My first brew day

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bennychico11

bennychico11

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Nurmey gave you good advice. If you do not know that your fermentation is complete you could end up with what is known as "Bottle Bombs". Get a hydrometer and I would wait at least 2 weeks in the primary.

Using a secondary reall is not necessary as long as you do not leave the beer in the primary longer than 5-6 weeks. So leave the beer in the primary for at least two weeks. Bottle and wait at least two weeks. Once you find out what beer you like you can ensure that you have a never ending supply by making batches on a consumption schedule and making sure that they are aged properly. Aging is based on type of beer and alcohol content. I make a Pale Ale that is 5% ABV I keep it in the primary for 3 weeks and then keg condition for 2 more weeks. I also make an IPA that is 6% ABV that stays in the priamry for 4 weeks and keg conditions for 2 weeks. I make about 3 batches per month. 2 batches of the Pale Ale and 1 of the IPA.

Welcome to the obsession!:mug:
thanks for the advice...I'll wait a little longer then. I'll also try and get to the store this week so I can grab a hydrometer. I need to pick up a bottling wand anyway (and maybe another extract kit for my next batch). Plus I just found in the instructions where it listed the hydrometer reading. It listed it as 1006....which I'm assuming is 1.006? +/- temperature corrections? It also says to check that it stays at that level for two consecutive days, so I'll do that before bottling. I'm hoping it finishes up before I head out of town for vacation in a couple weeks!!!!
 
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I finally broke down tonight and opened up the bucket on the first batch to take a hydrometer reading. I know, I know... I said I was going to be patient. :) Krausen had fallen back in, but the lacing from it was evident on the sides of the bucket. So, after 5 days, it is at 1.020 @ 66 degrees, down from 1.051 OG. Sealed it back up and put it back in the corner. We'll see how it is next week.

This is supposed to be a basic light ale as best I can tell, 3.5lbs of extra light DME and 3lbs 5oz of pale LME. Once the bucket was sealed I poured the sample from the hydrometer test tube in to a cup and took the opportunity to sample it and learn more about fermenting and green beer as it goes through the process. First of all, it basically smelled like beer but sort of a mix between stale beer and a gueuze lambic note. It was starting to clear and had the opacity of a strong tea. Tasted better than I thought it would - but too sweet. Need to be patient and let the yeasties do more of their work.

One pleasant surprise... when I was adding the LME originally, some of it caramelized on the bottom of the pot - but not much and I caught it quickly. (Only had stopped stirring for a moment to pick up something I knocked off the countertop. Heard the woosh from the pot, removed from heat and quickly scraped what was sticking off the bottom of the pot and mixed it in better before returning to heat.) After reading some of the older threads here, I was curious if I was going to have basically made the beer taste like "Satan's Anus" - but I didn't note any burnt finish.

Wow, this waiting part sucks. :)
 

dslater

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I too am new to brewing, brewed my first batch yesterday. The airlock is bubbling,
so I guess it's ok, but I really have to fight the urge to check on it.

I agree, the waiting part sucks, oth it does give me time to read the forums here
and learn from those who've gone before.

Once I get this batch to secondary, I'm thinking about brewing an oatmeal stout.
 
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bennychico11

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-Day 9-
alrighty, I went out tonight and bought a bottling wand, hydrometer and a turkey baster.
I opened the primary for the first time tonight since I repitched it. The smell was overwhelming...in a good way! No krausen but it definitely had been there. After sanitizing everything I took my first samples with the turkey baster. I didn't want to take too much just for a sample but damn do those hydrometers require quite a bit of beer just to start floating. I had to go back for more after my first draw...then when I poured it into a pint glass afterward I found it was almost half a pints worth!

Anyway, the hydrometer showed me 1.014. I'm mad at myself that I didn't get one before I brewed so I could get the OG. But according to the brew kit I should try and reach 1.006. So it looks like I still have awhile to go. I'm assuming I won't reach there by tomorrow...so I'm glad I didn't decide to go ahead and bottle on day 10 (or as the kit told me, after 4-8 days). I also checked the temperature and found it to be 64*...which made me happy. I've been worried about the temp down there in the basement.

Now the best part:
After testing it and making sure I had the right measurements, I poured the sample into a glass. It sure had the look and smell of beer. Slightly darker than I expect a lager to look...but I'm sure that will clear up with time. The smell also was that of obviously flat, luke warm beer. But the taste was much better than I expected. The first one had a slight after taste but as I neared the bottom of the glass I didn't notice the after taste anymore. It was actually quite smooth going down. During that first taste I honestly shivered with excitement as I drank it...realizing that this was my first brew!

I plan on taking my next measurements at day 14....well see if it's settled then. Thanks again for every one of you for helping!!! Here's a pic I took with my phone (sorry, my real digital camera sucks)
:mug:

 
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bennychico11

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Day 12-

I couldn't resist. I took another measurement last night since I'm getting anxious to bottle (I know, I know...but I leave town at the end of this next week so I want to bottle before then). I got a reading of 1.012. So it hasn't dropped much since Day 9. I plan on taking measurements tomorrow (Day 14) again. If it's still around 1.012 would it be safe to go ahead and bottle? It's still a ways off from the 1.006 that the kit recommended but I should still be within the "safe zone", right?

-b
 

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When you take your reading, are you using the plastic tube that came with your hydrometer? I use it and only take about 4oz. sample, fill it between 2/3 and 3/4.
Caution! Too hot of water WILL affect that tube and make it tougher to measure properly. Rinsed mine with hot tap water and it bent the tube just rinsing it and shaking it out.
 

TexasStu

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If you have the SAME reading for 2-3 days it should be safe to bottle.
ie. If you check it again at day 16 and still have 1012, you should be fine.
If not, check again at day 18! :)
According to virtually everyone around here, the longer you wait to bottle (within reason), the better your beer WILL be! Most concensus says to hold off for 3 weeks in primary, or 1/2/3 (if using a secondary) and a few have said a 2/2 should be ok but won't be AS good as if you manage to hold off the 3 weeks before bottling. I think most will understand if you can't handle the waiting. (least I can! :) )
I bottled MY first batch after 15 days (minus a few bottles I 'rushed' - I have a spigot on my Coopers primary fermenter). I plan on the majority of my first batch bottle conditioning 4+ weeks.
 

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... when I was adding the LME originally, some of it caramelized on the bottom of the pot - but not much and I caught it quickly. (Only had stopped stirring for a moment to pick up something I knocked off the countertop. Heard the woosh from the pot, removed from heat and quickly scraped what was sticking off the bottom of the pot and mixed it in better before returning to heat.) After reading some of the older threads here, I was curious if I was going to have basically made the beer taste like "Satan's Anus" - but I didn't note any burnt finish.

Wow, this waiting part sucks. :)
Hint - The caramelizing extract might have made the beer a bit darker than you expect. Might have added some flavors too. To avoid this, you might want to read up on "Late Extract Additions". This is where you use 1/3-1/2 of your extract to start, then about halfway through the boil, you add the rest. This reduces the chance of caramelizing the wort, and generally yields a lighter color and flavor. I've switched to doing extract this way and think it works better.

Also, if you are using liquid extract, turn the heat off on the stove when you add it in. This helps to keep the extract from overcooking when it drops right to the bottom of the kettle. If you are using dry extract, then just make sure you are whisking it into the kettle. Dry extract tends to float more, so there is less chance of it burning on the bottom.
 
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bennychico11

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thanks for your replies TexasStu.

Day 14-
Man has it been a long night. I measured again when I came home from work and the hydrometer still read 1.012 so I figured I would go ahead an bottle. I sanitized all my equipment and laid everything out in the kitchen within easy reach of my bottling bucket.

After boiling and mixing the sugar, I took to racking to the bottling bucket. It took me forever to get the siphon going tonight. I'd fill the siphon up with sanitized water, dump it into an extra bowl and then an air bubble would somehow find it's way into the siphon and slow the brew down until it eventually just stopped siphoning. I think I restarted it at least four times before I finally got a good flow. Tip one...I'm buying myself an autosiphon the next chance I get.

After I racked all the beer over I placed the bottling wand onto the spigot. I'm so glad I got one of those....it helped tremendously. I also recommend to anyone just starting out to build a bridge to attach it to the spigot like I did. I don't know if all bottling wands are made of rigid plastic, but it obviously didn't fit directly on the spigot, so I cut a piece of my siphoning tube off (about an inch) so that it would fit. It worked great that way.

I decided to fill 8 at a time and then cap those 8 before preceding to the next bunch. When I go to cap with the Red Baron Beer capper that came with my kit...the piece of crap breaks on me!! A piece of plastic snaps off basically rendering the lever useless. This is the time I start to panic because the brewery store is closed and I can't think of anyway to try and cobble something together to get it to work. LUCKILY a buddy from work also brews, and I remember him offering to borrow some of his equipment if I needed. So needless to say I owe him a few beers from this batch since he saved the entire thing for me!....third recommendation to beginners like me, spend the money and get the bench cappers. They hold up a lot stronger.

Which leads me to a question. Would I have been alright if I had just closed my bottling bucket back up and bottled 24 hours after mixing the sugar...until I was able to get a new capper? Or do you need to bottle right after mixing?

Fourth recommendation...buy as many beer bottles as you can. I thought 48 would cut it for a 5-5.5 gallon batch...but I had plenty of beer left over to fill probably another 5 bottles. Luckily my dad was over at my house so we opted to do a little taste testing with the rest ;)
After he left, I moved the bottles downstairs, cleaned all my supplies up and put them away. It saddened me to see the buckets empty and not going to use. I need to get me a new batch going soon! I just need to get some more bottles first because I don't think I'll drink 48 in time...but who knows :)

I'm going to try my first beer after two weeks of carbing just to see what a green beer tastes like!!! Luckily I'm on vacation in Colorado during that time so I won't be tempted to open one up any earlier.

-b
 

TexasStu

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Benny,
I would THINK you'd have been ok waiting a day or two but I can't say for sure. One of the other (more experienced) brewers should be able to answer that better than I.

I gotta admit I really love my Coopers fermenters for bottling (filler tube fits right into spigot on the primary - no siphoning or transferring required!) but this assumes no secondary. I did just purchase a fermenter (inc. spigot and airlock) which I may decide to use as a secondary/bottling bucket (to free up the primary to start another batch).
Obvious downside is the more I mess with a batch the more likely of undesirable results.
I considered just using it as another primary but I really like the plastic coopers fermenters (no 90-degree corners to accumulate bacteria, etc.) and would prefer to only use the 2 I have. I'm still on the fence so time will tell with which way I lean.
I also have the plastic PET (brown) bottles included in the kit. These eliminate capper issues as well as glass schrappnel if a bottle bursts plus only have to fill up <30 740ml (~24oz.) bottles. Personal preference I suppose? :)
Enjoy your trip and try not to worry about it. :)
 
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bennychico11

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Tried the first bottle tonight!!...and then two more bottles after that ;)

Definitely not done carbonating yet. It had a decent amount of "pssss" when I opened it up, and I was presented with some bubbles and a little bit of lace....but no head and not nearly as carbonated as it probably should be. It actually tasted much like the beer I tried while bottling. It was a great feeling to finally taste my own beer though! I know from here on out my recipes will only get better. The girlfriend and roommate were also impressed at the taste.

I'll try another beer in 5-6 days or so. Let it carbonate a bit more.

I finally decided on a name for my brew too....Red Lab Brewery. Because I'm a huge Husker fan (Red) and my dog (Husker) is a Lab :) And all the beers will have a dog theme. I'll post a pic of the logo I've made up when I get a chance.
Anyway, I made a mock label for one of my beer bottles and tried adhering it with the milk technique. I was actually quite surprised at how it looked. The milk holds it on their pretty well and didn't discolor the paper or anything. I think I'll continue with that trick :mug:

Thanks to all that helped me over the past month. I can't wait to start my second batch (gonna be a Bavarian Wheat, I think).
 
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