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What were your rookie mistakes

I was recently posting to someone about how the first time I used a hydrometer I dropped and smashed it while putting it away. Literally, I used it once, then had to sweep up its shattered remains. I’ve had some very successful batches since then but still learn more from my mistakes than from reading.

So let me ask all of you: When you started out what where YOUR rookie mistakes?

Any good laughs to share?

First time I brewed I tried to use a drill with a bad battery to run my mill. In the end the grain did not get crushed effectively, and since I had not seen what crushed grain looked like I tried mashing anyway. Ended up giving me about 1.02 or something. About %1.5 ABV. Very clear sparkling hop water. Tasted like some non-alcoholic beers do.

Another time soon after that I was brewing something that probably would have hit the marks I had set, except my friend thought the amount of water I was using to sparge would be way too much and would dilute the beer beyond belief. I should have trusted my own calculations because we ended up with something pretty potend when we went basically on first runnings only. %7.5. Called it Hobo 7-up.

I followed the yeast temp guidelines on the wyeast package

I also dumped my first all-grain batch because I thought it was infected(also only got 60% efficiency)…turns out I just didnt like Kolch

My 2nd brewing attempt: I had read a lot, did a successful extract 1st brew, so figured I knew it all ( :lol: ) I took a ‘Truebrew German Dark’ kit, added all kinds of specialty grains, including hometoasting some maris otter. Didn’t do a mash because somehow despite all my reading I missed that. Then, added about 3 tablespoons of mulling spices, plus honey to the boil. Then after 1 week, transferred it to a secondary, and because I was worried about O2 , added 1/2 lb of sugar, AND more mulling spices.
Well, it was drinkable- barely. Actually got much better with time, and now 20 months after brewing it, the few bottles I have left are actually pretty good.
My 3rd brewing attempt: (1 week after #2, so I hadn’t learned much yet). Took NBs ‘Wheat kit’ and added 2 lb honey and 1/2 lb chopped ginger root to the boil. Carbonated that one with Maple syrup(and a little too much). Even now it’s not much of a beer, but I keep a few bottles around because it’s a GREAT tonic for sour stomachs.
We learn from our mistakes! :cheers:

I was going to do a late extract addition. I’m cooling my wort and see some extract. Thought it was odd, then I realized I didn’t add it. I just threw in the wort and stirred it, looked like pancake mix. Beer turned out fine.

My first few brews, I treated like a chemistry test, trying to hit exactly, all the numbers, times, and amounts. When I missed them,I over compensated. Didn’t make anything undrinkable, but had some off tastes. After I started to take it easy, and not worry if a temp just right or an ingrediant was off a little. And most imporantly I did not need that much hops. My beers are a lot better.

My first batch, I have no idea what yeast I used. At the store, I saw a box with a bunch of yeast strains marked on it and assumed that the blue pouch was a substitute for all the different strains marked on the box. I didn’t notice the little dividers in the box and just grabbed a pouch. I still made beer, though…

Also in early extract days, I would worry about getting all the syrup out of the extract jugs. So I read somewhere about pouring some wort into the jug to dilute the extract… so I took a big ladle, and tried to pour boiling wort into the jug. Promptly spilling all over my hand and burning the crap out of it. I still think this is the biggest advantage to going all grain.

Oh, and on my second all grain brew day, I didn’t have a hose barb/tubing to go from my cooler to the kettle. So I just let it drain from my countertop down to the kettle on the floor. Of course, it splashed a little, so I grabbed a sponge to wipe down cabinet fronts while collecting second runnings. I fumbled the sponge, you guessed it, right into the kettle.

I didn’t really have any hilarious or glaring mistakes other than the common ones: poor temp regulation and inadequate yeast pitching.

My first batch (about 1987) was an extract Irish Red kit that had been sitting on the shelf since about two weeks after Pasteur discovered yeast. It didn’t ferment noticably. After a month or so, the brew shop owner told me that if beer had set for a while it might need more yeast when I bottled it.

I followed his instructions and produced bottle bombs. It took two sutures to close the gash in the back of my arm.

Good Lord. There have been so many…

Much like above, after one moderately successful batch I thought I knew everything and decided to make an on the fly clone of a lemon-ginger heff I’d had that summer. Summer being the operative word when I lived on the third story of an apartment complex. So, I buy a wit yeast strain thinking wit meant wheat. Then I buy regular light extract not knowing there was wheat extract. Then I invite a friend over to observe me in all my beer making glory. I had no idea what “lemon zest” was so I just cut up 3 lemons and threw them into the wort with the wit yeast that had an initial temperature of 73. It fermented with the lemons and their oh so delicious pith mostly in the lower 80’s. Tried drinking a few bottles of it, but all the fusel alcohol just gave everyone a headache. Dumped most of them.

temperature control issues - fusels;
manhandling glass - broken lab grade hydrometer:
missing water marks on all grain - imperial pilsner then watery wheat ale;
new grain mill - guessing efficiency and hoping for the best;
using American Hefewiezen yeast without marking carboys correctly on a multi batch day - tossing out 5 gallons of “English Bitter” that tasted too clovey.

Rookie mistakes - nope, all of these happened within the last couple years. Always learning something new.


Bottle too early / too eager, and… BOOM, with beer on the ceiling, and shards of glass from multiple bottles up to 20 feet away. I had to wear protective clothing when disposing of the bottles that were still sealed. I think it was a 5-gallon batch and only 3 bottles had exploded, but the other ~47 bottles were all dangerous gushers.

That’s probably the biggest rookie error I ever committed. The others mostly relate to underpitching. If you want a beer to turn out really crappy, pitch some old dead yeast in there and see what you get.

And then there was the time just a year ago when I first bought my glass carboys. I filled one with hot wort with the intent of chilling it in a cold water bath. Bad mistake. The moment it struck the cold water, it cracked in many places. But that’s not the worst part. The beer was all still in the cracked carboy without any real issue. If I had only taken a hose and siphoned it off into another container, the batch would have been just fine. But no. I decided to try to lift the carboy carefully to pour it into a bucket. Dumbass. It immediately splooshed 100% all over the sink, as of course the bottom circle of the carboy was totally unattached from the cylindrical part.

Maybe that’s actually the worst error, as it was 100% preventable if I had used any brain cells whatsoever, not to mention I had already been brewing for a dozen years and thus should have known better. But I had never ever used glass before that point, so…

Drinking while brewing… Stopped that after I realized I put my wort into an unsanitized carboy. Beer turned out fine at the start, but did develop an infection. DId manage to get through most of the batch before it became undrinkable.

^Good one, I drank a few times while brewing and luckily didn’t screw up but it gets a little sketchy. My prcedure now is to crack a beer once the air look is on

Well I’m not going to brag and tell you that, so far, I’ve never made any mistakes. Because if I did tell you I’ve never made any mistakes sure as heck I’d jinx myself and start macking missteaks.

Oh, crap.

Where do I start!?

Biggest ones for us were:

Boiling with the lid on
Fermenting at room temp
Pouring from primary to secondary. Oxygenate the hell out of it.
Pouring from secondary to bottling bucket. More oxygen.
Bottling without a wand. Open the spigot in to the bottle. More oxygen.

Made some pretty bad beer.

Shot myself with a faulty CO2 injector. Man, that hurt.

Tried making several scotch ales early on. Every single one of them I bottled and every single bottle of every single batch was a gusher. Way overcarbed in the bottle.

My first all grain I did the “sparge until runnings = XXXX gravity”. Mmm…hmmm…12 gallons of wort for a 10 gallon pot. So I boiled and boiled and boiled to try to get it down to a reasonable amount adding several late wort additions. Was not worth the effort.

Tried to brew an experimental imperial coffee stout recipe. Someone said it would be fine to ferment the whole thing with champagne yeast instead of starting with a high gravity yeast and finishing with a champagne yeast. They were wrong. Like mix champagne and a stout to a 3:1 ratio wrong.

Thought I could dynamically switch hops varieties in my head and calculate the IBUs and flavor profile of an APA I was doing. Homebrew shop was out of cascade so I subbed either centennial or columbus. Ended up with a lemon bomb shandy. BMCers thought it was good though so maybe not a total waste.

And I believe I am on my 6th hydrometer now.

Cold crashing with the blowout tube in place. As the carboy cooled and contracted, it sucked about a quart of liquid from the receiver back into the carboy.

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