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Old 01-18-2010, 06:49 PM   #1
Dkjk1105
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Default Glad first brew is over, but is it good?

Hello All:

Like most NOOB’s who received a brewing kit for Christmas, my first brew came with tons of questions, a few second guesses, and a whole lot of doubt (damn fermentation). I’ve read a lot (thanks HomeBrewTalk), but found nothing on my particular brew process. I’d appreciate any comments if you’ve brewed this way.

Saturday afternoon at 4:00, after assembling everything in my brewing kit (brew pot valve, wort chiller, and fermentation tank valve), dry run for leaks, and then cleaning and sanitation; I attempted my first brew. Probably not the smartest thing as it gets dark by 5 or 6 here in the northeast. I have a propane burner so I was out back and making the final hops add with a flashlight felt dumb. I purchased a Hoppy IPA kit from a local brew store and directions seemed OK until I finished the wort.

The directions indicated starting with 2 gallons of cold water, steep the grain, add the malt and hops, then chill and add to 3 ½ gallons of cold water in the fermenter. This is where the doubt came in. Everything I’ve read says start a whirlpool to bring the solids to the middle and siphon/tap off the liquid wort. I have a 32qt brew pot with a ball valve but after a one hour boil; my wort was basically loose oatmeal. No whirlpool would have worked and my finished wort was just above by valve anyway.

In the dark, my pot went into the snow for a few seconds then into a sink with ice water. With the chiller, I quickly lowered the temp to about 120F knowing that I’m adding this to cold water in my fermenter. I emptied the entire wort through a sanitized strainer into the fermenter. This process took over five minutes and I kept having to pull the hops/coagulated proteins/gunk from the sides of the strainer. When finished, I gave it a good stir and you guessed it, undershot the pitching temp (60F). Back into a heated sink it went, lightly covered with my thermometer in waiting for 65F. At 65F, I pulled it from the sink, stirred it well and added the liquid yeast (sitting at room temp for 3.5 hours). One good stir and after one more ten minutes later, I covered and added the air lock. 30 grueling hours later (at 63-70 degrees), I’ve got the start of bubbles.

Even though I’ve read it a hundred times, I didn’t take an initial SG. After 24 hours, I drew a sample and it read 1.040 (starting was to be 1.050 – 1.052). I’m wondering what I’m going to get come bottling time. By the way, does anyone know what happens when you open liquid yeast (like a slightly shaken soda bottle) then accidentally rub your eye? I do.

Sorry for the long first post.

Thanks,
D

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Old 01-18-2010, 07:15 PM   #2
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D,
Welcome to the club! May you have many more successful brews ahead of you!

To address your concerns:

Don't worry about pitching into too-cool wort. 60* is fine, even if your target temp is 65*. It's much worse to pitch too warm. Pitching too cool isn't normally a problem.

If you're getting too much gunk in the wort, a strainer works well, but you might try a nylon mesh bag for your hops. Keeps them contained, yet still releases all their goodness.

If you've got a 32 quart brewpot, you should be doing full boils! The only reason they say to boil smaller amounts, then top off, is to accommodate smaller pots done on the stove top. You pot is plenty big to boil the full volume. You'll get better results. If you need to top off at the end, you'll use a lot less water.

With the full boil, though, you're going to need another method of chilling your wort. I'd recommend you make/buy an immersion chiller. They can be bought for maybe $50, or made for a lot less than that. Do a quick search and you'll find out the specifics.

Sounds like you've got a great start to an outstanding hobby <cough>obsession<cough>. Keep reading HBT, read the online version of How to Brew by John Palmer (www.howtobrew.com), and look for a local brew club.

And enjoy!!!!

Oh, and I DON'T know what yeast in the eye feels like! Could you enlighten us?

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Old 01-18-2010, 07:26 PM   #3
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He says he has a wort chiller. If that's the case, you shouldn't need a snow bank for help. I get mine down to 65 degrees just lightly moving the chiller around in the wort.

I'd like to know what the yeast feels like as well so I don't have to DAMHIKT.

BTW: That sounds like a hell of a beginner's kit. I started with a 2 gallon ceramic pot and a plastic trash can.

Edit: BTW: Assuming you are doing an extract, the SG is not as important as the FG (you can always assume you achieved what the directions said since mash/sparge efficiency is not relevant), although it's odd you missed it by that much.

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Old 01-18-2010, 07:39 PM   #4
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Time will only tell if your brew will be good. The first batch is always the best and then it will eventually be one of the worst. Mostly because you will not wait long enough to drink it. (Lord knows I did not). But it will be the best because it is the first batch of beer you ever made. I am assuming that you used some kind of cloth to steep the grains in? And yes since you have an 8 gallon pot, you should do a full boil with all of the water necessary. That was one of the very first equipment I upgraded to, a bigger pot so I did not have to top my beers off with water and I could do full boils.

I have never used a kit before. I have always kind of built my own extract recipes. I believe that this has made my transition from PM to all grain easier in terms of what to expect out of my beer.


Again, Welcome to the forum and brew up another batch of beer because this first one will go too damn quick to figure out whether or not if it was good.

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Old 01-18-2010, 08:17 PM   #5
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Yes, I used a chiller and a muslin(?) bag for the grains. I wish I did all five gallons but wanted to follow the directions to the "T". Next time it's a full boil.

Btw, a little accidental yeast in the eye leads to a case of "pink eye" the next morning. Luckily I had eye drops for my three year old and used them. I know, dumb.

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Old 01-18-2010, 08:38 PM   #6
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If you had thin oatmeal, sounds to me like you either didn't use the muslin bag for the steeping grains, or you didn't remove them after the steeping was done. ???

Either way, it will probably work out fine. Leave it alone for 2 or 3 weeks.

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Old 01-18-2010, 09:20 PM   #7
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jaynik, sorry my description was probably poor. The muslin bag worked great, 160 for 30 minutes then into the trash.

Another question though and maybe related to the fact I didn't full boil, I ended with three quarter sized burnt spots on the bottom of my brew pot. Is this normal and will something this small affect taste?

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Old 01-18-2010, 09:39 PM   #8
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The burnt spots on the bottom are just scorched sugars from the DME/LME probably. Did you turn the heat off when adding your DME/LME?

Also, if you decide to go full boil next time with a partial boil kit, you will need to decrease the hops. More water will utilize the hops more efficiently, so your IBUs will be much higher than the recipe intends.

You'll need to either download some software that will tell you how much to decrease by, or post up the recipe here and someone can do it for you.

Jay

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Old 01-18-2010, 09:54 PM   #9
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Hi Jay,

Yes, I had the heat off when I added the DME. (after returning heat) I kept adjusting the heat down while maintaining a vigorous boil. I probably could have gone lower especially with that little volume. Does a full boil typically generate scorch marks?

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