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Old 02-19-2013, 06:50 PM   #1
ACraftyGlass
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Default My first ever home brew...

Hi everyone from London, England.

At Christmas I was treated to the Brooklyn Brew Shop's beer making kit.

I'm at the fermentation stage of my first ever brew and wanted to stop by to see if anyone has any tips/reassurances for me!

During the boil, a lot of the liquid evaporated. As instructed, I added water to the fermentation jar, to hit the gallon marker I needed to aim for. The added water amounted to around two litres, which I'm worried seems too much. Also, I topped up with slightly too much water an exceeded the gallon mark, so there's not as much emptiness/air as there should be...

By the end of day one, the jar of liquid was in two defined colours. Now one colour dominates the liquid and there's a big amount of gunk at the bottom of the jar. I'm worried that there's too much, and that nothing has really happened to the jar since...



Any thoughts would be highly appreciated.

I've recently started a craft beer blog where I posted an article about my debut in brewing. http://acraftyglass.co.uk/

Thanks so much,
Tony.

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Old 02-19-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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It'd also be interesting to hear your thoughts on whether I should stick to the instructions this first time round, or learn whatever 'secondary fermentation' is all about and try that out...

Thanks!

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:06 PM   #3
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You are going to have some serious blowoff and a huge mess to clean up. You need more headspace than that. I'd get a blow off tube on there right away. They are easy/cheap to make, and you really should start every beer on one. Basically, you make a tube that goes in to a bottle of starsan, and stick it in the top of your fermenter. Many people, (myself included) just take apart the 3-piece airlock that you already have, and stick a tube on the post in the middle. Others just buy tubing big enough that it fits snugly in the top of the fermenter, without the airlock. You can find more information on making them on here.

The junk at the bottom is called trub, and it looks fine. It's just yeast and sediment. It will compact nicely in a while.

Secondary is really only necessary when adding fruit or other things. If you want to do it on a regular beer, it's really a personal thing (and where a lot of people here are divided). I never do though. It doesn't seem to have much (if any) benefit, and it does increase risk of oxidation, infection, etc.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:10 PM   #4
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I also started my foray into all-grain with the Brooklyn Brew Shop kit.

Based on my experience with the instructions in that kit, I am guessing that you probably didn't use enough sparge water. How did you do your sparge (rinsing the grains)? 2 litres is an awful lot of top up water to have to add to a 1 gallon batch.

With this tiny fermenter, your best bet is to use a blow off tube. That is a piece of vinyl tubing with one end put in the place of your airlock and the other end in a cup/bucket of sanitized solution. You want to use that whenever you have very little headspace (room between the top of the wort and the top of the fermenter), as in this case.

It looks like you got a little bit of hop stuff in the neck of the fermenter. How long after pitching your yeast did you take this picture? After 24-48 hours you should have developed a krausen, which is an evil looking foam on top of the beer.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:12 PM   #5
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Hi, thanks a lot for your quick reply.

At the kit instructed me to, I had a blow off tube attached for the first three days, before removing it and adding the air lock.

Do you recommend I remove the airlock and returned it? Does the jar not need to be air tight at this stage?

I was contemplating tilting some of the liquid out to create more headspace, but worried that this would disturb the trub too much.

Thanks,
Tony.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:16 PM   #6
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Hi Meevoo, the stuff at the neck of the jar appeared after day one of fermentation.

This photo was taken today. At the top of the liquid is a 1cm approx foam which looks pretty horrid!

Someone recommend I buy a hydrometer so I can take gravity readings throughout fermentation. I purchased one but have since decided that taking samples would disturb the jar's contents too much.

Thanks.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:24 PM   #7
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Just looked at your blog. You did everything right, so I think you will end up with good beer!

Just a couple of suggestions:
1. If you think you want to continue with all grain brewing, invest in some brewing software. I, and a lot of other users on this site, use BeerSmith. I think I paid $25 USD for it.
2. If you continue with all grain brewing, invest in a hydrometer. This will tell you what the starting gravity is of your wort (so you can calculate mash efficiency) and more importantly, will be able to tell you if fermentation is complete.

My method for sparging (rinsing) my grains is this: I put a large strainer inside one of the really fine mesh grain bags. I put that over my boil kettle, then dump the contents of the mash kettle into the strainer. I feel like I get a really goot strain this way, no little bits of grain/husk coming through. When the wort has drained out, I spoon the grains back into my mash kettle, put in the appropriate amount of sparge water and repeat. I then do it one more time.

Most people would probably say I am making this unnecessarily difficult and that I could just do the brew in a bag method, but it has been working for me, so I'm going to stick with it.

Anyhow, welcome to homebrewing!

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:26 PM   #8
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Looks like we posted at the same time. The hydrometer is the only thing that will be able to tell you when the beer is done fermenting. You don't have to take them very often. I wait 3 weeks before I start taking any readings.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:30 PM   #9
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Thanks for visiting the blog. It summarises the main steps I followed. There were a few smaller ones that I didn't bother writing up.

There's a small chance that when sparging, I didn't use as much water as I should have. But I was pretty attentive to the instructions. Maybe I boiled at slightly too high a temperature… Hopefully the added water doesn't mean my brew's doomed?

I'll use the hydrometer in a couple of weeks then. Will tilting the jar to collect a sample do much damage to the contents? It'll shake up the turbo a fair bit…

Thanks for all your help and a warm welcome to home brewing. Exciting times!

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:40 PM   #10
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Do you have any idea what the starting volume of your wort was? I shoot for 1.4 gallons because my kettle boils off about 58 oz in an hour. I'm guessing you probably started with about 1 gallon, then boiled off about half of that. One of the nice things about BeerSmith is it will tell you exactly the amount of water to use in your mash and sparge, so that you end up with the right amount of wort at the start of the boil.

The best way to get a sample is to either use a sanitized Fermtech Thief or a sanitized turkey baster of some sort then use your hydrometer on that. With the Thief, you can put your hydrometer right in it. That's what I use (the Thief).

Additionally, I would use corn sugar (dextrose) when it comes time to bottle. Using honey on this type of beer is going to really change the flavor, probably in a negative way. Also, an auto siphon is going to make your life a lot easier. If you get one, make sure to get the SMALL one. Any of the other sizes won't fit into the opening of the gallon jug.

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On deck: Surly Abrasive clone, Yooper's Pale Ale
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