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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: Herminator on December 03, 2012, 06:01:32 PM

Title: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 03, 2012, 06:01:32 PM
So this weekend it happened...I got to try the beer from my first batch.  I am a little indifferent about it...because of the following reasons.

1. It is an Irish Red which came with the kit.  I am not a huge Irish Red fan as it reminds me of Killians Irish Red.
2. It reminds me of Killians Irish Red. ha.
3. It was a little lower on carbonation which isn't a huge deal but was expecting a little more head.  I can pour the beer straight up and down and I get the desired 1-1.5 inches of head. 
4. It smells a little like old beer (you know the smell when you walk into a place that just smells like beer is on the floor).
5. It really is lacking some complexity.  A little sweet at the finish. It is super easy to drink ( I can drink one down in about 2 minutes) and my wife said "it is a little watery".  Thanks for the thumbs up is what I said.
6.  I wasn't able to get a good rolling boil (did it on my stove with a 15 gallon SS megapot) so my wort might have not been the greatest.
7. Super low visible fermentation activity (2 days of active signs) and then it was done.
8. No sediment at the bottom of the bottles like I was expecting, which is fine with me but was expecting the sediment.
9. FG was 1.01

The good...
1. It was my first homebrew and I am super excited to get started on the next one. 
2. I think I have learned tons since my first brew day which will help with my process (i.e. boiling, hops, etc.).
3. It is not bad and can easily get through the 2 cases.
4. AHA forum was a huge help to me and I thank you all.

So, overall not a bad brew but by far not my favorite. Practice will help me and I am excited to brew the next batch.

Thanks for letting me share.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: weithman5 on December 03, 2012, 06:05:59 PM
good job
it sounds like the head showed up, but didn't stay?  i add about a tablespoon of wheat per gallon and sometimes this helps without changing the flavor.  but without much yeast sediment maybe not fully carbonated

that old smell/taste, i usually equate with oxygenation but otherwise sounds like things went okay, congrats
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: neemox on December 03, 2012, 06:08:09 PM
What was your OG? It sounds like maybe we didn't quite get enough sugar in there to start with (thin, watery, and an FG that is SUPER low for an ale yeast.)

But congrats on your first beer!!!!  Sounds like you've already learned a lesson that I struggled with starting out,... "Regardless of what happens, you will make beer"
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: morticaixavier on December 03, 2012, 06:11:55 PM
congrats! enjoy it and get started on that next batch.

1.010 is not to low for a lightish ale.

+1 on oxidation if it tastes/smells like slightly stale beer.

Give it a little more time at room temp to carb up the rest of the way, this should take care of the slightly sweet, the lack of sediment and possibly the watery impression as proper carbonation makes a huge difference in the perception and mouthfeel of a small beer.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 03, 2012, 06:15:40 PM
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

My OG was 1044 which was spot on for my kit.

I have to figure out the oxidation situation.  I don't want to ruin batches due to this problem. 

I am hoping some more time to carb will help.  It has been carbing for 2 weeks at room temp (65 degrees). 

Cheers to progress on the next batch!  I'm thinking of an IPA.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: gsandel on December 03, 2012, 06:18:50 PM
Now that you've had one....pay attention to them over time.  If you bottle conditioned and tried it after 2-3 weeks, it may not be fully carbonated (depending on temperature).  this might account for the sweetness as well....1.010 should be nicely fermented (depending where you started, but an Irish Red should have started in the 1.040s-50s).  I also noted in my experience that a nice creamy head tends to develop after 4-6 weeks after bottling and as long as there isn't oxidation the flavor complexity improves...so you might be surprised in a few weeks as the character changes.

Good luck trying to save them from yourself.

I think you answered your own questions about what to do next time.....find a way to actually boil as much wort as you can.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: morticaixavier on December 03, 2012, 06:19:56 PM
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

My OG was 1044 which was spot on for my kit.

I have to figure out the oxidation situation.  I don't want to ruin batches due to this problem. 

I am hoping some more time to carb will help.  It has been carbing for 2 weeks at room temp (65 degrees). 

Cheers to progress on the next batch!  I'm thinking of an IPA.

give us a rundown on your process and we can maybe pinpoint any oxidation points. If you are doing extract batches the OG should pretty much always be spot on with what the kit says.

How much sugar did you use to prime? did you make sure it was well mixed with the beer before bottling? if so, how did you ensure mixing? That's a tricky moment because you want the sugar thouroghly mixed in to avoid variable carbonation levels in the bottles but you also want to be very gentle with the beer to avoid oxidiation.
Title: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: denny on December 03, 2012, 06:35:01 PM
Id it was LME, it's possible the extract was already oxidized and it didn't happen during the process.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 03, 2012, 06:36:05 PM
Here is the rundown of the process.

Steeped the grains for the indicated time (30 minutes)
Got the water up to a small boil (as I couldn't get it up to a rolling boil) and put in the extract.
Added the hops at the indicated intervals
Boiled for 60 minutes and then cooled it in an ice bath.  Super slow and for sure need to get a chiller.
Racked it into a 6 gallon carboy and pitched the yeast.
Swirled and rocked it to get the yeast going. 

After about 24 hours started to see fermentation activity but it only lasted about 2 days and then the krausen sunk back down. 
Sat in the primary for 2 weeks.
Racked it into the secondary, trying to avoid splashing and sealed it up.  Sat in the secondary for 2 weeks and clarity greatly improved.

Bottling day.  Sanitized all my equipment and bottles. 
Mixed up the priming solution.  The kit came with priming sugar but did not indicate what kind of sugar it was.  The instructions indicated 2/3 cup in 16oz of water for corn sugar or 5/8 cup in 16oz of water for table sugar.
The sugar was rather fine and made the assumption of 2/3 in 16oz.  It had roughly another 1/4 -1/3 of a cup left in the bag.  But I figured I would follow the instructions rather than use all the priming sugar it came with.

Boiled the sugar and water and let it cool.   

Added the priming solution to the bottling bucket then racked from the secondary to the bucket.  Mixed it with my auto siphon.  Trying to avoid splashing but tried to ensure mixture with some figure 8 motions.

Then bottling.  A little more difficult at the beginning with some spilling but got significantly better after a few bottles. Filled 24 bottles then capped.  Filled the other 24 and capped.

Sat at room temp for 2 weeks. 

That is a rough rundown.  Any suggestions or thoughts are helpful. 
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 03, 2012, 06:55:41 PM
Skip the secondary, as it is generally unnecessary.

Two days to ferment a smallish beer is not out of the ordinary.

Even at room temp, I'd give it more than two weeks to carb up fully.

Although I never did so, it's better practice to weigh your priming sugar than to go by volume.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Vin S on December 03, 2012, 07:18:38 PM
Try to get the temp up to 68 or 70 for bottle conditioning. Take 2 bottles and move to a warmer area let sit a few days and see if notice a difference between one sitting at 65 and one sitting at 68-70. Good luck and start your second batch already. :)
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: morticaixavier on December 03, 2012, 07:44:17 PM
Id it was LME, it's possible the extract was already oxidized and it didn't happen during the process.

This...

Or
[...]Racked it into the secondary, trying to avoid splashing and sealed it up.  Sat in the secondary for 2 weeks and clarity greatly improved.

[...]

this

could well account for the stale taste.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 03, 2012, 08:29:14 PM
hmmmmmm.  Well I have read that secondary really just helps with clarity and being a noob, I was worried about the brew sitting on the yeast cake for super long. 

So, I transferred to the secondary because that is what the directions called for.  I am hopefully going to be working my way into all grain soon but want to get the process under my belt first.  Figured a few (maybe 5) more extract brews and then make the leap.

Thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts.  Next brew day is in the planning stages....thinking of going with an extra hoppy IPA.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: thebigbaker on December 03, 2012, 08:37:32 PM
Congrats on your first brew!  Yours turned out better than mine, that's for sure.  My first brew got too hot during fermentation and I also racked to a secondary just because the instructions w/ the kit said so.  After getting advice from everyone on this great board, I haven't transferred to a secondary since.  Not saying there's not a time or place to do so, but so far I haven't needed to.  I even let a winter warmer sit on the yeast cake for two months and it tastes great!  As for clarity, usually my first few pulls off the keg will be a little "hazy", but after that, they start to really clear up.  Good luck w/ the IPA and let us know how it turns out!
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: corkybstewart on December 03, 2012, 11:33:09 PM
hmmmmmm.  Well I have read that secondary really just helps with clarity and being a noob, I was worried about the brew sitting on the yeast cake for super long. 
Conventional wisdom has changed in the last 5 or 6 years concerning secondary and autolysis.  When I started brewing everybody followed a silly  1-2-3 rule:1 week in primary, 2 weeks in secondary, 3 weeks in the bottle.  Now 2 or 3 weeks in primary and no secondary is considered normal for most beers in most circumstances.  Remember that it isn't the secondary that clears the beer, it's time and gravity, and they both work as well in your primary vessel.  There's also less oxidation and risk of infection if you skip the secondary. I've left beer in primary for up to 6 weeks before I had a chance to keg it, it was still delicious.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: poobah58 on December 03, 2012, 11:44:55 PM
Look at it this way, it's sometime painful when your cherry gets popped!  ;D
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: neemox on December 04, 2012, 07:07:31 AM
1.010 is not to low for a lightish ale.

Ahh, yup, my brain put another Zero in there.

Does anyone have any idea how much oxidation can play a role based on headspace? I know I want to limit headspace in a secondary, but If it's not mixing, how much headspace is too much?
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: morticaixavier on December 04, 2012, 03:44:08 PM
1.010 is not to low for a lightish ale.

Ahh, yup, my brain put another Zero in there.

Does anyone have any idea how much oxidation can play a role based on headspace? I know I want to limit headspace in a secondary, but If it's not mixing, how much headspace is too much?

I.d skip secondary all together unless you have a good reason to do it (adding fruit, possibly dry hopping if you want to use the yeast again, REALLY long bulk aging like months and months at room temp) The smaller the beer the less ideal a secondary is really. A nice light ale is going to be completely ruined by a little oxidation while a big barley wine can actually improve with a little oxidation. That being said I think it's about surface area. so fill your carboy up to the neck and there is less beer/air contact so less oxidation.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: garc_mall on December 04, 2012, 04:15:00 PM
1.010 is not to low for a lightish ale.

Ahh, yup, my brain put another Zero in there.

Does anyone have any idea how much oxidation can play a role based on headspace? I know I want to limit headspace in a secondary, but If it's not mixing, how much headspace is too much?

I.d skip secondary all together unless you have a good reason to do it (adding fruit, possibly dry hopping if you want to use the yeast again, REALLY long bulk aging like months and months at room temp) The smaller the beer the less ideal a secondary is really. A nice light ale is going to be completely ruined by a little oxidation while a big barley wine can actually improve with a little oxidation. That being said I think it's about surface area. so fill your carboy up to the neck and there is less beer/air contact so less oxidation.

This.

I used secondary on my first two batches just so I could clear carboys (1wk primary, 1 wk secondary, 2 wks bottles) so I had enough beer to get me started. now that I brew once every 2-3 weeks, I don't use secondary unless it is spending at least 6 months bulk aging (like my 1.085 Scotch Ale)
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 04, 2012, 06:42:04 PM
Well,they say you learn something new everyday....so I'm calling it a day and going home.  No idea about the general feeling of secondary racking.  Really interesting. 

So my general question is this.  If I was going to do an IPA with some dry hopping with pellets.  Would it be smart to rack into a secondary and then dry hop or dry hop in the primary after about 2 weeks?  Maybe leaving them in for about a week?

Just curious when it would be good to rack to a secondary if the general consensus is bigger beers (i.e. barley wines, Scottish ales, etc.)

Thanks again for the great feedback. 
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: morticaixavier on December 04, 2012, 06:45:36 PM
Well,they say you learn something new everyday....so I'm calling it a day and going home.  No idea about the general feeling of secondary racking.  Really interesting. 

So my general question is this.  If I was going to do an IPA with some dry hopping with pellets.  Would it be smart to rack into a secondary and then dry hop or dry hop in the primary after about 2 weeks?  Maybe leaving them in for about a week?

Just curious when it would be good to rack to a secondary if the general consensus is bigger beers (i.e. barley wines, Scottish ales, etc.)

Thanks again for the great feedback.

If I was doing an IPA and I did not want to re-use the yeast, I would dry hop in primary after the bulk of fermentation is complete. I would have said for about 1 week but after reading this thread
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14077.0 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14077.0) I might alter that advice. But I haven't finished reading the article so maybe not yet.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 04, 2012, 06:47:59 PM
I haven't racked to a secondary in a couple of years.  For any beer, regardless of strength.

Mine typically sit in the primary for around four weeks before kegging.

I don't dry hop often, but the last time I did so in the keg.  I also have been adding oak chips, bourbon, etc. to the keg rather than the fermenter.  Of course, if you don't keg that's useless info.

Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 04, 2012, 06:54:31 PM
Yeah..I don't keg, yet.

I just opened up that article and Wow!  Looks like I may have some reading to do, but man it is long and I am going to need a lot of beer to get through it.

Thanks for the suggestions and feedback.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: bigchicken on December 04, 2012, 07:04:26 PM
Out of curiosity, what brand of kit did you buy? I've noticed kits from Brewer's Best often come out thin, but kits from places like Northern Brewer are much improved.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 04, 2012, 07:34:52 PM
The kit was from Northern Brewer - Irish Red.  Has awesome reviews and it was a kit that came with my brewing kit.  I think my process probably had negative results on the final product.  Seems like everyone else that has reviewed it really likes the kit.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: thirsty on December 07, 2012, 01:23:14 AM
I always had good luck with the NB kits too. Really good stuff. And just to say it again: skip the secondary.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: euge on December 07, 2012, 02:02:01 AM
Damn. I was hoping for reports of hallucinations. And maybe a night spent in the pokey. :(
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 07, 2012, 04:47:02 PM
hahaha...no hallucinations but after each one there is a desire for a better beer. 

I attended my homebrew club meeting last night and brought a few bottles trying to get an idea of what may be wrong with the brew.  Here is some of the feedback I received...

1. Grains.  Someone asked if it was extract or all grain.  Extract.  Right away they asked if it had specialty grains.  I said yes.  The following question was...Did you wait 3 weeks to brew this kit?  With a surprised but ashamed look on my face, I said...yes.  They indicated they could tell that it was missing something and that if I would have brewed upon receiving the kit, I would have had a totally different beer.

2.  Oxidation.  This was split.  Some indicated a slight taste of oxidation and some didn't say anything. 

3. Boil.  A few people asked about the boil and I said I couldn't get a good vigorous boil.  They said that would have also changed things significantly.  I am working on getting a real burner. 

Just wanted to share some of the feedback I received. 

Thanks for all of your suggestions and feedback.  You provided a lot of the same feedback that people who actually tasted the beer did.   Which means....you can virtually drink beer which is rather impressive and cool. 
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: garc_mall on December 07, 2012, 05:04:33 PM
That is the benefit of this forum, there are so many years of experience on here that we can usually troubleshoot problems just by bouncing information off of each other. I know it has been very helpful for me as a new homebrewer.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: alcaponejunior on December 10, 2012, 03:52:56 PM
stuff

Well I'm no expert, but my mom thinks I am.  ;D

Things I noticed in this thread so far...

1. wort chiller.  You know you want one, we know you're probably about to get one.  8)

2. bottling day... do you have a bottling wand?  they work wonders and I can't see how anyone could bottle without one (unless they have that fancy bottling gun thingie, but the wand is fine).

3. fermentation on my beers is usually begun within 24 hours and mostly stopped after 72, so this is normal.  I generally make ales in the 1.050-1.065 OG range, so this might not apply if you do something heavier.

4. get a gram scale and weigh your sugar.  I got one from amazon, I think it was about 12 bucks.  Since doing it this way, I've been right where I want to be carbonation wise almost every time. 

5. I personally fill each bottle till it just barely reaches the top or overflows slightly, then remove bottling wand.  this gives the right amount of headspace every time.  I cap every bottle immediately, but I don't know that this is a major issue for you.

6. obviously you need more heat so you can get a full rolling boil. 

7. I would just skip the secondary.  Unless you're doing something big like a RIS or barleywine, these kit beers and extract ales of average strength just don't need a secondary.  I would recommend at least two weeks on primary, but still skip the secondary. 

8. no need for secondary for dry hopping either.  For clarity, you can use a sanitized nylon paint strainer bag weighed down with something stainless steel, or some marbles.  Make sure everything is sanitized (except the hops, which won't hurt the beer).  I often toss the dry hops in anywhere from 3-7 days before I plan to bottle.  Any comments on optimal dry hopping anyone?  This always works well for me though.

9. Clarity is over-rated.  However, you can get pretty good clarity by using paint strainer bags for the hops (in boil, dry hopping), using a sanitized paint strainer bag over the end of your auto-siphon when you rack to the bottling bucket, and by using Irish moss.  I toss in some Irish moss to every boil too (about a quarter tsp).  The tub isn't that expensive and it lasts forever because you don't use much. 

10. I honestly don't think that brewing your kit three weeks earlier would have made any difference at all unless you just had horrid storage conditions. 

my 2c.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: EHall on December 10, 2012, 04:08:09 PM
I think you should let it age/carb more before you keep drinking it. 2 weeks is not enough time. give it at least another 4 weeks and you'll find it tastes better.
Title: Re: Well...I drank my first homebrew
Post by: Herminator on December 11, 2012, 07:10:32 PM
Thanks for the replies and feedback.  Much appreciated.