New to home brewing questions...

Discussion in 'Beer & Ale' started by boiseque, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. boiseque

    boiseque Smoke Blower

    I know there are quite a few knowledgable people on here that home brew so I figure I would ask my questions here. First a little background. After reading this forum one day while browsing the boards I was struck with the urge to home brew. After reading some of the threads I came to the conclusion that a home brew supplies place down the street would be able to get me set up, so I bought their kit.

    1 5gal glass carboy
    1 6.5gal glass carboy
    1 bottling bucket with nozzle
    1 4' length of 1-1/4" od tubing
    1 siphon
    1 bottle capper
    1 bag of bottle caps
    1 triple scale hydrometer
    1 hydrometer sample tube
    1 stick on "fermometer" (for the carboy)
    1 bottle of Star San
    1 rubber stopper
    1 airlock
    1 big honking spoon

    I also bought the Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charile Papazian and an American Wheat kit from Brewcraft. I spent the last week reading the instructions with the kit and also Papazians beginner and intermediate sections of the book. So here come the questions:
    1. Should I rack to secondary for this brew, so initial fermentation in the 5gal with blow of tube, then rack to 6.5 gal with the airlock?
    2. When fermenting in the 5 gal carboy with the blow off tube, does the tube go into a glass of water or just an empty container to catch blow off? My concern of the empty container would be allowing contamination.
    3. That spoon has to be 2 feet long, how the heck do you sanitize something like that? Maybe 1/2 at a time? Or does it need it since the wort will be boiling?
    4. My kit didnt come with a funnel, would any new funnel do or should it be food grade?
    5. The beer kit that I bought has no mention of when to add the specialty extracts, should I add after the grains have steeped when you would add the DME that the instructions mention? I have a feeling this is right but since it is my first time I would like some reassurance from someone who knows.
    Thanks for reading and helping me figure this out, I am sure I may have more questions down the road but I think that covers them for now.[​IMG]
  2. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    1. Do your primary fermentation in the 6.5 gal carboy. You will see more fermentation activity and will want the extra room for it. Use your airlock for this. When its time to rack over, use the same airlock. Fill airlock with cheap vokda, not water as some will say to do. Changes in room and carboy temp can suck liquid in the airlock backward and into your carboy. Cheap vodka will kill anything that may have gotten into it unlike water. Remember, the sugary fermented liquid is a prime breeding ground for infection when making beer. Use the 5 gal for the secondary ferm.

    2. Secondary fermentation in the 5GAL. Use an airlock on this one as well. Get rid of the blow off tube, no need for it. You have a rubber stopper with a hole in it for the airlock?

    3. The boiling wort will suffice in killing anything on the spoon, but I am over cautious when I brew and keep a spray bottle of either cheap vodka or everclear in it and spray things that come in contact with my brew with it.

    4. Food grade, especially if your pouring hot liquids into it. Restaurant supply stores have them all sizes.

    5. I take it your doing a partial mash kit? Steep the grains like the instructions state. Add dme and extracts after so as not to but them. They will mix and dissolve well with the hot water.

    Charile Papazian's book is a great book for the beginner to intermediate brewer. I also suggest the "The Brewers Companion" by Randy Mosher. By far, one of the best and informative books on the subject as a subscription to Zymurgy magazine.
  3. boiseque

    boiseque Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the reply Meat Hunter, I went by the Homebrew supplies place I got my kit at and picked up the funnel and a few other things I needed as well. While I was there I asked them the questions that I had, response was very close to yours. I dont know if this is a partial mash kit or not, I am still to new to this to know whats what. I have in the beer kit that I got a bag of specialty grains, a bag of specialty extracts ( I am assuming that is the wheat looks like DME very fine ground powder ), a can of LME, a small bag of aroma hops and a bag of yeast. The question I was having was the instructions made no mention of the specialty extracts I figured they would be added after the the grains had steeped and been sparged and added in at the begining of the boil just as DME would be. The guys at the homebrew place said that would be correct. I will invest in some cheap vodka and will also look into " The Brewers Companion" and zymurgy as you have suggested. Thanks for the help, I am excited and nervous about this whole process right now but I am sure that after I get a few brews under my belt I will just be enjoying it more instead of being nervous about screwing it up somehow.
  4. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Good luck on your brew. It is a rewarding hobby for sure. DO NOT get discouraged if things don't turn out as planned as it does take some practice and understanding of how enzymes and starch conversions and such work but you can without a doubt make beer that is equal to and most often times, better than any store bought. More than likely, if you have a decent size population in your area, there is a homebrew club. As your homebrew supply store about any and check them out. Most meet once a month and everyone brings a few of their beers for other members to try. If I may make a suggestion, on your next batch, start with a basic extract kit, no grains or anything. A simple liquid extract kit can and will give you great results, especially with today's kits.

    If you have not done so already, check out a few online resources for supplies.
  5. Rule 1
    Know your water

    My water is fairly hard. It is best for me to make ales (which is good, because I like them better any hoo)

    Rule 2
    Make what you like.

    Coming from someone who screwed up, twice (Both jalapeno and garlic beer SOUNDED good at the time) :D

    Rule 3
  6. I would also check out This forum and that one are where I spend most of my time on the Interwebz. They cover the 2 things I'm most interested it right now.
  7. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like Meat Hunter got your questions answered alright. I agree with the airlocks, they are much easier to use.

    My best advice is sanitize, sanitize, and then sanitize...

    I like to do a mixture of iodosan and hot water in one side of my sink and then dip everything in it before use. I like to get my hands in there often as well.

    Your next step is to look for some cornelius kegs (corny's) and a small co2 bottle and get set up for kegging. Bottling is a waste of time and invites more opportunity for bad beer...
  8. hookup

    hookup Smoke Blower

    Read your Papazian book. It's set up in three main parts - beginning, intermediate and expert.

    Start out with an easy one and move up. Keep us posted on the process.

    Since you guys like q-view, here's some brew-views

    Start by mashing the grains (or for a beginner buy either a couple cans of malted syrup or dried malt extract).

    Then go for the boil

    Then ferment

    I usually rack (siphon) the beer into a secondary glass carboy after a week or two to get the fermented beer off the yeast bed. No pix of that.

    Then Keg and age

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