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Old 01-19-2011, 08:45 PM   #1
mchubri
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Default Total Noob, 1st brew issue, maybe?

Greetings all,

Total noob (1st post), so I apologize if this topic has been covered. So me and my 2 buddies decided to start brewing together, we've never done it before. Went to the Local Brew Shop, grabbed a 5gal beginner kit and a Trew Brew Brown Alr recepie kit. I just finished reading how to brew so i used a combination of what I learned from Palmer and the True Brew direction sheet.

Brew day went off without a hitch. OG was 1.042 Had some active fermentation, nice creamy Kreusen and then it settled off after about 48 hours. Sat in the primary for 17 days @ 69-75 degrees then we bottled.

Mistake #1 was I didn't take a hydrometer reading before emptying the primary into the botteling bucket. FG was 1.025 when it was supposed to be around 1.012. The beer tasted sweet, yet almost watery at the same time, far from good tasting beer.

I did some research and started to blame the incomplete fermentation (if that is indeed what happened) on the Malto Dextrin the recepie kit contained. Then I realized had I taken a reading before botteling I could have swirled the primary to wake up some yeast, or even pitched more yeast, but we didn't. We went ahead and primed and bottled hoping something magical would happen in the bottle conditioning phase.

Any thoughts on what may have gone wrong, or what might happen in the bottles? "Is my beer ruined" ? Might I have good drinkable beer in 2 weeks, 1 month 6 months? Also, what is the best method for taking a sample from the primary to take a reading? I was thinking sanitized turkey baster? What should your beer taste like straight out of the primary?

Thanks all!

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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First, congrats! You will have beer.

I'm not familiar with that particular recipe - I'm not at all sure why maltodextrin is part of it. But you are correct, it will contribute to the gravity but is unfermentable.

17 days seems a little early to bottle, but what's done is done. Treat this brew as a learning experience - heck, you should treat every brew as a learning experience. It will probably end up a little sweet, but still it will be beer.

And a turkey baster is what I use to get hydro samples - I think a lot here do the same. Just sanitize it beforehand.

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:56 PM   #3
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Hoping something magical will happen rarely works. 17 days should have been enough to ferment out unless something odd was happening. I cant really comment on the malto dextrin as I never use it. When did you take the reading to get 1.025?

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:56 PM   #4
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Your beer will improve immeasurably while conditioning in the bottles. 2 weeks is bare minimum, at 4 weeks it will really taste good. Dark beers benefit from longer conditioning, so even 6 weeks for a brown isn't too long. Do yourself a favor and save a bottle to try at 6 weeks, and another at 10 weeks or so.

Incomplete fermentation could have been a number of issues, but I'd suspect the yeast that came with the kit- was it dry? Did you reconstitute it, or make a starter? Often those kits have been sitting around for a while and the yeast gets old. Search the forum here for making yeast starters, it's very simple and makes a big difference. Your fermentation temperatures are maybe a tad high, but that shouldn't result in a high FG reading.

Not to worry you at all, because in all likelihood this won't happen, but you might want to put your bottles in a garbage bag. If fermentation wasn't complete before bottling, you might have a couple bottle tops blow off, which can make a huge mess.

I'd try a bottle at 1 week and see how much carbonation you have. This is also a great way to learn how the taste changes with conditioning. If you have lots of carbonation at 1 week, like the beer comes foaming out of the bottle, you can open each cap a tiny bit and let some of the pressure out, then recap after a few minutes.

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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I'm sure the flavours will mellow nicely and be much better in the next few weeks or so.

B

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:10 PM   #6
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Thanks all!

We took the reading as the fermenter was emptying into the botteling bucket prior to priming.

We used the kit yeast. We checked the expiration date on it and it was still valid. It was dry and we reconstituted in warm water for 15 min prior to pitching.

I need to learn more about starters. I will revisit that chapter in How to Brew.

We brewed a Pale Ale this wekend and used a White Labs liquid yeast and the difference in fermentation activity was huge. With this batch i was able to experience the beer on the ceiling phenomonon! Kreusen everywhere untill I switched to a blowoff tube. The Brown Ale developed a kreusen, but not nearly at the level of the Pale Ale.

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:10 PM   #7
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I wouldn't recommend making a starter out of dry yeast, but re-hydrating it might help. And unless the kit was sitting there for over a year, chances are the yeast is ok. Dry yeast packs have a life around something like 2 years.

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #8
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If this was a good kit, the dextrin shouldn't be enough to drastically alter your gravities (your kit probably had 4 oz of dextrin powder to 6+ lbs of malt).

I don't know that dextrin is a cause for stalled fermentation.

I've never had a bottle bomb, but I would be careful, maybe someone else can chime in on that.

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:29 PM   #9
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I also can't explain the high FG but I would second the opinion about putting a garbage around your bottles in case of bottle bombs. Not trying to worry you but I would do it to be safe. Also, imo, uncarbed beer will sometimes seem a little watery.

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Old 01-19-2011, 11:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frazier View Post
First, congrats! You will have beer.

I'm not familiar with that particular recipe - I'm not at all sure why maltodextrin is part of it. But you are correct, it will contribute to the gravity but is unfermentable.

17 days seems a little early to bottle, but what's done is done. Treat this brew as a learning experience - heck, you should treat every brew as a learning experience. It will probably end up a little sweet, but still it will be beer.

And a turkey baster is what I use to get hydro samples - I think a lot here do the same. Just sanitize it beforehand.
Very good input. I don't secondary. I leave most my brews on the primary yeast cake for two-three weeks, often a month at times, and come out with fantabulous beer.
I started with the turkey baster for hydo samples, then moved to the wine theif. I no longer trusted the rubber on the turkey baster.
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