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Njaim last won the day on July 31 2018

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  1. I've been drinking beer I've brewed, so please humor me. Or ignore me. Either way. There isn't a question, just some observations (and anecdotes) as someone that's been brewing for less than a year and on a relatively small budget. I'm on my sixth batch of beer (all Mr. Beer extracts). I've done some experiments in meads and wines and a cider too, but essentially I just started beer #6 (and have ingredients for #7). Batch #6 is a Churchill Nut Brown Ale. I plan to add vanilla and cold-brew coffee to half of it just for fun. I'm not the hugest Brown Ale fan, but it was on sale last month. My first two batches had a lot of issues. The first one was undrinkable (an "American Lager"). I let it age for over 8 months and it never got better. I was slowly dumping a few out at a time (after tasting and gagging) to use the bottles, and finally gave up on it entirely. I've since bought a bottle capper and started saving my commercial beer bottles. The second batch was a Bavarian Weissbier where I wanted to add some hops in hopes of adding some citrus flavors... but I boiled the hops in water by themselves before adding the HME to the cooled hop-water, and it turns out "hop tea" beer isn't the best method. It tasted very tart at first. It was drinkable but not especially good. It got slightly better with age, but it never really stood out as tasty. I did drink them all eventually except for one, which I'm keeping just to see how it ages. My third batch was the Long Play IPA done straight up with only adding two booster packs for a higher ABV. I figured it may as well be strong since I'm not the hugest IPA fan (I'll do them, but not my first pick), but it came with the kit for my second little brown keg at a great Black Friday price. I brewed shortly after (beginning of December). My temperature control was pretty much spot on. I let it carbonate for two weeks, condition for an additional two. They were decent then. Since then, I've drank all of them but two of the 740ml bottles until about 3 months ago, when I finally bottled batch #5. Batch #4 ("Horses Ass Ale") decided to leak out into my fridge the night before bottling while I was cold crashing. The LBK (my first one) that I used for this had given me headaches with the spigot prior to both the brews I started in it, and then (for whatever reason) finally gave out, so at this point I just let it go and decided to not use it again. I bought a 3-gallon Fermonster carboy to replace it and plan to use it for batch #7. Batch #5 was another Bavarian Weissbier, with a Golden LME added. I've tasted it after many stages in aging, and it's been "decent" but has something of a "twang" (what I assume is the "extract twang" people speak of on these forums. A little dash of salt on top before drinking seems to help, but it may be in my head). ANYWAY.... I needed to free up space in the closest I'm using as my "brew area." Between all my one gallon carboys and extras for mead/wine, I needed just a little more room. Among the things sitting around, I had two of the Long Play IPAs (batch #3, bottled at the end of January) left as part of the things I wanted to clear out. I put them in the fridge for about 5 days. Today I planned to go out (and drink some tasty Hefes), but my girlfriend is on a new diet/exercise plan (not a "craze" diet thankfully) and wanted me to help her food prep since I'm always the one to man the cast iron skillet for chicken. So I decided to drink these instead. After conditioning (even in relatively high heat given I live in California) for about six months, these IPAs might be the best thing I've brewed! With age, they've become somehow more mellow and tasty than I even expected, especially for an IPA. The high ABV is a bonus. All of a sudden, I regret drinking all but two of them so soon. But these two were hands down the best thing I've tasted from my own beer brewing experience. Since they were in the fridge already... I also drank a couple from batch #5 (the Bavarian Weissbier, which has only been bottled a month), and again, it's pretty decent, but has a "twang" to it. The point being: giving my brews time to "mature" always seems to pay off. Though I understand that many IPAs (and wheats) are supposed to be good to go when they're still pretty "green," it seems that the mellowing that time brings really helps them stand out as pretty decent brews despite my lack of experience. This hobby is teaching me to SLOW IT DOWN. And being from the age of instant gratification, I really love it for that. And I love it because, well, I get to drink beer. I'm very excited to see how batches #6 and #7 turns out after being allowed to condition (with even better temperature control!) Thanks for humoring me.
  2. Either way, there's no really good reason it should have leaked after being fine for 3 weeks not propped up. It was also fine the first two days of cold crashing while propped up and apparently gave out the third day. I'd planned not to cold crash the next one, but I probably will. No reason to live in fear.
  3. It seemed to me that it leaked from the top of the seal rubber and not the spigot itself. I was able to give the keg clearance from the door. I'm not sure if the seal broke when it was propped or what. The amount left in it was over the seal and spigot line a little bit. I was pretty frustrated and just chucked the thing instead of trying to find out what really happened. The seal on this LBK has been troublesome since day 1. The plastic wasn't really flush, and I had to sand it down to fix it. Could have become compromised once propped. Maybe the cold had something to do with it. The quality of this LBK left something to be desired for sure. My other LBK is darker and the cuts are cleaner and more flush on the plastic. I'm likely to switch to less troublesome fermenting vessels. Just need to raise the funds for carboys, a cooler bag, and more ingredients. In the meantime, I still have the other LBK and my trusty cooler.
  4. Thanks D Kristof... I would pour out my drink in memory of the HAA, but then I'd really have nothing left!
  5. I did 2 tsp table sugar in 740ml pet bottles last time I bottled and none have exploded on me but a few of the lids looked a little bulged out. I should probably check my beer closet right now for explosions...
  6. Tldr: thank you all. I have done alright with temperature control since this major fluctuation. But had major beer loss during cold crash. But my previous batch came out great. Long version: Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I've been using the cooler method since my second batch, and other than this one major fluctuation, I've been able to keep the temperatures in normal ranges changing out only one frozen water bottle per day in each cooler. I was going to bottle my Horses Ass Ale Monday morning, and I cold crashed my LBK in the fridge for 3 days with it slightly propped up as the suggestions go. I was away all day yesterday and came home to my vegetable drawer full of flat, delicious smelling beer. Apparently the LBK leaked on day 3. It didn't leak for the 3 weeks it fermented at all. Very sad day. I am only lucky it did get caught mostly in the drawer or the mess I had to clean at midnight would have been so much worse. What was left in the LBK was almost two 740ml bottles worth of the trubbiest bit of the beer. I went ahead and bottled and added sugar for carbonation. I tasted a very small sample and it showed great promise. Very sad indeed. I decided to retire this LBK (as it was a huge pain for both batches with the spigot being difficult to seal perfectly after cleaning and sanitizing) and start looking into different vessels for future beer making. Ideally something on the smaller sides as I'm not ready for 5 gallon batch sizes yet and don't know how I'll do temperature control outside of my coolers. If my other LBK (has a Weissbier kit going) doesn't leak, I may continue using it for at least one more batch. But I'm deathly afraid to cold crash it now and may just try to do so in the cooler itself and no propping. As a positive, the Long Play IPA (batch #2) that conditioned for a month is pretty damn tasty. My first real success followed immediately by the loss of so much time and the ingredients/cost for the Horse's Ass Ale. Rambling aside, I do feel my process is getting tighter with many thanks to the advice on this page.
  7. Thank you everyone for your input. I also use the bottle and a cooler method, but I'm not always able to be home within the 12-15 hours a bottle melts or cools down (depending on time of year). Can't really afford anything nicer. It was day 8, hence my concern. I assume it was mostly fermented by then, but who knows. Guess all I can do is wait and see anyway! But still your response makes me feel less nervous.
  8. Batch #3: Weissbier Deluxe (so Weissbier + Golden DME, no other additions) Batch #4: Horse's Ass Ale (followed recipe, only differences is I added half a cup of honey and a booster) I'm currently brewing my 3rd and 4th batches of Mr Beer (in the LBK) and a gallon of simple mead. They've been fermenting for about a week now (and about 4 weeks on the mead, which I plan to rack to a secondary carboy soon). Seems Sacramento decided to get rather warm the last couple days. I watched my two LBKs yesterday and they maintained the 65-68 degrees or so they've been at for most of the process with no problems. I couldn't stay home today to watch, but immediately checked when I did get home to find they shot up to around 72-76 degrees on the beers and a whopping 82 on the mead (which isn't stored in a cooler but rather just a glass carboy in a bucket with some ice bags around it as needed). I know it's best to keep temperatures pretty consistent, but should I expect this sudden spike to cause me any major problems with off flavors or fusel alcohols? Everything I read about fluctuations seems to talk about the first few days of fermentation being the most impact, since the majority of fermentation happens then, but I'm still nervous. Any advice on how to maintain cooler temperatures longer when you can't afford (or find room) for a fridge+temp controller or similar setup? I have stints where I leave for the weekend quite often. I can try the swamp cooler idea (cool water + towel + fan), but I'm uncertain this will retain low enough temperatures.
  9. I didn't boil the HME. I knew that much, and probably should have done the 5 minutes of research about not boiling hops on their own. I did simply create hop tea and add HME once it cooled. Looks like I learned by experimenting because my curiosity and go for it attitude got the best of me. Luckily, it's not THAT horrible (though I'm not eager to share it with anyone), as I like strong flavors, but hop tea infused weissbier wasn't really the goal. Haha! Definitely would have been better without it, I'm sure. I'm curious to see if it will change much with more conditioning time, but I have my doubts. I suppose the sour/tart is from the hop tea. I think you're right that it wasn't infected, as there wasn't anything to suggest that is the case. I actually think it probably would have come out perfectly after all my close monitoring of temperature and cleanliness had I just went straight HME like everyone always suggests you do for the first few batches. Again, as usual, my curiosity got the better of me. I have a Long Play IPA HME that came with one of my LBK kits, so I'll just do that one straight or dry hop at the end of fermentation as you've suggested. From there, I'm planning a batch of mead at the same time, but will probably not use one of my two LBKs for that. I am very interested in starting another weiss with your suggestions here, as I tend to like wheats. I'm two batches in and both went south somewhere, but I'm not discouraged! Thanks so much for your insight!
  10. My first attempt at brewing left a lot to be desired. The American Lager fame out horrendous, though I have been letting a few bottles age out of curiosity, and the last one I tasted was slightly better than I remember, but still seems off. My second batch I controlled the temperature much better during fermentation, was extra clean. I used a standard Weissbier refill and boiled 1 ounce of Cascade hops for 5 minutes before adding the HME to make the wort, hoping for a slight citrusy touch from the hops (they were given to me, didn't want to waste them). Bottle conditioned for 4 weeks, and just tried my first bottle. It's drinkable, has a slight molasses smell, and a little bit of sourness to it. Not flavored that much like a wheat. Is that sourness normal? Did something sneak into my brew despite my extreme attempts at sanitation. Will it condition out more? Thing is I'm a fan of sours, lambics, gosse. Even recently returned from a trip to Europe where I tried some great beers in Belgium. Doesn't stack to those flavors at all, but I'm not particularly put off by a bit of sour. I'll let it age awhile more before trying another bottle. Time will tell. I wonder though if something did sneak in, does that mean my LBK might be difficult to use for standard recipes now? I read that when you brew sours intentionally, it's best to not reuse the gear for standard recipes? Either way. At least it's drinkable this time. Next up is a Long Play IPA, and I plan to do it straight with no additions.
  11. Thank you again Rick and everyone for your input and friendliness. I've been hesitant about my second batch, but finally pulled the trigger today since I can be home for the first few days to monitor temperatures. I've opted to use a stick on thermometer on the LBK placed inside a cooler. I have a stash of bottles in hopes that I can control the temperature. Still quite cold here, but with any luck, I can add warm water bottles to the cooler if it cools too much or cold water bottles to the cooler if it heats up too much. My first batch is still conditioning, though the cold probably means it hasn't really changed much if at all. Leaving it until Spring or Summer before I even bother with it again. Before I know it, California heat will coming in. It seemed to go much smoother this time around from start to finish! Excited to hopefully have much better results this go around. Have one more can of HME on hand and now I own two LBKs, so maybe I'll do that one shortly.
  12. Been awhile now, and tried my beer again just out of curiosity. Didn't taste much, if any, better, but the temperature in the house may not be ideal either. Gonna leave this batch alone for several months and move on to a new one. Can't get worse! Haha. Picked up a second full kit real cheap, so might even try two at once. I am worried about temperatures. Getting cooler lately and our home doesn't really get heated and likes to stay cold. Bought a couple stick on thermometers to watch it, waiting on those to get started, but not totally sure how I'd warm the lbk if it's too cold for good fermenting. Might be fine, though, seeing as the wort usually warmer than ambient temperature if I understand correctly. Thank you all again for the warm welcome and information and encouragements. Lots to learn still!
  13. Thank you all so much for the well wishes and input. I admit, I felt like my questions were pretty dumb, but you've all been super nice, and I really appreciate the welcoming attitude at these forums! This seems like a great community to crack a beer open with! Despite not being that impressed with initial results, I'm definitely not discouraged from continuing. I love beer, and I believe I could get pretty good at brewing with some time and building my knowledge. Per your suggestions, I will age it much longer, at least two weeks before I crack open another bottle, and then likely much longer after that for the last 10 bottles. I'll just have to get more bottles for my next batch! Is there a shelf life I should be aware of while storing in a dark closet? It will remain fairly cold through the winter as we don't have HVAC in our apartment and it's a 100-year-old building, and it is completely dark. Does it make sense to move to a fridge if it gets over 70 degrees? Very excited to start in this hobby!
  14. Yes, I definitely pitched the included yeast, and it was obvious that it was having a reaction during the first few days of fermentation (after that point, I put it out of my mind and left it to do it's thing). I tasted the wort, which I had added the booster into prior to the boil, so it was definitely sweeter than it is now. That much is true, but the smell/taste was similar still. Seemed like it to me, but of course I'm saying that with tasting quite a bit apart. Not great flavor whatsoever, but the LME wasn't expired, and I only had it sitting around a few days before brewing. I suppose it could have been stored poorly prior to receiving it (I bought it on Groupon, so who knows how it was handled before I received)? I was expecting more of a PBR, but it's really nothing like that at all. Has a rather strong flavor to it in my opinion. I understand conditioning should go longer. I'll definitely give it the benefit of the doubt and let the rest condition a couple more weeks and refrigerate a few days before trying it again. Too eager, for sure. I bought a Bavarian Weissbeer LME and may do some additions, so looking forward to the next batch. Thank you for your input!
  15. Got my first kit, and it came with American Lager LME and a booster. I noticed that the wort didn't smell all that great when I was preparing it. Figured it would change as it fermented, maybe LME just smells bad. I let it ferment for 2 weeks, but it didn't seem ready. Taste was exactly the same as the smell (not very good). Waited another week before bottling, and then let it condition for 2 weeks. Planning to let the rest condition longer, but figured I may as well try one out to see if carbonation worked (it did) and if the taste was any different. It wasn't. it tasted almost exactly the same way it smelled when preparing and during my first test. The smell/taste is almost a little on the umomi end... like a beef boullin or something? I suppose my questions are this: 1. What is the American Lager LME really supposed to taste/smell like really? I was expecting something akin to Sam Adams, maybe more like PBR or another cheaper beer. I'm no beer snob, but this stuff is hard to drink with any amount of pleasure. Not flat out undrinkable, but I'd rather just drink a PBR. 2. Should the LME/wort smell the same way the final product would smell/taste? Thanks for any input.
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