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Old 11-02-2007, 03:21 AM   #1
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Default Boston Brewer Brews a Batch of Brown...Boy oh Boy (with pics!)

First off, thanks to everyone who has answered my questions over the last couple of weeks. People here are very helpful and always willing and eager to help newcomers. I appreciate that.

So, my first brew day (evening really... )

Things I had done prior to Brew Day


On everyone's recommendation, I purchased a copy of John Palmer's "How to Brew". As advertised, this is an extraordinarily helpful text. I also had ordered from Austin Homebrew an American Brown Ale extract kit. Last but not least, I feel like I did a ton of reading here.

Brew Day

My limited understanding of homebrewing is that the most important thing to do while homebrewing is to have a homebrew. I don't have any homebrew, but I do have a nice London Porter (in a Harpoon Brown glass ).



The first thing I did was to heat some bottled water and to drop in the yeast (Windsor Ale dry yeast). I let the yeast sit and then after 15 minutes, gave it a good stir.



That seemed to go ok. I next proceeded to bring 2.5 gallons of water to approximately 155-160 degrees. At a measurement of 158, I killed the flame and begin to steep the grains that were included with the kit.



After 15 minutes of steeping (as indicated in the instructions), the temp was down to 148. I was under the impression that below 150, you don't get much, but hopefully it wasn't below 150 for too long.

I took out the grains and bought the water to a boil. I killed the flame again and added the LME as well as some malto dextrin and other additives (again, from the kit). After doing my best to make sure that everything was adequately mixed and that there would be no scalding or burning of sediment, I brought the kettle back to a boil.

Upon reaching a boil, I added 2/3 of an oz. of Cascade and set the hour timer. At this point, I started to make sure that everything was sanitized. I dumped everything I thought I would need for primary fermentation into the primary.



One thing was strange is that the bubbles from the StarSan subsided pretty quickly. I used the recommended 1 oz. per 5 gallons. Don't know whether this is normal or not. Help answering that question would be appreciated.



I realized that just keeping everything in the primary but leaving the primary open probably wasn't the greatest idea. I took everything out of the StarSan solution and placed it in some plastic wrap on the table and then closed the primary with some plastic wrap as well. Anal, perhaps, but hopefully it worked.



Meanwhile, the brew was bubbling along. I wasn't able to get a "huge" boil going, but it definitely seemed like it was "rolling". It certainly was bubbling. I assume that what appears below is the "hot break".



With approximately ten minutes left on the hour, I added another 1/3 oz of Cascade. At the hour, I killed the flame and immediately moved the kettle to an ice bath.



I didn't buy enough ice (only two packages) and so wasn't able to get to 80 in the recommended 15-20 minutes. It took me a little over a half hour. I did everything I could to make sure that the wort was sanitary during that time - kettle was covered, thermometer and spoon were re-sprayed with StarSan each and every time prior to be dipped in the wort, etc.

Finally, I strained the cooled wort into the primary and topped off with water until I was at approximately 5 gallons. I stirred until I thought things were sufficiently aerated.



At that point, I took a sample with my thief. The gravity reading was approximately 1.50. With the adjustment for temperature (temperature of the sample was approximately 72), that comes out to roughly 1.051. The kit says that the gravity should be approximately 1.046 - ugh. Hope that isn't off by too much. Perhaps I simply didn't fully top off to 5.25 gallons, making the wort a bit more concentrated?

Anyway, sealed up and placed in a room with an ambient temperature of 67 degrees. The thermometer on the side still says its about 72-74, which seems high. Hopefully that isn't a problem.

Problems and Things to Work on


I definitely need to go with a propane cooker. My gas stovetop took "ages" to get the brewpot to a boil...ages.

I definitely need to make sure that I have sufficient amounts of ice on hand. Two packages ain't gonna get it done.

I was definitely cautious about cleanliness, but I think I need to be careful with the StarSan in the sptaybottle. I think I mixed it a little strong. Whenever it would mist and blow back into my face, I definitely got a taste of chemical. I hope that doesn't affect the brew in any way.

I definitely need to have homebrew for my next brewday...

Let's hope all goes well!

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Old 11-02-2007, 12:52 PM   #2
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Wow- it looks like a successful brewday! I haven't used Star-san so I can't comment on that, except to say to make sure you don't spray it near your face anymore! When I make wine, I use sulfite and I got a big whiff of that once while spraying and I swear I burnt the inside of my nose!

I don't cover my sanitized items with plastic wrap, just put them on a sanitized piece of wax paper on the counter, however, you did ok by being so careful. It looks like you're going to have some great beer.

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Old 11-02-2007, 12:54 PM   #3
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Looks like you did a great job to me. Your fermentation temps seem fine, i would not worry about that. I ferment my ales in an ambient 67-68 all the time and have no problems with esters. Also, your steeping temps were fine. Dropping below 150 for a short period of time with steeping grains is no problem whatsoever. You should have a great brew in about 6 weeks.

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Old 11-02-2007, 01:18 PM   #4
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Great job Boston Brewer! I can't answer the Star San question either and I agree with cubbie on the steeping. You are now a homebrewer! and thanks for the pics! Watch out now, your free time will be spent researching more information on beer and brewing. Also I think you did a great job on the sanitation. To aid in cooling, you might want to invest in an immersion chiller...

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Old 11-02-2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback!

As of this morning, the airlock was bubbling and bubbling hard...that sounds good. Also, the thermometer on the side of the primary fermenter has come down to 68-70, which makes me a lot happier.

I'll keep you updated!

P.S. - One question...is it problematic that recommented OG was 1.046 and I was at 1.051?

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Old 11-02-2007, 01:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Brewer

P.S. - One question...is it problematic that recommented OG was 1.046 and I was at 1.051?
This will increase the alcohol by volume (ABV) in the beer. 5 pts isn't worth worrying for the first time. At least you measured it. I forgot on my first brew to even take an initial reading! The increased OG will raise the ABV by 0.66.
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Old 11-08-2007, 01:34 PM   #7
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Just an update (and a question). Brew day was one week ago and I have left the primary untouched until now. I intend to take a gravity reading on Saturday, and then on Sunday, with hopes of moving things to a secondary for two weeks of clarification.

Question - the room in which I have stored my gear is pretty chilly. The temperature reading on the side of the primary has been hovering between 64 and 66 degrees. I believe Windsor Ale recommended a bottom range of 65.

I assume that, provided I get my target gravity reading this weekend, there should be no problem?

Has anyone worked with Windsor Ale and can give me some feedback on fermentation at this temperature range?

Thanks in advance,
Matt

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Old 11-08-2007, 02:01 PM   #8
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I wouldn't worry about the temp too much, it should be fine.

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Old 11-08-2007, 02:14 PM   #9
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I've used Windsor a few times. It'll be fine at that temperature. You might notice that it's a little less "fruity" at a cool temperature like that, but that will be ok.

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Old 11-09-2007, 05:27 PM   #10
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Just a brief update. Its been in primary for 8 days now. I took a sample and it came out to 1.018, down from a starting gravity of 1.051. That seems a little slow to me, but temperature has been on the cool side. I figure I'll take another reading on Sunday and see where things stand.

On the upside, I tasted the sample and it tasted pretty good...no off-flavors or anything. One note, however...there do appear to be clumps of something (almost like spent hop pellet residue) at the top of the barrel. There were really no off-flavors so I didn't worry too much. Right call?

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