I have been lurking here for a while, and checking out information online about brewing your own beer, as my friend and I have been talking about it for a while. We have tried the bottle kits where you just throw the tablet in, wait 2 weeks then consume, but were looking for something better, and decided to try out a beer kit.
I went out this morning after researching the last few days and went to my local home brew store and bought a complete beer kit, with included a 6 gallon bucket with lid, 5 gallon carboy, airlock, spoon, some tubes, a hydrometer and some cleaning stuff, plus I bought a can of Coopers Real Ale beer kit, 1kg of dextrose, and some corn sugar for later bottling. I read some online instructions at www.howtobrew.com
and here, and though I had things figured out to make this simple kit, but it turned out we made several mistakes along the way, and I hope someone here can give me some advice.
The included instructions and the instructions on www.howtobrew.com
gave conflicting directions on how much water to boil (2 litres vs 2 gallons!) so I chose to use 2 gallons, and dumped that into a clean stock pot and started to boil it. I ended up using tap water and had already put the can's contents and the dextrose in before it dawned on me that I probably should have used spring water.
Anyways, it boiled and boiled but I never got this "hot break" or foaming stage various instructions spoke of. I boiled it for over 30 minutes after I put the malt extract (which is pre-hopped) in, and while it did foam slightly, it never came close to looking like some of the pictures I saw. Is that bad?
Anyways I had sent me friend to buy spring water to fill up the sanitized bucket with, but he came back with distilled water instead, which i had combined with the boiled 2 gallons of tap water/malt extract before realizing that we had screwed up again by using distilled water.
So now I have 5 gallons of a combination of tap water and distilled water mixed with malt extract that I am unsure I cooked right.
Also, most instructions told me to rapidly chill the bucket to room temperature before adding the yeast, which I did, but how long is rapidly chilling? some instructions said about 30 minutes, but I took me over an hour in a combination of an icewater filled sink and a cold water filled bathtub to get it to the temperature I needed. The instructions included with the kit said that the wort was vulnerable at that temperature so adding the yeast in a timely manner is important. how do I get it to cool down faster?
When I took the hydrometer reading, it read 1.036.. I couldnt find anything on the kit that said waht it should be, which the LHBS said would be there.. Sadly it was after 6pm when this happened, so I could not call the LHBS to find out what they though, not that they were a whole of help anyways, unless I had a question about making wine (which I didnt).
One thing I did do hopefully right is preparing the dry yeast, by the instuctions on the wiki here, I added water, and it did rise, though it smelled more like beer to me than rising bread. Maybe that was just in my head though.
I was really stressed while making this brew, as I was trying to be really careful to make sure I was using sanitized equipment and trying not to screw up my beer, so it made the process a bit more difficult than it probably should have been. Is the combination of tap water(it was boiled)/distilled water and my extract not foaming going to be an issue? Is there anything I can do to help it? I can only imagine that the mistakes I made with this batch will only teach me how to do things right the next time.
Since my 6 gallon bucket is obviously for fermenting, what is the 5 gallon carboy for? Secondary Fermenting/conditioning?
Sorry for so many noob questions. Hope you guys can be of some help. Sorry for the long post... Too many questions to ask.