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Old 11-01-2009, 01:00 AM   #1
AleBelly
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Default Journal of my first batch - please comment!

Hey Folks.

I finally got my first batch under my belt today. It certainly didn't go completely as planned (I'm pretty sure that I screwed it up pretty bad), but I'm pleased none the less that I made it through it. It can only get better from here!

Here's a brief journal of what I did. Since this is my first go around, I'd really appreciate any feedback I can get...

Recipe:

3.85 lb (1.75 kg) . amber malt extract
12 oz (350 g) . crystal malt
3.5 oz (100 g) . munich malt
1 oz (28.5 g) . northern brewer hops
1 oz (28.5 g) . east kent golding hops
.4 oz (11.4 g) . safale s-04 ale yeast

I kind of winged the recipe based on the ingredients that I happened to have picked up, but I have realised afterward that I totaly screwed it up! My malt extract came in 1KG containers, but all of the recipes that I have read measure the extract in lbs. I was aiming for 6-7 lbs , but somehow messed up the conversion and only put in 1.75 kg, which is only 3.85 lb.. I'm assuming my beer is going to turn out extremely watery? .. Crap.

Procedure:

2:15 - Start boling 3 gal of water in a 5 gal steel canning pot. I'm using a single burner hotplate to boil the water in order to keep the entire process in my basement and leave the wife's kitchen out of it.. crystal malt and munich malt are placed in a muslin bag and begin steeping in water as it heats up.

Oh my god. It's taking the water forever to boil. It heats up to 160F (70C) quite quickly and then proceeds to heat up about 1F every century from there on in. I have the lid on the pot the whole time to assist the boiling process. I'm not sure if this is good for the steeping process though?

4:00 - Water has been heating and grains have been steeping for nearly two hours. The water is now nearing 200F (93C) and I can feel it wanting to boil. I remove the steeping grains from the water.

6:00 - Okay, this is getting plain silly. The water simply won't boil. It's been on the cusp of boiling for the past two hours but it just won't get there. At least it has given me time to properly sanitize all of my fermenting equipment.. I finally give in and take the pot up to the kitchen and put it on the stove.

6:01 - Water is at a full boil. Geez. I should have just done that 4 hours ago.. Malt extract is added.

6:05 - Add northern brewer hops in muslin bag

Stirring, smelling, stirring, smelling.

6:55 - Add east kent golding hops in muslin bag

7:00 - Remove muslin bags from wort and remove wort from stove. Take downstairs to laundry room and plunge pot into ice bath.

7:30 - Realise that I forgot to rehydrate the yeast. Start freaking out. Rush to boil a cup of water and get the yeast hydrated. Place hydrated yeast mixture in fridge in a glass covered with saran wrap.

7:40 - Wort has cooled to 77F (25C).. At this point I'm ready to move the wort into my fermenting vessel which is a 7gal (27L) glass carboy. I realise that I don't have an auto syphon yet, can't find a funnel, and that pouring the wort into the narrow spout of the carboy isn't going to be easy. I remember that I purchased a pail with a spiggot as a bottling bucket so I quickly sanatize the bucket and pour the cooled wort into it, swooshing it back and forth to aerate. I put the spiggot over the carboy and let the wort run through. Once the wort is transferred I give the carboy another couple of shakes for good luck. I run another 2 gallons of cold water into the carboy. The temperature has now cooled further to 65F (18C) , am I to cold now for a propper pitch? Oh well. The yeast comes out of the fridge and goes into the carboy. The airlock is filled with water and the carboy is plugged.

It's now 8:00, nearly six hours after i first filled my pot with water. The carboy is sitting quietly in the corner and I am splendidly exhausted. I close my eyes and realise that I forget to take a sample of the wort and check the specific gravity. Oh well. Next time.

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Old 11-01-2009, 01:28 AM   #2
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I just skimmed over your post. What did you brew? Sounds like an English Bitters.


Well, live and learn. I'm kind of amazed that you got a boil going on a hotplate

I'm reading between the lines and assume you live in an apartment or dorm and can't use a turkey fryer to boil your wort.

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Old 11-01-2009, 01:47 AM   #3
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Just a few things to help things go more smoothly next time:

When you rehydrate your yeast, just put it into the water you're using to rehydrate it at about 95F, put sanitized foil or plastic wrap over the top, and leave it out on the counter. You don't want to cool it down in the fridge, but rather let it gradually come down to room temperature. Try to time it so that you're pitching it into your beer after it's rehydrated for 30 minutes. (No problem if you forget and start rehydrating after your beer is already in the fermenter... 30 minutes in a sealed, sanitized fermenter is not going to hurt your beer.)

Pitching at 65F is just fine. Just about optimal, in fact, for most ale yeasts.

If you're using steeping grains, don't steep them above 170F. You'll start extracting tannins, which are very bitter and astringent, from the husks at about 170F.

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Old 11-01-2009, 04:17 AM   #4
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What was the temp of the water you used to re-hydrate your yeast,when you put your yeast into it?

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Old 11-01-2009, 05:06 AM   #5
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Well, I suppose you know now that a single burner 120v hotplate is not going to get it done for you.
The kitchen next time for you my friend.

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Old 11-01-2009, 12:28 PM   #6
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It's been 12 hours now and there's no signs of fermentation. Looks like I screwed up the yeast. Can I add more yeast now, or do I pour it down the drain and start over?

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Old 11-01-2009, 12:43 PM   #7
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Fermentation can take a while to start, up to 72 hours (see the sticky)... Even if your fermentation doesn't start at all (which is unlikely), you can re-pitch yeast to get it going.

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Old 11-01-2009, 12:44 PM   #8
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+1 to steeping grains at proper temperature:
Indeed, on my first batch a few weeks, I got my water to 170, and added my steeping grains, put the kitchen burner back down to simmer. But... the temp still went up! I figured as it went to 180 and 185, no harm done.... but I haven't tasted the beer yet, so we'll see what happens.

This last batch I did, I brought it up to 160, and then turned the gas down lower as I steeped the grains. I saw the temperature rise up almost imperceptibly (I use a candy thermometer) and decided to turn the entire gas burner off, but still watched the temperature. When things got around 155, I put the gas back on, at simmer, until I hit about 162. I repeated this process for the full 30 minutes.

... then again, I do tend to be a micromanager....

What I've always heard was: steep your grains between 150 and 170 deg F for 30 minutes. This means your target temperature should be 160.

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Old 11-01-2009, 07:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AleBelly View Post
It's been 12 hours now and there's no signs of fermentation. Looks like I screwed up the yeast. Can I add more yeast now, or do I pour it down the drain and start over?
What was the temp of the water you used to re-hydrate your yeast,when you put your yeast into it?
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:34 PM   #10
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It was pretty warm. I boiled the water and then only let it sit for a couple of minutes before putting the yeast in.

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