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  1. #1
    Beer-fueled
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    First-time beer brewing questions

    So, Foo, I went out and got the stuff to do homebrew (carboys (5, 6gal, both glass), stoppers, airlocks, etc etc), set things up and did things according to the recipe the guys at the brewshop gave me.

    I did make a few mistakes and was wondering if they're guaranteed killers of a batch. Yay/nay?
    1. I didn't sparge the grain. The recipe didn't mention it and I heard the employee at the shop as saying I should wait til I brew a batch to read the book. I'm now sure he didn't say that.
    2. I added bottled, unboiled water. I'd boiled two and a half gallons earlier, but didn't have time/patience to boil more. Stupid, yes, but I had a few fresh, unopened bottles of water.
    3. I checked hydro readings on the second day. Ouch, this one hurts my brain now. I'm pretty sure it's bad. Should've waited til I racked it over to the five gallon carboy, in all likelihood.

    I did sanitize *everything*.

    Also: Is it okay to store the beer at room temperature until just prior to drinking (with a rapid chill) or should it be kept cold after bottle conditioning? Is bottling to a growler bad news? (I was sure I was two or three bottles short, but I had a growler on hand.)

    Oh, first batch was an Amber.

  2. #2
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    You're fine. There are no guaranteed killers of a batch other than letting in contaminants. For newbies, kits are a great way to start. Then add complexity as you go along. Things don't have to be totally sanitary -- they just have to be sanitary enough that the "good" microbes take over before the "bad" ones.

    Storing beer at room temperature is fine. I brewed for over 20 years and it never occurred to me to store it any other way. BTW, here's the first batch I brewed. I was young and stupid...

    Last edited by banerjek; 05-19-08 at 01:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Beer-fueled
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    You're fine. There are no guaranteed killers of a batch other than letting in contaminants. For newbies, kits are a great way to start. Then add complexity as you go along.
    Awesome. I did pick up a kit, only added a few minor bits (autosiphon, carboy handles, and temperature gauge) that seem practical. I'm thinking about making a batch of Oatmeal Stout in a month or so to hold onto til Fall rolls around.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corcis View Post

    I did make a few mistakes and was wondering if they're guaranteed killers of a batch. Yay/nay?
    1. I didn't sparge the grain. The recipe didn't mention it and I heard the employee at the shop as saying I should wait til I brew a batch to read the book. I'm now sure he didn't say that.
    2. I added bottled, unboiled water. I'd boiled two and a half gallons earlier, but didn't have time/patience to boil more. Stupid, yes, but I had a few fresh, unopened bottles of water.
    3. I checked hydro readings on the second day. Ouch, this one hurts my brain now. I'm pretty sure it's bad. Should've waited til I racked it over to the five gallon carboy, in all likelihood.

    I did sanitize *everything*.

    Also: Is it okay to store the beer at room temperature until just prior to drinking (with a rapid chill) or should it be kept cold after bottle conditioning? Is bottling to a growler bad news? (I was sure I was two or three bottles short, but I had a growler on hand.)

    Oh, first batch was an Amber.

    Sparging applies when doing full grain batches. I doubt you started that way. What you probably did was use malt extract and then steep some speciality grains. In such a case, sparging does not apply. I wouldn't worry about the bottled water. If it is clean enough to drink it is clean enough for brewing.

    As far as hydro checking, I usually take a hydro reading after the boil and before transferring to the carboy. With full grain brewing, this number will tell me if I drained too quickly (thus leaving sugars behind), or got greater efficiency than predicted. For partial grain brewing, this number will tell you if you screwed up and added too much or too little ingredients. Since efficiency doesn't apply to partial grain or extract brewing, it really isn't too important for you.

    The second time I take a gravity reading is before transferring to my final serving keg or in your case, after the fermentation appears to be over. This reading will tell you how well your fermentation went. You probably took it too early, as fermentation wasn't likely complete yet.

    As for aging, I usually store my kegs at basement temps. If I didn't have a basement I might be concerned if it was hot for an extended period of time, but I don't have experience with this to tell what the outcome would be.

    Bottling to a growler may be fine, but I wonder if the screw on cap will contain co2 for an extended period of time. If not, your beer will not carbonate properly in the growler.

  5. #5
    Beer-fueled
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    I definitely wasn't doing full-grain.
    I didn't take the hydro reading to see if it was finished - something I read or had in my head was that checking hydro readings was a good way to spot when it stopped. But, I ended up racking to the smaller carboy anyways, so I could've just waited.

    The growler not holding CO2 was what I was worried about, too. I'll crack it open after a month and see if it fails to do that.

  6. #6
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    Bottled water is fine, don't use distilled. You could try to duplicate hard water as some beer taste better with minerals my preference anyway. I grew up drinking untreated water in sandstone or limestone areas so maybe its just me, but others have extolled about certain water or cussed it.

  7. #7
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    There is some risk in not boiling the water. Not much, but some. If it tastes ok, you are fine. You can add some minerals to get some taste. I have a large enough pot to boil the whole 5 gallons.

    The growler depends on how it seals. In general, I don't think a screw top is the best way to go.

    The first batch I ever brewed, I seriously scorched the bottom of the pot. It gave it a smoky taste, not at all bad

    With reasonably clean equipment, it is pretty hard to seriously screw it up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  8. #8
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trsidn View Post

    With reasonably clean equipment, it is pretty hard to seriously screw it up.
    Even under less than totally sanitary conditions, it typically works out fine.

  9. #9
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    Even under less than totally sanitary conditions, it typically works out fine.
    cool dog
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  10. #10
    somewhere in the ether spoketacular's Avatar
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    Did any of your batches of beer explode?
    You rise, you fall, you down, then you rise again
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  11. #11
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoketacular View Post
    Did any of your batches of beer explode?
    Nope, but my bro made some that did. He bottled in champagne bottles, they blew their tops in the middle of the night, and we had beer dripping off the ceiling.

    Before bottling, you really need to make sure that the beer is done fermenting. Then, add 4 oz corn sugar (dry weight) dissolved in a pint of water and then mixed into the 5 gal bucket. Get it mixed thoroughly, but do not aerate. Some people add a measured amount of sugar per bottle, but that method is just asking for inconsistency.

  12. #12
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoketacular View Post
    Did any of your batches of beer explode?
    I made some weapons grade beer. After the first couple exploded, we moved the rest of the cases out onto the porch. We made a bomb-squad style shield out of plywood and heavy plexi, and used a bottle opener duct taped to a stick to reach around the shield and pop the tops. A few of them popped with enough force to embed the cap in the ceiling of the porch.
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  13. #13
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoketacular View Post
    Did any of your batches of beer explode?
    I had a couple of bottles explode before. After that, I took to keeping the bottles in a closed container to limit the mess. I keg now, so that's not a problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  14. #14
    smorenivore colorider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoketacular View Post
    Did any of your batches of beer explode?
    Never had an exploding batch. My problem is the opposite. The beer doesn't seem to be fermenting adequately. At least that's what it seems like. The final product has decent flavor but is a little on the watery side - not much body to it.

  15. #15
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Did it not ferment in the primary tank (no bubbles in the CO2 trap)?

    A few things can lead to that one:
    - Too low a temperature will cause a slow fermentation
    - Dead yeast
    -- If using liquid, the suspension should be actively bubbling in the tube when opened.
    -- If using dry, resuspension in warm sugar water should give active bubbling.
    -- Too high a temperature when pitching the primary tank can shock the yeast.
    -- Too low a sugar content (not enough extracts, when not going full-grain) will cause low fermentation.

    Or do you mean that the bottles aren't coming up to pressure?
    - Forgot to add bottling sugar.
    - Didn't rinse bottles enough, sterilizer still on glass.
    - Incomplete seal on caps.
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  16. #16
    smorenivore colorider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Did it not ferment in the primary tank (no bubbles in the CO2 trap)?

    A few things can lead to that one:
    - Too low a temperature will cause a slow fermentation
    - Dead yeast
    -- If using liquid, the suspension should be actively bubbling in the tube when opened.
    -- If using dry, resuspension in warm sugar water should give active bubbling.
    -- Too high a temperature when pitching the primary tank can shock the yeast.
    -- Too low a sugar content (not enough extracts, when not going full-grain) will cause low fermentation.

    Or do you mean that the bottles aren't coming up to pressure?
    - Forgot to add bottling sugar.
    - Didn't rinse bottles enough, sterilizer still on glass.
    - Incomplete seal on caps
    .
    Thanks, I'm not positive but I've been thinking that some of the problems have probably stemmed from these suggestions.

  17. #17
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    I'd pretty much agree with everyone else here. As long as you are good about sanitizing everything it is harder than you may think to truly screw up a batch. You'll probably be fine so relax, don't worry and have a homebrew (or any other brew while waiting for your homebrew). If you decide to stick with the hobby though do yourself a favor and get a turkey fryer with a pot that enables you to do full boils, this will make a huge difference in the quality of the final product.

  18. #18
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortbus901 View Post
    I'd pretty much agree with everyone else here. As long as you are good about sanitizing everything it is harder than you may think to truly screw up a batch. You'll probably be fine so relax, don't worry and have a homebrew (or any other brew while waiting for your homebrew). If you decide to stick with the hobby though do yourself a favor and get a turkey fryer with a pot that enables you to do full boils, this will make a huge difference in the quality of the final product.
    +100

    Stainless Steel! Not Aluminum!
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by trsidn View Post
    +100

    Stainless Steel! Not Aluminum!
    I did plenty of batches in the aluminum pot that came with my fryer. Stainless is better and I use a keggle now but I still use the aluminium pot for my mash & sparge water.

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