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Old 11-02-2012, 08:36 AM   #1
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Default First Brew!

Hey I just did my first brew! I wanted to get some feedback and I had some questions as well. I'm using a 1 gallon starter kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop, and I'm doing their Everyday IPA. I started a thread about some questions I had before I actually brewed: New to brewing, lots of questions (brooklyn brewshop). Any feedback/comments are appreciated, thanks!

Brewed on Wednesday, 10/17/12. Prep time took about 45 minutes, and the whole brewing process took about 3.75 hours. Followed the directions that came with the kit, for the most part. Got through it with some minor difficulties, but overall pretty straightforward. Had a great time, and can't wait to see how it turns out!

Here's my log:

[LOG START]
Wed, Oct 17, 2012.
4:27p prep
5:13p start
5:35p steeping grains (60 min)
- having trouble getting to 144-155 degF range (staying in ~162 degF)
- got it down to ~148 degF (45/40 min left)
- 146 degF (30 min left)
- 144 degF (20 min left, bringing heat up)
- 150 degF (10 min left)
- 148 degF (done)
- letting it steep for an extra 15 min due to temp range complications in the beginning
6:50p raising mash to 170 degF
6:55p sparge
7:05p bring to boil
7:16p foamed, reduced heat to rolling boil, added columbus hops
- added 1/5th cascade hops (7:31p)
- added 1/5th cascade hops (7:48p)
- added 1/5th cascade hops (8:01p)
- added 1/5th cascade hops (8:11p)
- added 1/5th cascade hops (8:16p)
8:17p placed in icebath
8:41p cooled to 70 degF
8:57p took hydrometer reading: OG 1.116
8:59p yeast added and shaken
9:01p blowoff tube connected and fermenter put in a cool dark place
[LOG END]

I replaced the blowoff tube with an airlock about 4~5 days after fermentation started. I checked up on it everyday for the first week, then about every couple days til now, which has been 15 days. At 21 days I'm planning on taking a hydrometer reading and seeing how it looks. If the ABV is close to what the recipe says it should, I'll check it the next 2 days to make sure it's done and then begin the bottling.

I didn't log anything after I set it down in the cool/dark place to ferment. Now I'm thinking I should log anything I do (change to airlock, frequency of co2 being released, color, amount of krausen, etc) as well as anything I plan to do. I do plan to log the beers characteristics when I end up drinking it, and the FG of course. I'm also thinking I should make a template for a log sheet once I've brewed a few times. I also plan on coding a program to process and store the data once I've entered it in.

With that all said, how does my log look? I'm sure I'm missing some things so please let me know. Any advice on it?

I did have a few issues along the way, and some resulting questions:

  1. When steeping the grains, I had some difficulty getting the temperature in the correct range. In the future, I think I can figure out when to kill the heat and have it land in the range. But when I found myself higher, as directed I poured in 1/4 cup of cold water to cool it. I was scared about adding too much (in the end I shouldn't have) and so I poured, stirred, took the temp, waited, and then had to do it again a few times to get it right. I did this probably too slow and it seemed to take about 15 minutes to get into the right range. Should I be adding more than 1/4 cup, or just really adding it quicker to bring it down asap?
  2. When taking the temp, I stirred to even it out, and took the temp from the middle area, careful to avoid the bottom of the pot which might affect the reading. Is this how I should do it?
  3. Since I had problems getting the grains to the right temp for the first 15 minutes, I let it steep, with in the range, for an extra 15 minutes, hoping it would pull the fermentable sugars that were missed in the first 15. Was this a good idea, or was it complete folly?
  4. When I siphoned the wort into the carboy, I used a mesh strainer as directed. I'm not entirely sure it was fine enough to catch all the hops, as the wort looked greenish in the carboy. Is this something to worry about? It seemed to clear up as everything settles, and it definitely looked like beer a day or two later. I'm thinking it's gonna be fine (and hoping) since hops have the preservative, but I'd like some reassurance. You can see pictures towards the end of the thread.
  5. If I need to strain it better, can I line the mesh strainer with cheesecloth or something? Or should I go out and get a finer strainer?
  6. I didn't have a scale, so I divided up the cascade hops into fifths by sight. They were pellets, I don't think that really mattered too much, right?
  7. When I took the first hydrometer reading, I sanitized the test tube and hydrometer before I poured in the wort. After I poured it in and took the reading, I poured it back. Everywhere I've seen they keep saying not to pour it back, but as long as everything's sanitized, correct? Can I do the same thing for when I take the FG?

That's all the questions I can think of for now. And on a side note, the directions in the book differed slightly from those on the ingredient kit, and the yeast does not list an ideal fermentation temp on the packet. Thanks for reading, below are the pictures.

1st pic: Bringing the water to a boil for steeping the grains in.

2nd pic: Got the spray bottle of sanitizer.

3rd pic: Plugged the sink and made a sanitizing solution. It's a 10 gallon sink, so I think I'll go find a 5 gallon bucket
and make it easier.

4th pic: Steeping the grains.

5th pic: Hops and yeast that came with the IPA kit.
z14.jpg   z15.jpg   z16.jpg   z17.jpg   z18.jpg  

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Old 11-02-2012, 08:38 AM   #2
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Default More pics

1st pic: Starting the boil.

2nd pic: Eyeballing 5ths of hops, since I don't have a scale.

3rd pic: Boiling now.

4th pic: Just added the 3rd 1/5th of the cascade hops, 2 more left.

5th pic: Boil's done.

z19.jpg   z21.jpg   z23.jpg   z24.jpg   z25.jpg  

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Old 11-02-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
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Default Some more

1st pic: Poured the wort into the carboy.

2nd pic: The hops and anything else filtered out. This pic shows how fine (or unfine) my strainer is.

3rd pic: Used the funnel to get it in. Go slow enough and it worked like a charm for me. Shows what the book called the one gallon mark. I was looking for a line, so if there is one, I couldn't find it. Only saw the big "ONE GALLON" text printed around the carboy.

4th pic: Side view shows how far down the wort was from the general 1 gal mark. Had to fill a little water in there.

5th pic: Blowoff tube set up, placed in the basement, cool and dark.

z28.jpg   z30.jpg   z31.jpg   z34.jpg   z39.jpg  

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Old 11-02-2012, 08:39 AM   #4
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Default Last one

Shows the trub. Is that layering normal?

z41.jpg  
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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everything looks normal! thanks for sharing. i think this is a great resource for people making their first couple batches.

you've got good intuition and i think you handled the things that came up well. 1 gallon brewers often keep their samples because they don't want to lose the beer. and yes, so long as you keep everything sanitized, you'll be fine. those hydrometer tubes sometimes have nooks and crannies if they aren't the one-piece kind so be sure to clean it well.

the mashing is going to be tricky with one gallon, i think. with 5 gallons, we'll typically use a calculator like this one and heat the water to the calculated temperature, remove it and wrap it in a blanket or something and let it sit for an hour. The thermal mass of all the water keeps its temperature pretty well.

If i were you, I'd consider finding a 2 gallon cooler and doing your mashes in there. if you get it to where you can keep it around 150 on the stove there is no reason to do this, though

If I had to guess, I'm going to say that your initial high mash temperature is going to result in a slightly sweeter beer that has a relatively high FG.

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Old 11-02-2012, 04:02 PM   #6
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Great post! I agree with progmac, it is a great resources for newbies! Thanks!

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Old 11-02-2012, 04:34 PM   #7
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Welcome to the addiction. It's only going to get worse from here.

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Old 11-02-2012, 04:41 PM   #8
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Everything looks great, though I think you may have been a little too tedious on your hop additions. I'm not big into IPA's yet, so I haven't done one, but there are pretty much three zones for hop additions. Beginning of the boil gets you the bittering, 20-15 minutes left gets you flavor, and 5 to flameout gets you aroma. You probably could have combined some of those cascade additions, but either way it will turn out fine, and if I'm wrong, someone will correct me

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Old 11-02-2012, 04:57 PM   #9
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Looks good! And your notes are great- very detailed. You should also make sure you record types and amounts of grain and volumes of strike and sparge water. Even though this was a kit, you should still have all that info written down. If it comes out well, you might want to brew your own, non-kit version of it one day and will need to know all the details in case you want to modify the recipe at all.

Sounds like you did everything right, at least inasmuch as there is a “right” way to brew! We all have our own techniques, and you’ll develop yours as you get through a few more batches, but you definitely used an effective process here. No flaws that I see.

Your mesh strainer is fine- I use a very similar one. Don’t worry about some of the hop gunk getting through- it’ll settle out in the fermenter.

Eyeballing the hop amounts is fine, but go ahead and invest in a digital scale at some point- you’ll be glad you did.

As long as everything is sanitized, returning the hydrometer sample to the fermenter should be fine- some people just don’t do it because it does create one more slight opportunity for infection. Personally, I drink my hydrometer samples, as I like to see how the brew tastes at all points during the process.

Welcome to the world of homebrewing!

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Old 11-02-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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Great job and congrats on your first brew!

1,2,3 - You don't have to worry too much about temps when you are steeping grains. As long as you are somewhere close, you will be fine. You are basically just washing the sugars out of the grain and any hot water will do. If you decide to try an all grain batch, you'll need to work on being able to maintain accurate temps.

4,5 - letting a bit of hops into the fermenter won't hurt anything. You'll probably want to keep "most" of them out just for volume constraints in your small batch size, but your current method is just fine. I personally use the mesh bags designed for filtering paint. A 5 gallong batch of IPA quickly overwhelms the small strainers.

6 - if you are going to stick with 1 gallon batches, you might want to invest in a scale. You can certainly make perfectly good beer just eye-balling weights, but virtually every recipe you are going to do will involve fractions of an ounce for every addition. Being able to actual measure those will help with your consistency and ability to recreate any batches you particularly like.

7. technically, nothing wrong with returning wort from a sanitized tester. As a practical matter though, you are adding another infection point. You'll want to be very careful at those steps. Also, when measuring the finished beer, you need to minimize any splashing etc that might pick up oxygen.

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