1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Brewing nOOb

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by SlyFerret, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,438
    Loc:
    Delaware, Ohio
    Hi all!
    I know some of you here enjoy brewing beer. I'm looking for tips for a first timer.

    I'm giving one of my buddies a red ale kit for Christmas. We've been talking about brewing some beer for a while and I decided it is time. I also picked up the equipment that we will need, and i think we will make some time this week while we both have some time off work.

    Anything I should know that wont be in the instructions?

    -SF

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. FanMan

    FanMan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    313
    Loc:
    CT stix & upstate NY
    Clean, clean, clean, Everything has to be boiled or sterile.

    What kind of kit did you get?
  3. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,492
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Don't rush anything.

    I was super anal about sanitation at first, then became less so. Just be smart and careful about it.
  4. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,438
    Loc:
    Delaware, Ohio
    I'll check the kit when I get home. The guy at the beer store said that it should have everything we need to get started.

    -SF
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,923
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I hope to be brewing our first batch in the next couple of days too. We're going to make a chocolate brown ale. I started with hard cider in November and hope to bottle that this week too.
  6. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    905
    Loc:
    East Central, NY
    Most people make good beer their first time around because they are so careful about not screwing anything up. So, don't worry too much. Keeping things clean and sanitized is key, meaning anything coming into contact with the wort (unfermented beer) should be exposed to your sanitizing solution for a while. Fermenters, tubing/hoses, bottling bucket & spigot, caps, etc. Most homebrewers use dilute bleach or iodophor (iodine based). If you use bleach, make sure anything that comes in contact with it is rinsed well. There are also various other compounds on the market now.. some are even "no-rinse".

    Ignore any recipe that calls for adding pounds of sugar to the wort (which makes beer thin and cidery), or recipes that are "no-boil" recipes.

    The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is a great book and has gotten many people started. The "dummies" book is also very good.

    good luck!
  7. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Sanitation does not mean sterilization ! Don't go insane trying to sterilize things. Go to a brew store and get iodine for sanitation or use bleach water. To be honest there is a lot of myth behind bleach water I have used it for 3 years and have had no problem. ! cap to one gallon then let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse well. No rinse powdered sanitizer is garbage and I refuse to use it now ! Star san is also another good sanitizer it is a liquid no rinse and works great. If it is a extract no boil kit sanitize the cans in hot water for a couple of minutes on the end your going to open this helps the malt loosen up as well and they pour much better after the heat. If it is a traditional boil kit they usually have very good directions in them.

    Pete
  8. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Also another excellent free book on pdf is John Palmer how to brew. I started with it and learned a ton from it then my wife bought me the brewers bible and learned even more. :)

    Pete
  9. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Not to be a jerk and start a debate but I have made all styles and they are all good if done right. No boil is simply a pre-hopped malt thats all you can add grains and even more hopps at will. Actually the best beer I made was with a modified coopers bitter and it turned out heavenly and thick ! MMM ==c Brewing is really all about cooking science and your imagination is the limit !

    Pete
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  10. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,492
    Loc:
    SE MI
    I started with bleach. It is cheap and readily available (from the laundry room ;) ). After I finally bought some star-san, sanitation became so much easier. The bubbles are a PITA (it's an acid-based sanitizer), and I ended up giving the bottles a quick shot on the bottle rinser before putting them in the rack to drain.

    Bleach is a great cleanser. If you get some bottles that weren't rinsed and have a bunch of nasty, moldy crap in the bottom, an overnight soak in a stiff bleach solution will loosen it right up. Thorough rinse in hot water, and they're like new. Corona bottles always have a nasty lime in the bottom.

    If you do use bleach, be sure to make your solution with cold water. Heat degrades it quickly, so rinse with hot water.
    SmokeyTheBear and Pallet Pete like this.
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,943
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I am an iodophor (iodine) fan myself. No rinse is good and I keep a bucket of the stuff ready for last minute cleanings.

    I'll try and give you tips that helped me and haven't been mentioned.

    When the wort first starts to boil be ready to reduce the heat and remove the pot. The wort will foam up like crazy and boil over the super syrupy sticky gunk all over the place. It happens fast and often to first timers.

    Do your boil outside. You're going to be boiling in a big pot for an hour. Lots of water and stink will be released into the room. I like the smell but the wife doesn't and you'll need her to tolerate this hobby.

    Go to the hardware store and buy the large 5 gallon paint strainer bags. They are a nylon bag with a very fine mesh. You clip this bag to the edge of your boiling pot so that it hangs into the wort and add your hops to this bag. Remove the whole bag at the end to avoid having to try and filter out the spent hops. I bought the bags in a 2-pack and have used them for about a dozen brews with no trouble. Use a big wooden to stir the wort and to jostle the hopp sack.

    What is your plan for cooling? The books don't mention this. You'll end up with about 2 gallons of 200 degree wort. You will be adding 3 gallons of cold water to get the volume to 5 gallons but you can't pitch yeast until the beer is at 70 degrees. This will take hours if you just wait for it. What I do is to put the lid on my hot wort pot and set it in the sink. Plug the drain first. Then surround the pot with ice water. You need the wort in the brew pot to be 90 degrees so that when you add 3 gallons of 50 degree tap water you will be at 70 and ready for yeast. The ice bath method works great since you want rapid cool down. They sell fancy heat exchangers for this when you want to spend some more money but the ice bath is fine for now.

    Just plan on leaving the beer ferment in the primary for two weeks. No need to transfer to a secondary tank or to measure the gravity to verify that the fermenting is complete. After two weeks it will be done. I bottle after two weeks and use the larger 22 ounce beer bottles but also fill three 12 ouncers for my carb testers. I open one of the 12 ouncers after one week to check carb level. Then the next one after two weeks if the first was flat.

    The fermenting beer must be kept at the proper temperature. Usually 70. This means that you need to find a place in the house, not outside or in the garage.

    Any used beer bottle can be used to refill and recap so long as it was not a twist off cap. I like the 22 ouncers since you will have half as much capping to do and why would anybody only want 12 ounces of beer?

    It is tradition to drink beer while brewing beer. I allow a full three hours for brewing.

    "Pitch" yeast just means to add it to the beer at the very end.
    "Sparge" just means rinse.
    "ABV" alcohol by volume which i

    Take pictures for us. My last batch was an irish red ale and it carbed up nicely in the bottle.
    jeff_t and Pallet Pete like this.
  12. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,492
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Yep, outside is good. Turkey fryers are great for boiling wort. Mine came from sam's club a long time ago. It has a 142,000(!) btu burner.

    Some say not to use an aluminum kettle, but I have used both aluminum and stainless, and never could tell the difference.

    I made a wort chiller from 25' of 3/8" copper tubing and a couple of compression fittings. It works fine but uses a lot of water. In the summer, I make sure the runoff goes into the garden or flower beds.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,923
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I've been using OneStep because it was recommended to me by a cider/beer brewer. He's been using it for several years. When I went to a new brew shop last week I asked their opinion and they said OneStep is fine as a cleanser/sanitizer. It seems to be working with the big batch of cider. No surprises so far. I'm hoping to bottle it soon. Another friend uses StarSan and is happy with that, though I read there is some concern about it reacting to plastics? Iodophor is not supposed to be septic system friendly, so I held off on that, though lots of folks are using it.
  14. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    905
    Loc:
    East Central, NY
    I started using bleach and after a few years I switched to Iodophor at the recommendation of a professional brewer friend. I am guessing that the thing about Iodophor is that it may kill the "bugs" in the septic system. If that's the case, I would say that the amount of sanitizing solution you are dumping down the drain is negligible compared to the amount of beneficial yeast and bacteria present in the tank. You could dump the yeast dregs down the drain and it would probably cancel any effect the sanitizer solution would have. I know the addition of yeast to a septic tank has been debated a lot in the DIY room and I'm guessing the addition of either doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things.
  15. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    I have about 20 batches under my belt in the past few years. And recently switched to all grain brewing. Sanitation is important but as you get the process down you will find yourself using less and less equipment that needs sanitized. I sanitize my racking cane. tubing and carboy only and really like Star San. If you enjoy brewing then an investment into a legging system is a huge time saver for cleaning, packaging and carbonating time.

    An immersion chiller is my favorite tool as it speeds the time from kettle to carboy. In the winter I can bring a batch from boil to pitching temp in less than 20 minutes. If I am brewing outside I use the waste water from the chiller to clean the rest of the equipment.

    Good luck and have fun.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,923
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    You had me on a tangent JDC looking for a legging system. Then I guessed it was a typo for kegging system. Doh!
  17. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    A legging system would also come in handy sometimes. Sorry for the typo. I switched to kegs after about 6 batches and have never looked back. Unless I am doing a super gravity beer that needs a lot of aging I will keg it.
  18. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,303
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Want to loose your mind? Check out www.theelectricbrewery.com and start saving your pennies. Just like all hobbies, home brewing can be very expensive and very time consuming but also very worthwhile. The money spent later in the hobby primarily helps you be faster and more consistent batch-to-batch (in my opinion). But you can brew some very good beers in plastic brew pails with super low dollar kits. It's where a lot of us started and where everybody should start.
  19. VTrider

    VTrider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Loc:
    Northern New England Burlington Vermont
    Good luck with the batch, I've been brewing for ages and have used just about every sanitizer out there - gotta also give a thumbs up to Starsan (and try not to worry about the bubbles). The Palmer book (how to brew) is a great resource as well! It's a great hobby that you can grow with, pretty soon you may find yourself explaining to the wife why you need so many kegs in the basement and growing your own hops ;) !

    Come to think of it, I wonder if the pelletized hops you can buy commercially would burn in a pellet stove?? Hmmmm?, where's my digital thermometer?
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,943
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Don't dump the sanitizer down the drain, dump it on the lawn outside. You've got to be nice to your septic and not use it as a place to dump abnormal waste.

    With all-grain you are boiling a full 5+ gallons right? That makes an immersion chiller way more important but you also need to sanitize the chiller since it will be in the cooled wort.

    I asked for a kegging system for Xmas but only got the cash to go buy one myself. Time to cruise craigslist.
  21. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,303
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    If you drop an immersion chiller into your wort before your boil ends there is no need to sanitize. It should be clean, yes. But don't waste your starsan. I personally will be switching to a plate chiller this winter. I desire speed, and less water use.
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,943
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Good point. Get the chiller in while it's boiling and skip the need to sanitize.
  23. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    I tried the cheap route with used kegs and have more in them trying to get them to stop leaking than if I bought reconditioned kegs. Try www.kegconnection.com for a decent price on great equipment.

    With all grain you are chilling 5-5.5 gallons of wort. I started doing full boils with my extract batches and it stepped up the quality of my beer. Supposedly hop utilization increases with a full boil.
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,943
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I don't want to dull full kegs, no, just kornie kegs so I can carbonate the 5 gallon batch without messing with bottles. I really only need gas bottle, regulator, plumbing, and a couple cornies. Brew to belly in 7 days vs. 4 weeks.
  25. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    I only do cronies as well. There are a bunch of manufacturers and the parts are specific to each. I got some for $20 per and ended up with about $50 in each to get them to stop leaking.

Share This Page