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?
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.....
OK, hope all this helps. The sages will probably whack me on a few items, but hey, that happens.