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Old 01-09-2009, 05:58 PM   #41
Jonnio
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I am not one of the big dogs, but I will throw my 2 cents in

I forget additions all the time and just recently made an entire batch of beer with cascade instead of crystal (I am not sure how it turned out yet, but I am sure it's fine), but probably my most problematic batch was when I made "hobgoblin" and accidentally got dark DME instead of light, and bought chocolate rye instead of chocolate malt. I then had to try and crush the rye with a rolling pin since the local joint didn't have any way to crush it.

The batch turned out great.

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Old 01-09-2009, 06:25 PM   #42
Shawn Hargreaves
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My worst mistake ever was right at pitching time, when I knocked over a White Labs yeast vial (yeah, no starter for this brew) and poured it all out onto my countertop.

Hmm. No other yeast in the house. Saturday evening, so LHBS is closed until Monday. Do I leave my wort sitting around for two days? Nah...

I can't remember when I last cleaned the countertop, but at least judging by a quick eyeball check all I can see is a bunch of breadcrumbs. So I scrape up as much of the spilled yeast as I can (using the side of a knife to slide it onto a thin sheet of metal), then go ahead and pitch it.

I lost so much yeast in the process, I underpitched by a ridiculous amount, and I guarantee I picked up some wild nasties from the breadcrumbs.

But the brew turned out fine. A little slow to start, but it was done fermenting within a week, and came out perfectly clear and clean with no off flavors.

Most of my other mistakes have been failing to follow recipes correctly:

My first brew ever, I picked a recipe that called for honey malt. "What's that?" I asked the friendly supplier in my LHBS. "Oh, that just means regular honey. 'Malt' is used as a generic term for any kind of fermentable stuff" he replies. So in goes a pound of honey. Later on I learn that he was completely wrong, and honey malt is of course a kind of specialty malt. But in retrospect this was actually a good thing, since real honey malt wouldn't have worked for me as I didn't know how to mash it. I also later found a different LHBS with more knowledgeable staff :-)

Another time I was doing a partial mash using first wort hopping. But I forgot I was first wort hopping, and for some reason decided to recirculate a huge amount of wort back through my grain bed by pouring it back out of the brew kettle into the mash tun (this was only my second partial mash, so I hadn't quite got my technique down). Of course this ended up with all my hops mixed in with the grain. Inexplicably, it didn't occur to me that I needed to get them back into the kettle, so I ended up with almost no hopping at all. This was an English brown with half a pound of molasses. After 3+3 weeks in primary and bottle, it was so bland as to be undrinkable: overly sweet, but lacking any kind of flavor whatsoever. So I left it and moved onto the next brew. A year later, it tasted great. Still a little on the sweet side, but it developed a wonderful complexity, with a kind of raisiny liquorice character that must have originated with the molasses.

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Old 01-09-2009, 06:36 PM   #43
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Wife went to answer her cell phone, hit my arm, her phone flew out of her hand, did a couple back flips and a perfect 10 into the open fermenter..........batch turned out great, but the phone died.
"Dear, my fermenter is ringing. I think it's for you." ROFL!
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:53 PM   #44
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This is not a mistake with the beer itself, but I once turned on the valve to my wort chiller with the output hose pointing right at my foot and I was wearing flip flops. That sucked
I did the same thing with a shoe on. Don't do it either way. Second degree burns aren't fun.

That brew day was the "El Segundo Grado" wit in my dropdown. One of the best I've done.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:55 PM   #45
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My worst so far is adding too much top-off water to a cherry stout - ended up with about a 6.5 gal batch instead of 5.5 gal. Watery OG combined with the 1.020 curse and I ended up with a "stout" about 3% abv. The hydro sample from bottling day tasted like crap - too sweet, and very chemically from the cherry extract - imagine Robitussin mixed with dark LME. Spent two weeks trying to think of people I didn't like to give it away to.

During those two weeks it got a lot better. Very good after two more weeks. Now, everyone I've served it to raves about it, and so what if it is only 3%? It makes a great session beer...

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Old 01-09-2009, 08:19 PM   #46
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I did my first batch of beer from a Best Brewer's American Pale Ale kit two months ago. Steeped my grains at 100 degrees for twenty minutes, then rocketed up to 185 for twenty minutes, cooled it down and added my extract. Added both cans, then I forgot to stir it in to avoid carmelization, so it sat on the bottom until the boil was done. Had three boilovers because my turkey fryer is hot *&^( Kept the boil covered with a lid the entire time. A pinecone fell in about the middle of the boil. Pitched yeast without rehydrating. Racked to primary after 3 days, moved to keg after 6 days in secondary. Went and bought a cool kegging setup and a minifrige off craigslist, and kept freezing my keg/room temping because the temperature control is busted. I've now varied the keg between room temp and a solid block of ice 4 times, and I'm buying a better frige this weekend. The darndest thing is, the beer tasted like dirty behind two weeks after I brewed it, two weeks after that it was barely drinkable, and I swear I had one last night that was pretty decent!
Just brewed an Oktoberfest kit with a full boil that went MUCH smoother, but I learned a lot from my first mistakes, so I'm hoping it will turn out even better (if I can stop making beercicles out of my keg).

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Old 01-09-2009, 09:05 PM   #47
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I am by no means one of the "big boys".

That said, my very first brew was (supposed to be) an extract amber. 2 gallon batch split between 2 1-gallon carboys. After pitching the yeast, I had the "brilliant" notion to toss in a 1/2 cup of whole coffee beans. Without sanitizing. With all the sanitizing that I was doing, it never occurred to me that I should sanitize the coffee beans before adding them to the carboy. The first bottle had a nice coffee flavor to it, not too strong, but nice.


The rest of them tasted like vomit.

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Old 01-09-2009, 09:25 PM   #48
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I manage with only a 12 quart boil kettle, so I usually start by 3 gallon boil pretty close to the top...The second time I did a partial mash Dead Guy clone, I overshot my sparge water by about a quart. I couldn't bear to throw it out so I thought I'd just wait until I boiled off about a quart, then add it back in. Aces, right? Except that I forgot that I needed that extra space in the kettle when I dumped in 6.5 lbs of LME in the last 10 minutes. So now with my tub of LME in one hand and spatula/spoon in the other, my wort started overflowing the kettle and burning onto the still hot stovetop (gas was off though). Doh! I had to dip out over a quart to get it back down to a safe level to continue the boil and it was still pretty full.

I actually just boiled that extra quart and a half seperately (just long enough to pasteurize it) and then cooled it and added it to the fermenter with the cooled wort and top-off water. The beer still turned out great, cleaning the stove top was a PITA though.

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Old 01-09-2009, 09:58 PM   #49
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Lost o-ring and fished around bare arm to get it back.

Left lid off bucket when phone rang, My bulldog drenk from the bucket- The absolute best beer I have made.

Forgot to add whirlflock, just let it sit an extra bit, clear as a bell.

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Old 01-09-2009, 10:14 PM   #50
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On my 2nd or 3rd brew I was siphoning from the BK to my Primary, got a mouth full of wort and spit it back back into the BK. Beer turned out fine.

Thought I would take a little 15 min power nap while boiling once and wound up sleeping for an hour. Boiled down a little far and messed up my hop additions, but it still turned out fine.

I've missed my mash temperature and had to heat it up and cool it down mulitple times. the mash turned out to be thin, but still made a good beer. Enzymes were confused though.

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