First Brew is complete. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t suck.


It took us way too long (4 hours start to finish) – but we got it done. Five gallons of amber liquid are safely tucked away in their fermenter with a bunch of happy yeast. In about a month, we should have bottles of hoppy Pale Ale.

Steeping the grains for pale ale.

Steeping the grains. Waiting…and waiting…and waiting for boil.

The night’s challenges:

1. Boiling water. We recognize that it may seem totally stupid that this is an issue, but it was. Using a 20 quart stainless steel stock pot, we brought about 3.5 gallons to a boil. It took forever – 45 minutes.  Some of this could be my gas range, but a little reading on the subject suggests that this is pretty common when using standard kitchen stoves. Next time, we’re going to use a stand-alone propane burner that Keith can steal from his mother-in-law.

2. How much is five gallons?  We siphoned the wort out of the brew kettle into our glass carboy. Then we were supposed to add clean water until it reached 5 gallons. Except we didn’t know how high five gallons was on he carboy. Yeah, yeah – it’s a five gallon carboy, so does that mean fill it all the way to the top, mostly to the top, etc?  Anyway, we poured the beer into a sanitized 6.5 gallon bucket that had measurement marks on the side, added the water, then siphoned it back into the carboy. Problem solved. Remember – we’re english majors, not math or physics majors. This was a high point.

3. Stupid hydrometer readings. When measuring the specific gravity of your beer, you use an instrument called a hydrometer. According to the book, you’re supposed to remove beer from the carboy (for sanitation purposes) and then measure the specific gravity of the beer. Then you throw the beer away (or drink it if it’s near being done).  Here’s the deal – you need a TON of beer to measure it if you don’t have the right kind of container to put the beer in.  The hydrometer is tall, so the container you are using has to be at least that tall, too. The closes thing I had was a flower vase, which would have meant I needed about two pints of beer in order for the hydrometer to float correctly. Instead, we just didn’t take a measurement. Probably a major faux pas, but I wasn’t about to waste that much beer. I bought a tube today that is designed for just this purpose. I’ll take a measurement tonight.

Cheers,

Steve

Tasting the Wort

Michael stopped by to lend moral support. He tasted the wort and declared “Tastes like Grape Nuts!” True, true.

Keith stirs the wort.

We have wort! Keith works the paddle. The entire house smelled like a brewery.

Siphoning the ale into the carboy.

Siphoning. This also took a while. We’ll try a funnel next time.

Serious action going on today with last night's batch of pale ale.

Serious action going on today with last night’s batch of pale ale.

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5 Comments

Filed under Getting Started, Making Beer

5 responses to “First Brew is complete. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t suck.

  1. Don’t worry about the hydrometer reading, doing an extract brew, your fermentable sugars are pretty solid so it should be very close to the recipe. Good luck, and enjoy!

  2. Oh! You may want to put a blow-off tube into a bucket of sanitizer, or you risk an overflow that could be… Messy. Also little hint, when you bottle- put them into a rubbermaid container JUUUUST in case you have bottle bombs. Those, also messy.

    • One of the guys at the homebrew store told us we shouldn’t have to worry about the blow-off tube as long as we have the fermentation lock on there. Sounds like we are playing with fire here…

      • The fermentation lock can get clogged, especially in the first few days of Vigorous fermentation. So- blowoff tube for a few days, then switch to an airlock. Your ceiling will thank you.

        To make a blowoff tube, I use the same drilled stopper, insert a plastic or brass barb, then hook up a hose. Easy Peasy, and definitely cheap insurance from a pissed off SWMBO (she who must be obeyed)

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