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Old 12-07-2009, 01:40 AM   #1
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Default First brewday...the usual fare...

Hey everyone, I'm rather excited as my first brew is currently sitting in Primary. A typical american ale. Next brew I get to experiment.

Carahell 8oz
Caramel Wheat 8oz
Cara-red 8oz
Belgian Special-B 4oz

Steeped at ~150 for around 40 minutes (possibly a little on the long side?) in 3.5 gallons of water.

Bulk amber malt extract 6.21lbs
Liberty 1oz 4.0%aa @ 60min
Perle 1oz 6.0%aa @ 30min
Liberty 1oz 4.0%aa @ 5min

And also topped off to 4.5 gallons for the boil. Dropped to maybe 4 gallons but added a little water to cool the wort faster (is that ok?) and a half gallon in the fermenter.

I made a small 4oz yeast starter and tossed that in at around 80degrees F. I know, I should have cooled a bit longer to closer to 65degrees but I was antsy. My mistake. But all seems well at the moment...

The brew has been in primary since 5pm so roughly 4 hours and is bubbling every 2 seconds on the dot. But the fermometer just barely started registering at 78degrees F. Again, all seems well though. The entire brewday took 5 hours, mostly due to the glass top range.

Original gravity read at roughly 1.048 instead of 1.053 called for but with the 10 degrees (70 degree ambient) off of 60 that should be about spot on no?

I say roughly because I need a better hydrometer testing vessel. Had to use a 12oz soda bottle and it fell just shy so I topped it off with a tidbit of water just to make up the difference.

This was all done completely on a glass top range. With a 6 gallon aluminum brewpot. I wrapped a thick bath towel around the pot and was able to keep a rolling boil rather easily. Occasionally I would half cover the pot to get a more vigorous boil.


A few notes for the next brew day:
-buy test tube
-buy more accurate thermometer (couldn't hurt)
-seriously considering an immersion chiller
-I could use a better mash paddle, preferably a little longer so I could maybe do a full boil.
-more patience

I cannot wait to do a barleywine, imperial stout, or strong ale. I think I could live off Old Rasputin alone.



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Old 12-07-2009, 01:44 AM   #2
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Congrats on your first brew day, Dave. Sounds like things went pretty well for you. My advise would be to keep reading this site, and doing your homework, and you'll pick up some great tips in order to refine your process till you have it almost perfect. Oh, and more patience never hurt anyone. Cheers!!! and Welcome.



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Old 12-07-2009, 02:57 AM   #3
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I usually just put my hydrometer directly into the fermentor when I need to check gravity. As long as you clean and sanitize it, it won't hurt anything. The tubes can be handy though.

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Old 12-07-2009, 03:11 AM   #4
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Congrats on your first brew! I have a couple suggestions to offer:

1. Next time wait a little bit for the wort to cool. 80 degrees is on the upper limit of pitching temps. Many more esters will be produced at this tempature. Trust me I have been there, done that. I now try to pitch all of my ale yeasts at around 65 degrees. Try getting that temp down to at least 70.

2. Your Hydrometer sample is not going to be accurate. When you added water to your sample, you diluted it. Next time either sanitize the Hydrometer and put it directly in the wort, or get a plastic test tube (I used to use the containter the Hydrometer came in). Don't worry about the volume of the sample as long as it is enough for the Hydrometer to completely float.


Other than that, enjoy the fruits of your labor

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Old 12-07-2009, 11:59 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick response all.

I didn't drop the hydrometer in because I'm using an ale pail. I figured it would be too hard to read half a foot down the bucket. But thinking more on it, I figured I could have done that and just held my finger at the mark.

now bubbling nice and steadily with the fermometer at 66-68 degrees.

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Old 12-08-2009, 12:47 AM   #6
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I recommend buying a wort chiller. You'll be amazed at how trivial it becomes to chill your wort.

I personally like my thief. You dip it in then pull it out drop the hydrometer in the thief. Reading done you can return the sample to fermenter or a glass for sampling.

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Old 12-26-2009, 09:22 PM   #7
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Just a quick update as I didn't want a typical brew that I can get at any tap in the area.

I bought some medium toasted french oak, baked it @ 300 for 30 minutes per Extreme Brewing's instructions. HOLY VANILLA! My whole house smelled wonderful.

Chips went into the fermenter after fermentation completed down to 1.014. I didn't bother racking to secondary for such a low grav brew, just tossed in the sterilized chips. This happened 12/19.

Just yesterday I sterilized a glass and took a small sample to test how the oak was faring. I'm bottling asap! So much better to me than without the oak. I may be crazy but the body seems nicer, the vanilla is prominent on the nose and kicks in between the middle and end of the taste but not overpowering in the least. Not to mention that nice oakiness.

I'm very excited to taste this with some carbonation!
And thanks to a run to Julio's in MA I have some old rasputin XII and cantillon to enjoy in the meantime!

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Old 01-23-2010, 08:06 PM   #8
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Alrighty, today is exactly 2 weeks in bottle.

I crack one of the 12oz'ers (Delirium Tremens bottle, I know this didn't get skunked haha) to a gratifying pffffft and a small mass of smoke at the top.

Poured into a snifter, very carefully. Left about 4oz at the bottom due to the yeasties and the fact it's a ceramic bottle so I couldn't see until I poured it out into another glass.

Extremely hazy, could stand to be worlds clearer. But the head is wonderful! Creamy, nearly an inch thick. Sticks around for a good 20 minutes or so before dying down. Lacing is nice but not excessive.

My only complaint is the carbonation. This a ~5.5abv brew, primed with 3/4 cup priming sugar. The carbonation is good for being as young as it is. But the taste is almost spritzy at first. I really could do without that. But there are pockets of bubbles all over the glass so I know the beer is carbonated decently.

The nose is almost all oak with a slight vanilla tinge and the hops play an extremely light background note. Being that I'm far from a hophead, this made me happy.

The taste is just as the smell. Oaky domination, vanilla mixes lightly with the subtle hops. Quite drinkable for my first brew! Better than I expected but I loves me some oak. Very very pleased! The yeast is definitely noticable, even perhaps a bit much, with a good swallow. But sipping really makes the oak stand tall.

After the success of the oaking, I'm debating an oaked imperial stout for the second brew instead of the orval I was contemplating.

And after tasting, I think the only change I'll be really making is steeping in a smaller volume. I used a slightly large steep volume and after much research I'm reading that should be decreased.

Thinking of using Lost in the Woods as the "brewery" name seeing as I will more than likely end up wood aging nearly everything that I brew.
Seeing as it's an Amber, I deem this "Lost in the Woods - Autumn Dawn."


Cliff notes: Woohoo, first beer is not only drinkable but actually slightly to my tastes!

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Old 01-23-2010, 09:25 PM   #9
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That is good to hear! I am glad it came out to your liking.

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Old 01-28-2010, 12:04 PM   #10
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well thanks to the wealth of info that is the search button, I decided to wait on sending out my brews for my friends to taste. And already I'm glad I did,
on the 30th will be the 3week bottle mark and I won't be passing out more than a taste until then.

main changes of note:
-hops are now much more present it would seem, perhaps cold crashing the bottle before cracking it helped.
-beer has gotten much clearer. It's a wondeful ruby red dabbling down to a pale orange and the head is still awesome and creamier than nearly all the commercial brews I've purchased (and i road trip frequently just for this reason).
-aroma is getting better and better. Much more oakiness, with a hint of vanilla in the beginning, oak in the middle, and a hint of vanilla on the tail.
-taste, while gaining in hop presence and bitterness, still holds enough oak and vanilla flavors to not bother me. (i am NOT a hophead)

But most importantly the Spritzy taste is now completely gone and the beer has indeed done NOTHING but improve. The change in clarity is beyond drastic and I always pour carefully and decant as much as possible.

While I hesitate slightly to say this, think if Allagash Curieux was a session beer with a more american than belgian hop presence. I think I officially have a new hobby, I never dreamed my first brew would be this enjoyable!


Am I mad though? I reused clean commercial bottles, but the one in the tremens bottle was extra yeasty it seemed, and this one in the 90min IPA bottle seems hoppier. Maybe I'm just rambling though...



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