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Old 07-17-2008, 09:43 PM   #1
grace1760
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Default Observations from a "D+" grade 1st attempt

I'm not sure which is greater: my excitement to begin my first homebrew, or my disappointment at this middle stage of the process.

I brewed a brown ale (extract kit) 11 days ago. The brewday seemed to go okay. I rehydrated the Munton's yeast that came with the kit (wasn't sure if it needed to be mixed with the water, or just sprinkled on top of some water when rehydrating -- I mixed it in). I proofed it with a small amount of sugar-water. After 25 minutes, there were a few bubbles, but overall pretty weak activity. Since I saw activity, however, I assumed it would be serviceable. When I pitched the yeast, I first poured the rehydrated yeast into the primary bucket, then poured in the cooled wort (2 gal.), then added 3 gallons of tap water. I did not aerate much at all; I though that by pouring the wort onto the yeast directly, it would be oxygenated enough. I took the hydrometer reading after the yeast was already pitched.

The OG was 1.044. I left it in the primary for 10 days. I took a FG reading of 1.019, which was higher (heavier?) than I would have expected. Foolishly, I did not leave it in primary, but racked to secondary. During this process, I accidentally but significantly sloshed the primary bucket, probably stirring up all kinds of trub. I tasted the hydro sample, and....

oh no. That's not very good.

It definitely seemed to be missing something. I understand that the beer is far from "finished", but it was definitely flat (tasting). I'm absolutely going to see it through, and I know I shouldn't be too upset that a rookie made some rookie mistakes...but it's disheartening nonetheless. Overall grade for initial attempt: D+

Next time, I'm going to:

1) Use different and better yeast. I still don't understand all the differences between all the strains or what's appropriate for different styles, but I can ask at my LHBS.

2) On brewday, mix the wort with the water, aerate vigorously, take hydro reading, then pitch the yeast.

3) take more than one hydro reading before racking to secondary, being careful not to slosh it all around like a bucket of water with my house on fire.

4) Give it 2 weeks (minimum) in primary, then rack according to hydro reading.

<sigh>

Sorry for the long post; if anybody read it all and has further suggestions, I'm open. After getting this all off my chest, I'm happy to report that the answer to my initial question is...my excitement is still greater than my disappointment.

On to Round 2!

EDIT: FG was 1.019

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Old 07-17-2008, 10:01 PM   #2
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Not to worry, just bottle it let it carb and you will find the taste much improved. Carbonation does wonders for beer and you can't really judge it until then.

But your list going forward sounds good. Just remember there is plenty of god dry yeast out there. The ones you get from Munton's and Cooper's may seem low rent but they do ferment reliably and cleanly. I have used them both in my beers and had good results.

IMHO specialty yeasts are really only good for beers that have a specific taste profile that the yeast provides, Hefeweizen for example. If you just want a clean Pale Ale, then there is no shame in dry yeast.

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Old 07-17-2008, 11:01 PM   #3
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^^^^^
Agreed.

Remember this, when tasting your hydro samples from the primary, you are tasting flat, warm, green beer.

Once it's carbed, chilled properly, and aged, it will be a different beer.
Hold back a couple of six-packs and age them for three to six months, and it will be a wholly different beer again.

My advice to you is to get another batch going ASAP and keep that primary full. You'll be sorely disappointed after finishing your last bottle of YOUR beer if you don't have another batch ready to drink, or at least close to it.

(I say that with a painfully empty fermenter -- work has been keeping me busy, so I'm wasting my 65F basement -- hope the beer holds out)

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Old 07-17-2008, 11:29 PM   #4
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plus, my question to you is have you drank a lot of ales before? Since I hadn't ever had an ale, I was kind of taken back when I first tried mine as well and thought it was absolutely disgusting, undrinkably disgusting but sure enough with bottle time and getting used to the flavor it is now absolutely delicious.

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Old 07-17-2008, 11:32 PM   #5
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Leave it in the secondary until it hits the target gravity. It will take a while longer because it only has a little yeast, but it will continue fermenting.

Learning how a beer tastes at various stages of the process takes practice and beer undergoes some amazing changes week to week.

Rather than a D+, I give you an Incomplete

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Old 07-18-2008, 12:50 AM   #6
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Any ideas on why his FG was higher than his OG??? That doesn't make much sense..

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Old 07-18-2008, 12:54 AM   #7
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You can't begin to judge your beer until it's been in the bottle at least 3 weeks...maybe longer...

Most of my hydro samples taste like grainy warm and flat tea, but they always taste different once the co2 has done it's job!

Don't judge a beer before it's time unless you have had at least a dozen beers under your belt....once you've tasted a ton of samples then you can begin to gauge what a beer will taste like....

New brewers have no reference to judge from.

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Old 07-18-2008, 12:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sontavas View Post
Any ideas on why his FG was higher than his OG??? That doesn't make much sense..
Because the wort and water wasn't mixed thoroughly when he took his OG reading...It is really challenging to integrate the wort and water without stirring for 5 solid minutes. The wort sinks to the bottom of the top off water...So his first reading was not accurate.

Most beginning brewers OG readings are screwed up...
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sontavas View Post
Any ideas on why his FG was higher than his OG??? That doesn't make much sense..
And............the fg is mistyped. I am sure that it should read 1.019. Which is still too high, but not totally out of whack.
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Old 07-18-2008, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace1760 View Post
I proofed it with a small amount of sugar-water. After 25 minutes, there were a few bubbles, but overall pretty weak activity.
Per Palmer, you don't want to add sugar when rehydrating dry yeast - doing that can cause fermentation problems later on.
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