My New Brewkit And First 5-Gallon Batch: Pour Me An English IPA!

Went shopping for a 5 gallon brew kit this weekend, can’t wait to try it out!!  It’s got a 6.5 gallon glass primary fermentation vessel, 6.5 gallon bottling bucket, and all the necessary hoses and tubing.  It’s also got a thermometer and hydrometer, Star-San no-rinse sanitizer, and everything else I need (other than bottles, which I have).  I can’t wait to get started!!

My first 5 gallon batch is going to be an English IPA.  Here’s the ingredients I’m going to use:

  • Columbus Bittering Hops, 13.9% Alpha, 5% Beta, 1oz
  • US Northern Brewer Flavor and Aroma Hops, 8.6% Alpha, 3.8% Beta, 1oz each
  • Nottingham Ale Yeast, 11g (0.388oz) Saccharomyces cerevisiae top fermenting yeast
  • Briess Dried Malt Extract, Golden Light, 1lb
  • American Crystal Malt, 40L, 1lb
  • Briess CBW Non-Diastatic, Unhopped, Pilsen Light, 3Kg (2  3.3lb jars)
  • 3/4 Cup Corn Sugar (Priming Sugar)

Instructions say to crush the malt with a rolling pin or heavy bottle.  Then add 2 gallons cold H2O (I’m using bottled spring water) to brewpot, heat the water to 150F, add malt, hold for 30 minutes.  Strain the grains.

Next, bring the steeping water to a boil and add bittering hops.  Boil gently for 45 minutes (scraping bottom to prevent sticking).

Next, add dry malt extract.  Boil, being careful not to boil over.  Stir in flavor hops, boil 12 more minutes.  Stir in aroma hops, boil 3 more minutes.  Turn off heat and cool pan in water bath till temperature is 100F.

Add 3 gallons chilled brewing water into sanitized primary fermenter.  Strain the wort into the fermentation vessel.  Top to 5.5 gallons.

When temperature is below 80F, stir vigorously to aerate the wort.  Sprinkle yeast on top*.  Install airlock with sanitation solution inside.

There are a few aspects of these directions that I am going to get clarification on before proceeding (like when and how to add the unhopped malt extract!).  I will make sure to have everything laid out and a specific plan in order, with all questions answered, before starting!!  If I have any unanswered questions, I will wait to brew until next weekend if need be, in order to make sure they are all answered!!

Fermentation will take place inside my closet, where I intend to carefully keep the temperature between 65-70F.  Bottling will take place in around 2 weeks to 20 days!  That will be another post!!

Any experienced brewers who read this, please do comment, elaborating in great detail!!

*note: yeast says to rehydrate for 15 secondes with 100 mL H20 86-92F.  I am going to call the store I bought it from to ensure this is the right method, because it disagrees with packaging.  Will comment later on the final method chosen.

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  • alcaponejunior  On January 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Decided to wait till this weekend to brew. Can’t get the brew shop on the line (it’s a holiday most places here), and I have too many unanswered questions to proceed. Been reading my books but I’m just feeling like it’s better to wait till I’m 100% certain of every step. Main concerns:

    When to add the two big cans of unhopped malt extract is not mentioned. The dry unhopped malt extract clearly has a point of addition, the two cans don’t.

    How to utilize the mesh bag (presumably for the crushed crystal malt?)

    Recipe calls for secondary fermentation, but I really didn’t want to do it that way. Need to clarify which method is best and how to do this with the equipment I have (one 6.5 gallon glass carboy, one 6.5 gallon bucket). Also, which one is easiest to bottle from, how/when to transfer the fermented wort into the bottling container w/corn syrup mixture for bottle conditioning.

    Exact procedure for pitching yeast still not clear.

    Exact procedure for doing the priming sugar not totally clear.

    In order to both bottle and/or do secondary fermentation, siphoning is needed. I need to practice doing this and decide what the most aseptic way to achieve this is.

    I have zero persons available to help today.

    If I use the glass bottle for primary fermentation, I need a stainless steel pot to transfer the wort with, and I don’t have it and don’t feel like going and getting it today, given all the rest of the questions that remain unanswered. Related to that is how to properly aerate the wort before pitching the yeast when using a glass carboy.

    Exact method of straining the wort before adding to primary fermentation vessel.

    How to check the specific gravity during fermentation, or whether to just check it before and after. The instructions and details of the provided literature and two different books seem to differ. Honestly I probably don’t really care about the exact specifics (not like I can do anything to change it, other than at the tail end of fermentation to leave it for a few more days), but for scientific reasons I’d like to know. I also need a proper container to check the SG in. I’ve tried several ways, but other than the slim plastic tube the SG meter came in, there’s no way to check it (using the glassware I have) without wasting a large amount of wort unless I purchase a graduated cylinder of the right size.

    Essentially I’m just not totally confident today and don’t want to screw up my first big batch of awesome homebrew. I’ve got several batches of Mr Beer homebrew going already, all bottle conditioning. The first batch I tried today and wasn’t that impressed. It was really dry but didn’t cut it taste wise. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if it’s just a lousy recipe. Given how simple the whole thing is, I would tend to doubt the recipe. The second batch is almost bottle conditioned and should be try-able soon.

    Please do elaborate in great detail if you have commentary.

  • pmcgrew  On January 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    A bit late on this but I’ll thrown in my 2 cents:

    I did full boils on both of my extract brews (one dry, one liquid) and I added the extract while the water was coming to a boil and then boiled for 60 minutes. I’ve heard of adding preboil, late in the boil, even post boil, you should be fine any way.

    Mesh bag is indeed for steeping the specialty grains. You don’t want any of the grain getting into the boil.

    Unless you’re dry hopping I would stay away from secondary fermentation. It may clear the beer up a bit, but it’s a step that could easily introduce nasties. I don’t bottle, but you can add the right amount of priming sugar into primary and use your bottling wand and siphon there.

    Straining wort can be done in several ways. Strainer over a funnel is probably easiest when using a carboy, if you use a bucket, get a 5 gallon paint strainer and put in the bucket, dump in wort, pull out strainer. I did that on my 2nd beer, a pretty hoppy IPA, and it was really clear.

    Check the gravity using the tube from the hydrometer. It’s not that much wort that’s going in there and that is what it’s for. Get a gravity reading before you pitch the yeast, wait about a week and take another. If you’ve hit your target gravity, wait another week or so, then bottle. If you were doing secondary you could transfer after fermentation has stopped.

    I’ve used dry yeast on all 3 beers I’ve brewed so far without making a starter, just sprinkle it on the beer after aerating. Unless your OG is really high, it should ferment just fine. The breakfast stout clone I did came in at 1.072 OG and dry yeast worked great there.

    Two big pieces of advice: Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Second, RDWHAHB (relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew). A couple brews and you won’t be as nervous.

  • pmcgrew  On January 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Oh, one thing I forgot. Buy an auto-siphon. If you’ve used a regular siphon you will thank me after.

  • alcaponejunior  On January 10, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Thanks pmcgrew for the advice! It will be taken into account whole heartedly!!

  • alcaponejunior  On January 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    BTW I have the auto-siphon now, plus a wine thief for checking SG and a new pot, spoon, funnel, and some other stuff! This kit will be brewed soon. Thanks a million to pmcgrew for the advice. I’ve been reading and learning all I can, and this advice will certainly be taken into account along the way.

    I will soon be reporting on my 2nd batch.

  • alcaponejunior  On January 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, it’s a bit more than a year later, and I can’t believe how much things have changed! Who knows what batch number I’m on …

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