DON'T worry . . .

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gunhaus

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Seems like there is a lot of paralysis through analysis out there - especially amongst newer brewers. You don't have to look too far to find posts worrying about endless minutia leading up to the actual brew, and even more afterward! Constant fretting about "did I do this right" Or "I missed my temp by 1 degree is my beer ruined?" and so on. Well, I gotta say just stop the worry! No matter long you brew (I started in 87) or how good your equipment, or how careful you are, you are GONNA have a bad brew day, where it seems Like Ole Mr Murphy, Lemony Snicket, the Fates, Furies, and all the assorted gods of brewing got together and singled YOU out for a good old fashioned beatdown! I just had one.

First I tweaked my back. Suddenly everything was really heavy and stuff on the floor was really far away. Mash tuns, and pots of wort are heavy! BUT, #1 son to the rescue! He volunteers to do the grunt work. We're in business. Set out the gear, grind up some beer seeds, measure up some salts, stack up the gadgets, and we are off. Pre heat the tun, heat up the strike water, add water to tun, and ground up beer seeds to water, stir . . . No mash paddle! Mash paddle is out in shop, son braves the snow and falling temps to go find paddle. I limo around kitchen and find a suitable plastic spoon and start stirring and groaning and stirring. Lots of grain balls - they are tougher and heavier than they were when my back was normal. My new spoon is floppy. But it all comes together. Son is MIA for a while now. Seeds and water are amalgamated. Temp is a tad high but a few ice cubes and BOOM spot on. Lid up. Set 60 minute timer. Form search committee for missing son. Notice small bowl of salts on cupboard. Bowl should be empty. Remove tun lid and add salts, stir with floppy spoon - Barn door after the horse and all that but still, seasoning is in there. Son shows back up - shivering because he didn't wear a coat into the winter wilderness 0n the quest for the paddle. He is also empty handed because apparently paddle is elusive and shifty. It's OK we have a floppy spoon and it is doing yeoman work.

Coffee - 1 hour wait - back pill. Shivering son now wearing coat INDOORS - it comes from his mothers side.

TIME to vorluf and lauter. WooHoo! Crack the spigot and nice stream begins to flow into pitcher. Two quarts later stream is clearing. Two tablespoons later stream STOPS. Completely. Stirring, shaking, poking skewers in the spigot, cursing loudly, all fail. Glare at cooler for a while. NOPE that fails too. Try the skewer again, and we get flow. SMALL flow, and we have to leave the skewer in spigot and move it around to get that, but we are getting wort! Forty minutes later flow stops again. Appears to be "close enough" Time to sparge. Add sparge water for batch sparge, wait a few minutes, try to vorluf. Nope. Apply skewer. NOPE. Curse. NOPE. Tell #1 son we are going to dump the mash, clean out the false bottom and get it working again. Grab coat, and limp out to shop looking for appropriate vessel. Don't want to risk losing son in wilderness again. Time is wasting! Leave son alone . . . .

Return from frozen wilderness between home and shop Temp has dropped from 22 F down to 6 F. There is wind. At some point we have to boil in that! But at least it is dry. Ditch coat look out window, it is snowing sideways. Oh Good. Partially frozen son has taken the initiative while I am limping through nature and dumps mash from tun, and cleaned false bottom, pick up tube, spigot, etc. Fresh hot water flows through fine. Where is mash?

Apparently nature froze something vital in #1 son's thought mechanism. Mash, and sparge water are all swimming around with the forty minutes of wort we painstakingly drained into kettle. I do not know WHY he chose to do that. I do not ask. Discover SECOND bowl of salts that should be empty . . . Throw it all in the pool. Son dumps mash/wort/sparge slew back into cooler in one big sploooosh! Rinse out boil kettle. Start vorluf. One quart later flow STOPS. Cussing. NOPE. More cussing. NOPE. Grab skewer, wiggle around in spigot, and get a piddling flow. Have to leave skewer in place. TWO HOURS LATER, we have boil volume. There is a lot of STUFF floating in there. A LOT of it cannot be good. But it AIN"T going back in the tun. Son is thawed completely. Snow has mostly stopped. Winds down to tropical storm from hurricane. Temp -1 F. Burner won't light. Propane is frozen like #1 son was, and is working just as poorly. Grab coat, limp through wilderness to shop for warm propane. Warm propane is gone. Note in the propane spot from brother indicates he will be bringing me new propane next week. Go back to house and apply multiple tricks to thaw propane - They work!!!! Finally something good. Things are looking up. Temp down to -11F. Wort seems hesitant to boil. Propane seems scared of the cold. Finally things begin to happen, Time for first hops.

Son wears coat this time during trek through wilderness to freezer for hops.

Add hops begin countdown.

Son wears coat during new trek to shop for wort chiller and hose. Connect hose to water, submerge chiller into boiling wort . . . NOT boiling wort. Propane has had another seizure. Warm propane and coax back to life. No longer looking at clocks or timers. Last glance at time device said 11pm. Brew day started at 7am. Fun has gone completely out of process. Throw in second hop addition. Guess at 15 minutes and add flame out hops. Good thing too cause flame is already out. Time to cool. Water on. Water working on spigot end but NOT flowing through hose or chiller. -15 F, More sideways snow. Back hurts A LOT. #1 son turning blue again. Remove chiller. Cover pot with lid. Surrender. As after thought check gravity. 1.037 on an ordinary bitter. At least that is spot in!

Next day beer in boil pot is 39 F. Air outside boil pot is still -15F. #1 son is wearing TWO coats when he arrives. Bring beer wort inside to warm up to pitch temp. Prepare fermenter. Make new spray bottle of Star san. Old bottle is outside on table and is somewhat hard. Lacking any good way to warm whole boiler of wort, and figuring this batch has gone beyond hope, we pull a gallon of wort, bring to to a good boil and dump it in ice cold wort. 61F CLOSE ENOUGH> Into fermenting bucket. Pitch Notty. Get mostly thawed son to grunt fermenter out to shop. Set on heat pad. Insert temp probe. Wrap in blanket. Set temp control for 64. Leave and start plotting comeback tour for brewing career.

Find mash paddle.

Two days later check in on bucket of wort. No bubbles in the bubbly thingy. No numbers on the digital readout of temp control. Plug temp control back in. DO NOT look at digital numbers. Do not want to know. Check again two days later. No bubbles. OH WELL. Sometimes it works that way. Temp control working. Ignore for ten more days. Check gravity. 1.008! No bubbles in bubbly thing but clearly fermentation occurred. Sample is clear! Smells wonderful! Smells like a nice Ordinary Bitter. Tastes like a bitter! Into keg. Into fridge. Transplant bubbles into beer from big silver can. Ignore again for a week.

You know what we got? A really nice tasty Ordinary bitter. Some nice fruity esters. Good subdued bitterness from the Northdown hops. A REALLY good beer. In spite of every stupid thing that could happen. A dozen things that could have wreaked the beer. In spite of all the "rules" that got violated. We got a really nice beer. And that is the lesson. Beer is a pretty simple and forgiving creature. So don't worry so much if you miss a mark or skip a step or fail to live up to the standards of the internet voices! Beer wants you to drink it, it will help you get there.
 

Mr. Vern

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"beer seeds" that one is going into my arsenal! Brilliant!

On Sunday my Hefe only yielded 3.5G of chilled wort into the carboy.. I see a sack of wet grain beer seeds sitting in clean bucket, and ~2 gallons of sparge water ready to be heated. I did not want a +6% hefe... Reboot!

Heat water to 170F and re-insert cold bag for a sparge 2.5 hours after I pulled the first wort ( my lack of "clean as you go" paid off this time). 2nd wort came out at 1.030 with carboy volume sitting at 1.060, boil for 45 minutes and the wort chiller hoses are now frozen. Open the garage door and let mother nature do her thing for a couple hours while I clean. I expect some tannin may have been extracted but it'll be beer nonetheless. With a heavy hand I over-pitched (6 month old yeast took well to the 500 ml starter) and said goodnight at 11PM. 1.050 is close enough with my mixed volume, I dont expect this to be a great beer but I hope it has decent hefe qualities. I haven't brewed in about 6 months, some extra time spent on setup and getting back into the groove.

Vs. my 13 hours total, your 17 hour brew day takes the cake. We have to be problem-solvers on the fly! I enjoyed the punishment so much I am planning a back-to-back stout day this Sunday. Dry Irish and a Chocolate Milk Stout for March. Dont tell St. Paddy but I am stirring up some Edinburgh yeast for both brews.
 
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That was a very good read, one of the best posts I've read (sorry for your brewday struggles) but I agree every brewer, new and experienced should read it because of how true it is. I have had some wretched brew days where it felt like everything went wrong (though not quite that cold) and the brews on those days have turned out just fine. I even named a beer "oops" and it was very well liked. Great post man and cheers to you for pushing through and seeing it to the end!
 

bracconiere

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Seems like there is a lot of paralysis through analysis out there - especially amongst newer brewers. You don't have to look too far to find posts worrying about endless minutia leading up to the actual brew, and even more afterward! Constant fretting about "did I do this right" Or "I missed my temp by 1 degree is my beer ruined?" and so on. Well, I gotta say just stop the worry! No matter long you brew (I started in 87) or how good your equipment, or how careful you are, you are GONNA have a bad brew day, where it seems Like Ole Mr Murphy, Lemony Snicket, the Fates, Furies, and all the assorted gods of brewing got together and singled YOU out for a good old fashioned beatdown! I just had one.

First I tweaked my back. Suddenly everything was really heavy and stuff on the floor was really far away. Mash tuns, and pots of wort are heavy! BUT, #1 son to the rescue! He volunteers to do the grunt work. We're in business. Set out the gear, grind up some beer seeds, measure up some salts, stack up the gadgets, and we are off. Pre heat the tun, heat up the strike water, add water to tun, and ground up beer seeds to water, stir . . . No mash paddle! Mash paddle is out in shop, son braves the snow and falling temps to go find paddle. I limo around kitchen and find a suitable plastic spoon and start stirring and groaning and stirring. Lots of grain balls - they are tougher and heavier than they were when my back was normal. My new spoon is floppy. But it all comes together. Son is MIA for a while now. Seeds and water are amalgamated. Temp is a tad high but a few ice cubes and BOOM spot on. Lid up. Set 60 minute timer. Form search committee for missing son. Notice small bowl of salts on cupboard. Bowl should be empty. Remove tun lid and add salts, stir with floppy spoon - Barn door after the horse and all that but still, seasoning is in there. Son shows back up - shivering because he didn't wear a coat into the winter wilderness 0n the quest for the paddle. He is also empty handed because apparently paddle is elusive and shifty. It's OK we have a floppy spoon and it is doing yeoman work.

Coffee - 1 hour wait - back pill. Shivering son now wearing coat INDOORS - it comes from his mothers side.

TIME to vorluf and lauter. WooHoo! Crack the spigot and nice stream begins to flow into pitcher. Two quarts later stream is clearing. Two tablespoons later stream STOPS. Completely. Stirring, shaking, poking skewers in the spigot, cursing loudly, all fail. Glare at cooler for a while. NOPE that fails too. Try the skewer again, and we get flow. SMALL flow, and we have to leave the skewer in spigot and move it around to get that, but we are getting wort! Forty minutes later flow stops again. Appears to be "close enough" Time to sparge. Add sparge water for batch sparge, wait a few minutes, try to vorluf. Nope. Apply skewer. NOPE. Curse. NOPE. Tell #1 son we are going to dump the mash, clean out the false bottom and get it working again. Grab coat, and limp out to shop looking for appropriate vessel. Don't want to risk losing son in wilderness again. Time is wasting! Leave son alone . . . .

Return from frozen wilderness between home and shop Temp has dropped from 22 F down to 6 F. There is wind. At some point we have to boil in that! But at least it is dry. Ditch coat look out window, it is snowing sideways. Oh Good. Partially frozen son has taken the initiative while I am limping through nature and dumps mash from tun, and cleaned false bottom, pick up tube, spigot, etc. Fresh hot water flows through fine. Where is mash?

Apparently nature froze something vital in #1 son's thought mechanism. Mash, and sparge water are all swimming around with the forty minutes of wort we painstakingly drained into kettle. I do not know WHY he chose to do that. I do not ask. Discover SECOND bowl of salts that should be empty . . . Throw it all in the pool. Son dumps mash/wort/sparge slew back into cooler in one big sploooosh! Rinse out boil kettle. Start vorluf. One quart later flow STOPS. Cussing. NOPE. More cussing. NOPE. Grab skewer, wiggle around in spigot, and get a piddling flow. Have to leave skewer in place. TWO HOURS LATER, we have boil volume. There is a lot of STUFF floating in there. A LOT of it cannot be good. But it AIN"T going back in the tun. Son is thawed completely. Snow has mostly stopped. Winds down to tropical storm from hurricane. Temp -1 F. Burner won't light. Propane is frozen like #1 son was, and is working just as poorly. Grab coat, limp through wilderness to shop for warm propane. Warm propane is gone. Note in the propane spot from brother indicates he will be bringing me new propane next week. Go back to house and apply multiple tricks to thaw propane - They work!!!! Finally something good. Things are looking up. Temp down to -11F. Wort seems hesitant to boil. Propane seems scared of the cold. Finally things begin to happen, Time for first hops.

Son wears coat this time during trek through wilderness to freezer for hops.

Add hops begin countdown.

Son wears coat during new trek to shop for wort chiller and hose. Connect hose to water, submerge chiller into boiling wort . . . NOT boiling wort. Propane has had another seizure. Warm propane and coax back to life. No longer looking at clocks or timers. Last glance at time device said 11pm. Brew day started at 7am. Fun has gone completely out of process. Throw in second hop addition. Guess at 15 minutes and add flame out hops. Good thing too cause flame is already out. Time to cool. Water on. Water working on spigot end but NOT flowing through hose or chiller. -15 F, More sideways snow. Back hurts A LOT. #1 son turning blue again. Remove chiller. Cover pot with lid. Surrender. As after thought check gravity. 1.037 on an ordinary bitter. At least that is spot in!

Next day beer in boil pot is 39 F. Air outside boil pot is still -15F. #1 son is wearing TWO coats when he arrives. Bring beer wort inside to warm up to pitch temp. Prepare fermenter. Make new spray bottle of Star san. Old bottle is outside on table and is somewhat hard. Lacking any good way to warm whole boiler of wort, and figuring this batch has gone beyond hope, we pull a gallon of wort, bring to to a good boil and dump it in ice cold wort. 61F CLOSE ENOUGH> Into fermenting bucket. Pitch Notty. Get mostly thawed son to grunt fermenter out to shop. Set on heat pad. Insert temp probe. Wrap in blanket. Set temp control for 64. Leave and start plotting comeback tour for brewing career.

Find mash paddle.

Two days later check in on bucket of wort. No bubbles in the bubbly thingy. No numbers on the digital readout of temp control. Plug temp control back in. DO NOT look at digital numbers. Do not want to know. Check again two days later. No bubbles. OH WELL. Sometimes it works that way. Temp control working. Ignore for ten more days. Check gravity. 1.008! No bubbles in bubbly thing but clearly fermentation occurred. Sample is clear! Smells wonderful! Smells like a nice Ordinary Bitter. Tastes like a bitter! Into keg. Into fridge. Transplant bubbles into beer from big silver can. Ignore again for a week.

You know what we got? A really nice tasty Ordinary bitter. Some nice fruity esters. Good subdued bitterness from the Northdown hops. A REALLY good beer. In spite of every stupid thing that could happen. A dozen things that could have wreaked the beer. In spite of all the "rules" that got violated. We got a really nice beer. And that is the lesson. Beer is a pretty simple and forgiving creature. So don't worry so much if you miss a mark or skip a step or fail to live up to the standards of the internet voices! Beer wants you to drink it, it will help you get there.
This deserves a sticky! Great story!

:bigmug:


i don't usually read posts that long, but this one kept me onboard all the way through! and the ending made me feel 'warm and fuzzy' ;)

edit: or 'cold and fizzy'? not sure which.....
 

Knightshade

<Insert Snarky Comment Here>
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I can hear my old boss w/the very first line of your story. He is approaching retirement age and has been brewing since college. I've been brewing for about 2 years now..or thereabouts.

"Dude..relax. You're overthinking it."

Ended up calling the beer that I was being nitpicky about and trying to figure out what I did wrong, how to make better, etc. "Overthinking It."
 

madscientist451

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I used to be a fussy, "worrying" brewer. I meticulously chose the perfect ingredients, I made sure all my measurements were just right, I did everything possible to hit my mash temps, I vourlaufed, I fly-sparged, I monitored the gravity of the runnings; I pulled samples before the boil was done, chilled them and took a gravity reading, I fermented at precise temperatures and ramped it up. I blended, I laagered, I aged on wood, fruit, coffee beans and cacao nibs. I only served it when it was perfectly carbonated. I made pretty good beer that was all consumed and everyone said tasted dammed good.
Then some stuff happened, I changed my ways and became a lazy-ass, small batch BIAB stovetop brewer where cutting corners is the order of the day, and all my beer still gets consumed with no complaints.
I realize my current methods are probably absolutely repulsive to the brewers that do things the "right way", but it works for me, I have fun doing it and that's all that matters.
:mug:
 

dcrog

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:Eggggcellant:
👏
👏
👏

Certainly made my morning, and fully concur on the sticky thoughts.
 
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