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First Time Brewer, No Q's, Just Excited!

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Juzdu

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I can't help myself, i'm 42 and am stoked to have put down my first ever home brew yesterday morning.....I have so much catching up to do!

I got one of those all in one kits, with a Thomas Coopers Wheat beer can. The recipe is super basic, just can and 1kg of dextrose. I have seen that it's much better to substitute malt extract for some of the dextrose, and even to use a better yeast, specific to wheat beer, but I decided I really want to start my journey from scratch, so I can compare the results of using different ingredients along the way.

24 hours in and things seem to be working well, I have the FV (plastic barrel with screw on lid, rubber ring in it) in the cupboard under my stairs, and it seems to be maintaining 21-22 degrees. I put a t-shirt over it last night (you should have seen the look on my wife's face...classic) as the Melbourne weather has turned shocking the last couple of days.

Bubbling through my airlock started after about 10-12 hours, and I just noticed after 24 hours that i'd had a beersplosion, some of the wort has spewed through my airlock, not a lot, just a small area of about 3 or 4cm gathered at the bottom of the airlock (the S type) on my lid. I sanitised a clean rag, wiped it up, then removed the airlock, cleaned it then soaked it in the sanitiser (alkaline salt stuff that came with the kit) for 10 minutes before rinsing and putting it back. It's bubbling along nicely again now. Must rig up one of those blow off tubes for my next brew.

Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculously fun, shame it took me so long to discover this hobby!

Juz.
 

jyo

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It's a good feeling putting on that first brew! The fact that you are aware of maintaining temperature control on your first brew is excellent. I had no bloody idea and brewed some rocket fuel in my first few attempts.

Get through your first couple of brews and know your process well. I reckon you'll be steeping specialty grains and doing mini hop boils in no time ;)
 
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Welcome to the world of home brewing, you will never look back.

I have brewed a couple of wheat beers out of the can and had some very intense airlock activity. (Not sure if it was T.C though)
I nearly always use malt extract, as I find that dextrose in large quantities gives it too much of a "homebrew" taste.
Keep experimenting and no doubt you will have some hits and some misses.

You have gotten yourself into the best hobby there is.
 

Chuckie

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You'll love it. Too easy.
I'm on brew 14 so still "new".
Wait till you discover hops ! LOL
I'm in Melbourne too and have discovered : make lagers in winter under the house or spare bathroom shower (both stay at a nice 12 deg, perfect for lagers) and make ales in summer when its easy to maintain 18-22 deg with a heat pad or belt with 2 fermenters on it.
PS - I used an old sheepskin lumber jacket on my fermenter before I had a heat pad - and my missus STILL laughs about it.
Drink the beer - the womens talk seems to disappear then ! ;-) LOL
Cheers,
Andrew
 

tcc

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welcome to brewing!

my advice is start the 'discussion' regarding acquisition of a brewfridge early, as it can take a while to convince your partner of its necessity (and fine temp control makes it so much better!)
 

Juzdu

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welcome to brewing!

my advice is start the 'discussion' regarding acquisition of a brewfridge early, as it can take a while to convince your partner of its necessity (and fine temp control makes it so much better!)
Hmm, I like this kind of thinking. I've told the missus she needs to appreciate my new found passion...for a number of reasons....not least of which she can stop moaning that she and the kids never know what to buy me for b'day/xmas/father's day. Now i can make a wishlist of all the "nice to haves", such as bottle drying trees, heat pad, second FV for bulk priming etc etc...

Tell me more about this brewfridge, i've seen some mentions online about using an old fridge with a modified thermostat to keep your brew at the right temp...is modifying the thermostat something anyone can do, or do you need a fridge mechanic? Are they normally bar fridge style? And if you have your FV bubbling away in a fridge, is there an issue with CO2 build up in the confined environment?
 

tcc

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Hmm, I like this kind of thinking. I've told the missus she needs to appreciate my new found passion...for a number of reasons....not least of which she can stop moaning that she and the kids never know what to buy me for b'day/xmas/father's day. Now i can make a wishlist of all the "nice to haves", such as bottle drying trees, heat pad, second FV for bulk priming etc etc...

Tell me more about this brewfridge, i've seen some mentions online about using an old fridge with a modified thermostat to keep your brew at the right temp...is modifying the thermostat something anyone can do, or do you need a fridge mechanic? Are they normally bar fridge style? And if you have your FV bubbling away in a fridge, is there an issue with CO2 build up in the confined environment?

what I use is one of these: thermostat with a non modified chest freezer

the temp probe wire is fine enough to slip past the seal, very simple

alternatively, I see a lot of people using these: fridgemate

but I am yet to look into changing over

in the cooler melbourne weather a combo fridge+ heating pad might be the go with one of the fridgemate controllers regulating it....see what the others say
 

tcc

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also, CO2 in the fridge is probably a good thing functioning as a larger 'blanket' protecting the wort from infection.....it smells pretty bad though
 

Bizier

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Get onto the brew fridge for sure. You can set up gumtree to save a search for items within a distance of your postcode etc, so in my opinion it is a magnificent tool for finding free/cheap fridges which match your needs and if you use an external thermostat like a fridgemate etc, you can get one with a busted thermostat, seeing as you will be turning the fridge one to full-bore anyway. If you are only ever going to do a single batch, then perhaps look at bar fridges, but if you are going to start double batches, an all-fridge without the freezer is the go. They are harder to get a hold of, but trust me: if your ferment is at 18C for a week or two, then the freezer compartment is nothing more than a dedicated mould incubator because it picks up extra moisture from the ferment process down below.

Also, I would not consider alkalai salts to be a sanitiser as much as just a cleaner, but you can't effectively use a sanitiser without a clean surface to begin with.

Common practice in commercial and home brewing is to utilise warm/hot high pH (alkaline) detergent for cleaning, it does a great job of getting rid of all the scum from the boil and ferment processes. Then a hot rinse (higher temp than the alkaline detergent) to get rid of any residue. Then a dose of a low pH (acidic) no-rinse sanitiser to ensure the surface is sanitary.

What this could mean on a home brew level is to use:

Alkaline products like PBW (expensive), or unscented nappy soaker (active constituent is sodium percarbonate), sodium metasilicate, or sodium hydroxide if you are safe (eats aluminium and human), I used to use the no-name dishwasher powder mixed with nappisan, cheap and effective, though bad for your skin.

Hot water, self explanatory, though it should be noted that heat is a useful sanitiser in itself, check out pasteurisation times and temperatures. I will admit to not using hot water often to rinse because the hose is easier, but hot water is better.

Acid product like Starsan (very worthwhile investment), iodophor works on another mechanism, but it is also usually combined with acid and is a decent cheap no-rinse sanitiser.
 

Bizier

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Also if you really like your wheat beer and can practice good sanitation, you could get a good liquid wheat beer yeast and use 'better' ingredients, but also look into the practices of re-using yeast from your batch, which can give you better fermentations down the track and negate the extra cost for the yeast.
 

Nick JD

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You're screwed now. In a year or two you'll be thinking about ionic processes of stripping polyphenols out of beer.
 

lukiferj

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Welcome Juz! It's a slippery slope from here. Been brewing for almost a year now and can barely think about anything else these days. There's a lot of valuable information on this forum (use the search function in the top right hand corner), and some pretty knowledgeable people around if you can't find an answer. Have fun.

:beer:
 

wbosher

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Acid product like Starsan (very worthwhile investment), iodophor works on another mechanism, but it is also usually combined with acid and is a decent cheap no-rinse sanitiser.
I second this. I took a little convincing, but there's no looking back now! :D
 

labels

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This hobby can get completely out of control - I know!

Anyhow, welcome aboard and IF, and I mean a big IF the first one is not what you expected, don't give up, you can come back here and get it sorted, there is an unbelievable mountain of wealth of experience to turn to.

Steve
 

Spork

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Hi.
Have fun.
Make beer.

re: the brew fridge.
The wife NEEDS a new (can be 2nd hand, as long as it's better / bigger than current one) fridge (or freezer) doesn't she? (Chest freezers are awesome brew-fridges. Can fit 2 x jerrycans easy.) Temp. control is via STC 1000 and some bits from Jaycar / bunnings.

This method leaves your "old" fridge (or freezer) unneeded - in fact it may cost you $ to dispose of it.
Hmm. This could be new brewfridge! win-win.

Have fun.
Make good beer. :)
 

spog

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Hi.
Have fun.
Make beer.

re: the brew fridge.
The wife NEEDS a new (can be 2nd hand, as long as it's better / bigger than current one) fridge (or freezer) doesn't she? (Chest freezers are awesome brew-fridges. Can fit 2 x jerrycans easy.) Temp. control is via STC 1000 and some bits from Jaycar / bunnings.

This method leaves your "old" fridge (or freezer) unneeded - in fact it may cost you $ to dispose of it.
Hmm. This could be new brewfridge! win-win.

Have fun.
Make good beer. :)
now that is the sneakiest bit of logic i have read in a long time,love it...cheers....spog
 

Juzdu

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re: the brew fridge.
The wife NEEDS a new (can be 2nd hand, as long as it's better / bigger than current one) fridge (or freezer) doesn't she? (Chest freezers are awesome brew-fridges. Can fit 2 x jerrycans easy.) Temp. control is via STC 1000 and some bits from Jaycar / bunnings.
Man you guys really have me thinking already, and my first brew is only on day 4 of fermentation!

I actually bought a big, solid, old-school fridge a few months back from a fellow beer-lover who'd been ordered by the missus to get rid of it off his back deck. $50 'buy it now' on eBay. The reason I bought it was because I discovered "UBrewIT" (Keilor Park) about a year ago, which I thought was a good way to get into brewing my own beer without any of the equipment/mess at home for the missus to get annoyed about. I've made around 5 brews there, all of which have been excellent, my favourite being their Dunkel Weisen, which didn't come out looking anything like I thought, but tasted fantastic. The other brews i've done there were their versions of Budweiser, Asahi, Newcastle Brown and Little Creatures Pale Ale.

Of course the only problem with UBrewIT is that you have to make 50 litres/6 slabs at a time, and it has to be kept cold from the minute you bottle it. I was sharing the brew with a mate, but still had 3 slabs of beer that needed to be kept cold. At home I had the normal kitchen fridge (we have 3 kids so you can imagine how full that already is), and a little 120l bar fridge where i keep a combination of my store-bought beer, white wine and the kid's soft drinks.

So even keeping 3 slabs of beer cold was going to be a challenge, hence the big old fridge (which has gone into my garage, where all good beer fridges should live). However my mate recently pulled out of the UBrewIT thing, a bunch of his share of our last brew went bad on him (I think we had a bottle sanitising issue) and he's spat the dummy and gone back to White Rabbit Dark Ale from his local Dan Murphy's.

SO...after a few unsuccessful weeks of trying to find a new UBrew buddy, I decided to try doing it all myself, and here I am. Perhaps now that my homebrew doesn't need to be stored cold, I should look at converting my garage fridge to a brewfridge, and go back to cooling a dozen or so at a time in the little bar fridge inside the house.

Back to UBrewIT for a moment...why is it that their beer needs to be kept cold? A guy at work did a James Squire Golden Ale there and stored 3 slabs under his house during winter, and sure enough when he went to drink them a few weeks later they were completely ruined. I'd heard it was because UBrewIT beer doesn't contain preservatives like commercial beers, but that doesn't explain why homebrew can/should be stored at room temps. I also recall someone saying "you have to keep them cold to avoid a secondary fermentation", which at the time I remember thinking must be a bad thing, but now i'm getting into homebrew i've realised that's something we need in order to carbonate our beer. I realise my beer is already carbonated when I bottle it at UBrew, but i'm not sure if that's via some kind of "bulk priming" or some other artificial carbonation...I think the latter, but again that doesn't really explain why they need to be stored under 6 degrees celcius. I'm sure i'm missing something?
 

Juzdu

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You're screwed now. In a year or two you'll be thinking about ionic processes of stripping polyphenols out of beer.
Geez thanks Nick, now I have even MORE homebrew-related words to Google....
 

tonyt

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I wont even mention the word......keg!
 

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