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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Rushing a brew day & bottling day...never again (long)
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Old 08-07-2012, 03:56 AM   #1
tj218
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Default Rushing a brew day & bottling day...never again (long)

What you are about to read or more likely skim over is a humbling experience from a newbie brewer on his fourth brew (5 gal extract, partial boil w/ steeping grains).

Sorry for the length, but maybe someone else can either laugh at my noobish mistakes or learn from them. As you read this, please imagine the Benny Hill music or whatever comedic music suits your fancy.
-------
So I had about 4 1/2 hours to bottle my Scottish 70 and brew my Russian Imperial Stout then I had to pick up the kids. I thought that was enough time, even though each task separately from start to finish has taken me 2-3 hours. Heck I know what I am doing, I have brewed three different times and bottles twice, haha. I rationalized that in my other brew days there has been a lot of idle time while waiting for water to warm up, I could bottle then. I could do this...SWMBO (she is not a big fan of my newly discovered homebrewing addiction) will never find out...

Start time: 1:00-1:30

Take LME out of fridge in place in warm water. Mix priming sugar solution for Scottish 70 (henceforth S70), and heat up for boil. Water for 2.5 gallons is put on medium to start the long slow process of heating up. I also boil two jars to harvest yeast from the S70. I go downstairs, take my FG reading on the S70 (OG 1.04 -> FG: 1.009). Run upstairs, turn off the priming sugar to cool. Run downstairs and sterilize bottles.

Time: 1:30-2:30
Put Russian Imperial Stout (henceforth RIS) steeping grains in mesh bag, water at 140...eh close enough so I decide to start the steeping. As I do that steeping grains fall out into now semi-cooled priming solution. Damn! Re-boil priming sugar to be safe. When it boils for 5 minutes, I then put the pot in a water bath to cool quickly and throw into bottling bucket. Siphoned S70 into bottling bucket. Damn this is taking forever! Starting to panic about temp on steeping grains and can't leave due to not wanting to get trub/slurry in bottling bucket. Finally finishes siphoning. Run upstairs, grains are at 165...sonofabitch! I kill the heat, throw some cool water into it to get the temp down to 155. Resume steeping and go downstairs. Harvest yeast into two jars, approx 5 oz of slurry in each jar. Begin racking and capping, 1 case down...go back upstairs, remove specialty grains and jack up the heat to get to a boil. Go back downstairs finish bottling. Do a quick rinse and soak of primary fermenter and bottling bucket.

Time: 2:30 (2hrs before I have to go) - 4:15
Water was boiling upstairs, killed the heat added 6lbs of LME and then turned on heat again. Figured I had enough time to properly clean the primary and bottling bucket, dump Star-San into primary to wait out the boil. I smell roastiness...hmm...run up-stairs....boilover! @&*! (I naively believed boil-overs could only happen on the hop additions). This is a serious issue as SWMBO will never allow a brew session again if she were to see that mess. I switch the kettle to the other side of the stove and try to get as much of the wort as I can before it cooks or cools on to the stove. Throw in my hops as I am cleaning up. Cleaning up will continue for nearly an hour but Bar Keepers Friend did the trick.

4:00
@$&! I am behind schedule, now have 30 minutes before I need to leave and 15 minutes still left in boil. Add the next LME addition and wait for the water to come to a boil. It comes to a boil with 5 minutes left. Ugh. I ran downstairs and started the ice-bath. Timer beeps.

4:15
15 minutes before I am supposed to leave. Kettle is carefully brought downstairs, (I had visions of slipping down the stairs or on the basement floor which was wet from Star-San and water due to my rushing). Thrown into ice-bath and I carefully fill a smaller bucket on the other side of the sink to fill up swamp cooler with cool water. During this time I carefully stir the wort with the thermometer in the kettle and use my hand to move the ice around the kettle on the outside. PLEASE GO FASTER.

4:30 (I should be in the car now)
Wort temp is at 110F. Damn. Ok, I will just be a bit late picking up the kids, day care closes at 5:30 I can leave around 4:45 and still make it with some time for traffic. I will get the dirty looks but whatever, as long as SWMBO doesn't find out I am golden.

4:35 (approx)
Wort temp is 100F, dump Star-San out of Primary into my Star-San bucket and fill with 2 gallons of cold water. Pour wort into primary, and top-off to 5 gal line. Take OG reading (1.089). Take temp with my wife's digital thermometer as the brewing thermometer was covered in wort... probe was put in Star-San) and now at 80F. When returning thermometer to Star-San, I drop it....and the unit's LCD goes dead. Now SWMBO will kill me will need to replace that ASAP w/o being caught. Placed bucket in swamp cooler (48F water all the way to 5 gal line) in a desperate attempt to speed up.

4:45
I am pushing my luck here. Even if I leave now, if I hit traffic I will be late, and we have to pay $5 /per min per child. SWMBO would castrate me......cleaned the brewing thermometer (rinsed in water and sanitized in Star-San). Temp is at 74....slurry is Wyeast 1728, looking for a 58-60F range. What am I going to do?

4:50
ABORT I MUST GO NOW
Put on lid and an airlock with Star-San just to be safe. Run upstairs and change, jump in the car @ 4:54 and go. Spend the whole time driving kicking myself but I got to daycare at 5:28.

6:15
Returned home. Got the kids settled quickly, and ran downstairs, swamp cooler had risen to 59. Figured that the wort is roughly the same by this point. Aerated the wort and cracked the lid and pitched approx 8-10oz of slurry. Attached blow off tube. Ran upstairs started dinner.

7:15
House smells like hops and SWMBO hates that. She comes home, sees the mess in the basement, kids haven't had a bath yet, I get the silent treatment. So far I am still safe on the boil-over and the digital thermometer.


Lesson learned: Never rush a brew day or bottling day. Just when you think you know enough about this hobby you will humbled.

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Old 08-09-2012, 12:42 PM   #2
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Update:

On the bright side, the digital thermometer is now working again, wahoo!

However, 60 hours since pitching and I have no fermentation, OG hasn't moved, no bubbles, no krausen. <sigh>

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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This was very entertaining lol

Did you pitch slurry you saved? If you pitched directly from the jar it might take longer. Yeast could be stressed. The yeast saved in a jar could be a lot of trub and a little yeast (if you harvested instead of washed). Next the harvested yeast are dormant, fell out of the previous batch and could contain a lot of dead cells as well. Lastly, if your RIS is high gravity, then a small amount of yeast in a big beer without a starter could really stress them out. This isn't for certain, but it's just my guess at whats going on.

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojzis View Post
This was very entertaining lol

Did you pitch slurry you saved? If you pitched directly from the jar it might take longer. Yeast could be stressed. The yeast saved in a jar could be a lot of trub and a little yeast (if you harvested instead of washed). Next the harvested yeast are dormant, fell out of the previous batch and could contain a lot of dead cells as well. Lastly, if your RIS is high gravity, then a small amount of yeast in a big beer without a starter could really stress them out. This isn't for certain, but it's just my guess at whats going on.
The slurry was pretty fresh (yeast was originally pitched 7/13), I pulled it from the S70 I was bottling that day. It sat for maybe 3 hours at room temperature in a sterilized jar. I did not wash it.

I was originally just going to throw the RIS onto the yeast cake, but the krausen line from the S70 made me think twice so I harvested the yeast and washed the primary.

I swirled at 40 hours and I just lightly shook it for a few seconds. Hoping that will get the yeast to wake-up.

Ugh.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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<-big benny hill fan. Thanks Dad. Watched them_all


Couple things I have learned and will continue to use - after reading above

Brew day or Brew night is just that- nothing else happens. Beer will be made. Nothing can stop that process. SWMBO once asked if I can pick up the kids from DOWN THE BLOCK- and I replied as long as she can hop on schedule and prevent boil over-
She doesn't ask anymore.

Unless I was planning on doing 1 through 10pm, im not starting your project- or 10am-6pm- no interruptions. Thats an 8 hour brew day in my opinion- with your experience under your belt - and mine for that matter- especially with im getting kids and making dinner and cleaning- oh yea and bottling too.

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:13 PM   #6
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Why were the kids at daycare if you were just sitting at home for half the day?

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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So he could brew obv!

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Why were the kids at daycare if you were just sitting at home for half the day?
They go two days a week for pre-school.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:09 PM   #9
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I've only had one bottling day, but I started at 3 am after a 2 hour nap. I figured I'd be done in two hours and be able to go back to bed before work. I made a mess and didn't finish up until 7:30 so the 2 hour nap was all the sleep I got. Next time I'm bottling on a weekend morning after I get a decent night's sleep.

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Old 08-10-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
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Lesson learned: Get a SWMBO that likes (or at least tolerates) my beer brewing. Better yet, if she likes beer at all, brew one for her! Pick her favorite style and make it. If you get her invested in it, you can perhaps later involve her in it. Don't expect that she'll like it (try to make something she does though, never try to coerce someone into liking something for your sake) and if she has any input, consider it for the next batch. She loves it? Great, name it after her and you'll have her ASKING for you to brew.

Fortunately, it was my ex-girlfriend who got me my first kit and really liked good, craft beer. Unfortunately, she's my EX-girlfriend. However, even now during brew days if anyone comes over, I'll only invite someone who is genuinely interested in the process or really enjoys good beer. The last thing you want is for someone who isn't into it hanging around for hours until you're finished.

As for your process, is there any way you can brew outside? I was/am in the same position living with my parents right now. My mother hates the smell of wort. In fact she walked in the garage the other day and said "it smells like dirty socks!" like she always does (she also claims it smells hoppy even when I was just bringing extract to a boil or just mashing in), and of course asked why I was brewing in the garage, borrowing that precious parking spot for a few hours. Needless to say it began to rain as I was cooling my wort so I'm glad I chose the garage (got caught in it the very last time I brewed just at my 5 min hop addition right before cooling). But overall, she's been much happier that I've been brewing outside.

You also seem to be going up and downstairs a lot. You probably know you can't keep this up and should sit down and think about streamlining your process. Would it be practical to brew in the basement if you were using an electric setup? Can you put your bottling and other equipment in a plastic tote to take upstairs and keep the empty bottles in cardboard cases for easier transport? Then you can get yourself a propane burner to do this all outdoors. Grass is a lot more forgiving when you have a boilover. Perhaps you can get yourself to a point where you don't have to move a boiling hot kettle to the cooling water; I've done it before too but its just plain bad practice.

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