Author Topic: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.  (Read 3166 times)

Offline netsteel

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Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« on: March 14, 2012, 11:42:41 AM »
I'm brand new to brewing and am very excited to be here. I love beer. I started sampling different styles as soon as I was old enough to drink. I was disappointed with the big names in commercial brewing (BMC) and found that smaller craft breweries had more of what I liked. They had flavor and complexity. That was what I wanted. I wasn't looking to get drunk, I wanted something truly enjoyable to drink.
So now here I am many years later. Woot.com had a special on a Mr. Beer kit. I checked into it, but it seemed to be way too mass-produced to create something really memorable. I passed on it. A few weeks later, as I was channel surfing I came across an episode of "Good Eats" on the cooking channel on brewing at home. This was more like what I was looking for. I started searching the web for more information on homebrewing and among other things found this forum. I have been reading nonstop ever since.
I bought my starter kit last month and brewed up my very first batch. I had a lot of fun with the process. It kind of gave me the "Mad Scientist" vibe. If the end results turn out decent enough I think I'll be doing quite a bit more.

OK, so with my introduction out of the way, on to my experience as a first-time brewer:
I sampled a bottle yesterday. The recipe was for a pale ale, as recommended by my local homebrew shop. They seemed really knowledgeable and helpful. Their website even had videos of a beginner going through the same recipe to help keep me going.
I fermented for 9 days, bottled, and let it sit for 7. Yesterday morning I threw one in the fridge before work so that I could see how things were going. I know it should sit longer, but had read that a lot of brewers sample along the way so I figured "why not?". I had waited an eternity already...
The color looked good, if a bit hazy. It had carbonation, but not a lot for head. the taste was mostly just bitter. It lingered a bit too long and probably masked other flavors that might be present but it's hard to tell. It was drinkable and I finished it, but it was definitely a bit too bitter for my taste.

My big question is whether or not I can expect the bitterness to mellow out as it ages? Could it be from the hops? I only used 1/2oz warrior hops pellets for bittering with another 1/2oz the last 5 minutes for aroma. I have seen recipes using several ounces over the course of the boil, so it seemed to be a minimal amount.

I'll post my brewing notes below to detail the process I took. After reading more I already see a few things that I should have done differently, so those will hopefully help the next batch (which is already in the fermenter).

I look forward to your input and participating here on the forum. I think I may have found my new home...

---Brew day notes---
First time Pale Ale: Brewed 2-26-2012

2-25-2012
Purchased the Signature "First Brew" beginners brewing kit from Brewers Connection
Came with ingredients for "First Born Pale Ale" and instructions

2-26-2012
My very first "Brew Day"!
"first born pale ale", instructions and ingredients from Brewers Connection
6lb muntons light dry malt extract
1oz warrior hop pellets
1/2lb carapils grains
1/2lb crystal 60L grains
1tsp Irish moss
1 pkg safAle US-05 brewer's yeast

Filled fermenter with iodophor solution, put all tools in solution
Boil 2.5 gal water for brewing, 3 gal to top off wort
At 160*, kill heat, added grain bag to steep for 25 min, kept heat between 155-160
Drained and discarded bag (had a little trouble getting the bag out of the water)
Added 6lb light dry malt extract, stirred in thoroughly
Brought to boil
Right at boil, killed heat, added 1/2 oz hop pellets, stirred in
Raised heat to low rolling boil
Boil for 50 min stirring occasionally
Add 1/2oz hop pellets, 1tsp Irish moss
Boil 5 min
Kill heat
transfer iodophor solution from fermenter to bottling bucket, moved tools
Chill worth using ice bath (only had 1 bag of ice which disappeared quickly)
Move to fermenter, strained
Add preboiled water to 5gal level
Put fermenter in Ice/water bath to 80*  (ran out of ice. Ran water to keep things moving, took what seemed like way too long to cool, maybe 45 minutes to an hour) ~note - 80* recommended pitch temp by LHBS
Pitch yeast
Close lid
Aerate for 5min (set on floor and shake like crazy.)
Add airlock

Gravity measurement 1.054

Notes: Started around 1pm or so, finished just after 5pm. Took a while to get water boiled. May look further into using ice to top off wort after boil finishes, rather than pre-boiled water. Or pre-boil a day early and cool ahead of time. Did my best to keep everything sanitary. Dipped my hands in Sanitizer every time I handled bucket.

3-6-2012
Bottling day
Fermented for 9 days
Soaked all bottles overnight in iodophor solution. Stripped old labels off, scrubbed glue and placed in bottom rack of dishwasher. Ran DW with no soap, high heat, sanitizing cycle.
Collected all equipment, filled bottling bucket with iodophor solution, soaked all equipment in bucket.
Boiled 2/3 cup water for 5 min, added 5oz dextrose. Water had boiled down so dextrose wouldn't fully dissolve, added a bit more water,dissolved, brought back to boil for 1 min.
Drained bottling bucket, saved some solution for equipment.
Placed bucket on floor, fermenter on counter. Added dextrose solution to bucket. Connected hose to auto siphon, transferred beer to bottling bucket.
Move bottling bucket to counter, move hose to bucket spout and bottling wand.
Opened dishwasher, pulled out tray Fill bottles one at a time, 12 per run
Capped 12, repeated until all were done. found the wing capper easy to use

Filled 47 and a half bottles. Sacrificed 1/2 to beer gods
Need to shorten hose for bottling.

Final Gravity 1.011

Notes: Took about 2 hours start to finish, including cleanup. Cleanup was involved, but worth the effort. Sampled, flat and warm but definitely beer! A bit overly bitter. Will reexamine when conditioned and cold. Need to learn more about hopping and hops role in bittering. Probably more malt too. Wing capper was easy to use.

3-13-2012
Sample day
Put a bottle in the fridge before work. Was eager to try when I got home. color was a nice amber, carbonation was light but present, and didn't dissipate before glass was empty. Not much head. Smell was nice, not strong but present. Taste: Definitely Ale, but still seems too bitter. The bitterness lasts and overpowers any other flavors that may be present. Will sample again this weekend (3 more days) but may have to let it sit longer to help bitterness mellow.
Peace, Love, Beer!

Offline VinS

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 11:57:57 AM »
80 deg is high mid 60s is better. Did you lightly stir beer into sugar solution, You might find some bottles more carbed and taste slightly different. Let beer sit sometimes days or a couple of weeks help. Most important ask lots of ? and brew again.
" There is no such thing as a bad beer. It's that some taste better than others." Billy Carter

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 11:58:49 AM »
It's probably a bit green yet and will mellow out in a couple more weeks.  If you served it really cold, that will accentuate the bitterness of the beer too.

Give it another week (or two) to finish carbonating and let it warm a bit closer to 45* before you taste it.  It will change a lot over a couple of weeks.

Keep yourself busy by making your second and third batches.   ;)

Paul
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 12:06:40 PM »
Welcome to the obsession

first things first, get your next batch started ASAP. This one will disappear all to quickly.

your procedure looks good for the most part. a couple notes

the instructions to pitch at 80* should... if you will excuse the pun... be pitched. Try to chill down to the low to mid 60s before pitching. and try to keep the temp there throughout fermentation. There are a lot of ways to control the ferm temp which you can explore at length here on the forum.

don't automatically expect fermentation to be done in a particular number of days. I think your fine on this one 1.011 sounds like a reasonable FG given the recipe.

The bitterness will fade given time however the flavour and aroma will also fade and with a beer of this stature it may not really be at it's best by the time the bitterness is where you want it. However as the carbonation gets up to a higher level some of the bitterness will... fade is the wrong word but mellow might work. This is a perception thing more than anything else.

It is possible that the bitterness is exactly where the designer of the kit intended it and your tastes don't match with their tastes. No worries just try some other styles. pale ale is a good starting point because as you see it's pretty simple. But if you don't like the level of bitterness you could try an amber or brown ale which tend to be less hoppy. You can try adding less hops at the begining of the boil and more at the end to get more aroma and less bitterness.

generally hops added in the first 30 minutes of the boil will lend almost entirely bitterness with little or no flavour or aroma, hops added around 30 minutes will add some bitterness and some flavour but little or no aroma, and hops added in the last 15 minutes will add flavour and aroma but little bitterness. That being said many people perceive hop flavour as bitter because they 'know' that hops are bitter.

well a long answer to a long question. let us know if there are more!!
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline garc_mall

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2012, 12:07:56 PM »
So,

Others on this forum are WAY more experienced than I, so if they give opposite advice, take theirs over mine.

Couple of things I noticed:

1) Never pitch at 80. Most people on this forum recommend pitching at 60, and then letting it rise naturally to 62-65 for fermenting, and no one recommends letting it get over 70 for the first few days of fermenting. That temperature will give you some serious esters and fusel alcohols, which could be part of the issues you are tasting, but I wouldn't describe it as bitter.

2) Over-bittering. The biggest thing I think that may have caused it to be over bittered for your taste, is that you took a long time cooling your wort. If I remember right, above 170* F, Alpha acids (bittering compounds) will still be isomerized and dissolved in wort. If it took as long as you are saying, that may have been your issue. However, in most of my pale ales and IPAs, I use a minimum of 2-3 oz of hops, and if I am looking at something really hoppy, most people are looking at 6-10 oz for a 5 gallon batch. In my Honey Brown Porter (Not a hoppy or bitter beer, only about 34 IBU) I use a full oz of Magnum for the full 60min boil.

3) My recommendation is to go buy How to Brew by John Palmer and/or The complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian. Both of these will give you an overview of how beer works, and a lot of the basic science behind it. It should help you understand your beer a bit better, and help you with more pointed questions for the forum.

4) Keep drinking beer and asking questions, we are always happy to help new people into the obsession.
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 12:08:33 PM »
Nothing against your LHBS, but pitching at 80F is terrible advice.  Pitch in the 60s for sure.

Definitely pre-boil your top up water and let it cool overnight, and if you put it in the fridge it will help further drop the temp of the wort when you're done chilling it.

Re: the bitterness, it will age out somewhat but you won't want to wait that long.  Drink it and share it with friends, it will be gone before you know it.

Hops vary wildly in their ability to bitter a beer - warrior hops are high alpha acid hops, so using 1/2 ounce of those will get you more bitterness than using an ounce of something like goldings.  I'm not a fan of warrior as an aroma hop either.  :-\

I would check and see what other kits your LHBS has and see if there is something that might suit your tastes better.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline denny

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 12:15:38 PM »
Since you bottled after 9 days, part pf the bitterness you're experiencing could be yeast that's still in suspension.  On your next batch, leave it in the fermenter for 2-3 weeks.  That will promote a cleaner beer.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline a10t2

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2012, 12:16:46 PM »
Could it have been pre-hopped extract? Even with a high-alpha hop like Warrior, 0.5 oz in a 5 gal batch yields ~20 IBU. I don't see that coming across as too bitter unless it was on top of some bitterness already in the extract.

Like Tom said, Warrior is an unconventional choice for a late hop addition. Could you be mistaking bitterness for an overly harsh hop flavor?
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Offline dannyjed

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2012, 01:53:07 PM »
Since you bottled after 9 days, part pf the bitterness you're experiencing could be yeast that's still in suspension.  On your next batch, leave it in the fermenter for 2-3 weeks.  That will promote a cleaner beer.
+1000 patience in this area will reward you with better beer.  Even if the gravity doesn't drop after 9 days, the yeast are still doing some clean up work. 
Dan Chisholm

Offline netsteel

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2012, 02:10:05 PM »
Thanks, guys. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting as I get the hang of things. I'll probably just wait until next weekend to drink this one and hope the next one turns out better. I have read so much that I find myself dreaming about it.
My next batch is a red ale, brewed on Sunday. I pitched at 60(cooled much more quickly) and used an ounce of Kent Golding for bittering and an ounce of fuggles for aroma. I'm watching the fermenting temps much closer as well. I plan on leaving this one in the fermenter for 2 weeks before bottling, with 2 weeks conditioning before i hope to drink it (family in town). I have a good feeling about this one.
I didn't stir in the priming sugar, but relied on the position of the racking tube to lightly swirl as i transferred. Il stir next time. I'm not sure how to tell the difference between hop flavor and general bitterness. Hopefully something that will come with time. I really want to learn all about flavor variations in malts, grains, hops, and yeasts. I don't need a life...I have beer!
My next problem is collecting enough bottles to keep brewing while these have time to age. Where to keep them all?  ;D
Peace, Love, Beer!

Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2012, 02:55:22 PM »
My next problem is collecting enough bottles to keep brewing while these have time to age. Where to keep them all?  ;D

If you have a Costco membership or know someone with one they sell their own craft beer, 4 different 6 packs for $18. I bought those, drank them, then removed the labels. The beer is pretty good, especially for less than $1 per beer.

Intra cervisiam est deus.

Offline garc_mall

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2012, 04:11:50 PM »
My next problem is collecting enough bottles to keep brewing while these have time to age. Where to keep them all?  ;D

If you have a Costco membership or know someone with one they sell their own craft beer, 4 different 6 packs for $18. I bought those, drank them, then removed the labels. The beer is pretty good, especially for less than $1 per beer.

Another idea is to go to a local specialty beer shop which serves on-premises. Tell them you are a homebrewer, and ask them if you can take some bottles off of their hands. I have gotten bottles and boxes more than a few times this way.

Dumpster diving can also work, if you are in an area where lots of craft brew is consumed.
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 12:12:53 AM »
If you go scavenging bottles make sure they are pry off bottles and not twist off.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline theoman

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 12:56:25 AM »
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but in my experience patience is almost as important as sanitation and recipe. 9 days is pretty quick, but should be ok for that beer. As for bottling, 7 days is waaay too soon. I say 3 weeks minimum, but 4 weeks is when the beer can really be considered "finished." Give it time.

Offline euge

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Re: Just tasted my very first brew. Could use some thoughts.
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 01:43:58 AM »
Haha I just tried a fresh Hefe 1.5 days in the bottle. Not quite there... :o

Quite an impressive intro- usually we have to pry critical info out of neophyte brewers. Young beer is often quite bitter. Partially from yeast but primarily from the freshness and yes, hop bitterness fades- as much as 50% in half a year's time.

Welcome to homebrewing.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman