Come along for the ride - First Brew
Today I purchased the remaining pieces to get started in homebrewing. I am using a Brewer's Best 6.5 G ale pale, which I will use for Primary. I have a 5G PET (recycle code 1) Plastic carboy I will use for secondary in about a week. The equipment I purchased came with a Midwest Supply Autumn Amber Ale ingredient kit. Here are some pictures as I take the plunge. Please comment if there are things I should have done, or done differently along the way..
1.) Here I am using some Star-San to sanitize the bucket and other pieces/parts. I sanitized the lid by simply using a sponge to rinse it down. How long can the equipment be "dry" before it needs another sanitization?
2.) I have a device called an iGrill that I use to track temperature. I was bringing the water up to 155 so I can steep the grains.
3.) The ingredient kit came with some specialty grains. I placed them in a large zip lock bag and crushed them down a bit with a roller before adding them to the muslin bag.
4.) Once the water hit 155, I placed the grains (in bag) into the water for 28 minutes.
5.) While the grains were steeping, I placed the LME into a hot water bath to "loosen up".
6.) I added the LME to the pot.
7.) ---hmmm looks like a boil over waiting to happen! (It didn't, thankfully, but I will be buying a new kettle)
8.) I was getting ready for the hops..
9.) Once we had a boil, I added the bittering hops.
10.) The Hallertau bittering hops (pellets) were put in for a 60 minute boil. the Fuggles were put in for the final 2 minutes of the 60 minute boil.
11.) After 60 minutes I placed the wort into an ice bath...got the temp from 213 -> 85 in about 25 minutes. I stopped at 85 cause I was topping off with cold water.
12.) I used a sanitized pyrex measuring cup to top off with cold tap water into the primary fermenter to hit the 5G mark.
13.) I placed the airlock onto the lid (filled to the marks with a Star-San/water solution), pitched the yeast, closed the lid, and placed on an elevated platform in the basement.
A couple concerns/questions.. When I was transferring the cooled wort to the primary, I had a large funnel with screen.. There was a bunch of "stuff" at the bottom of the kettle...I wasn't sure how much to include in the primary. I was thinking, the less "wort" that goes in, the more top-off water needed, the weaker the beer???
Also, I have refractometer that I used to take a reading before I pitched the yeast. It was calibrated with TAP water to 0. The initial reading was 1.065 ( I think...I'll have to look at it again tomorrow). That seemed high?
If you are referring to the trub, i try to get as little as I can into my fermentor, that said it will settle out with your yeast later on.
Secondary ferment? not needed but if you insist on doing it wait until fermentation has stopped before racking.
The only thing "wrong" that I saw in your process (there are very few things wrong in brewing in general) was i'd have added more water. normally, wort with all the extra stuff at 5 gallons produces about 4.5 gallons of actual beer. once all the trub/yeast cake/ krausen settles out, you have a pile of stuff at the bottom that you won't be drinking. That would also explain your higher than expected gravity (less water means more concentrated beer)
overall, you've done a fine job with your first beer. If your anything like me, you probably fretted like crazy making your first!
Looks good to me. The hard part now is waiting!
I'm by no means an expert, but I think I can answer some of your questions. I've got 6 extract batches under
my belt, and am nearly done building my all grain setup.
As far as sanitation, I think if you sanitize your equipment well, it can sit for a good amount of time. I've
done a complete 'equipment sanitation' a day before I've brewed on a few occasions. Never have had an
infection. I think the only time you might want to re-sanitize is if you knowingly contaminated something.
The 'stuff' at the bottom of your kettle is 'trub'. Basically small hop pieces from the hop pellets. I pour the entire
volume of the kettle through the strained funnel. It takes a while as I usually have to clear the filter of trub
with a big spoon every half gallon or so. Just pour it all through, whatever gets into the primary is ok. Once it's all in then dilute to 5 gal. or whatever your batch size is.
The instructions in the kit should say what the O.G. Should be. 1.065 doesn't seem too high. Should give a pretty strong beer.
Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.
I'm still new to this obsession so my knowledge is limited, but the process looks good. My only recommendation is to consider a late extract addition if you continue to brew extract kits. Add about 1/3 of your liquid extract at the beginning of the boil and add the rest with anywhere to 15 minutes left our at flame out. This will help avoid scorching and maillard (sp?) reactions, and will give you color closer to style. Other than that, make sure you take the pot off the heat when you add the extract and stir like crazy.
Enjoy the obsession!
Thanks for taking the time to document and post this. I have recently gone through the same exact process, and yes the hardest part is waiting. Currently I am waiting to get my caps in so I can bottle... Then more waiting. I glad to see that everyone says you did things correctly. Can't wait to consume, let us know how things go.
I still haven't made it past a week in the bottle before trying one. I don't know if I'll ever get over that urge. Maybe once I have a solid pipeline.
Here are some things that may make your next batch better.
1. Have Midwest or wherever you buy your kit from crush the specialty grains for you. They have the equipment for it and will get the grains crushed better and you'll extract more flavor.
2. When you add the liquid malt extract (LME) you should be stirring very vigorously. That LME is much more dense than the water and wants to settle to the bottom of the pot where it is very difficult to mix in and then it will scorch. You don't want the scorched flavor in your beer.'
3. Your yeast need oxygen to propagate. I give mine oxygen by pouring the wort into the fermenter bucket, back to the pot and back to the fermenter bucket. I pour it all in. It doesn't seem to affect the flavor, it all settles out when the ferment is over, and I get all the wort that way. I hate to throw away any potential beer.
4. You are way too careful about the amount of top off water. You really don't want to come out to exactly 5 gallons, you really want about 5 1/4 so you end up with 2 cases of 12 oz bottles full with perhaps a little left over. It won't hurt to be off by a little either, just don't go overboard and end up with watered down beer.
5. When you top off your wort with water it is very difficult to get it all mixed well. Your OG is what the kit says it is. Your FG (final gravity) is what you measured. The yeast will have ensured mixing by then.
6. My beer started tasting better when I practiced temperature control during the ferment. I don't do as well as some with that but I try to keep the fermenter cool for at least the first 3 days. Mine go in a room where it is 62 to 64 degrees and that seems to be enough to keep the yeast from "running away with themselves" and producing the higher alcohols (fusel alcohols) that give the beer a hot alcohol taste or some of the other off flavors that hot ferments cause. You should look into a "swamp cooler" to aid your temperature control if you want better beer or if you have more money to throw into this you can use a refrigerator with a controller (Johnson controller).
7. As others have mentioned, time is your friend. Let the yeast have the time they need to eat the sugars, reprocess the byproducts, and absorb off flavors. You won't need to secondary this kind of beer and indeed you add a chance for infection or oxidation when moving the beer. I'd leave it in the primary fermenter for 2 to 3 weeks before bottling it.
BTW, nice pictures and welcome to a fun hobby. I wish you well on your journey to becoming an accomplished brewer. You'll have a lot of fun with both ends of this hobby.
Thanks, everyone for the feedback! Trub...duh! I should have known that. I've watched enough videos and have Palmer's book. Had a brain ferment for a moment. Yeah, I was pretty torn at the idea of racking to secondary, but I really want to try it. I'll probably start brewing half batches soon using 3G carboys. Maybe I'll do half with the Primary / Secondary method, the other half I'll leave in the Primary. Actually, that's a full batch with different fermentation methods...... nevermind! haha! Maybe after that I'll start "brewing" half batches.:)
I woke up to start work this morning and took a peek at the airlock hoping to see some early activity. Nope. Waiting patiently.
Here's a screen shot of the temperature charting showing the points of steeping, LME addition, and first hop introduction.
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