New guy here...

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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New guy here...

Postby Chief » Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:39 am

Hello everyone *waves* just stepped up to mid-level brewer...I started off with the Mr. Beer kit and I have to say the beer that I made from that was...well to be honest not that great. I don't know if it was the kit or how I made it, either way...I digress...

I now have the two fermentor kit with using hops and barley (in the mesh bag) and when I opened the yeast to pour it in (White labs I think is the company) it sort of opened like a soda bursting...is that normal or is that something that is cause from taking it from frozen to warm?

Also I read that in two differant books (Idiots guide to beer making and The joy of beer making) that adding the hops can either be during the cooking stage or in the second fermentaion (joy of beer making said that). So which one should I have done (notice I sad should as I did it during the cooking stage...). Thanks...I have a lot a post to read...
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Welcome aboard Chief

Postby brewmeisterintng » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:03 am

I too was a Mr Beer brewer approx 7 years ago. The best advice is to read all you can on the subject. Brewing is an art so don't get caught up in the "there is only one way to brew" lines. But regardless of the author, the basics are the same.
As to your questions. Yes, it is normal for the yeast tube to have built up pressure. I usually sanitize the top and slowly open over a funnel in the carboy. I hope you didn't freeze you yeast. From what I have read, it is not too good for it.
Now for the hops. There are multiple times that hops can be added. Bittering - Beginning of boil; flavoring - half way through; aroma - at the end; dry hopping in the secondary fermenter. Depending on the type of hop and what you are trying to achieve will determine when you are adding.
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Welcome!

Postby ColoradoBrewer » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:46 am

Welcome to the hobby and to the forum Chief! This is a great hobby and you'll be amazing your friends in no time with the beer you've made. I would suggest that get a copy of John Palmer's book How to Brew. I've been brewing for seven years and I still refer to it. It's also avialable onlinefor free, but I recommend getting a hardcopy.

Concerning the White Labs vials. Before opening I usually give them a shake to get the yeast back into suspension and then slowly crack the to cap just enough to break the seal. That will release the pressure without spraying yeast all over the place. Also, you mentioned "taking it from frozen to warm". Was the yeast actually frozen at some point? The yeast should be stored cold (refrigerator temps), but it should never be frozen because it is not good for the yeast. It will usually kill them.
Last edited by ColoradoBrewer on Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby slothrob » Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:21 am

You can reduce this problem with the yeast by using it right from the fridge. There really is no reason to warm it up before using it, but warming it up will build up pressure in the tube.
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Welcome, Chief ...

Postby billvelek » Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:12 pm

I agree with everyone who responded first, but let me expand just a little.

First, I started with a Mr. Beer kit over ten years ago, as best I can recall. You can not expect too much from it because of their ingredients and techniques. It is pre-hopped extract, which in itself is not necessarily bad, but besides depriving you of versatility, it might have been sitting around a warehouse or on a shelf for forever, which also isn't good for the yeast that probably came with it, too. (Apparently you at least had separate yeast which would have helped if it were not frozen.) Moreover, the can of extract is never enough for much more than about a 3% alcohol beer, and so you need to add an adjunct -- and what did they recommend with my kit? -- table sugar! A little bit of sucrose doesn't hurt, but not in the proportion needed with those kits; instead, you should use DME (dried malt extract) or more LME (liquid malt extract), but of course that isn't hopped, and so unless the can in the kit actually relies upon the addition of adjuncts, which I'm sure it doesn't, then your beer is underhopped as well. Then, with my kit, there is a spout on the side of the fermenter that is used to drain beer into the bottles -- without any regard whatsoever to aeration and resulting oxidation (bottles should be filled from the bottom up, with a filling wand). But at least the kit got us both into this great hobby.

Second, I'm not familiar with the 'Idiots ...' book; I have 'Homebrewing for Dummies' which is probably similar, and it is good enough. Papazian's first book -- '... Complete Joy of Homebrewing' -- is pretty outdated and contains several bits of advice that we now know are incorrect or downright bad advice. His later books are better, I don't have Palmer's book, but I like what I've read on his website.

Third, I don't know whether it is safe to freeze 'dried' yeast, although there is probably no point in doing so. The problem with freezing yeast that is hydrated is that when the water expands to form ice crystals, it tends to rupture the yeast cells -- the same as freezing meat or vegetable cells (think of a mushy tomato after it is thawed). However, there are techniques that can be used to enable brewers to freeze yeast, but I don't know enough about them.

Fourth, I'm not familiar with the kits that have grains in a mesh bag; I presume that is for the purpose of draining and sparging, but I can't imagine for the life of me how that would be done with good results. Or maybe its for just steeping specialty grains. At any rate, with a different kit than Mr. Beer, it sounds like you've made more of a commitment to brewing, and probably have a capper, racking cane, bottling bucket and wand, etc. A couple of things that probably didn't come with the kit that I would recommend are a pot large enough to do full boils instead of concentrated boils, although that isn't urgent, and a reliable method of crash cooling your wort, which is probably more important. Years ago I monkeyed around with ice-water baths for my pot, and freezing boiled-water in sanitized containers and adding them directly to the concentrated wort. The best thing I ever did in that area was to go to the hardware store where I bought a coil of soft bendable copper tubing (be SURE to get the spring-like tool for bending it, too), and VERY easily made an immersion chiller; with a couple of pieces of plastic tubing, I now run ice water from my bottling bucket through the coils and dump the hot water in the sink. It doesn't do as well as a counterflow chiller, but it does the job well enough that I make good beer.

Finally, if you would like to take a stab at all grain to see if you would like it, let me suggest what is probably the cheapest, easiest way for you to do that. First, instead of buying a mill, buy milled malt first. Second, if you have just about any type of ice chest or cooler (round or rectangular) that has a drain, you should be able to make a cheap mashtun like mine and use batch sparging. I went to the hardware store and for just $12 I bought a 10' long stainless-steel mesh reinforced water hose for a washing machine, and cut both ends off with a hacksaw, and then stripped the mesh off. You can not PULL the mesh off; it will constrict on the hose. Instead, press the mesh down the hose far enough to expose about a half inch of the inner rubber hose, clamp that in a vise (or improvise), and then starting at the end that is clamped, PUSH your hose off -- but you need to do it by basically sliding any 'slack' in the mesh that forms in the end along the whole tube by basically sliding the hand down the full length where you will see SOME of the mesh come off the hose at the far end. You are essentially stroking or massaging the mesh off a little bit at a time. I guess it took me maybe 10 minutes. Anyway, I plugged one end, and I just coil it up in my rectagular ice chest, press the other end (about an inch) onto a plastic hose that I've inserted through my ice chest drain; I don't use any clamps -- just be careful when stirring at that end. I then use a short piece of teflon tape (pipe-thread tape) to seal the hose on the outside of the drain, and top it with a wrap of duct tape. It never leaks -- not even a drip. I tuck the loose end of the plastic tube up under the ice chest handle which locks it in an elevated position, above the level of liquid. When I want to vorlauf and drain, I release the hose from under the handle and drain into a small pot (vorlauf) or into my kettle. I batch sparge, so I don't need any sparging equipment; what that means is that after my first runnings, I add more water, stir the mash real well to dissolve remaining sugars into the new water, and then vorlauf again and drain. Simple. And my beer has been great. Be sure to visit my yahoo group, below, too.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that, regarding hops, you MUST have at least some of your hops in your kettle during the boil in order to release the alpha acids that will bitter your beer; you can add them during your runnings and sparge (first wort hopping) as long as they stay in the pot during the boil. What you can't do is add all of your hops after the boil, such as with dry hopping (adding directly to the fermenter).

Cheers.

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Re: Welcome, Chief ...

Postby Chief » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:09 am

Bill,
Wow thank-you that was a lot of good information!

[quote="billvelek"]Second, I'm not familiar with the 'Idiots ...' book; I have 'Homebrewing for Dummies' which is probably similar, and it is good enough. Papazian's [i]first[/i] book -- '... Complete Joy of Homebrewing' -- is pretty outdated and contains several bits of advice that we now know are incorrect or downright bad advice. His later books are better, I don't have Palmer's book, but I like what I've read on his website.[/quote]

I will check into the other book. The two that I have, you are right they tend to contradic each other to a point. But I will look into everything else you said. I guess the reason I froze the yeast (like I needed are reason....duh) was because it came with a frozen pack in the shipment (it was the liquid stuff from White Labs...). So I thought it needed to be frozen. So I had it in there for just two days. But I will see if the yeast is active in a day or two, as I just made the batch.

Again, thank-you all for the help I will keep on the boards and keep reading....
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