Newbie brewer who is super confused

Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Discussion' started by Herman Bloom, Sep 11, 2018.

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  1. Sep 11, 2018 #1

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Hi guys,

    Forgive the large text dump here. I have been reading around on forums/reddit/websites and for each positions I see, I then see a different angle 30 minutes later! I am easily confused though. Anyway, here goes!

    I was given a starter kit, small batch, for my 40th a little while ago. The kit was the following:

    https://www.beerhawk.co.uk/go-pro-small-batch-beer-brewing-kit

    It come in US size 1.4 Gallon "Bubbler", which seems to be a specific trademarked bit of kit. Alongside it I was given a kettle that boils 7-ish litres (closer to 7.5 I guess) of liquid.

    The kit came with all the ingredients to make a Chinook IPA. I struggled in a few places (not enough liquid in at the start, my fault, and had real trouble siphoning from kettle to Bubbler and then into bottles, myself, wife and father-in-law all struggled so not just on me there! Got a smaller auto siphon and that worked slightly better, I think there was just too little liquid in the Bubbler to get a good siphon going for the bottling). There are now five bottles in the larder a week or so away from tasting. So at this stage I have no idea if the beer is good or not, but gave it a taste prior to bottling and it seemed OK!

    I followed the below recipe:

    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2...451427-1526674241535.pdf?13487688943730896590

    Looking into my next brew I got myself very confused. US gallons seem different to UK ones, most recipes were for 5 gallon batches and I don't have the space/money for a bigger kettle to boil the liquid. Also the recipe had me steep the grains, but not mash, and I used Malt extract. So I am actually not sure if it was a Partial Mash, BiaB or Extract? I have asked the brew shop and online and received conflicting answers.

    So, all in all, I got myself a bit worked up and just went for this for my second brew:

    https://www.beerhawk.co.uk/bourbon-barrel-porter-1-gallon-recipe-kit

    It arrives later today and I plan to spend Saturday afternoon brewing. I have purchased a hydrometer as the kit didn't come with one, and a thermometer as well. Hopefully I will have better luck with the siphon and I will end up with a full one gallon batch. One that tastes good!

    I have been reading How to Brew online and I get the fundamentals of what is going on, but then I look at recipes via the link here for Brewers Friend and I get a bit lost. So, I guess I am looking for general advice and also answers to the following:

    1. What do you think my started kit is? BiaB? Extract? Something else?

    2. If I stick with this kit (the Bubbler seemed very easy to use) and I want something other than the pre-prepared kits from Beerhawk like the one I have just bought. Do I go to Brewers Friend, search for one Gallon recipes and just pick something? (Not many of the one gallon recipes on there have any reviews, so I am not sure how to tell the "good" ones) I have also got a download from www.beercraftr.com which I assume works in a similar way.

    3. I have a Bubbler, is that the same as a Carboy, Demijohn, Fermentor or are they all different (and if so is it based on size)?

    4. Is Home Brew Beer by Hughes a good book on all this? I have about six websites and forums now bookmarked, plus here, plus Reddit. I think maybe a sit down with several cups of tea and a good book may stop me getting so confused?

    5. When I was asking in a different place about siphoning, a couple of comments came back that I could just pour direct from Kettler into the Bubbler, no siphoning. Is seemed very odd to me but as a couple came back saying the same thing it is now another area I am confused about!

    I have other questions, but this is getting silly so I will stop there. I actually really enjoyed the process of brewing, am a patient guy so the 2+2+2 thing I have seen a lot on here I am fine with (hence one week to go before I taste the beer properly), I think I have just had an overload on info from looking in too many places, and with the kit I have being a bit different to the norm, I have got confused when really the answers are simple? Maybe!

    Anyway, any help you can give me would be great. And just shout if I have left out some important info.

    Thanks
     
  2. Sep 11, 2018 #2

    Pavros

    Pavros

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    Welcome to the forum.

    First and foremost...Don't Panic!!!!
    Whatever you do, you will usually come out with something drinkable at the end of the process unless you make a real mess of things.

    The first thing to do is decide whether you want to continue with extract and steeping grains or go all grain. There is an excellent thread on here by Clibit which gives an introduction to small batch all grain brewing.
    https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/have-a-go-at-simple-ag.51779/
    You probably have the equipment for either method but may want to invest in a large stockpot if you don't have one already.

    It is really confusing searching the web for recipes as you need to make sure whether you are on a UK or US website. As you have already found out, 1 US gallon is smaller than 1 UK gallon. Most recipes also show the quantities in litres as well which is what I use to avoid confusion.
    1 US gallon = 3.8 litres
    1 UK gallon = 4.54 litres

    When searching for recipes, if there is a 5 gallon one that you like, just divide the quantities by 5 to get the amounts for a 1 gallon recipe.

    We usually use the term fv for fermentation vessel which covers all the items of demijohn, carboy, bucket, etc. I think your Bubbler is the brand name for the fv.

    Greg Hughes' book is excellent as it gives you a lot of knowledge about brewing as well as a large number of recipes for all types of beer. I would also recommend the James Morton book 'Brew' and The Brew your Own Big Book of Homebrewing, depending on which you can buy cheapest. They all describe the brewing process and give recipes but Greg Hughes' book is perhaps the best.

    Re siphoning, I would always siphon beer after the beer has fermented in your Bubbler into bottles as you don't want to introduce oxygen into your beer at this stage by splashing, etc.

    When you are transferring from your kettle/stockpot, after mashing/steeping and boiling, I would just pour the wort into the Bubbler as you actually do want to introduce oxygen into the wort at this stage before adding the yeast. I usually give my wort a good stir in the fv.

    I hope this helps and I'm sure others will be along shortly to help you further.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
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  3. Sep 11, 2018 #3

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Thanks for the reply. I ended up getting that Bourbon beer kit as I knew I was getting more confused so thought it better just to get another one ordered in. Then I know I can just work on doing a better job of a "standard" brew. I will look at Clitbit's thread for sure but as you say I am assuming I would need a bigger stockpot, and fv (I like that a lot, keeps it simple!) to do that.

    I will check out all three of those books and see if one of them is significantly cheaper than the others.

    Interesting to see you would also pour from kettle to fv. I don't know why, I just assumed that wasn't a good thing to do, but that is several people suggesting that now. Guess I was just too fixated on the Northern Brewer video I was using alongside the recipe!
     
  4. Sep 12, 2018 #4

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    I ordered the Hughes book yesterday, so that should help my understanding. Interested in any other feedback!
     
  5. Sep 12, 2018 #5

    JohnB

    JohnB

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    Hi Herman, FWIW I have brewed using the Clibit all-grain recipe mentioned by Pavros above, I can manage 10 litres final brew, so simply stepped the quantities up to 10 L of beer. If you can, do try it because the difference between all-grain and the kits is amazing - and more importantly if you enjoy home brewing, and can do small batches of all-grain, later on you will learn to brew the beer YOU want, not what the kit maker wants you to brew.
    1. The kit is partial mash - i.e. malt extract but with a steep of speciality grains and hops.
    2. Yes, read and understand Clibit's post, then size a recipe for the type of beer you like and buy the malt and hops you need from suppliers.
    3. 'Bubbler' is a trade name used for their fermenting vessel. This can be anything so long as it's practical, I use a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid, a hole and grommit allows fitting of an airlock.
    4. The Hughes book is excellent.
    5. At that volume (about one gallon), I'd simply pour directly into the 'Bubbler' without bothering with the syphon tube.

    Oh, and ...

    6. Enjoy the beer and enjoy the hobby! You'll get things wrong sometimes, but hopefully these times will be rare.
    Above all - have fun.
    JB.
     
  6. Sep 12, 2018 #6

    Mungri

    Mungri

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    A good choice. Excellent book for a grounding in all grain and lots of good recipes as well.athumb..
     
  7. Sep 12, 2018 #7

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    I second the book. Wish it would have been my first book but alas, wisdom came late to me.

    Now, before you go out buying more equipment, wait until you have tasted your first brew.
    And think: do you think you could live with 5 or 6 bottles every brew (every month perhaps) so 1 bottle per week, or do you think it would me more towards 1 bottle per day, just as the doctor ordered?*
    Because in the last case, try thinking about upscaling to 4 or 5 gallons a month. I bought 2 1-gallon fermenters before it occurred to me that there are such things as 5-gallon fermenters. :doh:
    Brewing 4 gallons takes not much more time, needs not much more equipment but the yield allows to share to neighbours, colleagues etc.

    Good luck!

    *I am not a doctor nor do I claim to have any medical knowledge, I hardly know my left from my right.
     
  8. Sep 12, 2018 #8

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Thanks for the feedback guys. I haven't seen many recipes that are for partial mash so I will have to look into this a bit further, as only really seem to see stuff about All Grain or Extract! Maybe the book will help me on that front when it arrives.

    I would ideally like to go to a higher volume of brew but am very space and time limited, with a one year old doing his best to trash the house on a daily basis. We have a small larder that I can keep the Bubbler in OK but a larger FV I would struggle to store as any other space is taken up with toys! Guess I would also need a bigger kettle as well, and this current one fills up the stove top as it is, so I wonder if I could even get a kettle that would fit on the stove and be able to maintain heat from the bottom properly for an hour.

    Oh and I have looked at that guide to All Grain and it makes it sound very simple indeed, compared to other descriptions/recipes I have read, so I intend to give that a go, in a few brews time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  9. Sep 12, 2018 #9

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    A 20 L pot would be 42% wider and taller than your 7 L. And 3 kW ought to be able to maintain a rolling boil (pot covered partially with lid). But with a kid around, everything becomes a bit of a challenge :laugh8:

    But keep up trying different styles with your current setup, maybe switch to extracts once you have a path laid out (kits are nice but pricey, and the Hughes book offers extract varieties of the all-grain recipes).

    :cheers3:
     
  10. Sep 12, 2018 #10

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Well the book sounds perfect then! 42% wider kettle sounds a bit dicey on that stove but at some point I will measure it and see. And then work out if I can possibly afford one anyway!

    I am looking forward to this second kit, as it will allow me to sort out my siphoning a bit and just generally practice more.

    So kits are not classed as Extract then? It seems like the kit I am using is not a standard kit, but a partial mash one, or are they all essentially the same thing?
     
  11. Sep 12, 2018 #11

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    Some kits are full extract, but some come with a few speciality grains that need a soak, that's partial mash. I started with a 1-gallon all-grain kit from the Brooklyn Brewshop. There are also kits that are not much more than a can (or sack) with hopped liquid extract, and a sachet of yeast. Doesn't even need a boil. Sometimes just some extra dry hop in secondary as for instance here: https://www.beerhawk.co.uk/mangrove-jack-s-american-pale-ale-brewery-pouch . All you'd need (taking mentioned kit as an example) is a bigger bubbler (7 gallon bucket with tap and airlock would set you back £15-ish). Oh and of course more bottles to bottle in. But Tesco sells water in .5 L bottles: use the water for brewing and keep the bottles, you could use them again for bottling (after sanitising). Just keep the bottles stored in the dark, or a box: light is not good for beer (hence the brown bottles being a standard).

    No hurries, no worries.
     
  12. Sep 12, 2018 #12

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Ah yes, I did read a bit about the kits/supplies that don't require boiling. I think I would feel a bit of a cop out if I didn't do a boil, as I know AG is kinda seen as the benchmark of brewing I like the idea of at least doing what I am currently going, seemingly a partial mash. It does sound like the fv upgrade is pretty cheap though, so it would just leave the upgrade in kettle that would be needed. Which I suspect is a bit pricier! I will go home tonight and measure out though, as I may as well figure out if a larger boil is even viable. Then if it isn't that is one less thing to think/worry about!
     
  13. Sep 12, 2018 #13

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    Brewing is a process consisting of several sub-processes.
    -recipe building
    -mashing (and rinsing)
    -boiling
    -fermenting
    -bottling
    If you'd leave the boiling out, there's os much more to focus on, it would not be a cop out. (unless to some purists, but then again, there are people out there that you're not a real brewer unless you grow and kiln your own malt and hops, pump water from your own well and mash and boil on a wood stove with self-chopped wood)
    A bigger pot is not too expensive, I have this one. 20 L, minus 25% margin leaves 15 L to boil. (always keep margins if you boil). And those 15 L are topped up to 17 L in the fermenter with cold water, so I end up with 16 L in bottles of goodness at the end.

    But as I said: no hurries. Check what the stove can handle, have a word with the missus (you want her approval, yes you do) and think it over.
     
  14. Sep 12, 2018 #14

    Herman Bloom

    Herman Bloom

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    Thanks so much, this is all helping my understanding a lot! I will get working on my own well...

    I like that break down of the processes. I guess I just thought the boil was the key in the process, which just shows I have much to learn. I have saved that link to the Kettle. May be in range of a Christmas present if I can get the OK from the wife, and it fits on our stove (looks like it should do but I will measure to be sure).
     
  15. Sep 12, 2018 #15

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    You can store some of your equipment in the pot, the loss in space is less than expected that way. And a good pot is always an addition to the kitchen. If 20 L is too large, 16 L is big too.
     
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  16. Sep 12, 2018 #16

    Soyyojuli

    Soyyojuli

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    You could do like I did. I'm a student on a budget so I made myself a plastic brewery athumb..

    Total cost: about 30Gbp + I had to sacrifice a Brewbucket.

    Elements are 1500w each.
    I got a 75% efficiency in my first brew.
     

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  17. Sep 12, 2018 #17

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Ye Gods!!!!
    Student on a budget and you can afford 30 quid???
    In my day when I was a student 30 quid (or 29 sovereigns and lots of groats, as we called it in those days) would have paid my sword fees and kept me in quills for a year with enough left over for three or four bashes with the strumpet round the corner.
     
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  18. Sep 12, 2018 #18

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    28 sovereigns and more groats. I was never much good at maths.
     
  19. Sep 12, 2018 #19

    GerritT

    GerritT

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    When I was a student, I didn't know there was like 'homebrewing' at all. And it became legal here in 1996 (something I read online somewhere). So those £? Cheap beer and then it would've been gone!

    Anyone here remember Oranjeboom?
     
  20. Sep 12, 2018 #20

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Where is "here"? Home-brewing has been legal in England for a long time. Selling isn't, but if you drink it yourself that's OK. C J J Berry was writing his books about it many decades ago.
    I learned how to make a basic home-brew back in uni days (in England). Beetroot beer, it was, or so I was assured by my room-mate who did the teaching. We made one gallon. It tasted not very good, but who cares. It was cold when we brewed it, so my room-mate kept adding more sugar. I guess it ended up rather strong. We shared it out among a gaggle of friends, and one lovely young lady called Maria (hi Maria, if by chance you read this) promptly collapsed and was out like a light for fifteen minutes. Memories.
     
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