Well, actually its in the fermenter, but that's semantics.
I figure I'm good for a couple more in here before I start doing silly things in the more advanced forums, but I'm rather pleased with myself and wanted to share, if only for the benefit of other, future newcomers to this calling.
I wanted to make a dunkelweizen. No big deal right? But I kind of needed to brew it yesterday (Sunday) as the semester starts today and I have a full time federal judicial externship beginning tomorrow. (Sorry; shameless plug but I'm super excited!) That was really the perfect timing, because my girlfriend wanted to help, which she wasn't able to do on either of my previous brews, and she had just returned from visiting her family on the Wednesday prior. "Get everything ready," she says to me sometime last week, "and we can do that on Sunday." So on Friday I went down and got all my ingredients. Then I realized that I would be brewing in two days and wanted to make a yeast starter. Near as I can tell, that's a little too short for optimal, but whatever... I guess I can always buy another pack if I get sow fermentation, right? So I wander home shortly thereafter with my LME, some specialty grains, hops, yeast, and some corn starch... and immediately go right back for the hop socks and DME (to feed the starter) that I forgot to get. Such seems to be the way of brewing for me; happens every time.
Brew day, I have to say, was bar far the smoothest I've had to date, and that's really why I wanted to write this overly long post. I did quite a few things differently this time around than in my previous attempts, and I think that it really helped.
First, specialty grains. I don't claim to know much about the efficiency of extraction based on water volume. I've heard various ideas about how much water to use, everything from a fixed amount, to a rate. I think the most recent I saw was "not to exceed 3L/pound of grain." Insight from the experts would be great, but I used four gallons. Mostly because I have no decent mid-sized kettles (I have a couple kitchen-sized soup pots and an eight gallon boil kettle), and I need four gallons in the kettle to reach the thermometer. But anyway, I steeped the grains in four gallons at 168º or so, for half an hour. Then out they came.
Second, before topping off the kettle, or putting it back on the heat, I added my extract. Again, I hear various theories on this but I really did not want to bother with a late addition, particularly of LME, when I already had two hop socks and a wort chiller in the kettle to contend with. I have to admit that I never realized just how much volume LME takes up in the kettle! Easily a gallon's worth of space. After I'd dissolved my LME into the four gallons already present, I added about two and a half more and turned the flame back on. Stirred lots, added from Fermcap-S, and... no boilovers! First time that I manage that trick. Got a great, roiling boil that stayed consistent and didn't jump the lip but twice, which were small little splashes. Even better: I got just over five gallons into my carboy, without having to top off!
So into the fermenter is all went. Added a little oxygen. (Very little, maybe 10-15 seconds' worth.) and yeasties. This morning, twelve hours later... two inches of kreuzen and steady blowoff bubbling, maybe twice a second right now. I'm one happy camper!