First off, thanks to everyone who has answered my questions over the last couple of weeks. People here are very helpful and always willing and eager to help newcomers. I appreciate that.
So, my first brew day (evening really... )
Things I had done prior to Brew Day
On everyone's recommendation, I purchased a copy of John Palmer's "How to Brew". As advertised, this is an extraordinarily helpful text. I also had ordered from Austin Homebrew an American Brown Ale extract kit. Last but not least, I feel like I did a ton of reading here.
My limited understanding of homebrewing is that the most important thing to do while homebrewing is to have a homebrew. I don't have any homebrew, but I do have a nice London Porter (in a Harpoon Brown glass ).
The first thing I did was to heat some bottled water and to drop in the yeast (Windsor Ale dry yeast). I let the yeast sit and then after 15 minutes, gave it a good stir.
That seemed to go ok. I next proceeded to bring 2.5 gallons of water to approximately 155-160 degrees. At a measurement of 158, I killed the flame and begin to steep the grains that were included with the kit.
After 15 minutes of steeping (as indicated in the instructions), the temp was down to 148. I was under the impression that below 150, you don't get much, but hopefully it wasn't below 150 for too long.
I took out the grains and bought the water to a boil. I killed the flame again and added the LME as well as some malto dextrin and other additives (again, from the kit). After doing my best to make sure that everything was adequately mixed and that there would be no scalding or burning of sediment, I brought the kettle back to a boil.
Upon reaching a boil, I added 2/3 of an oz. of Cascade and set the hour timer. At this point, I started to make sure that everything was sanitized. I dumped everything I thought I would need for primary fermentation into the primary.
One thing was strange is that the bubbles from the StarSan subsided pretty quickly. I used the recommended 1 oz. per 5 gallons. Don't know whether this is normal or not. Help answering that question would be appreciated.
I realized that just keeping everything in the primary but leaving the primary open probably wasn't the greatest idea. I took everything out of the StarSan solution and placed it in some plastic wrap on the table and then closed the primary with some plastic wrap as well. Anal, perhaps, but hopefully it worked.
Meanwhile, the brew was bubbling along. I wasn't able to get a "huge" boil going, but it definitely seemed like it was "rolling". It certainly was bubbling. I assume that what appears below is the "hot break".
With approximately ten minutes left on the hour, I added another 1/3 oz of Cascade. At the hour, I killed the flame and immediately moved the kettle to an ice bath.
I didn't buy enough ice (only two packages) and so wasn't able to get to 80 in the recommended 15-20 minutes. It took me a little over a half hour. I did everything I could to make sure that the wort was sanitary during that time - kettle was covered, thermometer and spoon were re-sprayed with StarSan each and every time prior to be dipped in the wort, etc.
Finally, I strained the cooled wort into the primary and topped off with water until I was at approximately 5 gallons. I stirred until I thought things were sufficiently aerated.
At that point, I took a sample with my thief. The gravity reading was approximately 1.50. With the adjustment for temperature (temperature of the sample was approximately 72), that comes out to roughly 1.051. The kit says that the gravity should be approximately 1.046 - ugh. Hope that isn't off by too much. Perhaps I simply didn't fully top off to 5.25 gallons, making the wort a bit more concentrated?
Anyway, sealed up and placed in a room with an ambient temperature of 67 degrees. The thermometer on the side still says its about 72-74, which seems high. Hopefully that isn't a problem.
Problems and Things to Work on
I definitely need to go with a propane cooker. My gas stovetop took "ages" to get the brewpot to a boil...ages.
I definitely need to make sure that I have sufficient amounts of ice on hand. Two packages ain't gonna get it done.
I was definitely cautious about cleanliness, but I think I need to be careful with the StarSan in the sptaybottle. I think I mixed it a little strong. Whenever it would mist and blow back into my face, I definitely got a taste of chemical. I hope that doesn't affect the brew in any way.
I definitely need to have homebrew for my next brewday...
Let's hope all goes well!