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FAQ: BREW DAY QUESTIONS
How do I make water similiar to Pilsen?

Pilsen water is the lowest in minerals of any water. First you would add a small amount of minerals to distilled or RO water as calculated by Promash brewing software. Then you would boil the water, let it cool and rack off the sediment. As soon as you rack off, reheat and start the brew. Just being exposed to the air will cause the temporary hardness to be above the Pilsen profile. A customer friend of Morebeer had extensive talks with George Fix on this concept (Thanks George!) and was told the allowed temporary hardness was above the profile but nowhere near as much as distilled water.


How do I make a Yeast Starter?

1) Remove vial from refrigerator. Allow to warm to room temperature for at least 2 hours. 2) Recommended Process for Use of Flask: Double Boiler Method It is important for your safety to heat water in the flask with a heat source that distributes heat evenly. Our manufacturer has confirmed that direct heat to the glass can break down its integrity and break if the heat source doesn't distribute evenly. Morebeer! recommends using the "double boiler method." This process involves using a boiling water bath on the outside of the flask to heat up the water inside the flask. All you need is a kettle 3 gallons or larger. This process is much safer and efficient. If the flask should break or boil over, your kettle will be there to collect the contents, thus keeping your stove clean and keeping you away from potential harm. Or just boil your water separately in pot and pour into your flask. 3) In an Erlenmeyer flask, mix light Dry Malt Extract (DME), a pinch of yeast nutrient mix, and boiled water. Use 1/2 cup DME per 900ml of water. Watch carefully to prevent boilovers. 4) Cover flask with aluminum foil (or a stopper and a sanitary filter). Place in ice bath or freezer to cool. After initial cooling allow flask to adjust to room temperature. 5) Open vial and pour into flask at a temperature from 70-80F. Seal with foil or airlock. 6) Place flask somewhere warm 65-75F. Swirl as often as possible the first 24 hours to help oxygenate. Wait 24-48 hours, then pitch into fermenter. If you do not use your starter due to time constraints, refrigerate it well sealed, and re-feed the yeast the day of brewday with fresh wort. Ale yeast can last 2-3 weeks in a refrigerator. Lager yeast can last 4-6 weeks in a refrigerator. 7) Do not use a stir plate for more than 48 hours as it can over-oxygenate your yeast starter. Do not used .5 micron oxygenation system in a yeast starter. It can contribute too much ester production for its volume.


What is the advantage of a yeast starter?

We build starters for 3 main reasons. First, to ensure yeast health. By making a starter 1-3 days in advance, you ensure that your yeast is healthy and strong and ready to do its job. Second, to create more yeast. By making the starter you will increase the cell count of the yeast, giving you a better chance of keeping bacteria's and wild yeasts from fermenting your wort. Third, if you are making high gravity beers. If you are making a high gravity beer (1.060+) you will need more yeast to start the ferment faster. High gravity beers will also finish more completely when you pitch ample quantities of yeast. More information on the subject: Before yeast start to convert sugars to alcohol, they go through two stages of respiration. It is during this time that they are building their cell walls up to be strong and healthy. As soon as the yeast eat all the oxygen in the wort, their cells tell them to switch to eating sugars. It is at this point that we as brewers want the yeast to be introduced into the wort so there is a minimal lag time. A starter will do two things for you: one, it will allow the yeast a media in which to "wake up", and two, it will allow the yeast a good environment for multiplication. The more hungry, healthy, and viable yeast cells you have, the faster fermentation begins, and the cleaner the flavors that are produced.


Can I use a cast iron kettle to boil my wort?

No! The acidity of the wort will dissolve iron into your wort causing off flavors and haze.


Can I use a aluminum pot to boil my wort?

Conventional wisdom says no. Aluminum is dissolved in an acidic environment and will enter the wort. Most metals are scrubbed out by the yeast and we would expect aluminum would end up in the yeast and not the beer but, we know of no studies showing this to be true. To be safe, we would not recommend using aluminum any place where it can contact wort or beer.


Can I use a copper kettle to boil wort?

Yes! Some brewers believe copper is the best material for brewing beer. It causes some interesting reactions to happen with the sugar that are believed to make the beer taste more like carmel. Also copper transfers heat very well. We have seen micro-photographs of the surface of a kettle just as the bubble tears off the surface and it is very different in copper than stainless. I don't know how this effects the beer but it was a very distinct difference. Copper is much harder to keep looking good than stainless and most breweries have switched to stainless.


I want to order a kettle with a thermometer and an immersion wort chiller, will this work?

We don't recommend using fixed thermometers (weldless or weld in) on boil kettles that use immersion wort chillers to cool the wort. Most kettles aren't terribly wide, so they have a hard time accommodating a 2 or 6 inch probe and the wort chiller at the same time. Any damage to the probe by the wort chiller hitting it when putting it in or taking it out can lead to incorrect temperature readings over time. Second, and more important, cooling wort tends to have temperature gradients. Meaning, the top temps can be quite different from bottom temps, since heat rises. It is like when you put your toe in a pool and the water feels real warm at the top, but when you jump in you quickly realize that not all the temperature in the pool is the same. We find because of this effect a single fixed point of temperature reading might give you a temp reading very far off of the real temperature of the entire wort. A great solution is using a thermometer go through the notch in the lid and the dial face allows you to read the temperature easily. Another trick is to feel the outside of the kettle for a uniform coolness, from bottom to top. If the bottom of the kettle is as cool as the top, your wort will probably not get much cooler than that, and you are ready to transfer out of your kettle.


I want to brew inside can I use your burners indoors?

The big problem is venting the exhaust gasses. You will either need a restaurant hood our build an enclosed burner like your hot water heater. A good plumbing text can teach you how to size the duct and make-up air vents. If you choose the hood, Make-up air is important to not suck flue gasses down your other appliances. If you go the enclosed burner rout then you have to make sure the make-up air can supply enough air to keep the flue venting. This is a very technical question and is better suited to a qualified plumber and your local planning commission. For further reference look for my article on brewing indoors in Brew Your Own.


Can I use propane in a basement?

No! It is very dangerous to use propane in any place that does not drain to the outside. If you spray water in you brewery if there is any place it can puddle without flowing outside then you should not use propane. If there is any leaks it will puddle. Any pools of propane are extremely dangerous! Regulators have a vent and if the diaphragm breaks it will vent the tank of propane. This is not at all uncommon. If you were to have a pilot light or a random spark from metal on metal contact or an electrical spark your whole house will disappear. Any regulator installed indoors needs a hose connecting the vent to the outdoors with a trap and screen to keep water, debris and insects out.


How do I read my Hydrometer?

First find the scale that we as brewers use - which is the one that reads 1.000 at the top. Make sure there is no CO2 in solution! Do this by pouring the sample between two glasses untill there is no foaming. Slowly drop in the hydrometer and let it come to rest. Spin the hydrometer in the solution to release any trapped CO2 that could be stuck underneath the hydrometer, which can give you a false reading. When you are happy with the reading, take the reading from the bottom of the meniscus. This is the lowest part of the fluid surface in the jar. Finally take the temperature of the sample and adjust the reading from a calibration chart. Take the reading at room temperature 60-65F for the best accuracy. Don't forget to drink the sample!


Does the ambient temperature of my wort affect how my oxygen will be absorbed? And what can I do to compensate for this?

Yes. During the warm summer months, the solubility of high gravity beers (1.060 +) is very low, so you will need to oxygenate a bit longer to achieve the same results.


Can I use brass fittings in my home brewery?

Yes, though some people are concerned with lead on the surface of the brass that is left over from machining.  Search for our tip on removing lead from brass. That being said, most brewers prefer to use stainless steel when they can.


Is Reverse Osmosis water good for brewing?

Reverse Osmosis strips all minerals from the water. This is not ideal for brewing since the yeast use some of the minerals for nutrients and the minerals provide a background flavor in many cases. If you get really sophisticated with your water you can start with RO and add minerals back. This would require a little research and a good scale. Our R&D guy does happen to be working on water modification as a side project. Soft water is historically better for lagers (generality) especially Pilsner in the Czech style. There are lager styles that are exception to the proceeding rule, such as the German Dortmunder, that were historically brewed with hard water. Ales from England, especially from the area of Burton on Trent have been brewed with very hard water.


Why buy a starter kit from MoreBeer!?

As you browse through our MoreBeer! catalog and website, you'll discover that we offer the expert knowledge base and excellent Customer Service needed to help you from your first home beer making experience all the way into commercial beer brewing. Call us and speak directly with an expert home brewer. Our experience shows that if your first beer does not turn out great you won't keep brewing. So, if you ever have a problem we help solve it as quickly as possible. We want you to be a satisfied home beer maker and a satisfied customer. We also offer free shipping on all orders over $59, meaning that all of our starter kits ship to any address in the lower 48 United States for free!


What is the best way to add coffee to a beer?

You have a few options here - try making a double-strength batch of coffee in your french press and adding that to your fermenter.  You can also try cold steeping coffee (letting the grounds steep in the fridge for 2 days).  Most brewers have had less-than-stellar results steeping the grounds right in the boil, so avoid this method. 


How do I know if my hydrometer is still accurate?

Fill your hydrometer jar with water, preferably RO or distilled water.  Take a reading at a room temperature between 60-65F.  If you're hydrometer reads zero at the top of the miniscus water line you are still accurate. If your hydrometer is off by 1 to 2 points (and this is common) you will need to add or subract this amount to your future readings.  


Are Copper Wort Chillers safe to put in boiling wort?

 

Yes!  Did you know there is zinc in copper?  Zinc is an essential nutrient source for yeast to consume as they grow and multiply.  The heat helps extract small amount of zinc found in copper. It's a win/win for your fermentation and for you as a brewer. 
 

Can I gravity drain wort from a Camp Chef to a fermenter?

Yes one of the reasons we love the Camp Cheff burner is the perfect height for gravity draining wort into a carboy or bucket for fermentation.   


If I brew extract should I worry about adjusting my water?

When brewing extract it is not neccesary to adjust your brewing water - except for filtering tap water with a carbon filter prior to use.  With that said you can adjust your brewing water but this a more advanced step and usually reserved for those brewing all-grain, where there is greater benefit. 


It is really THAT easy to make good beer at home?

YES!  If you can follow a recipe and keep clean, there is nothing stopping you from making great beer in your home - beer you can be proud of and your friends will love!

The MoreBeer! mission is to provide reliable equipment and quality ingredients that make the home brewing experience successful and satisfying. We'll get you started in home brewing the way we wish we had been started.


What size brew kettle should I buy?

 

Pretty much all homebrewing kettles, and all the kettles sold by MoreBeer!, are now made of Stainless Steel.  The price of stainless steel has come down in price over the last 10 years to a point where Enamel Coated, Aluminum, or any other type of kettle need not even be considered.  

 

As for kettle size we recommend choosing a kettle that is ideally 50% larger than your batch size, but a bare minimum of at least 30% larger.  So if you are making 5 gallon batches we recommend you choose around a 7.5 gallon kettle. This will allow you to boil a starting volume of 6 gallons when doing a full-wort boil.  

 

It does not hurt to got with a slightly larger kettle.  We sell many 8 and 9 gallon kettles for people doing 5 gallon batches.  Additionally if you think that you may want to upgrade to 10 gallon batches some day you can buy a 15 gallon kettle and still make a 5 gallon batch. However in these scenarios you do need a special wort chiller called a our 5/10 Split.