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Old 11-16-2008, 06:50 PM   #1
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Default A few mistakes on my first batch -- help?

I started a batch of English brown ale today. Everything went pretty well, but I did make a share of mistakes.

Here is a compiled list of problems and mistakes made today:

  • Failed to sanitize stirring spoon and floating thermometer
  • Failed to prevent boilover
  • Failed to cool wort completely to 70 deg F before pitching yeast
  • Failed to keep trub out of the fermenter
Here are my solutions to prevent these problems next time:
  • Sanitize the stirring spoon and floating thermometer at the beginning. Also, re-sanitize the stirring spoon while the wort is cooling, before I use the spoon to stir in the yeast.
  • Don't put a lid on the brew pot, and monitor boiling more carefully.
  • Have more ice available for cooling.
  • Be more careful when pouring, to keep trub out of the fermenter.
My biggest question: how much damage did I likely do in failing on each of these points? What problems can I expect from this batch, and is there anything I can do do lessen the damage? Even if nothing can be done, I would like to learn from these mistakes and be able to link them to specific problems.

What is the likelihood that this batch will be spoiled by contamination due to poor sanitation (un-sanitized stirring spoon and thermometer)? I thought the stirring spoon and thermometer would be OK if I merely cleaned them, because they sat in the boiling wort for an hour, which should have killed all microorganisms. Am I wrong? How will I know if my brew has been contaminated? Are the signs obvious?

A small amount of solids went over the sides of the pot during the boilover. What's the worst that could come of this?

Because I didn't cool my wort completely to 70 deg F before adding more water and pitching the yeast, is this going to cause a problem? I had 2 gallons of 92 deg F water and 3 gallons of 70 deg F water. After pouring, this would result in my wort being 79 deg F. Although not ideal, is this within an acceptable range for brewing yeast?

To what extent will the trub in the fermenter affect fermentation process and taste?

Thanks in advance for your time and input.

Sincerely,
Matt
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Old 11-16-2008, 06:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by michigander View Post
I started a batch of English brown ale today. Everything went pretty well, but I did make a share of mistakes.

Here is a compiled list of problems and mistakes made today:
  • Failed to sanitize stirring spoon and floating thermometer
  • Failed to prevent boilover and lost solids
  • Failed to cool wort completely to 70 deg F before pitching yeast
  • Failed to keep trub/sediment out of the fermenter

Because I didn't cool my wort completely to 70 deg F before adding more water and pitching the yeast, is this going to cause a problem with fermentation or affect taste? I had 2 gallons of 92 deg F water and 3 gallons of 70 deg F water. After pouring, this would result in my wort being 79 deg F. Although not ideal, is this within an acceptable range for brewing yeast?

To what extent will the trub in the fermenter affect fermentation process and taste?
Well some of those "mistakes" aren't mistakes at all, so try not to worry. The biggest issue would be using non-sanitized equipment, but there's nothing you can do about it now. You don't have to sanitize your brew spoon while you're dealing with boiling wort- it's everything that touches the wort AFTER the boil that must be sanitized. If it was in the boil, it should be fine, but there isn't any reason to boil your thermometer, and you're taking a risk that you might break it in the wort.

I don't strain my wort going into primary, unless I have tons of hops that I just want out of there because they take up so much room. Straining isn't necessary if you don't want to do it- but if you do, make sure you use a sanitized strainer!

If you pitched at 79 degress, that's a little warm. You may notice some fruitiness in the finished product, but probably not if it got to 68 or less before fermentation begain.

The only thing I would add is to NOT cover your pot. You shouldn't cover your brewpot- not because of the risk of boilover, but because you want some volatiles to boil off. Otherwise, you did just fine!
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Old 11-16-2008, 06:59 PM   #3
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I don't think you did bad on your first batch at all. It's really hard to mess up beer and the mistakes you made are minor at most.
You don't need to sanitize the spoon during the boil.
The thermometer should have been sanitized but as long as it's clean, you should be okay.
79° is a little high but it won't hurt your yeast. Get this batch cooled down and keep it that way. You already have the solution for next time.
I never screen my wort going into the primary. It's a personal choice but all the junk falls to the bottom eventually. You are going to get trub in your primary anyway so what does it matter if there is a little more than if you had screened.
NEVER turn your back on boiling wort. As soon as you do, it will boil over. OTOH, it's kind of a right of passage to becoming a brewer.
Relax and leave your beer alone for a couple weeks.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:05 PM   #4
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And dispite ALL that, and what Nurmey and Yooper said, you still made beer...

Beer has been made for several thousand years in some pretty primitive conditions, where even the basic things like having a roof over our head, clean running water, and frequent bathing were non existent, so you as a 21st century brewer are lightyears above how beer was made 2000+ years ago...Yeast is pretty hardy stuff, and beer is not like a newborn that can be hurt easily...

More than likely your will be fine...most of us have done far worst that you did on their beers, and they still miraculously turned out...that doesn't mean we skip sanitization all together, it just means that should we make a few mistakes on a batch you still more than likely will have your beer turn out fine.

Relax!

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Old 11-16-2008, 07:46 PM   #5
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as far as losing solids from the boilover- most of what you are gonna get out of the hops comes out after a few minutes of boiling, so i wouldn't worry about it

i used to have boilovers all the time, but now i just keep my propane burner very, very low- i get a rolling boil the whole time, but it never boils over anymore, not even when i add hops

ive made MANY questionable moves concerning sanitation, and ive never had a brew that i could identify as contaminated-just remember starsan needs only 1 minute of contact, and it can be just the foam

i like the put on rubber gloves and rub handfuls of starsan foam on them for a minute

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Old 11-16-2008, 07:48 PM   #6
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i like the put on rubber gloves and rub handfuls of starsan foam on them for a minute
You just got elevated to memorable quotes fame with this one
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies.

The airlock started bubbling after about 23 hours, so it looks like things are off to a start.

Another question:

The recipe (English brown ale from LD Carlson) I'm using says to let it ferment for 3-7 days, and bottle it when the gravity reading hits 1.010 or 1.012. Then ferment another 1-2 weeks in the bottles, and give another 3 weeks of aging to improve taste.

I trust that if I followed these instructions, things would turn out fine, but most sources (including the book How to Brew) I've consulted say that a typical batch needs to sit in the fermenter longer than that (2-3 weeks).

Although I could bottle the brew after 3-7 days, is there a benefit to waiting longer?

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Old 11-17-2008, 03:58 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies.

The airlock started bubbling after about 23 hours, so it looks like things are off to a start.

Another question:

The recipe (English brown ale from LD Carlson) I'm using says to let it ferment for 3-7 days, and bottle it when the gravity reading hits 1.010 or 1.012. Then ferment another 1-2 weeks in the bottles, and give another 3 weeks of aging to improve taste.

I trust that if I followed these instructions, things would turn out fine, but most sources (including the book How to Brew) I've consulted say that a typical batch needs to sit in the fermenter longer than that (2-3 weeks).

Although I could bottle the brew after 3-7 days, is there a benefit to waiting longer?

Many of us on here leave our beers in primary for a month (3-4 weeks), then bottle. The yeast will clean up after itself. It will go after all the byproducts that it produced during fermentation...I've noticed that it greatly improves the clarity and quality of my beers doing so...
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:03 PM   #9
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There are a lot of benefits from waiting longer not the least of which is NOT having bottle bombs. Three to 7 days is not enough time for your yeast to finish it's work. Your beer may or may not be done in that time frame. Even if your yeast is done with the big fermentation, it still has to clean up it's waste products. Waiting a few weeks to bottle will give you a cleaner taste and will be clearer. Also, by waiting longer you won't have a large pile of gunk in the bottoms of your bottle.

Those instructions are common but not that good. I leave mine in the primary for at least 3 weeks and sometimes longer.

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Old 11-17-2008, 04:26 PM   #10
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Default no worries...

If the final product turns into tasty beer, then oh well, you worried for nothing...so just sit back and wait....and you are a few weeks away from getting sauce bagged or having $40 worth of vineagar....good luck with that..

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