I bought a BrewCraft dry hopped West Coast IPA kit the other day and brewed it the day after. On the counter beside my cauldron I had a bowl of water + star san solution I would place my utensils in when I wasn't using them. When I needed one again I would pick them up out of the solution, give it a quick shake, and put it in the wort for stirring or taking temperature.
The questions I have at this point are: Will the solution covered utensils cause off flavors in my beer?
Also, the recipe called for 6lbs of DME + 1lb of Brewer's Crystals. I stirred in the first 3lbs of DME after I brought the water with specialty grains up to 160°F. I stirred out the clumps and brought the wort to a boil, boiled that for 45 minutes. With 36 minutes left in the boil, however, I had a boil over while in the bathroom sanitizing my fermenter. I took the necessary steps to stop the boil over and let the wort continue boiling for the remaining 36 minutes.
Question: Is a boil over a big deal, or is it just a hazard of the brewing process?
After the boil was complete I added the remaining 3lbs of DME and 1lb brewers crystal. This was a lot of sugar to add and clumps started forming rapidly. I stirred pushed them under the water surface to get them out. I then felt a lot of sugar gathering on the bottom of the pot and sanitized a spatula quickly to began scraping at the bottom. On the spatula was a clump of nearly transparent sugar, it was not burnt, but I chose to discard it rather than add it back in. I was able to get everything off the bottom and mixed everything in. I know nothing was burnt because when I poured my wort into the fermenter nothing was black or burnt on the bottom of my cauldron. As a side-note, I always add the sugars to the water with the cauldron off the burner to avoid scorching. However, the wort was over 200°F after the 45 minutes boil and I use a pot (cauldron because I'm brewing love potions) I bought from Walmart so I know it's not the highest quality.
When everything was said and done I moved the hot cauldron into the sink for a bath in cold water. I had to drain and add cold water every other minute at the beginning because the heat would cause the water to warm up almost instantly. When the wort wouldn't go below 120° I gently poured it into my sanitized fermenter with 2 gallons of filtered room temperature water in it. This brought the wort down to 90°. At this point I had been waiting for over two hours for my wort to chill below 80° and it was past 1am. I decided to put the air-seal lid and air lock on it and leave it outside to chill overnight. In the morning it was a little below 80° so I pitched my yeast and sealed it again.
I also took an OG reading of my wort and NAILED the recommended reading of 1.069 on the nose!
I kept playing with my air lock, though, because it had star san in it which was causing the water to bubble. It was really frustrating me. I ended up taking it out, washing it with filtered water, and reinserting it again. Then I began adding and deducting water from it with a medicine dropper to get it just right. I didn't do it perfectly because right now, over 48 hours after I pitched my yeast there are bubbles in my airlock. At this point I know fermentation is happening because the airlock is "bursting" every two seconds.
Also, ants seem to have found the fermenter. There were drops of wort that turned into sugar-rich stains on the outside of the bucket. I don't want to spray it with ant spray out of fear of poisoning my beer. What do I do? Today the ants seem to have disappeared...
Sidenote: I bought my beginners brew kit and pale ale kit approximately two months ago. The pale ale kit was about $55 and I bottled 48 bottles of beer. A savings of about $20 compared to buying 8 of my favorite 6-pack. This West Coast IPA kit, however, was $62+tax. The savings there isn't very substantial.
Sidenote to the sidenote: I did buy a 22ounce bottle of a local brewed IPA for over $6. The savings there would make home brewing a money saver.
Wondering if partial mash brewing would increase my savings?
The guy at the local homebrew shop talked me out of doing a partial mash for this IPA. He asked if I thought I could make better sugars out of the grains than the companies who make the DME, obviously no. This is only my second batch of brew. Now I am thinking if I did go for a partial mash next batch would I save by buying some grains rather than using all extract.
Regarding the dry hopping stage for my IPA; I saved 1 oz of cascade hops for dry hopping. I plan on waiting a week after I pitched my yeast when the fermentation has died down to add the dry hops. I do not have a secondary fermenter so I plan on sanitizing the hop bag, adding the hops, and tossing it in the fermenter. Have never done it before and don't know any other way to do it.