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My first brew... is this normal?

thank you for the input… i have just ordered a hydrometer kit from amazon as well as the book, “How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time” by John J. Palmer. I also think my next brew will be the same recipe as this one (chinook IPA) so that i can compare the two batches… my house has no basement, so i can’t stash it down there… right now i am keeping the fermenter in a dark closet, but i think i might buy a used wine cooler (or mini frig) off craigslist ($60-$75) to control the temperature better.

interestingly enough, i live in Jacksonville, FL where i just found out that one of our local breweries, Bold City Brewery makes Chinook IPA… so that will create another opportunity for comparison.

this forum has been a tremendous place to get advice without the snark… thanks!


Thanks for that! We try to be helpful. I know activity has sort of subsided on this forum lately, but it’s exactly that helpful, snark free attitude that makes me happy to be a member. As you read (excellent choice for a first book, by the way), feel free to ask more questions.


^^^^ I suspect summer has slowed the talk down… Fall it will ramp up… Sneezles61

okay… i’m on day 8 now and the bubbling has pretty much stopped. pretty soon now i will transfer to the secondary fermentor… my only question is… when do i add the dry hops? the instructions are a little unclear as to whether i should do it immediately after the transfer to the secondary fermentor, or wait a week? …anybody?

also, i’ve read that many people don’t transfer to the secondary fermentor; but i’ve got it, so i might as well learn how to use it. down the road, i see using the secondary fermentor as a way to have 2 batches going at once… meaning, once i transfer wort from the primary to the secondary fermentor, i can clean the primary fermentor and immediately begin a new batch; thus, having 2 batches (at different stages of development) going at once. does anybody else do this?

You should take some specific gravity readings to confirm final gravity has been reached before you do anything else. Racking to a secondary vessel before FG can stall the fermentation and result in off flavors. Take a gravity reading, and taste today. Take a second one at least three days from now.

I don’t think the fermentation will be finished yet. You may taste some green apple flavor in your SG sample. This flavor can stay with the beer when the yeast is not given time to clean up.

I dry hop in the primary when the fermentation is complete. Usually around day 14. Bottle at day 21 when the beer is dry hopped.

Typically, I’ll dry hop for 3-7 days before bottling.

If your instructions instructions are similar to these

then let’s assume that we will 1) condition in secondary for three weeks, 2) dry hop for one week, and 3) decide on August 1st that we can transfer to secondary. Secondary would end on the 21st. A 7 day dry hop would start on the 15th.

I will do this (transfer to a secondary fermentor) occasionally, so I’m happy that I learned early on how to do it well.

Buckets for primaries are cheap, about $20 with a lid.

I wouldn’t transfer JUST to free the primary up, but I do transfer when I’m dry-hopping, or actually adding more fermentables, or harvesting the yeast, or when I see there is loads of trub. I, like many, feel like transferring helps keep sludge out, but that’s a debated topic. I’d say most of may batches go straight from primary to keg.

But to the intent. Yes, you absolutely want to keep a pipeline of brews going.

thanks for the advice… i will be dry-hopping as this is the chinook IPA… i suppose i just throw the hops into the carboy and it will eventually settle to the bottom? …or do i need some kind of filter bag?

Whether or not to bag the dry hops is another one of those debate topics.

I put them in a muslin bag with some glass beads, but others will just dump’s straight in.

If they’re in there naked I think they may be slow to drop out if you can’t cold-crash, but maybe a loose hop advocate can chime in on that.

I dry hop in the carboy with pellets. No bag no cold crash. I do have a catch bag on the end of my siphon tube in case some hop material does make it through.
Pictures here at post #11. Niffty little gadget - #11 by flars

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You may as well start by throwing them in without bagging/containing them… Easiest way to start… Down the road you can rethink that, if you want… Sneezles61

Not to be contentious., but I would use which ever method YOU are comfortable with. It’s supposed to be a fun hobby not a chore or work.

For me it depends on the amount and type. For large amounts and cones I bag 'em. For your average ounce or two of pellets I toss 'em in loose. I do use the catch bag when racking into the keg which kind of makes bagging them or just tossing them in a moot issue. RDWAHAHB. It’s all good!:sunglasses:

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Thantos43- i appreciate your sentiments, but for me, the goal is to have a beer that i can enjoy and be proud of. that will be my reward. the rest is process. i doubt if i will have fun and enjoy cleaning out the 6.5 gallon carboy after i’ve emptied it. :grin:

WMNoob- if i understand correctly, i will be tossing in the hops after i’ve racked the wort into the secondary fermentor, then the last step is bottling… so when would i use the catch bag? …or did I miss a step?

To follow up on what @chertel said, when you dry hop and what vessel you dry hop is really a matter of timing. If you’re going to secondary for a week and you have a 4 day dry hop then it’ll be in the secondary. If the dry hop is a 14 day dry hop then you’d toss 'em in the primary. Cold crashing prior to racking into the bottling bucket helps drop the hops out but isn’t absolutely necessary, especially with the hop catcher bag. I’ve used a chunk of a muslin bag but prefer the fine nylon hops bag material which can be washed and reused. So here you go: Primary-> Secondary->Bottling Bucket (add priming sugar solution Why do we boil priming sugar? and stir gently)

Parting thoughts. I’m a process guy with a bit of a scientific background. When I started brewing I got all wound up went at this like I was developing the cure for the common cold. Pretty funny! I’m 30+ batches in and one of the best lessons I’ve learned (as stated by my son/brewing buddy) is “We’re just makin’ beer man.” It’s all good @Byron ! Yes, we do need to pay attention to the basics like safety, sanitation, and timings but my experience is that what you make will be beer- barring any large mistakes, which are hard to make. You’ll learn from experience what works for your style of brewing, your equipment, your surroundings, your tastes, and your product will improve. You’ll learn some new techniques. You’ll likely make an occasional so/so brew but don’t worry because you’ll learn to make damn good brew! We didn’t expect our first beer to be the next ++insert your opinion of best beer ever++ and it wasn’t but it WAS drinkable! Best feeling ever! Some beers will be better than others. Even some of the most seasoned guys have an occasional “meh”. Learn what works for you, enjoy the hobby, and enjoy the fruits of your labors! Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things! Welcome to the hobby/obsession! RDWAHAHB Cheers! :beers:


Thanks! :relieved:

I agree with many of the above posts. For reference sake, here is what I normally do:

I do secondary fermentation when the beer is a higher gravity, or if it needs extra ingredients such as dry hopping. I rarely use a muslin bag or any sort of filter, unless there are LOTS of additions. Normally, I siphon the beer with an auto siphon from the primary to the secondary… there is no special technique for me. Some people may have a better process to prevent oxygen exposure, but the simple one works for me. Then I let it sit for a little bit (sometimes up to 2-3 weeks) before I make additions. However, some beers are better made when you put the additions in earlier. Most of my dry hopping experience has been when I add items that have been soaked in a liquor (vodka is a good choice to extract the flavors of the items, bourbon will add an oak flavoring, etc.) and for me, that gets added after a few weeks in the secondary fermenter. I personally haven’t made many beers where I was actually using hops during my dry hopping.

A friend of mine added extra hops to the secondary immediately after he transferred to the secondary. It could all be dependent on the style of beer, the reasoning for dry hops (maybe just because it’s necessary, maybe to add extra flavors, or maybe just to offset some additions you made earlier). He added his dry hops because he brewed a blonde, but added a lot of citrus to his boil to hopefully get a zesty blonde. But then he needed to add more hops to try to balance all of that new stuff out.

I have yet to use a filter of any sort when dry hopping, I just throw it in the carboy. Cleaning isn’t that bad. Once it’s empty, spray water inside using a hose, try to get a high velocity spray so either use your thumb over the opening or a nozzle. Then, empty the water, use a carboy brush to get any extra debris off, and then rinse it all again. I have never needed to do more than that to wash out a carboy, it comes out looking clear, and then just make sure you sanitize it again before you use it (I normally sanitize on the day of the next brew).

And again, make sure you have fun! I understand the desire to make a good beer, that is also part of the fun! But, there is no shame in making a weird tasting one, because you learn from your mistakes, and it will still taste OK. Then, the next one will be better. Unfortunately, sometimes in this hobby, it takes a few under your belt before the beer starts coming out great, so just make sure you pay attention to details so you know what to do differently next time.

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so… on day 12, wednesday, i transferred my wort over to a secondary fermenter. next wednesday, i will “dry hop” 1oz of chinook hops into the batch with the idea of letting it sit for one more week and bottling it the following wednesday. i don’t know about “cold crashing” or whether it’s necessary before bottling, but then i’m off to Burning Man for 3 weeks. when i return i hope to find a refreshing IPA to enjoy! btw- i’m saving my Sierra Nevada Torpedo bottles for this purpose!

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