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My First Brew

I recently started my very first brew, a honey porter, and would like some insight as to what I have noticed so far.

I pretty much followed the instructions as closely as possible, so the setup went rather well. The wort started fermenting within hours of pouring the yeast in and I actually had foam escaping through the air lock by the end of the second day of fermenting. Later the next day all of the foam was gone but it appeared to still have some activity. So, I quickly pulled the airlock off and cleaned and sanitized it, then put it back in place. Did I screw anything up, or was what I did ok for the brew.

The reason I ask is now there doesn’t seem to be any activity and I am only three days into fermentation.

Any insight would be most helpful.

Sounds like all is well. For your next brew, think about using a blow off tube for the first few days of fermentation.

Active visual fermentation can last anywhere from 3-5 days or so for ales. If fermentation temps are elevated (70F or above) this can speed up that timeline. Cooler temps can slow it down. Being your first brew, I have to assume you may have fermented on the warm side which would explain the quick ferment. No worries, this is very common. Think about a way to control your fermentation temps going forward. For most styles you want to ferment at or below the bottom end of the yeasts suggested temperature range. The only time I ferment at the high end or above is for certain Belgian styles, Saisons, or after fermentation has slowed or stopped to help the yeast finish up.

Keep reading and posting. Reading about others mistakes and getting tips along with posting questions is the best way to learn and avoid major mistakes.

You made beer! Congrats!! Now brew another batch ASAP!!!

:cheers:

Thanks for the info.

I wasn’t too sure of the temp when I transferred to the fermentor, though, the outside of the pot I used was at least room temp. Short of sticking a thermometer into the wort I didn’t have a more accurate way of checking that.

I think I need some more explanation on a blow off setup. The instructions I have mention it, but doesn’t go into detail.

https://www.google.com/search?q=blow+of ... 01&bih=610

It’s a tube that runs from the hole in the bung or straight from the airlock (3 piece airlock, but only using the main piece) into a container of sanitizer. So you still have an airlock, but the tube will direct any foam/yeast/etc into the container, keeping your airlock open.

Do some reading on homebrewing and forget the instructions next time around. They are usually sketchy at best. Especially the part about “ferment 2 weeks, then rack to secondary”. MANY members on this forum and others would agree secondary is rarely needed.

Don’t stress though. You’ll have more questions than answers over the next few months/years. And with most questions you’ll get a slew of answers. There are many procedures and practices in brewing. They all work one way or another. It all comes down to what works best for you.

Hmmm…The instructions I have say I should transfer the brew into bottles after the initial fermentation. At that point I am to put sugar tabs into the bottles to allow the yeast to generate carbonation.

One question I do have right now is should I just let the brew be for now, and just let it be for a full two weeks or is it ok to transfer after a week?

The reason I ask is I still have to get some bottles together, which means I need to drink about a twelve pack before I am able to transfer. (a horrible situation to be in, I know)

What was the OG? You should let it sit for the full 2 weeks. Even after visual fermentation stops, the yeast are still doing things in there. Once the sugars are consumed they start working on some of the by-products they produced otherwise known as “cleaning up after themselves”. This will also give the beer some maturing time. Some beers can be drank and are quite good after only 2 weeks or so, but many start to taste better after some extended aging time, especially cold aging.

I would leave it go for a full 2-3 weeks then bottle. Let the bottles sit at room temperature to carbonate for 2 weeks. Pop one in the fridge for a day and try it out to make sure it’s carbonated properly. If so, start chilling the rest. Of course you’ll be temped to drink ASAP, but I assure you after a few weeks of cold conditioning the flavor will really come together. A 4-8 week cold conditioned beer is generally going to taste better than one that’s been bottled for only 2-3 weeks.

Good to know. Thanks.

Glad I posted in here, otherwise I would have tried it after about 2-3 weeks. I will give it some time.

Thanks again.

[quote=“KnoticalBrewer”]Good to know. Thanks.

Glad I posted in here, otherwise I would have tried it after about 2-3 weeks. I will give it some time.

Thanks again.[/quote]

It’s a perfect excuse to brew another batch. Always have something in the pipeline!

Welcome to the obsession of home brewing :cheers:

I was planning on starting a new brew once I have this one transferred into bottles. The other pack I have is a honey ale. After this I will have to look through the available packs here to see what I want to do next.

By the way, is it a bad idea to continue to brew through the summer? The place I am storing the fermentor (a one gallon jug) is in our pantry, which is in our garage. It can get kind of warm in there.

Yeah, you want to find a way to keep it cool. Low to mid 60’s is good for most ales. Look into making a swamp cooler. I personally ferment in a mini-fridge with temperature controller. For me that’s the most idea situation since you can really control temps, but if you’re just getting started and making 1 gallon batches, a swamp cooler is probably a much better idea.

Can you put it in the house somewhere? Near an ac vent?

Saison yeast ferment very nicely well up into the 80’s and even 90’s. Just a thought.

Maybe, after the first couple of days once I am sure the period for a blow off has passed. I will have to see if there is enough room under the kitchen sink, or something.

Those first couple of days are the most crucial for keeping temps under control.

So, now I am one week into this and am wondering if I should do a second fermentation. As mentioned above I am doing a honey porter, so I am unsure if I should even consider it for this batch, or just wait another week or so and just transfer into bottles.

That raises another question. The directions I have recommend transferring into 12 ounce bottles, but I do have a 64 ounce jug I have from some beer I had purchased a while ago from a restaurant called Taps in Brea, CA. If I do take some of the beer and transfer it into this jug how many of the sugar tablets should I put in for the final fermentation/carbonation step?

It’s a secondary fermenter, not a second fermentation. a second fermentation is when you add more fermentables. My rule of thumb; When in doubt, wait it out.

Whether to transfer to secondary or not is a debated question. For a first batch, I would say skip it. But I usually don’t bottle anything after only two weeks. Let it sit 3-4.

I believe you’re referring to a “growler.” Bottle conditioning in a growler is not a safe procedure. They’re not meant for that kind of pressure. They can explode violently which makes a nasty mess at best and can send shrapnel into drywall and/or people at worst. You can bottle condition in 22 oz “bomber” bottles though.

Thanks for the response, JMcK, that is very helpful. I will let it sit for another couple of weeks before bottling (need to purchase bottles anyway, meaning buy a twelve pack of beer and drink it before cleaning and sterilizing the bottles. Tough work, I know. :wink: )

The reason I thought I might try the Growler route is to reduce the number of bottles I would need, but I will take your advice.

I now realize that when I purchase beer in a growler it is usually filled via a keg, where the carbonation has already taken place.

Again, thanks for the info.

[quote=“KnoticalBrewer”]Thanks for the response, JMcK, that is very helpful. I will let it sit for another couple of weeks before bottling (need to purchase bottles anyway, meaning buy a twelve pack of beer and drink it before cleaning and sterilizing the bottles. Tough work, I know. :wink: )
[/quote]
You’re welcome, I’m glad to be helpful.

One more thing: No twist-offs. Get bottles that require an opener.

Oh, and a bucket of oxyclean will remove the labels from most bottles with an overnight soak.

Just as a quick update, I bottled my first brew last weekend, and started another (a honey ale). I plan on cracking open a bottle of the porter this coming weekend to see how things are coming along.

Also, I know I was advised against this, but I did end up putting most of the porter in my growler with 5 (to be conservative I divided the amount the growler holds by 12 and rounded down) priming tabs without any problems. It may lead to a slightly flat beer, but better that than a half gallon of brew exploding all over our pantry.

Another update:

I taste testing a bottle of the honey porter today. Turned out pretty good. Not much in the bitterness, which is nice since I really don’t like hoppy, bitter bear (which is why I generally steer clear of IPAs). It was quite smooth and reasonably carbonated after only a week after bottling and adding the priming tabs.

Something I may do in the future once I get a bottling bucket (based on something I saw in a YouTube video) is to dissolve the priming sugar in some hot water, then let it cool before adding it to the beer before bottling it.

The reason I am considering this is that there was some residue on the bottom of the bottles after the priming tabs dissolved.

Any arguments against this, or does anyone feel this is a reasonable alternative to adding the priming tabs directly into the bottles?

Dissolving the sugar and adding to a bottling bucket is the best option, in my opinion. (OK, force carbing in a keg may be better; I don’t keg.) Using priming sugar is cheaper, and easier to control your carbonation level. And while you should let it cool a bit, dropping 5 gallons of room temperature beer into a cup of hot sugar water isn’t going to kill that much yeast before the temps equalize.
If you get the 5 oz (by weight) sugar packs, dump it in a 1-cup measuring cup; slowly add the hot water, stirring until you have about a cup of clear sugar water.

Stir GENTLY. You need to be thorough, but don’t mix in more air.

The residue you mention, unless you’re seeing chunks of undissolved tablet, is normal, and has nothing to do with the tablets. Sediment in the bottles is a fact of unfiltered, bottle conditioned beer. it’s just yeast; celebrate it. Like buying yogurt with “active cultures” it means you’re beer is alive. For most styles you just pour the beer off the sediment, for Hefewizen go ahead and get that yeast back in suspension.

Well, as mentioned in my taste testing post the honey porter did come out pretty good, however, I noticed that there was literally no head. Does anyone have any insight as to why this would be? Could this have anything to do with the blow off that occurred early on in fermenation, or is it something else?

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