Last night I made my first ever extract brew.

The brew day went pretty well. As I have a 32 litre brupak boiler with a hop strainer and tap I cooled the wort with cold bottled water straight in the boiler and ran it out through the tap when cool. This was really easy and hopefully served to aerate the wort. It took quite a while to boil 6 litres of water on the stove though which doesn't fill me with confidence at the prospect of a full-volume boil!

No fermentation action yet but I'll try to be patient, it's only 10 hours later!

I have a few questions that came up - any help would be greatly appreciated.

  1. I have an airlock on the FV, which goes through a rubber grommet in the lid. Should I have put vaseline on that for a better seal? The seal seems pretty good but I'm sure I've read something about vaseline.

  2. What do people do about cleaning and sanitising the hop strainer and tap/ball valve on the boiler? Is it sufficient to run a load of hot water and detergent through it, relying on the fact that it gets hot to sterilise it next brew? Or do I have to take it apart?

  3. I pitched the yeast (Safale 05) at 24 degrees but I wonder now whether I should have waited (it was bedtime!). If I've ruined the yeast is there anything I can do about that? Chuck more in?

  4. When it comes to bottling, how can I start the syphon between primary FV and bottling bucket without putting my mouth on it?


  • 2
    Congrats on the first brew. Upvoted
    – brewchez
    Jan 30, 2012 at 0:42

5 Answers 5


Stovetop full boils would be pretty rough. If you can brew outside, look into a turkey fryer. They usually come with a 7-8 gallon kettle and a high-output propane burner. You can often find them on sale at outdoor centers. I paid $40 US for mine on clearance.

On to your questions.

  1. No Vaseline please! It's almost impossible to completely clean off plastic/rubber and will just be a place for grime to get stuck. An airlock does not need a hermetic seal, especially during primary fermentation.

  2. A good post-brew cleaning should be all you need. The valve and screen will be thoroughly sanitized the next time you boil. If you're really concerned, a few minutes before the end of your boil run some boiling wort (carefully please) through the valve into a stainless vessel and pour it back into the kettle. But not necessary, in my opinion, as long as things were clean to begin with.

  3. 24C is 75F, which is a fine temp for pitching. I've pitched ale yeast as cool as 65F/18C and as hot as 82F/28C without ill effects.

  4. As Mystere Man noted, an auto siphon is absolutely the way to go. It may be the best $10 I've spent on brewing. If you don't have an autosiphon yet, you can start the siphon by filling the tube with clean water and capping both ends with your thumbs. Then stick the racking cane in your fermenting vessel, lower the end that's going into your bottling bucket, and let it flow. Practice with plain water first, but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

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  • 2
    nice answer. Just to add that the general rule of sanitization is clean everything after use, and sanitize before use for anything used post boil.
    – mdma
    Jan 29, 2012 at 14:51
  • 1
    Keep in mind that fermentation is exothermic...it can add as much as 10F to your fermentation temp. I like to keep esters minimized generally, so I pitch below the intended fermentation temp. For me, that's in the 62-65F range. For yeasts like WY 1728 or WY1007 I try to pitch around 55F.
    – Denny Conn
    Jan 29, 2012 at 18:49
  • Great answer, very helpful, thanks. I doubt I'll get hold of a "turkey fryer" as such in the UK but I'm sure there will some suitable kind of propane burner available. Jan 29, 2012 at 20:13
  • You can get good propane burners from most homebrew supply shops, or online. They definitely shorten the brewday. But if you can't get your hands on one or would rather an alternative you could think about making a heatstick: cedarcreeknetworks.com/heatstick.htm Jan 31, 2012 at 17:32
  1. Don't put anything on the grommet on your fermented. The fermentation chamber has a positive pressure of CO2 anyway, so you won't get nasties in there. I would, however, fill the airlock with StarSan (or even cheap vodka) instead of water.

  2. For the post brew cleaning, just use OxyClean (or the genericequivalent). Add some water to your kettle, dump a scoop of OxyClean in and bring it to about 150 degrees (F) and drain it through your valve. You'll still have some in the bottom of the kettle so scrub it with a Scotch-Brite pad. Rinse everything well with water. You shouldn't have to worry about sanitizing your kettle because everything going in is getting boiled.

  3. Your pitching temp is fine. You didn't mention whether you rehydrated your yeast or not. If you're using dry yeast, you should always rehydrate it in luke warm water. You should do this even if you're making bread.

  4. As far as siphoning goes, by far the most effective technique for getting beer from a fermenter (short of a valve on the bottom) is with an auto-siphon. There are other methonds, but none will make you as happy as one pump on the auto-siphon and have a beer.

  1. Unless there is an actual leak, you should be good. Vaseline might make it easier to remove the stopper, but i think it could make it so the stopper doesn't "grip" and will push out under pressure.
  2. I Don't use a pot with a ball valve, so i couldn't tell you.
  3. 24 degrees c is plenty cool for yeast, so long as it's under 27 or so you're good, even up to 30 should be fine.
  4. Get an auto-siphon, they're absolutely worth it. If it saves even one batch from contamination it's worth it.
  • Cheers, Mystere Man! Jan 29, 2012 at 20:10

There are good answers here. Just wanted to pick up on the sanitary racking. The autosiphon is a good suggestion, although there is a sanitary way to rack without one.

Take a 1-2" piece of garden hose and slip this over the end of the siphon hose. You sanitize this while sanitizing the rest of the siphon.

At siphon time, slip the piece of garden hose over the end of the siphon hose and suck. Don't suck all the way up so it reaches your mouth, but far enough that you can then pinch the siphon hose to hold the liquid level. Then remove the bit of garden hose and drop the siphon hose end where you need it. When you let go of the siphon hose, the liquid will flow.

It works, but nowhere near as simple as using an autosiphon.

One downside with an autosiphon is that they can introduce air into the beer during transfers. I'm going to invest in a self-priming pump to avoid this.

  • Thanks, mdma! The garden hose thing sounds like a good trick. Jan 29, 2012 at 20:10

Before I bought an auto siphon here is the technique I used when siphoning...

I would have a small tub/pot/bucket filled with sanitizer (one step and water). After sanitizing my siphon, I would dip it into the tub and start siphoning the sanitizer. After I get it flowing I'd rinse my hand with sanitizer and use my thumb to cap the siphon. Then I would try as best I could to rinse the part of the siphon that was in my mouth in the sanitizer while keeping my thumb as a cap. After this, placing the siphon in your brew bucket, release your thumb and it should start siphoning. Although it was probably unnecessary, I would usually run the siphon into a separate bucket or pot until I saw my beer flowing through.

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