Thanks in great part to this forum, I brewed my first batch ever yesterday.
The goal of this thread is two-fold.
First, I wanted to share a journal-like report of my first brew day so that other people about to start brewing can better grasp how it goes.
Secondly, I simply wanted the feedback of more experienced brewers on what I should improve next time.
So here it goes...
I did a Full-Boil "very" partial mash consisting of 6.6 pounds of grain and 1 pound of DME using a variation of DeathBrewer's Partial Mash/All-Grain stove-top technique.
Everything was done on the stove, using 2 five gallons pots, and a 5 gallon bucket with a spigot...
Here is the recipe I used...
Recipe: PtotheL's generic White
Asst Brewer: Nic The Dick
TYPE: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Boil Size: 6.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.041 SG
Estimated Color: 3.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 18.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amount Item Type % or IBU
1.10 lb Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 14.29 %
3.30 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 42.86 %
3.30 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 42.86 %
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (45 min) Hops 17.1 IBU
1.00 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1.00 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs Belgian Ale (Wyeast Labs #1214) Yeast-Ale
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body
Total Grain Weight: 6.60 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 12.00 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F
10 min Sparge Add 15.00 qt of water at 196.6 F 168.0 F
And now, here is the recap of the brew session:
I started by boiling 7 gallons of tap water, split evenly in my 5 gallons pots.
While waiting, I filled my primary fermenter (a 6 gallon bucket) with 4 gallons of tap water and 60ml of Oxy-San. I dumped all of my equipment in it.
I also layed out in separate bowls the ingredients I would need later on.
Fast forward about 50 minutes later to the first issue of the day... My ceramic surface stove has only one large burner, the next largest one is still considerably smaller. Result: I've got one boiling pot, and another one that's just starting to show pre-boil activity.
So I switched the two pots and cursed not living in a warmer area where I could buy a propane burner and brew all year long with it. Here, in Montreal, it's about -20 celius right now, you do the math...
Anyhow... 10 or 15 minutes later, I've got my 6 gallons boiling. I turn off the burners and move one of my pots to a cooler area and wait for it to hit the strike temp.
Meanwhile, in DeathBrewer's fashion, I hook up my x-large grain net to my 5 gallon bucket.
Once my strike temp is reached, my buddy started to pour some of the grains while I poured some of the water and made sure that all grain were properly hydrated.
Once all of the 6.6 pounds of grain and 3 gallons of water were in, I covered the bucket and waited an hour.
Using the bucket's spigot and a measuring cup, I recycled about a gallon, and then emptied the bucked into my empty 5 gallon pot. I didn't drain the grain at this step and ended up with about 1.75 gallons of runnings.
The other 5 gallons pot was right at sparge temp. I emptied it in the bucket, mixed the grains thoroughly, and covered for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, I stirred the first runnings sitting in the first five gallon pot in poured half of it in my now empty second pot.
Once the 10 minutes wait over, I once again recycled about a gallon, and emptied the bucket evenly between the two stock pots, this time getting all of the runnings possible from the grains by squeezing the grain bag for all I had.
Using a PVC home-made volume gage I had made preemptively, I figured out I managed the get a total 5.5 gallons of runnings. I initially expected to collect 6...
At this point, I didn't top off with water and realized only too late that I should have.
I took a pre-boil gravity reading and got 1.030 at 105 F. Temperature adjustments made, it gave a gravity of around 1.037 if not a tad more.
While waiting for the boil, I cleaned the grain bag, buckets, and so on.
I also filled the bath-tub with cold water and around 4 buckets worth of freshly shoveled snow.
It still took around 50 minutes to bring to a boil both pots by switching them from time to time between the large and medium burners.
Once both pots were boiling I started the timer.
15 minutes in, I dropped both grain bags containing each 1/2 oz of Hops.
45 minutes in, I dropped 1/2 pound of DME in each of the pots, slowly, taking time to mix it well. I then dropped 1/2 oz of Coriander and 1/2 oz of Bitter Orange Peel in both of the grain bags.
50 minutes in, I dropped around half a tablespoon of Irish Moss in each of the grain bags.
60 minutes in... the boil is done.
Second problem of the day... since I didn't top off AND underestimated the boil-off of using two separate pots... I am now down to around 4.25 gallons of wort instead of the 5 gallons I was aiming for.
Now it's too late to boil more water since it takes about an hour on my stupid stove.
Ah well, I decided to leave it like that since it would be better having 4.25 gallons of good beer than topping of with unboiled water and maybe ending up with 5 gallons of ****ty beer.
My friend and I took the pots and let them rest in the ice-cold bath.
Around 40 minutes later, I took a temp reading... 70F right on the mark.
I took a gravity reading.... 1.051.
We passed through a strainer and into the fermentation bucket the wort.
This seemed to be enough aeration... there was a nice layer of foam in the bucket.
I shook the hell out of the liquid yeast and pitched it in the bucket.
I then closed the lid, put the gromet in and.... *drum roll* pushed it in too hard... the plastic lid cracked a bit around the custom hold I previously drilled to accomodate the gromet and airlock!! *gasp*.
Ah well... we moved the fermentation bucket to its resting place, beneath the stairs, resting at around 72F.
I then took some silicone and patched the small crack in the lid for the time-being. I set the airlock in and called it a day.
12 hours later
This morning, I went and had a look at the fermenter... still no signs of fermentation... no bubbles coming from the airlock, no signs of krausen at all...
I decided to open the lid, and just as I unsnapped one edge, I head the sweet noise of pressure being released... so I guess that it's just now in the beginning phase of activation.
So that was my first brew day ever.
All in all, it went well and just shy of perfectly according to plan. I just hope that my fermentation really kicks in soon or I might start to worry.
When looking back on what the major issues were, I must say the the long boil wait is really what is killing me.
Maybe I shouldn't be making full-boil with my somewhat limited setup and next-time around simply do a partial 5 gallons boil split evenly in my two pots, coming down to around 3 gallons post-boil, and top off with 2 gallons of RO water ???
What do you guys think ? Any suggestions on what I should do next time or how I could improve my brewing ?