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Newbie Questions...Kettles, Transferring wort, blow of hoses

I just got a Deluxe Starter Kit with Glass Carboys as a gift. I’ve been reading, watching videos, etc to bring myself up to speed on the brewing process so that I don’t have too many surprises when I get started. I’ve got some lingering questions, so looking for input from some brewers with experience. I’ll probably have more, but here’s a start…

Brew Kettles:
I want to get a large enough one so that I can do a full boil…is 8 gallon the way to go for the equipment I have (6 and 5 gallon carboys)?
If I get a kettle with a ball valve, would I transfer the wort to the carboy that way instead of pouring into a funnel, or would that let the sludge/sediment in since it’s emptying from the bottom?

Transferring Wort:
The DVD that came with the starter kit, i think it shows the wort being poured from the kettle into the carboy…it seems like it would be easier to leave behind the sludge if you siphon it from the top down. Any reason why you wouldn’t do that? (I guess this question is kind of irrelevant if I end up with a kettle with a valve and transfer that way)

Blow Off Hose:
Is there any good reason to use an Air Lock instead of a blow off hose during primary fermentation? Just thinking along the lines of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” here. Why not start with a blow off hose to limit the chances of a mess?

I think that’s it for now…thanks!

[quote=“CP83”]I just got a Deluxe Starter Kit with Glass Carboys as a gift. I’ve been reading, watching videos, etc to bring myself up to speed on the brewing process so that I don’t have too many surprises when I get started. I’ve got some lingering questions, so looking for input from some brewers with experience. I’ll probably have more, but here’s a start…

Brew Kettles:
I want to get a large enough one so that I can do a full boil…is 8 gallon the way to go for the equipment I have (6 and 5 gallon carboys)?
If I get a kettle with a ball valve, would I transfer the wort to the carboy that way instead of pouring into a funnel, or would that let the sludge/sediment in since it’s emptying from the bottom?

I would suggest getting the biggest kettle you can afford (within reason). I would at least get 10gal for 5 gal batch to make boil overs negligible. If you plan on moving to AG it can be repurposed. Also if you think you’ll move to 10gal batches go with a 15gal kettle. You’ll want a ball valve to make transferring easy. One way to avoid sediment is to use hop bags and whirlpool.

Transferring Wort:
The DVD that came with the starter kit, i think it shows the wort being poured from the kettle into the carboy…it seems like it would be easier to leave behind the sludge if you siphon it from the top down. Any reason why you wouldn’t do that? (I guess this question is kind of irrelevant if I end up with a kettle with a valve and transfer that way)

You really don’t need to worry abouth this much as it will settle out after ferm in the carboy. But I too try to keep as much out as possible. You can research on how to keep it out in addition to above.

Blow Off Hose:
Is there any good reason to use an Air Lock instead of a blow off hose during primary fermentation? Just thinking along the lines of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” here. Why not start with a blow off hose to limit the chances of a mess?

Good! You got this part figured out! I can’t figure out for the life of me why people don’t start with a blowoff tube…
I think that’s it for now…thanks![/quote]

I’ll second the “biggest kettle you can reasonably afford” sentiment. I’m still using the 30 qt turkey fryer I started with, and even using Fermcap and a spray bottle of cold water, I have boilovers about half the time (all grain full boil) I’m just too cheap to buy another kettle.

Thanks for the recommendations.

10 gallon seems like a smart decision for me at the moment. Even thinking to the future…I can imagine wanting to brew larger batches that would require 15+ gallon kettles, but practically speaking, I don’t think I’ll end up there.

[quote=“CP83”]

Blow Off Hose:
Is there any good reason to use an Air Lock instead of a blow off hose during primary fermentation? ![/quote]

I second the notion to always start primary fermentation with a blow off tube. I used an airlock on my first batch and had a blowout within the first 16 hours (while I was sleeping), so since then I’ve been starting all fermentations with a blow off tube just in case. I wait until all signs of active fermentation are done, usually within 5 days or so, and then switch it out with the airlock so I can start cleaning the blow off tube.

[quote=“CP83”]

Blow Off Hose:
Is there any good reason to use an Air Lock instead of a blow off hose during primary fermentation? [/quote]

I second the notion to always start primary fermentation with a blow off tube. I used an airlock on my first batch and had a blowout within the first 16 hours (while I was sleeping), so since then I’ve been starting all fermentations with a blow off tube just in case. I wait until all signs of active fermentation are done, usually within 5 days or so, and then switch it out with the airlock so I can start cleaning the blow off tube.

[quote=“CP83”]

it seems like it would be easier to leave behind the sludge if you siphon it from the top down. Any reason why you wouldn’t do that? [/quote]

As mentioned, pouring at this point can be helpful to aerate the wort a little as the yeast will need oxygen. If you do siphon, I would rock the carboy for some extra time to make sure you aerate well enough. If you’re truly concerned about the sludge, maybe I can ease your worries a little. Each of my batches when I poured the wort into the carboy, I saw a thick layer of sludge at the bottom that gradually got thinner as it mixed with the wort and entered the carboy. I was left with very little sludge in the kettle. But as mentioned previously, when you siphon out of primary (and even secondary) you will see that sludge is left in the sediment at the bottom of the carboy. And flavor wise, I am very pleased with my Caribou Slobber. It has a nice hoppy finish. Perhaps that was emphasized by having that hop sludge left in the bottom, but it certainly didn’t ruin my beer at all.

Hope that info helps…

Brew Kettles:
Get a 10 gallon kettle instead of an 8 gallon kettle. The extra headspace will be desirable. “Sludge” transfer to the fermenter is okay; it won’t hurt your final product.

Transferring wort:
Yes, you can use a siphon, but it’s going to be yet another thing to clean & sanitize, which is why most use kettle valves. Again, “sludge” transfer to the fermenter is okay; it won’t hurt your final product.

Blow Off:
With sufficient headspace, an airlock is fine. I ferment 5 gal batches in 6.5 gal acid carboys, and only thrice have I needed/used a blow-off tube.

The Caribou Slobber recipe that came with my starter kit is for a partial boil (2.5 gallons if I’m remembering correctly), and then adding additional cool water to the carboy to reach the 5 gallon mark. Is it OK to do a full boil with the ingredients that came with this kit, or would that require a different amount of hops or other ingredients?

My question is inspired by this page (http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2 … wort-boil/) that mentions that 10-25% more hops are used in a partial boil.

Thanks again…all the information here is excellent!

[quote=“CP83”]The Caribou Slobber recipe that came with my starter kit is for a partial boil (2.5 gallons if I’m remembering correctly), and then adding additional cool water to the carboy to reach the 5 gallon mark. Is it OK to do a full boil with the ingredients that came with this kit, or would that require a different amount of hops or other ingredients?

My question is inspired by this page (http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2 … wort-boil/) that mentions that 10-25% more hops are used in a partial boil.

Thanks again…all the information here is excellent![/quote]
Yes you can do a full boil without adjusting the recipe. With full boils you do get better hop utilization, however its so minimal at this level that I doubt you would notice. In addition, it would prob be more of a pain to measure the hops so precisely, unless you have a high precision scale. Even then at say 10% you are looking at .90oz compared to 1oz which again I doubt you would notice.

Very solid info. from all of the above. I would also suggest a propane burner for full boil if you don’t already have one & a way to control ferm. temps. Welcome to the coolest addiction!! :cheers:

I think I’m going to hold off on temp control for my fermenter for now. I’ve got a storage room that has a mid-60’s F ambient air temp that I’m hoping will work out alright…at least to get me started. No doubt that better control = better beer…this is all science, after all. But if I get absolutely everything up front, before you know it I could have damn near $1k (or more, depending on what quality/brands chosen) worth of brewing supplies and won’t have enjoyed a single sip of my own brew yet.

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