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My First Brew Day

For quite a while I have wanted to jump into home brewing.  But laziness coupled with bills made it difficult.  As I mentioned for my new years resolution I would start brewing.  I also said I would start getting back into shape and that hasn’t happened yet.  So this past Saturday I made good on my promise to start brewing.

The setup

The first brew would be an Amarillo American Pale Ale, an extract kit purchased from Midwest Supplies.  Everything seemed very straight forward.  I had a bucket filled with water and the no rinse cleaning solution that contained my thermometer, hydrometer and stirring devices.  The propane tank was hooked up to the burner and my 7.5 gallon pot had 3.5 gallons of water in it.  I brought the water up to 155 degrees for the steeping of the grains and here is where I made my first mistake.  Since the paper with my directions said the grains should be crushed I used this opportunity to use my Magic Bullet for the first time.  Yeah that made them a little to fine.  A good amount of grains went right through the bag and into the pot.  D’oh!  Oh well, it’s my first brew and that can be filtered.

After steeping and bringing the water up to a boil I turned off the burner and proceeded to stir in the malts with some help from my sister in law, Melissa.  After all the malt was absorbed the heat was put back on and the pot brought to a boil.  The Columbus hops were added first and after smelling them I could then think, “Oh I’ve smelt these kind of hops before.”  It’s cool to actually put smell with a particular hop.  They were citrusy, I liked it.  Then through the next hour two packs of Amarillo hops were added as well.  And let me say that I love the smell of those ones.  Big grapefruit smells.  If I didn’t completely mess this one up I can tell it will be a good brew.

To bring the temperature down I used the recommendation on the instructions to empty a bag of ice into the pot since it will cool the wort and serve as the extra water needed.  This worked like a charm and brought the wort down to 76 degrees in a little less than 10 minutes.  I took this time to make my first hydrometer reading and it was a 1.050.  We began aerating the wort as recommended by stirring it vigorously and transferred it over to the primary fermenter.  After getting the wort nice and worked up I pitched the yeast and popped the top on it with the air lock.

Now is pretty much a waiting game.  This weekend I will transfer it over to the carboy for the secondary fermentation.  I have to say I had a lot of fun doing this.  My sister in law did as well.  I am hoping all went well with it and continues to go well with it and that a decent brew can come out of it.

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  • Reply Phil (the Fermentation)

    Congrats and welcome to your new addiction!

    Total fermentation time of 14days?

    February 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm
    • Reply Mike

      I have to double check but I think total was between 14 – 20 recommended. Then in the bottles for a week.

      February 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm
  • Reply nate

    Awesome Mike! Congrats on your new baby! That is a tad funny about the magic bullet incident. I’m surprised, if it wre a kit, that the grains weren’t pre crushed. I’m jealous of you outdoor brewing weather!

    February 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm
  • Reply Mike

    Nate I think they were considered pre crushed but I just assumed that they were not. Live and learn. I love my little set up. Having a little court yard in front of the house is just awesome.

    February 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply nate

    I’m brewing outdoors this saturday with a foot of snow on the ground. If I use the glass top stove indoors, the beer is way vegetable/tanin flavored since I can only get a mild boil. Gonna have to build a fire in our firepit.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm
  • Reply Mike

    That sounds like fun to me. I look at pictures of people brewing outside in the snow and cold weather and wish I could.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Phil (the Fermentation)

    Id love to brew in the snow. I sadly use my kitchen, wife hates it, but likes the finished product.

    the house smells like malt atleast for a week! lol

    February 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    There’s always room for getting it right, Mike. Don’t sweat some of that stuff…it’s just a learning curve. I do have one concern about what you wrote that is actually more important than the grains. If I may, let me suggest you avoid putting ice into your wort like that (unless it’s made in sterilized containers). Ice is probably one of the most bacteria harboring things you could put into the wort. If you get a fast start of fermentation it’s not a huge deal because your yeast will win by shear force of numbers. However, a slow start or even a normal start can leave room for the bacteria to take a hold. I’m not trying to sound like a know-it-all on this one but I’ve seen warnings against this from Papazian to Snyder (and elsewhere). I’d hate to see a batch go down the tubes. Just my two cents.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    By the way, congrats on the first brew.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm
  • Reply Mike

    Wow I didn’t even know that Mike. I figured if it is recommended by the company that made the kit it would be fine. I really appreciate the info.

    It’s great having guys like you, Nate, Pete and Phil that do brewing to give me advice. I appreciate it.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    No problem. I’m happy to point it out. There are so many ways to improve the brewing process. I just can’t believe they suggested putting ice in.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm
  • Reply Billy Broas

    Hey Mike, congrats and welcome to the club! I hope to see more brewing posts in the future. What recipe will you be doing next?

    Regarding the ice, I agree with Michael that it is generally a bad idea to use ice. Especially store bought ice because those bags could have all kinds of bugs on them. The chance of an actual infection is slim though so don’t worry about it. As Charlie says, RDWHAHB.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:23 am
  • Reply Mike

    Thanks Billy I definitely will be making more posts about brewing. Nate actually gave me the idea to do a Belgian IPA next so I’m really thinking about doing that for the next batch. This is addictive stuff.

    February 10, 2010 at 11:28 am
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    Charlie says relax don’t worry have a homebrew but not take risks. Ice is a bad idea and the risk of infection is still there. Some of it depends on yeast strain, abv, residual sugar content and a ton of other factors. I wouldn’t call the chances slim, I’d call them high enough not to do it. Like you said, we both agree that it’s generally a bad idea to use ice.

    @Mike I’m glad you’re getting addicted…it is fun.

    February 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm
  • Reply Billy Broas

    @Michael My point of saying RDWAHB was that it is too late to do anything about it, so it’s best to not bother worrying. As we both said it is better not to risk it.

    I’d say in general new brewers are way too paranoid about their first beers. They should of course practice good sanitization procedures, but it’s harder to ruin beer than most people think. Just look at this sticky on HBT of loads of people on the verge of dumping their beer because they made one little mistake, but their beer turns out just fine: So no, don’t take any unnecessary risks, but also realize that shit happens in brewing and never give up on a batch until you taste it and it makes you want to vomit. That’s when you know.

    BTW Mike I’m not saying your paranoid at all, just backing up my first point ; )

    February 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    Point taken Billy. I wasn’t saying throw it out by any means. I was saying that next time I’d avoid ice. I totally agree, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm
  • Reply Billy Broas

    @Michael Yea I’ve done some really stupid things while brewing and just had to keep telling myself “Wait it out, wait it out..”

    @Mike Wanted to comment on the Belgian IPA. I’ve really wanted to make that style after trying a couple of examples. Maybe we can tag-team a recipe and compare what we think. Did Nate give you a recipe he’s used before?

    February 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm
  • Reply Mike

    @Billy He didn’t give me a recipe and since I’ve only done one extract brew I’m not really sure on how to go about assembling a recipe on my own. I’m definitely open to suggestions. I just have no clue what I could suggest at this early stage in my brewing. haha

    February 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Billy Broas

    haha Aw cmon Mike you’re practically a pro! Ok didn’t know if you already had a recipe, but I did notice the place where you got your first kit (Midwest) has a Belgian IPA kit:

    I’ve been very happy with Wyeast. Got a batch I need to make soon but may do this one after.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm
  • Reply Michael Reinhardt

    I’ll share a recipe if you don’t find a good one.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm
  • Reply Mike

    @Billy The brew I just did was a Wyeast. I haven’t done an all grain brew yet.

    @Mike I’m always willing to see.

    February 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm
  • Reply Billy Broas

    oops! Didn’t realize that was an all-grain kit. Here we go:

    Michael I’d be interested in your recipe. How did it turn out for you?

    February 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm
  • Reply Scott-TheBrewClub

    Mike, that’s great! Looking forward to reading more as it comes along, and I think its great that people are chiming in with tips. I think we all learn more that way.

    February 11, 2010 at 9:47 am
  • Reply Mike

    @Billy I think I might try that one.

    @Scott It was a lot of fun. Are you planning on brewing again?

    February 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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