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Old 12-10-2012, 08:42 PM   #1
Dec 2012
Posts: 39

I just made the White House Honey Porter over the weekend and now that I have time to reflect on my first 5 gallon batch I have a few notes and questions.
  • 1. We steeped the grains in 4.5 gallons of hot tap water. Is this an issue? We didn’t see a specific volume to steep so we took out the .5 gal of HME and put 4.5 gallons in the pot.
  • 2. When we were steeping the grains we took them out after the 25 minutes and then saw that the directions said to keep them in for another 5-10 off the heat. We decided to put them back in but in a new steeping bag leaving the bottom most grains out of the new bag. Since we are going to bring the wort up to a boil I figured we should be ok.
  • 3. The grains were steeping at 160F and not 155F we tried to bring the temp down but it stayed in the 160F range.
  • 4. Right before it started to boil we got this white sediment on the top. I looked it up and I found out that it’s called the hot break.
  • 5. After we added each ingredient we stirred it in with a metal spoon. I figured its boiling so it should be ok.
  • 6. We put the immersion chiller in the wort with 10 minutes left and then added the honey and the last .5 oz of hopes and mixed it up the best we could. I didn’t see any black marks on the pot when we ported it out so I don’t think we scorched anything.
  • 7. We didn't activate the yeast before putting it in the wort we just sprinkled it on top after putting the wort through a strainer to aerate it and strain out the sludge. The wort temp was at 79F before we poured it.
a. Is there anything wrong with aerating it that way?
b. There was a lot of sludge in the strainer was it ok to strain it out or should it be in the bucket when its fermenting? Does it remove flavor?
c. I didn't stir or shake it up after adding the yeast. If there isn't any activity after two days should I shake the bucket or stir it?
  • 8. I took the first gravity reading right after I added the yeast since I forgot to do it after we poured the wort in to the bucket. From what I can read it was at 1.073 and Midwest Supplies says it should be at 1.053. I Googled the issues and it seems that I took the reading wrong since the kits are almost fail proof.
a. I used a wine thief and filled it up as high as it was in the bucket. I took the thief out and dropped the hydrometer in the thief and spun it. There were a few bubbles around it but it was definitely over the was definitely over the big 7.
b. Should I wait a day or two and take a reading then?
  • 9. Is there any specific liquid to use with the airlock? We used the waster from our fridge that goes through a filter.

I know most of the issues will work them self out but it’s nice knowing the proper procedure for next time.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:38 PM   #2
Sep 2012
, Ohio
Posts: 667
Liked 69 Times on 60 Posts

Mostly it looks fine, only question is did you get 5 gallons? if you are low your reading will be higher.
Did you add top up water? if so it may not be mixed well throwing your sample reading off.
160 for steeping is fine.
Airlock? I have a cheap pint of vodka that I use for my airlocks.
water is ok.

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Old 12-11-2012, 07:43 AM   #3
Dec 2012
Posts: 39

it was hard to tell but i think we were a little bit over the 5 gallon mark.

i just checked my airlock and its bubbling (yay it was about 1 day). t - 4-6 days till secondary fermenter.

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Old 12-11-2012, 08:03 AM   #4
Pratzie's Avatar
Sep 2012
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,621
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Everything u did seems to be good so far.

When steeping grains as opposed to mashing out, u only run into a problem if u put them in temps over 170 degrees for a long period of time. Crazy scientific stuff happens with enzymes and starches and the like that can hurt the malt but at a lower temp and at the short amount of time u mentioned ur fine.

Ur correct on the hot break, its a protein thing within the wort that causes it. It works itself out after a little while. Also using the metal spoon is fine since it will be used before the stop the boil. If u used a metal spoon to stir while it was chilling when the temp is much lower i'd recommend spraying or submerging it in star san... I have a plastic mash paddle that I use and when I brew i normally keep a shallow but long tupperware container filled with a few inches of star san so I can just take them off, shake it off, use it and put it back in after use. Ive seen a few videos on youtube where people did this and so far its worked great for me.

As far as aerating, some people have different methods of getting the oxygen in. I normally sit it on me knee and rock it back and forth for a few minutes and then pitch the yeast. I used to sprinkle dry yeast straight on it but after some investigating, it appears that each of those strains have recommendations on their manufacturers website to rehydrate first. Since i found those recommendations, i always rehydrate my dry yeast. I normally take a measuring cup with the amount of water that is recommended (usually 4 oz's), microwave it fora few minutes, take it out and put some foil over the top and let it cool down to the 100ish degree temp recommended by the manufacturer. Sprinke the yeast there, let it rehydrate, stir if recommended and then pitch to the wort. There are MANY MANY MANY threads here and elsewhere on the net regarding rehydrating yeast before pitching. Look around and see what you wanna do. At the very most its an extra step in the process. This is just how I do it.

The sludge in ur strainer is fine to leave out of the wort. Its the leftovers from the boiled hops and possibly a few loose grains from the steeped bag that may have escaped. I don't use a strainer just dump the cooled wort in my carboy via a funnel and then aerate although im considering buying one, they are smart to have. As far as the high OG, it can be attributed to a few things. I've had higher then expected readings but not as high as u had. Higher readings just mean more work for the yeast. U could add some water to bring that down if it happens again on future batches but since u've already pitched the yeast, that boat has sailed.

As far as shaking the carboy or stirring if it doesn't appear active, i'd recommend against it. It may just be a slow mover and the more u brew the more u'll see that it happens and u just need to be patient. One of my first brews with a yeast starter took about 42 hours to start. It just happens.

For the airlock, vodka works or u can just use some left over sanitizer if u have it. Normally thats all that I use.

Anyway, good luck with the first brew and relax and be patient. Time is one of those things that usually fixes any mistakes we could have made. Cheers
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Kegged: Nothing :(
Primary: Empty
Secondary: Empty
On Deck: Cider

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Old 12-11-2012, 12:26 PM   #5
Apr 2012
Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 2,378
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Originally Posted by Luzer View Post
it was hard to tell but i think we were a little bit over the 5 gallon mark.

i just checked my airlock and its bubbling (yay it was about 1 day). t - 4-6 days till secondary fermenter.
Are you taking gravity readings before transferring? Because you want to make sure it's done fermenting before transferring.

As to if you should transfer or not, most people on here will say there is no need. I didn't secondary my White House ale or porter. I just let them sit in primary for almost a month before bottling.

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Old 12-12-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
Dec 2012
Posts: 39

i plan on waiting one more day (total of 4 days) to start taking he gravity reading with a sterilized thief. if i wait about month for fermenting is it necessary to open it take a reading? i should just wait till i bottle it...

i was also going to ask about a secondary fermenter since i've seen that its not really necessary for the white house porter. i also have a irish read ale that i'm going to make. should i transfer it to a secondary fermenter. someone told me that it makes it more clear and midwest supplies says that its recommended on both the brews.

since we are talking about secondary fermenter is a 5 gallon bucket from lowes ok? i know that the yeast should be a little less active and i wont need the head room for the foam.

thanks again.

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Old 12-12-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
pellis007's Avatar
Oct 2012
Near Atlantic City, NJ
Posts: 260
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Your pitching temp at 78F may have been a little high. Make sure you are fermenting at the lower end of the yeast recommended temp. And remember, ambient room temp is not the same as fermentation temp. Usually the lower in the temp range, the fewer "off" flavors develop.
Primary#1: Currently Empty
Primary#2: Currently Empty
Primary#3: Currently Empty
Bottle Conditioning: Currently Nothing
Kegged: Empty
Drinking: Bourbon
On Deck: Unknown

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Old 12-12-2012, 07:08 PM   #8
Dec 2012
San Francisco Bay Area, California
Posts: 272
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If you are going to transfer, I highly recommend getting a better bottle or a bucket specifically designed for brewing. A bucket from Lowes might not do the job well. At the very least, you need to make sure you have a FOOD GRADE bucket, with a tight sealing top (make sure there is a hole for an airlock - easy to drill yourself if you need, just find out what size stopper you're using first).

Obviously, no matter what you use, make sure you clean and sanitize it well prior to transferring.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:33 PM   #9
Dec 2012
Posts: 39

The buckets at Lowes are food safe (#2) and have a pretty tight seal when you close it (I got one to brine a turkey for Thanksgiving). The main thing that I'm worried about enough room for the krausen in the secondary fermentation stage. I don't want a mess just because I wanted to save $5.

There is about 2 inches left when you fill the bucket up with 5 gallons of water.

The ambient temp is between 65F-68F for the day and the strip thermometer says its between 63F-64F at night and 66F-68F during the day.

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Old 12-12-2012, 07:40 PM   #10
jgaepi's Avatar
Sep 2009
Davis, CA
Posts: 147
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Recommendations - under carbonate with honey. I just popped the bottle on this and it takes fantastic but I prob over carbonated with honey and I am getting a ton of foam. But it takes great! I used about 5oz for 5g, I would prob have done 3oz instead.
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2nd Brew: Pilsener Urquell Clone
3rd Brew: Pliny the Elder Clone
4th Brew: Dogfish Head 90min IPA Clone

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