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StretchNM

All-grain Brew Day

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Today's the day to brew my little all-grain kit. I got the Star San mixed up in an empty 1-gal water jug. I filled it 1/3 with water and shook to begin the stir-up, but while shaking there is so much suds and foam that I can't finish filling it up without having all the foam come out the top. It's resting now with hopes it'll settle some.

 

I'm going to have a fermentation problem - my little jug will fit in my camping cooler with my LBK (brewing 1776 Ale), including with its blow-off tube and jar. BUT! now I realize it won't fit once I change over to the airlock! It'll be too tall. I don't know what I'm going to do because I don't think I'll be able to keep the temps down with this warm weather we're having.

 

On The Lighter Side©, last week I went out and bought a 12 pack of Sam Adams winter mix. I am going to reuse the bottles for this all-grain batch. Just last night, by coincidence, my next bottle to open was their 1776 (Lager or Ale? Don't know). A very excellent beer, VERY good. Just a thought.....

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1 hour ago, StretchNM said:

Today's the day to brew my little all-grain kit. I got the Star San mixed up in an empty 1-gal water jug. I filled it 1/3 with water and shook to begin the stir-up, but while shaking there is so much suds and foam that I can't finish filling it up without having all the foam come out the top. It's resting now with hopes it'll settle some.

 

I'm going to have a fermentation problem - my little jug will fit in my camping cooler with my LBK (brewing 1776 Ale), including with its blow-off tube and jar. BUT! now I realize it won't fit once I change over to the airlock! It'll be too tall. I don't know what I'm going to do because I don't think I'll be able to keep the temps down with this warm weather we're having.

 

On The Lighter Side©, last week I went out and bought a 12 pack of Sam Adams winter mix. I am going to reuse the bottles for this all-grain batch. Just last night, by coincidence, my next bottle to open was their 1776 (Lager or Ale? Don't know). A very excellent beer, VERY good. Just a thought.....

Perhaps fill the cooler with water just enough as needed and add ice when you need to. Ive never done it but i think a lot of people do it

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Thanks Creeps McLane. I'm able to keep my camping cooler in the proper range (about 60-F, thereby my ferment is at about 65-F +or-) using water bottles, BUT.... my problem is next week when I switch my jug fermenter from the blow-off tube to the air-lock, then it's too tall to fit in the cooler. The airlock adds several inches of height to the affair.

 

Part of my mashing is to add remaining hops at the end of the boil - just before cool-down. I'm planning to put those hops in a muslim sack. Should I sanitize the sack first? Since it won't get more than a couple of minutes at boil temperature? And if so....... can I sanitize it by a short soak in the Star San solution?

 

Thank you

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1 hour ago, StretchNM said:

Thanks Creeps McLane. I'm able to keep my camping cooler in the proper range (about 60-F, thereby my ferment is at about 65-F +or-) using water bottles, BUT.... my problem is next week when I switch my jug fermenter from the blow-off tube to the air-lock, then it's too tall to fit in the cooler. The airlock adds several inches of height to the affair.

 

Part of my mashing is to add remaining hops at the end of the boil - just before cool-down. I'm planning to put those hops in a muslim sack. Should I sanitize the sack first? Since it won't get more than a couple of minutes at boil temperature? And if so....... can I sanitize it by a short soak in the Star San solution?

 

Thank you

Why not leave the blow off tube and jar on? I've never used an airlock on my fermenters, and I just leave the blow off tube and jar in place until I bottle.

Edited by Cato
Wording

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You know, I did wonder if it was ok to use the tube and jar as an "air lock". The decision has been made. No airlock will be used on this one. Thank you Cato

 

Also, I did sanitize the muslim sack for my aroma hops using Star San. I washed my hands in the solution and wrung the sack out. I hope it doesn't cause any problems.

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Well, I just checked OG before pitching the yeast. 1.022 :( Oh well, maybe it'll be near beer.

 

To say I'm disappointed would be misrepresenting my true feelings. I know I did everything per instructions, from sanitizing, to boiling to hopping, to cooling... The only thing that occurs to me now is that, after I added my 70-F water to the wort to reach the one-gallon mark, I did not stir or shake it up. I just relied on the turbulence I observed on pouring the water in to think that it was mixed enough. After pitching the yeast, I did shake and stir well, but by then it was too late for the hydrometer, and even if not, it is now.

 

Anyway, my first all-grain batch is in the cooler.

 

But again, on The Lighter Side©, as I was cleaning up my wife comes home and says there's a box on the porch for me. A new LBK, That Voodoo...., and Oktoberfest is inside. A happy ending.

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3 hours ago, StretchNM said:

Well, I just checked OG before pitching the yeast. 1.022 :( Oh well, maybe it'll be near beer.

 

To say I'm disappointed would be misrepresenting my true feelings.

how much grain did you use? i like ABV, and for a typical 2 gal batch, i might use 4-6 lbs of grain to get where i wanted to be.

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I weighed the provided grains at just under 1.5 pounds - 23.6 ounces or something. I called it a pound and a half. I put them in a muslim sack, put them in at 160+or- F, and steeped them for one hour. The recipe said to stir every 10 minutes, but I was much more attentive to them than that. It was a chore to keep my mashing temperatures between 149 and 152-F, which is what they wanted, but I managed it. I sparged with exactly 170-F water and I would say I used at least a quart for sparging. And.....I let the grains drain in the colander over the kettle for about 5 minutes, while I manipulated the colander from one side to the next, trying to get all the drainage out of the grains. Then brought to boil for one hour with the hops, and the remainder of hops at flameout. Then cooled in the sink to just shy of 70 degrees, and added almost a half gallon (or more) of water (at 70-F) to bring the wort up to the one gallon mark on the jug.

 

Where did I go wrong? Again, I forgot to stir the wort and added water before taking the specific gravity reading, but when pouring in the extra water, it stirred things up pretty well and there were some bubbles, as if the wort and water were mixed ok. Upon pitching the yeast is when it occurred to me that maybe the OG reading was low because I didn't stir the wort well enough before taking the reading. Well, I pitched the yeast, put the cap on, covered the hole with my thumb, and shook things up pretty good. But by then the yeast was in there and I didn't feel like taking a reading again.

 

The color of this wort is sort of a light greyish green, with some brown tones, but not brown like my MRB American Lager wort. Weird. Smelled like grains and hops when I was cooking it though!

 

Anyway, it's done. We'll see what happens. When mixing up the Star San, I think I accidently grabbed the bottle of Stabil fuel stabilizer off the shelf for sanitization. I hope that didn't have anything to do with the weird color and low OG.

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8 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I weighed the provided grains at just under 1.5 pounds - 23.6 ounces or something. I called it a pound and a half. I put them in a muslim sack, put them in at 160+or- F, and steeped them for one hour. The recipe said to stir every 10 minutes, but I was much more attentive to them than that. It was a chore to keep my mashing temperatures between 149 and 152-F, which is what they wanted, but I managed it. I sparged with exactly 170-F water and I would say I used at least a quart for sparging. And.....I let the grains drain in the colander over the kettle for about 5 minutes, while I manipulated the colander from one side to the next, trying to get all the drainage out of the grains. Then brought to boil for one hour with the hops, and the remainder of hops at flameout. Then cooled in the sink to just shy of 70 degrees, and added almost a half gallon (or more) of water (at 70-F) to bring the wort up to the one gallon mark on the jug.

 

Where did I go wrong? Again, I forgot to stir the wort and added water before taking the specific gravity reading, but when pouring in the extra water, it stirred things up pretty well and there were some bubbles, as if the wort and water were mixed ok. Upon pitching the yeast is when it occurred to me that maybe the OG reading was low because I didn't stir the wort well enough before taking the reading. Well, I pitched the yeast, put the cap on, covered the hole with my thumb, and shook things up pretty good. But by then the yeast was in there and I didn't feel like taking a reading again.

 

The color of this wort is sort of a light greyish green, with some brown tones, but not brown like my MRB American Lager wort. Weird. Smelled like grains and hops when I was cooking it though!

 

Anyway, it's done. We'll see what happens. When mixing up the Star San, I think I accidently grabbed the bottle of Stabil fuel stabilizer off the shelf for sanitization. I hope that didn't have anything to do with the weird color and low OG.

My first thought was either not enough grains and/or a poor crush on them, which used to happen to me a lot.

Um, if you weren't joking about contaminating with fuel stabilizer, if I had any doubt whatsoever I'd not waste 3 weeks and pitch the whole thing and hit the reset switch and start over again.

Actually if I had that gravity reading, I'd take the loss and start over and use one of the free brew calculators and verify grain quantity, water needed, and review my whole process. It's a learning process and it's going to likely produce a few less than desirable results at first, but you'll get there.

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9 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I weighed the provided grains at just under 1.5 pounds - 23.6 ounces or something. I called it a pound and a half. I put them in a muslim sack, put them in at 160+or- F, and steeped them for one hour. The recipe said to stir every 10 minutes, but I was much more attentive to them than that. It was a chore to keep my mashing temperatures between 149 and 152-F, which is what they wanted, but I managed it. I sparged with exactly 170-F water and I would say I used at least a quart for sparging. And.....I let the grains drain in the colander over the kettle for about 5 minutes, while I manipulated the colander from one side to the next, trying to get all the drainage out of the grains. Then brought to boil for one hour with the hops, and the remainder of hops at flameout. Then cooled in the sink to just shy of 70 degrees, and added almost a half gallon (or more) of water (at 70-F) to bring the wort up to the one gallon mark on the jug.

 

Where did I go wrong? Again, I forgot to stir the wort and added water before taking the specific gravity reading, but when pouring in the extra water, it stirred things up pretty well and there were some bubbles, as if the wort and water were mixed ok. Upon pitching the yeast is when it occurred to me that maybe the OG reading was low because I didn't stir the wort well enough before taking the reading. Well, I pitched the yeast, put the cap on, covered the hole with my thumb, and shook things up pretty good. But by then the yeast was in there and I didn't feel like taking a reading again.

 

The color of this wort is sort of a light greyish green, with some brown tones, but not brown like my MRB American Lager wort. Weird. Smelled like grains and hops when I was cooking it though!

 

Anyway, it's done. We'll see what happens. When mixing up the Star San, I think I accidently grabbed the bottle of Stabil fuel stabilizer off the shelf for sanitization. I hope that didn't have anything to do with the weird color and low OG.

I'm going to laugh at the fuel stabilizer possibilities.

Blow off tube or airlock, doesn matter. They serve they same purpose by keeping additional outside contaminantion. After the first few days of fermentation temperature isn't as critical as keeping your jug in the dark to avoid skunking the hops. Rickbeer has many educational comments on that subject.

From my quick skimming through this and without opening a calculator my guess is your grains didn't finish. 60 minutes for conversion is just a rule of thumb. Next time try 90. 

As for foaming Starsan, LOL, if they've used Starsan they've done exactly as you did. Live and learn.

When I demonstrate for a curious newbie, I give them tastes of the mash water. You can actually taste the sugars as the starch is converting. My nephew commented once how it tasted like oatmeal until it was close to full conversion. 

Let her go the full duration. If you don't brew drinkable beer at least you got to practice the processes. 

Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew (and a few more of those Sam Adams).

 

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I would say that you didn't really have enough grains for the recipe, even with good efficiency you would have been in the 1.030 range. They didn't have the correct crush or because you put them in a sack also contributed to the mash being inefficient. 

 

It will not be a potent beer but it will at least give you a start in the processes for all grain. 

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9 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I weighed the provided grains at just under 1.5 pounds - 23.6 ounces or something. I called it a pound and a half.

that's not enough grain in my opinion. I know that you want to use your 1 gal fermenter, and that's great. The time that you are investing, you could come up with a 2 gal batch and ferment in your LBK. that's what i would do.

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Since it was a kit, with crappy instructions, let's forget for the moment that it wasn't enough grain.  There is a tremendous learning point here for you.  You spent time determining your boil off rate, and figuring out sparge volumes, and using a calculator to figure out how much liquid would be in your pot prior to boiling to come to the right amount of liquid to fill your fermenter.  Then, you added a half gallon of water, or more, to fill the fermenter.  That is your major learning point.  You should have had to add nothing, or virtually nothing.  You basically watered down your beer.

 

A second point to learn from is what's a mash.  A mash is sitting the grains in the right temp water for an hour.  Not stirring constantly.  Every time you stirred, with the lid off, you lowered the temperature.  You should be mashing in a pot with the lid on, and the flame off, and stirring at most every 15 minutes.  

 

Spend some time reading about BIAB.  Go to http://www.thescrewybrewer.com/2010/09/qbrew-homebrewers-recipe-calculator.html and download QBrew and the update file and learn how to use it.  

 

Brewing is about learning.  None of us did a successful all grain batch the first time.  Or the second.  

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This morning I woke up to trub. The little jug is cooking along at about 65-F to 68-F with some nice activity on top and a layer of trub on the bottom. I would not have expected that so early.

 

Thanks to all for the encouragement. And thanks RickBeer (et al) - you're right, every step was a learning process to prepare for the next time. A lot was learned that I didn't realize was being learned (now that's deep. or dumb).

 

And something else Rick hit on makes me guess maybe I found the problem. I have a 3-gallon SS pot. And a thick-tubed thermometer (nobody near me had a standard  long-stem thermometer I could hang on the rim). So with some wire, I suspended this thermometer in the mash, off to one side, but anyway the thermometer is taller than the kettle. So the lid..... well the lid doesn't sit well in this case.

 

OK, so I didn't put the lid on. I basically stayed there in the kitchen fussing over this mash moving the pot on and off the burner to keep it in the proper temperature range. Now, as you read this, understand that this is hard thing for me to admit I did, let alone admit in front of many. But I did that - I fussed over the mash and didn't cover it. That, coupled with my adding water, is probably why my OG was (is) so low. I might as well have used Stabil.

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The water diluted the mash by 50%...

 

I use a 5 gallon pot, with about 3.5 gallons of water in most mashes.  Heat water to strike temp, add grain, stir well.  Cover, put in pre-heated oven (170 is lowest setting), turn oven off just before putting pot in.  Every 15 minutes open oven, pull out pot, remove lid and stir, take temp.  Usually 151 - 153.  If 151, turn on oven, put covered pot back in.  As temp hits around 160 turn it off again.  Repeat every 15.  Done.

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4 hours ago, D Kristof said:

I'm going to laugh at the fuel stabilizer possibilities.

Blow off tube or airlock, doesn matter. They serve they same purpose by keeping additional outside contaminantion. After the first few days of fermentation temperature isn't as critical as keeping your jug in the dark to avoid skunking the hops. Rickbeer has many educational comments on that subject.

From my quick skimming through this and without opening a calculator my guess is your grains didn't finish. 60 minutes for conversion is just a rule of thumb. Next time try 90. 

As for foaming Starsan, LOL, if they've used Starsan they've done exactly as you did. Live and learn.

When I demonstrate for a curious newbie, I give them tastes of the mash water. You can actually taste the sugars as the starch is converting. My nephew commented once how it tasted like oatmeal until it was close to full conversion. 

Let her go the full duration. If you don't brew drinkable beer at least you got to practice the processes. 

Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew (and a few more of those Sam Adams).

 

 

Seconded.  And if nothing else you'll have a good liquid in which to boil bratwurst.  :D

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4 hours ago, D Kristof said:

<.......>

As for foaming Starsan, LOL, if they've used Starsan they've done exactly as you did. Live and learn.

When I demonstrate for a curious newbie, I give them tastes of the mash water. You can actually taste the sugars as the starch is converting. My nephew commented once how it tasted like oatmeal until it was close to full conversion. 

Let her go the full duration. If you don't brew drinkable beer at least you got to practice the processes. 

Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew (and a few more of those Sam Adams).

 

What I ended up doing with the StarSan is probably what everyone does. It hit me...."this foam's NOT subsiding, but I'm not going to use it from this water jug anyway". So I poured the jug into a large mixing bowl that I have been using for sanitizing on my MRB batches, let as much of the foam drain out as possible, added water to reach a gallon, and stirred. Problem solved.

Thanks for the encouragement, D Kristof.

 

Also, RE: StarSan, I filled a (sanitized) spray bottle more than half full for the odd necessity to spray a long handle or whatever. I have read some threads in sub-forums about how long it will last in the bottle, but can't recall now. Soon I'm going to brew one of my new arrivals (Voodoo) in a new LBK, so maybe it'll still be effective then. If not, I'll just leave it in there until then, and replace it with the Star San mix.

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19 hours ago, StretchNM said:

What I ended up doing with the StarSan is probably what everyone does. It hit me...."this foam's NOT subsiding, but I'm not going to use it from this water jug anyway". So I poured the jug into a large mixing bowl that I have been using for sanitizing on my MRB batches, let as much of the foam drain out as possible, added water to reach a gallon, and stirred. Problem solved.

I mix my StarSan in distilled water.  I buy it at the grocery store and add StarSan to the jug of water and mix, no need to pour out some of it and mix then add more water to get your gallon.  If you use distilled water and keep the jug or spray bottle sealed, it is good until it starts to get cloudy.  This can be several months or more depending on how much you brew.

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Thanks BDawg62, I'll use distilled water next time, but I have to note something about my procedures with the foam: When I poured the sanitizer water from my 1-gallon jug into the large bowl I use to sanitize utensils, I didn't throw the remaining foam out. I let as much as possible drain into the bowl. Then I used that same plastic water jug and filled it several times with small amounts of water to bring my mixture in the bowl up to about my one gallon mark. The reason I did that was, of course, to extract as much of the foam as possible, since I believed the foam contained (or retained) a portion of the Star San I used for mixing (1/4 ounce for that water jug). I have read and seen videos several times where people (and even Star San, I think) will say "Don't fear the foam". So..... I was fearless. Ok, Ok, I was scared, but I did not fear.

 

But I've been thinking about 2 things:

1) RickBeer, Why does my addition of water cut my wort by 50%? Especially when all I did was add 70-F water to the small amount of wort in order to make it to the required 1 gallon(?). I didn't add more than what was required.

I mean, we add water with MRB brews. We add the wort to 1 cold gallon and then even add more if the wort doesn't reach the 2nd mark on the LBK. Also, I've watched this fellow (CraigTube) where he makes an all or partial grain wort, adds it to his large fermentation bucket, then adds cold water to reach five gallons (he stirs well of course).

 

2) Why do we strive to keep the fermenting wort at around 65-F (+or-)? (I do understand that different styles of beer call for different temperatures). BUT!......The MRB instructions (almost all) say to put the LBK in a dark location about 65-F to 75-F? They are not speaking about ferment temperature, they're are talking about the ambient temperature, at least by their instructions they are. SO IF I were to allow an ambient temperature to reach 75-F, yet the fermenting wort is cooking along now reaching say + 80-F, shouldn't they change their instructions?

My first brewed batch (American Lager) turned out with a "sour" aftertaste. NOT a sour taste..... a sour aftertaste. Yet, based on recommendations from the brewmaster of a nearby micro-brewery, I kept my ambient temperatures in the 61-F to 65-F range at all times. And my little stick-on temperature guage was always in the checkmarked (correct temp) position. So I'm confused about this whole temperature thing. I'm not confused about fermentation temperatures needing to be in a certain range for the type of beer and yeast used, rather, I'm confused as to why the instructions seem to lead us astray regarding ambient v. ferment temperatures.

 

Just trying to figure it out........

 

Thank You

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I don't think they're trying to mislead or deceive. They're following the KISS principle. The keg is designed to be filled, closed, and left closed. If they mentioned air temperature and fermentation temperature newbies would be constantly removing the lid increasing the risk of infection. If you keep your keg in a room with a lower ambient air temperature, your wort will warm during peak fermentation but not enough to stray from the yeast's preferred temperature range. As newbies progress to intermediate level brewers they're (hopefully) more relaxed and confident about their brewing. It's also when they begin purchasing hydrometers, refractometers, specialty grains, kettles...

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I agree, D Kristof, I don't see any attempt at deception. But again, if wort temps above 70-F can cause off flavors, then it seems the instructions would tell you to keep ambient air temperature below 68 or 65 or so. One of my first call to customer service, Tim F warned me about ferment temps rising above ambient temps and being careful to avoid off-flavors.

 

They should just change instructions to say "Put your LBK in a dark, cool place with ambient air temperatures between 60-F and 65-F (as an example) and don't take the flippin lid off. In fact, just go away for three weeks."

 

I got lucky before my first brewing when at a pet store. I was looking for some type of heater to put in my camping cooler because the ambient air temps in there were barely reaching 60-F and MRB instructions said 65-75, I think (or 68-72, I don't know now). Anyway, the guy working there says his roommate is brewmaster up in a mountain resort area uphill from my town. So he calls him and hands me the phone. The guy told me those ambient air temperatures in the instructions were way too high for any lager or really, almost any beer.

 

ON EDIT: When you think about instructions, it doesn't really cost any more to give more guidance and background. Heck, another page (separate from the current brewing instructions) informing the reader of ambient temps versus wort temps, what happens when oxygen is introduced into the LBK after fermentation begins, etc etc, it would make better brewers and less failures, and thereby, better customers.

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Stretch,

 

They keep the instructions simple because they want newbies to brew year around.  There are few if any places in the majority of households with a dark place that has ambient temperatures around 60-f in the middle of July.  That is why you need some way of keeping your brew cold and if that were in the instructions, the majority of newbies would say it is too expensive to deal with brewing this kit.  Thus either never brewing or returning it to where it was purchased.  In either case, MRB would not receive any future sales from that customer.  Remember that most MRB kits are given as gifts and the so the actual brewer is not actually out any money if he never brews it or fails at brewing it. The fallout rate of new brewers is high already and further complicating the instructions would raise the rate even more (wow, I sound like @RickBeer)  There is only a small percentage of people who brew these kits that ever join the forum and work to improve their first bad brew.  Congratulations to you for doing this, you will in time become a better brewer because you are here and asking the tough questions.

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23 hours ago, BDawg62 said:

Stretch,

 

They keep the instructions simple because they want newbies to brew year around.  There are few if any places in the majority of households with a dark place that has ambient temperatures around 60-f in the middle of July.  That is why you need some way of keeping your brew cold and if that were in the instructions, the majority of newbies would say it is too expensive to deal with brewing this kit.  Thus either never brewing or returning it to where it was purchased.  In either case, MRB would not receive any future sales from that customer.  Remember that most MRB kits are given as gifts and the so the actual brewer is not actually out any money if he never brews it or fails at brewing it. The fallout rate of new brewers is high already and further complicating the instructions would raise the rate even more (wow, I sound like @RickBeer There is only a small percentage of people who brew these kits that ever join the forum and work to improve their first bad brew.  Congratulations to you for doing this, you will in time become a better brewer because you are here and asking the tough questions.

 

You say it like that's a bad thing?   😀

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I truly do not know where to put this question. I'm guessing that when a member makes a post that includes another member's name (i.e. @Shrike, or @RickBeer, etc.), that those members get a message that they've been mentioned in a thread.

 

How can I do that in a post? I tried to do it once the way I did above in parenthesis, but it just included it as normal text in my post. In the other posts I've seen, it seems to place a colored box around the mentioned member's name.

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