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Everything posted by JoshR

  1. No problem. I can move it to the correct subforum.
  2. We recieve many calls and emails here at Mr. Beer on how to use a hydrometer. Many of the hydrometer instructions can be confusing to newbies so I thought I would create this primer on the correct way to use a hydrometer and the explanation of specific gravity. Understanding Your Hydrometer: The hydrometer is a simple instrument that measures the weight (or gravity) of a liquid in relation to the weight of water. Because the relation of the gravity to water is specified (1.000), the resulting measure is called a specific gravity. A hydrometer will float higher in a heavy liquid, such as one with a quantity of sugar dissolved in it, and lower in a light liquid, such as water or alcohol. The average homebrewer has a very keen interest in the amount of sugar dissolved in their wort, for yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. By knowing how much sugar one started with and ended with, one can easily calculate the resulting alcohol content. There are many variants of the hydrometer. Some have only one scale, some two and some three. The typical hydrometer measures three things: specific gravity (S.G.), potential alcohol (P.A.), and sugar. How To Use Your Hydrometer: It's really pretty easy to use the hydrometer; just follow these simple steps: 1. Sanitize the hydrometer, test jar, and any tools that may come into contact with your wort/beer. 2. Place test cylinder on flat surface. 3. Draw a sample of "clean" wort/beer (Avoid testing samples that contain solid particles, since this will affect the readings.) 4. Fill the test jar with enough liquid to just float the hydrometer - about 80% full. 5. Gently lower the hydrometer into the test jar; spin the hydrometer as you release it, so no bubbles stick to the bottom of the hydrometer (this can also affect readings). 6. Making sure the hydrometer isn't touching the sides of the test jar and is floating freely, take a reading across the bottom of the meniscus (see image below). Meniscus is a fancy word for the curved surface of the liquid. 7. Be sure to take good records of your readings! That's it! Pretty simple, huh? There are a couple of other things you need to know to get an accurate measurement. Most hydrometers are calibrated to give correct readings at 59-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures thin the liquid slightly and result in lower readings than you'd get at the correct temperature. At 70 degrees F., the reading will be 0.001 low. To correct it, add 0.001 to the reading. At 77 degrees F., add 0.002. At 84 degrees F., add 0.003. At 95 degrees F., add 0.005. At temperatures above 95 degrees F., you risk killing your yeast and losing your beer. If you can't remember all that just print out the chart below. Another thing you need to know is that most hydrometers come with three scales. Specific Gravity, Balling, and Brix are the ones that are usually on your hydrometer. Specific Gravity and Brix are the ones that are most used. Sugar can be measured as ounces per gallon, or as degrees Balling, or Brix. Ounces per gallon are measured on a numeric scale in which an S.G. of 1.046 equals 16 oz. (one pound) of sugar per U.S. gallon. Brix is measured as a percentage of sugar by which pure water has a Brix of 0 (or 0% sugar), an S.G. of 1.046 equals a Brix of 11.5 (11.5% sugar), and an S.G. of 1.095 equals a Brix of 22.5 (22.5% sugar). If you have a choice and want to simplify your life, buy a hydrometer that measures sugar by ounces per gallon. That should cover everything you need to know about your hydrometer and how to use it. Here are a few tools that may help: Handy Tools: Brix/SG Conversion Calculator Hydrometer Temperature Adjustment Calculator Cheers!
  3. Yes, it should be fine. Just be sure to bottle it as soon as you get back.
  4. JoshR

    3 days

    I'm probably younger than many of you, but I sure don't feel it. lol
  5. JoshR

    3 days

    I, too, live with gout. Not fun. And it sucks because I love yeasty beers (especially abbey style ales and some hefes). I take a prescription medication for it, but it still flares up once in awhile. That's when I start chugging cherry juice. It actually works for gout.
  6. Guinness Beef Stew? Recipe please?
  7. Hopefully getting one started this weekend!
  8. That's hilarious. I had a similar start, except I was making "wine" in 2 liter bottles with condoms or balloons at the top with a tiny hole in them acting as an airlock. I was about 17...lol. That was my first experience with fermentation. Needless to say, it didn't come out tasting very good, but it was definitely alcoholic, and at that age, that was all that mattered. lol
  9. I use a secondary for everything, but my wheat beers and my Mr. Beer beers. Everything else is usually all-grain or partial mash, and I make some pretty big beers that require secondary for dry-hopping, souring, or lagering.
  10. You could also raise the temp for about 48 hours to around 60-65 after your initial ferment, then lower it back down to lagering temps for the remaining time. This is known as a "diacetyl rest". This makes the yeast more active and allows them to eat up unwanted diacetyl before going into lagering mode. Diacetyl imparts a buttery/butterscotch flavor that is generally unwanted in most beer styles (some stouts or darker ales can benefit from a little bit of diacetyl). In fact, diacetyl is the main ingredient of the artificial butter used on popcorn. It can be caused by pitching your yeast, as is, in a warm wort, then allowing it to cool. The yeast will create diacetyl during this process. A way to avoid this is to make a yeast starter first (growing your yeast colony before adding to the wort to create a stronger starting ferment with less lag time). Reducing diacetyl is important with lagers as it can really mess up the taste of your beer. Good luck!
  11. For future reference, use our handy priming sugar chart: http://www.mrbeer.com/common/images/pdf/primingsugarchart.pdf
  12. Congratulations! Keep us posted on your progress!
  13. Your beers may be darker than usual because you could be using older HME. As malt extracts age, they darken. They're still useable, but they will darken considerably over time, especially liquid malts.
  14. Wheat beers are incredibly easy to make. Especially your basic hefeweizen. Keep in mind though that it won't clear up like a typical beer due to the high amount of proteins from the wheat. Wheat beers are usually naturally cloudy (the exception being many commercial brands that filter their beers). We have several weissbeer recipes, but the ones I recommend would be our "Who's Your Hefe, German Hefeweizen", our "Wild Wheat", or our "Belgian Blanc" (probably closest to Blue Moon than the others). There are also a multitude of recipes in our Basic/Advanced Recipes subforums and on this amazing fan-made site: http://www.mrbeerfans.com/ubbthreads/. Happy brewing!
  15. The 8Lx holds as much beer as our LBKs so they are basically designed to do 2 gallon batches. You will have some extra headspace, but with the co2 off-gassing, you should be able to brew a 1 gallon batch without the threat of oxidation. Just remove the krausen kollar and you should be set. Please let us know how well it works out as I've never done a 1 gallon batch in our kits.
  16. Yeah, Rick's been an amazing contributer to the forums. It's people like him that really make these forums useful to beginners. We couldn't be more proud of our contributers and community.
  17. A secondary fermentation is really only necessary if you insist on a bright, clear beer, or if you're dry-hopping. It hardly changes the flavor, and you risk oxidation with the transfer from primary to secondary. Carbonating/Conditioning isn't usually considered a secondary fermentation (though technically it is).
  18. Rick is correct. When you refrigerate your bottles before conditioning, the yeast will go dormant and will not carbonate the beer. They prefer 65-75 degrees for proper carbonation.
  19. There are many companies that make HME, but our's is the best.
  20. While it's much easier to use our premade cans, you can experiment with other malts, hops, etc. There are many recipes in our Basic/Advanced Recipe subforums, and there is also a great fan-made forum that has a multitude of Mr. Beer recipes. Happy Brewing! http://www.mrbeerfans.com/ubbthreads/
  21. The LBKs have a 2.5 gallon capacity. The 8.5 liter mark is 2.24 gallons. This leaves you with enough headspace for foam. Once bottled, you will get roughly 2 gallons because the headspace and the sediment will displace .5 gallon. I hope this makes more sense. Also, the LBKs never come with a Krausen Kollar. Those are only for the 8Lx and the 24Lx.
  22. Well, it was sitting here at work. Now it's just empty bottles.
  23. Are you opening your fermenter each time? That's a bad idea. You shouldn't open it for at least 2 weeks, otherwise you can risk contamination.
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