep the bucket covered.  Use distilled or RO water for this if your water is alkaline, it will last a long time.  If your water is alkaline, the Star San will turn cloudy fairly quick, and once it turns cloudy it is suspect for effectiveness.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2011, 07:37:56 AM »
1 - Auto-Siphon - Are we retarded? We start it, it seems just fine, then about 30 seconds into the siphon, we start to see aeration. Did we get a defective one? I'd be happy to post a video so people can help diagnose. I vote "we got a defective one," but I'm more than willing to admit I am prone to fault. So - thoughts?

Before you toss that one, see if you can tell where the bubbles start.  Lots of folks mention air getting in where the tubing connects to the top of the auto-siphon.  One thing you can try is to install/tighten a hose clamp on that connection.  Alternatively, you can use one size smaller tubing.  That is, instead of the 3/8" ID tubing you're probably using, force a piece of 5/16" onto there instead.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2011, 07:40:33 AM »
2 - Old-fashioned way to siphon.. If we prime the siphon w/ water, begin the siphon, it aerates, then "fixes" itself - ie - the air bubbles are flushed downstream and pretty quickly (within 10-15 seconds) eliminated - how bad is that? Is that considered fairly normal, and no biggie, considering the fact that the overall siphon lasts many times longer than the amount of time it was aerated?

That little bit of "aeration" really isn't going to make much difference.  I use the "old-fashioned" method but, instead of water, I fill the racking canes/tubing with my hydrometer sample - no water added to my wort that way.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2011, 07:50:22 AM »
3 - Cleaning the top/lid/upper portion of a vessel - when we soak a bucket or carboy with starsan, it soaks everything but the very upper portion (including the lid) of the vessel. What's the best way to sanitize that area?
4 - Assuming the items we start with are reasonably clean, using PBW, do we really need to soak it 25-30 minutes, THEN star-san for 30 minutes? Or did we pull those time estimates from the dark nether regions...?

You only need to clean when necessary. If you thoroughly rinse/clean after use, you'll probably not need to clean again before you use something again.  The cleaning is to get any physical pieces of gunk off.  If there's still physical gunk present, no amount of sanitizer will be able to do it's job.

As for the sanitizing, starsan is great and what'll make it seem even greater for you is that the required contact time is 30 seconds not minutes.  but give it at least a full minute to be safe.  All you need to do is wet all the surfaces with starsan, wait, and then you're good to go.  No need to soak.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2011, 08:31:50 AM »
No I totally see it. A darn good approach. I do similar in my sink. Except I clean the lid first and sanitize it last then place it on the sanitized bucket. I apply the starsan liberally with a clean cheesecloth type material. What soaking time?

Yeah I try to give it the directed 2 min contact. Probably really give it longer as It just sits there upside down dripping
onto the lid which is IMO contact time.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2011, 08:32:41 AM »
5 - WTF is up with the bubbles from Star-San? That can't be tasty… I just can't fathom the idea that adding StarSan to my beer without rinsing to remove as much as possible doesn't effect the taste at all. Is it truly so?

"Don't fear the foam" - yeah, it may be a marketing slogan but, in this particular case, it's actually true.  Don't worry about it, it doesn't affect anything.  Also, don't rinse afterwards since you may be rinsing with possibly unsanitary water and just re-introducing the bugs you just got rid of with the sanitizer.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2011, 08:46:58 AM »
1. – A few bubbles of air from the siphon which will rise and escape though the beer has never destroyed a batch. There could be some tiny cracks in the auto siphon or some air infiltrating at the joint with the hose. Relax, don't worry....

3. – You don't need to soak to sanitize.  Mop it or spray it on (see later) with Star San or BTF Iodophor and let it set for the recommended contact time and let it dry.

4. – PWB is a cleanser like Oxyclean®.  Not a sanitizer.  Star San or BTF Iodopor is not a cleanser.  If you have a messy fermenter use the PWB to clean it well and always use Star San, BTF Iodopor or chlorine to sanitize!  The directions on the Star San package say it can be sprayed on, wiped on, mopped on or immersed in and must remain wet for at least 1 minute, not 30 minutes.  It should air dry like iodophor and should not be rinsed.

5. – If you use Star San you can wipe away the bubbles with a wrung-out Star Saned mop cloth as long as you've had the 1 minute contact time per the directions. Mopping or spraying will also eliminate most of the bubbles too

6. – 1, 10, or 15 days are guidelines, but you need to use your hydrometer to measure towards your target gravity.  Time for fermentation will vary with the seasons and the environment.  a bubble count is good too but not as definitive as your hydrometer.

9. – The 3 piece airlock will make a clicking sound as bubbles pass and the parts return into place. The twin bubble type makes a bloop sound as the bubbles escape.  The bubble type is "old school."  You cans still find a few made of glass in catalogs and flea markets. The 3 piece is easier to clean.

11. - You're exactly right... the funnel screen it fine and can clog quickly.  You have to use a spoon to keep scraping the material off to let the liquid through.  The strainer lets too much material through, but that material can be left in the yeast cake.  It's your preference with no correct answer

12. - Star San made with tap water (as directed) and left in a closed bucket will last for a week keeping the correct ppm of acids.  Only a couple of days if left open to the air.  I think it's a few days less for Iodophor.  Keep your batch of sanitizer in a plastic bucket with a lid. You can submerge a pump spray bottle into the bucket and spray the sanitizer onto objects rather than dunking them into the solution.

I've used both BTF and Star San with positive results and like Star San as a spray-on sanitizer and BTF as a soaking sanitizer.  I'd buy whichever one went on sale.
Steve
 
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 08:49:31 AM »
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.
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Re: New Brewers... and boy, do we have questions
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 09:09:14 AM »
+1 to the "spray-on sanitizer ".  I have a dedicated spritz bottle for spritzing surfaces with
Everclear for sanitizing purposes.

Yeah right, the Everclear is only for sanitizing purposes :)
Joe