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1st Brew Underway

So today was Brewday for my Caribou Slobber. Everything went pretty well. I did learn a few things, like for instance if you are going to use a ceramic top stove cover the pot or it takes forever to boil. Which leads me to inquire is it better to let the hops just cling to the edge, or push them back in? The OG was about 1.48-1.50 not 100% on reading it yet, NB’s instructions said it should have been 1.052-1.055 so close. I did have an issue with cooling as I keep my home warmer than most so getting it down below the yeasts level -80 took awhile. I guess the worst thing in the entire process was I broke my brand new hydrometer when I started cleanup. I’m going to leave it in my house in a bathroom, hopefully because the yeast says it’s OK in the 80’s and I keep my house at 82 when I’m not home it won’t be too much. If I don’t 'see anything in 48hrs I’ll bite the bullet and move it into my crawlspace.

I brew on an electric glass top stove, I too have to keep a lid on my kettle to keep it boiling. Generally when I stir the wort, I’ll use the spoon and wash the hops back in. I don’t worry too much about getting them all, but I get what I can.

That’s what I did, but wasn’t sure as most instructions and how to’s don’t really mention stirring during the boil.

Looked in on her a few hours ago and she is bubbling away, my only fear is that because it’s a little warm that it will exhaust itself too quickly.

I keep my house between 78-80 in summers. I did the caribou slobber around that temp and it turned out pretty good. I do 1 gallon kits and I haven’t used a hydrometer on them. I just make sure I leave them in the fermenter for at least 2 weeks.

I’ve read this recipe from NB is prone to high expansion and overflow, so not sure if my minor overflow is due to the temps or just nature of the beast. I have it in a 6.5gal on a 5gal batch and the overflow was nothing more than filling my bubbler and a little on the lid. I removed the bubbler, clean and resanitized with Sanstar so all is well. Luckily I have it in a bathtub and didn’t decide to use my crawlspace.

Tomorrow is the 2 week mark, and after a lot of reading about the pros and cons of secondary racking I’ve decided to stick with just the primary. I was going to take a hydrometer reading but I assume and correct me if I’m wrong, but the reason leaving it in the primary takes 3 weeks and using a secondary takes 4, is the introduction of oxygen in the head space, and the yeast becomes slightly active and I would have to let the yeast work off any off flavors developed due to this. This makes me believe opening the primary to take a reading will result in the same, and I either skip it if I’m aiming for 3 weeks, or if I do I should wait 4 weeks instead of 3 before bottling.

I used to keep a lid (partial) on my brew kettle and was then told by a few more experienced brewers that there are certain (bad) things/flavors that need to boil off and keeping on a lid, even partially, prevents this from happening.

I’m a little obsessive about fermentation temps, so take this with a grain of salt: I recommend chilling to about five degrees (F) below the bottom of the recommended temperature range, pitching rehydrated dry yeast (or a starter for liquid), then putting the beer into a fermentation chamber no more than two degrees above the bottom of the recommended temperature range.

You’ll make beer at 80 F, but I think it tastes better with my lower temperatures. If the choice is no beer or fermenting at 80 F, 80 F is the better choice!

Transferring to a secondary will agitate the beer and cause it to release some of the dissolved CO2. It can also introduce some O2, but not enough to worry about. The time frames you referred to are arbitrary. I think those who secondary without adding fermentables or hops are just trying to clarify their beer. If that’s your goal, keep the beer in primary until the gravity is stable for three days, then for another week to let the yeast clean up after itself. Secondary until the beer is clear. Without a secondary, keep it in the primary for the time I mentioned plus as long as it takes to clear. You can accelerate the clearing by cold crashing.

If you haven’t already read it, read John Palmer’s “How to Brew”!

Thanks, I already read How to Brew and was part of my reasoning behind why you have to wait 4 weeks if you take a reading at 2 weeks or transfer to secondary. About a secondary, yeah from what I read it’s not beneficial unless you want something clear, or adding certain things like fruits. Also read that it can actually make for a better beer to leave it because it gives the yeast more time to clean up. For the most part it’s been at 75-76 and the yeast is accepting up to 80 and for my next brew I’m going to have a freezer that I bought setup to use for fermentation, just have to order my Johnson Controls module. I decided to not test my gravity today, instead I’ll just let it go the 3 weeks. I’ll take a reading on Friday and another Sunday to see if she is done, if so I’ll bottle then.

Took first Hydro reading today came out between 1.010 and 1.008 (still getting used to reading it). Going to test again Sunday see if it’s good to bottle. If it stays that gives me about a 5.2abv. However I did notice a little off taste a little bitter or sour in the back of my tongue and throat. I tried to compare it to the How to Brew site but can’t place it. I almost guarantee it’s due to new brewer error, I might have pitched too hot, I know fermentation temps were high, and still don’t know if the grains were milled or not (forgot to check). It tastes OK and might get better with bottle conditioning.

Things will definitely get better with bottle conditioning. I usually take a taste of a batch before bottling to get an idea, but the final product will usually taste slightly different. Right now I have some bomber barleywine and they are tasting better with age. I’ve drank a bottle at 2,4 and 6 weeks and the latest bottle I drank was the smoothest, best tasting.

Flavor will probably improve after bottle conditioning. I will agree and say you are probably right, you pitched a bit warm and fermentation types were a bit high. I think I did the same.

I am actually in the same boat as you. I brewed my Caribou Slobber two weeks ago yesterday. I pitched at about 75 degrees and had a vigorous fermentation (and I had to do the swamp cooler method because the temps were reading at about 75 or more for a few hours before it cooled down). I had activity for about 3 days before it seemed to stop, the foam krausen subsided, and it seemed to start to clear up a bit. I left it alone until it hit the week mark. I took a gravity reading at that point and it was at 1.019. Seemed a bit high, so I took another one the next day and it was the same.

For no real reason (just because I wanted to), I racked to a secondary. It’s now in the chest freezer with another ale steady at 68 degrees. I sometimes see some airlock activity, but it’s been there for a week. I plan on letting it go for a little while. Maybe next weekend I will take more measurements to see if it goes down more. Everything I have read about this beer is to be patient and let it go. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. I tasted it at 1 week when I racked to secondary and it tasted pretty good, although it was kind of flat and warm and a little fruity.

So really, for you, I would just leave it alone. A lot of what I am reading (since I am new too) seems to say that the recommended timelines are just that, recommendations.

So I tasted my first bottle last night. Got a little hiss when I popped the top so it seems to be carbonating fine, carbonation will definitely be better next week. Unfortunately I believe the high temps have caused some unwanted flavors, and not sure if additional bottle conditioning will solve it. I gave it a few good whiffs and it has kind of a sweet aroma, not sure if I’d call it malt like or more of a fruity smell. The taste on the other hand makes me think of a cross between sour milk and a bit of a medicine after taste. Not sure if I think these can be yeast smells and flavors due to possibly too much yeast still floating around, or yeast death. Going to give it another week before I let NB know and see if I can get a replacement kit.

I’d say give it a bit longer than a week. I’ve seen a ton of people here say that the Caribou Slobber just needs to sit. Bottle conditioning for 2-3 weeks seems best, but so many others have posted that after a couple months they have tried one and it tasted amazing, even better than the first bottle. I am still waiting on mine (will probably bottle this weekend) but so far the samples I have tried tasted good. But to be honest, I am glad that mine just tastes like beer since it’s my first attempt :slight_smile:

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