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Old 01-27-2010, 02:15 AM   #1
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Default a newbie's failed experiment

My first beer, an oatmeal stout recipe kit, is 12 days in primary and I've been twitching nervously about it, so last night I ordered ingredients for a second batch (blood orange hefe).

Today I stopped into the LHBS to pick up a second airlock so I'll be ready when the ingredients come... but I had such a strong urge to brew that I decided to also pick up some ingredients to make a 1 gallon SMaSH tonight! Bought a pound of light DME, an ounce of Willamette, a vial of american yeast, another airlock and a gasket. I have about 10 empty 1-gallon jugs from Tropicana Orange Juice, figured I'd drill a hole in the top of one of those and use it as a fermenter!

So, of course, everything went wrong. I found out when I got home that I accidentally bought lager yeast! Crap! I guess I can primary in the basement (~55-60F probably) then toss it in a fridge. At least it's small.

The boil itself went well, with 0.25 oz of hops at 60, 15, and 5 minutes. Chilled it quickly, got an awesome cold break (first brew definitely didn't form a thick layer of sludge!). Measured OG at an unexpected 1.050 @ 85F (expected closer to 1.040). And then I poured it into the jug... and a freaking OCEAN of foam came rocketing out.

Holy crap, I spent 45 minutes battling with this dense, beery foam. I had washed the jug in StarSan and rinsed it, but I'm guessing that's what I was fighting? I ended up poking a hole in the container with a thermometer and having to emergency sanitize another jug, and then transferring it again made even MORE foam. And aerating it wasn't working, it just made the foam worse. I ended up with probably 0.6 gallons of liquid and the rest of the container filled with foam.

Then I opened the yeast vial and it exploded on my hands. Poured what I could into the foamy abyss, stuck the airlock on, and I guess I'll wait and see what happens. Yeast loves Star San, right?

Brewing is fun!

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:28 AM   #2
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You should have just let that foam Star San snake come out of the jug as you filled it. It does that to me every batch but I just sit back and enjoy the snake.

Yes actually yeast does love Star San.

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:35 AM   #3
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That was my initial reation, to just keep pouring and let it snake out, but it was dense enough that it started taking a lot of liquid out with it. Had I just poured slowly I think I'd have less liquid than I do now! Maybe for the next 1-gallon batch I'll boil more liquid so I can afford the loss...

I just wish it wasn't lager yeast... and probably underpitched, too!

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Old 01-27-2010, 06:54 AM   #4
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I'm pretty new at this, but I'd imagine it would be pretty hard to under pitch .6 gallon of wort.

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Old 01-27-2010, 01:50 PM   #5
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.6 gallon shouldn't be too bad. You want enough head space in the jug for krausening. I actually just made a gallon batch last night, I boiled a gallons worth of wort to about 1/2 gallon and poured about 1/4 gallon of spring water to compensate. Let us know how it turns out, I wouldn't mind doing a gallon LAGER batch since i could probably fit it into my mini fridge.

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:15 PM   #6
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I didn't even think about krausening, if I had succeeded in my original plan it would have blown out the air lock...

I think my basement is too warm for a lager. Temperature reading this morning was 64F. Maybe I'll set it in a bucket of cold tap water tonight.

I barely know how lagering works. John Palmer's book says ferment at 50-55F, diacetyl rest at 65F, lager at 40F... I can do fermentation at 64F, diacetyl rest at 72F, and lager at 40F... but will that work as expected? Is 72F too high, and is the jump from 70 to 40 going to shock it?

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:27 PM   #7
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my uncle lagers at 50F all the way through. Do you have a cooler that you can set your gallon jug in? it might be easier to regulate temps that way.

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:28 PM   #8
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Just my opinion, but as a fellow newbie I think that there's something to be said for starting SIMPLE. 20 years ago I jumped too fast, ruined two straight batches of beer, and lost interest (and got rid of 4 really nice 6.5 gal glass carboys when I moved).

This time around, found CraigTube on YouTube and saw how simple homebrewing can be. Bought the Coopers Micro kit and off I went. Boil 1gal of water, dump everything in, add water and yeast, and let sit for a week or so and then bottle. Beer tasted great, no frustration. I am slowly moving up the food chain and am trying to avoid the temptation to get complicated (ok, ok--I hate bottling, so I'm getting a keg setup). No secondary fermentation, no big huge beers for now, definitely no all grain for the foreseeable future (see my note below about patience).

I hope it works out for you. But if it doesn't, don't give up. Just step back, start small, and be patient (something I severely lack).

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Old 01-27-2010, 02:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jturie View Post
Just my opinion, but as a fellow newbie I think that there's something to be said for starting SIMPLE. 20 years ago I jumped too fast, ruined two straight batches of beer, and lost interest (and got rid of 4 really nice 6.5 gal glass carboys when I moved).
My real batch, a 5-gallon ale, is doing just fine. This 1-gallon-lager debacle is just a test, and even if it turns out undrinkable it was still worth it for the experience. Now I know that White Labs yeast vials explode
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:59 PM   #10
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I like the 1 gal experimentation idea. Quick way to try out different hops/grain additions. Besides, once I get my kegs in, I need to do something with those 60-22oz bottles

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