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Five questions from a beginner

Hey guys,

I just brewed my first batch of Scottish ale last Saturday using malt extract. I got the kit from “Grape and Granary”, and I modified the procedure a bit in accordance to what Palmer suggests in his book “How to Brew”. I have a couple of questions regarding the procedure:

  1. Regarding the steeping of specialty grains, I have noticed that some recipes suggest steeping until a certain temperature is reached in the kettle (such as 170F) and that some recipes, like the one for my Scottish ale batch, suggest boiling to 150 - 170F and then steeping for 20 minutes.

What is the difference between these two methods?

  1. So after about 25 minutes have past with the steeping of the specialty grain (I added an extra 5 minutes), I turned up the oven burner until I would get a vigorous boil. The only problem is I don’t think I ever got a vigorous boil.

I steeped with 1g of water, then added 2g more. I’m using a 5g stainless steel kettle. There was boiling, but it wasn’t very vigorous. So after about an hour, I added the LME, and waited about another hour until I would reach that vigorous boil. I never reached it unfortunately, so I tossed in the hops and boiled for 45 minutes (as specified in the instructions).

Why do you guys think I never got that vigorous boil? I’m thinking that perhaps I actually did get as vigorous of a boil as I can get with 3g of water in a 5g pot, but I’d like to know your opinions.

  1. In regards to my previous question, I notice that instructions always say to remove the kettle from heat to stir in the extract, and then go back to the boil to add in the hops.

What is the purpose of removing the kettle from the boil to pour in the LME if it’s just going to be boiled again after the addition of hops? As noted above, I never removed the kettle from the boil until the hops were fully utilized. In fact, I boiled the wort with the LME extract for an hour prior to adding hops. Will this affect my batch?

  1. During the cooling of the wort, I opened up the lid to my kettle about three times for about 30 seconds each in order to check the temperature to ensure that it was around 80F. The thermometer was sanitized. I’m not sure if this was a bad idea, because I didn’t know of any other way to check the temperature of the wort as it chilled.

Do you guys think this will affect the quality of the batch?

  1. About taking Hydrometer readings, some instructions suggest taking a reading after 5g have been put into the fermenter. I’m not sure how this is possible because I use a 6.5 gallon carboy as my primary fermenter. How would you guys suggest I go about taking the SG reading?

Thank you for your time everyone.

Not sure where to begin.

steeping grains shouldn’t be boiled. And 150-170 isn’t boiling. you should put them and steep them for twenty minutes or until you reach 170. You do not want top go over.

You boiled for over two hours? You were supposed to add the extract when you reached a boil. At that point start your hour boil. Must recipes call for the 60 bittering hop addition at this point and start your sixty minute timer.

Looks like your recipe calls for 45 minute addition. But you still only boil 60 total. So fifteen minutes inti the boil your first addition. Then 45 more minutes of all boiling. Once again 60 total.

You remove the pot to keep for sorching and burning the extract.stir in and continue boil.

Were you boiling on a stove top? This may be why you didn’t get a heavy boil. Your stove top my not be strong enough.

you should use a beer thief to take the sample from the carboy. After heavy mixing of the wort and water. Then use your hydrometer and test jar to get the starting gravity.

[quote=“Nohone”]Hey guys,

I just brewed my first batch of Scottish ale last Saturday using malt extract. I got the kit from “Grape and Granary”, and I modified the procedure a bit in accordance to what Palmer suggests in his book “How to Brew”. I have a couple of questions regarding the procedure:

  1. Regarding the steeping of specialty grains, I have noticed that some recipes suggest steeping until a certain temperature is reached in the kettle (such as 170F) and that some recipes, like the one for my Scottish ale batch, suggest boiling to 150 - 170F and then steeping for 20 minutes.

What is the difference between these two methods? [/quote] IMO, none. Kind of saying the same thing. You want to steep the grains around 150-155 for 20-30 mins. Don’t let the temps go up to 170 as you are close to extracting tannins.

[quote=“Nohone”] 2. So after about 25 minutes have past with the steeping of the specialty grain (I added an extra 5 minutes), I turned up the oven burner until I would get a vigorous boil. The only problem is I don’t think I ever got a vigorous boil.

I steeped with 1g of water, then added 2g more. I’m using a 5g stainless steel kettle. There was boiling, but it wasn’t very vigorous. So after about an hour, I added the LME, and waited about another hour until I would reach that vigorous boil. I never reached it unfortunately, so I tossed in the hops and boiled for 45 minutes (as specified in the instructions).

Why do you guys think I never got that vigorous boil? I’m thinking that perhaps I actually did get as vigorous of a boil as I can get with 3g of water in a 5g pot, but I’d like to know your opinions. [/quote] Oven burner? Not sure what you mean there. Get a temp probe and use it. IMO boiling is boiling. So check your temps. You may have to boil with the lid on to lessen heat loss, but that present more of a risk of boil overs, plus DMS dripping back in instead of being boiled off, etc. Kitchen stoves are somewhat under-powered for our purposes. So you need to find out if you were actually hitting boiling temp or not. If not, then maybe you need to take it outside and get some more BTUs.

[quote=“Nohone”] 3. In regards to my previous question, I notice that instructions always say to remove the kettle from heat to stir in the extract, and then go back to the boil to add in the hops.

What is the purpose of removing the kettle from the boil to pour in the LME if it’s just going to be boiled again after the addition of hops? As noted above, I never removed the kettle from the boil until the hops were fully utilized. In fact, I boiled the wort with the LME extract for an hour prior to adding hops. Will this affect my batch? [/quote] I think you are confused here. I could be wrong here but IMO, I think the instructions mean remove your pot from the heat source to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. When you pour the LME in, it is going to go right to the bottom. If you are still applying heat, or even resting on the hot element of the stove, you could get scorching of the extract to the bottom of the pot. Re-read the directions with this in mind, I think you ms-interpreted what they meant. Also, you usually only have to boil for 1 hour. From the sound of it you did 2 hour boil. Not the end of the world, your batch will just be stronger than what it should be.

[quote=“Nohone”] 4. During the cooling of the wort, I opened up the lid to my kettle about three times for about 30 seconds each in order to check the temperature to ensure that it was around 80F. The thermometer was sanitized. I’m not sure if this was a bad idea, because I didn’t know of any other way to check the temperature of the wort as it chilled.

Do you guys think this will affect the quality of the batch? [/quote] Probably not. But I would recommend getting a digitial kitchen probe type deal. One that you can read without messing around with the beer. You may have sanitized the thermometer, but did you sanitize your hands?

[quote=“Nohone”]5. About taking Hydrometer readings, some instructions suggest taking a reading after 5g have been put into the fermenter. I’m not sure how this is possible because I use a 6.5 gallon carboy as my primary fermenter. How would you guys suggest I go about taking the SG reading?

Thank you for your time everyone.[/quote] ? Sorry, this seems like it should be obvious so maybe I’m not understanding the question. Doesn’t the kit come with some kind of beer thief and testing container? You use the beer thief to draw off enough to fill the testing container, or maybe your beer thief doubles as the testing container, and check it that way.

In regard to the gravity check - honestly, you don’t really need to bother taking it. If you are using extract, and if your kit is for 5 gallons, and if you actually have 5 gallons . … . . .your gravity will be whatever it was supposed to be. Extract is 100% efficient. You cannot get less or more for a gravity reading unless you use the wrong amount of water or you add other extract, etc. Gravity is a little more important when you do all grain, because your efficiency of extracting sugar from the grain can change and you won’t get 100% efficiency.

I think you should really give this video a watch. I think it would help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jtCgQOB85E

and this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vIlabJkywE

[quote=“Braufessor”]In regard to the gravity check - honestly, you don’t really need to bother taking it. If you are using extract, and if your kit is for 5 gallons, and if you actually have 5 gallons . … . . .your gravity will be whatever it was supposed to be. Extract is 100% efficient. You cannot get less or more for a gravity reading unless you use the wrong amount of water or you add other extract, etc. Gravity is a little more important when you do all grain, because your efficiency of extracting sugar from the grain can change and you won’t get 100% efficiency.[/quote] Not disagreeing with this per se, but I would recommend taking the gravity reading anyway. When new, I recall having issues hitting the correct volume. Took me a few batches before I figured out evaporation rates and such. Taking the gravity readings will help him get that dialed in. Obviously you are absolutely correct in that if he did everything correct and ended up with exactly 5 gallons the SG should be spot on. I still check extract batches just out of habit, but after he gets his process down I would agree that he could skip that step.

Sully - I agree. I mainly point this out because it sort of sounded like he was topping off with water in a fermenter and trying to take the sample out of a carboy. which -

A.) sounds like a pain in the butt, and a recipe for infecting your beer to me.

B.) topping off with water almost always seems to end up with 5 gallons of wort that is not completely mixed. So, when the gravity reading is taken, it ends in the beginning brewer thinking his gravity is “way to high” or “way to low” - when in reality, it just wasn’t mixed.

In general, it is best to get a gravity reading - especially the more advanced you become. Just thinking this is one thing he could avoid worrying about until he is a little more settled in his process - it is one step that won’t really affect the outcome of the beer.

Thanks for the responses guys.

So to clarify, yes, I meant I used the stove top not an oven burner. Sorry for the confusion.

Yeah so what I did was I heated the water to an anticipated boiling temp after the specialty grains were extracted. Once I started seeing the water bubble from a boil, I assumed it was ready to add the LME.

I added the LME while the kettle was still on the stove top burner, making sure to mix. I already knew about scorching, so I made damn to sure to mix the LME in as I poured it, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like scorching occurred.

I waited much longer to add the hops because I wasn’t sure I hit a vigorous boil. I still got boiling water, but it didn’t seem vigorous, like I said.

So by boiling the LME for much longer, how will this make my beer “stronger”?

And for clarification, what is the temperature of the “vigorous” boil? I will check to ensure this temperature is reached next time.

Regarding the wort cooling, I made sure I didn’t touch the wort. This actually brings me to another question though. Do you guys actually sanitize your hands or wear sanitized gloves when your touching tools that come into contact with your beer?

Regarding the hydrometer readings, I asked because instructions suggest to take the reading when the 5g is reached in the fermenter. There was no mention of a “beer thief”, so I had no idea how I was supposed to stick my hydrometer in a 6.5 gallon carboy to take a reading when there is 1.5 gallons of empty head space above the 5 gallon wort in the fermenter.

You did fine and it is all a learning process.

How does beer get stronger by boiling longer? If you don’t top off to 5 gallons at the end, the added time boiling take the same amount of sugar and through evaporation, makes the work sweeter. More sugar per volume = more alcohol per volume = stronger beer.

A thief would enable you to reach inside the carboy and extract enough wort to do a hydrometer test on.

[quote=“560sdl”]You did fine and it is all a learning process.

How does beer get stronger by boiling longer? If you don’t top off to 5 gallons at the end, the added time boiling take the same amount of sugar and through evaporation, makes the work sweeter. More sugar per volume = more alcohol per volume = stronger beer.

A thief would enable you to reach inside the carboy and extract enough wort to do a hydrometer test on.[/quote]

Ah I see. So boiling longer only makes the beer stronger assuming I don’t add more water in the fermenter to accommodate for the evaporation. Interesting.

Thank you very much.

So boiling the extract longer doesn’t do anything to the extract itself? or the overall flavor?

Shouldn’t really, you “probably” caramelized the wort a little more than might otherwise happen. Just like cooking, you were basically browning the sugars by boiling it.

People that brew from extracts normally with partial boils “normally” end up with slightly darker beers than the all grain version of the recipe doing a full boil. One explanation is that partial boiling makes the beer darker. In your case, you did a minor version of a partial boil :wink:

Just wanted to add that boiling is 212F. Slighting boiling or jumping out of the pot will still be 212F. I like to get mine to where the wort is rolling but not splashing all over.

It will take some time to get the wort back to boiling after adding LME because of the added volume at a lower temperature. Try soaking the jug in hot water or nuking it for 20-30 seconds to get it hotter so your stovetop doesn’t have to work as hard to get back to a boil. Also, I add any early additions of DME before I get to boiling around 190*F so that the DME will dissolve and I have less chance of a boilover.

So I just ordered this burner:

High Pressure Burner and Stand

I don’t think I’ll have to worry about not hitting that boil now lol.

[quote=“mvsawyer”]Just wanted to add that boiling is 212F. Slighting boiling or jumping out of the pot will still be 212F.

TRUE! Water heated past 212 is steam, so you really can’t heat your water past that and still get beer

[quote=“Nohone”]

Regarding the wort cooling, I made sure I didn’t touch the wort. This actually brings me to another question though. Do you guys actually sanitize your hands or wear sanitized gloves when your touching tools that come into contact with your beer? [/quote] Yes. I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer around and use it before I touch anything that goes in the beer. Cheap insurance IMO.

[quote=“Nohone”] Regarding the hydrometer readings, I asked because instructions suggest to take the reading when the 5g is reached in the fermenter. There was no mention of a “beer thief”, so I had no idea how I was supposed to stick my hydrometer in a 6.5 gallon carboy to take a reading when there is 1.5 gallons of empty head space above the 5 gallon wort in the fermenter.[/quote] That is so you are taking the reading with the correct volume of wort. You should one of these http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/econ … t-jar.html You would use the beer thief to fill the test jar. Obviously just pour the sample out after testing.

Good luck :cheers:

Sounds good, I’m probably just going to get rubber gloves and sanitize them instead of just using my hands.

I actually have another question regarding sanitizing.

So when I sanitized my 6.5 gallon carboy, even though the powdered sanitizer that I received from the extract kit said its “no rinsing” , I did it anyway because I still saw the white powdery stuff stuck to the sides of the carboy. However, I rinsed it with hose water.

Unfortunately I forgot that hose water is generally bacteria ridden. So did I just make a bad mistake?

What are your opinions on this?

Most likely you beer will be fine with the hose water.

With your next order or stop at your local shop, pick up a bottle of StarSan or Iodophor. Both are no rinse sanitizers.

You can also use a mixture of bleach/water/vinegar. Listen to the March 29, 2007 podcast by Charlie Tally from 5 Star Chemicals for specifics

[quote=“Nohone”]
So when I sanitized my 6.5 gallon carboy, even though the powdered sanitizer that I received from the extract kit said its “no rinsing” , I did it anyway because I still saw the white powdery stuff stuck to the sides of the carboy. However, I rinsed it with hose water. [/quote]

What was the powdered sanitizer?

Yeah I already ordered liquid StarSan.

The powdered sanitizer I used was “LD Carlson Easy Clean”

Thanks a lot for the replies guys. You’re all very helpful, I appreciate that.

Just to be clear, that is not a sanitizer; it’s basically OxyClean.

You’re not alone, though; it seems like this is a very common mistake, and I wish all LHBS would be clearer on this distinction. You did pick up Starsan, though, which is good stuff.

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