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Old 07-21-2008, 12:44 PM   #1
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Default Introduction - First Brew Questions/Observations

Hi all.

Been lurking here for a while. Took the plunge this weekend. Bought a Brewer's Best starter kit with two (6 gal and 5 gal) glass carboys. Tried an extract kit with specialty grains (Brewer's Best German Altbier).

Problems/observations I had:

1. Didn't fully realize that I needed a "violent" boil until about 10 minutes into the 60 minute boil time. Added some time to compensate.
2. Never had issue with boilover. Barely had much foam during the entire boil.
3. Used the no-rinse cleaner that came with the kit, which left a haze on my stuff.
4. Didn't have a cylinder to do an OG reading, though I had a hydrometer. Oops.
5. Had some trouble quick-cooling the wort, so don't know if I had a good "cold break" or not. I put the cooker in the sink with ice water and left it there for 45 minutes, adding ice as needed.
6. Didn't have a candy thermometer or other method of determining the temperature of the wort prior to racking it to the carboy. When I racked, the carboy temp went to 82F.
7. Pitched the yeast at 80-81F.
8. Put vodka in the airlock.
9. Put carboy in cooler with a wet towel, water w/jugs of ice, and a fan. 2 hrs later, temp was 68F. Removed ice and went to bed.
10. Got up this AM and had about a 3-inch krauzen in the carboy, airlock happily bubbling away, temperature of 64F. Dropped the fan speed and came to work.

So, how bad did I screw up on my first attempt?



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Old 07-21-2008, 12:52 PM   #2
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Sounds like you did pretty well! Some thoughts for next time- use a no-rinse sanitizer that doesn't leave a film (or maybe don't soak so long?) like star-san. Iodophor is cheaper, and many people swear by it. I've used it without any problems. There are other sanitizers out there, too, but those are two of the ones I really like. I use a separate cleaner and then a sanitizer, but when I make wine and start with clean equipment, I sometimes use one-step.

You need to get your wort cooler faster. With stirring the ice bath, and gently stiring the cooling wort with a sanitized spoon, you can chill the wort much faster. Then, you can top up with cold water (either boiled and cooled and put in the fridge or tap water) to get you to 65 degrees or so. You did pitch your yeast a bit warm. It won't harm the yeast, but your beer might have some estery (fruity) off-flavors from such a warm intial fermentation. It still should turn out good though!

Try to keep your fermenter at 65-70 degrees. Sometimes this time of year is hard- so many of use an unused bathtub or a big cooler (I have a big igloo cooler) to put some water in around the fermenter and some bottles of ice to keep it cool. Some use a wet towel around it with a fan blowing on it- and that cools it several degrees, as you've found out!

Good luck with your first brew- sounds like you've got a good grip on the procedures. Welcome to the obsession!



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Old 07-21-2008, 12:53 PM   #3
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Welcome! Sounds like it went pretty well. You need a good rolling boil, but not too violent. If you boiled on a stove, it is hard to get this hard rolling boil depending on how much you are boiling at one time. It will be tough to know exactly when your beer is finished unless you too an SG, but just assume you hit the estimated SG and and give it a week and then take a reading when you have a cylinder. Sounds like you will have beer, and probably good beer too.

Oh yeah, you should use stray from no rinse cleaner. Try PBW.

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Old 07-28-2008, 04:14 PM   #4
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Update:

I checked my Altbier's FG after one week in Primary - 1.018. Target is 1.014-1.008 per the kit. I racked to secondary as I wanted to brew my next kit (BB Wiezenbier).

I tasted the Altbier hydro sample and WOW was it bitter. From what I read, this will mellow out with time in secondary and bottle. (right?)

Question I have is this: Since I was doing a 3 gal boil, I added the bittering hops and half the LME from the kit at 60 min then the remainder of the LME at 15 min. Is this why my brew is so bitter or is that just a consequence of the style and green-ness?

On a side note, the weizenbier brew session seemed to go ALOT smoother than my 1st. Got the wort cooled much faster by gently stirring the wort in the ice bath. (say down to 75F in 20 minutes).

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Old 07-28-2008, 04:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boodlemania View Post
I tasted the Altbier hydro sample and WOW was it bitter. From what I read, this will mellow out with time in secondary and bottle. (right?)

Question I have is this: Since I was doing a 3 gal boil, I added the bittering hops and half the LME from the kit at 60 min then the remainder of the LME at 15 min. Is this why my brew is so bitter or is that just a consequence of the style and green-ness?
Well, it will mellow a little bit, but not too much. Adding 1/2 the LME late in the boil increases the hops utilization, and so you basically increased your bitterness by about 25%. Next time, either download a free trial of brewing software (I like Beersmith), or ask one of us to run it through for you, so you can decrease the bittering hops.

Glad to hear the second brew went smoother! It definitely gets easier as you get the routine down.
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:27 PM   #6
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I just had a panic attack. I've got two brews fermenting away right now. I used the no-rinse sanitizer that came with the Brewer's Best kit for both and did not rinse the carboys afterwards. I got the bulk of the sanitizer out before transferring the wort, so at most there was a film in the carboy. What's everyone's experience with this sanitizer? Will I have an off-flavor as a result?

(Seemed to me that "no-rinse" meant indeed "no-rinse", so I thought I was doing the right thing. Now, waiting for the fermentation time, I have nothing to do but fret over what I did and did not do right!)

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Old 07-31-2008, 01:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boodlemania View Post
I just had a panic attack. I've got two brews fermenting away right now. I used the no-rinse sanitizer that came with the Brewer's Best kit for both and did not rinse the carboys afterwards. I got the bulk of the sanitizer out before transferring the wort, so at most there was a film in the carboy. What's everyone's experience with this sanitizer? Will I have an off-flavor as a result?

(Seemed to me that "no-rinse" meant indeed "no-rinse", so I thought I was doing the right thing. Now, waiting for the fermentation time, I have nothing to do but fret over what I did and did not do right!)
Yep, no rinse means no rinse. It's fine. Make another batch so you don't have time to worry about this one!

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Old 07-31-2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forum.

Quote:
Adding 1/2 the LME late in the boil increases the hops utilization
hmmmmmmm

It seems to me that all this will do is lighten the final product color wise. I normally put in about 1/3 LME for 60 min and the final 2/3 either at flame out of 10 minutes to go. By using only a partial of your LME you achieve the same gravity and same flavor development as if you did a full boil . . . .right?

NOT that I'm disputing you :-)

Quote:
I have nothing to do but fret over what I did and did not do right!
LOL - THAT is funny and it's the reason you have more then one beer brewing at once!! Welcome to the cruel world of home brewing.

Quote:
1. Didn't fully realize that I needed a "violent" boil until about 10 minutes into the 60 minute boil time. Added some time to compensate.
2. Never had issue with boilover. Barely had much foam during the entire boil.
3. Used the no-rinse cleaner that came with the kit, which left a haze on my stuff.
4. Didn't have a cylinder to do an OG reading, though I had a hydrometer. Oops.
5. Had some trouble quick-cooling the wort, so don't know if I had a good "cold break" or not. I put the cooker in the sink with ice water and left it there for 45 minutes, adding ice as needed.
6. Didn't have a candy thermometer or other method of determining the temperature of the wort prior to racking it to the carboy. When I racked, the carboy temp went to 82F.
7. Pitched the yeast at 80-81F.
8. Put vodka in the airlock.
9. Put carboy in cooler with a wet towel, water w/jugs of ice, and a fan. 2 hrs later, temp was 68F. Removed ice and went to bed.
10. Got up this AM and had about a 3-inch krauzen in the carboy, airlock happily bubbling away, temperature of 64F. Dropped the fan speed and came to work.
1. no prob. just a tweak for next time
2. I rarley have one either.
3. sucks but what can ya do.
4. nuff said
5.tip - you know about cold water and ice in sink. Also - stirring really helps - dilute with VERY cold water. My last batch I got to 100 degrees and then diluted with 2 gallons of 34 degree water. I pitched at 66 degrees (a little cold maybe).
6. buy one
7. a little warm but no big deal
8. drink vodka - put sanitized water in airlock
9. Excellent
10. wow - that was fast.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:08 PM   #9
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OK, I drew another hydrometer sample last Friday (8/8/08) of the BB altbier I brewed 7/20/08. On 7/26 it was 1.018. On 8/8, it was 1.016. The target FG per the recipe is 1.014-1.008. Is this close enough? Fearing I had a stuck fermentation, I gently swirled the carboy after the sample was read. On a side note, the beer has really cleared up since I racked to secondary 7/26 and the bitterness I reported earlier has begun to mellow out.

The BB Weizenbier that I brewed 7/27 had a reading of 1.018, while the target is 1.014-1.008. There were also lots of what I would assume to be yeast "chunkies" in the beer as well as the sample. Tasted the sample and it was yummy for a warm, flat beer.

Should I go ahead and bottle the altbier?

I'm going to check the weizenbier next weekend before I consider doing anything with it.

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Old 08-12-2008, 02:36 PM   #10
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A polite and respectful bump.



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