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First batch questions

Hi all!

I am very new to the brewing world and have just started my first batch of extra pale ale. I followed the directions very closely and came out with an original gravity of 1.056 while the kit mentions an expected OG of 1.045. Will this be ok? Will one Wyeast pack be suffice or should I look into starters? Should I have added more water to lower the SG or just let it be?

After reading quite a few posts about secondary fermentation it sounds like it really isn’t necessary. I have a carboy along with a bucket, which i’m using as my primary. Should I risk the exposure and siphon to the secondary, or just leave it in the bucket longer and start a new brew with the carboy in a couple weeks?

Last question…What exactly does dry hopping do? Will this give the brew a little more bite or bitterness during secondary fermentation? Can you do this when only using the primary fermentation bucket or should you transfer to a secondary carboy?

I know I am probably getting ahead of myself with some of these questions for my first few batches but knowledge is power right?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Jerry

Since this is your first batch, I’ll assume you’re brewing with malt extract. After the boil, did you add water to achieve your desired volume?

If so, and assuming you ended with the desired volume of wort (future beer) for the batch size (intended volume of the kit) - the wort and the water were not mixed thoroughly, which gave you a false gravity reading of 1.056. Malt extract has a known amount of sugars, and sugar does not boil off. So if you ended with the intended volume, and used all the malt extract, it’s almost guaranteed that you will hit your original gravity. You just took your gravity reading from a stratified portion of the wort, that was more concentrated with sugars. This will not harm your batch. Once fermentation starts it will mix it thoroughly.

If my assumptions we’re correct about the extract, and you ended with the desired volume for the kit. Then you you achieved your desired original gravity and DO NOT add water.

One yeast packet will be fine for a brew with an OG of 1.045, assuming it wasn’t really old. Although I would certainly look into making starters for future batches. There is a yeast calculator offered on mrmalty.com that can tell you how much yeast you need. < A great reference for future brews.

Dry hopping will not add bitterness, but it will add hop aroma. Hop aroma is a good thing in an american pale ale. Depending on the hop, it could add a citrus, pine, tropical, or spicy aroma. You can dry hop in the primary, but do it after fermentation is complete. You’ll know when fermentation is complete when gravity readings remain the same for 3 days.

If you were doing an all grain batch, and missed your original gravity, then you can add sanitary water to hit your desired original gravity. I do this before the wort is chilled - therefore adding the water to near boiling wort that would kill any unwanted bacteria. Although 1.056 is acceptable for a pale ale, so you might just want to role with it.

As for a secondary, While I agree that the technical necessity is overstated, I like doing them. As long as you’re clean, the risk of contamination is minimal. As long as you’re not splashing the oxygenation is minimal too. Getting the beer off the cake (IMO) minimized the junk that can get in the bottles.

Also it frees up my primary for the next batch. You are planning on the next batch right?

It will be fine. As S. Scog. writes, you either had a bad sample (because it was not mixed well), or you ended up with a batch that is less than 5 gallons. Either way, it’s no tragedy. But, it would be helpful for the next batches if you can figure out what happend. If a lack of mixing was the issue, you can stir the hell out of it when you put it in the bucket. Aerating before you ferment is very good. Aerating once fermentaion is on its way is very bad. If you did not have enough water in your batch, then you need a reliable 5 gal. mark and can top up to that mark before mixing.

I am thiniking that you want to brew again soon. Please leave your first brew alone unitl it is done fermenting and has a chance for the yeast to “clean up” after fermentation is finished. Also, fermenting in a carboy won’t give you so much space for expansion, so called “headspace,” so you may want to use a “blow-off tube” to primary ferment in a carboy.

Dry hopping adds hop aroma. There will be no bitterness added by dry hopping. Hops smell good, yes?

Thanks for all your advice!

I am relieved about the OG. It was most likely due to me not mixing the wort enough. I just invested in a squirrel mixer to help aerate the next batch.

As for going into secondary fermentation, I think I will go ahead and do it. I want to use the bucket for the primary in my next batch. An American black ale or a black IPA is sounding good. I really enjoy Indeed’s Midnight Ryder. Haven’t seen it for awhile though.

Any suggestions for dry hopping an EPA? Thinking a more citrusy hop.

Thanks again!

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