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Batch #1

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.

You want to have 5-5.25 gallons in the fermentor so you should have either started with more than 5 gallons or topped up after you were done.

You are fermenting at 67 In you chest freezer is that the beer temp or the temp of the air in the freezer? If it’s the ambient temp then your fermentation temp could be 5 deg or more warmer which could cause fusel. Try fermenting 62-64 beer temp then after 3 days let it warm up to 68-70.

Thanks for reply…

Yes, future batches will start with more than 5 gallons… I can totally see where I dumbed out there starting with only 5…in my defense, all NBs instructions are for boiling 2.5 and topping off the rest at the end of the boil…They really don’t have instructions for full 5 gallon boils, but common sense should have told me I would lose X amount to evaporation… I think a good bit of it got away from retaining a little too much “sludge” when transferring to the carboy at the end of the boil, and when racking, so I am thnking all is not lost… IE beer may not be of such a high concentration that it will not be “good”. On the other hand, who wants to think there first batch is going to bad?? LOL

The temps I stated were where the controller was set. Every time I checked the temp sticker on the carboy it was pretty close to the controller temp, although I do not remember looking at it when primary hit its stride, but your right, fermentation will raise it - so next time we start a primary the setting goes to 62F…

I was also a little concerned that these yeast starter kits I have been building may be too much for 5 gallons… IE the potential overpitching could also have led to the (I hope not) fusels. I asked two or three people about this and they seem to think overpitching is not a concern… I am unclear.

Time will tell…

Thanks again, I can use all the help I can get…

I don’t thinks you over pitched some people do 1 gal starters. I’m sure the beer will turn out good you seem to have a good grasp on things( way more than my first batch).

How long has the beer been bottled? A little age can do wonders. Good luck with your future brews and welcome to the club cheers :cheers:

Thanks - I tried to do at least a little home work before I lit the burner, and again the guys at NB were awesome at answering all of my questions.

I am looking forward to many batches to come… Next step will be tweaking on the stock recepies… I also ant to kook into kegging as bottling is a lot of work, then of course all grain brewing, but I do not want to get ahead of myself… I tend to like the really old recipes, for instance I am perfectly happy with the taste of Guinness Extra Stout and I don’t think they have changed the recipe since 1759…

The beer has only been in the bottles since 11/5/13 and I am gong to hold to plan of not tasting until it has been in there for 2 weeks. = Got it inside the house at about 72F to promote carbonation - So far so good…

Thanks for the advice - I am thinking everything will settle out well with some time.

If you ever decide to go all grain check out www.dennybrew.com, it will save you a lot of money and IMO it is the best way to go. I tried fly sparging and what a PITA. It’s way easier than you think.

I’ll check it out.

Thank you.

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