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Carbonation

I’m new to home brewing, to date I’ve done about 9 batches, all extract. So far all the ales have turned out really well, but my batches are never really carbonated by the 2nd week in bottles. It’s usually more like 4 weeks before it’s where I really like it. The silver lining is that the flavor is always better by then as well, so maybe I just need to be patient. When I move the beer from the primary to the secondary I try not to pick up the trub, and when I go from the secondary to the bottling bucket I’m careful not to pick up much of the sediment. I was thinking may be I shouldn’t be as careful because maybe I need to pickup more of the yeast.

On a different subject, I have really enjoyed the extract kits but it seems like everyone ends up going to All Grain. Is the endproduct that much better, or is it just more of a purest approach to brewing? Like a lot of people I’m really busy and I like extract just because it seems on the surface, it seems to less demanding in terms of time.

Thanks

What temperature are the bottles being stored at? 70-80°F is ideal for bottle conditioning. Since the beers do carbonate eventually, you clearly have enough yeast, and I wouldn’t deliberately try to get more sediment in the bottles.

You can definitely make very good beers using extracts, but AG will probably improve your beers in the long run. The key in either case is to use fresh, quality ingredients. AG does give you more flexibility (there are beers that simply can’t be made without mashing), and is cheaper.

My bottles have been stored in the basement, and it is pretty cool about 62 degrees during the fall and winter months. This is also where I keep my fermenters as well, and during the cooler months I use kits that the yeast ferment downs to 58 or 60 degrees.

May be the yeast are a bit on the lazy side do to the temperature. Thanks for the posting.

At 62 degrees it’s going to take longer to get the carbonation going. Move them upstairs or to a warmer room where you can reach at least 70 degrees. At that range you should have no problem carbing within two weeks.

Yep, as others mentioned your beer will carb quicker if you put them some place a bit warmer.

Just an opinion but I wouldn’t rush in to all-grain. You can make very good beer with extract assuming you can get your hands on high quality fresh stuff (due to NB’s volume theirs is always quite fresh). It also is a good way to work through understanding a lot of the basics, temp control, yeast pitching rates, aeration, etc. I eventually moved over because I wanted to be able to brew a wider variety of beers. I’ll still knock out an extract batch here and there since I can do it at the same time I’m brewing and all grain batch.

+1 on storing bottles in a warmer spot. Also, +1 on not picking up any “extra” trub or sediment. I’ve found that I get clearer beers, plenty of carbonation and a lot less sediment in the bottle.

I recently switched to all grain. After brewing several extract batches and finding the end product to be delicious, I only switched to all grain because of the challenge and the pleasure of doing it all myself. There’s something to be said, I suppose, about putting it all together yourself.

Re: carbonation, I’ve had the same experience: 3 weeks at 65 degrees or less, 1 week at 75.

I like the results better, but partly that’s because it’s recipes that I devised on my own, and the beer itself is like a little lesson in how I can make it better the next time. I also really enjoy the process, although it takes some getting used to. I wouldn’t say it’s more “purist,” though. You’re working with the same ingredients (malt sugars), you’re just obtaining them in different ways (buying them vs. extracting them yourself).

All grain is definitely more time consuming, but I’ve started breaking it up over the course of a whole weekend and am able to basically keep it out of the way of other things I have going on. Like, I measure everything out, crush the grains, get everything clean and ready, etc., as I have time throughout Friday night and Saturday, then I brew on Sunday.

All in all, I don’t see myself going back.

[quote=“George G”]
On a different subject, I have really enjoyed the extract kits but it seems like everyone ends up going to All Grain. Is the endproduct that much better, or is it just more of a purest approach to brewing? Like a lot of people I’m really busy and I like extract just because it seems on the surface, it seems to less demanding in terms of time.

Thanks[/quote]

I did extract for about 5 years and then got into AG about 2 years ago. TBH, the time differential really isn’t that much greater.

Here’s was my typical extract brew schedule:
Thursday/Friday: make my starter 15-20 minutes
Friday: buy 6 gallons of distilled water at walmart and put 3 gallons in the fridge to chill.
Saturday morning–brew day:
Fill my boil pot with 2.5 gallons distilled water and heat to boiling so I can create my wort from jugs of extract. time: 20-30 minutes. At the same time, I heat jugs in second pot of water so that it pours easily into my boil pot.
Measure out my hops while I wait for the wort to come to 212F. (5 minutes)
Boil for 60 minutes
Chill
Pitch yeast.
Here’s my typical AG brew schedule:
Wednesday: buy the grain at my LHBS, crush it there too. (time: 20 minutes during lunch)
Thursday/Friday: make my starter and determine how much strike water and sparge water I’ll need (time: 15-30 minutes)
Friday night: fill my boil pot with my strike water and fill my sparge pot with sparge water (time: 10 minutes)
Saturday morning–brew day:
heat my strike water (time 20-30 minutes)
mash in my grain (time: 5 minutes)
wait (the mash) while my wort is being created during the mash process: 90 minutes.
Drain/vorlauf as necessary into boil pot (5-10 minutes)
Sparge
Drain/vorlauf as necessary into boil pot (5-10 minutes)
heat my wort to boiling (15-20 minutes)
Measure out my hops while waiting for wort to come to 212F. (5 minutes)
Boil for 60 minutes
Chill
Pitch yeast.

So as you can see, there really isn’t much extra time in AG over Extract. During the 90 minute mash, sometimes I do nothing and veg out in front of the TV; some times I prepare my hops or other additions, but really that is down time that can be used for just about anything in the process or other stuff (mow the lawn, log on here, surf for porn.) But the main thing is to realize that the extra time isn’t enough to make you not want to jump to AG. Plus, once you start you’ll find there are lots of areas where you can stream-line your process to be even more efficient.

I made some really great beers from extract, but AG beer really is better beer than Extract beer. IMO, it is also more fun. And I personally get more satisfaction out of making great beer from scratch rather then from a mix.

cheers.

I agree with that. The additional time alone shouldn’t stop you, but if you’re truly busy, it can be more difficult to make time for it. Fortunately, as StormyBrew illustrated, you can break up the process over many days. And, once you have it down, yeah, the mash, chilling, and, if your pot is big enough and you don’t stray too far, the boil are all times where you can accomplish other tasks. At first though, I was like a chicken with its head cut off. I was fully dedicated to maintaining focus, and basically a full 6 hours, minimum, were dedicated to brew day. That’s all fading, though, and this past weekend I finally felt pretty relaxed throughout everything, including using those down times to do all kinds of chores and run a couple errands.

I’ve also mashed in the afternoon, gone out to dinner, put my 2 year old to bed, then resumed with the boil in the evening.

So, I guess I’d say, try your first one or your first few when you can truly clear a day for it. But, in the long run, if you’re interested in AG, time isn’t a hurdle that should hold you back. Ultimately, you’ll figure out how to fit it in.

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