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Did I ruin my first batch?

Hello all, very excited to be getting into the works of brewing… But I’m a little nervous now.
Last night I completed the brew to first fermentation bucket process, following the instructions in my Brewer’s Best kit. After the boiling process was over, I ended up with a little over 3 gallons of wort. I chilled the pot in a tub filled with ice water. It took about 20 mins to get down to about 70 degrees. I then siphoned the wort to the bucket, and then needed to add about 2 gallons of water (to bring me up to 5 gallons)

As careful as I was to clean and sanitize everything, I brainlessly used a britta pitcher to add the remaining water (because I wanted the water as clean as possible without having to boil and cool it). Anyhow, I completely forgot to sanitize the britta pitcher itself. 2 gallons of water went thorough the britta filter, into the pitcher, and into my bucket. The bucket is now sealed, with the air stopper in it, and sitting in my basement waiting to begin fermentation.

Question: did I definitely ruin my batch by not sanitizing the britta pitcher, or is there a chance it still may turn out ok? Huge rookie mistake… I know. I’m pretty bummed about this.

Thanks a lot for helping a noobie!

You may be okay. The pitcher may have not had any major nasties in it being used for filtered water. The fermentation may prevent anything that made it into the bucket from taking over. Time will tell though. One more item to add to your brewing notes as a reminder.

Just an aside. You siphoned your cooled wort to the fermentation bucket. I use carboys, but I pour from my boil kettle through a strainer into the carboy. I feel this adds some easy aeration to the wort. I’m not worried about cold break or hop residue in the fermentor. This all settles out before I’m ready to bottle.

Are you ready to control your fermentation temperature?

Patience and happy brewing.

Thanks flars. If I make it through unscathed, it may be a minor miracle. But like you said, maybe I’ll be ok. Would be a huge downer to have the first batch ruined though.

Thanks for the tip on the pouring and straining. I was going into this whole thing pretty blindly, except for reding instructions and watching some YouTube clips. So I was just following the included instructions for the first batch. It told me to siphon into the fermentation bucket and let sit in a constant temperature zone (my basement is in the high 60’s). Then transfer to the glass carboy in maybe a week or two for the second fermentation… I hope I’m doing this right!

The idea of siphoning is to keep the hot/cold brake material out of the fermenter. Keeping these thing out is not essential. If using a bucket, you can line it with a 5g paint strainer bag from the hardware store. Pour the wort into the bucket/bag. Then lift the bag out. You will catch the majority of the solids. And do a little aeration.

Which kit are you brewing? Transferring to a 2nd vessel may not be necessary. Unless you are adding additional sugars (fruit, honey…) fermentation should be complete in the 1st vessel. The second vessel is an aging/clearing stage. Though, aging/clearing will/can happen in the 1st vessel with not issues also.

Some are posting that they get better results when they dry hop after removing the beer from the majority of the yeast. You will have to decide what works best for you.

[quote=“Beerfan80”]Thanks flars. If I make it through unscathed, it may be a minor miracle. But like you said, maybe I’ll be ok. Would be a huge downer to have the first batch ruined though.

Thanks for the tip on the pouring and straining. I was going into this whole thing pretty blindly, except for reding instructions and watching some YouTube clips. So I was just following the included instructions for the first batch. It told me to siphon into the fermentation bucket and let sit in a constant temperature zone (my basement is in the high 60’s). Then transfer to the glass carboy in maybe a week or two for the second fermentation… I hope I’m doing this right![/quote]
You might have a problem unless you are making a Saison. Fermentation is an exothermic process. Depending upon the OG of your brew you can expect a temperature rise of 5° to 10° in the first few days of fermentation. This will push your wort into the low 70°s. At this high of temperature some off flavors could be produced. Temperature rise also depends upon the type of yeast used.

If you set your fermentor in water, wrap a cotton towel or t-shirt around it, and add a small fan; You could drop the wort fermentation temperature to the low to mid 60°s. Try to leave the thermostrip on your bucket uncovered so it will accurately display the actual temperature. Have the thermostrip away the fan.

Secondaries are falling out of favor except for dry hopping or fruit/oak additions. Your brew will clear just as well with 3 to 4 weeks in the primary. Not doing a transfer will also reduce the risk of infection or oxidation. The term ‘secondary fermentor’ is a misnomer. No fermentation occurs in the secondary if/when one is used.

Look up your same brew in Northern Brewers site. Check out their brewing instructions under the additional information tab. Almost all of their instruction sheets have been updated with new information for practical brewing information. If NB doesn’t carry the same one, select a similar type.

Nighthawk- I’m using the Brewer’s Best Double IPA kit. It doesn’t look like I’m supposed to add anything else into it, but the instructions say to transfer to the glass carboy for the second fermentation. Maybe I’ll just leave it in the bucket and skip the carboy. Either way, it’s only been in the fermentation bucket for about 13 hours, so I have quite a bit of time before choosing how to proceed.

But again, my bigger concern at this point is having a drinkable beer after potentially contaminating it due to my own carelessness.

[quote=“flars”][quote=“Beerfan80”]Thanks flars. If I make it through unscathed, it may be a minor miracle. But like you said, maybe I’ll be ok. Would be a huge downer to have the first batch ruined though.

Thanks for the tip on the pouring and straining. I was going into this whole thing pretty blindly, except for reding instructions and watching some YouTube clips. So I was just following the included instructions for the first batch. It told me to siphon into the fermentation bucket and let sit in a constant temperature zone (my basement is in the high 60’s). Then transfer to the glass carboy in maybe a week or two for the second fermentation… I hope I’m doing this right![/quote]
You might have a problem unless you are making a Saison. Fermentation is an exothermic process. Depending upon the OG of your brew you can expect a temperature rise of 5° to 10° in the first few days of fermentation. This will push your wort into the low 70°s. At this high of temperature some off flavors could be produced. Temperature rise also depends upon the type of yeast used.

If you set your fermentor in water, wrap a cotton towel or t-shirt around it, and add a small fan; You could drop the wort fermentation temperature to the low to mid 60°s. Try to leave the thermostrip on your bucket uncovered so it will accurately display the actual temperature. Have the thermostrip away the fan.

Secondaries are falling out of favor except for dry hopping or fruit/oak additions. Your brew will clear just as well with 3 to 4 weeks in the primary. Not doing a transfer will also reduce the risk of infection or oxidation. The term ‘secondary fermentor’ is a misnomer. No fermentation occurs in the secondary if/when one is used.

Look up your same brew in Northern Brewers site. Check out their brewing instructions under the additional information tab. Almost all of their instruction sheets have been updated with new information for practical brewing information. If NB doesn’t carry the same one, select a similar type.[/quote]

Great info, thank you.
I have the liquid crystal thermometer stuck to the outside of the primary fermenter bucket. It’s reading 66 degrees right now, so hopefully that’s ok. Again, it’s been in the bucket for about 13 hours now.

Just looking for some fermentation input please.
My first batch has been in its first fermentation bucket for about 36 hours. I know I sealed the lid of the bucket very well when originally capping it a couple nights ago, however up until an hour ago, the bubbling was it occurring in the airlock. I decided to press down again on all edges of the lid. Though nothing clicked or moved, the bubbling started immediately upong pushing down again on the lid, leading me to believe that there may have been the slightest opening somewhere in the lid (which I still can’t figure out for the life of me). The airlock is now currently bubbling, and the temp is at 66 degrees.

Anyhow, 3 questions:

  1. if there was a tiny opening in the lid during the first 30 hours it was in the bucket, is the beer automatically bad? I guess I’m wondering if I should keep going through the 2-3 week process… Or chalk this one up as a loss and start over with a new batch?
  2. would you all recommend transferring to the second container (second fermentation)? Or just bottling straight from the first one in a couple weeks? My instructions do not recommend doing it one way or another.
  3. lastly, bottling vs kegging… I was going to bottle. It’s 5 gallons. Any reason not to bottle?

Not a strong showing for me on my first batch! So thanks for all your help.

[quote=“Beerfan80”]Just looking for some fermentation input please.
My first batch has been in its first fermentation bucket for about 36 hours. I know I sealed the lid of the bucket very well when originally capping it a couple nights ago, however up until an hour ago, the bubbling was it occurring in the airlock. I decided to press down again on all edges of the lid. Though nothing clicked or moved, the bubbling started immediately upong pushing down again on the lid, leading me to believe that there may have been the slightest opening somewhere in the lid (which I still can’t figure out for the life of me). The airlock is now currently bubbling, and the temp is at 66 degrees.

Anyhow, 3 questions:

  1. if there was a tiny opening in the lid during the first 30 hours it was in the bucket, is the beer automatically bad? I guess I’m wondering if I should keep going through the 2-3 week process… Or chalk this one up as a loss and start over with a new batch?
  2. would you all recommend transferring to the second container (second fermentation)? Or just bottling straight from the first one in a couple weeks? My instructions do not recommend doing it one way or another.
  3. lastly, bottling vs kegging… I was going to bottle. It’s 5 gallons. Any reason not to bottle?

Not a strong showing for me on my first batch! So thanks for all your help.[/quote]

Welcome to the hobby! Many beginners worry alot about every single step and you really shouldn’t. You will get drinkable beer in the end unless you really mess up but from what you’re telling me you haven’t. So to answer your questions.

  1. A tiny opening will not have much effect on your beer since the CO2 produced will be exiting that hole and pushing out any air that might try to come in. Doubtful that the beer went bad. You probably saw bubbles when you pressed down on the lid because of the increase of air pressure that you created by pressing down on it.
    Keep on going with the process, regardless if the beer comes outstanding or not so great it will help you learn the process and improve your next batches. My first beer wasn’t that great but it was drinkable. I definitely learned and my subsequent batches improved considerably.

  2. You really only need a secondary for 3 reasons. Reason 1 is for aging the beer. This is because yeast starts decomposing after 4-5 weeks and it gives the beer an off/meaty flavor. Reason 2 is dry hopping. In case you make a double IPA for example some recipes request that you add some dry hops to the secondary. Reason 3 is adding flavors/fruits. Basically same concept as dry hopping, this will give your beer additional flavors. You are safe to leave your beer in the primary. I would give it a good 3 weeks so it can clear out.

  3. Any reasons not to bottle? Besides the fact that you have to make sure all your bottles are sanitized and the amount of time it takes to fill each bottle and cap it… no, no reason. I would say bottle for now and if you really get into the hobby then spend the 200 some dollars on a kegging setup. Remember, kegging doesn’t make better beer… but other things such as a fermentation chamber where you can control temperature will.

Oh, buy How to Brew by John Palmer, its a great book for beginners and advanced brewers.

Awesome - thanks a lot, tszabo!

IN the immortal words of Charlie Papazian: Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a (home)brew.
First, you’ll be fine with the Brita pitcher. Unless it was nasty with mold, the yeast in your beer will have enough of a head start to head off anything else that could have done bad things, and once it does its thing, the alcohol will kill anything else.
Second, unless you are going to be dry hoppng (and not usually even then,) aging on wood or extended aging, don’t bother with transferring to the secondary. I know the instructions say to - they all do - but this is based on theories that have been debunked years ago.
As someone else said, unless you are leaving the beer in primary for months on end, there’s nothing to worry about.
For the airlock, there is pressure inside the bucket that is pushed out when you push the lid. It takes a few minutes for the yeasts to rebuild that pressure so the air (CO2) comes out the airlock.
You’re absolutely fine. You will have beer.
Leave it alone for the rest of the time (check temps occasionally, but mid-60s are perfectly fine) At least 2 weeks total, but I find that I end up with better beer if I give it 3 weeks before bottling.

Bottling versus kegging: there’s no major reason one way or the other, generally.
I mostly bottle, because I don’t have a kegorator yet. I have been accumulating kegs and equipment for the time I have one, though. If I am brewing a beer for a specific event, I will keg it, and use a party charger and picnic tap. Other than that, it doesn’t make sense. If you have a full kegging and dispensing rig, go for it.

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^ This makes me feel a lot better - thanks!

It’s only been 4 days in the bucket, and I’m going crazy already waiting. I’m not a very patient person, and the hardest thing in the process so far has been the waiting game! I don’t know how I’m going to make it for 4 more weeks before first beer…

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[quote=“Beerfan80”]^ This makes me feel a lot better - thanks!

It’s only been 4 days in the bucket, and I’m going crazy already waiting. I’m not a very patient person, and the hardest thing in the process so far has been the waiting game! I don’t know how I’m going to make it for 4 more weeks before first beer…[/quote]
Get another fermentor and start a new brew.

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[quote=“flars”][quote=“Beerfan80”]^ This makes me feel a lot better - thanks!

It’s only been 4 days in the bucket, and I’m going crazy already waiting. I’m not a very patient person, and the hardest thing in the process so far has been the waiting game! I don’t know how I’m going to make it for 4 more weeks before first beer…[/quote]
Get another fermentor and start a new brew.[/quote]

^^^ this.

Remember, alcohol has been produced for thousands of years with no understanding of what’s going on.

edit: spell check

Lol… this hobby is all about waiting and cleaning

Well I guess I’ll be off to the store tonight to buy another fermentation pail and airlock!

The next big decision will be deciding what to brew next… Decisions and waiting: 2 things I’m not very good at. But I’m pretty good at drinking beer.

irish red ale. very easy to make and hard to get wrong.

[quote=“Beerfan80”]Well I guess I’ll be off to the store tonight to buy another fermentation pail and airlock!

The next big decision will be deciding what to brew next… Decisions and waiting: 2 things I’m not very good at. But I’m pretty good at drinking beer.[/quote]
Northern Brewer American Amber Ale. Brew with the liquid yeast option. Keep the fermentor at 62° and the brew will end up with some of the flavor profile of Pilsner Urquell.

Cool- I’m sure I’ll end up trying both above, thanks.

Would also love to get a porter or stout in for the holiday seasons…

Ok, so my double IPA (and first ever batch) has been sitting in the primary fermentation bucket in ~65 degrees for one week. Ive read mixed reviews on a secondary “fermentation.” Frankly, I don’t want to do it if it’s not beneficial, mostly because I don’t want to have to clean the glass carboy. But then again, it’s my first batch, maybe it would be a good step to learn.

  1. the recipe does not call for any added ingredients or dry hopping. Should I skip the secondary?
  2. the bubbling in the airlock has slowed down significantly. How much longer should I leave in the primary?
  3. can I essentially just transfer to the bottling bucket and let it sit in there for a few days prior to bottling, letting the bottling bucket act as a secondary?
  4. at what point should I measure the final gravity?

Thanks!

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