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My First Brew Day!

Just got done brewing my first beer. It’s the American Wheat recipe. I invited one of my cousins to come over (who’s been thinking about getting into home brewing himself) and help and see what it’s all about. It took about 4.5 hours from start to finish. I probably could have finished a bit earlier, but I just took my time with everything (plus both of us are quite the talkers). The day was perfect! Just the right amount of shade for us to set up and brew. Here’s a few pics of our progress.

I saw someone on another forum make a similar (but better) stand, so I copied his design to raise my brew kettle height. I was worried about using wood, but I was able to put my hand on the stand directly under the burner and keep it. Warm, but not hot enough to ignite the wood.

I pretty much followed the directions to a T. Brought it to full boil and added the ingredients as instructed. The American Wheat just has the one malt extract and two packs of hops. It seems pretty simple compared to some of the other recipes I looked over and was one reason why I chose it.

Then I sanitized everything that I thought I would use today while the beer was chilling. The one thing I worry about was the wort chiller wasn’t sanitized, but the kettle was still at 180 degrees when I started chilling. I hope the wort was still hot enough to kill off any potential baddies. I got the wort to 80 degrees and poured it in the fermenting bucket and topped off with water to 5 gallons. Then I took a hydro reading which was 1.033 vs the projected 1.045 on the recipe sheet. I set the fermenting bucket into a container of ice water to bring the temp down to 60 degrees, then pitched the yeast, installed the (sanitized) airlock, and draped a towel over it.

The container I have my bucket is large enough for me to slide my kettle lid in sideways. Then I clipped the thermometer to it so I could monitor the temps.

So far so good. I heard a few “blurps” before I went back upstairs. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about that! I have a cooler of ice to the side, so I can add more ice if the temp goes up. The average temp in the basement is about 70 degrees.

Congratulations on the first of many successful brew days! It looks like you’re taking the whole process more seriously than I did when I started, which is a good sign for your beer :slight_smile:

I’m sure you’ll be fine. When I’ve used a wort chiller, I’ve added it to the boil for the last minute or so to ensure that it gets sanitized.

Don’t worry about this at all. The heavy wort and the lighter top off water separate, and it’s nearly impossible to mix them up well. Fermentation will take care of mixing them. The projected number is accurate provided your volume going into the fermenter was accurate, since you can’t very well remove sugars from the extract.

Dont forget to aerate your wort. Just simply shake the bucket for a minute or two, then your hydro reading will probably be more accurate. And you’ll probably have a faster/healthier fermentation.

Chiller - agreed - I always make sure my chiller is “clean”, and then I just set it right in the boil kettle with 15 minutes to go in the boil to sanitize it.

I do give it a better cleaning and sanitize from time to time too.

The stand look good to me. That is a piece of Wonderboard or Durock on the top isn’t it? If so I see no problem with the heat. I had a 3 tier stand made almost completely out of wood with no problems.

I agree with not worrying about the gravity reading. Extract brews are notorious for off readings due to not being able to mix them in with the top off water enough. If it is a kit or known recipe and your final volume was correct it will be fine.

I done that before I pitched my yeast. I didn’t pitch the yeast until the bucket temp was in the mid 60s.

[quote=“HD4Mark”]The stand look good to me. That is a piece of Wonderboard or Durock on the top isn’t it? If so I see no problem with the heat. I had a 3 tier stand made almost completely out of wood with no problems.

I agree with not worrying about the gravity reading. Extract brews are notorious for off readings due to not being able to mix them in with the top off water enough. If it is a kit or known recipe and your final volume was correct it will be fine.[/quote]

Nope, just plain old 1/2" plywood on some 2x4 framing.

Thanks guys for the help and suggestions. Next batch, I’ll put the chiller in at the end of the boil to keep my bases covered.

I think my next beer will be a brown ale. What would you guys recommend? Newcastle, Redhook Nutbrown, and Bluegrass Brewery’s Nut Brown are some I really like (especially the Bluegrass). Kinda torn between the Caribou Slobber, Nukey, or Nut Brown Extract?

I thought about getting one of those kits along with a carboy, since my first batch is still fermenting. It would be another week or so before I could order anything. Would that be alright to do, or should I wait and see how this first batch turns out?

Congrats on what looks to be a very successful first brew! And I must say, that’s a fine looking brew stand. Very sturdy looking. Did you build it?

Just something I threw together the day before I brewed. I saw a 3 tier setup this guy had on the HBT forums, so I copied his design after asking him some questions. Not as fancy as his, but it got the job done.

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