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New Brewer With Questions on Procedure

Ok, so here is the situation. I started brewing Mead about a year and a half ago. As you all know, Mead making is a slow process and I find myself in waiting for my batches to finish and wanting something to do in the meantime. I also notice that I have several empty 1 gallon carboys lying around, so I think as soon as my larger carboys empty up here in the next month I will move my mead batches to the 1 gallon jugs (also a good way for me to experiment with different flavors on a small scale) and use my larger carboys for beer.

So I have started looking into brewing beer, and I am now very excited to begin. I have done some research, mainly in the learning section of this website, as well as browsing the forums some. However there are some details that seem vague to me, so I come here in hope of some clearity.

First, I read about the “hot break” while boiling the malt and how different brewers had different opinions on whether or not you should wait for the hot break to add the hops. What are the different sides to the matter?

Second, the directions I read suggested that when I transfer my cooled wort into the Primary fermentation chamber (a bucket, in my case) I should seal it and gently rock it back and forth to aerate it. Is there any reason I shouldn’t just stir it?

Third, the directions said nothing about using yeast nutrient/energizer. I know that for mead you should use them because honey doesn’t have enough nutrients to support healthy, strong fermentation. So does this mean that the wort has plenty of nutrients and I don’t need to worry about adding anything else?

My last question at the moment is about the Secondary fermentation time. I have read about people only allowing a week for this stage, and others setting aside six weeks for it. So what is a proper amount of time for it to sit in secondary fermentation? Or is it just dependent on what your recipe is?

Any help with any of these questions is greatly appreciated.


In reality, it makes very little difference. I think technically it’s better to wait, but in practice you won’t find much difference.

Nope, no reason.

Yes, in general an all mat wort will have plenty of nutrients. I still add 1/2 tsp. of Wyeast nutrient to my boil, but don’t th8ink it’s a crucial thing.

In general, secondary is unnecessary. I usually go 3-4 weeks in primary and no secondary at all. I think you’ll find that’s the prevailing attitude these days. Autolysis has been shown to not really be an issue on the homebrew scale.

Very succinct, thank you. Ok so I really don’t have to worry much about re-racking it then? And the beer comes out reasonably clear? Less work works for me, I also just remembered to ask, roughly how long does beer stay good after bottling?

OK as to hotbreak, hops can exacerbate the issue and could contribute to a boilover. With proper precautions like a spray bottle full of water, this can be mitigated. Dont be afraid to kill the heat or move the kettle if you must. Its better than hot foamy wart all over your burner/stove/back deck/garage. A large enough (read: high enough) kettle to allow a hot break and still have headspace in the kettle is key here.

You should stir the heck out of it to homogonize the wort, especially if brewing from extract or doing a partial boil. But the back and forth rocking is to aerate the wort. Yeasties need oxygen to get the fermentation party started.

A nutrient is not necessary for lighter, lower OG beers, or generally for beers less than @ 1.050. Big beers could use it.

Secondary fermentation is technically not always necessary. It again depends on style of beer. Big beers need it. Certain flavor additions need it. Lighter beers can do with 3 weeks (or less, maybe) in the primary before bottling. Lagers can be lagered in the bottle, but bulk lagering is a good method.

I was planning on for my first batch using NB’s Nut Brown Ale Extract Kit w/ Specialty Grains. So would that clasify as a lighter beer then (obviously not a Lager)?

I was planning on for my first batch using NB’s Nut Brown Ale Extract Kit w/ Specialty Grains. So would that clasify as a lighter beer then (obviously not a Lager)?[/quote]

Oh hell yeah. Even NB does not recommend two stage fermentation on that one. I secondary a lot of my beers, but if I were to brew that one I would not bother. Follow Denny’s advice here. 3 weeks on the yeast and straight to bottle. Hell, it prolly wont take 3 weeks either. watch your FG readings and when you get 3 straight of the same reading, give it a few days more to clean up then bottle it.

Bottled beer can stay good for years and in some cases will improve with age. The stronger and hoppier it is, the longer it can last.

Ok sweet, I think that clears up about all my questions for now.

Thank you guys for the help!


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