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Old 05-24-2010, 01:54 AM   #1
AlchemyBrewing
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Apr 2010
Denver
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It was supposed to be the first batch of beer my wife and I brewed in 8 years. It was supposed to be perfect. Instead it was the Brew day from hell. I open up the discussion to allow for tips, tricks, and general scorn of my lack of skills.

Problem 1. The east starter (WL California Ale) never really took off. I am used to seeing a lot of activity in a yeast starter. It never smelled bad, the firm-lock had a few bubbles coming out of it and I could see small bubbles riding up the side of the beaker. I never got any foam on top and really had no vigorous activity. I would have thought that there would be no activity or a bad smell if it was contamination. We added more malt and still not much activity.

Problem 2. I got a new March pump and brass McMaster Carr QD for the system. I was able to get it to work at the beginning but then I must have lost prime and had to sparge by hand with a quart container. What the hell causes this and what do you do to fix it. The wife wants to go back to three tier now!

Problem 3. I followed instructions to waterproof the digital probe cooking thermometer but it seemed to jump all over the place. It stayed one temp for ever and then shot up 20 degrees, all with the burners off. It seemed very unresponsive. Aren't they usually instantaneous? What is the most accurate and then the easiest way to monitor mash temps.

All of these were overcome-able ... or at least would have produced something at the end. It might have had problems, it might have been a learning experience but then this happened...



In case you couldn't tell that is a split in my immersion chiller. Can you guess what happens when this happens. The short answer is six gallons of water in your beer! It's Dead JIM!

I didn't know quite what area to post this in but most of the folks that read this seem to have lots of experience and are helpful.

I welcome any and all suggestions and mockery!

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Old 05-24-2010, 02:22 AM   #2
JOHN51277
 
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What a hell of a way to start out the first brew in forever, and with the wifey. If nothing else, ya learned alot of lessons the hard way. Sounds like it would have been ok had the IC not have broken like that.

Hey, it can;t get any worse next time!
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:28 AM   #3
Catt22
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Looks like the IC had some water in it an froze during the winter. This is a fairly common occurrence. Even a small amount of water in the IC can do this if it freezes. I can't help much on the pump problem without knowing more details. Post some pics of your pump and how you have it hooked up and maybe we can figure it out.


 
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Old 05-24-2010, 03:15 AM   #4
r2eng
 
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OUCH!

Don't give up: fix the IC and brew again. Sh!t happens, and it sounds like you earned many good experience points from this brew.

Get back on the horse... soon!
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:41 PM   #5
david_42
 
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1. You may not see much activity in a starter. If there is plenty of oxygen and food, the yeast just keeps multiplying.

2. The pump might have been cavitating and losing suction. Try adding a throttle valve at the outlet.

3. Many digital thermometers have a sampling interval. Cooking normally doesn't require fast response times and it may only be checking every 15-30 seconds.

Bummer on the split. My chiller has flare fittings that can work loose and 'pee' into the kettle.
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:02 PM   #6
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Bad Brew Days Happen time to time.. Just gives a reason (If you need a Reason) To Drink more home brew that Day!

Better Luck next time.. Don't let a Bad day get you down for the next brew day!
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:46 PM   #7
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Wow. I thought I had it bad brewing in thunderstorms and pouring rain last night. Everything seemed to go well for me, but it seemed that every time I had to do anything, the rain picked up and I got soaked in the process. The storms were bad enough to get a severe warning from the weather people and my wife came out to tell me that it looked like Zeus had decided to join Bacchus for this brewing session.

Naturally, I was following the rule of drinking homebrew while making homebrew....

Your day, well, that was about 100X worse than mine.

Ah well, it's a learning experience every time you brew and no sense in crying over spilt wort. You'll get it right next time.
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Old 05-24-2010, 03:16 PM   #8
AlchemyBrewing
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Apr 2010
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@david_42 - Do mean a purge valve of some kind?

The good news is that after several beers (might be a bit conservative), SWMBO looks at me and said, "I think we have time on next Saturday to try again and still make it to the baseball game." I am a lucky man!

Please chime in with more suggestions. I think I need all the help I can get. I will be trying all week to get the pump situation worked out so at least that doesn't kill me again!
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:00 PM   #9
Catt22
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I would suggest adding a small bleeder valve on the outlet side in front of the flow control valve. This will solve your priming problems. The other thing I would do is shorten the hoses as much as possible. This will reduce the resistance and help with the priming problem somewhat.

 
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:21 PM   #10
AlchemyBrewing
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Apr 2010
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Thanks Catt22. Bleeder valve is coming for sure. Do you think I can use that with out change pump head orientation? Right now it is left to right. I see a lot of folks go down to up with them.
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