This is my first post to this forum. I found this site last night while doing my first batch. I'm really glad I found this site.
Yesterday I purchased a kit from Annapolis Home Brew
which included the basic stuff: bottling bucket, glass carboy, thermometer, stirrer, etc. I also got a "accessory kit" that had the hydrometer, auto-syphon, and thief. After reading up (a little) on brewing, I knew these things would helpful.
I also purchased an Oktoberfest recipe. I'm not sure if that's an appropriate recipe for a n00b, but I didn't get the impression that the guys at Annapolis Home Brew would let me get in over my head.
As a n00b, I made a fair amount of mistakes, but now that I've gone through the process, I have that all-important experiential knowledge that you can only gain from actually doing it. Still, I felt somewhat like Jerry Lewis throughout the whole thing.
- The first mistake was starting the process at 9pm. Those of you who've done this before probably know what this means. I didn't get to bed until 3 (due to some of the other things I'll mention.
- The second mistake was when I tried sanitizing all of my new stuff using the powder sanitizer from the kit using cold water. The stuff never dissolved and left little powder crystals all over everything, so I had to rinse all that off, and start over with hot water.
- Related to that was the fact that I then dumped all the water, not realizing I'd need to sanitize other stuff throughout the evening. By the end of the night, I was out of sanitizer. This is actually a good thing, because it gives me reason to buy real stuff like Star-Sans
- Next was that my reverse osmosis filter needs changing to after the first gallon it started going really slooooooooooooow.
- I forgot to mention, I also broke the sexxxy floating thermometer when I was sanitizing. I dropped it into the sink and busted the outer glass. This issue and the above issue were promptly solved by my wife who ran out to get bottled water and a candy thermometer (from Wal-Mart since it was the only place open that late. This was the second time I shopped in that hell hole in one day after *years* of successfully not doing so)
- Why, after the above issues didn't I just bag the whole thing and start over in the morning? Because my wife had already dumped the ingredients into the muslin bag (and, honestly, because I was excited).
- When doing the first part of the cooking, everything went fine. I was worried about the stove not being able to cope with boiling 3 gallons of water, but it turns out that was unfounded.
- The Jerry Lewis moment really came when I was pulling the muslin bag out of the water. My wife had put a nice little loop in the end of it when she tied it off "So you can pull it out easy", she said. And she was right. It was convenient just to stick my finger in it and pull it up. As I was pulling it out, I decided to let it drip into the pot so I didn't lose any flavor (probably unfounded, but hey). As it was done dripping, I decided to give it a couple good shakes to get the last bit of liquid out. BLAMMO! The "loop" came undone and the whole thing crashed back into the water, drenching me, the stove, the walls, everything within 12-18 inches.
- Stirring in the extract went fine. The recipe said "At this point don't add more than 2 pounds of malt extract per gallon of water in the pot". Well, since the extract was in a bag and has the consistency of cold molasses, I couldn't really measure. I started with 7 lbs., so I dumped about half, figuring I'd rather do too little than too much. I think this was a wise decision.
- As I mentioned earlier, I was a bit concerned about bringing the water to a boil. I'm not the cook in the house, so I had no idea if our stove could handle it, but I guess being a gas stove, it rocked it out. The smartest thing I did was to leave the thermometer in the water. It felt like forever before the water boiled, but having the thermometer in there helped me watch the progress and right around 212F, she was rolling!
- I turned the water down a tad and dumped the first batch of hops pellets in when the boil had stabilized to a roll, per the instructions.
- I never had to deal with a lot of foam. I'm not sure if I was supposed to skim that off or not, but I left it on even though by the end of the boil it was more like a skin than foam.
- 5 minutes before 0 I put in the last batch of hops, and at 0 I put in the rest of the extract, again per instructions.
- I had prepared an ice-water bath in the downstairs laundry sink to cool everything down but didn't have a lot of ice in it. After a few minutes, the ice was melted and water was getting luke warm. I ran down to 7-11 and grabbed a 16 lb. bag of ice. Probably the smartest thing I did all evening. I drained the water down and put in the ice. Then filled the sink so it was within 1 inch of the rim of the pot. It was now half-ice and half-water and cooled the wort down really quickly - probably 30 minutes, max total.
- Since I don't have anything to stir with and I don't have any oxygen setup (but might buy one) I had to transfer the wort (by pouring) to my bottling bucket to stir. I *vigorously* stirred it for several minutes. Not sure if this was overkill or not.
- Then I transferred the wort to the carboy and pitched the yeast in. Then I *gingerly* carried the carboy to the basement so it can have a nice consistent temperature for the ferment.
So, now for my questions:
First, anything (apart from what I've already acknowledged) that I could have/ should have done differently?
As a n00b, I'm obviously paranoid about everything, though reading the 14 page lead pipe thread
helped me understand that I shouldn't worry so much.
Second, hydrometer read (I think) 1.480 before pitching. Does this seem right?
Third, (yes, I've already read the n00b advice saying what a stupid question this is) I'm thinking about my second batch already. My two favorite beers are marzen and brown ales. I'm thinking maybe this second batch should be another marzen. I'm not sure if I should just get this one right before I go buggering about with different recipes.
That's it from me. If you made it this far, thanks for the read!