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Old 08-13-2006, 08:47 AM   #1
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Default First Boil - More questions than answers

Brewed up for the first time last night.....and what a drama it was.

I've done loads of reading and brewed several "kits" but it's not until you do you first boil that your discover all the bits you haven't read about!

So did the folowing:

450g British Crystal Malt (Steeped in a saucepan, then sparged with some boiled water)

3.2 KG of Pale LME
450g Dark DME

2oz Northern Brewer 50 mins
1oz Fuggles 20 mins
1oz Fuggles 5 mins

SAFALE yeast

I had so many drama's I'm sure I'm going to have to bin it.

So problems / questions:

1) Lack of hop bags (only had two!) and/ or anything to weight them down with. Does it mater that they floated and that I had to fish the Fugles out to add more?

2) There is a lot of Hop residue in the boiler is this expected?

3) Could I have just bunged them straight in the boil.

4) The big problem....broke my thermometer and I don't have a wort chiller!!! I was told that if I did a 3 gallon boil then adding 2 gallons of cold water would chill it to pitching temp. What a load of rubbish. It was still very hot.....so I poured it into the fermentor anyway and stuck the fermentor in a bath of cold water for about 10 minutes and then pitched. Got up this morning to find the wort as flat as a milpond with no bubbles to be seen. Have I killed the yeast?

5) The other worry was that the steam was condensing on the roof of my garage and occasionally dripping back down so I'm also worried about contamination.

6) The other amusing problems were that I dropped the metal lid of one of the LME's into the boil, and had to spend five very painful minutes fishing it out with long tongs. Oh and my boiler tap now leaks.

Any advice (like "give up homebrewing") gratefully received.

I have now gone out and bought some more yeast in order to repitch....how long should I wait? It's been 14 hours and it looks like flat coke!

Cheers

TB

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Old 08-13-2006, 12:57 PM   #2
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I'll take a shot - my two cents, worth every penny. Others will have different perspectives, without doubt. The recipe should give you a fine brew and you seem to be off to a good start.

1) Lack of hop bags (only had two!) and/ or anything to weight them down with. Does it mater that they floated and that I had to fish the Fugles out to add more?

None is really needed. The hops can go ahead and float free and will do no harm.

2) There is a lot of Hop residue in the boiler is this expected?

Yes - this is normal.

3) Could I have just bunged them straight in the boil.

Huh? Maybe one of the folks from UK will understand the question better than I!

4) The big problem....broke my thermometer and I don't have a wort chiller!!! I was told that if I did a 3 gallon boil then adding 2 gallons of cold water would chill it to pitching temp. What a load of rubbish. It was still very hot.....so I poured it into the fermentor anyway and stuck the fermentor in a bath of cold water for about 10 minutes and then pitched. Got up this morning to find the wort as flat as a milpond with no bubbles to be seen. Have I killed the yeast?

Not out of the question. For this reason, I usually do a two gallon boil and put my boil pot into my kitchen sink full of ice water. When all the ice melts, usually about ten or fifteen minutes, I pour into three gallons of cool water.

In winter, I will simply leave my brew water outside for a few hours to get it nice and gold, then pour the boil straight in without chilling.

I use a plastic primary fermenter with a stick on strip thermometer, which is handy and unbreakable.

Before you finally decide that the yeast is dead, I would say give it another day or so and see if it starts bubbling. It still could.

5) The other worry was that the steam was condensing on the roof of my garage and occasionally dripping back down so I'm also worried about contamination.

A fair worry - If you have no other location to do your boiling, maybe you could jury rig some kind of a tarp over it for future boils.

6) The other amusing problems were that I dropped the metal lid of one of the LME's into the boil, and had to spend five very painful minutes fishing it out with long tongs. Oh and my boiler tap now leaks.

Messy but it should not matter. Everyone has dropped something into the boil or fermenter that did not belong there at least once.

Any advice (like "give up homebrewing") gratefully received.

I have now gone out and bought some more yeast in order to repitch....how long should I wait? It's been 14 hours and it looks like flat coke!

Any time from this instant to forty eight hours is my suggestion, depending on your patience. If no activity by then, go ahead and repitch.

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Old 08-13-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
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#3 I just toss the hops in and strain them while transfering to the fermenter.
#5 I'd be worried, although I brewed in a car port with spiders on the ceiling for several years.
I'd re-pitch now.

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Old 08-13-2006, 01:38 PM   #4
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I suspect you might have killed your yeast. Safale usually gets to work pretty fast (a few hours). Assuming you were using a plastic bucket as a fermenter, 10 minutes in a cold bath won't have cooled it down very much (plastic doesnt conduct heat very well). I say pitch your yeast immidiately! Safale is cheap and you won't be doing any harm even if your yeast are just being sluggish.

I think you should invest or make an immersion chiller to make it easy on yourself next time. Don't worry about the other stuff, its par for the course and I have done far worse on my early batches. I wouldn't be too worried about the drips on the ceiling to be honest.

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Old 08-13-2006, 02:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments guys.

Mysterio, I should invest in a chiller, but as this was my first boil I though I could get away without one!!! You live and learn eh?

Just repitched. When gently stirring in the new yeast the brew appears to be full of white clumps and there was a small amount build up on the side of the wort (about 2 inches long + half an inch wide).

Have I jumped the gun or is this the sign of dead yeast? Does it mater if I've jumped the gun or will I simply have a different flavour to what I would've had?

BTW will I now have to strain the dead yeast out or will it setle in the primary?

Plan on using a secondary for a couple of weeks at least.

Thanks again.

TB

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Old 08-13-2006, 02:39 PM   #6
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I think the white clumps were krauesen (sp?), i.e. a sign that your previous yeast were working Maybe what happened was you shocked some of the yeast but didn't wipe them out... they just took a while to get going.

Dead/dorment yeast settle out and are nothing to worry about. You'll probably see your brew really take off in the next couple of hours.

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Old 08-14-2006, 05:38 PM   #7
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An update!

I now have a nice 2 inch krausen on the top of my beer. The plastic lid of the fermentor is suitably domed and all seems well again.

Just the contamination to worry about.

My krausen is white, but has a chocolate brown area (about 4inches by 4inches)at the centre...is this normal or is it a rogue growth?

You have to laugh I've done several kits and not given a stuff, I do my first boil and it's like having a new baby (too hot, too cold, crying too much, not crying enough etc....).

Anyhoo thanks for your help guys, looks like things are on the right track again.

EDIT Scrap the worry, just done some searching and there are some krausen pics that look just like mine......I'm off to sit in corner for five weeks. Damn running out of brew...I'm at least five weeks away from drinking any of my own beer (.

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Old 08-14-2006, 07:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBMaster
Brewed up for the first time last night.....and what a drama it was.

I've done loads of reading and brewed several "kits" but it's not until you do you first boil that your discover all the bits you haven't read about!

So did the folowing:

450g British Crystal Malt (Steeped in a saucepan, then sparged with some boiled water)

3.2 KG of Pale LME
450g Dark DME

2oz Northern Brewer 50 mins
1oz Fuggles 20 mins
1oz Fuggles 5 mins

SAFALE yeast

I had so many drama's I'm sure I'm going to have to bin it.

So problems / questions:

1) Lack of hop bags (only had two!) and/ or anything to weight them down with. Does it mater that they floated and that I had to fish the Fugles out to add more?

2) There is a lot of Hop residue in the boiler is this expected?

3) Could I have just bunged them straight in the boil.

4) The big problem....broke my thermometer and I don't have a wort chiller!!! I was told that if I did a 3 gallon boil then adding 2 gallons of cold water would chill it to pitching temp. What a load of rubbish. It was still very hot.....so I poured it into the fermentor anyway and stuck the fermentor in a bath of cold water for about 10 minutes and then pitched. Got up this morning to find the wort as flat as a milpond with no bubbles to be seen. Have I killed the yeast?

5) The other worry was that the steam was condensing on the roof of my garage and occasionally dripping back down so I'm also worried about contamination.

6) The other amusing problems were that I dropped the metal lid of one of the LME's into the boil, and had to spend five very painful minutes fishing it out with long tongs. Oh and my boiler tap now leaks.

Any advice (like "give up homebrewing") gratefully received.

I have now gone out and bought some more yeast in order to repitch....how long should I wait? It's been 14 hours and it looks like flat coke!

Cheers

TB
i'm still a rookie myself, but i've had a handful of problems that you're experiencing, so here are my thoughts:

just let the hops float around in the boil. when you move the beer from the kettle to the fermenter, put them through a metal strainer. that will get probably 95% of the hops out. when you move from your primary to your secondary fermenter, you'll probably get the other 4.99% out. you can even strain it twice if you need too, but more than that might damage the beer. i have a metal strainer that sits right on top of my fermenter. pouring the wort through it also adds valuable oxygen to the mix.

i would suggest that if you're doing a partial boil, only use two gallons. all the experts will tell you to do a minimum of three, but the experts have fancy wort chillers, etc, that allow them to say such things. boil two gallons, add your fermentables and hops, and when all is said and done you'll have about a gallon and a half of liquid. have four gallons of spring water chilled overnight in your refrigerator. add those to the wort (up to the five gallon mark), and you should be fine, maybe around 75 F.

don't worry about stuff falling into your boiling wort. the heat will keep it sterile. you want to do your best to keep it clean, but a little bit of ceiling water isn't going to ruin the beer. i brew outside and have had insects and leaves fall into my wort. they come out in the straining process and haven't damaged a brew yet.

if you drop the lid into the boil, you're probably better served to just let it go. it's aluminum, so it might affect the flavor of the beer, but i doubt it because it's so small and it was treated to protect the extract in the first place.

pitch twice as much yeast as you think you need. i have yet to hear of anyone "over-yeasting" their beer. i'm sure it's possible, but just not nearly as likely as under pitching.
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Old 08-14-2006, 08:21 PM   #9
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I'm not quite sure why, other than simple lack of patience, one would bother investing in a wort chiller. Someone set me straight if I need to be, because I just strain + sparge into my fermenting vessel, add nearly-iced water, cap it with a closed bung, etc., and wait for the temp to drop naturally before pitching and adding the airlock. Hell, if nothing else, I use that time to do cleanup.

Is there something I'm missing?

During my last boil, I had the pot lid sitting on the top of the pot, but cracked a little. I left one of those square silicone potholders on top, and when I turned around, it was...gone. In the boiling wort. No big deal. Boiling will kill pretty much any biologicals or toxins.

Glad to hear that you finally have fermentation!

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Old 08-14-2006, 08:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan!
I'm not quite sure why, other than simple lack of patience, one would bother investing in a wort chiller. Someone set me straight if I need to be, because I just strain + sparge into my fermenting vessel, add nearly-iced water, cap it with a closed bung, etc., and wait for the temp to drop naturally before pitching and adding the airlock. Hell, if nothing else, I use that time to do cleanup.

Is there something I'm missing?
If you are boiling a full 5 gallons (or more) you can't add more water to cool it down and an ice bath will not get the job done fast enough.

If you are doing partial volume boils (3 gallons or less) then there is no real need for a chiller. Ice water or an ice bath will work fine for rapic cooling.

One last thing... if you are pouring hot wort into a strainer or something, you will add oxygen to the wort and your beer will go stale faster than if you cooled it before getting any air into it.

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