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Old 02-02-2011, 05:40 PM   #1
lazerwolf
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Default First Brew Help and Pointers

In mid November I brewed my first 5 gallon kit of beer! Boy was I excited. I had some experience with brewing before helping a friend and doing a small 2 gallon Mr. Beer kit (which came out TERRIBLE btw more on that later).

I brewed this kit: Brewer's Best Pumpkin Spice Porter and the results are pretty bad imho. I know there were several things I wasn't 100% prepared for so I'm just looking for some advice and tips to help improve the quality of my next brew.

Onto the brew days events (recalled a couple months later so hopefully I remember everything correctly...)

I pretty much followed the directions that came with the kit verbatim. I sanitized everything I could think of haha.

I steeped the grains that came with the kit for 20 minutes in 2.5 gallons of water at around 160 degrees F. I kept the pot on the flame while I steeped, uncovered. Should I have steeped for a longer time or with the pot covered and flame off? Would that even make any difference?

After that I brought to a boil and added all the LME and hops and spice pack according to the kit.

Now comes the cooling fiasco. I prepared an ice bath to put the pot into and for about 20 minutes it was fine I was stirring both the pot and the bath and the temp was dropping quite nicely. then all of my ice water drained out of the sink Luckily my tap water comes out quite cool so I was able to refill with semi cool water but it wasn't anywhere near freezing temps. The temp hit the 80-90 mark before it slowed in cooling down drastically. I knew I had to add top off water to the cooled wort when pouring into the fermentor so I thought I could add directly to the wort to see if it would help cool it down (looking back this might have been a terrible idea? advice?) Finally I got the temp down to 70 range and I poured into my fermenting bucket and topped off to the 5 gal mark on the bucket (I didn't premeasure the marks on my bucket so they may be off)

My OG came in at 1.030 at 70 degrees (expected 1.05-1.06) so either I didn't stir the wort enough before taking the reading or I added more than 5 gallons total (since I didn't exactly measure the bucket hash marks)

I pitched the packet yeast directly on top of the wort and let sit in the primary for 1 month. Bubbling started the next day and went on strong for about 1-2 days after then subsided. I bottled using the priming sugar supplied in the kit. The beer was fully carbed (3 weeks) on 1/8/11 and I just had another taste last weekend, 1/29/11

The taste is very overpowered with the spice with ginger being the main spice I taste. The body of the beer is very thin although the beer was carbonated well. Overall I just can't get past the overpowering spice taste. I'm not sure if its just the combination of spices added or if my techniques would lend to the beer being this way.

I know this is a long read so thanks to anyone who makes it this far

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Old 02-02-2011, 06:26 PM   #2
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Everything looks fine. Your gravity was possibly off, as is usually the case with top-off kits, because the water hadn't yet mixed completely. It's hard to miss OG with extract kits, with the very strong caveat that it is important to use the right amount of water. Measure it out next time, but for this time how many bottles did you get at bottling? You should have gotten around 48. If you got much more than that, you may have just diluted your beer.

As far as the spice...are you sure you like spiced beers? I don't, and a lot of other people don't. The spice will mellow with time, but it will take time. Sorry to hear it didn't turn out well. Maybe it would be worth trying something more straightforward on your next batch.

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Old 02-02-2011, 06:45 PM   #3
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If you don't mix/shake your wort up good with added water your readings can be way low, like 1.010 low. I know that's hard to believe, I've seen it.

Gotta keep the heat on while steeping, I don't think you will keep it above 150 for 20 minutes if you don't.

As far as cooling, I let my sink drain all the time. I let it slowly drain with a trickle of new cool water flowing in.

As far as the flavor, I think someone in another thread the other day made a great simple suggestion, you're first beer should be a beer style you enjoy the most. The possibilities seem endless for homebrewing, doesn't mean a simple ale ain't great to brew.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:17 PM   #4
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It's hard to get a good mix from a partial boil, so don't worry about your low OG reading. You have to screw up pretty bad for your true OG to be very far off when using extracts.

Your process looks fine from your description. Even with your cooling difficulty (the same thing has happened to me) you did well. The only thing that would cause the spiciness to be so overpowering is - wait for it - the spices. There's a small chance that someone at BB screwed up and put too much spice in that particular kit. But it's far more likely that it's just a really spicy recipe and you don't like it.

Next kit, get something that's supposed to be a clone of - or similar to something you know you like.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys. Yeah I enjoy most of the craft pumpkin beers out there. I got the kit around the same time that those beers were on the market so I guess it was just interest that got me.

For my next brew I plan on doing a straight up IPA. Something simple that I can tell if the taste is off or not, plus one of my favorite styles.

Anyone have any suggestions on a kit from AHS. I've been looking at the Summit IPA kit for a couple weeks now.

I was hoping it more of the spices just being too much and not my technique. My Mr. Beer experiment led to a very sour apple vinegary taste 'beer' that I immediately drained.

Yeah I ended up with about 40 12oz bottles and 4 22oz bottles and some to do hydrometer testings.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #6
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I've brewed spiced dark ale before and it was hard to drink, spicy and thin until....
about 3 months after I bottled it, the beer matured and became much less spicy and definitely not thin. Dark beers take a lot longer than you would think to reach maturity. Until they do, they are not good at all and then one day, its like you turned a switch and they become something totally different. Give yours another 2 to 4 weeks and try it again. If it's still thin, wait another week or 2. It will get much better.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazerwolf
Thanks for the input guys. Yeah I enjoy most of the craft pumpkin beers out there. I got the kit around the same time that those beers were on the market so I guess it was just interest that got me.

For my next brew I plan on doing a straight up IPA. Something simple that I can tell if the taste is off or not, plus one of my favorite styles.

Anyone have any suggestions on a kit from AHS. I've been looking at the Summit IPA kit for a couple weeks now.

Yeah I ended up with about 40 12oz bottles and 4 22oz bottles and some to do hydrometer testings.
Hmm...nothing jumps out then. Your method sounds good. Minor stuff that you mention will get better with experience, but wouldn't have caused major problems anyway. Give it some time. Age heals a lot of broken beers.

IPAs are a good bet. Don't know the Summit kit specifically, but AHS kits are generally very well regarded.
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