Author Topic: New Brewer on a budget  (Read 4751 times)

hyrdr

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New Brewer on a budget
« on: October 29, 2009, 12:04:34 AM »
My son was on his third beer and was sharing his bottled homebrews. Not too bad but not really inspiring enough to make me get started. It seemed like a lot of work without enough reward with cleaning all the bottles and refilling. Si I was at a friends home on day this spring and he said he was brewing to and poured me a glass of sweetmalty hoppy foamy beer that made my eye's open to the possibilities...  The major difference was he was kegging into a cornny keg and pushing with c02. This got my attention. Problem is my latest sales were slow and the budget was very very low.  But I went to Northern Brewers and bought a kit anyway knowing I could Find a Keg to put it in...somehow. I figured I would be able to brew it at my son,s and such.  Well months later he was unable to get it brewing and in the meantime my friend kept talking about all of the tech parts of it. Fortunately for me he is a commercial refer guy with some accounts and some parts for kegging just fell in his lap, which he passed to me. I bought the necessary lines and connectors and next thing I know eh had a set of gages and a full c02 tank in my garage. I find a small freezer on Craig's list and figured to control the temp with a walk in cooler temp control. (it fell of the back of his truck). It was used and I had to wire it in and mount the thing but it worked after some adjustment. By this time I cooked the kit in a 30 gal pot he bought from northern and in the meantime he made a wort chiller. All in a month.
I brewed the Bavarian Hefe and bought a 5 gal plastic bottle from a water bottling truck. Stopper and airlock in hand the mad scientist goes to work.

My first beer...MY FIRST BEER I dump in a extra cup of brown sugar and bought both the liquid yeast and a dry pac. (no idea what I am doing) just seems like a good idea since I know the byproduct.  For the next three weeks this concoction bubbled steady and I'm wondering when's it gonna stop. I find another Brew supply shop and start asking questions and he says "please just let it go".

He turns me on to Palmers book. I had already found the on-line version but this I could take with me and also let my friend read it some. (he was only on his third brew). Still on a low budget I am well on my way. I learn about all the sanitizing and do all my brewing in my garage and cleaning in the shower in the lower level. I rack the hefe and proceed to learn about carbonating.. the hard way.
After losing most of the beer to foam from over carbonating I git it about right one night constantly sampling to see the results. Results was I got really hammered and could not swallow the foam down.  You had to be there to understand but I am still laughing. Had to purge the foam to get to bed that night.

I quickly bought another kit. A pilsner mix and a 6 gallon ferminting bucket. On my credit card and proceeded to brew another batch (since I mostly drank up the Hefe) and got it ferminting. Everyone who sampled the Hefe loved it. This was another learning experience kegging. I left the tank on it at about 35 lbs over night and somehow the beer escaped into the bottom of the cooler. About a half a gallon or so. More reading. Back to northern brewers and bought a kit called "tongue splitter" . 2 ounces of cascade, one oz of glacier, one of nugget and one of liberty all at different times. I steeped the specialty grains in too hot a pot (I learned later) and this is still in a keg. Ya know there's hops in this one. I needed something to offset it so I bought a Octoberfest that fermented in the bucket for a week and I transferred it to the plastic 5 gallon bottle for a week. It cleared and I racked it today into a second Corney keg I picked up for $23.00. In the mean time I was working on building a Lauder tun on a budget. Found a clean cooler as a estate sale for $4.00. Bought a valve, poked a hole in the cooler and attached some SS screen to a fitting on the inside. My buddie had just brewed his second all grain in his home made tun. He chose to siphon it with copper tubing filter he made. It's all his fault ya know. Bad influence. He bought a 55lb bag of 2row and put 8 lbs in a plastic pale for me.  Here's where things get sticky.
I used a lb of crystal 60, a lb of Munich. I lautered them separately and left the grains in the cooler bottom. Dumped in the 2row and sparged with 165 degree water. Keep in mind I have taken in a lot of information and don't have it all straight yet. That's why I am here.
I have done a lot of reading today here and decided to share this little experience.
My water is township well about 60ppm hardness. The water had some iron in it because of the line purging that had just been don done in the neighborhood so I boiled it good before dumping it in the tun @ about 165f. I had already sparged the specialty grains and the cooler was still warm as well as the grain. the 2row was probably about 65f and after adding the water I took a mash temp of about 145. It seemed to be too low so I had another 2 qrts added at about 165. I let it sit for about 45 minutes and drained it into the pot. It tasted very sweet and good. I batch sparged a second time @ 65f to fill up to about 24 quaarts in the pot. I was a lot clearer this time.
The work was nice and foamy. I forgot to take a OG at this time. I boiled it added a oz of leaf cascade for a 60 minute boil and two oz'z of Northern Brewers pellets at 20 minutes. I used Beersmith to estimate a bitterness of about 48.
After cooling and filtering I took a OG of 1.052 in my ferminting bucket. I dumped a dated 6month old wyeast of britt 1068 right out of the pac. It did not smell exactly right. Now if you have read this far I thank you. Here's the trouble. Up to now I was ferminting in the lower shower room at about 68-70 degrees f. I thought I could leave this batch in the garage which I saw at least 55-60 degrees.
24 hours and it's not ferminting at all. I rut to the supplyer and sprinkle in some safeale 05. The next morning.. still quiet. I forgot to mention this but all those other batches i harvested a bunch of yeast in jars in the refer and put in about two ounces of yeast from a batch I felt should have some active yeast in it. that next day It's still not bubbling. It does smell a bit like alcohol but no kroiseing. I decided to bring it into the shower and I watch it all day. There is some c02 if I push on the lid but it still is quiet so i get the spoon out.

After stirring it seems to be bubbling on its own like it should have all along. So what was it? The temp? The old yeast? The hard Iron water? The relatively high OG for all grain?  I forgot to mention I dumped a cup of Turbinado sugar in the wart while cooking and since I had all this unused priming sugar I dumped 4oz of that in there as well. It's bubbling now about every 6 seconds. Is this brew going to come and eat me in the middle of the night? It is close to Halloween  :o

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2009, 09:05:55 AM »
That was a fun read! Thanks for sharing it with us. Believe me, we can all relate to this from when we started. Brew like a mad man, get as many batches under your belt as possible. You will learn more from mistakes than you think.

There are a couple questions that should help us figure out what was going on.

Wyeast 1068 London ESB, or Wyeast 1068 Wiehenstephan Weizen yeast?
What temp did you pitch your yeast at? Some say start 10F above what you are going to ferment at, others say start low and go up. Your hobby do what you feel right. Always or if possible, ferment at the lower end of what the yeast like.
What yeast is in the bucket right now? 1068, S05, and yeast slurry from previous batch? Each yeast will have a different flavor profile. If you truely do have 3 different yeasts in there. You will get the flavors from all three yeasts mixed together. Not that that is a bad thing, its just wont be to any specific style.
How long did you wait before adding S05?
Did you see any gravity change before adding the S05?

At this point in your hobby keep things simple. If your water is drinkable, it was not water related.
6 month old yeast is still viable. You probably should start thinking about making starters for your beer. It "proof's" your yeast and gives you a head start. I usually make a starter 3-5 days in advance of the brew day.
As long as the OG was below the alcohol tolerance of the yeast you should be fine.
It sounds like you have a Lager/Ale mix of yeast in there. Some of my lagers don't have a Krausen at all. This is very yeast dependent and is no indicator of activity. A hydrometer is the best way to see if there is any activity.

You can expect a knock on the door at some time in the near future. It is coming for you!

Cheers
Preston

PS. Welcome to the Forum!
The woodpecker pecks, Not to annoy, But to survive!

hyrdr

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2009, 10:32:16 AM »
Hi
Happy you enjoyed the read. After posting it I re-read it and wished........
Ok to the Yeast was actually a Wyeast Brittish Ale Slap Pac 1098 that was at the end of it's date stamp life. I did let it sit out for about 2-3 hours and it did swell a bit during that time. Probably pitched it @ 68f. Like I say it did not smell exactly right. When I pitched the safeale 05 I just sprinkled it on top and closed the lid. It was probably in the 58-60 Degree range about 20 hours after I pitched the smack pac. It did have a smell of alchohol to it at that time but did not visually look like fermentation was taking place.
On the third day I poured in the couple ounces of slurry left over from the Octoberfest and it was from a Marsden Ale yeast.
So the good news is the 3piece bubbler is now double/triple  bubbling every two seconds. Very active. All th4e yeasts pitched are Pale Ale styles so that is better then pitching just anything I have. I am brewing so many at once because I have learned that patience is a necessary ingreadiant to good beers and If I have beer to drink I dont mind waiting for a batch to finish properly. I have managed to get my friend to let his sit a couple weeks before drinking.
Going forward I need to know how many people here do try and recycle their yeast. I have collected a few jars so far with the intent of saving some money and reusing it. I am looking at building a yeast starter. I have most of what I need on hand. Should I bother to use the leftover slurry and refine the active yeasts out of there?
Through the winter I expect to brew another five or six times and promise to follow a recipe to the end. I just need to figure out exactly what beer I want to perfect.

chug a lug

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2009, 12:44:36 PM »
Are you fermenting in a bucket or a carboy?  If bucket, fermentation may have begun but is not notacible as the buckets cover may leak and therefore no, "action" in the bubbler.

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2009, 12:52:21 PM »
It was probably to cold to begin with. The range is 64-72, I would stay on the low side but I prefer to start a little warmer and then bring it down to give the yeast time to get going. It swelled so there was live yeast in there, so that is good. I usually start a slap-pack the night before. Sounds like you are well on your way to more beer!

Cheers
Preston
The woodpecker pecks, Not to annoy, But to survive!

hyrdr

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2009, 10:16:48 PM »
Shake rattle and roll. After inducing additional fermentation by rolling and rocking the bucket for the last few weeks here I decided tonight to rack the brew into a corny keg. Temp has been a steady 69F. I took a reading and it was a low 1.01. OG was 1.052 and I think that was a temp of at least 76 F. While siphoning I dipped a glass into the brew for a tast test. It was sorta weak tasing dcompared to what I had just been drinking and I set it down a little dissapointed while I continued to work. I siphoned a good amount of the slurry into the keg as well on purpose figuring it cant hurt. After cleaning up, sealing the keg I pumped some co2 into the feeder tube bubbling the brew and purged it a few times till some suds spewed from the relieve valve. I closed the valve and continued to ad pressure up to about 35 pounds. Disconnected all the tubes and set it next to the freezer. I plan to let it sit quietly for a few days before placing it into the cooler for another couple days.
comments encouraged. Oh by  the way i finished the last four or five swallows in the glass and allowed the flavores to emerge with no real expectations this time. I had given some thought to the first taste and accepted it may just be a mild beer but, as I retasted it I noticed the lovely hops flavor followed by a malty after flavor.  This is going to be a good beer and I will make a promise here. I will follow recepies for the next ten gallons. Thanks for reading.

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: New Brewer on a budget
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2009, 05:21:35 AM »
Hopefully, you'll get everything to line up when it carbonates.  I find some of those bottle time samples are a little misleading and after a couple weeks, the real product is much better.
Good Recipe, Good Ingredients, Good Procedure, Good Sanitation = Good Brew.