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Newbie - My First Batch - Is All Going Ok?

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mountfreeda

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So here's my story - a mate got into homebrew with a supermarket kit last year and has produced some very drinkable stuff - not to be out done I had to have a go.....

I did a few hours reading about glass carboys and fermetaps - thought I would give that a go due to the dislike of ever drinking beer from plastic aka MCG style if you are not a member (I am not a member - so I suffer).

So I buy all the gear and setup my little cubby-hole which sits around 23 to 25 degrees most of the time (coolest place in the house). Got a can of Cascade and 50/50 malt/dextrose and went to work........

%$#@ carboys are heavy full - and the instructions vague - but I got it all together. Steralised it all, rinsed with clean water, kept everything as clean as possible (I could have performed open-heart surgery in these conditions!). 23 degrees and bubbling away. Drained off the sludge twice over the past 6 days - yeast of course will not slide into the neck etc etc etc.

7th day - after a few days of furious bubbling the rate has slowed to a few bubbles every 30 seconds. Yes - the hydrometer (or how ever you spell it) - I took a reading after the carboy was filled and it showed about 50 (950??) Since then it broke in the post-cleanup :angry: . Draining the sludge and having a small taste it indeed tastes a lot like Cascade with a touch of Sulphur. Now for a few questions before I consider bottling......

- Is it worth lifting the beast up and swirling to get the yeast into the neck so I can drain it all before bottling the clear stuff - or should I leave sleeping dogs lie and just drain until I get clear stuff? The beer is pretty clear up top but a bit murky lower down about 5cm above the yeast.

- Yes, I need a new hydometer - I really did not like that reading of 50 (which I think was about 960 - I think I read it wrong???). Would it be a bad thing to leave it a few days until I get one?

- Bottling with sugar - nah! Got a bag of dextrose and I think I use 10% more dextrose than suger. How accurate do I need this to be?? I have both 660 and 800 ml bottles that are brand new.

- I plan to steralise / rinse the bottles of course - should I wack them in the oven at just over 120 degrees to really kill of any bugs??

- Is there anything else I need to consider??

Any help much appreciated - can't wait until the stuff is ready and hopefully drinkable!
 

redbeard

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Drained off the sludge twice over the past 6 days
i wouldnt drain the sludge. leave it to be cleaned out after bottling. less work and less chance of infecting the brew.

I plan to steralise / rinse the bottles of course - should I wack them in the oven at just over 120 degrees to really kill of any bugs??
i would just use an oxy bleach solution (eg napisan), leave in bottles for ~20mins and then rinse out maybe twice with warm water.

with bottling i guess you need to think about adding sugar/dextrose to each bottle or to do the bulk carbonation priming. with the carboy, you are going to siphon off the clear beer using a sanitised metre or 2 of clear vinyl tubing ?

just remember its all fun and your always learning something :)
 

mountfreeda

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It's an inverted carboy, so there is no siphoning. The manual that came with the carboy valve kit said I need to drain the sludge from the bottom of the carboy (it collects around the neck) every 2 days otherwise it will thicken and need suction to remove.

On some webforums they say this is the equivalant to secondary fermentation where msot of the yeast is removed and it is allowed to sit for a few more days (the kit did not mention that, but it did say the yeast could be harvested after 2 to 4 days).
 

mountfreeda

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Ok then - bottled and got an alc. content of 6%. I wasted about 3 liters on purging the yeast from the bottom - not very economical! The next batch I will either have to swirl the inverted carboy once every few days to force the yeast into the neck or use the carboy upright and use the "wand" for siphoning and attach the airlock to the tap valve - this has the advantage of being able to siphon off every last bit by lowing the wand until I start to suck yeast.

I am starting to think the inverted carboy is a lot more useful for secondary fermenting (where most of the yeast has been removed) than primary. The feremtap I see can be used in either inverted or right way up and insures a totally airtight solution and the wand means minimal air gets mixed in with the beer??
 

Bionic

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Dont know why you would need to stir up the yeast for.. Unless you have stuck fermentations or a very high SG beer and you want your yeast to work their hole out..
 

Backlane Brewery

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Mountfreeda, it'd be really useful if you could maybe post a photo of your set up, or a link to the product website.
How do you run out the sludge from the neck? Presume from reading your posts you have one of those tap & stand arrangements. As you let sludge out, does a lot of air rush in? Must stir up your wort like nobody's business, and probably oxidise it a bit too. Did the remaining wort look cloudy?

We brew in upright carboys, and have no problems, with, as you say, racking out with a cane & keeping an eye on the level.

See you are in inner Melbourne- so are we...you up for the M Goat visit this Friday?
 

mountfreeda

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Picture attached - opening the tap means air must flow up the cane. These things are very popular in the US - very little expereince around Oz. The "idea" behind these is that you are supposed to be able to drain the yeast from the neck and therefore do not need a secondary fermentor. Nice idea if you don't mind lifting 23 liters and swishing the whole lot so the yeast settles into the neck...every 2 days!!

I must say though...... the stuff from the top is damn clear! Very little cloudiness and this was even without finings. The pity is wasting so much liquid draining the stuff out....... mainly because I did not do the swishing!

Yep - Mount. Goat is looking good for Friday - I'll have to see!

fermen_tap.jpg
 

NRB

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Why can't you just "swish" it the day before bottling/transferring to bring all the yeast into the neck, rather than doing it every 2 days?
 

mountfreeda

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It is fairly thick by that time and would take a lot of effort - very hard to get a washing-machine type effect by hand! The bottom around the sides is pretty shallow and does not easily stir and and drift down to the neck.

Also not draining a little each day causes blockages - often needing a blow up the cane to free the thick goo.
 

Backlane Brewery

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So, does the cane bit go all the way up thru the wort into the airspace at the top, then?
I'd suggest turning the carboy right way up next time, see what how that goes for you. Works for us. Still bastard heavy to move though.

FWIW, adding a different yeast or some Whirlfloc or irish moss may settle help settle the "sludge" in the future if you decide to keep using this gadget.
 

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