Late to the game here, but I've just finished my first all-grain batch on my new HERMS system. The beer is a generic "festbier" ordered from a company in Germany that I won't be ordering from any more - bad quality. 10 pounds of a grain they didn't bother to identify, and a generic "yeast" packet. Lots learned from this brew, for sure. Namely:
First lesson: Mise en place is very important! The above mentioned yeast packet was nowhere to be found when I started racking to my primary. I had some (probably wayyyy expired) liquid yeast (the kind that comes in a plastic bag where the yeast and food are in two separate plastic baggies inside, and you have to punch it to get them to mix together), so I used that.
First question: Beer yeast isn't supposed to smell like bread yeast, right? It's been a while since I last brewed and I can't remember.
Second lesson: garden hoses in Europe (and the US too, I guess? Been a while since I used one) now come with checkvalves on the ends of the hose so they don't output any water unless there's a nozzle attached. I hooked up my counterflow chiller to the house's water supply (high pressure) and coupled it to the garden hose with some 1/2" vinyl high-temperature (UNREINFORCED) tubing. I turned the water on full and looked down to check for leaks, and I say to myself, "Hey, I don't remember putting PVC piping in here... Oh, wait a second, that's not right... Oh, s*** I better turn off the *BOOM*. Water everywhere but thankfully not in anything already sanitized. I went upstairs to change my shoes, pants and socks (this is why they have no-pants brewing I guess?) and came back and put the nozzle on.
Second question: I know temperatures vary for sparging depending on the type of beer you're going for, but does 30 min @ 50 deg c/30 min @ 67-70 deg c/30 min sound about right, with a mash out at 77 deg c?
Third question: I didn't have a hopback or anything to filter the hop particulate from going into my counterflow chiller (and my March 809), so there almost certainly were hops that got into the lines. 1. Is this a problem? I ran high-pressure water through everything this morning and it's running clean now, but I don't want to have burned out the motor. 2. As I was running the wort through the chiller, it was barely streaming. The pump wasn't used at the time, so I switched out the lines and had it run through the pump after the chiller to get things pumping a bit better. This helped, but what was weird was how the wort was coming out. There'd be no wort for a while, and then the whole system would go "WhummMMMM" and a big squirt of wort would pass through. Is this because of the hops in the chiller, or because I really really need to put the pump between the boiler and the chiller, as opposed to boiler -> chiller -> pump?
Fourth question: Got everything done, finally, and pitched my questionable yeast. This morning I got up to check for fermentation and there's nothing going on. How long do I wait before I assume it's a dead batch?
Thanks guys - hope you all had a better go of it than I did, but then again I learned a LOT!