First attempts..

Had a good one? Tell us about it here - and don't forget - we like pictures!
Post Reply
Robhaigh
Steady Drinker
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:42 pm

First attempts..

Post by Robhaigh » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:07 pm

Well.... first 3 Grainfather brews are under the belt and I can safely say I have learnt a lot..
I cant say I have brewed a good beer yet but.... I have learnt a lot!

Beer 1 - went all out (mistake... running before walking!) and went for a neipa. Took forever to figure out equipment, got shouted at by OTH, took forever to clean up, Pitched yeast to warm, ferment came up short, forgot to take of readings, tried to bottle condition, probably oxidised, the list goes on.
Result - drinkable , at a pinch !!

Beer 2 - a simpler chinook recipe ... a better brew day, figured a few things out to make it shorter (and didn’t get shouted at.... as much!!)
Decided to buy some more gear ( what a surprise... it seems a running theme in brewing! And bought some kegs and co2......and a bottle gun!)
Hit OG and FG :-)... tasted good.
Kegged.
Then..... mucked up the disconnects ( learning curve , didn’t realise different connect types!@@!!) and couldn’t get disconnect off so managed to coat the inside of my garage with a few litres of beer!!
Then... managed to somehow loose all my co2 ( must have made some of the pipe work loose I think from battling with the disconnect). So.. spent a few days stressing thinking I now had a keg of beer sitting with oxygen instead of co2.
Bought more co2 , gassed and then tried bottling with co2 bottle wand thingy! Most of the bottles a disaster and foamed like hell!
Bonus was a good glass or two of fresh beer..... still tasted good.
Booby prize was .... a day later I opened a bottle or two and no fizz, flat’ish beer and changed colour.... .definately oxidised :-(
Probably a lost batch :-(
Lesson..... think I perhaps had the keg not cold enough. Will try again next time. May even invest in a counter pressure filler rather than a beer gun filler.

Beer 3 - I know I should be taking it easy on the recipe but.. what the hell.... A pecan cherry choc stout, should be about 7%....... is currently in the fermenter :-)
Thinking ... as its a stout/ porter I should bottle condition it .
Thoughts anyone....? Bottle condition or keg it and force carb?

Learning, learning, learning...
Cleaning, cleaning , cleaning!!!

As an aside... I cant fault the Grainfather, simple, easy to use, excellent mash efficiently and easy to clean. It’s just the learning process after the brew is done that’s a bit steep at the moment!!

All good fun though (I think!!)


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Fil
Telling imaginary friend stories
Posts: 5232
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: Cowley, Oxford

Re: First attempts..

Post by Fil » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:03 am

skilled brewers with a refined procedure can often brew a beer thats ready to drink in only a few weeks and can get away with the dry hop load that some hop bombs require. most of us however brew beers that can benefit from a longer period in the bottle or keg to mature, I dare say your beers if given more time in the bottle would have matured into something of note, but the heavy dry hop bill can work against you in that it drives you to sup the beer when its still perhaps green to get the hop aroma benefit before it fades.

so perhaps cut your teeth on more traditional brews to start with and guage the sort of period your brews benefit from to mature fully, by all means sample early but if your not impressed hold back the session another week or two till it does.. Then when it comes to brewing a hop bomb, if for example your beers tend to benifit from an 8 week maturing period, you can hold back from dry hopping in the keg till a few weeks before you expect to sup, getting the benefit from the maturing and the ripe fresh hop aroma.
ist update for months n months..
Fermnting: not a lot..
Conditioning: nowt
Maturing: Challenger smash, and a kit lager
Drinking: dry one minikeg left in the store
Coming Soon Lots planned for the near future nowt for the immediate :(

Robhaigh
Steady Drinker
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:42 pm

Re: First attempts..

Post by Robhaigh » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:44 am

Fil wrote:skilled brewers with a refined procedure can often brew a beer thats ready to drink in only a few weeks and can get away with the dry hop load that some hop bombs require. most of us however brew beers that can benefit from a longer period in the bottle or keg to mature, I dare say your beers if given more time in the bottle would have matured into something of note, but the heavy dry hop bill can work against you in that it drives you to sup the beer when its still perhaps green to get the hop aroma benefit before it fades.

so perhaps cut your teeth on more traditional brews to start with and guage the sort of period your brews benefit from to mature fully, by all means sample early but if your not impressed hold back the session another week or two till it does.. Then when it comes to brewing a hop bomb, if for example your beers tend to benifit from an 8 week maturing period, you can hold back from dry hopping in the keg till a few weeks before you expect to sup, getting the benefit from the maturing and the ripe fresh hop aroma.
Yep.
I have definitely realised the whole thing is a patience game. I hold my hands up , I rushed parts of the process in these first few brews, time free, no idea what I was doing, other 'stuff' to do etc etc.
Not going to throw the second brew, will just tuck it away and see what happens to it in a few weeks. Perhaps it will turn in to something else , perhaps it won't.
In the meantime I have learnt a lot.
Now I have a decent set up I figure to bottle condition the porter again, putting it away to mature and then make a more simple single malt single grain brew for the keg.
I will have another go at bottling from the keg but next time as I now know, more patience, less haste !!!


Sent from my Mi A1 using Tapatalk


User avatar
IPA
Under the Table
Posts: 1219
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:29 am
Location: France Gascony

Re: First attempts..

Post by IPA » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:54 am

Follow Fil's advice. Start with a simple beer and brew it time and time again until you get it right. If you persist in brewing " exotic" beers you will never know what you are doing wrong. It might pay dividends because the current craze,driven by brewers that cannot brew, to drink cloudy hop soup will eventually fade and you will be ahead of the game.
"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." Dean Martin

1. Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming... "f*ck, what a trip!"

TheSumOfAllBeers
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 624
Joined: Tue May 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: First attempts..

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:29 pm

Not each recipe is equally easy/forgiving.

Some Belgian styles can be easy to make yet still impress people.

High impact hoppy styles can be tricky.

Start simple.

jaroporter
Drunk as a Skunk
Posts: 996
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:12 pm
Location: Garden of England

Re: First attempts..

Post by jaroporter » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:51 pm

good to hear you're not getting disheartened at least! it gets easier though most of us still mess up occasionally.(and some more often than we'd like too. i had a beer shower just the other day as i was absent-mindely fiddling with my mates corny.. :oops: ).
certainly with new equipment there is always a wearing-in period of finding the best way to use it, then it becomes easy (until the next mod!)

i'd second the advice on simple brews while you're getting used to it. if for no other reason than making the brewday more relaxed. silly little things make a difference like only having to weigh out pale malt rather than 10 different grains; just the one hop addition at the start and one at the end gives you plenty of time to stay ahead of the game with tidying and planning out your next manouevers.
the simple brews will be ready sooner so faster and easier to pinpoint mistakes in (or know what went right!). sounds boring but it probably took me 30 hit or miss crazy brews to learn this and my brewing immediately improved massively. now i can brew the crazy stuff just how i want it.

i'd probably recommend bottle conditioning at the start as well if you're having problems with oxidation as the live yeast in the bottles can help scrub oxygen from the brew. (same applies to priming a keg rather than force carbing it too). though i'd more likely just keep it all in the keg 'cause it's eeeeassssyyyy :D

best of luck onwards!
dazzled, doused in gin..

Robhaigh
Steady Drinker
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:42 pm

Re: First attempts..

Post by Robhaigh » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:47 pm

Cheers for all the help. / Advice.

Had a good clean up at weekend and definitely going to take advice and do a more simple single malt single hop brew next time. Planning on keeping it simple and leaving in keg with a few bottle conditioned too so I can compare the methods.

My all out porter was also bottled and currently sat in the warm conditioning. If first taste is anything to go by it should prove to be a good one. More tasting notes on that one in a couple of months when it's had time to mature a little.

I also sampled a few of my bottled Chinooks that on initial bottling i thought i had ruined. Apart from bring very under carbonated it actually tastes good. Shame I lost a load of it but, glad I actually got some drinkable beer :-)

More brewing,
More testing ,
More tasting,
It's a tough job etc etc etc :-)

Sent from my Mi A1 using Tapatalk


Fil
Telling imaginary friend stories
Posts: 5232
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: Cowley, Oxford

Re: First attempts..

Post by Fil » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:20 pm

with screw cap bottles you can easily slip in a 2nd priming dose to increase the condition, just dump it in quick and be prepared for a mini volcano (think small scale cola mintoes) so over a tray.. probably wont happen and if it does its not gonna be on the same scale it will just splurge foam out and over the bottle neck, no biggy in fact its good as its also pushing out any air and contaminates you let in by cracking the bottle.. Its never happened to me ( i have only redosed the once iirc ;) and that was some time ago,, circa 94, but if i dont mention it its bound to happen to you if you attempt it on my word ;) just recap asap to minimise the losses, but take it from me 2l of foam equates to a finger full of flat beer in the bottom of a pint glass :) but its best kept in the bottle than over the best room carpet..
ist update for months n months..
Fermnting: not a lot..
Conditioning: nowt
Maturing: Challenger smash, and a kit lager
Drinking: dry one minikeg left in the store
Coming Soon Lots planned for the near future nowt for the immediate :(

stokie_spaceman
Steady Drinker
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 6:14 pm

Re: First attempts..

Post by stokie_spaceman » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:17 pm

Fil wrote:with screw cap bottles you can easily slip in a 2nd priming dose to increase the condition, just dump it in quick and be prepared for a mini volcano (think small scale cola mintoes) so over a tray.. probably wont happen and if it does its not gonna be on the same scale it will just splurge foam out and over the bottle neck, no biggy in fact its good as its also pushing out any air and contaminates you let in by cracking the bottle.. Its never happened to me ( i have only redosed the once iirc ;) and that was some time ago,, circa 94, but if i dont mention it its bound to happen to you if you attempt it on my word ;) just recap asap to minimise the losses, but take it from me 2l of foam equates to a finger full of flat beer in the bottom of a pint glass :) but its best kept in the bottle than over the best room carpet..
You can always dissolve the sugar in a little water to make a syrup. Boil it to sanitise (could microwave). Use a syringe to prime bottle. This should prevent a foam eruption.

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk


Kingfisher4
Piss Artist
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:03 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: First attempts..

Post by Kingfisher4 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:49 am

I am also just into my third brew with the Grainfather. I jumped straight in at the deep end with all grain brewing and the Grainfather. First brew date was 12th of January.
I guess I am lucky that I like fairly simple traditional English ales, from the cask and hand pump, so almost flat and I therefore wanted to start with that style!
My brother-in-law has brewed all grain from a more basic kit, for many years and was invaluable to help point me in the right direction, in addition to Graham Wheeler’s book.

First brew:
Hop back Summer Lightning from Graham Wheeler. I know it’s the middle of winter, but sampling a bottle conditioned, non-primed summer lightning from my brother-in-law last year made me want to make this simple recipe my first brew.

The brew day was long but fun. A nightmare start the night before when my fastFerment vessel plastic threads were so soft they wouldn’t seal. Immensely grateful to the local homebrew shop for immediate replacement.

I had tried to sort out a schedule with a list of steps to take, ingredients to add and stages to try to remember. Most of it worked quite well. I still like a paper copy to fill in on the day, whether I use Beersmith or similar eventually I am yet to decide.

Copious notes may help with future reference and to reduce the chances of repeated errors. The Grainfather exceeded the planned original gravity, from the guessed 75% efficiency.
Fermented quickly with Crossmyloof dried real ale yeast, I really appreciated the design and simplicity of the conical fermenter to dump the waste yeast after primary fermentation. Had stockpiled clean bottles from home consumption of commercial beer for the last few months. Bottling was time-consuming but satisfying.

Used a few clear bottles to assess flocculation and yeast clearing. I appreciate these won’t keep longer term, but great to see the beer clearing quickly. Have managed to resist trying more than a few so far, pleasing result with light effervescence and fairly similar to my recollection of the real ale, gentle effervescence is not far-off draft taste with a satisfying lingering bitter aftertaste. Looking forward to further maturation.

Second brew:
Recently tried Oakham Bishop’s farewell in a local pub and loved it.
Recipe from this forum and away I went! Even with simple recipes, I couldn’t resist fiddling around and had read about first wort hoping so tried it.
Almost resulted in throwing the whole batch away! My post sparge gravity reading was only 1.014, my schoolboy error seems to have been to sample the layer immediately under the floating hops after finishing sparging. I guess the dense sugary water was hiding below, with the hops layer keeping the last sparge runnings high in the Grainfather wort; as it also gave excellent efficiency with a midboil sample once properly mixed!
Next lesson was a complete crash and failure of the grainfather app when I inadvertently updated the iOS software on my phone.

After much research, I realised why my connect control box wasn’t syncing with my phone, wrong app! Much better now I have downloaded grainfather connect app. It is now much easier to type up the recipe on the desktop with the cloud link to the phone.

Also bottled last week, the sample tried after the gravity reading seems promising. I have managed to resist sampling any more yet. Again on the experience of my brother in law and hoping to maintain patience I have opted for Graham Wheeler’s non primed technique which I know will take longer to condition in the bottles but might result in beer closer to cask draught; I disliked the excess fizz in a recent commercial bottle of TT Landlord.

Third brew:
Five days into primary fermentation now. I thought Timothy Taylors Landlord was one of my favourite Real ales and planned that as an early brew. Yet again, I can’t resist tinkering, just because I can! I have enjoyed a few beers with a small amount of crystal malt and although enjoy Landlord, the last few pints I wondered whether a little crystal might enhance the experience. Added 5% to the grainbill and look forward to seeing the result. The rest is true to Graham Wheeler’s book and using Golden promise rather than Maris Otter, as per the Brewery and bottle claims.
Also, thanks to this forum I have tried Mangrove Jacks Liberty Bell yeast rather than more Crossmyloof yeast. So far a very rapid initial primary and good flocculation but seems stuck at 1.016, so will patiently await flavour and attenuation comparisons.

Still unsure whether to go for the extra hassle but flexibility of bottling again or risk trying the King Keg awaiting a batch.

Overall, I’ve learnt lots, I have my third brew on the go in just six weeks and am already feeling the need for a second fermentation vessel in case I can start another beer whilst waiting for secondary ferment to do its work.

Most of all, it has been great fun and hopefully I may end up with a drinkable product. I will inevitably try some of the more adventurous beers in future, but aim to stick to the sort of beers I love in a pub or beer festival to try to hone my basic techniques first.

Robhaigh
Steady Drinker
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:42 pm

Re: First attempts..

Post by Robhaigh » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:05 pm

Well the results are in...
.

First 3 attempts and... A new brew..

Brew 1 and 2 ... A neipa and a chinook pale .. not bad , not great.... Neipa was under fermented and the chinook was a nightmare bottling cenario...
All in all the chinook tasted ok in the end but a bit 'home brewy' .
Brew 3 - choc, pecan, cherry porter... Brewed and bottle conditioned for 3 weeks.... God damn this is good .... First bottle openened tonight and hits of all flavours . Finished at 7.5 % and damn it's good. Honestly , something I would pay for and be happy with.

Brew 4 - a citra smash... Kegged yesterday and force carbed. Again I reckon this is a hit. Massive citra taste, lovely cloudy look and perfect mouth feel. Have bought commercial citras that are no where near as good. Hope it keeps its top hop flavour.

So far , as they say.... So good.

Sent from my Mi A1 using Tapatalk


Post Reply