Jumped in with both feet today. First try was to be an amber ale, but it came out darker than I expected. Here's the recipe - 3 gal batch; shooting for 2.5 gal in the carboy. The goofy name is a result of SWMBO insisting that I give the dog a haircut before I was allowed to go out and play! No dog hair actually made it into the kettle.
Papa's Dog Hair Amber (American Amber Ale)
Original Gravity (OG): 1.045 (°P): 11.2
Final Gravity (FG): 1.011 (°P): 2.8
Alcohol (ABV): 4.42 %
Colour (SRM): 14.4 (EBC): 28.4
Bitterness (IBU): 22.2 (Average)
4.375 lb(83.33%) American 2-Row
0.25 lb(4.76%) Crystal 40L
0.25 lb(4.76%) Vienna
0.25 lb(4.76%) Wheat Malt, Red
0.125 lb(2.38%) Belgian De-bittered Black Malt(500L)
10 g Cascade (6.4% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (First Wort)
9 g Cascade (6.4% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
9 g Cascade (6.4% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Boil)
1/4 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 Minutes (Boil)
Single step Infusion at 153°F for 60 Minutes. Boil for 60 Minutes
Fermented at 68°F with Safale US-05
First thing to go wrong is that I installed the copper tube mash tun manifold upside down - the holes facing up. I guess I was in too big a hurry to get started, but it was a real facepalm moment when I was cleaning out the mash tun.
Had a little trouble hitting my mash target temperature. My little 5 gal Igloo holds heat pretty well. The strike temp calculator at rackers.org said 170 degF, so I doughed in at 171 degF and it only dropped to 160 degF. A quick cold water addition got me down to 151 degF - figured better to undershoot a bit than overshoot a lot.
My preboil target was 4 gal @ 1.034 and an OG of 3 gal @ 1.045. My preboil actual gravity was 1.036, so I'm starting to feel a bit cocky(that was before I discovered the upside down manifold).
Here's 4 gal wort at a rolling boil:
Second mistake was using 2" teaballs from Wally World for hop balls. Didn't realize that pellet hops swell to 2x their dry size when wet. Here's what the tea balls looked like when I fished them out. Packed pretty tight in there - I doubt I got much out of my hops in the boil. Also, instead of the 7.8% alpha Brewmate predicted, my Cascade pellets were 6.4% alpha.
Boil was pretty uneventful. Almost boiled over once, but I turned the burner down and stirred like my life depended on it. After 60 minutes, the boil volume was about right to hit my OG, but my refractometer was telling me that I was at 10.5 brix, not 11.1. I let the boil go for another 10 minutes to be sure and, after cooling to 70 degrees I found I was at 1.048 by the hydrometer. Last mistake was forgetting the Whirlfloc tablet.
Here's 2.5 gal in the fermenter. Turned out darker than I was expecting. The two ounces of Belgian Black really had an effect. I'll see what my hydro sample tastes like after a week. I've got an ounce of Centennial pellets in the fridge. I may just dry hop with them.
Thanks for all the great info here. I haven't posted much, but I've been soaking up as much info as I can!