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My second brew. Critique and questions

So I tackled my second brew yesterday. This one came after spending extensive time on these message boards and others so I hoped to eliminate all the mistakes of my first brew. Feel free to critique my process. I’ll save the questions for the end.

I brewed the Bourbon Barrel Porter extract kit from NB. Finally got to use my new stove (upgraded to gas from electric) Brewing went as expected and the stove worked great. Got 2.5 gal of water to a boil in under 30 min. All extract/hops additions were right on schedule.

Cooled outside in an icebath and got the wort down to 65 degrees in about 25 minutes. Poured the wort into my carboy and got the volume up to 5 gallons. Shook the carboy extensively for about a minute then took it down to my new swamp cooler. I took my OG and it was spot on the target for the kit (1.064)

Swamp cooler is basically a plastic storage container filled with about 5" of water and a wet towel with a box fan blowing on it. Once I placed it in the swamp cooler the fermomitor read about 70ish so I left it in the swamp cooler for another 30 minutes to let it cool before pitching the yeast. I pitched 2 packets of Danstar Windsor dry yeast at about 68deg and installed my blowoff tubing.

By the time I went to bed (about 8 hours later) the temperature was around 65deg and there was a small layer of foam starting to form (about 1/4 inch) and there was a little bit of bubbles in my sanitizer. I woke up this morning to krausen all the way up to the top and blowoff tube nice and full of foam. Sanitizer bucket was bubbling pretty vigorously. Temps were still in the low 60’s.

So now for the questions:

  • How long should I maintain this temperature (low 60’s) to minimize the off flavors. I’ve seen some people say only the first few days are critical and others say leave it at that temperature until you move to secondary

  • Should I expect such a vigorous fermentation this early? I was under the impression that this is the behavior of a higher temperature fermentation but this was definitely in the mid to low 60’s when fermentation began. Anything to worry about here?

  • How long should I keep the blowoff assembly in place? I assume once the krausen starts to drop in the fermenter but just want to make sure I shouldn’t expect this thing to start up again unexpectedly.

  • What temp should I start steeping the specialty grains at? I ended up sticking them in around 100deg and at the 20 minute mark it was at about 160deg so that seems like a pretty good sweet spot. I also didn’t really swirl them around that much, just a couple dips here and there. Are there any benefits to steeping at a constant temperature?

Thanks for any comments/answers. :cheers:

I’d say the most critical days are usually 2-5. I’d keep the temperature stable for 5-7 then just let it come up slowly after that.

The yeast will start when it starts. As long as you are sure about your temps there should be nothing to worry about.

The quick start may have something to do with your pitch rate of 2 packs of yeast. My guess is that is slightly more than needed - maybe ideal would have been 1.5 packs for example. Don’t think this will be of any concern.

Replace the blowoff as soon as you don’t need it anymore (after the highest points of fermentation have subsided.

I usually leave the blowoff tube in there until i move to secondary. I keep the temperature constant for the whole duration of primary fermentation (2 weeks or so). I usually heat my pot to 155 degrees and then i steep the specialty grain in that for about 20 minutes with the flame off.
Blowoff is not necessarily due to high temps. Its a combination of the amount of proteins in the wort, amount of yeast and nutrients and temp. I’ve had blowoffs at 68 degrees with a 1.042 beer.

I expected the blowoff just not so early (within 16 hours of pitching).

I’ve had it happen.

Skip secondary. It’s just a ploy to sell 5 gallon carboys. 3 weeks in primary then bottle.

Part of the recipe calls for bourbon and smoked oak cubes. I would like to keep it on the oak cubes for a month so I need to transfer to secondary for that.


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