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New brewer's first batch questions

Hi guys,

I’m very excited to brew my first batch of beer compliments of Northern Brewer and their fine equipment. I recently purchased the following:

  • Essential Brewing Starter Kit (w/Caribou Slobber)
  • Raise Your Game Fresh Start Upgrade Kit

I wanted to pose a few general questions to the forum before I got started as I didn’t really get clear answers from the instructions provided. Any input you all could give is greatly appreciated. Here goes.

  1. The instructions for the Slobber say to ‘smack’ the yeast prior to brewing. I was given this yeast (http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brew … yeast.html) with the kit. I assume that’s dry yeast. What prep needs to be done with this one, if anything?

  2. The kit didn’t come with a thermometer and it appears that heating/cooling (duh) is a big part of the process. Will one from the supermarket work? And should that be sanitized as well prior to brewing?

  3. Storage - For the fermentation stage, I was planning on keeping the bucket in the garage…but it’s a little chilly in there (I live in Seattle). What would be a better place for this? The corner of the living room or something? Directions say “warm, dark and quiet”.

  4. On the DVD, the lid was removed during fermentation to check the status…should that only be done once during the process to check? Also, what’s advised as far as length. 1-2 for the primary fermentation and then 2-4 for the secondary. So 3-6 total. Five weeks good then?

  5. The airlock - What should I be looking for with that during fermentation?

That should be it for the initial process. I really appreciate whatever feedback you all could provide as I’m a bit of a perfectionist and would like to get this right the first time. :cheers:

Thanks so much and happy brewing!

-Shane

I’ve replied to your questions in line:

If you have a brew store near by, toss that yeast in the trash and pick up some s-04 or US-05.

The yeast supplied is known for finishing with a higher gravity.

Get a stick on thermometer strip to put on the outside of your fermenting bucket. This will show the temperature of the wort. Fermentation will raise the temperature of the wort 5° to 10° depending upon the Original Gravity of the beer. This temperature rise will begin in the first hours of active fermentation.

After two weeks in the primary fermentor you could check the Specific Gravity of the wort. Two or three days later check the SG again. If the numbers are the same fermentation is complete.

Sanitize the outside top of the bucket before you open it. Starsan solution in a spray bottle is excellent for this.

Drink your SG samples. Do not risk infecting your beer by dumping the sample back in.

Come back with more questions. Happy brewing.

Thanks for all your help, guys.

CliffordBrewing - so for the yeast, I just open the package and sprinkle on? It appears to be air sealed and I put it in the fridge as suggested. Is anything else other than cutting open and sprinkling on when suggested needed for this part of the process?

As for the thermometer, I was just concerned with the wort cooling process. Was thinking about getting a stick on one for the fermentation process.

I’ll have to check the temp of my garage, but around 50 degrees seems right. If it’s any lower than that should I consider a different room? And once I have the stick on thermometer, it’s good at about 65 degrees then while fermentation is going on?

Really appreciate your detailed answers on these.

Nighthawk - I checked the web store of the local brew store and didn’t see either of those yeasts when I searched (http://www.soundhomebrew.com/). Any secondary recommendations? I’m going to pick up the yeast and a thermometer/other bits and bobs this week before I brew.

flars - Should I purchase a purchase something to check the gravity of the wort? Nothing was provided in the kit I purchased.

Again thank you all for your help!

More answers below :cheers:

[quote=“shaneo2517”]
CliffordBrewing - so for the yeast, I just open the package and sprinkle on? It appears to be air sealed and I put it in the fridge as suggested. Is anything else other than cutting open and sprinkling on when suggested needed for this part of the process?

Dunk the package in sanitizer, and cut open with sanitized scissors. Otherwise, yes, it’s as easy as sprinkling.

As for the thermometer, I was just concerned with the wort cooling process. Was thinking about getting a stick on one for the fermentation process.

Sounds good!

I’ll have to check the temp of my garage, but around 50 degrees seems right. If it’s any lower than that should I consider a different room? And once I have the stick on thermometer, it’s good at about 65 degrees then while fermentation is going on?

The stick on therm might even read a little lower, like around 58-60. The hottest part of fermentation will be in the middle of the fermenter, which you can’t really measure without a probe type. If it’s too cold in the garage you could move it to a warmer room, or use a water bath and change out warm water twice a day, or even use a small aquarium heater.

Really appreciate your detailed answers on these.

All take the rest of them too!..

Nighthawk - I checked the web store of the local brew store and didn’t see either of those yeasts when I searched (http://www.soundhomebrew.com/). Any secondary recommendations? I’m going to pick up the yeast and a thermometer/other bits and bobs this week before I brew.

…US-05 is a staple in the brewing world. Ask, any decent shop will have it.

flars - Should I purchase a purchase something to check the gravity of the wort? Nothing was provided in the kit I purchased.

Get a hydrometer, or spring for a refractometer.

Again thank you all for your help![/quote]

Get a hydrometer. Won’t need any conversion calculators during or after fermentaion like you need with a refractometer.

Dry yeast. Go to the manufacturers site for instructions on how to hydrate. Pitching dry kills some of the yeast cells.

Here is a link to a yeast use and substituiton guide.

http://www.yeastcalc.com/guide%20to%20yeast.htm

Use a wine/beer thief for drawing the hydrometeer sample. The sample container is the plastic tube your hydrometer came in. Taste the sample. Do not risk infection and pour it back into the fermentor.

CliffordBrewing - Will do. What’s that process called? Is that pitching?

I may just leave it in my office area. Bit warmer than the garage, but also a bit cooler. Thing is everything is down on the bottom level while the stove is in the second floor. Is there a problem with slight shaking as I attempt to carry it downstairs once it’s ready to ferment?

I plan on purchasing a hydrometer…how does that process work? Just open the wort up after a few weeks and fill the hydrometer, right? Am I looking for anything specific here?

flars - Will get the hydrometer. Is a thief essentially a way to get liquid out of the fermentor? And will check on the yeast. As I asked previously, pitching is the process of adding the yeast yes? Once I replace this yeast will check out how to hydrate.

Thanks for your help, guys!

Yes, pitching. Like I said earlier, there are two standard ways to handle dry yeast, sprinkling it on dry or rehydrating. Some brands recommend one over the other; some brewers swear by one over the other. Trying to argue that one is better than the other is like arguing religion; everyone has their preferred method, but honestly either method will work absolutely fine, especially for your first batch.

No worries with carrying it downstairs, just be careful. I once carried a 10 gallon batch downstairs; nearly broke a leg.

Your hydrometer will come with instructions. Get a wine thief too, or something to collect a small amount of wort with.

:cheers:

[quote=“shaneo2517”]Thanks for all your help, guys.

Nighthawk - I checked the web store of the local brew store and didn’t see either of those yeasts when I searched (http://www.soundhomebrew.com/). Any secondary recommendations? I’m going to pick up the yeast and a thermometer/other bits and bobs this week before I brew.

[/quote]

S-04 would be my 1st choice, then US-05. After that it would be liquid yeast. Use what you have. :wink:

Guys - new yeast purchased…along with a hydrometer and thermometer. Grabbed a thief, too, to use with the hydrometer when necessary.

When I have everything brewed and it’s fermenting…what/when am I looking for with the hydrometer? I think that should be all my questions for now!

Tomorrow is the big day!

[quote=“shaneo2517”]Guys - new yeast purchased…along with a hydrometer and thermometer. Grabbed a thief, too, to use with the hydrometer when necessary.

When I have everything brewed and it’s fermenting…what/when am I looking for with the hydrometer? I think that should be all my questions for now!

Tomorrow is the big day![/quote]

Use the hydrometer to check the specific gravity (SG) right before you pitch the yeast and are ready to ferment. This SG reading is called the Original Gravity or OG. I assume this is an extract kit, so make sure to mix the wort well with the top off water, otherwise the reading will be inaccurate.

After 3-4 weeks in primary, check the SG again. This reading is called the Final Gravity, or FG.

The difference between these two numbers is used to calculate alcohol content.

The formula I use is:

(OG-FG)*131.25 = ABV

I used to find the term SG, specific gravity, rather confusing. It is simply a gravity reading at any specific time. However, OG and FG can only happen at the beginning and end of fermentation.

Is there any reason not to measure FG directly in the fermentation bucket? I’ve done the for my first 2 batches, but would dip the hydrometer in left over Star San first.

I always measure FG in the fermentation bucket…and always always always sanitize the hydrometer.

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