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2nd time extract brew, I have some questions


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Jul 25, 2015
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Okay, I just bottled my first brew a week ago and there were a couple things that did not come out quite as expected. 1) The beer was darker than I expected by 3-4 SRM. 2) It didn't have much hop flavor or bitterness. The beer tasted clean (overly malty), just tasted like my recipe could use a lot of work. I downloaded beersmith because some of those recipe calculator websites give me concern on how well they work (or how well I know how to use them.)

So, for my second batch this is the recipe I have cooked up, and I also have some in general questions on brewing. For starters, based on How To Brew and forums I read, I started with 3 gallons of water last time.

.5 lbs Carapils
.5 lbs Caramel 20 (I used 60 last time, but I'm trying to lighten it up.)

I steep these grains for 30 minutes, shake out the bag gently over the pot, and throw them away.
Last time, I added 7 pounds LME. This time I thought I would add half now and half after (Forums give me the impression this could also help to lighten the beer.) Back to the recipe.

1 lbs DME
3.5 lbs LME
1 lb Table Sugar (To add to the ABV. From what I've read, it's fine to use in this way but keep it under 10%)

.75 oz Centennial (60 min)
.50 oz Simcoe (30 min)
3.5 lbs LME (15 min)
1 oz Pacifica (15 min)
1 oz Rakau (10 min)
1 oz Galaxy (5 min)
.50 oz Simcoe (5 min)
.25 oz Centennial (5 min)
1 oz Citra (0 min)

Now I use an Ice Bath to cool it down. I get free ice from work, so I have plenty. It took me about 30 minutes last time to get it all the way down last time (80 F).

Then I slosh it in between the pot and the bucket a few times to get the aeration going. Then I add the about 2 gallons of water to get to 5 gallons. Then I use the hydrometer to take the OG. Last time I used liquid yeast, WLP001 California Ale. I boiled 4 cups water, poured the yeast in that cup, covered it and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes, took it out and pitched my yeast.

Last time I did only one stage fermentation, this time I'm going for two. Based on what Beersmith tells me, this is my projected time frame.

Primary Fermentation - 4 days ( Although, I think, I know just to wait until the bubbler calms down and fermentation has slowed it's roll. )

Secondary Fermentation (5 gal glass carboy) - 10 days

Then begin my dry hop.
2 oz Citra
1 oz Galaxy
1 oz Rakau

All of these for 7 days in a small grain bag (which the guy at my brew store said would work fine for hops.) I'm under the impression to put some sort of weight in, some sanitized bolts or something, to keep the hops closest to the center of the carboy. After the 7 days, I will take the hop bag out and proceed to bottle.

So, a total of 4-5 days in the Primary and about 17 days in the Secondary, with the last 7 being the dry hop.

In conclusion my main question is about the whole Partial boil thing. I did that last time because that's just what I thought you did. I've read since then that adding the water at the end will dilute your hop flavor and bitterness. I certainly don't want to do that. I'm assuming that is a contributor to last time why it was so un-hoppy. I also only used 3 ounces of hops, although I used them earlier in the boil to try and drive the IBUs up.

I have a 40L pot. So I assume there is enough space for a full boil. Would this affect my recipe or brewing process at all? (Other than not adding water at the end, obviously.) In beersmith I'm using Pot and Cooler (5 gal/19L) Extract/Partial Mash because none of the options are my size and I figured it was important to pick one that said extract beside it.

The projected specs from beersmith are as follows:

OG: 1.060
IBUs: 72.2
SRM: 8.8
ABV: 6.3%

So, I'm happy to hear any and all advice. Mainly I want to know if I'd be better of with a full boil, and how I should adjust my process/recipe to make that work. Also, will adding half of the LME at the end of the boil have the effect I'm looking for (lightening up the beer)? Does my dry hop time and process seem legit? I've already got the ingredients, so I'm pretty set on what hops and malt I'm using, but I'm happy to change the amounts/times.
First off, congrats on starting a great adventure.  You're doing exactly what the rest of us did when we first started.  Reading and learning!

I'll kick off the answers with the easy to answer questions.

Full Boil

Affect on hop character:
Going to a full boil, will decrease the amount of per gallon during the boil and lead to better utilization of your hops.  The reason that most brewers suggest doing late addition of approximately 50% of the DME/LME when doing extract, is to get the sugar concentration down in your boil, so that you can get a similar hop utilization to a full boil.

Affect on color:
It is difficult to get color as light as you want it sometimes when brewing with extracts.  If you think about it, it is concentrated wort that has already been boiled once.  Now, you're boiling it again to reconstitute it.  By going to a late extract addition, you will be able to get it a lighter color than if you put it all in up front.

Either do the late addition of extracts, as you have planned to do, so that you get better hop utilization or go to a full boil.  If you have the capability of going to a full boil, it is the better of the two options.

Go to a full boil, and still do a late extract addition, as you would with a partial boil!  This will help you even more at attaining a lighter color!!  However, it might have the added benefit of increasing your hop utilization.  Beware though, that you might end up "over hoppy" too.

If you really want to start hitting colors dead on, consider going to all grain brewing.  You have the capacity with your large boil pot to do this, by utilizing the BIAB technique.

I'm sure that others will jump in here and offer additional advice.

Good luck, as you move forward!!
I know I'm late to the game, but I have the same problem with extract brewing.  Especially with LME, it's borderline impossible to get lighter brews because they have been cooked down so much and the sugars have started caramelizing.  I once threw together a 5 gal. brew made with some extra light LME that was given to me, and ended up with a brown ale.
If you haven't read "How To Brew", go to      howtobrew.com    and read at least through the extract section.

I have no idea why Beer Smith defaults to a 4-day primary and a 10-day secondary. The primary needs lots of yeast to convert the sugars to CO2, alcohol, and an unknown number of other compounds. Unfortunately, some of those compounds taste nasty. Fortunately, if you let the beer sit with plenty of yeast, the yeast will break down most of those nasties, leaving you with good beer. My suggestion: leave the beer on the yeast until the fermentation is complete (two specific gravity samples taken two or three days apart are the same), then leave it for an additional week. Don't transfer to a secondary until fermentation is complete plus one week.

Control your fermentation temperature! I prefer to ferment at the manufacturer's minimum temperature recommendation - or less. At higher temperatures the yeast often produces fusal alcohols. Fusals taste nasty and - if you drink too much - can produce world record setting hangovers. You said, "Now I use an Ice Bath to cool it down. I get free ice from work, so I have plenty. It took me about 30 minutes last time to get it all the way down last time (80 F)." Eighty degrees will not produce the best beer. Sixty to 65 will make a dramatic improvement in your beer!