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First Time Brew Questions

I recently picked up the Sierra Madre Pale Ale Recipe Kit from Northern Brewer and brewed it this past weekend. I followed the recipe as best I could using the Basic Starter Kit. Now that my beer is fermenting, I have a couple questions.

My Process:
Followed the instructions for the boil and ended up with the given OG of 1.052. After the boil I got the wort cooled down quickly to 100 degrees using an ice bath. It took me a bit longer to get it down for pitching the yeast, but I eventually pitched the yeast when the wort was at 74 degrees. Within 24 hours the airlock was bubbling quite well (once every 7 seconds), the next day was about the same, and at around 60 hours it had slowed down a bit but still bubbling about every 15 seconds. Now today at about 3 and a half days into fermentation it has basically stopped. This whole time the fermenter has been sitting at an ambient temperature of 65 degrees.

Questions:
For this type of beer how important is the secondary fermenter? I don’t currently have one but have enjoyed the process and figure I will buy one eventually. Should I just go pick one up for this batch right away?

When will I know exactly to transfer it to the secondary fermenter?

Since I have the Basic Starter Kit, I can’t see the foam in the fermenter, would it be alright to open and check or should I just wait it out?

I know they are basic questions, but thanks for any answers and if you need more information just let me know.

My suggestion would be not to bother with the secondary. Be patient with the beer and you will have better results. I originally bought the Deluxe kit which comes with a secondary carboy. I don’t use it anymore. Leave the beer in primary for two to three weeks. You will usually see your beer clear up around week three. I have also learned that around three weeks in the bottle is really the minimum to start drinking the beer. EVERY beer that I have brewed (even the lightest beer) were remarkably different from week two to three. Now I don’t bother even tasting them early. I think for your first batch it is interesting to set aside a bottle to try at week two and then pay attention to how the beer develops. I would suggest getting another six gallon carboy instead of a 5 gallon secondary. You can dry hop in the primary as well.

First congrats on your first brew!! I personally don’t transfer any of my beers to a secondary unless I have too. Everyone will have there own opinion on it but I don’t really find it nessessry, unless I am adding a new yeast, fruit, doing a really big dry hop, or bulk aging. If you do want to transfer check your gravity and transfer when its done. I wait 10 to 14 days on a beer like that. And yes if you need to take a peek go ahead just try not to splash the beer around too much (a tiny bit wont hurt) when you are pulling lid off

Happy brewing!!

First off, thanks for the quick responses. This forum is a great place to learn, and I love how supportive it is of new members.

From what I gather this will be my plan.

2-3 weeks in primary, followed by 3 weeks of bottle conditioning

During the time in primary should I be testing the gravity at all?

Also, I think it would be awesome to dry hop. What would that process look like? Are there any hops recommended to use with this recipe kit? Will I be using the pellets like I did during the boil?

Thanks again.

[quote=“classicmw”]During the time in primary should I be testing the gravity at all?[/quote]I wouldn’t bother testing it for at least a week, the yeast will be doing their thing even if you don’t see any airlock activity. When you get a few days in a row where the gravity is the same, it’s done fermenting, however the yeast are still at work cleaning up fermentation byproducts. I usually wait until at least 2 weeks before even taking a gravity reading, but I have usually multiple batches going and plenty on tap so I’m in no hurry. Being your first batch it won’t hurt bottle it a little young so long as primary fermentation is complete, it will continue to develop in the bottle.[quote=“classicmw”]Also, I think it would be awesome to dry hop. What would that process look like? Are there any hops recommended to use with this recipe kit? Will I be using the pellets like I did during the boil?[/quote]Cascades pellet hops would be a good one to dry hop with this style of beer. That said, I think I’d skip the dry hop on this batch. Beings it’s your first batch I’m sure you’re anxious to sample it and it can take up to 2 weeks for hops to settle out, so that will prolong sampling the goodness and the sooner you get this one bottled the sooner you can start your second batch. Another reason I wouldn’t dry hop this particular beer is that it’s NB’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone, you can to do a side by side tasting to SNPA and see how your first beer stacks up to the pros, dry hopping would change the hop profile quite a bit.

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