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Old 09-16-2011, 03:28 AM   #1
collinsDPT
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Default First session is complete...

Well, today marked my first brew session. I used the Autumn Amber Ale kit from Midwest Supplies. I did run into a few problems along the way, and would love any feedback...

I have a 34qt turkey fryer which I used to do a full boil 6.5gal (in the hopes of ending around 5gal). I did encounter the dreaded boil over just after returning the wort to the burner with the freshly added LME. Surprisingly, it didnt run over too much as I was able to cut off the propane, and it was outside, so the mess wasnt too terrible to clean up. I have no idea what effect this will have on the beer in the long run. Thoughts?

After 60 minutes, I did not have as much evaporation as I had hoped for, and ended with a final volume of around 6gal (even after the boil over!). I was able to cool this to ~80 degrees in 20 minutes. I then transfered it to my Primary bucket. I took a gravity reading, which to my displeasure was 1.033. This was much lower than the expected OG of 1.042-1.046. I decided to not add anything to the batch and just live with whatever happens. Was this most likely due to the excess water in the batch, or the boil over, or none of the above? Will the only consequence be that the final alcohol content will be lower?

I added the dry yeast, waited 15 minutes, and then shook/aerated the **** out of it for another 15 minutes. Slapped on the airlock and set it in the spare bedroom.

I hope it turns out semi-decent, as I was pretty bummed to have all these problems when I thought I was ready to avoid them after reading so much on these forums.

Any thoughts?

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Old 09-16-2011, 03:39 AM   #2
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I wouldn 't sweat it. The alcohol may be lower but the beer will still be delicous. Also what temp was the wort when you took the gravity reading. Sounds like you got a good feel for the process and didn't make any major mistakes. I have never had a boil over but I will now probably have one next brew day JYNXED.

Go out get another fermenter so you can build a pipe line. I can tell you only owning one primary is no fun you have to wait until you either bottle or move to secondary to get another batch going. I quickly ordered another secondary and primary. I have two batches sitting in primary now. Any way cheers RDWHAHB the beer will be just fine

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Old 09-16-2011, 03:53 AM   #3
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This was my first brew! It turned out great, but I did not do a full boil. I remember my OG and FG being pretty close to dead on. Curious why you did a 6.5g boil. (I have not done a full boil yet myself , so I really don't know)

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Old 09-16-2011, 03:59 AM   #4
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As Kylito57 asked what was the temperature of the wort when you took your gravity reading? Hydrometers are accurate at 60 degrees. If it is more or less you need to make a correction. You may have gotten a chart with the hydrometer.
I agree that you may have a lower alcohol level but you should have good beer.
Check out Fermcap-s, Northern Brewer has it. A few drops during the boil will control boil overs. And 2 drops per gallon at pitching will control blow off.
What is the temperature in your spare bedroom? Fermentation creates heat and you want to keep the beer under 70 degrees - low 60's would be even better. Search "Swamp Coolers" - basically a bucket with some water and rotating bottles of ice to control the temperature.

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Old 09-16-2011, 04:00 AM   #5
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My guess, and I could be wrong, is you ended up with a gallon too much and that is why your OG is off.
I would have boiled the 5g and if I lost some in the boil, then top off.

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Old 09-16-2011, 04:24 AM   #6
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Thanks for the comments.

As for the temp at OG reading, it was around 75degrees. After looking at the chart that came with my hydrometer (thanks!) it says I should correct it by adding 0.002 or 0.003. Taking that into account, my OG would be 1.036. Still low, but I'll take it.

I used 6.5gal because I had read in a few threads that performing a true full boil is when your final amount ends at 5gal after the boil. There were some posters who said they started with between 6-6.5gal and ended in the 5gal range, so that is what I attempted. As some of you mentioned, I probably will just start with 5 next time and add whatever I lose at the end. Lesson learned.

The temp on the primary bucket is reading between 70-72 degrees. I have placed a wet tshirt around it, and have it sitting in a kitchen pot with a fan blowing on it. We will see what that brings the temp to in an hour or so.

Thanks for all the comments

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Old 09-16-2011, 05:20 AM   #7
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With the wet t-shirt and fan the bucket is now at 66 degrees.

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Old 09-16-2011, 03:40 PM   #8
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Any thoughts on how to alter the amount of time spent in primary, secondary, and bottling, due to the low OG? Will leaving the batch longer in each step cause an increase in alcohol volume and a more dry tasting beer, thus losing some of the flavor?

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Old 09-16-2011, 03:57 PM   #9
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Sounds like you're doing pretty well. (Hopefully you remembered to sanitize everything...) A rule of thumb is 3 weeks primary, 3 weeks in bottles and for a beer like the one you've got there that would fit the bill nicely. You're not going to get any more alcohol by leaving the beer in a fermenter alone. The alcohol is produced by yeast eating sugar, once the yeast has eaten all it can, it's pretty much done and settles out. You could technically provide the yeast with some more fermentable sugars, but at this stage of the game I would say just let it go, it's still going to be booze.

As for the flavor, you can certainly let the beer sit in the fermenters/bottles longer and they typically get better with some aging - won't "dry" out.

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Old 09-16-2011, 04:12 PM   #10
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Well if your true gravity was 1.036, if you had boiled it down to 5 gallons it would be 1.043, pretty close to target.

Part of learning how to brew is learning how your system behaves - every setup is just a bit different and the amount boiled off depends on the personality of your system. After a few batches you will know how much to start with in order to end up at 5 gallons.

Also, you could mark the outside of your pot, or use a calibrated dipstick ("charismatic spoon") to know how much is in your pot at any time.

Keep on brewing, it just gets better!

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