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AngryPenguin

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I did my first wort tonight. I used a 20 quart stainless steel stock pot on two gas burners. I gave it a rolling boil for 1 hour, no boil overs. I am attempting a wheat ale and plan on fermenting for 3 weeks then bottling and letting them condition for 3 weeks. I bought the kit at a local brew shop and was given the ingredients and instructions.

Ingredients:
EDME wheat beer malt extract-malted barley, malted wheat, hop extract, brewing yeast 4lbs.

Muntons malt extract light-EBC = 8-12 solids 80-82%, 3.3lbs

I was instructed to boil 1 gallon of water then dump in both of these containers, stirring and while not on the heat to prevent burning/sticking to the bottom.

After boiling, I cooled the mixture in about 10-12 minutes in a ice water bath in the sink. I then siphoned out all except the last little bit of wort (trub?) into the fermenter after it had reached about 112 degrees F. After siphoning, the fermentable mass was a little over 5 gallons and at about 68 degrees F.

I then dumped in my package of dry yeast that had been refrigerated as instructed and took a reading with the hydrometer, it read 1.008 at the meniscus.

Now, the thing that worries me is that the lady at the homebrew shop said to fill the airlock with vodka. But when I pushed it down into the rubber grommet on the bucket, it squirted vodka into the bucket. Is this going to kill my yeast?

I also had problems with that stupid grommet getting pushed into the bucket, luckily this didn't happen when my fermentables were in the bucket.

The water I used was particularly hard, not sure on the PPM or any of that. But I live in northern Indiana, and with all the limestone and whatnot, our water is pretty hard. The book that came with my kit said hard water is best. I have no doubts as to whether it was clean. It came from a deep well, straight out of the ground.

Now as a noob, it seems like I did all I could to do this right. I followed the instructions given to me, to the T, I didn't use chlorinated water, I didn't put my mouth on the siphon tube, I sanitized the holy crap out of everything that came into contact with my beer, I wore rubber gloves the whole time. The ingredients I can't vouch for the quality on, but I can't think of anything I did wrong yet. Also, the place I got this stuff from seemed kinda rinky dink, and I know this isn't rocket science but I didn't feel entirely sure about their instructions and was glad that I had found this forum last week.

So my question to you is, what are some of the potential problems that you as a more seasoned brew master see arising from the above process?

Sorry for the long post.
 

GLWIII

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I did the same thing with the vodka with an IPA I am in the process of making and the yeast happily partied it up. So, thus far the vodka shot has not been a problem. I just bottled mine on Monday and it tasted terrific - beyond what I though I could possibly produce on my first ever batch. Of course, until I open the first bottle in a couple of weeks I won't know for sure, but at this point I wouldn't sweat it.
 

Choguy03

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I am assuming that your hydrometer reading is wrong. That is probably more like what is should be at the end of the fermentation process. Did you mix (aerate) the wort really well? You want to introduce as much oxygen as possible to help the yeast get started and then from that point on, once the top is on, you don't want anymore oxygen going into your beer. If you didn't mix well you may have just gotten a false reading. No big deal though. Just when you check your FG as a general rule of thumb if you get a consistent reading three days in a row you are good to bottle. Congrats on the first brew.
 

Awfers

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I'm afraid that the boil-over is a very crucial step in the brewing process, as is the dash across the kitchen or brewery to spray it with water from a spray bottle in order to get it to go down, cursing mildly as you do so... If you don't have those two, it just won't be proper beer...


:D

Only kidding... Congrats on your first brew!


Cheers,
Awfers
 
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AngryPenguin

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I did not aerate the wort after adding the yeast. I was under the impression that after the yeast was in, put a lid on it and don't touch it. Oops.

should I stir it or leave it alone at this point?

I will take another look at my hydrometer when I get home from work today, maybe I was looking at the wrong scale.
 

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I did not aerate the wort after adding the yeast. I was under the impression that after the yeast was in, put a lid on it and don't touch it. Oops.

should I stir it or leave it alone at this point?
Let it alone.

You stir it up after you add the water, so that you can take an accurate OG reading (the 1.008 is wrong because you had all the water on the top, and the wort on the bottom, so your sample is mostly water), and to aerate. However, if you used water to top up to 5 gallons (and you did), there is plenty of oxygen in there for your wort. And it's not a problem that the heavier wort is sitting on the bottom- the yeast know where to find the sugar and will stir it all up for you!

Once you add the yeast- you are right. Put the lid on it and don't touch it until it's finished up. It'll be fine!
 
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AngryPenguin

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ok, well I did it right then. The other 4 gallons of water were already in the fermenter. I siphoned the wort into the fermenter then mixed it because it was all sitting at the bottom. Then I dumped the yeast on top and took a reading. Now at this point the vodka was sitting on top of the wort and the yeast. So maybe that threw it off?

After taking the measurement, I put the lid on and left it.
 

solidghost

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Hey Angry Penguin, isn't your starting gravity a bit too low?
 

buckeyebrewer

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If you know its stirred up, I think you may want to get another hydrometer. 1.008 is very low for a starting gravity. According to your recipe it has to be higher than that. Also the vodka is no worries.....it won't harm a thing.
 
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AngryPenguin

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i just checked it and it says the specific gravity of water is 1.000. so i don't think it is defective. any other suggestions?
 

Jared311

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I have to agree with everyone else. 1.008 is way too low. In the future, you should take a hydrometer reading before you pitch the yeast. Can you describe to us how you actually read the hydrometer?
 

EvilTOJ

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Guys, yooper already answered the hydrometer question. The water and wort didn't mix up enough. It happens a lot.
 
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AngryPenguin

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well, as of this morning I have no more bubbles happening in the airlock. So I guess fermentation is slowing. I was planning to leave the beer in the fermenter for a total of 3 weeks. Does this seem excessive?

The instructions that I got with the kit say that it will be done fermenting in 1 week and ready for bottling.

What should I do?
 

EvilTOJ

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3 weeks isn't excessive. I've left beer in the primary for months and it's tasted yummy. Don't worry about what the kit says, we're you're true brewing friends :D Bubbles aren't a good measure of fermentation activity. Take a hydrometer reading, then in two days take another one. If they're the same reading, then you can bottle.
 
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AngryPenguin

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I bottled my beer last night after taking a reading. The measurement suggested that the specific gravity was constant. When I tasted it last night, the bitterness had come through a lot more and I noticed a hint of banana smell to it. So now the waiting game begins, I plan on waiting 3 weeks before I open the first one. We'll see how long that lasts ;)

It was in the fermenter for exactly 2 weeks at a temp between 68-72 degrees F the whole time. Could this be the cause of the banana smell? Should I have left it in longer or lowered the temp slightly?
 

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I bottled my beer last night after taking a reading. The measurement suggested that the specific gravity was constant. When I tasted it last night, the bitterness had come through a lot more and I noticed a hint of banana smell to it. So now the waiting game begins, I plan on waiting 3 weeks before I open the first one. We'll see how long that lasts ;)

It was in the fermenter for exactly 2 weeks at a temp between 68-72 degrees F the whole time. Could this be the cause of the banana smell? Should I have left it in longer or lowered the temp slightly?
Tha banana smell is a function of the yeast. It's not out of place in a hefeweizen, in fact, it's part of the flavor profile. In this case, though, it is probably from fermenting too warm. If you had it at an ambient temperature of 72 degrees, it might have been as much as 80 degrees inside the fermenter. (Do you have a stick-on thermometer? I like those- they stick onto the fermenter, and tell you the temperature of the wort). Still, that should smooth out some, and will not cause the beer to not be good. Wheat beers often have some flavors like that in them. Next time, try to keep your temperature at the lower end of the recommended temperature for your yeast.
 
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AngryPenguin

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Tha banana smell is a function of the yeast. It's not out of place in a hefeweizen, in fact, it's part of the flavor profile. In this case, though, it is probably from fermenting too warm. If you had it at an ambient temperature of 72 degrees, it might have been as much as 80 degrees inside the fermenter. (Do you have a stick-on thermometer? I like those- they stick onto the fermenter, and tell you the temperature of the wort). Still, that should smooth out some, and will not cause the beer to not be good. Wheat beers often have some flavors like that in them. Next time, try to keep your temperature at the lower end of the recommended temperature for your yeast.
The yeast I used was Windsor Brewing yeast by Danstar. The instructions on the package say to keep it at 86-92degrees F. Which I did not do. The thermometer I used was just one of the ones you stick on the bucket, but I put it on the outside. I wasn't sure how I was going to read it if it was inside the bucket. oops.
 

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No, no, the outside of the bucket is where it sticks! That's fine- I thought you fermented it in a room that was 72 degrees, that's why I asked. Your fermentation temperatures were ok.

I'm really surprised that you received that information with your yeast- it shouldn't be fermented that hot. (And that is a "fruity" yeast, so you can expect those fruity flavors). You rehydrate that hot, but you should ferment it in the 60s. I bet if you re-read the package, the recommended temperature is 64-70 degrees.

From Danstar's website:
Depending on the composition of the recipe, Windsor demonstrates moderate attenuation which will leave a relatively high gravity (density). Recommended fermentation temperature range for Windsor is 17° to 21°C (64° to 70°F).

It also says that it is very fruity at higher temperatures- perfect for your wheat beer!
 

EvilTOJ

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I'm pretty sure the instructions on the Danstar yeast packet say to proof the yeast in water between 86 to 92 degrees for 15 minutes. Then to adjust the temp of the proof water to the wort by slowly adding it in.
 
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AngryPenguin

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I'm pretty sure the instructions on the Danstar yeast packet say to proof the yeast in water between 86 to 92 degrees for 15 minutes. Then to adjust the temp of the proof water to the wort by slowly adding it in.
You are correct, I misread it. The beer was fermented in a room where the temp stayed between 68-72 degrees F.
 

FSR402

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One thing I would say for you to do now is to wait one week take one of the beers and chill it then drink it. Do this every week from here on out until it's ready. It will really help you learn and understand how the beer changes as it ages.

Sounds like you did well.. :rockin:


Oh and GET ANOTHER BATCH GOING..... you have an empty fermenter for gods sake.
 
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AngryPenguin

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One thing I would say for you to do now is to wait one week take one of the beers and chill it then drink it. Do this every week from here on out until it's ready. It will really help you learn and understand how the beer changes as it ages.
Ok, you don't have to tell me twice :mug:

Sounds like you did well.. :rockin:


Oh and GET ANOTHER BATCH GOING..... you have an empty fermenter for gods sake.
Thanks.
Unfortunately, I am going to be moving soon. So I will probably have to wait to start another batch so I don't have to move a 5 gallon bucket of brew. :(

Plus, I still need to figure out what my next brew will be. I don't think I want to get the same thing. The place I got it from was pretty janky. Any suggestions? I like wheat beers with minimal hops.
 
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AngryPenguin

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I am sampling my first full beer right now and upon pouring the beer I noticed there was no head formation. There is some carbonation but not much. Should I be worried that my beer won't carbonate?

And yes I did remember to add the corn sugar to the bottling bucket.


 

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It can sometimes take 14 days or more for carbonation to fully develop. I shouldn't bother about worrying.

Tip: In future, clean and sanitize a 1L (or whatever, just so it's small) plastic soda or water bottle and its cap. At some random point in the bottling process, fill it as you would a glass beer bottle, leaving an inch or so of headspace. Then, before screwing on the cap, gently squeeze the bottle until the fluid level reaches just to the mouth of the bottle. Screw on the cap really really tightly. The bottle should hold its squeezed shape when capped. Then watch it. As carbonation develops, the plastic bottle will swell to its normal shape. After it has reached its normal shape, wait another couple of days, then open it and drink this sample.

That's how I gauge carbonation; I read it somewhere on the Internet, and it actually works. It's fun watching it puff up. :D

Cheers,

Bob
 

FSR402

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I am sampling my first full beer right now and upon pouring the beer I noticed there was no head formation. There is some carbonation but not much. Should I be worried that my beer won't carbonate?

And yes I did remember to add the corn sugar to the bottling bucket.


Don't worry it will get there. Keep them at room temp (70-80) and they will do a lot better.
 
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AngryPenguin

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unfortunately, I am not going to be able to keep my apartment at 70-80 degrees. That is not livable for me. I have tried to keep it that warm when I am not there, but I dont think it is doing any good. My apartment stays around 65 degrees when I am there.
 

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