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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > First brew problems
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Old 10-09-2006, 10:39 AM   #1
brewerik
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Default First brew problems

G'day guys, first of all, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Erik and live down under. My girlfriend bought me a home brewing kit for my birthday which I was very excited about!

This last saturday I went and followed all the instructions according to the product I bought (www.tooheysbrewing.com.au) and found myself pitching the yeast at 10:30pm. When I woke up the next morning I went to see if the airlock had started bubbling and unfortunately no action. Unfortunately the hydrometer didn't make it home in one piece from the shop to my place, so couldn't actually measure whether fermentation had started. Of course, shops were closed on Sunday so couldn't go out and buy one either!
Anyway, to make a long story short I went and bought one today and measured the gravity and it was inconclusive. The brew itself smealt pretty much the same as on Saturday night. So, I decided to open the brewing kit and re-pitch some more yeast (so approx 42 hours after first pitch).

Few questions:
1: Now that I've opened my carboy, I obviously risked infection. How will I be able to tell whether my brew is infected?
2: If there are still no signs of bubbles in the airlock tomorrow, is that pretty much the end of it?
3: How do you properly read the hydrometer? Mine seemed to be floating around the 1.6 mark, which doesnt make any sense to me.

Thanks for your help guys!

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Old 10-09-2006, 11:46 AM   #2
boo boo
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1.6 Means 1.060 sg a nice normal gravity to some and a bit high to others who like it around 1.040

If you pitched at a proper temperture and the yeast is fresh then you'll get your fermentation.

As long as everything that touches the brew is sanitary after your brew goes into the fermenter than opening it to check sg is ok if not overdone.

Last....patience, it will work out. Beer is pretty forgiving sometimes.

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Old 10-09-2006, 02:24 PM   #3
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1.6 could be the potential alcohol scale, which corresponds to ~1.014 sg in which case it is most likely done fermenting. It would be important to know what the reading was before the yeast was pitched. What was the reading was before the yeast was pitched, Erik? Is there any dried foam material (krausen) on the sides of the fermenting vessle? If so it is most likely done. Otherwise, it has not yet begun.

Lesson time:
The standard scale most homebrewers use is specific gravity, or SG. Water is 1.000 - the reference. OG being original gravity, after cooling the wort, before the yeast is pitched (maybe 1.040 to 1.060 as boo boo remarks). FG being final gravity, after the yeast is done and you are ready to bottle or keg (1.005 to 1.020 is a good rule for a 'basic' ale). You should look for a 60-80% difference between the two in your onw beer.

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Old 10-10-2006, 04:40 AM   #4
brewerik
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Thanks guys. I figure fermenting hadn't started then, because it definitely wasn't done. As said, I re-pitched yeast yesterday and this morning the airlock was bubbling away. Yeast must have been dead. Just keep my fingers crossed now that beer didn't get infected and that it will still turn out alright.
Still not quite sure on the whole hydrometer thing, but I'll work it out I suppose. Thing is, when I went and measured it yesterday on the hydrometer indication it seemed to be floating around the 12% alcohol content (which doesn't make any sense at all).
Anyway, I'll keep you posted on my progress during the week. Fingers crossed I can still get something drinkable out of this batch.

Cheers,
Erik

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Old 10-10-2006, 04:10 PM   #5
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It is quite common for the yeast in off the shelve beer kits to be dead. Infections do occur, but they aren't all that common.

Hydrometers will have several scales:

Specific gravity, which runs 0.990 to 1.170 typically.
Balling or Brix, which runs 0 to 35
Potential alcohol, 0% to 20%

In homebrewing we focus on specific gravity, which compares the density of the wort/ale to the density of water. Sugars are denser than water and water is denser than alcohol. So, a wort starts out around 1.035 (a Mild) to 1.110 (a barleywine) and finishes anywhere from 1.008 to 1.030. The last couple digits are also called points. So, an IPA might start at 65 points (1.065). Most ales will finish around 1/4 the points that they atarted with. That IPA should end up near 16-18 points or 1.016 to 1.018.

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