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joshua.j.grissom

Questions from a noob brewer

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Hello Everyone

 

I am brand new to home brewing and while i have just brewed and started fermenting my first batch i can't help but feel like most first time brewers. I have started an inch that i cannot stop. i have been browsing through the forums quite often in the past few days learning as much as i can about this new hobby of mine. While i know that trial, error and much studying will get me through these first few brews, i have a few questions. 

 

1st Question

Right now it is currently about 76 degrees in the room that i have my LBK, the first batch that i am brewing is the basic Long Play IPA. I quickly realized from reading through the forums that this is probably to warm for optimum brewing so i have a cooler on the way to get the temp down. Any suggestions to keep the temp down for the next few days while i wait on my cooler to arrive? Have i botched my first batch or am i still good? 

 

2nd Question

I plan to purchase a 6g Fermentor. What are some suggestions on keeping a fermentor of that size at the right temperature, does anybody have any pictures or quick explanations of their 6g setups? 

 

Basically, what is the best set up for someone that is really interested in continuing this new found exciting hobby, i find myself wanting to somewhat be a perfectionist in an area i don't know much about but am trying to learn as much as possible.

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1st answers:

 

got an electric fan?  freeze a plastic bottle of water, put it in a pie pan in front of your lbk. put a fan blowing toward the bottle in front of the lbk... instant mini air conditioner.

 

if you don't have a cooler but you have a cardboard box you could put the lbk in the box with a bottle of ice. it wont insulate as well as a cooler... but anything's better than nothing.

 

you can freeze a bunch of plastic bottles of water and put them around the lbk.

 

you can go to a Walmart and buy a Styrofoam cooler really cheap.. sometimes even gas stations sell them. put lbk in that with some ice ..

 

76f ambient temp is way too high. fermentation will raise the temp inside lbk to about 85f maybe and you will make apple cider instead of beer.  . your first batch is where you learn the most from your mistakes. I would go ahead and let it ferment hot so you can taste what acetaldehyde tastes like.

 

when you do finally set up a cooler get a stick on thermometer or an aquarium thermometer with a lead that you can put in the cooler... use it to monitor your temps.

https://www.amazon.com/HDE-Aquarium-Thermometer-Terrarium-Temperature/dp/B00W3YB2VW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499756329&sr=8-2&keywords=submersible+aquarium+thermometer

 

these thermometers while not 100% super accurate are just fine for brewing.

 

 

 

 

 

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You have absolutely not botched your first batch, but look at it this way, ideally it was never going to be your best beer. Those are coming later. It probably won't be the cleanest beer you ever drink, but it will be beer.

 

For the six gallon fermenter - look for those fermenting bags. They are big bags you put your fermenter in with ice bottles. I think Mr. Beer has one on their site? It might be for kegs though. It has been a while since I looked but they run 40 to 60 dollars. You could also look at camping sites. They have flexible coolers and at the time I was thinking stand one on it's end and put the fermenter in it. I ended up not getting the 6 gallon. I still haven't brewed a batch that big and if I did I would just split it between my two LBKs.

 

The other thing you could do is just go seasonal. 76 is not too warm for a good saison......a heavily hopped IPA using US-05 could handle 76. You could do some nice Belgians with T-58. A good heffe with bananna notes. Then when it is cooler, brew up some of the cleaner ales and the like.

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I fermented my 1st batch right around the 79* mark, so you're way ahead of me.  ??  Live and learn from your mistakes.  You've already identified one, and you'll never do that again.  Yes, you have initiated an itch that you can't scratch so sit back and scratch yourself!  ?  Good luck to ya & welcome!  ????

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Hi, Joshua. My two cents on the 6-gallon setup is: Don't, not yet.

 

You can learn plenty, make good beer and have lots of options while keeping it simple with these 2-gallon batches. Ten years ago, I had buckets and carboys coming out of my ears and just began to feel weighed down by it all. Just got burned out and buried it all in various closets.

 

Fast forward to 2017. I decided I wanted to brew again, but just keep it small and simple. Now I'm having fun again. I actually like the smaller batches because I can control temperatures in a camping cooler and cold crash in the family fridge. If a batch turns out not so great, there's not that much of it to work through. And after a few months, you can have a nice variety to choose from.

 

You can also grow from simple can-and-yeast brews to adding hops and extract pouches to partial mash recipes in a matter of months.

 

Don't mean to sound like a Mr. Beer salesman, but what I'm saying is that these 2-gallon batches are a nice controlled environment where you can learn without spending a bundle. If you decide you want to go big later, you can always do it.

 

P.S.: If you don't have one already, get a stick-on thermometer for your LBK. They're only $2 or $3 and will tell you the temp of the wort/beer, not the surrounding air.

 

Jim

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my 6 gallon fermenter is a food grade bucket with a drilled lid, and a custom made (cheap) pipe elbow with a hose for a blow off airlock.  I like the buckets because I can do a swamp cooler ...  stick bucket in a bigger bucket of water.. put a fan on it.  I don't like buckets because I cant perv the fermentation.. and buckets are heavy.  5.5 gallons of beer weighs over 40 pounds.

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8 hours ago, joshua.j.grissom said:

How do you guys feel about the the 2g brewmax fermentors?

 

I haven't used one, but people who have like them.

 

My advice, and everyone is different, is this. Start with another LBK.  This will easily let you up production. You can have two going at the same time, rotate, etc.  Personally, I don't think you can have enough LBKs. I have four and the only reason I don't have more is I don't have any more fermenting space. 

 

I have not yet run into a brew my LBK did not handle. And I've brewed some 10% beasts. 

 

Once you've got two LBKs up and running, you've got several batches of brewing and bottling under your belt, you will have a better idea of what you want to do next. It may be going to a larger fermenter, it might be adding more LBKs, it might be you are content.

 

 

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9 hours ago, joshua.j.grissom said:

How do you guys feel about the the 2g brewmax fermentors?

I wouldn't rule out getting one some day, but there are some disadvantages. With the LBKs, I can control temperatures in a cheap cooler I have laying around and I can cold crash on a regular refrigerator shelf. Couldn't do that with the much taller Brewmax 2G. Also, those things also seem pretty expensive at $50 each.

 

On the plus side, they're supposedly easier to clean. I would think bottling would be easier too.

 

But the two-LBK system MrWhy suggests makes sense if you're just getting started. That way you keep the production moving and are learning the ropes pretty quickly. If you're eager to "scratch the itch" or move faster, you can do it by reading lots of old posts here. Follow links to other posts. Run searches. Also read "How to Brew" by John Palmer. Even though it goes deep for those who want it, it's also great for beginners. It's geared toward full-size batches, but lots of info carries over.

 

By the way, did you manage to get your temperature down for the batch you're fermenting?

 

Jim

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21 hours ago, kedogn said:

Why not have both?

 

When my brewery starts up again, which might be earlier than planned, I'm going to lean on "quality" first, then once I get back into the routine and my beers are better and better, I'll go with quantity.  I don't think quantity first then quality would come out as well

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1 minute ago, MiniYoda said:

When my brewery starts up again, which might be earlier than planned, I'm going to lean on "quality" first, then once I get back into the routine and my beers are better and better, I'll go with quantity.  I don't think quantity first then quality would come out as well

You are correct.  It is always best to work on nailing a recipe, before worrying about going bigger.  But both could be the ultimate goal :)

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15 hours ago, jasbo said:

I wouldn't rule out getting one some day, but there are some disadvantages. With the LBKs, I can control temperatures in a cheap cooler I have laying around and I can cold crash on a regular refrigerator shelf. Couldn't do that with the much taller Brewmax 2G. Also, those things also seem pretty expensive at $50 each.

 

On the plus side, they're supposedly easier to clean. I would think bottling would be easier too.

 

But the two-LBK system MrWhy suggests makes sense if you're just getting started. That way you keep the production moving and are learning the ropes pretty quickly. If you're eager to "scratch the itch" or move faster, you can do it by reading lots of old posts here. Follow links to other posts. Run searches. Also read "How to Brew" by John Palmer. Even though it goes deep for those who want it, it's also great for beginners. It's geared toward full-size batches, but lots of info carries over.

 

By the way, did you manage to get your temperature down for the batch you're fermenting?

 

Jim

 

Thanks for the advice guys, and yes i got the temperature down Jim thanks for asking, for now i just have it in a cardboard box with some bottles in it to keep the LBK cool. i also have thermometers and a portable cooler on the way just until i decide which route i wanna go. I had a mini fridge that i used for soft drinks and beer i was going to use, but it has a freezer inside it and in any case my LBK doesn't fit in it. For now i think the cooler will work, once i decide on the plan I will probably buy a cheap mini fridge that can hold about 4 LBK's. I have been doing some searching and if you buy one at the right time and place they aren't too expensive. 

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Just wanted to give an update @jasbo @RickBeer @MrWhy the cooler and thermometer came in today after transferring my LBK, it is sitting at about 62-64F. Thanks so much for all the advice. Rick i have started reading a lot of your links within your sig thank you for passing along your knowledge. 

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The questions continue.... 

 

So i have been looking on various sites to try and find a concrete answer to the following scenario. Often i transport beer in growlers when i go to family bbq's, friends out of town etc. Obviously, as i am new to home brewing, i am talking about beer from breweries that is dispensed from the tap. I know that conditioning in growlers is a no-no, but my question is would it be bad to transfer beer from bottles to a growler post conditioning for easy transporting if i am going to consume the beer that day, if so what is the best way to keep your beer fresh and get it into a growler?

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1 hour ago, joshua.j.grissom said:

I only ask because I would eventually like to get a growler like the ukeg or something similar but I guess at that point you would just pour the beer into the keg directly after fermentation and force carbonate the beer with co2?

 

I've looked into kegging, but left it at the research phase.

 

Essentially, what you are saying is correct. Think of kegging as your carbonation/dispensing system. You carbonate in the keg, and dispense from the keg. 

 

It seems to me most people force carbonate, but you also have brewers who use priming sugar in the keg to carbonate.

 

Once the beer is carbonated (whatever method you choose) and chilled, you then dispense from the keg (CO2). You can, if you want, bottle the carbonated beer from the keg (or fill a growler or whatever) but you need a reverse wand.

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Some growler systems offer pressurization options, but they are also designed for putting kegged beer in.  There ARE growlers that can handle fermentation, BUT you need to find ones that are.  Most are not, and will either explode or pop the top off.  

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