I may have messed up! Help!

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Hi there.
A few weeks ago I decided to finally take the plunge and start making my own beer. I live in a remote area, so during one of my monthly trips to civilization, I stopped at the nearest you-brew wine shop to pick up my supplies.

The person operating the store, though quite friendly, was much more into making her own wine than beer and confessed that she didn't know a lot about it. Regardless, I picked up my supplies and everything that I thought I might need.

When asked about dextrose, she said that it was essentially a sugar that dissolved better than ordinary sugar. Thinking of the 10kg bag of sugar I had stashed at home, I decided that I could do without the luxury of quickly-dissolving sugar and went on my merry way.

I'm now five days into my first batch of beer (following the kit instructions precisely, with a substitute of granulated sugar for the usual dextrose). I've only now decided to put some real research into beer brewing rather than taking for granted the kit instructions and the word of the store operator, and I'm somewhat afraid of what I've found. It seems, from what I've read here, that corn sugar/dextrose is quite different from granulated sugar.

Have I ruined my first batch of beer, or is this salvageable?

(Keep in mind that there is nowhere I can possibly buy dextrose from until my next trip to civilization, and also that the kit instructions mention adding MORE sugar just before bottling!)
 

Soulive

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I wouldn't recommend it for the future but you will be fine this time. Regular sugar may add some cidery flavor to the beer, but it might not...
 

Yooper

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Next time, don't use ANY sugar, except for bottling. It'll be a big improvement. For now, don't worry, it'll still be ok. Your next batch will be better, though!
 
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Also...
should I have stirred my yeast into my batch? The instructions said to sprinkle it on top, and that's how I left it. The bubbles in the fermentation lock are coming through pretty slowly (about 1 bubble every 45sec). That seems bad. I do have an extra packet of wine yeast that I could add, if need be.

I'm pretty nervous about messing this up ;)
 

Soulive

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Tenthousandfeet said:
Also...
should I have stirred my yeast into my batch? The instructions said to sprinkle it on top, and that's how I left it.

I'm pretty nervous about messing this up ;)
You did it correctly. You're not supposed to swirl it around...:mug:
 
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Well, that's a relief. Thanks for the quick and reassuring replies!

Should I add any more granulated sugar before bottling, or leave it as it is?
 

Yooper

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You have to add some sugar at bottling- that's what will carbonate your beer! I'm not sure of the exact amount of table sugar- you can post that question when it's time, and i"m sure someone can help you with that. What I do is boil 2 cups of water, and dissolve 4 ounces of corn sugar into that and boil for a couple of minutes. I cool that, and put it in my bottling bucket and then rack (siphon) the beer into it, so that it mixes well without splashing. You can do it bottle by bottle too by measure a set amount of sugar, but that's not quite as easy.

I suggest this website: howtobrew.com for the best information in an easy to read format. he gives great tips and advice!
 
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I'm partway through reading howtobrew.com, and at this point I'm really wishing I had read it BEFORE starting my first batch! Really good reading, thanks for the link.

However, after reading that and seeing what fermenting beer should look like, I'm reasonably convinced that something's gone awry in my fermentation. In the primary fermenter, I never saw any bubbling whatsoever for five days (checking in every day or two). Now in the secondary fermenter, there's very little bubbling through the fermentation lock and no foam or churning on the top.

I'm thinking that either the yeast that came with my kit was old and/or dead. Adding the aforementioned wine yeast might not make for the best of beers, but it might be enough to salvage the batch from total failure.

What say you?
 

Joker

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What temp are you storing the brew at? Do you have a hydrometer?
 
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It's in a dark closet at about 22C.

As an aside, from the ' You're no longer a n00b when...' thread:

19. You stop asking "is my beer ruined" every time something unexpected happens.

I take it this happens a lot.
 

Joker

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Temp is good.

I would take a hydrometer reading it will save you from guessing about what is going on.

Posts like this happen 1 or 2 hundred times a month. Don't worry we all did the same at one time. After a couple brews you'll learn to relax.
 
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1.010 on the hydrometer, which is normal according to my instructions.

I've discovered, after a little experimentation, that the bucket lid doesn't seal itself airtight. Any positive pressure in the primary fermenter is enough to lift the lid 1/8 inch or so, so that gases escape through the seal rather than the fermentation lock.

Next time, I'm going to put something quite heavy on the lid and see whether that helps.
 

EvilTOJ

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So what part of the world are you in where you have internet, yet far away from civilization? Do we have to airlift you a care package? :D
 

Silviakitty

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Remember always, padawan, this mantra...

Relax.
Don't
Worry.
Have
A
Home
Brew.

:) Or a really good store-bought until your homebrew's ready.

Welcome to your new obsession, and I can tell you from my own still-limited experience that the answers to most of your questions can be found here. "Little white spots on top of the beer in secondary?? *search* Oh, it's okay. Little bit of leftover fermentation." Most of my problems have been solved pretty quickly with this forum. ;)

I also picked up 'The Joy of Homebrewing', 'How to Brew', and 'Designing Great Beers' so I'd have on-hand references as well.
 
OP
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[ame="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=pickle+lake,+ontario&ie=UTF8&ll=51.4894,-90.167542&spn=0.027791,0.075531&z=13&iwloc=addr&om=1"]Here[/ame] is where I currently call home. It's actually the farthest north you can travel to in Ontario without leaving pavement (...and care packages are always welcome!).

I'm proud to say I'm finally relaxing about my beer. I've come to accept that being my first batch, it won't be amazing, but after trying a taste out of my secondary I'm sure I'll enjoy it nontheless.

Cheers.
 
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