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
Purchased the Signature "First Brew" beginners brewing kit from Brewers Connection
Came with ingredients for "First Born Pale Ale" and instructions
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
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
Aerate for 5min (set on floor and shake like crazy.)
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.
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.
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.