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Old 03-29-2006, 05:50 AM   #1
Feb 2006
Posts: 4

Ok, so my friends and I just brewed our first batch of a Pale ale...brewing went generally ok.

Our biggest problem was cooling the wort. I'd read many conflicting reports, and due to limiting circumstances and space, decided to throw a bag of store-bought ice into the bucket and then dumped the wort in there, but took the temp and it was still too high to pitch the yeast.

So, I threw the cover on the bucket, but realized this would just take too long. I put some more ice in, put the cover back on, and waited some more. I removed the lid too many times to take the temperature since I was eager to pitch the yeast and get it fermenting. Finally, I got the temp below 90f, pitched the yeast, and stuck 'er in the closet.

Got some good bubbling for the next two days, but then today the bubbling seems to have stopped. There are bubles formed around the inside of the airlock, but no movement.

What's the worst that could've happened? Best? What should our gameplan from here on out be?

Thanks a ton,
(nervous) aaron

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Old 03-29-2006, 06:49 AM   #2
magno's Avatar
Feb 2006
Austin, TX
Posts: 900
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What temperature was it fermenting at? It could be done (or mostly done) fermenting. Take a gravity reading if you have a hydrometer, or at least taste a sample. You can take a small amout out with a turkey baster. If it tastes like bandaids chunk it, but I'd guess that it should be ok. If you plan on racking it to a secondary, now may be the time.

The worst that could have happened is a nasty bacteria infection from the ice and/or repeated opening of the fermenter. The best is a tasty batch of homebrew in a couple of weeks. For now, open it up, and see if there is still a layer of krausen on the top of the beer, if not, take a sample and rack it if you have the means. For the next batch, save yourself the agony and dont put ice in the wort. A better alternative for cooling the wort would be to set it in a sink full of ice water for about twenty minutes, or if you are doing a partial boil and fermenting in plastic, chill your top-off water and add hot wort to that. Using this last method in a glass carboy could break it though.

Good luck,

- magno

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Old 03-29-2006, 09:28 AM   #3
Brewsmith's Avatar
Aug 2005
Torrance, CA
Posts: 6,252
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What was the recipe? If the gravity wasn't high to start and if the fermentation temps were right, primary fermentation could be about done. I wouldn't open it, though. If it's good, it will be good for a few more days. If it's bad, it will still be bad. Leave it for at least 7 days total before racking to a secondary or bottling. You have a good chance that everything is fine, but next time I would recomend chilling in an ice bath or adding cold water as magno suggested.
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Old 03-29-2006, 12:40 PM   #4
Beer is good
budbo's Avatar
Feb 2006
La Plata, MD
Posts: 2,315
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Worst that could have happened: Little green microbes from another dimension got into your wort and ate up all you sugars...

Best: The yeast was fresh and finished fermenting in a couple days.

Next time? Don't use store bought ice, Put the pot in an ice bath, Before I got a wort chiller I used 3, 20oz water bottles, Freeze them the night before, Sanitze them before using and add them to the wort a few minutes after you put it in the ice bath. while cooling cover the pot, drink beer and talk about Hot Chicks from another dimension.

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Old 03-29-2006, 02:02 PM   #5
Ivan Lendl
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Feb 2006
Wimbledon Finals
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hmm, the worst that could happen?

i say the worst thing that could happen is your beer turns out fine. So for every future beer you have confidence that throwing ice in your wort is not only a good thing, but kind of your trade mark. Years go by and your beers become famous first locally through word of mouth. Eventually you quit your job and start brewing full time to keep up the need of your 'ice man cometh ale'.
10 years from now, you are invited to become a master brewer at a world famous belgian trappist brewery. The first batch you make, still using the by now tried and true ice-in-wort method, actually develops some nasty off flavors from some unknown microbe. This is the begginning of the end. By the time you realize this Thousands of beer are on the market, thousands of potential bottle bombs.
Needless to say, the brewery loses millions of customers, and as a result, the monks are all fired, and the monastry is torn down.
Scores of kids are now forced to hang around ymca's and what not, instead of learning the ways of the monk. And in the end, when all is said and done, you get up to the pearly gates and the big white bearded old guy up there just looks at you witha disapointed look and with the hand he is not holding a chimay in points to the ground.
Primary: empty
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:05 PM   #6
Aug 2005
Philadelphia area
Posts: 1,573
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I go differently, at least in the winter (I live in an area with cool to cold winter temperatures). I use bottled spring water for my brews, and I will put three gallons outside on my porch for a day or so before brew day. Those go into the brew tank first when the boil is done. They are usually about 40 degrees (F) or so. Then I just dump the wort right in (I never filter). The resulting mix is at about 80 degrees, just fine for dry ale yeast. This has never failed me yet.

However, for summer brewing this is problematic. I've never had a failed fermentation but there are bunches of variables that have to be controlled that don't require attention when you have nice cold water. I like Budbo's idea of the improvised chiller - I will try that in my next warm weather batch.

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Old 03-29-2006, 02:21 PM   #7
Darth Konvel
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Sep 2005
Columbus, OH
Posts: 1,033
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Worst that could have happened? Flying ninja monkeys hid in your bucket while you weren't looking and drank all your brew, leaving you clean up after them as they slipped out into the night.

Best, no monkeys this time, so there's still brew in the bucket.
Up Next: ???

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Old 03-29-2006, 02:39 PM   #8
Feb 2006
Posts: 4

Thanks for all the replies, I think I'm going to let it sit until this weekend then rack it to secondary, and in that process see if it tastes like bandaid or armpit or whatever.

Hopefully no monks will have to be fired.

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Old 03-29-2006, 03:33 PM   #9
El Pistolero
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May 2005
Houston, Baja Oklahoma
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Since nobody said it yet...Relax, don't worry, have a brew. I think your beer will be fine, and while I personally prefer an ice bath to cool the wort, I don't really see any problems with putting store bought ice into the wort...particularly while the wort is still near boiling temp.
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Old 03-29-2006, 03:48 PM   #10
Feb 2006
Posts: 169
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I'm a newb, so my advice can probably be taken with a grain of salt, but here it is:

I do a partial boil of 3 gallons. I sterilize (boil) 2 gallons and put the water into a sterile 1 gallon jug (like a milk jug that's been cleaned and sterilized, or water jug) and then throw it in the fridge while I brew. By the time I get to the point where i'm cooling the wort I will put the brew kettle in an ice-bath. To further cool the wort I will top it off with the now sterile and clean water that is in the fridge. I can get my wort down to 80 degrees in about 12 minutes doing this.
Primary: Porter Potty (oaked porter)
Bottled (Drinking):
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last batch review(Schwheat (wheat))

Appear: 3.5/5.
Mouthfeel: 3.5/5
Carb/Head: 3/5
Taste: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

An overall decent beer but it has too much of a banana character, I think it's because of fermenting at too high of a temp. Tasted better as it aged, but far from perfect.

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