First Batch ?s

First time brewer and I have a couple questions to help me identify and learn from my mistakes for the next batch. My first brew was the Chinook IPA extract kit with dry yeast. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of liquid lost during the boil and believe there is just over 4 gallons in my 5 gallon batch since I didn’t have an accurate way to measure my water at the time and add enough to reach 5 gals. Second mistake was the temp for fermentation since my downstairs has large temp swings I placed it in an extra bath tub upstairs and covered it with a towel. General temp the entire time was 73 on the thermometer, but now realize that might have been a false reading. Reading other posts I’m expecting possible sourness and alcohol taste due to the high tempt during fermentation. Going to bottle it this weekend and will reduce the amount of priming sugar to avoid over carbonation and exploding bottles. I don’t have high expectations for this batch, but will bottle it anyways and give it a try. Recommendations for a new guy who in hind sight started off rough?

  1. measure out water using a quart measuring cup and add it to your carboy. Mark the carboy with a black permanent marker for every gallon, quarter gallon, half gallon and 3/4 gallon. Tedious I know but this will also help assist with priming. You could also start at say 2 gallons to save a little time (but could be helpful if you decide to brew a 3 gallon batch).

  2. find away to maintain constant temps. Fermentation is exothermic (produced heat) so your fermenting beer can easily raise 5° over ambient (just had a beer with OG of 1.050 go 7° over ambient). This can easily be done with a swamp cooler and a towel hanging in the water with a fan blowing on it.

  3. cool your wort to 62° to 63° and pitch. It will lead to better flavors and will be easier to maintain your ferm temps.

If you can do those 3 things you’ll discover a better tasting beer. Work on that and we can discuss more.

Loopie, thanks for the info. After reading a couple other posts I was thinking about a “swap cooler”. I’m planning on brewing a Dry Irish Stout from an extract kit tonight and will be measuring very carefully and marking on the carboy.

Welcome to homebrewing!

I modified a couple of the Dry Irish Stout kits early on in my brewing (2nd and 3rd batches actually). I probably did a bunch of things wrong with them and I never worried about fermentation control with them. I probably should have, but both batches turned out fine. Temperature control is still something I fight with a bit because I have the opposite problem that most experience… the entire house stays 70-72 all year long and there is nowhere that I can set up a swamp cooler. I did, however, after some experimenting find that I can ferment in a corner of the basement that gets it down in the 60’s. Not perfect, but for now, it works. On the up side of things, I can brew Belgians pretty easily along with other styles of beer that tell you to raise the fermentation temperatures towards the end of brewing, or at least in the winter I can do it, by simply moving the fermenters into the boiler room.

With that in mind, I try to brew accordingly and brew my Belgians and other beers that require a higher finishing temp to get the desired results in the winter. The rest I try to brew in the summer when the boiler is off and the the basement cools down. So do some searching around your house, you may find a place that will work better.

The chinook IPA is a good recipe. You can add water when you bottle to get your volume. Being an extract your gravity will probably be high since you boiled off a more water than you planned. This will increase the ABV. Did you have water in the tub? Because that would be a swamp cooler.

What is the yeast you are planning to use for the stout? I ask because once I used WY 1056 instead of my regular WY 1084 for a dry Irish stout. I held the fermentor at 63° to 64°F with the WY 1056 as I do for amber ales and IPAs. The stout developed a distinct peach flavor. I had to add strong cold brewed coffee to each glass to make it drinkable.

WY 1056 is okay for a dry stout when the fermentation temperature if 66° to 68°F

Lil, you don’t HAVE to use a swamp cooler. Before my conicals I converted a chest freezer into a fermentation chamber by simply adding an external thermostat (Ranco, Johnson, etc).

Thank you for all the quick responses. I’m planning to add 1/2 gal of water with the priming sugar when I bottle the IPA this weekend.

For the stout I’m sticking with the dry yeast I used for the Chinook. I figured I need to develop a good brew routine and cleaning that will produce a drinkable beer before I try out a live yeast. I would use water in the bathtub, but it is old and hasn’t held water in 10 years. No idea the condition of the seal and pluming, just wanted it there in case something spilled while I was gone for a couple days and it is out of the way.

No place to put another freezer right now, or I would, lol.