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Novice Homebrewer: The First Brew Day

The Set Up

If you have been reading my previous two posts about homebrewing, than you know that I have finally reached the pinnacle of the experience, and some homebrewing is about to begin. It was a day that I had essentially been dreaming about for at least two years, and I was slightly nervous to begin. I had read the instructions to complete the A-Z Brown Ale in Sam Calagione’s “Extreme Homebrewing” at least ten times, so I did feel pretty prepared.

I gathered all of my ingredients on a table and set up the turkey fryer. Of course, I cleaned everything that was going to touch the beer, as from everything I read that cleanliness and sanitization are the most important aspects of brewing.

I’m not going to go through every step, as there are plenty of manuals, including “Extreme Homebrewing,” that details everything in the process. Instead, I am going to detail a few things that I learned along the way so as to help you avoid the same mistakes that I made. But, without making mistakes, we cannot fully learn, so I feel as though I’ve come a long way following my first brew day experience.

Boil Over

In Progress

First and foremost, I was using a brand new turkey fryer and getting used to the equipment. I was following my temperature gauge very carefully as I brought the water near boil, but all of a sudden I had a boil over and lost some of the hops I added at the beginning of the 60-minute boil period, not to mention some of the to-be wort. Well, what went wrong? My temperature gauge showed the temperature as roughly 200-degrees, and I had a boil over. We should all know based on the physical property of water that I boils at 212-degrees, but what I believe is not accounted for is that the thermometer reaches approximately 2/3 of the way into the liquid, and the temperature at the bottom near the flame was actually boiling while the liquid at the top was cooler. It’s a theory, but I will attempt to control my next brew near the 200-degree mark to prevent a boil over.

Molasses

Here’s something that makes so much sense when thinking about it, but I never thought of it when I was brewing. If it is winter time, do not bring the molasses outside with you while brewing if it is an ingredient in your recipe. Since I didn’t need it until 50 minutes into the boil, it became somewhat cold (it was about 35 degrees outside that day) and poured out of the measuring cup like, well, molasses. It is a much better idea to keep the molasses inside, even if it is a basement, during the bulk of the brewing. There is plenty of time to run and grab it before it needs to be added to the boil, and you will find it much easier to pour when it is nearer to room temperature than winter temperatures.

Some Boil Over

Overall, I thought my first brewing day went pretty well and I expect to have a successful batch. The boil over concerned me a little bit as I lost some wort (eventually beer) and some hops that go along with it. However, I had a great time making, and drinking, beer. Another note: you much always drink beer while making beer; it’s an unwritten rule. I feel that if I can make beer, you can too. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your first batch!

 

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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