Thought I'd pass on some experiences from my first month of home brewing...This post fueled by rum and cokes instead of home brews for reasons that will become obvious below...
Batch 1: Munton's Highland Heavy kit, Christmas gift from SWMBO along with plastic bucket kit. she's a keeper!
Sanitizer: clorox&water solution. Chose this mainly be because I could get started without a trip to my LHBS which is not all that local.
Method: followed kit instructions, since the LME was prehopped did not do a boil per se, boiled plain water then mixed all extract and water in fermenter. Of the 5 gal batch, 2 gallons were boiled, the remainder added cold from tap in the fermenter. Have a question about this at end of the post...
Insertion of airlock: reminded me of prom night. Shaking too much to hit The target. Pushed too hard, airlock grommet into the wort. Minor panic attack, but after sinking to the level of my training, improvised with a rubber band wrapped around The airlock stem. Not pretty but wedged it in there.
Cooling wort: comedy of errors, cue Benny Hill theme. Did not prepare any kind of ice bath , did not sufficient ice in house for said bath, being a noob i have no, and am slightly afraid of, wort chiller...ended up making space inside my chest freezer and putting fermenter in there until stickon themo. Indicated a temperature I could actually see, think around 78 deg.. F. "cold crash" took only 60 minutes.
O.g. Measurement: let's say 1.042. You'll have to trust me.
the windup, and the pitch: pitched the little dry yeast packet from the kit into the 78 deg. Wort. The kit made me do it.
Fermenter placement: in basement, on workbench next to lamp I am fixing for SWMBOs mom. Reflect upon photos of homebrew caves from this forum and feel simultaneously inadequate yet "keepin it real"
Religious monitoring of fermenter: no bubble activity for first 24 hours. Read , re-read, and transcribe Revvy's posts on fermenter activity for faith & guidance. Gave it the shake & swirl. And lo..bubbles.
Channel HBT zen: left fermenter alone, but noted temp. And airlock activity daily. Temp ended up stabilizing 64-66 deg. took gravity reading. Around 1.020. Tell myself I made a session beer, and feel proud that I'm above those just hazing big alcohol beers.
Bottling: purely on basis that fermentation "should be done" in a week, racked to bottling bucket,
Oh no, forgot priming sugar. In panic, grab ancient bottle of store bought simple syrup from fridge. Measure out correct amount by weight, and add to bottling bucket.
then Bottle using beer bottles, soda bottles, baby bottles, anything I can find, as I don't really realize how much beer 5 gallons is. While bottling, I make sure to avoid use of the bottling wand that came with my kit, and glug it straight into tHe bottles from the bucket spigot. Lots of foam and oxygen in the bottles.
Capping: no problems I can actually remember. However, after all is done I realize my finger is bleeding. No idea.
Bottle condition: after 1 week, I sneak a boTtle to see what a young beer tastes like. To my surprise it is not great, but drinkable. Can tell the low alcohol, ESP compared to my usual tastes, which run to the higher ABVs. I notice a slight sour note I the aroma and taste, but it is light.
In subsequent days, I sample more bottles, and it seems the souring is worse. Look up possible causes, and thinking it is some bacterial thing, likely acetobacter. (Palmer text)
And now, the question. I blame the souring on the following, in order of "worst sanitizing /process mistake"
1. Simple syrup primer
2. Churning / foaming while bottling
3. Poor use of Clorox sanitizer
3. Use of water direct from tap to make up the 5 gallons.
undaunted, batch 2 is in fermenter now, actually my own simple extract based recipe. Stay tuned for noob notes #2. I've switched to star San for this batch, and did a partial boil, but still made up my final fermenter volume straight from tap.
I'm really loving the process and learning how to do all this, and really appreciate the forum.