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Homebrewing FAQs

Q: When using two cans of malt for my recipe, do I use one pack of yeast or both packs?
A: You can use one pack and put the other in the refrigerator for a back up or you can use both packs. You will get complete fermentation regardless of whether you use just one pack or both.

Q: Do I follow the directions on the can malts?
A: For the love of beer NO!!!! This will produce a cidery, winey flavor that is not enjoyable. You can either use two cans or use DME instead of sugar. This will produce a much more acceptable outcome. Sugar is good for priming only if you are using candi sugar in a Belgian beer.

Q: Can I crush the specialty grains in a coffee grinder or blender?
A: In small quantities (less than 20 percent of the fermentables) in recipes using malt extract, grains add color, sweetness and perhaps some body. They don't add many fermentables and thus "mill size" is not critical. It is however important not to grind grain so fine that husk material exits the muslin bag and transfers harsh flavors to the wort during the boil. We suggest milling the grain with a roller mill, or cracking at home with a rolling pin.

Q: I've pitched an active yeast package and my wort is not doing anything.
A: The first phase of fermentation is yeast reproduction. This is the "lag" period when nothing appears to be happening. Once sufficient yeast has been produced, they begin to eat the sugars and fermentation is evident by slight white dots and foam that soon builds into a large, foamy head, or krausen. The lag phase can last from a few hours to several days. Ideally, activity should start within 24 hours, but may take longer if a small population of yeast was pitched.

Q: My beer has bubbled up through the airlock; should I dump the beer?
A: No. Remove the airlock, thoroughly clean and sanitize. If the carboy is still foaming over, install a blow-off tube that fits snugly into the mouth of the carboy, with the other end submerged into a sanitizer solution.

Q: Is it necessary to do a secondary fermentation?
A: No. But using a secondary allows you to rack beer off of the dead yeast and other precipitated solids. The resulting beer is clearer, cleaner tasting, has less sediment in the bottles, and is less prone to haze and off-flavors.

Q: I don't think my beer is doing anything. I don't see any bubbles in the airlock, should I add more yeast?
A: There could be a few reasons why you don't see any bubbles in your airlock:
1) There could be a small leak around the grommet for the airlock or around the lid, causing Co2 to escape in those places instead through the airlock.
2) If the Fermenter is in a warm area (above 72F to 76F degrees), fermentation could have already happened overnight while you were asleep. If the Fermenter is too cold (below 62F degrees), the yeast could have gone back to sleep and no fermentation has occurred. Gently warm the fermentor back up to the upper 60's. Try to maintain the temp in the upper 60's or as the directions indicate per style.
Now that we covered those few possibilities, have you taken a hydrometer reading to see where your beer's gravity is? Please tell me you have a hydrometer and know how to use one, if not, call or come by the store and we will show you how.
So, you say that your fermenter lid and the grommet is all secure and airtight, the temperature is at 68F degrees, it's been 24-36 hours and still nothing? Open the lid, look inside and see if there is a krausen ring around the inside of the fermenter? If so, chances are the fermentation has occurred and you need to take a hydrometer reading and verify that fermentation is complete. If there is no krausen ring, still take a hydrometer reading and compare to what your starting gravity should be. If the reading is still at the starting gravity or a couple points off, then you should pitch another pack of yeast.

Q: I have 4oz. Of caramel extract. I’m brewing 5 gallons of milk stout. How much of the caramel extract should I add to give it a nice caramel flavor?
A: Yours is a great question and one we get asked a lot. No one can tell you exactly how much flavoring to add to your brew. Flavorings are adding according to taste. What you consider a nice caramel flavor, I may consider not enough or the opposite. My best suggestion at this point would be that before adding this to 5 gallons of wort, try a small measured amount on a small measured amount of milk stout that is similar to what you are brewing to determine how much you think gives it a nice caramel flavor. Use this determination to decide how much of this flavoring you would like to add to your brew.

Kegging Q: This is my first beer on tap. I seem to get 50/50 beer and head. The beer doesn't feel over carbonated. My regulator is set to 10 psi. My gas and beer lines are 4 foot each. The temperature is 35 f. Any ideas what I should change?
A: I would lower your regulator down to 2 - 3 psi. We run our cO2 regulator for the growler bar at 12psi, for 27 taps. I would lower it to the 2 psi and see how the pour is and slowly adjust it higher until you get just the right amount of pour for your preference. Also making sure to fully open the faucet, don't open it halfway, needs to be fully open.

Do you have any question? Feel free to email them over to us and we will do our very best to get you a prompt answer. Thank you as always, Barley and Vine