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Old 01-11-2010, 03:49 AM   #1
Erythro73
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Default First day brewing : disaster

Hi,
I brewed for the first time today. Having read this board for the past six months and having read Papazian's book 3-4 times (malt extract part); I thought I was finally ready... But beware; a lot of things went wrong. Somehow, trying to foresee problems didn't help me a lot.

The first thing that went wrong was the damn Oxy-San (sanitizer). That damn thing can't be dissolve even in boiling water. I've tried with both boiling water and tepid water (as the guy from my LHBS told me) and nothing worked, even after 30 minutes of vigorous shaking. There was still powder in the bottom of my fermenter. There was nothing to do to dissolve it.

As the color of the water had changed, I've thought that some powder was dissolved in it, and that maybe the instructions given to me by the LHBS were wrong and that I put too much powder which saturated the solution. So I’ve thought that it would do as a sanitizer. So I immersed my things in it before using them. I immersed them for about 1:00:00 - 1:30:00 while I was boiling my wort. I'm not sure everything was properly sanitized, as the powder was not all dissolved... But I do think there was some sanitizing action going on.

Solution to this problem for future brewing day: I just ordered Star-san online. I've realized at what point this little product could really simplify my life while sanitizing (which I knew before, while reading these boards about star-san, but I thought Oxy-San would do the same job.) I’ll never use again Oxy-san.

Now, the boiling of the wort went fine. I've nearly had a boil over, but I've been lucky enough to prevent it and I only had to clean a little part of my stovetop. Then, I succeeded in chilling my pot in less than 20 minutes in a cold bath. Everything was fine until then.

But then I transferred my wort to the fermenter... without straining it. I realized this after topping it with water to 2.5 gallons (which was my desired volume).

So I began to use my strainer directly into the fermenter... And my strainer, in all my nervosity, touched a lot of surrounding objects like a plastic bag who happened to be there. A plastic bag which wasn’t sanitized... Then, I had the idea to retransfer the wort to the pot, and then retransfer from the pot to the fermenter in order to strain effectively. So I transferred from the fermenter to the pot, rinsed the strainer and the fermenter with boiling water, and retransferred from the pot to the fermenter while straining.

Problems then arose : some wort, while transferring, touched my hand before going down into the fermenter while some just didn't went through the strainer (I had a lot of problem to control my boiling pot containing 2.5 gallons of wort in one hand while controlling the strainer in the other). Not a lot though. Just a little bit. The majority of the wort went inside the fermenter by the strainer.

Then, I realized I lost some of the wort with all these transfers. So I added water in it, like 500 ml. In doing so, however, the bottle which contained the water slipped out of my hand and fell into the wort. I picked it up very quickly, it touched my wort for maybe 1 or 2 seconds, but still, it was not sanitized. It fell right on the top, not on the side, so I managed to pick it without touching the wort with my hands. Which wouldn't have change anything anyway, as nearly everything touched the wort either directly or indirectly.

All in all, I still managed to score the right SG (1.055) which approximately the right SG for this recipe.

It was a huge mess everywhere in the apartment. The stovetop, the floors, walls, there was some even on the toilet, I’ve ruined my girlfriend’s carpet by spoiling some wort on it, I burned myself on my hands.

I didn’t throw the wort away. I still pitched the yeast. I’ve seen this board enough to know it might still turn well, although I would be very surprised if that turns out to be the case. If I see some over-developed nasties in it someday, then it might go down the drain.

It was an amazing experience, which will be way more interesting when I’ll have my star-san...!



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Old 01-11-2010, 03:54 AM   #2
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I bet it'll be fine. The goal of sanitation is not to eliminate 100% of bacteria from coming in contact with the wort, it's simply to tip the odds in your favor. As long as the yeast can out-compete the bacteria that are present (and there will be some, I would imagine it's impossible to not have some in your wort) the beer will be fine.

I had many similar "mistakes" brewing my first batch last month and I was surprised to learn that it's actually kind of hard to get an infection. I coulda sworn my first batch was done for when I dripped a buncha ice water from my unsanitized bathtub into the wort during the chilling, but alas, nothing bad ever happened.



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Old 01-11-2010, 03:59 AM   #3
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Wow, what a day!

I got a chuckle thinking how many similar things I have done. My bet is that everything will turn out fine with your brew, but either way don't get discouraged.

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Old 01-11-2010, 04:00 AM   #4
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Thanks, it gets my hope up.

Still, it's amazing how much mistake I did when I thought I was completely ready to do a perfect mistake-less first batch! I guess in some days, weeks or years, it will be a good laugh when I'll recall my first batch!

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Old 01-11-2010, 04:05 AM   #5
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Anyone who says that nothing unsanitized ever touches their beer is kidding themselves. I have a few whoopsies every now and then and have not yet had an infection.

The good thing is that you are aware of this and your technique will improve as you brew more.

Don't worry.

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Old 01-11-2010, 04:08 AM   #6
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All in all, sounds like a good day!
Just wait until it's starts fermenting... You'll forget all about the issues you had...

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Old 01-11-2010, 12:10 PM   #7
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Don't worry, once you crack the top on that first homebrew it will all be worth it!

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Old 01-11-2010, 02:27 PM   #8
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Well. I took a picture, about 14 hours after I pitched the yeast. It doesn't smell any bad, but the look of it nearly made me vomit. I'm sorry about the quality, but I wanted to have a low-light photography without flash, so, that the best I could do...


Is this an infection? Or is this a normal fermentation startup? Why is it so much concentrated on the sides :S?

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Old 01-11-2010, 02:37 PM   #9
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Tough love time. Put the lid on and step away from the fermenter!
It is fine. when the yeast starts to work, it all churns like a washing machine until it is completed.
If you keep lifting the lid you will cause harm to your beer.

Think about it like this. If there were a problem- there's nothing you can do anyway, so just leave it alone and let it ferment in peace. If you keep F'ing with it you will cause a problem that doesn't yet exist.

Drink a beer and chill brotha, it is fine.

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Old 01-11-2010, 03:36 PM   #10
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+1 Step away from the fermenter!!!

Absolutely nothing you can do now will help your beer, other than temperature control. Let the yeast do it's thing.

Patience is the hardest thing for the new brewer. We were all guilty of impatience at some point, but you'll learn.

I pushed a bung through my carboy and into the wort on my first beer. I initially bugged out and posted about it here, then I got the +1000 post members telling me that they've done it before and everything turned out fine. Beer is pretty hard to mess up, especially with new equipment.

RDWHAHB!!



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