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New brew success!

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david58:
Noobie here, just opened the second bottle of Ale that went into bottles 12 days ago.  I am amazed - I actually made something that worked.  Worried, too - the bottle at 7 days old was only drinkable, this tonite was downright good.  Looking forward to seeing what it's like as it ages.

Made Williams Triple Hop, but used yeast from my homebrew store since the yeast with the Williams came all puffed up when it arrived.

Was amazed at how it tolerated my mis-measurement:  I fermented less than 5 gal, so when I racked to the secondary I topped it off with boiled and cooled water. 

Bottle conditioned, and not only does it pfftt when I pop the top, it pours with a beautiful, creamy head. 

My friend who sold me the equipment never bottled, always kegged, but I went ahead and did 22oz bottles (I have a source for them at $5 a case). 

Brewed an amber ale yesterday, have it fermenting in the bathtub now (just in case of blowout, it is kinda warm...).

All this leads me to questions:


* Should I expect the beer to continue to get better as it sits in the bottles?
Is the creamy head (unusual for most pub ales hereabouts) a result of bottle conditioning?
What is this "off taste" I have been warned about from using extract?
If I need to top off after racking, do I have to boil and cool some water, or can I just use bottled water?

This is fun - already!  And my wife is interested in helping now, and as soon as her training period at work is over and she's working regular-like, she wants to brew, too!

Thanks for your answers in advance!

*

a10t2:
OK, I'll try and take these as directly as I can. Suffice it to say that you've touched on some complex and subtle issues and a little more research will do you well. I wrote up a basic primer (here) that I'm not pimping so much for the process itself as the number of links to other resources. In particular, John Palmer's How to Brew is indispensable. The first edition is online, but showing its age. Do yourself a favor and buy the book, now in the third edition.


--- Quote from: david58 on July 12, 2010, 09:05:46 PM ---Should I expect the beer to continue to get better as it sits in the bottles?
--- End quote ---

This will depend to some extent on the beer, but most average gravity (~5% ABV) beers will be best after something like a month or two in the bottles. The darker/heavier the beer, the more time it can handle.


--- Quote from: david58 on July 12, 2010, 09:05:46 PM ---Is the creamy head (unusual for most pub ales hereabouts) a result of bottle conditioning?
--- End quote ---

Not necessarily, but I'm assuming you used the ingredients that came with the kit. Those generally include 5 oz (~142 g) of priming sugar, which is a little more than I like for the average ale. A carbonation calculator (like this one) can help you figure out exactly how much you need.


--- Quote from: david58 on July 12, 2010, 09:05:46 PM ---What is this "off taste" I have been warned about from using extract?
--- End quote ---

Don't worry about it. There was a time when it was difficult to get high quality, fresh extract. That time was the 1970s. Anything you buy from a reputable retailer will be top-notch.


--- Quote from: david58 on July 12, 2010, 09:05:46 PM ---If I need to top off after racking, do I have to boil and cool some water, or can I just use bottled water?
--- End quote ---

I would recommend adding the water immediately before pitching the yeast, rather than after fermentation. Ideally, you want to pre-boil and cool the water. Even freeze it a couple days ahead of time, since it will help you chill your wort before pitching, which you want to do a few degrees below your fermentation temperature. (That means getting the wort down to about 64°F for most ales, and keeping it there.) Bottled water is *probably* fine, but to be absolutely sure you aren't introducing contaminants, you need to boil it.


--- Quote from: david58 on July 12, 2010, 09:05:46 PM ---This is fun - already!  And my wife is interested in helping now, and as soon as her training period at work is over and she's working regular-like, she wants to brew, too!
--- End quote ---

Sounds like you have a keeper. I can't count how many brewers I know who brew to "get away from the wife".

theoman:
Congrats! See, it's easy, huh?

I mostly agree with the the above reply, but not entirely with the extract bit. I wouldn't call it an off-flavor, but there is a certain flavor that often exists in extract beers. I didn't really realize it until I went all-grain. That said, I've had (and brewed) some damn good extract beers. One of the best barley wines I've ever had was an extract brew. If you have a good supplier with good, fresh extract, you'll be fine.

euge:
Sounds like you're in it already. Fresh beer is fantastic. Simple guidelines: Temperature, sanitation and then ingredients.  Welcome to the obsession...

madscientist:
Yay, a fellow Newbie.

I just bottled my first beer (Amber Ale) last night.  It was hazy, but I guess that should clear up in the bottles.  Chekced my gravity just before bottling, and it was right on 1.010.  So far so good.  Now I need to have some patience, because dammit, I want to drink it! 

Next up for me will be a Wit or a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone.     

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