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Old 03-28-2010, 01:21 PM   #1
Mmenges
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Default Critique my brew day!

I was hoping a few of the more experienced people on here might be able to give me a few pointers on how to improve the quality of my beer. I listen to podcasts, spend time trolling this form and have read John Palmers book and I think I have my procedure down pretty good but if anyone wants to give me some pointers feel free. I'm going to lay out the steps I used along with the problems I was having while brewing Orfy's Old Speckled Hen recipe. Hope you enjoy reading and hope this helps those who are new to brewing. This recipe is for an extract partial boil and the recipe can be found at the bottom of my post.

1) Boiled 3 Gallons of water and added to my sanitized fermenter. Put fermenter tub full of cold water.
2) Steeped 9oz 60L Crystal Malt in 2.5 gallons of water for 30 minutes. Water Temperature varied from 149 - 153 Farenheit.
3) Added 1/2 LME to boil for 60 min. Also added 2.4 oz of Northern Brewer hops. Removed kettle from heat during addition so I didn't scorch LME. (Barely avoided boilover from hot break. Am using a 3 gallon kettle and really gave me problems with boiling 2.5 gallon wort today).
4) Added other 1/2 of LME to boil at 15 min. mark. Also added .80 oz of EKG hops, 15 oz of Lyles Golden Syrup and 3.0 oz of Turbinado Sugar.
(Removed from heat as to not scorch LME or Syrup. Had difficulties bringing back to a good rolling boil until last 5 min.)
5) Added .53 oz EKG hops at 5 minute mark. Also added 1/2 whirlfloc tablet for clarity purposes.
6) Decided to boil for an additional 5 mnutes because I didn't have a good rolling boil going.
7) Removed from heat and placed in ice bath. (Took 35 mins to get to 75 degrees)
8) Swirled wort to get cold break and proteins to drop out of suspension and forma cone in the middle of kettle. Let it sit for ten minutes.
9) Racked wort into fermenter leaving hops in muslin bags behind.
10) Aerated wort by shaking vigorously for three minutes.
11) Pitched yeast starter into wort and put in airlock with iodophor solution.
12) Noticed bubbles in fermenter in two hours!
13) Fermenter bubbling vigorously at 8 hours.

My OG came out to 1.058 which is right about where it should be. I modified Orfy's recipe a bit and I used to procedure for a late extract addition which should give it a bit more bitterness. I wasn't really sure if his recipe was calculated for that but the sample I took tasted great. I can't believe that I had bubbles in the airlock after just two hours, that's a personal record! The biggest thing I need to do is get a larger brew kettle. I had too many problems trying to balance avoiding boilovers while keeping a rolling boil going. I would appreciate any pointers that you may have. Thanks for reading about my brewday!

TYPE: Extract and Steep

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 2.43 gal
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
6 lbs 6 oz Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)
15 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup (0.0 SRM)
9.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
2.40 oz Northern Brewer [8.50%] (60 min) Hops 42.1 IBU
0.80 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (15 min) Hops 4.1 IBU
0.53 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (5 min) Hops 1.1 IBU
3 oz Turbinado Sugar

Mash Schedule: None

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Old 03-28-2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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The only thing I would see any kind of an issue with is that I wouldn't add your top off water to the fermenter and then add the wort on top of that. The only reason being is I feel you have better control over the dilution of the mixture of wort and water if you add the water to the wort. Not that the way you are doing it is wrong, I just prefer to mix the two the other way around.

I don't do the swirling of the wort before transfering it to the fermenter either. Again, nothing wrong with doing it. It just doesn't bother me if a little trub gets into the fermenter. I figure it will settle out and won't hurt it too bad. A LITTLE trub. Not a lot.

Really though, It doesn't look like you did anything wrong. Its one of those things that the more you brew, the easier, smoother, and more confident your whole process will be.

Sounds like you are having some heat issues too. Are you using an electric stove, turkey fryer, wood fire (lol)....? What is your pot made of (stainless, aluminum...)?

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Old 03-28-2010, 02:29 PM   #3
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It's an electric stove and a thin steel pot. I didn't turn the juice all the way up on the stove when I was trying to bring it back to a boil but the wort was within a 1/2 inch of the top of the kettle so I definitely need to invest in a big ole brew kettle to avoid this type of problem. Also, the heat dissipates from the pot fairly quickly because it's so thin.

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Old 03-28-2010, 02:51 PM   #4
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I use a 3 gal stainless pot I got for christmas one year and it works pretty good. It cools pretty quickly (great for avoiding scorching of LME) and heats back up pretty quickly. I used to use the electric stove, but temp control was pretty hard. I finally went out and picked up a gas cylinder for the old abandoned turkey fryer and that makes life much easier, if you can go that route. The stove, like you said, takes forever to get the heat back up. Also, maintaining a temperature for steeping is real hard. Sounds like you did a pretty good job of keeping it fairly steady and inside a good temp. range.

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Old 03-28-2010, 03:07 PM   #5
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I have to agree with everyone else. It sounds like you have a process that works well. Especially with fermentation after 2 hours! My personal best is about 2 hours as well, but that was after I pitched fresh wort right on top of an 2nd generation yeast cake. I haven't tried that beer yet, should be interesting.

I would suggest the bigger pot and adding the water after the wort is in the fermenter.

Beyond that it is just tweaking your process to make it faster, more reliable and less stressful so you can start adding more steps or process to it to increase your quality.

Was this your first brew day or have you done a few before?

Good show!!

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Old 03-28-2010, 04:20 PM   #6
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This is my sixth brew day and I have the process down pretty good. I have considered adding the water after but for some reason haven't changed the way I've been doing things. After your input I will definitely tweak my process, especially since I keep ending up with varying amounts of bottles. The most I've gotten out of a batch was 60 and the least was 45. That's a pretty sizable difference. Thanks to everyone for your input and keep it coming!

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Old 03-28-2010, 04:56 PM   #7
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By adding the water second, you get a consistent batch size. When you put your top off water in 1st, as you can see, the batch size can change since you aren't going to NOT put in all of your wort (thats confusing to read). I'm getting ready to start my 8th batch and easily still refining my processes.

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