First Time Dry Hopping Fiasco
I should have known this evening wouldn't turn out well when I drove to my LHBS through blinding snow to get supplies for my next brew, only to find out they close an hour earlier on Monday and Tuesday. Little did I know that wouldn't be the only mishap of the evening.
I brewed an English Pale/ESB last week, and I decided to dry hop with .5 oz of Goldings (US, not UK, yeah, yeah, I'm cheap. :D). Sounds like a great plan, right?
I had bought myself 2 reusable nylon hop bags (AKA 1 gal paint strainer bags from Lowes), with the plan being I'd put the hop pellets inside and tie a knot in the end, giving lots of space for the hops to cavort in the wort. (Too bad that doesn't rhyme.) I went to all the effort of attempting to strain my wort before putting it in my fermentor, so why put more crud in there if I could avoid it?
The plan was as follows:
1) weigh out half an once of hops
2) dunk hop bag in sanitizer
3) pour hops into bag
4) tie knot in bag
5) spritz and/or dunk with sanitizer one more time
6) toss in fermentor
Here's how it actually went down:
Steps 1 and 2 went great.
Step 3 is where it all went downhill. I started pouring the hops into the bag, and they promptly fell right into my sink. :eek:(I use our guest bathroom as my fermentorium, as my wife doesn't go down there if she can avoid it.)
I fished the hops out of the sink (fortunately none went down the drain), sprayed them down with sanitizer. Then I put the rescued hops into the hop bag, sprayed it down again, tied a knot in it, tossed it in the fermentor. High fives all around! :ban:
The attentive reader will notice what I then noticed when I turned around: half of my hops still in my cup on the counter. :smack:
So I said, "screw it!", and dumped the rest of the hops in my fermentor.
Anybody else have any good stories of their own mind-numbing ineptitude they'd like to share?
The artist Bob Ross would call events like these "happy accidents". You might inadvertently discover an improvement to the beer doing things this way (though I am not going to deliberately add Starsan-and-drain-schmegma-coated hops to my next batch).
People that cook and cook often usually rack up enough experience that they can leave the recipe and experiment, and they can improvise (either on purpose or by necessity). Others of a more timid/anal sort need to make a science out of it, terrified that if a pinch more than a 1/4 cup goes into the recipe, it's toast.
Beer is really, really forgiving of silly mistakes. Imagine baking a pie and accidentally burning it in the oven, and then just setting it out on the counter for a few weeks and coming back to a good pie. Can't happen, right? Well, thanks to yeast, it can happen with beer.
Whether it was the beer you wanted, well, that is the never-ending quest!
I'm fortunate in that I haven't had any major boo-boos. Almost knocked a full 6-gallon carboy off a table during a party years ago, saved it but had to wait for several days before I could bottle.
I'll always make up a bucket full of sanitizer solution and then forget to actually sanitize things before they go into the carboy. Most of the time everything is soap-and-water clean, which is actually probably good enough for beer making. I don't know how the Trappists managed without StarSan :)
I mentioned this in another thread recently, but two brew days ago I was getting ready to cut open my packet of yeast with scissors of which the tip were sanitized. There was a bit fumbling and the scissors ended up at the bottom of my fermenter. As you'll no doubt note, this included the unsanitized portion of the scissors. I immediately soaked my entire right arm in Star San and fished them out whilst praying to the beer gods that my wort didn't just get infected. Luckily it was a DIPA so there were 6 ounces of hops in there to help fight off infection. Just put dry hops in this past Saturday and it didn't look or smell infected, so that put my fears to rest. Lesson learned: don't handle anything that hasn't been sanitized next to your open fermenter.
I'm sure it will all turn out fine. I do a lot of cooking, and I'm very much a "pinch of this, dash of that, throw some stuff in there" kind of chef. I just start making my own homebrew recipes, after doing 30+ kit brews or ones I found online. It's always fun to share your stupid mistakes, for nothing else if not the humor.
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