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-   -   first brew (train wreck?) (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/first-brew-train-wreck-371452/)

mrh1965 12-02-2012 07:37 PM

first brew (train wreck?)
I attempted my first batch today, things didn't go too well.

Let's see, I burned the extract as I was adding it to the water. Note to self: remove the cheap, thin-walled, kettle from the full-on burner before adding the extract. I guess I thought the extract would pour quicker (I did warm it) but it took a good 30 seconds to get it out. By which time it had started to burn.

While bringing this mixture to boil it foamed over. Given that I was standing literally right next to the pot, I'm glad it didn't scald me. The stove top was a mess, albeit nothing that 10 minutes of scrubbing couldn't fix, and I need a new shiny thing that goes under the burner now, but that's cheap enough.

Anyway, I added the hops and boiled for 40 minutes then added the flavoring hops and boiled for 10 more minutes. At this time, I added the aromatic hops and got my first good look inside the kettle -- holy cow, what is all this crap that has accumulated on the side of the kettle just above the waterline?

Then I cooled the wort, an interesting process that entailed a quick run to the convenience store for bags of ice. It took 45 minutes to get the temp down, but I got it there.

Pouring the cooled wort into the fermenting bucket was interesting. As if all the crap on the side of the pot didn't have me worried enough, man, was there a lot of gunk at the bottom of the pot. I just poured it all in to the fermenting bucket, why not.

So, it had been an interesting process to this point but I thought I was good. Then, after pitching the yeast, I tried to attach the airlock to the bucket top only to have the little rubber ring give way and plunge into the wort. Well, damn and double damn. I pulled the top off the fermenter hoping against hope that the ring would miraculously float on the wort. No such luck. So I had no choice but to go in the wort up to my (non-sanitized) elbow and fish around in all the muck at the bottom to get that ring out. Which obviously ruined everything.

So.. sigh. I'll try again in a few days or whenever I can get back to the shop and get another kit. Unfortunately, the shop is on the other side of town and this town ain't small. 2 hours round trip, on a good day.

Before I ruined the wort I had wanted to check my specific gravity but realized I didn't have a turkey baster, sanitized or otherwise. Now that it's ruined I went ahead and pulled a sample to find it was 1.025, at 64 degrees. The instructions say it should be around 1.045. How could this have happened?

Thank god for the good people at Newcastle, it's time for one.


Kujo 12-02-2012 07:54 PM

I wouldn't sweat the OG being off to much seems thats a common issue if you topped up water to get to the right amount. My first one was off to but from reading here it seems I should have stirred it up better before taking the reading. I left out the crap at the bottom of the kettle but still ended up with a ton of it in my fermenter. It still came out fine just transferred to a secondary and its FG was spot on. As for the rubber grommet I think I would have left it to many germs on your hands/ arms. I'd say let it go and see what happens. Worst case scenario you learned a lot, best case you still end up with drinkable beer. I'm still a noob myself and making plenty of my own errors. Only way to learn is to do it and my big problem was I was rushing instead of taking my time.

mrh1965 12-02-2012 08:22 PM


Originally Posted by Kujo (Post 4642203)
Worst case scenario you learned a lot, best case you still end up with drinkable beer.

That's what I figure. I didn't expect today to be smooth sailing, believe me. In theory it should have been but reality is always different, isn't it.

I'll just keep an eye on it.

As to the gunk in the bottom of the pot, now in the fermenter, I figured I'd get most of it out when transferring to the secondary fermenter. I put it in the fermenter because I thought it might contain sugars the yeast would want to eat. It just surprised me; I guess I assumed everything added in the kettle would have dissolved into the wort. Except for the final bit of hops, of course. Live and learn!

BryceL 12-02-2012 08:32 PM

The junk in you're ferment is just proteins and hop particles, it will all style out during fermentation along with the yeast. When starting the boil you need to keep a close eye on it and kill the heat when you see it starting to foam up. When it stays going down you can turn the heat on again. Another method is to use a stay bottle on the foam when it starts to rise. The burned crap on the side of the pot is just hop particles and from the foam...totally normal. Keep it up, each batch you do you will learn from your mistakes and make better and better beer!

Golddiggie 12-02-2012 08:34 PM

Read the multitude of threads of the secondary/no secondary method. 98% (or better) you don't need to rack. Chances are, you fall into that range.

Also, get some Star San, mix some up and fill a spray bottle with some. A lot of us always have a spray bottle of the stuff on hand. Never know when you'll need some and it can be easier/better than trying to dunk something into the bucket of it.

DrunkleJon 12-02-2012 08:45 PM

Relax, Dont worry. Looks like you did the right thing and had a beer or three. It will still be beer.

liquiditynerd 12-02-2012 09:06 PM

I think you have summed up the quintesential First Brew. It'll most likely be fine and over time you will refine your process, find efficiencies, and have everything on hand before the water boils. Add a couple of tools to the box and your going great.

Keep reading, there is a treasure of information here if you can stand to read through the bs.

Ive never dumped a beer yet. Although one did go back to the kettle to become a marinade but hey it is what it is and it is good!

beerman0001 12-02-2012 09:54 PM

Nice that the wort is at 64 try to keep it there an you should end up with a good beer!!!

ColoHox 12-03-2012 01:19 AM

Sounds like my first time; sticky and nervous.

mrh1965 12-03-2012 03:14 PM

Just wanted to thank everyone for their support and feedback. I know I have a lot to learn, and I'm doing my best, lemme tell ya. A lot of it will just be learning by doing, of course.

Anyway, I'm happy to say the fermenter was bubbling away this morning. I've got it in a "swamp cooler" setup, which I read about on this site, and am throwing a frozen water bottle in periodically to keep the temp under 70 degrees. Did I mention we saw high temps over 80 here in Houston this past weekend? Ah, winter. Cheers.

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