Lessons Learned

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GreenDragon

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So Saturday I attempted my second batch. It went 3000% better then my first attempt. Things I did differently are below for the other beginners.

Some instructions say to boil 2 gallons of water and put them in your fermentor to be added to the wort mix later. My stove is electric and takes forever to heat water so I skipped this step and used 2 gallons of bottled and sealed Ozarka water instead.

Last time I waited till the water was boiling and put my grain bag in, I found out later this was a bad idea. This time I tossed the bag in while the water was still cold and removed it once the water hit 150F. I made sure to bring the water slowly to 150F, which is not really an issue with my stove!

I threw the damn slap pack yeast that came with the kit in the trash and used dry yeast. I prepared the yeast according to the instructions on the back and made sure it was alive.

When checking my wort temps before pitching I made sure the thermometer was not touching the sides of the pan!

I purchased a stick on thermometer for my glass carboy and made sure the top of it is exactly at the 5 gallon mark so I can eyeball how much I have in it.

Got one of those rubber handles that goes on the next of glass carboys to make transporting it to the spare bedroom easier.

I wrapped the carboy in a blanket to help regulate the temps since it sits semi-close to an air vent.

That's about it. Things this time are going MUCH better. The yeast I used this go around is going crazy mad in there. It's like the yeast version of Studio 54.
 
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GreenDragon

GreenDragon

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By the way, I am still totally a newb, so if any of these lessons are a bad idea hopefully the senior members will correct them. /hint /hint
 

Yoda

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I threw the damn slap pack yeast that came with the kit in the trash and used dry yeast.
Not a huge fan of this one! I understand wanting to keep it simple with the dry yeast (I do too), but that stuff is expensive share it with somebody else haha.
 
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GreenDragon

GreenDragon

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I didn't really throw it away. It's still sitting in the fridge. Thought I'd see if anyone wants it at the next brew club meeting.
 

srl135

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Looks close to my second brew. A couple of my personal tips (should you be interested in them). I used a liquid yeast (California Labs), which was not slap kind. This made me confident in the yeast.. took all of the question out of it and fermented quickly.

For my grains - I kept a thermometer about 1cm from the bottom of the pot to constantly monitor temp. My directions said to steep for 30 min from 160F-170F; I brought the water to 168F, shut heat off and put the grains in and started the timer. Heat loss is very minimal, was at 160F after 30 min. Lesson Learned --> When rinsing grain bag, dont squeeze bag. Dont think i ruined anything.. but didnt know that part at the time.

To help cool the wort, i put the ozarka bottles in the fridge prior to mixing. Still used an ice bath for the wort, then mixed with water once i got the temp down from the ice bath.



Good idea in posting your lessons learned from one noob to another. I agree that a second brew goes much easier than the first... now im ready to streamline further for a 3rd.
 

Rev2010

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I didn't really throw it away. It's still sitting in the fridge.
Well you did say, "I threw the damn slap pack yeast that came with the kit in the trash". Gotta admit it took me aback as well. I read that and went :eek: Why didn't you want to use the Wyeast? Wyeast is quite excellent.


Rev.
 

Maxkling

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Not a huge fan of this one! I understand wanting to keep it simple with the dry yeast (I do too), but that stuff is expensive share it with somebody else haha.
Same here my last 6 batches Ive used nothing but smack packs and tend to love them for something that doesn't REALLY need a starter. Smack it at the LHBS and by the time I'm cooling the wort its ready to go.

When I steep I heat to around 160 and add the grain. When you start to mash you'll thank yourself for doing this.

I have also moved away from any kind of bag. It started with me forgetting Muslim Bags on brew day, and Ive yet to use any since.

My previous brew day went probably the smoothest I've done period. I used an immersion chiller for the first time and Ill tell you what that made the brew day a lot more enjoyable.

The two things that I really disliked about home brewing was cooling the wort and having to bottle by myself. If you get those sorted out to your advantage its so much better.
 

JonK331

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1. Ideally you would want to steep your grain between 150 and 165 for 30 minutes.
2. Dry yeast is great but there is more variety with White Labs and Wyeast. Both are excellent products but work much better when a starter is made.
3. Bottled water is a good idea, cool it in the fridge/freezer before adding to help with the chill
4. Be careful with the carboy carrier when the carboy is full, the neck can snap right off.
 

chapa

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You oughta keep it, and just store it in the fridge. There will come a day that you'll want to use it! Liquid yeast, especially when used with a starter can offer a very healthy, rewarding fermentation.

But yeah, if not I'm sure somebody at your meet would be happy to take it off your hands :)

Congrats on a successful brewday. Hopefully the beer turns out just as good!
 

Walker

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I purchased a stick on thermometer for my glass carboy and made sure the top of it is exactly at the 5 gallon mark so I can eyeball how much I have in it.
I would have put that thing much lower on the carboy.... near the center line on a batch of beer. No proof, just a hunch, but it might be less accurate near the top where the empty head space in the carboy is.
 

chapa

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4. Be careful with the carboy carrier when the carboy is full, the neck can snap right off.
Wow that's good advice, I never knew that! Glad to find out now, rather than finding out for myself! Thanks!
 

SKMO

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I purchased a stick on thermometer for my glass carboy and made sure the top of it is exactly at the 5 gallon mark so I can eyeball how much I have in it.
Just a hint here, calibrate that stick on thermometer. I have 6 of them on 6 different fermenters: 2 are pretty close, 2 are high by 4 & 7 degrees, 2 are low by 3 and 5 degrees.

They are generally ball park accurate and consistant, but you need to calibrate them. I have a 12 degree difference between my most optimistic, and pessimistic stick on thermometers. As long as I know which is which, and know how to apply appropriate correction no problem.

But the stick ons are notoriously innaccurate, as a rule.
 

Tbesst

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You can get nylon webbing carrier for the carboy, makes it much easier to carry with both hands.
 
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GreenDragon

GreenDragon

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Thanks all. I may try a slap pack again sometime in the future. On my first batch it was probably me that killed the slap pack and not a bad pack, but I'm still gun shy from it. With the dry yeast it's just so easy and fast to tell if you have good yeast. If I do ever use one again I'll prolly slap it in the morning when I wake up to give it time to do its thing before I need it.

I never thought about the neck snapping off on that carrier. I'll have to look into one of those nylon carriers.

The stick on thermometer is Primarily so I can gauge how many gallons I have in the carboy and kind of a side effect is I can read the temps, but I'll be sure to calibrate it.
 
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