Two months ago I made my first beer in about 14 years, a nut brown ale. Fourteen years ago I had 13 batches under my belt. I had made some really, really good beers, so I thought I knew what I was doing. Well, I forgot a few things over the years and made quite a few mistakes, and every one of them had me worrying if my beer would turn out OK. And you know what? It turned out just fine. So relax, don’t worry, have a home brew!
Here are some of the goofs:
1. I forgot that my steeping grains needed to be cracked before steeping. At the last minute I used a mortar and pestle to half-heartedly crack the black patent and crystal malts. I think I got about half of them cracked.
2. I forgot that steeping grains get “steeped.” I boiled them for the entire 60 minutes. Then I squeezed the grain bag to make sure I got all of the grainy goodness.
3. While I was cleaning out my 14 year old carboy, I realized that the gray fluffy stuff that was coming out was mouse fur. This happened as I was demonstrating to my wife how my faucet mounted carboy sprayer worked. The mouse’s mummified corpse then got stuck in the mouth, and I had to pull in out clandestinely. (I would have never been able to get her to drink any of it if she knew.)
4. I discovered a few days after my beer had been in the carboy that the A+ no rinse cleaner I used to sanitize my carboy was NOT a sanitizer. (Imagine the worry at this point.)
5. I knocked the airlock off several times.
6. I used isopropyl alcohol in the airlock.
7. I forgot what krauzen looked like and imagined all kinds of filth in the bubbles because of the mouse and no sanitizer. I almost tossed it all several times.
8. The beer stalled at 1.022. Estimated FG was 1.013. I put in yeast energizer and agitated.
9. A couple of days later I checked again and it was 1.020. I forgot what the pervious reading was and bottled it thinking the reading hadn’t changed. I discovered this mistake a few days after bottling when I decided to reread my notes. I expected bottle bombs at any time.
10. After a week in the bottle - flat. (Fears of bottle bombs alleviated, but now new fears)
11. After two weeks in the bottle - flat. (Worried tannins had done me in.)
12. After three weeks in the bottle - slight carbonation. (Hope)
13. After 5 weeks in the bottle - carbonated and pretty tasty. (Success!)
All along I've read this forum and discovered my mistakes, but I’ve had the patience to wait it out. So, after two months of trying to relax, and having a few commercial beers, I now have a nice drinkable beer, somewhere between a brown ale and a porter. Not my best effort, but not bad either.
Thanks to all those who have lived through this and worse. Reading this forum kept me from making the biggest mistake of all, tossing the beer.
PS: Don't tell my wife!