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Old 05-27-2009, 12:52 PM   #1
drparish
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Default When everything that can go wrong goes wrong...

So yesterday, I decided to try my hand at my first extract batch of beer. Being the ambitious guy that I am, I went ahead and sold half of my school textbooks from the past three years to pay for a turkey fryer setup, big fermentation vessels, a better bottle, and Cooler conversion MLT (for later). I was so excited to work with my wife on the batch, that as soon as she got home from work, I started up the fryer, got those specialty malts steeping and got to work.

Here's where my troubles began. After the 20 minute steep time at around 165, I added another three gallons of water to my brewpot. About fifteen minutes later, the water was at a nice boil. I added my first can of malt extract, and everything looked good. I waited about a minute and then started adding my powdered mix. Out of nowhere, DOUGHBALLS! I tried to start stirring them in, but in doing so, neglected to notice that a boilover was coming and got EVERYWHERE. So the boilover dripped down the sides of the pot and turned off the burner, cooling down the pot enough to stop the wort from boiling. I quickly turned back on the pot, adding the bittering hops while the temperature was still down to avoid another boilover, but then the boil never returned. I completed the entire hour with the temperature hovering around 205-210 (even added boiling water from another pot). Finishing hops added and "boil" (if you can even call it that) completed, I transferred the wort (which was still in the pot!) to the icebath, where it quickly melted most of the ice that I had bought. I then had to carry it up a flight of stairs to my bathtub where more ice-cold water was waiting just in case. I threw out my back. OUCH! When I finally got the heat down to safe pitching temperatures, I pitched, added the lid and airlock and set it aside. It's been bubbling like crazy all morning, but there's still a part of me that's frustrated about all the things that went wrong. So, instead of thinking of tossing the beer before I can even taste it, I'm merely going to make a list of things that I'm going to do next time to improve my results.

1) Make sure to brew with a friend. Having help with stirring, boilovers and moving hot and heavy equipment is essential to the beginning brewer.

2) Keep that spray bottle handy!

3) Triple my ice bill to about 10 pounds to get those temperatures down much faster.

4)Boil less volume until I can improve the power of my burner, to make sure I get the full, rolling boil the hops need.

5) Drink more beer while brewing beer.

Any thoughts/suggestions? I'm thinking of dry hopping when I rack into the secondary to improve my hop aromas, but I'm not sure...



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Old 05-27-2009, 01:26 PM   #2
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Was the powder you added DME? If it was turn off the heat and use a wire whisk to mix it in.

When I cooled with Ice baths. I had to start making ice a few days ahead of time. It takes so much, especially with larger boil volumes.



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Old 05-27-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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All you can do is learn from this experience. NEVER throw out your beer! time heals all things, including beer. Also, in my experience, I an others dont even touch a beer until flame out. Either you will get drunk and screw something up, or the beer gods will guide you through your drunken brewfest! Glad to see you were prepared, and you made a checklist for next time. I'm sure this beer will turn out to be great! Welcome to the obsession!

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Old 05-27-2009, 01:39 PM   #4
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I know you're frustrated, but it really doesn't sound that bad to me.

Your beer will still be great. Ideally, you'd be adding the hops at a nice rolling boil for better utilization, but if you were in the 210 range, you should have a decent utilization. Where I live, my wort boils around 210.

If you're going to continue doing full boils (and I think you should!) then one more expense might be in order- a wort chiller. This can be hooked up outside to a hose, and chill your wort from boiling to 65 degrees in less than 1/2 hour, and not have you lift the full kettle at all. That can save your back, but cost you $60 or so.

Boilovers happen to all of us- but at least you were outside and not on your kitchen stove that would take many hours to clean. A couple of tips to help: put the powdered malt (that's DME, dry malt extract) in a big bowl before adding it. When you get to a boil, turn OFF the heat and add the extract, using a whisk and a large spoon to stir well. Stir it until it's evenly mixed. Then, add the liquid extract (LME) when it's still off the heat. Then turn the heat on again, and watch for boilovers. Keep that spray bottle handy. Once it's back to a rolling boil, you can add the first hops and set your timer for 60 minutes.

I don't know why you didn't get back to a boil- you definitely should have. I wonder if some of the boilover clogged up your burner a bit?

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Old 05-27-2009, 01:56 PM   #5
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I definitely think that's what happened. When I tore everything down to clean up, there was some goop in the burner.

And yes, the powder was DME. I had an original gravity of about 1.039-1.040 (Red Ale), so I'm probably still okay!

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Old 05-27-2009, 01:58 PM   #6
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I'm brand new to brewing myself and have just brewed my second batch. Both batches so far have had their "issues" that at the time really frustrated me mostly because I was expecting perfection. Certainly, perfection is an unrealistic goal at this point in the hobby. I'm learning quickly that beer is very forgiving and when you seem most frustratred, the rule is to RDWAHAHB! It all works out in the end. Don't get discouraged.

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Old 05-27-2009, 02:04 PM   #7
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doesnt sound to bad sorry about your back.... you can make an imersion chiller for around $ 40 at lowes. good luck and let us know how it turns out.

oh yea RDWAHAHB

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Old 05-27-2009, 02:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewnscooter View Post
I'm brand new to brewing myself and have just brewed my second batch. Both batches so far have had their "issues" that at the time really frustrated me mostly because I was expecting perfection. Certainly, perfection is an unrealistic goal at this point in the hobby. I'm learning quickly that beer is very forgiving and when you seem most frustratred, the rule is to RDWAHAHB! It all works out in the end. Don't get discouraged.
Great words of advice!

I think perfection is an unrealistic goal at the point I'm at in my brewing, too. Something always seems to be just "not perfect"- being out of the hops I swore I had, a too-fine crush so I get a stuck sparge, an out-of-whack thermometer, etc. Relaxing and just going with the flow seems to be the only way to deal with it!

It actually takes effort to ruin your beer. The worst that will happen is that it's not as excellent as it could be.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:13 PM   #9
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Awesome advice yooper. I never thought of using a large bowl for the DME.
That would sure save time trying to get all the DME out of a bag that has bits of extract congealed around the opening!

To save ice, think about a wort chiller.
Another way to save on ice, is to only use cold tap water to get the wort temp down in the low hundreds, then use the ice to finish with. Taking the temperature down is dependent on the temperature difference, so cold tap water is very effective when your wort is 200°F. And you won't melt your ice before you're at 70.

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Old 05-27-2009, 02:15 PM   #10
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I'm guessing that RDWAHAHB means Relax, don't worry and have a home brew?

I just recently found out that SWMBO means she who must be obeyed... lol....

What do you guys think about me dry hopping this thing once I rack it to the secondary? Any tips on good siphoning without an autosiphon?



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