Brew Day and Beyond - A couple of minor concerns.
So I got the yeast starter going on Wednesday and brewed on Saturday. Overall, everything went fairly well. I went ahead and steeped in 2.5 gal before bringing it up to 6 gal for the boil, and I left out a small portion of the Target hops. Didn’t measure it exactly, just kind of eyeballed about a tenth of it. Once I cooled and siphoned to the primary I got up to the 5 gal mark with just a small amount left in the kettle, so 6 gal seems to have been a good guess. The yeast starter also seemed to have worked out well. I considered refrigerating my 2L flask for a couple of hours Saturday morning to get the yeast to drop out, but turns out about a 1/4" of yeast had already fallen out on its own (easily 3x more than I started with from the vial), so I had more than enough.
A couple of issues/questions that have come up:
I also decided to wait for the hot break before starting the 60 min boil. Based on what I’ve read, I was waiting for brown material on top to clump together and eventually fall to the bottom. It certainly clumped up, but after waiting for more than 30 min it still had not dropped. At that point I added the bittering hops, and shortly thereafter most of the material on the surface seemed to fall out. I’m thinking I was probably only at about 90-95 °C when I added the extract, but I eventually hit 100 °C before adding the hops, so maybe that was an issue.
I brewed outside and use the garden house for the wort chiller. I live in Sacramento where it was close to 80° on Saturday afternoon, and I could not get the wort below about 83° using the chiller. Since I decided to go with a full boil and guessed right starting with 6 gal, I didn’t have to top off with any cold water. So I was a little concerned about pitching the yeast, but went ahead with it anyway. So far I think everything is okay (see below), but any tips or words of warning I should consider for the future?
Corrected for temperature, my OG reading after transferring to the primary was 1.052, but according to NB it should be more like 1.062. Now this hydrometer doesn’t appear to be the most precise piece of equipment, but it did read 1.000 at 60°. I browsed a couple of other threads, and most of the commonly cited probable causes don’t seem likely. Anything I should be concerned with?
I placed the carboy in a plastic tray in the hallway near my bedroom (I was worried the garage might be a touch too warm). We heard it bubbling and fizzing most of the evening/night and had some foam (kreusen?) bubbling out of the airlock. Wasn’t too concerned. Then a little after midnight we heard a loud noise followed by a couple of quieter ones. Turns out the carboy had ejected/launched the bung and airlock, which promptly ricocheted around the hallway! More foam came out, I re-sanitized and re-inserted the bung/airlock. The next morning everything was still in place, but I had significantly more blow-off. Nothing horrendous - maybe 2-3oz of foam and liquid - and an easy cleanup. From everything I’ve read thus far, none of this suggests a problem, so I’m not too worried about this…
While I did shake the carboy a bit before pitching the yeast, I didn’t “vigorously dance” with thing. Now I’m wondering if I sufficiently aerated before pitching. Even after the mortar incident, I’m still getting steady bubbles in the airlock, but I also see a fair amount of pale sediment on the bottom of the carboy and I’m not sure if it’s yeast. Should I be worried about this?