First batch - what a disaster!

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Aug 7, 2022
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Ok, here’s an amusing story about my first batch..

Don’t know where the idea came from but I decided to go for a REAL whole grain (plus some sugar) batch and bought 10kg of unmalted barley.

Malted the barley (drying and kilning part most difficult) and crashed it with a food processor.

Anyway, mashed and boiled it with some real hops (whole plants, not pressed hops).

The problem was I did all this during summer without any cooling equipment. Tried to cool the wort with some ice water overnight and pitched the yeast in the morning at a temp of 24 C.

Fermentation stated like a bomb and the temp suddenly increased to almost 30 deg C or higher.

It took 24 h for most of the fermentation to finish. After a week, taking a hydrometer reading it showed 1020 but no more bubbles, so I decided to pitch more yeast..

A week later still at 1020 so more yeast, this time turbo yeast ☺️😃😱😂

Later figured out that I was reading my hydrometer totally wrong - the bottom of the hydrometer was already touching the bottom of the flask, not possible to o down any further 😎

Anyway, observed some white clumps which looked like white mold, so decided to add some metabilsulfites obtained from a winery nearby.

Bottled the beer with sugar priming the next day and kept a plastic control bottle to check carbonation.

Waited days and weeks but it didn’t carbonate! Damn metabilsulfites 😃

After a month, decided to crack open the bottles, collected everything back in the fermenter, it was very sour due to some added sour plum juice before fermentation (no idea why I did this), so added some bicarbonates to balance the acidity, waited few more days, sugar primed again and bottled.

And voilà!

It carbonated pretty well this time!

After a month of bottle conditioning, opened a bottle and tasted.

The taste was not bad, pretty good actually with full of fruity esters, some off flavors but not disturbing, good carbonation, lots of yeast flavor, a bit sour, and pretty drinkable. Actually much better (for my taste) than any light lager commercially sold.

So at the end, didn’t have to throw away 5 gallon batch and actually enjoyed it.

I guess the ABV was above 9% and a litre of it was enough to make me feel good, with some rash on my face and dry sculp (due to a lot of fusels I guess).

What a disaster but a great learning experience! 😃
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Smaller batches will be easier in most all aspects. And will allow you to concentrate on what matters, instead of dealing with the logistics and handling of large quantities.

If you'd divided up that first batch of 10kg grain into smaller 1kg to 3kg batches and did them in succession you could learn and develop skills from each. And you will have had more opportunities to get it right.