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Author Topic: Howard's Homebrew  (Read 19429 times)

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Offline howardf

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Howard's Homebrew
« on: December 04, 2012, 01:13:18 PM »
The wife has finally caved, and I'm going to be doing some brewing!  I used the Northern Brewer catalog to poke and prod her into it, but I'm going to go down to my local show to get all of my stuff.  I'll be starting with extract, with an eye towards all grain, but she's already concerned about me amassing tons of gear, so it will be a slow process.

The biggest problem I have, as far as I know, is that my house is pretty much 70 year-round, and I don't have a basement.  I guess I can throw carboys in the garage when it's cold enough, or use my keg fridge long enough to ferment something, but for the most part, it's going to be fermenting away in a closet at 70.  Is this really a problem?  When I look at the homebrew forums, some people say it has to be at X degrees or the beer is shit, or you can only do certain styles at higher temps, then I see other guys that say they ferment every drop of beer they make in the 70-80 range.  :shrug:

I've been hunting around for recipes, but most of the time google keeps pointing me to Hopville.  It's nice to have all those recipes, but without people's reviews or some kind of feedback, they're kind of useless.  Any good resources for recipes?

Offline thickfreakness

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 01:21:19 PM »
You should be able to get a crappy old fridge from Craigslist and throw a temperature regulator on it to sit at 65 or whatever temp you want. I saw a drastic increase in quality when I started using the fermentation fridge.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 01:22:22 PM »
Most of my beer ferments between 68-70. :shrug:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 01:24:51 PM »
As for recipes, I don't really know where to go for extract.  You can use Northern Brewer's kit ingredient list for a base and tweak as you see fit.  I'm sure there are tons of options, I just don't know what they are since I did partial mash on my first beer and all grain after that.  wisconsinbeer just moved from extract, so he might have some good places to look.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 02:06:55 PM »
Most of my beer ferments between 68-70. :shrug:

I live in Texas so take that for what it's worth. I try to keep electricity bills down. My normal house temp was always 74 or so. A bit too warm for fermenting well IMO.

Offline jmu500

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 02:22:07 PM »
Most of my beer ferments between 68-70. :shrug:

Same here. I do extract batches and my condo is small so I try and make the process as simple as possible. I've had good luck with Wyeast 3711 (French saison). I would say you can make average beer with lack of fermentation temperature control. Most stuff online is people who are very into homebrewing hence the constant posting on message boardsand strict guidelines that MUST be followed.

I recommend making a few batches before you make any large financial investment. Make sure you like sanitizing, washing and cleaning things before you get in to deep and realize it is more of a pain than you were expecting.

Offline wisconsinbeer1

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 04:45:00 PM »
As for recipes, I don't really know where to go for extract.  You can use Northern Brewer's kit ingredient list for a base and tweak as you see fit.  I'm sure there are tons of options, I just don't know what they are since I did partial mash on my first beer and all grain after that.  wisconsinbeer just moved from extract, so he might have some good places to look.

The first few batches I brewed I used kits that I picked up at NB or Midwest Supplies. After that I just picked up the ingredients separately.  They list what ingredients they use in each of their kits on their websites so you can base a recipe off that and change what you want. I recommend using Beersmith or another program to help out with this, so you can just plug in what and how much of what ingredient you are using and get an estimate of what your abv, color, ibu, etc will be.
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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 04:48:02 PM »
As for recipes, I don't really know where to go for extract.  You can use Northern Brewer's kit ingredient list for a base and tweak as you see fit.  I'm sure there are tons of options, I just don't know what they are since I did partial mash on my first beer and all grain after that.  wisconsinbeer just moved from extract, so he might have some good places to look.

The first few batches I brewed I used kits that I picked up at NB or Midwest Supplies. After that I just picked up the ingredients separately.  They list what ingredients they use in each of their kits on their websites so you can base a recipe off that and change what you want. I recommend using Beersmith or another program to help out with this, so you can just plug in what and how much of what ingredient you are using and get an estimate of what your abv, color, ibu, etc will be.

I use BeerSmith too.  Big fan.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 06:58:16 PM »
Once you get the basics down, controlling fermentation temp(and pitching enough healthy yeast) is the best thing you can do for your beer. 

Buy a 2'x2' chest freezer($0-50 on craiglist) and a temp controller($50 for analog, $80 for digital, $130ish for dual stage(cooling and heating control)).

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 10:01:11 PM »
Once you get the basics down, controlling fermentation temp(and pitching enough healthy yeast) is the best thing you can do for your beer. 

Buy a 2'x2' chest freezer($0-50 on craiglist) and a temp controller($50 for analog, $80 for digital, $130ish for dual stage(cooling and heating control)).

2x2 isn't nearly big enough for what I usually have fermenting. :mellow:

Offline pwoods

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 10:42:47 PM »
Once you get the basics down, controlling fermentation temp(and pitching enough healthy yeast) is the best thing you can do for your beer. 

Buy a 2'x2' chest freezer($0-50 on craiglist) and a temp controller($50 for analog, $80 for digital, $130ish for dual stage(cooling and heating control)).

2x2 isn't nearly big enough for what I usually have fermenting. :mellow:
Enough to hold a carboy/bucket  :yes:  I'm starting him off slowly... gotta be easy on that virgin ass until it's been worked in a bit.  :unsure:  Then we'll get him in a house with a basement that he'll convert into a walk in cooler with conicals  :pickle:

Offline smellysell

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 01:50:47 AM »
Once you get the basics down, controlling fermentation temp(and pitching enough healthy yeast) is the best thing you can do for your beer. 

Buy a 2'x2' chest freezer($0-50 on craiglist) and a temp controller($50 for analog, $80 for digital, $130ish for dual stage(cooling and heating control)).

2x2 isn't nearly big enough for what I usually have fermenting. :mellow:
Enough to hold a carboy/bucket  :yes:  I'm starting him off slowly... gotta be easy on that virgin ass until it's been worked in a bit.  :unsure:  Then we'll get him in a house with a basement that he'll convert into a walk in cooler with conicals  :pickle:

The first few days are what is the most important for controlling temp, when it's fermenting hard is when the most heat is created.  You'll just not want to brew anything that you want to be absent yeast character at room temp Howard, lots of options that fit that criteria.  Tons of recipes and great info on homebrewtalk.com


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Offline Jaysus

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 10:12:27 AM »
Meh... 70 degrees will be just fine for more than a while.

Offline howardf

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 02:35:47 PM »
Any reason not to get an aluminum brewpot?

http://www.amazon.com/Vasconia-32-Quart-Aluminum-Steamer-Lid/dp/B00194DVJI/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

The LHBS has an 8 gallon stainless pot for double that price.

Offline JJ

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 02:39:47 PM »
The Force is what gives a brewer his power. It's an energy field created by yeast. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It converts polysaccharides to ethyl alcohol.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2012, 02:49:32 PM »
My brewpot is a 15 gallon aluminum pot.  Love it.  I read the same link JJ posted before buying it.

This is pretty much what I have except my pot is shorter and wider.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 02:55:43 PM by Tip Top »

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2012, 03:36:44 PM »
Any reason not to get an aluminum brewpot?

http://www.amazon.com/Vasconia-32-Quart-Aluminum-Steamer-Lid/dp/B00194DVJI/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

The LHBS has an 8 gallon stainless pot for double that price.

8G stainless is a bargain for $80

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2012, 05:56:46 PM »
I use an 8.5 gallon enameled aluminum pot... Think it cost $50-70?  If you go over $100 you might as well get a Keggle, which can handle 10 gallon batches and go for 100-175 on Craigslist.  Put the extra money toward temp controlled ferm or co2/kegs.

Offline howardf

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2012, 07:59:03 PM »
I use an 8.5 gallon enameled aluminum pot... Think it cost $50-70?  If you go over $100 you might as well get a Keggle, which can handle 10 gallon batches and go for 100-175 on Craigslist.  Put the extra money toward temp controlled ferm or co2/kegs.

I'm starting with kegs.  I've already got everything I need except for the keg and the gas and liquid hardware, so that's a no-brainer.  I ordered the amazon pot earlier.  Still need to get a ball valve for it, and maybe a thermometer too.  They had thermometers for $20 at Menards.  I was there buying copper tubing and all the hardware to make a wort chiller, which I'll probably do tomorrow.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2012, 08:53:56 PM »
I use an 8.5 gallon enameled aluminum pot... Think it cost $50-70?  If you go over $100 you might as well get a Keggle, which can handle 10 gallon batches and go for 100-175 on Craigslist.  Put the extra money toward temp controlled ferm or co2/kegs.

I'm starting with kegs.  I've already got everything I need except for the keg and the gas and liquid hardware, so that's a no-brainer.  I ordered the amazon pot earlier.  Still need to get a ball valve for it, and maybe a thermometer too.  They had thermometers for $20 at Menards.  I was there buying copper tubing and all the hardware to make a wort chiller, which I'll probably do tomorrow.
:thumbup:

Offline howardf

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2012, 10:45:46 PM »
I couldn't wait, I built the wort chiller tonight.  60' for less than what the shop was charging for 14' :thumbup:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2012, 03:25:12 PM »
I couldn't wait, I built the wort chiller tonight.  60' for less than what the shop was charging for 14' :thumbup:

What plans did you use?
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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2012, 03:43:20 PM »
I couldn't wait, I built the wort chiller tonight.  60' for less than what the shop was charging for 14' :thumbup:

What plans did you use?

Wind the copper, bend the ends :mellow:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2012, 09:32:57 PM »
Secondary fermenting for plain beers with no oak/fruit additions, yes or no?  I see a lot of shit that says it's a waste of time.  Is it just to make the beer pretty?  Same with irish moss or whirlfloc?  Am I going to need a blow-off tube for a 6 gallon better bottle with 5 gallon batches, or will the headspace be sufficient?  Those who keg, crank and yank or wait two weeks? 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 09:43:00 PM by howardf »

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2012, 11:03:08 PM »
Secondary fermenting for plain beers with no oak/fruit additions, yes or no?  I see a lot of shit that says it's a waste of time.  Is it just to make the beer pretty?  Same with irish moss or whirlfloc?  Am I going to need a blow-off tube for a 6 gallon better bottle with 5 gallon batches, or will the headspace be sufficient?  Those who keg, crank and yank or wait two weeks?
-I very rarely secondary.  Usually just cold crash in the primary.  For most beers it's not really needed.  If I'm dry hopping and have the time/motivation, I'll cold crash and rack to a keg and then dry hop with  a layer of co2.  Then cold crash again and rack to a clean keg.  Still not needed.  I don't have any 5 gallon carboys/betterbottles, so if I do secondary(ie high gravity that I want to bulk age) it's in a keg.  If there seems to be sediment in the keg after aging then I'll rack it to a clean one.  All beers(even IPAs) can improve with a bit of maturation, but since you'll be kegging you can just do it in the keg.  That was kind of long winded  :mellow:
-The finings can help with stability, but you'll be fine without it.  It's very cheap so just use it  :P
-I always use a blowoff tube because I almost always need it.  I'll usually get blow off in 6.5gal buckets even when I'm underpitching/stressing for more yeast character, so it's obviously worse when I pitch a correct amount of yeast.  Better safe than sorry.  Also, if you use a 3piece airlock(by itself or with a hose for blowoff), make sure to cut the 'x' off the bottom if it has one.  The lid exploded off the bucket on my first batch because no one told me about a blowoff tube or about the 'x'.
- I crank and yank because I'm too impatient to wait.  It's a bad habit that I need to break.  I've started doing a bit of a hybrid method were I crank and yank(30psi, 40 degrees) for about 2 minutes that night and let it sit with 30psi until morning.  Vent and then set at proper psi/temp for your desired volumes.  It'll only take a few days to be ready but you can sneak a pour that night if you want.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2012, 01:22:00 PM »
I couldn't wait, I built the wort chiller tonight.  60' for less than what the shop was charging for 14' :thumbup:

What plans did you use?

Wind the copper, bend the ends :mellow:

What did you wind it around to prevent it from crimping?
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Offline howardf

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2012, 03:30:27 PM »
I couldn't wait, I built the wort chiller tonight.  60' for less than what the shop was charging for 14' :thumbup:

What plans did you use?

Wind the copper, bend the ends :mellow:

What did you wind it around to prevent it from crimping?

I bought a bending tool.  It looks like a foot long version of a spring doorstop (in the foreground of the picture), which you slide over the tubing to keep it from bending.  I coiled the tubing around a pot to keep it uniform-ish.  I then pulled the bottom coils through the middle and straightened the top coil out, then put an upside down U on the ends.  The copper tubing is 3/8" OD, so I bought some 3/8" ID vinyl tubing, and put a hose attachment on the intake, left the exhaust side bare.  Used some screw drive hose clamps to hold everything in place.  Voila!


Offline Jaysus

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2012, 03:54:07 PM »
Secondary fermenting for plain beers with no oak/fruit additions, yes or no?  I see a lot of shit that says it's a waste of time.  Is it just to make the beer pretty?  Same with irish moss or whirlfloc?
I usually stick to just primary... but I use secondary as well - it depends on what I am brewing and on my pipeline. I will occasionally skip whirlfloc on darker beers but use it most of the time out of habit.  I believe that I cannotice a difference in lighter beers.

Am I going to need a blow-off tube for a 6 gallon better bottle with 5 gallon batches, or will the headspace be sufficient?
I play it by ear, but more often then not I just go with an airlock.  If I built a big starter, or know I am using an especially active yeast, I roll with a blow off tube.  I usually use buckets though, and have less of a concern when I do.

Those who keg, crank and yank or wait two weeks? 
I burst carb for about 30 hours then get to drinkin'... things certainly get better after a week or so though.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 03:57:23 PM by Jaysus »

Offline howardf

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2012, 10:06:44 PM »
Brew kettle is done and on its maiden voyage (oxidizing) on the stove right now.


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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2012, 10:52:24 PM »
That's a cute little thing...

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #30 on: December 08, 2012, 09:44:53 PM »
The first batch is whirlpooling right now :popcorn:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2012, 09:20:12 AM »
I like your style Howard!

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2012, 09:25:54 AM »
How did things go?  Did you hit your gravity mark?

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2012, 10:05:46 AM »
How did things go?  Did you hit your gravity mark?

Went pretty good, I think.  I can't tell if anything's happening in the bucket right now, but I'm trying to ignore it and let time do its job.  Patience isn't exactly my strong suit.  I was WAY over my gravity at first, but that's because I was about a gallon short of water due to not accounting for evaporation :bag:  Once the water was added, I was right on the money.  From here I believe it's 3-4 weeks in the bucket, then another two weeks in the keg under pressure, unless I'm not a very good reader. 

The only thing I'm curious about is the coffee addition.  The instructions say to coarse-grind the coffee, put it in a muslin bag, and toss it in the fermenter, and leave it for 4-5 days.  Doesn't this introduce a risk of infection?  Should I sanitize the bag first?

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2012, 10:33:16 AM »
I have another question about water.  I went to the grocery and bought drinking water for this first batch.  Are you guys doing that every time, or using tap water?  I was looking at a DIY inline filter for tap water, but our water is pretty hard here, so I don't know if it's going to work out or not.  If I'm sticking with store water, I need to get some of those 5 gallon bottles, dealing with the 1 gallons is too wasteful.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2012, 10:35:47 AM »
I have another question about water.  I went to the grocery and bought drinking water for this first batch.  Are you guys doing that every time, or using tap water?  I was looking at a DIY inline filter for tap water, but our water is pretty hard here, so I don't know if it's going to work out or not.  If I'm sticking with store water, I need to get some of those 5 gallon bottles, dealing with the 1 gallons is too wasteful.

I have an inline filter.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #36 on: December 09, 2012, 10:36:17 AM »
How did things go?  Did you hit your gravity mark?

Went pretty good, I think.  I can't tell if anything's happening in the bucket right now, but I'm trying to ignore it and let time do its job.  Patience isn't exactly my strong suit.  I was WAY over my gravity at first, but that's because I was about a gallon short of water due to not accounting for evaporation :bag:  Once the water was added, I was right on the money.  From here I believe it's 3-4 weeks in the bucket, then another two weeks in the keg under pressure, unless I'm not a very good reader. 

The only thing I'm curious about is the coffee addition.  The instructions say to coarse-grind the coffee, put it in a muslin bag, and toss it in the fermenter, and leave it for 4-5 days.  Doesn't this introduce a risk of infection?  Should I sanitize the bag first?

Yes, seems like you'd need to do something to the beans before adding them.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #37 on: December 09, 2012, 10:54:59 AM »
How did things go?  Did you hit your gravity mark?

Went pretty good, I think.  I can't tell if anything's happening in the bucket right now, but I'm trying to ignore it and let time do its job.  Patience isn't exactly my strong suit.  I was WAY over my gravity at first, but that's because I was about a gallon short of water due to not accounting for evaporation :bag:  Once the water was added, I was right on the money.  From here I believe it's 3-4 weeks in the bucket, then another two weeks in the keg under pressure, unless I'm not a very good reader. 

The only thing I'm curious about is the coffee addition.  The instructions say to coarse-grind the coffee, put it in a muslin bag, and toss it in the fermenter, and leave it for 4-5 days.  Doesn't this introduce a risk of infection?  Should I sanitize the bag first?

Yes, seems like you'd need to do something to the beans before adding them.

I'll call Central Waters and ask what they do, then do the opposite.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #38 on: December 09, 2012, 03:40:06 PM »
It's bubbling! :excited:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #39 on: December 09, 2012, 03:53:17 PM »
The Force is what gives a brewer his power. It's an energy field created by yeast. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It converts polysaccharides to ethyl alcohol.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #40 on: December 10, 2012, 06:14:44 AM »
It's bubbling! :excited:

It doesn't get old seeing that even when it's your tenth batch.  What yeast did you use?

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #41 on: December 10, 2012, 07:16:26 AM »
It's bubbling! :excited:

It doesn't get old seeing that even when it's your tenth batch.  What yeast did you use?

Wyeast Scottish Ale smackpack.  Not sure of the number.  They recommended that or one of the English yeasts for this kit, and the Scottish had a higher temp range.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #42 on: December 10, 2012, 09:30:54 AM »
The only thing I'm curious about is the coffee addition.  The instructions say to coarse-grind the coffee, put it in a muslin bag, and toss it in the fermenter, and leave it for 4-5 days.  Doesn't this introduce a risk of infection?  Should I sanitize the bag first?

Sanitizing the bag first won't hurt... if it were me, this is one of those times I would do secondary.  I'd let primary ferment out then rack to secondary on the ground beans (in the sanitized bag).  There will be more then enough alcohol by that point to kill of any nasties.  If you are dead set on skipping secondary, just skip the racking step and toss in the bucket for a while after fermentation has stopped.

You can always add it to the keg too... keg as normal, then tie the bag off with some fishing line or dental floss, run it under the gasket and seal the keg. Purge the air and let it sit for a bit, then open her up and use the fishing line to remove the beans, seal it back up, purge the 02, and carb.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #43 on: December 10, 2012, 09:40:35 AM »
You can always add it to the keg too... keg as normal, then tie the bag off with some fishing line or dental floss, run it under the gasket and seal the keg. Purge the air and let it sit for a bit, then open her up and use the fishing line to remove the beans, seal it back up, purge the 02, and carb.

This sounds like a winner to me :thumbup:

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #44 on: December 10, 2012, 10:29:48 AM »
That is how I dry-hopped the IPA I tapped over the weekend... primary to the keg, dry-hopped for a week, then it just sat in the pipeline a few weeks until I had a tap open.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #45 on: December 10, 2012, 08:04:33 PM »
That is how I always did dry hops, coffee, etc.  Works great because you just take it out when it's to your liking instead of trying to guess or having to draw samples all the time.


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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #46 on: December 11, 2012, 02:23:55 PM »
I didn't realize that a cooler and some plumbing are all that stood between me and all grain.  I might be making the jump sooner than later, especially since I'm feeling pretty handy and wanting to build more shit.  Water filter is first on the agenda though, I'd rather not haul water for every brew.

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #47 on: December 11, 2012, 03:12:41 PM »
I missed it, what is wrong with your tap water? 

P.S. if you are buying water, make sure to get distilled water.  I think I read that somewhere... I dunno at this point.

ETA: a quick google search leads me to believe that I may be crazy or something.  :unsure:
« Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 03:16:03 PM by Jaysus »

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #48 on: December 11, 2012, 03:23:33 PM »
I missed it, what is wrong with your tap water? 

P.S. if you are buying water, make sure to get distilled water.  I think I read that somewhere... I dunno at this point.

ETA: a quick google search leads me to believe that I may be crazy or something.  :unsure:

When I was looking this weekend, they said to avoid distilled water.  There's really nothing wrong with my water, other than being pretty hard, I just want to rig up an inline filter to get it as good as it can be.  Something like this, not a major investment http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/water-filter-setup-29145/

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Re: Howard's Homebrew
« Reply #49 on: December 11, 2012, 03:43:36 PM »
I missed it, what is wrong with your tap water? 

P.S. if you are buying water, make sure to get distilled water.  I think I read that somewhere... I dunno at this point.

ETA: a quick google search leads me to believe that I may be crazy or something.  :unsure:

When I was looking this weekend, they said to avoid distilled water.  There's really nothing wrong with my water, other than being pretty hard, I just want to rig up an inline filter to get it as good as it can be.  Something like this, not a major investment http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/water-filter-setup-29145/

You can go simple with something like this too.

link