first brew

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I decided I'd take a stab at this stuff a few days ago and have been
doing a bit of reading since (this group and some of

I just got my first batch into the carboy and I think I've made a few
mistakes, and I'm wondering what that will do to the final product.

I took a friend's old kit that had been sitting unused for a few years
(plastic carboy, piece of hose, one of those bubbling things for the
top, a not-bench-mounted capper and a few slightly rusted caps) and
gave it a good clean (with a soft cloth, remembered that part), did the
soak in bleach bit etc.

I used a tin of Cooper's Real Ale and some normal white cane sugar.  (I
know I should have gone to a brew store, but I wanted to get underway.  
Also, I had about 800g when the recipe called for 1kg)

I used the syphon hose to fill it after I mixed the wort up, and
decided that keeping the hose out of the liquid would mix it well, then
remembered that oxygen is a bad idea (it foamed a lot when I did that,
so I'm worried something beat the yeast to it).  Finally I put all the
yeast in a small patch (then stirred thoroughly) instead of sprinkling
it over as instructed).  Oh, and I suspect the temp might have been a
bit high when I added the yeast too. I probably rushed things too much
and caused more problems than getting the lid on quickly fixed.

So can anyone offer an opinion on whether I should tip it out and start
again or watch it and hope it's going to be fine?  It should fail to
bubble if the yeast got killed shouldn't it?


Re: first brew

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Doubtless your technique could be better, but tipping the batch?  You
may learn more from your mistakes.  

If you read and followed the guide on the site you refer to you should
have no problem.  Is it fermenting now?  (Bubbles from the airlock or
foam from the blow off tube - that stages should last about 2 days and
begin to taper off)

From what you write:  

A kit that is old includes the yeast?  Old yeast, may be dead yeast.
You want to do everything possible to give the yeast a good start, and
that includes using viable yeast in the first place.  Treat the yeast
with respect.

Sprinkle or mix the yeast - hardly matters.  Ideally you would
sprinkle dried yeast on the surface.  Ideally you'd rehydrate, proof
and start the yeast before you pitch it.  Dried yeast can take a lot
of abuse and still work - but get the yeast working fast and you are
more immune to a bacterial infection.

Using bleach to sanitize will work fine, but it must be rinsed really
thoroughly, particularly with the plastic and rubber parts.

Rusty bottle caps are OK as long as that doesn't mean inside where the
beer will be, and they aren't so rusted as to affect the physical
integrity.  They usually start to rust at the edges along the crown or
flutes - that's OK, top cap is OK because you will probably drink the
batch before they rust through.

Aerating the wort is perfectly acceptable and desirable before and
during the time the yeast is taking off.  A lot of splashing is OK.
It is the only time you want oxygen in the wort - the yeast need it to
get started.

You DO NOT, however, want to oxygenate hot wort.  The wort must be
cooled first.  Oxygenating hot wort causes oxidation (undesirable -
changes the flavor).

You haven't said anything about heating the wort - the common extract
homebrew technique is to heat the wort to get the malt extract to mix
if doing a "no boil" technique (don't splash the hot wort - stir it).

 A more common technique is to boil the wort and add hops for flavor
bitter and aroma

During the boil, oxygen is driven out of the wort - so while it is
boiling splashing won't matter.

If boiling the wort, it is desirable to cool it as quickly as you can
before it goes into the fermenter.  This causes the proteins in it to
fall out of suspension and makes the beer clear.  You are just using
extract and sugar - so you don't have a lot of protein there in the
first place, so that may not be so important.

Also there's partial boil and complete boil - you are using partial
boil (or partial heating) the addition of cold water to volume will
cool the wort.

I spray my water into the carboy with a garden hose - which aerates
the water and wort, and causes a lot of foam.  That foaming causes no
problems that I'm aware of.  I rock the carboy to mix the concentrated
wort and water and my yeast starter - although the garden hose does a
pretty good job of mixing.  Failing to mix the wort and water will
allow the (high gravity) wort to sit on the bottom of the carboy and
the yeast will start working slower.

With a glass carboy I like to put about 1/4 to 1/3 of the water in
first so the warm concentrated wort won't cause the glass to break.  I
don't know that it is necessary - I just never want to find out the
hard way.

The yeast should begin fermentation in 5-12 hours.  Longer may still
work OK but isn't ideal.

The website has a good,
relatively complete, description of brewing.

Stick with the batch you have and only toss it when you know it is bad
- just doing one or two things in a  less than ideal manner won't
automatically mean the batch is ruined.

Re: first brew

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Thanks, you've done a lot to help me sleep tongight :)

The last time I checked I watched a few bubbles go through the lock
so that's a good sign (about 4hrs since I put it in now).

What I did with the wort was to sit the tin in hot tap water
(supposed to make it flow out easier) while I boiled a couple of
litres (2) of water.  When I was done rinsing the bleach out
(possibly not as thoroughly as I should have, but pretty well) I left
about 2 litres of hot tap water in the bottom, added the sugar to
that, mixed it in, tipped the boiling water in, then added the tin's
contents and gave that a good stir.  I took it downstairs imediatly
and added cold water up to the 23 liter mark (about 10 of that with
the hose out of the mix).  Good to hear that the foam is normal.

Also, the carboy and other such things were old, the tin was bought a
few hours ago and expires in 2006, so it shouldn't be dead.  I didn't
do anything special to help the yeast along, just tored the tinfoil
pack open and tipped it in, I did read in my travels that cooper's
yeast was relativly tough though.


P.S. why do people emphasise rinsing the bleach, is it going to kill
me or just make the beer taste bad?

Re: first brew
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It is unlikely it will kill you.  Most people I've seen tend to use
way more bleach than it takes to sanitize (so the concentration is
high and requires more rinsing)

The only thing I have against bleach is that it is tenacious (will
permeate and stick to some surfaces).  A small amount of residual
bleach is relatively easy to taste (as I discovered with my first
batch many years ago) and is disagreeable in beer.

People use it all the time with good results.  It is inexpensive and
readily available.  Handle it with care, avoid skin/eye contact, avoid
too high a concentration - measure the amount you use (or do so at
least once so you can guesstimate more accurately)

We used bleach to sanitize our RO system in a chemistry lab.  The
protocol was written to add "about" 10 milliliters of bleach to the
system and turn on the pump then flush until the conductivity of the
water dropped.  We wasted a lot of money on filters until we found the
maintenance person was interpreting "about" as "tip the gallon jug and
pour several cups into the system."  The protocol was changed to read
"exactly" 10 ml.  A chemist could estimate that amount, a maintenance
person has to be told. (anywhere between 5 and about 20ml would work)

I switched to using sodium percarbonate that I buy online from
chemical supply outlets - cheap, effective and relatively safe.  It
disassociates into hydrogen peroxide in water and releases some
gaseous oxygen and CO2.  One of its uses is in aquaculture (at high
dilution rates) to keep fish alive in transport or when a pond is low
in oxygen etc..  Also used commercially to bleach fabric.

A few bubbles in four hours is probably good.  I always start/proof
the yeast hours before I pitch the starter - that will usually give me
vigorous fermentation in ~5 hours (foam coming out of the blow off

I use whiskey or grain alcohol in the airlock on the theory that it
will kill anything that tries to get into my wort.  It may be a waste
of money, but it makes me feel better . . . And the airlock never
reverses flow since I added temperature control to the fermenters.

If you cooled the wort too slowly, the beer may be cloudy or turn
cloudy when you refrigerate it (called "chill haze").  That doesn't
affect the taste.

A "wet cardboard" taste is from oxidized wort.  I, myself, don't munch
a lot of wet cardboard . . . but do know what it smells like.

Using corn or cane (table) sugar is OK especially if you are just
starting.  It gives beer a slightly sour taste or "cidery" taste.
Bear that in mind if you encounter that flavor.  Most homebrewers will
use all malt extract for sugar and just use some corn or table sugar
for carbonation.

You can buy cheap beer more cheaply than you can make it;   you can
make "good" beer more cheaply than you can buy it.  

For body (head) and color you can use crushed grains steeped in water
(that later gets boiled and made into wort).  

Hops flavor and aroma (sorely lacking in most commercial brews and
many microbrews) is tricky to get right, but worth the effort if you
continue with the hobby.

Re: first brew

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I did just tip the bleach in, so the recomended 1/2 cup probably came
out as about 2.
For the last couple of hours it's been averaging a bubble every 2
seconds or so.  I certainly didn't cool the wort slowly, but I may
have oxidised it a bit, I'll keep an eye out for interesting flavours
in a few weeks.  I'm pretty confident it'll come out as something
worth drinking now, those bubbles give me hope.

Also, I don't know what American pricing on cheap beer is like (I'm
in Australia, and I'm making assumptions about where you are), but
this will cost me about $15 for 18L ($10 tin + bits and pieces).  The
same amount of similar strength store bought would be about $70.  So
I think I can produce it more cheaply.  Of course, if I worked for
pay over the hours it takes to do it the figures would look somewhat
different.  From what I see in here there are people that consider
time spent brewing to be no great hardship though.

At this point I'm not much of an expert on different beers, that was
part of the attraction - making a batch of something should show me
more of the differences than buying a six pack of it.  

I plan to brew out of store bought tins for the first few months.  It
seems like something I could get interested in, so I'll probably work
toward more control over the process, pick up a bit more equipment
etc. as time goes by.

One last point, is there any downside to leaving it in the carboy for
a few days more than it probably needs?  I haven't got a hygrometer,
and I will be away for the weekend around the time this will probably
finish fermenting, so I plan to leave it in for a full week, just so
I know it's finished and so I will have time to clean bottles and
stuff about.


Re: first brew
On Mar 15, 8:10 am Peter,QLD wrote:

"One last point, is there any downside to leaving it in the carboy for
a few days more than it probably needs?  I haven't got a hygrometer,
and I will be away for the weekend around the time this will probably
finish fermenting, so I plan to leave it in for a full week, just so
I know it's finished and so I will have time to clean bottles and
stuff about."

Hi Peter

I usually brew on Saturday then rack to the second ferment the
following Saturday then bottle the Saturday after that although I have
left the beer in the second ferment for 2 weeks on several occasions
and I've never seen any negative results.
I have heard if you leave the beer in the primary fermentor too long
the yeast hulls will start to break down and give your beer off flavors
but that would take quite a while.

Good Luck & enjoy brewing
Griz, Colorado USA

Re: first brew
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Most folks do overuse chlorine bleach.  In fact the 1/2 cup is
probably the correct dilution for 20 liters of water if you intend to
kill living things.  Five drops of bleach in the same quantity of
water is probably enough to make water safe to drink.

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Out of curiosity, what do you pay for Fosters in the large tins?
That's the only Aussie beer they have where I live.  They have the
bottles in supermarkets too, but I swear it isn't the same beer.

Cheap, slightly flavored water with allusions to the term "beer" on
the labels,  here sells for around $30/18 liters (assuming my
conversions are accurate).  The cheapest actual beer is more like
$50/18 liters ("on sale").  It wasn't long ago that cheap American
beer was less than brand name soda pop.

Hours it takes?  for me that's about 4-6 a week and with a batch (~19
liters) coming off about every week.

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I go about it the other way around - try to sample the commercial
version of a beer then decide to try brewing it.

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Nothing wrong with the store bought tins.  They sell a "no boil"
version of John Bull porter that I've been wanting to try.  $18 for
two 3.5 lb tins.  (Ever since I had some Samuel Smith's "Taddy Porter"
I've been on a porter jag)  There's nothing quite like getting up
early and putting in a couple of hours on the kayak then having a
porter for breakfast.
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You are getting back to ideal versus good enough again.  The beer can
fit around your life, as a rule.  It isn't that critical.  You are
using relatively low sugar and an easily fermentable sugar so it
should be ready in a week.  I leave mine in the primary fermenter for
3-5 days (usually closer to three) then rack to a secondary and let it
sit for the balance of two weeks, then bottle.  A high alcohol (lots
of sugar) beer might go for up to a month.  There's also lager and ale
- lager takes longer at lower temperatures.  "Barley Wine" and mead
take awhile also.

I used to use a hygrometer.  It is only really useful if you have an
accurate starting gravity (hard to get with anything less than full
boil brewing in my opinion) and then it is useful in telling you that
fermentation is/isn't complete.  If it isn't complete, what they call
"stuck fermentation" you don't have that many options - pitch more
yeast, raise the temperature a bit. worry about it, or just bottle it
and move on.  Since I always bottle it and move on . . .

My only bad batch was the first, ~14 years ago.  I knew nothing about
beer making and had no Internet or usenet to ask questions.  Since
then my worst brews are about like Fosters in a can, and I consider
that pretty good beer.

You are wise to stay with cans for a time, but read up on grains and
hops etc. - that's where the real artistry and reward come in.  

Want something a little different? substitute some honey for the
sugar, or throw 8 -16 ounces of molasses in addition to the sugar
(sweetens the brew slightly, adds a nut brown color to light colored
beer, and alters the flavor a bit)

I look forward to "brewing day."  After the coffee pot comes off the
burner, the yeast starter goes on.  Once it has boiled I let it cool
until the yeast can be pitched.  Meanwhile the brew pot is heated to
~160F and the grains go in and the brew pot goes into an insulated
"cooler" to let them steep.  Pitch the yeast to the starter then fill
the bottling bucket with sanitizer and wash the bottles in the
bottling bucket.  Drain the bottling bucket, while the carbonation
sugar/water is boiling - drain through the racking hose, blow off hose
and bottling hose so they get sanitized.  Bottle and cap while the
next batch of wort (grain bag removed) is heating, dissolve the DME
add the bitter hops and boil, add flavor and/or aroma hops, cool the
wort and fill the carboy that I washed while the wort was boiling.
Attach the blow off tube and it is done - pet the cat.

I have an efficient system worked out.  It is easy brainless work for
the most part and I listen to music and drink homebrew - if that's
called "work" bring it on!   This is a damn fine hobby.

One other thing . . . keep the fermenter carboy away from sunlight or
fluorescent light (I throw a pair of old sweat shirts over each to
keep light out and heat in - but it is <20C here)  The hops in the
wort and beer, is photo chemically active.  A large enough dose of
light (of the shorter - blue - wavelengths) will cause a skunky taste
(like almost all bottled, store bought, Heinekin here in the states).
Does Australia even have skunks?  Musk turtles?  Sub "creature that
uses odorous musk glands to repel threats" for "skunk"

Take care

Re: first brew

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I haven't even tasted Fosters that I remember, it is sold here, but
not overwhelmingly popular.  I know our international reputation is
mostly based on it though, so I might have to sample some and develop
an opinion.

The standard size for cans here is 375ml (12.7oz), the same for
stubbies.  I don't think I've seen Australian beer in anything
bigger, but I prefer glass anyway and don't go looking for cans.
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I've got mine in a nice dark corner under the house (not a basement).  
I've put it right in close to the conrete wall, and there's earth on
the other side of that, so it should be quite cool/stable in
temperature there.  I haven't got a termometer though, might have to
get one of those ones that stick on the side for easy reference.  The
days have been maxing at about 30C (86F) and the nights have been
down to about 20C (68F) lately.

We don't have anything really equivelent to skunks, I know of them,
but I don't know what they smell like.


Re: first brew

Totally off topic.  

I use kites to pull my kayak (wind permitting).  I noticed that all
four of my kites ("parafoils" and "sleds" - single line kites) pull to
the right when over stressed (outside their wind range on the high

Now four ain't exactly what they call "a statistically significant
sampling."  So I posted to a kite usenet group . . . my first/only
reply, so far, is that there is no Coriolis effect in kites or drains
in Northern and Southern hemispheres, and they quote a site that
supports this idea.  

Which direction do your drain water vortexes spin in (clockwise -  end
away from where you are standing to the right -- or anticlockwise)?

Know anyone that flies single line kites there - in heavy wind?  

Mine all pull/spin right when overloaded, but that may just be
coincidence.  At least for kites - there's no denying all drains here
spin clockwise or at least all of them that I've ever seen.

Re: first brew

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I just went and found your thread, and read the one link out of the
two that actually loaded.  Remarkable.  He's gone and mathematically
proved that it shouldn't happen, without apparently bothering to
check if it does.

Now I'm confused, I generally trust these guys on such matters.  I'm going to do a bit of experimenting.

Inconclusive, I did a few different basins, but I thought it was
meant to go counter clock, so I started a small clockwise swirl to
make sure, then they went clockwise.  But they were small basins and
probably don't take long enough to drain to be able to combat an
introduced swirl with the forces.  I got bored of it about then :)

It'd be interesting to see someone who's taken a scientific approach
to whether it happens or not rather than whether it's plausible.

Actually, now I'm not even sure what results I was meant to get.  I
think the moral of the story is that I need to find some lunch.


Re: first brew


You never can be sure until the fermentation process is well underway.
Just let things be for a copule of days.
If your brew starts to ferment within a day & completes fermentation within
4 days you may be lucky.
Wait a few days for the sediment & yeast toi settle then draw off some fluid
& taste it.
If its just flat beeer a bit green your home. If the flat beer has any off
flavours dump the lot & better luck next time.

Qld also

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