I am about as new as they get to brewing, but I have been having a blast!!
I have brewed my first three 5 gallon batches and I have some concerns about Batch #1, which was brewed as follows:
Northern Brewer " Brick Warmer Holiday Red Ale" - Extract version.
1 liter Yeast starter kit with (substituted) White Labs WLP 004 Irish Ale Yeast (used magnetic stir plate).
Boiled and Pitched 9/29/13 1.067SG \ 16.7% Brix OG (per refractometer) - Started boil with 5 gallons of bottled drinking water. Did not add any water at any point along the way, with the exception of the 2 cups for the priming sugar.
Oxygenated with O2 bottle and stainless steel stone - 60 seconds
All fermentation done in a chest freezer in the garage (I am in LA) with external temp controller set to 67F.
Racked to secondary 10/8/2013
Bottled 11/5/13 - used all 5 OZ of cane sugar (mistake?). The SG at this point (before adding the priming sugar) was 1.037SG \ 9.0% Brix (per refractometer) which adjusts to 1.015 SG current gravity. This comes out to 6.85 ABV
Primary fermentation went off like bomb! Very active even after just 6 hours. Fortunately I had the foresight to use a blow off tube and a bucket for an airlock otherwise there would have been quite a mess to clean up.
My concerns are:
#1 Yield was only (38) 12 Oz bottles (about 20% short) so I am wondering if this is a big deal or if it just equals “good strong ale”. Explanation for the disappearance of the beer has been attributed to inexperienced racking techniques and perhaps boiling a little longer than prescribed.
#2 I have tasted the beer at several points along the way (after primary) and although it tastes pretty good, I seem to be getting a really strong alcohol taste, so I am concerned we may have generated some fusel alcohols, but I am hoping it is just because the ABV was 6.85, or some of the “Holiday” like notes are coming through and haven’t settled down yet.
Any suggestions for improvement on subsequent batches are more than welcome. Batch #2 and #3 are in secondary - - #2= NB “Irish Red Ale” #3 = NB “Dead Ringer IPA”
I would like to thank the tech support team at Northern Brewer for answering all of my newbie questions along the way. They were always really good about it.