Tripplehazard, he has made his own carboy wand and considered making a wort chiller. One time he went as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween and he built a suitcase that played blues music. I will tell him about the stir plate. And yes, we wanted to brew the highest quality beer we could from the start--no extracts for us. Not to say that they are bad, but we new AG would be better and wanted to learn the hard way first. We'll see how these first couple batches come out, got an ESB in the secondary and this porter in the primary. By the way, I read up on WLP005 and I am no longer worried about the fermentation. This is what I read from the website:
This is normal behavior for the British yeast. You don't see that much activity because it doesn't rise to the top at all. It ferments from the bottom, unusual for ale yeast but becoming more common as many UK ale brewers have switched to conical fermentors. You should still be getting good CO2 generation, however, and that should be strong. Sometimes people rack off after a day or so, which in the case of this yeast, it would leave it all behind. It's best to leave it and not rack the beer until approximately 24 hours post terminal gravity, at the earliest. If you didn't rack, it would be very unusual for fermentation to not be complete with 70 F constant temp and good aeration.