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Old 07-16-2007, 12:55 PM   #1
Ale eon
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Default First brew notes

Hey all.

Long post, so bear with me.

My first home brew attempt is now chugging away in my basement after a nerve wracking Saturday brewing. I started with a Hefeweisen ingredient kit and the lowest equipment kit from AustinHomeBrew.com with some upgrades (6.5 gal carboy, carboy caps for the 6.5 and 5 gal, 2 3/4" wracking canes, 5" funnel, 26qt stock pot) full list is in this post: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=33183&page=2

I happened to have a large plastic tub handy which I used to sanitize the gear, then later to give my wort an ice bath.

The cooking portion of the program went well. However the Wyeast slap-pack gave every sign of being DOA. After following the simple yet oddly confusing slapping-directions, the pouch did not expand one iota. I had faith (albeit misplaced) and when it came time to pitch I opened the pouch to find the coffee colored soup and an empty yeast pack, signifying I had correctly slapped the pack.

Due to an overzealous sense of wort protection, I attempted to siphon the chilled wort into the 6.5 gal carboy for primary fermentation and thats when things went from good to "aww crud."

Towards the end of the draw I tipped the stocked pot towards me to insure that the siphon hose stayed deep enough in wort to sustain the draw. At this point the hose mutinied, slid out of the pot onto the floor and the siphon draw reversed gear all over the white tile of the kitchen floor. Then, clearly not thinking, I picked up the now non-sanitiezed hose and dropped it back in the stockpot with the remainder of the wort. Realizing my mistake, I removed the end in the carboy and quickly put the airlock in the now-empty hole.

I discarded the wort remaining in the pot (about quart, plus the mess on the floor... call it 1/2 gallon of concentrated wort wasted) and opened my yeast pack to find it had left the packet correctly and is dead.

Quick trip to the local homebrew, got some yeast, carboy and bottle brushes, then back home. Once home I realized the yeast was a few months past expiration so I made a quick starter.

The yeast did its thing so the next morning I pitched it and now have a happily fermenting jar of slop in the basement.

I'll give it a week head-start then I'm heading back to the homebrew shop (How do You Brew, Newark, DE) to get what I need for a chocolate porter that I'll put in the plastic 7 gal fermenter.

The Hefe recipe is here: http://http://www.austinhomebrew.com/product_info.php?cPath=178_452_42_163&products_id= 318

OG was 1.043 (.007 off the 1.050 mark in the recipe). I'll give an update when it goes to conditioning.

Ale Eon - formerly Robspages

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Old 07-16-2007, 01:46 PM   #2
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I only brewed once with a smack pack. I smacked the hell out of it and could feel the inner pack didn't burst. So i felt it out through the outer package and squeezed it between my fingers. Finally the pack started to activate. They are kind of a pain in the ass, but it made good beer.

As for sanitation, yeah. Dropping the siphon on the floor could have been fatal if you severely contaminated the beer. It would've been especially so since there was no fermentation the first 24 hours. The nasties would have time to eat away unabridged. In the end, losing a quart of beer isn't a big deal. I lost a quart on my Double IPA due to blow-off and still pulled 48 bottles out.

I myself violate the rule regularly, but you shouldn't use any liquid yeast without a starter. This will also proof the yeast to determine if it's completely DOA.

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Old 07-16-2007, 02:24 PM   #3
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Did you use the "smack pack" or the "activator smack pack"? I have had great sucess with the activator pack. I take it out of the fridge the night before and break the inner pack at around 5:30AM. It is ready to pitch by 1:00PM. My lag time, so far, has been 12 hours or less and the fermentation is pretty vigorous.

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Old 07-16-2007, 02:49 PM   #4
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I ended up using some dry yeast which I mixed into a started when I saw it was past its prime. Even with the starter, it took the yeast a good 6 hours to make the air lock dance.

The Wyeast smack-pack was the Activator kind. I think the heat killed it since it went UPS ground from Austin to middle of no-where PA. The ice pack AustinHomeBrew included was not cold anymore when I opened the box on Thursday evening (shipped on Monday).

I was afraid of contamination which is why I dumped the remaining wort. I am 90% certain what made it to the carboy is 'clean.' I was inconsolable over the loss of the bottom of the wort and what ended up on the floor.

At least I have a close-to-spec OG to work with.

AE

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Old 07-16-2007, 03:22 PM   #5
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Yea, I am close to the middle of PA also and that is a worry. That is why I order from Midwest - Less time on the truck. There are some AHB stuff that I want to order but am going to wait until fall.

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Old 07-16-2007, 03:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ale eon
I was afraid of contamination which is why I dumped the remaining wort. I am 90% certain what made it to the carboy is 'clean.' I was inconsolable over the loss of the bottom of the wort and what ended up on the floor.

At least I have a close-to-spec OG to work with.

AE

I'd say relax. It looks like you did a good job for your first batch. The problem with home brewing is the mindset you have to be in with all of the sanitation is hard to get into. When your siphon fell on the floor, you ditched it before contaminating your fermenter.

These are the stories that make homebrewers conventions so much fun to go to.
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Old 07-16-2007, 03:44 PM   #7
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I believe it. The proprietors of the local homebrew shop had a good laugh at my expense and told me to relax as well.

Chalk it up to experience I guess.

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Old 07-16-2007, 04:00 PM   #8
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Talk about a comedy of errors. We've all been there so ...relax.

It seems like you were pretty anxious about a few things.

First, one of the first things you wanted to do was to protect your brew and put the airlock on...pretty noble on your part, but it really didn't need your direct/immediate attention. Next time just put the cover on it (bucket) or foil on the opening (carboy) in the interum. It'll be protected enough.

Second, you should have just sanitized your hoses to get the remaining wort, but you already know 1 quart is not all that much to worry about.

Third, you could have just pitched the yeast in the fermenter...now you know why many of us have extras on-hand.

Now, go brew some more...

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Old 07-16-2007, 11:48 PM   #9
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tbone, where abouts are you?

I ordered yeast from Listermann's and it arrived the day after they shipped it. I'm in Westmoreland Co.

brewed my first batch today, as well!

we'll see what happens. worst part is, I wrenched my back lifting a pretty full carboy. oh yeah...I also exceeded my steeping temp by about 10 degrees for about 8 minutes (damn electric stove)

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Old 07-17-2007, 12:45 AM   #10
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coyote, I am located in Blairsville. Any home brewing clubs around us? I looked up Listerman's and may give them a try. They are located in Cincinnati, right?

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