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Old 09-19-2010, 03:15 PM   #1
jdlev
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Default Review My First Brew!

So I was panicking until I saw the sticky. I thought fermentation occurred almost immediately, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Here's what I did to start my first brew - an england brown ale I'd appreciate tips along the way to make it easier next time.

I added my 2 types of DME (3lbs light dried malt extract & 2lbs amber malt dried extract) to my stock pot of warm water (~100-105 degrees), and stirred it for 20 minutes to get it to dissolve. After that, I added the specialty malts in a muslin bag (chocolate malt/crystal malt - 120L) and turned the heat up to medium high. After 20 minutes at that temp, I raised the temp to a boil.

Here's where I f'd up. I added the bittering hops (which were actually the aromatic hops - N. Brewer whole hops) and boiled for 35 minutes. After that, I added the whirfloc tablet (what exactly does that do?), and boiled another 10 mintues. Then at the very end I was to add the aromatic hops (which was actually the bittering hops (Fuggle pellets)) Since I screwed up the hop order...just how screwed up will that make my england brown ale? Is this batch a tosser?

Sanitizing was a pain in the keister. Any ideas on how to simplify that process? I dunked everything in a solution of water and bleech. Then I did it again to the fermenter prior to adding the mash. I hope it doesn't have any bleechy taste, because I did try to wipe it out as much as possible.

Also, the cooling of the mash took forever. I poured it into the fermenter and it took until 3:30am to cool to 80 degrees - at which point, I finally added the dry notingham yeast. Everything I've read said 70 degrees is when you are supposed to add it...but after 6 hours...i just wasn't gonna wait any longer. I have some cooling tubes, but forgot to sanitize them, and so I didn't use them this time...won't make that mistake next time.

Any advice/tips - besides not mixing up my hop order

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Old 09-19-2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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A few things for next time:

I haven't done extract in a long time, so someone correct me if I'm a little off in my techniques...

As far as your steeping grains and extract go, I would add the steeping grains before your extract and hold it at 150-160 for around 30 minutes. Then, bring the water to a boil. Once you're at a boil, turn the heat off and add your extract. Once the extract is fully mixed, bring the water back to a boil.

As for your hops, no biggy. You'll still have a good beer.

When I sanitize, I use an idophor solution and put it in a spray bottle. Then I just spray everything down 10-15 minutes before I need it.

Did you try using icewater to cool your batch? If not, you really need to next time. I highly suggest some sort of wort chiller though...immersion chillers are a great way to start out. They seem expensive, but they're well worth the money when you concider the improvement to your beer and the ease of cooling.

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Old 09-19-2010, 03:42 PM   #3
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The best change I made from my 1st brew to my 2nd one was using star san to sanitize instead of soaking in bleach or sodium percarbonate. No need to rinse, 30-60 seconds of contact time is usually enough. Put it in a spray bottle and you don't even need to make a big bucket of the stuff to soak things in. Inside a carboy or bottles it will make a lot of foam which will continue to protect them until you get around to using them.

I usually seep my specialty grains for about half an hour at 155-165F before I add any extract. Whirlfloc helps precipitate proteins and such which should result in a clearer end product.

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Old 09-19-2010, 04:46 PM   #4
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The beauty of hops is...they all are awesome. Especially the ones you used.

I'm going to guess you'll have a dry/crisp bitterness and a mild aroma. It might actually turn out better than you imagine!

And are you using a thermometer or are you eyeballing the water activity on the different grades of heat?

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Old 09-19-2010, 06:24 PM   #5
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I am using a chemistry thermometer. That's certainly good news on the hops! I thought I'd waited 6 months to finally brew my own batch and screwed it up royally!

I like the idea of the spray-n-done sanitizers...like the star sans...I'll definitely be sure to give them a shot next time...I'll also put the copper cooling coils to good use as well!

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Old 09-20-2010, 03:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdlev View Post
I am using a chemistry thermometer. That's certainly good news on the hops! I thought I'd waited 6 months to finally brew my own batch and screwed it up royally!

I like the idea of the spray-n-done sanitizers...like the star sans...I'll definitely be sure to give them a shot next time...I'll also put the copper cooling coils to good use as well!
The thing you'll learn to love about brewing, is that, no matter how much you screw up, you'll still end up with beer. It may not be the best, but most of the time, it will be very drinkable. If not, give it away. Never throw out a batch unless youre sure it's infected.
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Old 09-20-2010, 03:33 AM   #7
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The copper cooling coils go in when there is about 15 minutes of boil time left. That way they are sanitized by the boiling wort. You don't have to sanitize them before hand. When time runs out kill the heat and turn on the chill water. Once the wort is chilled pull them out and wash off any trub clinging to them. I use a spray nozzle on a garden hose outside to do that. Let them dry and they are good to go next time.

Don't sanitize anything that is going to be IN the boil. The boil itself will take care of that. Any tools, utensils, hoses, buckets, or carboys that will come in contact with the wort after it is cooled need to be sanitized.

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Last edited by Wellshooter; 09-20-2010 at 03:36 AM. Reason: Sanitizing
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:46 PM   #8
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Good advice all around.

I'd like to emphasize that no matter what happens you'll end up with beer. And that never sucks!

The only real comments/advice I have is:

1. Definitely steep your specialty grains before adding extract. It's more energy-efficient to start from cold water once.

2. Organize your brewing space to lessen the possibility you'll mix something up or forget it. I like to lay everything out in a line on the counter, in order it goes into the kettle. If it helps, make a checklist and use a timer.

3. Whirlfloc is a kettle coagulant. It promotes the coagulation of proteins and other detritus in the kettle, so that the stuff - called break - precipitates before it gets to your fermenter. If some break material gets into your fermenter it's no big deal. But excessive break material in the fermenter leads to beer loss; you might end up a few quarts low.

4. Never touch a thing you've sanitized with your bare hands. In other words, spray it down with Star-San - the stuff is awesome - and leave it alone. Don't wipe it out, nothing.

5. Never try to sanitize something that's dirty. 'Cos you can't. Everything which touches your wort should be clean; by that I mean free of stains and soils. Everything which touches your beer should be clean and sanitized. Most brewers here on HBT prefer Oxyclean to remove stubborn soil deposits on their fermenters; just mix with hot water and soak. There are other materials, like PBW, but Oxyclean is cheaper and readily available.

Welcome to the obsessio...er...hobby! Good luck with your first brew, and do enjoy every last drop of it.

Cheers,

Bob

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Old 09-20-2010, 01:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wellshooter View Post
The copper cooling coils go in when there is about 15 minutes of boil time left. That way they are sanitized by the boiling wort. You don't have to sanitize them before hand. When time runs out kill the heat and turn on the chill water. Once the wort is chilled pull them out and wash off any trub clinging to them. I use a spray nozzle on a garden hose outside to do that. Let them dry and they are good to go next time.

Don't sanitize anything that is going to be IN the boil. The boil itself will take care of that. Any tools, utensils, hoses, buckets, or carboys that will come in contact with the wort after it is cooled need to be sanitized.
Excellent idea on the cooling coils...I'll definitely have to remember that next time!
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Good advice all around.

I'd like to emphasize that no matter what happens you'll end up with beer. And that never sucks!

The only real comments/advice I have is:

1. Definitely steep your specialty grains before adding extract. It's more energy-efficient to start from cold water once.

2. Organize your brewing space to lessen the possibility you'll mix something up or forget it. I like to lay everything out in a line on the counter, in order it goes into the kettle. If it helps, make a checklist and use a timer.

3. Whirlfloc is a kettle coagulant. It promotes the coagulation of proteins and other detritus in the kettle, so that the stuff - called break - precipitates before it gets to your fermenter. If some break material gets into your fermenter it's no big deal. But excessive break material in the fermenter leads to beer loss; you might end up a few quarts low.

4. Never touch a thing you've sanitized with your bare hands. In other words, spray it down with Star-San - the stuff is awesome - and leave it alone. Don't wipe it out, nothing.

5. Never try to sanitize something that's dirty. 'Cos you can't. Everything which touches your wort should be clean; by that I mean free of stains and soils. Everything which touches your beer should be clean and sanitized. Most brewers here on HBT prefer Oxyclean to remove stubborn soil deposits on their fermenters; just mix with hot water and soak. There are other materials, like PBW, but Oxyclean is cheaper and readily available.

Welcome to the obsessio...er...hobby! Good luck with your first brew, and do enjoy every last drop of it.

Cheers,

Bob
Hi Bob...forgive this uber newb...but what is "steeping"? (and thanks for the advice!)
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