I'm spankin' new to the forum but have been a lurker for the past couple months; greatly appreciative of the the mounds of info you guys provide to the fledgling home-brewer. You rock.
So.. I'm on my second brew. First was a Coopers Dark Ale with the minor improvement of Dextrose and it turned out fine after bottle conditioned, albeit rather uni-dimensional and certainly not sessionable, but definitely proving that drinkable beer can be made at home. So I was excited.
Just bottled my second brew Thursday, after being in primary for 2 weeks and had some concerns about the final product. I know about the issues with extract brews, the 1.020 curse, and uncontrollability, but I don't have the space in my Chicago apartment to move to all grain. I want to make good beer with what I have, and know it can be done. Here's the recipe, 30 min boil:
1 can Coopers English Bitter LME
1 can Coopers Light LME
1lb light DME
.5lbs Crystal 80
.5oz Fuggles (15 min)
.5oz Fuggles (5 min)
1tsp Irish Moss
Boiled 2 gallons of filtered tap water and put in sanitized primary
Boiled 2 gallons of filtered tap for 10 minutes and brought temp down around 168 degrees.
I steeped Crystal 80 for 30 mins @ 160 degrees in water, took out grains, brought to a boil and cut flame while I added and stirred in all extract and Maltodextrin, boiled for 15 mins. Added 1st Fuggles and Irish Moss @ 15 mins, then 2nd at 5 mins. Cut flame and brought down to 70 degrees within 20 mins in an ice bath. Aerated wort and took a SG reading of 1.055 or approx 7%
Pitched one vial of White Labs liquid British Ale yeast 002 (which had been out of the fridge for 5 hours and at room temp) and let sit in 72 deg for 4 hours under airlock. After 4 hours I stirred the wort to re-suspend and fermentation began almost immediately. The next day I carefully moved the fermenter down into the cellar in the basement to stay at 68 deg ambient for the next two weeks. Never got over 71 deg. Checked 1 week in and had a very nice 2-2.5in krausen.
There was very little activity (less than 1 per 2min) bubbles when I went down on bottling day, and even those were very sporadic, so I took a gravity reading of the wort. It tasted amazing, but was only at 1.020. I decided to bottle. Adding 3oz of boiled priming sugar I transferred to bottling bucket and bottled.
1.055 - 1.020
Now I'm concerned. The low attenuation may have been due to the addition of specialty grains, boiling of LME, or incomplete fermentation, but I'm only on my second brew and have no idea...that's why I finally decided to come out of the cask and ask you guys
Does everything I did sound okay? Should I be afraid of bottle bombs? The beer was only at 4.6% but it tasted good, I wanted an ESB at around 6% but maybe it's only a "Best Bitter" because of this. With the space I have at my disposal I'd just like to get better at extract brewing, maybe an all DME bill next time? Pitching more yeast? A starter? All these questions are coming out at the same time because I've waited so long to become part of the forum. Happy to be here and thanks for any help.
We'll see in a couple weeks if I end up with a delicious drinkable (yet sweeter) Best Bitter, or shards of glass hoping to avoid my empty carboys and aging wine. I've already prepared for the possibility of bottle bombs, hope they don't happen this time around!