A few newbie questions

Hey guys. In the middle of my first brew right now. I have a few questions for future reference and a few questions pertaining to my current brew. I have the Vandal Eyes PA small batch starter kit. After the boil, I ended up with a little under a gallon in the fermentor, despite starting with 1.25 gallons of water. I know part of this has to do with water evaporating during the boil. However, I’m wondering if there’s a way to effectively get more from the boil by straining out the trub from the boil.

Second question. I’m approaching the 1-week mark here in 2 days, and I’m wondering what you look for to determine if the fermentation is complete. I know the instructions say the bubbles will stop or come up less frequently. I guess, what is a good length of time between bubbles on the airlock to be considered acceptable? I don’t have a way to test for specific gravity, so that’s not an option for me at the moment in determining if fermentation is complete.

Third question. The dry hopping process says to leave them in for 5-7 days? Is there anything more specific I need to know for this? At least with the fermentation, there are signs to know when it’s done. What are the advantages/disadvantages to dry hopping longer or shorter?

Lastly, bottling. I’ve heard stories of bottles exploding during conditioning. What causes this and what can I do to prevent it?

Thanks in advance!

Answering your last question first will help answer the other questions.

There are three main causes for bottles exploding. Infection from filling a dirty bottle, adding way to much priming sugar, and bottling before fermentation is complete.

NB has a good priming sugar calculator. Weighing the amount of priming sugar to use is much more accurate than volume measurements.

Is this an extract kit? If it is you can top off in the fermentor to the recipe volume. I use a fine mesh grain bag to remove the boil hops during the pour into the fermentor. I only do this to have cleaner yeast to harvest. The liquid wort volume remains the same with or without the boil hops in the fermentor.

I know the recipe gives a time line, but to use it you will need to get the yeast to read it. Fermentation completion time mainly depends upon the yeast used, the temperature of the beer in the fermentor. A warm fermentation will finish sooner than a cooler fermentation. To warm of a fermentation will produce off flavors. The only way to tell if the fermentation is complete is by checking the specific gravity. When the SG is stable over a period of days, with most yeasts, the fermentation is done.

I don’t dry hop until my SG samples show no or very little dissolved CO2 in the SG sample. Dissolved CO2 will scrub some of the hop aromas from the beer. I usually, with most beers, dry hop after the beer has been in the fermentor for three weeks. I just brewed another Dead Ringer. This one I fermented warmer, 70° to 71°F with generation four WY1056. At two weeks it had reached the typical SG of 1.008 and there was no CO2 in the sample. I dry hopped and there was almost no CO2 release from the nucleation points created by the hops. This one I’ll bottle after five days, if the hop layer drops, instead of the usual seven days.

I would recommend forgetting the recipe timeline and counting bubbles to determine when the fermentation is complete. If you can’t get a hydrometer to check the SG at the two week mark and then a few days later, leave your beer in the fermentor for three weeks, then dry hop. By this time the fermentation should be complete unless it stalled for some reason.

It appears that this (link) is the one gallon kit and the instructions can be found here (link).

I’m currently doing one gallon extract brewing (as a hobby, currently not planning to open a brewery in the next decade or so :grinning:). I brewed a number of the one gallon NB kits in early 2015. I’ve done about 30 additional one gallon extract batches using recipes from various sources since then.

My experience with the NB one gallon kits has been positive. If you follow the instructions and lean towards the larger time period (they say 1-2 weeks, I read 14 days), you will likely end up with a first beer that you will enjoy.

For the questions on your current brew:

With the one gallon jug/carboy (link), I have found that the visible portion of primary fermentation goes fast - typically 2-3 days. The recipe instructions (step 13) suggest waiting 1-2 weeks before going on to step 14. I would suggest waiting the full two weeks before dry hopping.

The flavors will be more intense if you dry hop for 7 days.

If you follow the kit instructions (clean bottles, one fizz drop per bottle), it should not be a problem.

  1. I use to do the 1 gallon boils, after couple batches I just started using more water, a little less than 1.5 gallons. You could also buy a funnel with a screen strainer in it to get the hops out and get a cleaner beer.
    2 and 3. I usually just do the 3 weeks in primary and then bottle or keg that way I know the beer is most likely “Done” fermenting and the yeast are done cleaning up. I rarely measure OG and FG for extract kits, if you follow the directions its normally spot on. If I dry hop then I just put the hops in a bag and drop it in at 14 days and then once again bottle or keg at 21 days. 7 days is a good average amount of time for dry hopping.
  2. Dirty bottles that cause contamination or using too much priming sugar. If your doing 1 gallon batches then your probably using those sugar drops which are fine.
    *Good thing to Remember is don’t rush your beer, all beers need a little aging, Also make sure you pitch your yeast at good temp like 65 degrees is what I look for.
    Hope this helps.