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Old 04-13-2012, 12:30 PM   #1
JohnnyNeurotic
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Default Bad Brew Day

I'm sure many of you have had them, but in almost 7 years of homebrewing, last Saturday was my first bad day.

It started with the spillage of hop pellets - down a heater grate in the kitchen, no less - by a curious party who was "helping me." And seeing as how I was making an Oatmeal Stout the addition of my only in-house hops, 2oz of Citra, was definitely NOT an option. Insert trip to LHBS here.

Shortly after that, with my frustration already mounting, I missed my target temp and was forced to scoop 4qts at a time out of my MLT, heat quickly and add back in to get up to temp.

Then the first pitcher at vorlauf ended up on the kitchen floor.

Luckily for me, the boil went well... and then my cooling system failed miserably. Kinks in the line and all.

Attempting to cool via the "ice bath" system took an eternity and I ended up throwing my yeast starter in an 88 degrees and going to bed with a "f___ it" kind of attitude.

Ok! Venting done.

Anyone else familiar with bad brew days? I'm usually so organized and anal from restaurant years in my youth; setting up my sautee station perfectly 6 days a week... last weekend was just a disaster. I much prefer brewing alone. It's like a Zen thing, I think.

FWIW, when I returned home from Easter brunch with the fam my fermenter was bubbling away happily, ignorant to the hell the brew inside it had caused me the day before!

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Old 04-13-2012, 12:52 PM   #2
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Uh oh! We've had a few mistakes as we got started that were beginner's misunderstandings, but not (knock on wood) super bad days yet. Although, for an English Bitter awhile back, our hop addition sack (made with a 5 gal paint strainer attached with a hoseclamp to a 4" pvc piece drilled for a copper tube crossbeam) collapsed, fell into the boil at 50 minutes, the hops went everywhere, and the hoseclamp finished the boil in the bottom of the pot. We've named it our Hoseclamp English Bitter. Tastes just fine. Hoseclamp was SS, and we left most of the sediment behind by racking from primary to secondary. At home, we would have strained it as it went into primary, but we were brewing at a friends' house. Good times.

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Old 04-13-2012, 01:20 PM   #3
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I've had some hellish brew days lately as well. My wife, who was my brew partner is carrying our first child and for about four months couldn't participate at all. The week I lost her to the sickness, I switched to AG and have had more bad luck than I could possibly list here. To name a few:

  • Placed hydrometer and glass flask in fridge to get pre-boil gravity and cool sample - opened door and crash to the floor
  • discovered after 20 minutes of running that my immersion chiller, which runs off of my garden hose was leaking into my wort
  • discovered that my newly purchased thermometer was 10 degrees high and that I was mashing at 142, scrambled to fix, ended up with an absurd water to grain ratio
  • Also had a hop incident..hoped the garage floor dirt will settle out in the trub..LHBS was closed. Fortunately I'd just swept, but it's still the garage

The list goes on and on. But, they all became beer and the two of the three that are ready are superb, the other tasted amazing when I was racking to the secondary/dry hopping. I'm starting to understand that while all of these things we are all so anal about will guarantee that your beer turns out as expected, beer is much more forgiving than one would think.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:41 PM   #4
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Wait till Your back goes out due to bad judgement and or bad technique.....

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Old 04-13-2012, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighorn_brew View Post
Wait till Your back goes out due to bad judgement and or bad technique.....
Does it count if that happens trying to lift a 200lb CLA-VAL out of the pump station at work by yourself? I'm just having a bad week, I guess.

Bighorn... in Montana, eh? Need a roommate? Hahaha.

I lived in Big Sky in '08. I would kill to be back there!

Anyway, here's to better brew days! I'm definitely thankful that beer is an all-forgiving mistress.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:19 PM   #6
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Haven't had anything too bad happen yet *knocks on wood*, but I'm a little apprehensive about tonight's brew. It's a big IIPA, lots of grain, lots of hops. My wife is out of town this weekend and I'm having a buddy come over to assist me like she normally does. It's also the first time I'll be brewing on the propane burner in the garage (door open, I'm not planning on snuffing myself out tonight) and the inaugural use of my new wort chiller. So there's a lot of new variables in play and I just keep repeating to myself, "Organize, organize, organize." Hopefully if I have everything organized and ready to go I'll be fine.

Oh, I'll also be bottling a previous batch concurrently so I can pitch onto the yeast cake, so there's even more going on at the same time.

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Old 04-14-2012, 04:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyNeurotic View Post
Does it count if that happens trying to lift a 200lb CLA-VAL out of the pump station at work by yourself? I'm just having a bad week, I guess.

Bighorn... in Montana, eh? Need a roommate? Hahaha.

I lived in Big Sky in '08. I would kill to be back there!

Anyway, here's to better brew days! I'm definitely thankful that beer is an all-forgiving mistress.
Yeah, big sky is nice,,,,in regards to roomie,,,uh things are getting cramped as it is....have wife, daughter, doggie, and a son due in June,,,,we are bursting at the seams in our current house.....luckily I have a 16 x 16 concrete slab brew shed with electricity that keeps me sane as well as wife due to me not doing a lot of brew related stuff in house.
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:48 PM   #8
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Sorry about your bad brew day! I've had one as well. I was trying a new diptube/SS braid thing I invented for my sanke tun. When I opened the valve to drain my first run, it only gave me a drip or two. I've never seen such a stuck sparge! I had to dump the entire contents (water & grist) into my kettle into a "BIAB" bag. I got in a panic after that, so everything else just seemed to go wrong all day. The funny thing is, that batch of beer turned out to be one of the best I've ever made!

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Old 04-14-2012, 05:28 PM   #9
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I had a horrible brew day this last winter. Had a really stuck sparge (manifold came apart and filled with grain), wort spillage, almost fried a march pump and a lauter grant casulaty. Got the last of that brew in the keggerator and as they say, time heals all wounds (and a few pints don't hurt anything either).

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Old 04-14-2012, 09:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktblunden View Post
So there's a lot of new variables in play and I just keep repeating to myself, "Organize, organize, organize." Hopefully if I have everything organized and ready to go I'll be fine.

Oh, I'll also be bottling a previous batch concurrently so I can pitch onto the yeast cake, so there's even more going on at the same time.
This is me a lot of the time. Just starting out and each time I brew a batch I try to change/add 1 or 2 new things to the process. Added straining and hop bags (actually FORGOT the hop bag first time I wanted to do it). Added my wort chiller last week. This time I'm stepping up to a full boil. Each time I brew I have to write out a list of directions and lay everything out. The basics are starting to become easy, but the little details I keep scrambling on.
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