Bad Andy

First Home Brew and Questions

37 posts in this topic

Hello,

 

Monday I made my first batch of beer, and after looking around the webs, I think I made a few mistakes.  I did the American Lager Kit that came with one pack of booster.  I also added 1 cup of honey, that I read in a few of the recipes. Here is my process:

 

Added the booster to cool 4 cups of (distilled) water.  Once dissolved, turned on the heat and brought it up to a slow boil.  At the start of the boil, I added the cup of honey (from a sterilized measuring cup).  Boiled both for 10 minutes before flame out.  Added the American Lager from the can and mixed well with sanitized spoon.  

 

Filled the sterilized LBK up to the 1 gallon mark with cold distilled water.  Added the wort to the mixture and stirred (again with sanitized plastic spoon).  So far so good right?  I checked the wort temperature with a food thermometer (that had also been sanitized), and the temperature was at about 72 degrees.  Pitched the yeast (packet from under the top) and closed it up.

 

My house temperature is usually about 74 degrees or there about with the AC, and when I am at work, it can rise to over 80 inside, so I knew I couldn't ferment at that temperature.  I have a 110 quart cooler, that I put in my bathtub upstairs.  To prepare, I have several 1 gallon frozen jugs that I put in to cool the cooler.  I checked the temperature inside the cooler and it was 61 degrees.  Closed it up and patted myself on the back for starting my first "home-brew".  

 

Yesterday morning, opened cooler to check for signs of activity (with flashlight through LBK - Didn't open it up).  No bubbles on top, no signs.  Went to work and thought I would see something when I got home.  Got home and checked, and still no activity at the 24 hour mark.  Temperature in the cooler was still at 61 degrees.  (Temperature taken via a digital thermometer/hygrometer from one of my humidors - sitting opposite end of cooler from 1 gallon frozen jug).  Worried that nothing was happening, I gave the LBK a vigorous shake to hopefully add some more oxygen and "wake up" the yeast.  Of course bubbles formed at this point, but don't think they are fermentation bubbles.

 

This morning, peaked inside (37 hours since pitching), and no bubbles on the surface.  Fearing that it is too cold for the yeast to do anything, I opened the cooler lid slightly, so that it is not a tight seal.  Hoping that this will raise the internal temp a few degrees.  

 

While I realize that sometimes the yeasts can take longer, I am not super worried yet, but starting to get anxious (it is my first beer).  The wort "feels" (my calibrated hands  LOL) cool on the outside of the LBK.  

 

 My concerns are:

 

1)  Was pitching at 72 degrees too hot?

2)  Is storing it at 61 degrees too cold?

 

Other newbie mistakes that I realize now.  

 

3)  Should have bought a Hydrometer and taken OG readings.

4)  Probably shouldn't have deviated from the recipe

5)  Should have made a yeast starter

6)  Should have a stick on thermometer for the LBK

 

How cold tolerant is the Coopers (Mr Beer) yeast?  Should I go by my local home-brew shop and get another packet of yeast to prepare to re-pitch?  Is it too late to take a gravity reading now?  If I take a gravity reading, can I fill the tube from the spigot, or should I not open that until ready to bottle, as no easy way of sanitizing it from the drops of wort that will remain in there before it is time to bottle.

 

Sorry for all the newbie questions.  I know what others say,.... RDWAHACB.  (Since I don't have a Homebrew to enjoy yet, I will substitute for a Commercial Brew).

 

More updates to come when I get home tonight.

 

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1) Pitching at 72 is fine, but use cold refrigerated water in the future and you will get a more appropriate temp of 65-68.

2) 61 is a bit cool. Try getting it to at least 65 for best results. Be sure you ferment for 3 weeks total instead of 2 when brewing at these lower temps.

3) No need for a hydrometer if you are following a set recipe. Follow the instructions and the recipe will have the ABV it states (or at least very close to it). A hydrometer is really only required when creating your own recipes. 

4) I agree, especially when it is your 1st recipe. Get a few under your belt and don't become a "mad scientist" until you understand the fermentation process better.

5) A yeast starter isn't necessary with dry yeast. It's only necessary when using liquid yeast and your starting gravity is very high. It is also used when your yeast may be a bit old and you need to grow more of it to be viable.

6) This is optional, but it does help.

 

The Coopers yeast is fine as low as 59 degrees, but performs better at 65-72. Below 59 degrees, the yeast will go dormant. There is no need to re-pitch. The cold doesn't kill the yeast - the heat does. Once you add the yeast it is too late to take a gravity reading.

 

Keep it simple. You do not need all the tools you are reading about on other sites until you start formulating your own recipes.

 

Welcome to the community, by the way! Cheers! :D

TonyKZ1, efdbrian and Bad Andy like this

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Why are you using distilled water?

 

I don't see where you topped off to 8 quarts after adding the wort.

 

Do not shake the wort after a day or two of fermenting.  At the worst, you aerated it after it should have been aerated.

Cammanron, Bad Andy and MRB Josh R like this

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7 minutes ago, RickBeer said:

Why are you using distilled water?

 

I don't see where you topped off to 8 quarts after adding the wort.

 

Do not shake the wort after a day or two of fermenting.  At the worst, you aerated it after it should have been aerated.

 

Good catch. Didn't see the distilled water part there. Don't use distilled water for brewing beer. Your yeast need the minerals it lacks.

 

Did you check the date on the bottom of your can? If there was no activity, the yeast may be old and dead.

Bad Andy and Brian N. like this

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Thank's for the replies.  Yes, forgot to mention that after adding the wort, I topped it off to the 2 gallon mark.  The water in the beginning and topping off were cold distilled water than had been in the fridge for a few days to get really cold.  The date on the bottom of the can was May 2017, so just at the expiration date.

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For your water, just find a nice spring water that you like the taste of and use that (I use Zephyrhills).  And if you look a couple of posts up you'll see one by a forum user named RickBeer.  If you look at his signature block you'll see a bunch of links.  I highly recommend you pop a cold one, prop your feet up, and read them.

 

You'll make mistakes.  But you'll learn from them and get better.  My first couple of batches produced some not very good beer (water too warm, wrong type of water, pitched yeast too warm, fermented too warm, drank too soon).  Now I'm brewing stuff I'm proud to have family and friends try.

 

Oh, and welcome to the hobby...and the forum!  

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Update:  It has been 48 hours since pitching the yeast. There are a few light bubbles on the surface of the wort. I think something is happening. Temperature was still pretty cool at 61 degrees. So I have further propped open the cooler lid in the hopes of raising the temperature a bit. 

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Hello @Bad Andy

 

Listen to these guys. They know what they are doing.

 

Brewing is a process. You do not start with advanced calculus. You start with arithmetic. And guess what? Arithmetic gets you pretty darn far. Do not overlook the basics that you will learn here and from the people on this forum. They will lead you to making very good beer, very easily!!!!  

 

Making GREAT beer in large quantities that tastes how you want consistently requires a lot of skill. Making great beer in small batches requires solid technique and skill. Making really good beer almost all of the time.....not that hard. I'm doing it and I am kind of stupid with these things.

 

You're beer is going to be fine. As you make mistakes and learn it is going to get better. And much sooner than you think it is going to be really, really good.

morriganpoe, C-ya and Bad Andy like this

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with that expiration date the yeast under the lid should still be viable. i'm with the guys who say let it warm up just a tad.. not too much.   remember that yeast are living things and can be fussy sometimes. sometimes they eat like monsters. sometimes like dainty sunday school teachers.   shine a flashlight in from the side and look at the bottom of the lbk for sludge developing.  if you see crud, youre making beer.

 

as for not following recipe to the letter... no worries. it's your beer.. but know what to expect with the additions.  adding adjuncts instead of malt might thin out the beer's body.  it's cool though. it's your first batch. don't expect really great beer.. you might get it but your first beers are usually to learn the process.

 

as for distilled water..i agree with the forum. mineral water is better.  while wort has plenty of mineral content and nutrients for yeast,  mineral water gives them so much more. happy yeast do a better job.  water chemistry becomes more important when doing all grain so you should be fine since doing extracts.. but mineral water is better.

 

learn all you can.. be patient... have fun. don't get frustrated and ask plenty of questions. welcome aboard.

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Thanks again to everyone for the replies. 

 

Carefully took the LBK out of the cooler so I could shine a light into the bottom. Sure enough, there is about a 1/8" layer of trub settling on the bottom. I guess the yeast is working just fine. 

 

I was expecting there to be "high Kraussen" and/or lots of foam/bubbles on top. Maybe not with this recipe. 

 

Opening the cooler lid has raised the temperature to 63 degrees, so I will try to keep it near there for he next 3 weeks. 

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4 hours ago, Bad Andy said:

Thanks again to everyone for the replies. 

 

Carefully took the LBK out of the cooler so I could shine a light into the bottom. Sure enough, there is about a 1/8" layer of trub settling on the bottom. I guess the yeast is working just fine. 

 

I was expecting there to be "high Kraussen" and/or lots of foam/bubbles on top. Maybe not with this recipe. 

 

Opening the cooler lid has raised the temperature to 63 degrees, so I will try to keep it near there for he next 3 weeks. 

 

First, welcome to the hobby. 

 

As for the lack of kraussen, it could also be a factor of the lower temp. You fermentation will be less vigorous at the lower temp and could affect the amount of kraussen produced. 

Bad Andy likes this

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Krausen may or may not be present in a fermentation.  If present, it may be there after you go to bed and gone before you wake up.  Temperature will clear affect how active a fermentation is, but ferocious activity does not correlate with better beer.  The formation of trub tells you that all is fine.  Go the full 21 days and then bottle.  Since you don't have a stick on thermometer, you're likely measuring the air temp, which is not the temp inside the LBK.  An external thermometer, taped to the side of the LBK below the fluid line, with a pad of cloth over the probe to isolate it from the outside air temp, works well.  Air temp can be 6 - 8 degrees cooler during active fermentation, which should drop after 3 - 5 days.

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One week update:

 

i have raised the temperature to 67 degrees  (air temp) over the last few days. I certainly have a very active fermentation going on now. 

 

Plenty of foam on top. I will try to keep it near this temperature for the remaining two weeks. 

MiniYoda, MRB Josh R and Shrike like this

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67 deg F  would be a great temperature for the wort, which will be above the ambient air temperature during active fermentation. So, I would expect that your wort is actually closer to 70 deg F. Still not bad, but try and keep it there. In a few days the fermentation will calm down and you wort will be nearly the same as air temperature. Good luck, sounds as if you are on your way to making beer. BTW- with honey and booster, I would give that bad boy beer plenty of time to mature, say 6-8 weeks, if not longer.

Bad Andy likes this

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Thanks for this thread Bad Andy, I to am getting ready to make my first beer which just happens to be American lager. I decided to go the route of mini fridge + temp controller since my house is not very insulated and gets a little toasty during the day. I will probably start my batch this weekend, I look forward to seeing how yours turns out.

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8 minutes ago, bigntall1983 said:

Thanks for this thread Bad Andy, I to am getting ready to make my first beer which just happens to be American lager. I decided to go the route of mini fridge + temp controller since my house is not very insulated and gets a little toasty during the day. I will probably start my batch this weekend, I look forward to seeing how yours turns out.

 

Welcome to the forum and to the hobby!

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9 hours ago, Bad Andy said:

Friday will be the 3 week mark time from bottling. Today I put a couple of bottles in the fridge. I can't wait to try my first beer. Maybe tomorrow evening I'll crack one open. 

 

Congratulations!

 

 

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So cracked one tonight, since I am going out of town for the weekend. 

 

I am am very pleased with the result. Great crisp clean taste. 

 

When initially poured, it had a nice foam head, but that quickly dissipated and while the beer still had a few small bubbles, it was on the flat side. 

 

While it would certainly be easy to drink a bunch of these, I think I will wait another week or two and see if the retained carbonation improves. Granted I know it could very bottle to bottle, but just think this one needs a little more time. 

IMG_0059.JPG

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5 minutes ago, Bad Andy said:

So cracked one tonight, since I am going out of town for the weekend. 

 

I am am very pleased with the result. Great crisp clean taste. 

 

When initially poured, it had a nice foam head, but that quickly dissipated and while the beer still had a few small bubbles, it was on the flat side. 

 

While it would certainly be easy to drink a bunch of these, I think I will wait another week or two and see if the retained carbonation improves. Granted I know it could very bottle to bottle, but just think this one needs a little more time. 

IMG_0059.JPG

 

 

Pro Tip: Leave the bottle in the fridge for 3 full days before you crack it open. this gives time for the CO2 to be absorbed into the beer preventing instant flat beer.

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