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Run Of The Mill Newbie Questions

Hello all you hop heads, I am a relative newbie and have a few queries I hope you all can answer for me. I got the bug from Mr. Beer last Christmas and moved to NB 5 gallon batches in May, so I’m not brand new but still pretty damn green. Living in Virginia during the summer without a basement hasn’t been the best environment (in terms of temps), but hey.

  1. PBW. How much do you all use to clean a 6.5 gallon carboy, and how much do you use to clean a 5 gallon brew kettle? I’m a bit confused because the posts I have seen do not differentiate between amount by Volume or by Weight. I am about to order a gang of PBW so I’d like to know before I execute the transaction.

  2. Temperature. It’s been a hot summer. I have a second bathroom that I use only for my carboy, and I have a digital thermometer to gauge the ambient temperature in there. I also have the thermometer from NB pasted on the side of my primary carboy. Does said thermometer account for the extra degrees generated by the activity of the yeast? I have an improvised swamp cooler and get the ambient temperature down to about 68 degrees or less for primary fermentation, but I want to avoid the esters as much as possible. Can I trust the thermometer sticker to give me true data on the temperature of the wort during primary fermentation?

  3. Wort Chiller. I now have a copper wort chiller from NB and used it for the first time recently. I am wondering, how cooled down do I need the wort before pouring it into the carboy? The “instructions” that come with the extract recipes are vague at best, something about not warm to the touch. Given that I put 2 gallons of very cold water into the carboy before the wort goes in, do I need the wort temp to be below 80? Or just below 100? And, as a tag-on query, what is a good thermometer–I have an instant read digital but it has a 1.5 inch draft at best and gets finicky when wet for a long period of time. I also have the old mercury type that came with the NB starter kit but it seems sub-par.

  4. Aeration. I am currently doing the rock and roll method for this but apparently that can only get you to 8 or so PPM, as opposed to the 15 PPM from an aeration stone, is that right? If so I will order one.

Many thanks in advance you hop heads

  1. save your self money and use oxyclean (non-scented) and use as much as you want since its cheap.

  2. The thermometer on the side of your bucket is accurate to 1 or two degrees and is the beer temp.

  3. You should get your wort temp down to your intended fermentation temp before you pitch your yeast.

  4. the rock method is fine for aeration. I have used an air stone in the passed and have stopped b/c I diden’t see or taste a differece either way.

[quote=“sonex”]1. save your self money and use oxyclean (non-scented) and use as much as you want since its cheap.

  1. The thermometer on the side of your bucket is accurate to 1 or two degrees and is the beer temp.

  2. You should get your wort temp down to your intended fermentation temp before you pitch your yeast.

  3. the rock method is fine for aeration. I have used an air stone in the passed and have stopped b/c I diden’t see or taste a differece either way.[/quote]

  4. Use about 2 Tbsp. of either Oxi or PBW per 5-7 gal. Oxi works very well. My unscientifc testing has shown me that PBW works a bit better.

  5. Yep

  6. I prefer to get the wort a bit below the intended fermentation temp and let the exothermic reaction bring it up to temp. I like to ferment in the mid 60s so I try to chill to about 60F.

  7. I wouldn’t recommend rocking of you use carboys. It’s very dangerous to put all the weight on the edge of the carboy like that. I use a MixStir (pictured below). Hook it up to a cordless drill and let it run til the fermenter is full of foam. Very effective, less than $20.

Thanks gentlemen, for the prompt replies!

Revisiting number 3 question – Since the 2 gallons of 40 degree water is in the Carboy, at what temp do I cut off the wort chiller? 100? 90? 80? Something in between? I am not a master of thermodynamics but I think that cold water will lower the temperature of the wort considerably for pitching the yeast, which I reckon should be around 65 degrees for the extract ales I’m brewing right now.

I’m just an extract guy for now.

  1. I think rocking a carboy can be very effective, cheap and safe.

I use a board slightly bigger than your carboy taped to a round object.
Just this morning I taped an old paint roler to a piece of scrap.

It’s a breeze to rock a full carboy back and forth on this.

  1. Aeration

I’d like to chime in on this subject because it seems so underemphasized on this forum. Jamil Z, in his book “Yeast” points out that the absolute maximum achievable aeration with ambient air is 8ppm. In a test they ran on a 1.060 wort they got just 2.7 ppm after 5 minutes of “rock and roll”. Given the huge following of religious yeast starter advocates on this forum I suspect an epidemic of underaerated worts. Oxygen is needed for yeast reproduction so an under-aerated wort would need a big starter since it can’t support much yeast reproduction. A well aerated wort in the 9 to 10 ppm range could withstand “underpitching” becasue the yeast has a better environment to reproduce in. Obviously you can’t reach greater than 8 with out injecting pure oxygen. A pump and stone can get you to 8 ppm in 20 minutes or so depending on temperature and gravity, but you’re not getting over 8 without O2 no matter how long you pump. Dangerous or not, rolling a carboy back and forth is VERY ineffective unless you feel like doing it for about an hour. I think folks still get decent results because they go on Mr Malty and pitch big starters capable of fermenting their worts with little reproduction after pitching. Why they focus so much energy on cell count and ignore their yeast’s oxygen requirements is beyond me. Focus on both, and you’ll really be on to something!

  1. I am going to spring for an aeration system, looks like it’s worth the cost. I’m all for rock and roll but not that much.

  2. Getting ready to order another recipe – so is there any consensus on what temperature to get the wort down to, before pouring it on top of 2 gallons of 40 degree water? I have a wort chiller but last time it took me quite a while to get from 100 degrees to 80. I would prefer to keep exposure of the wort to airborne creatures to a minimum amount of time. Thanks to you all.

You can use this calc to get water temp after mixing…

http://www.onlineconversion.com/mixing_water.htm

Looks like 80F wort with 40F water will get you to a good pitching temp. If your ground water is like mine and in the 70’s, you’ll wait a long time to cool to 80 without using some kind of additional cooling.

For my set up, I use a large storage bin filled with water halfway up my boilkettle. Then I add frozen water bottles all around it. I stir wort in one direction and bin water the other. I can cool boiling wort to 80 in about 20 minutes.

[quote=“chongohead”]so is there any consensus on what temperature to get the wort down to, before pouring it on top of 2 gallons of 40 degree water?[/quote]As long as you aren’t dealing with making or melting ice, mixing water of different temps is just a weighted average problem. [(mass 1 x temp 1)+(mass 2 x temp 2)] / (mass 1 + mass2) So if you have two gallons @ 40F and want to end up with five gallons at 60F, you plug everything into the formula: [(3 gals x T1) + (2gals x 40F)] / (5 gals) and set it equal to 60F, then solve for the only variable (T1) and get ~73F.

Once I get down to about 100 degrees or so, I use the wort chiller to stir the wort. I do this every few minutes. Really helps with those last few degrees. Though if you have warm ground water it still going to be a struggle. I also keep my lid on while I chill, I have a little notch cut into the lid so the wort chiller can stick out. Makes sure no nasty bugs get in.

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