Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ryen’s Pale Ale Brew Day

This post can simply be summed up in the phrase: RDWHAHB. No I didn’t hit my head on the keyboard and post what came out. RDWHAHB is an acronym that stands for “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A HomeBrew”.  If I had done this write up immediately after brewing it might have just been titled ”Lessons Learned”, thankfully a couple days and a couple homebrews later everything seems to be working out.
We brewed on Thursday night and for the most part everything went well, better than expected in fact. Taking in lessons from last time I created a “Brew Cheat Sheet” for our schedule and laid out all the ingredients and materials in the order we would need them.
Everything went great, even though we changed a couple of things from the first brew. First, since this was a partial mash we needed to add extract. After doing some research online I decided to add it in the last 15 minutes of the boil to get rid of the “twang” that often accompanies the use of extracts. Secondly I added in a Whirlfloc tablet to clear the beer, because pretty beer is good beer. Finally and most importantly, I used my new Christmas gift, a Wort Chiller. A wort chiller looks like a copper spring that sits in the wort, cold water runs through it and cools it faster. If I had known how much ass this thing would kick I would have gotten it sooner. During our first brew we chilled the wort by placing it in a sink ice bath. This took about 45 minutes to cool down. With the Wort Chiller this process took 15 freakin’ minutes. So much easier and so much better.

Unfortunately that was where the good vibes ran out. After adding the wort to the fermentation bucket I need to bring the volume up to 5 gallons, this is standard. After adding in a gallon of water I took a hydrometer reading. The target Original Gravity for this beer is 1.053, the reading was 1.042, this was bad, very bad. For most reading you might say .011 is pretty close, unfortunately this is not the case. If you were playing football this would be equivalent to kicking a field goal and nailing your coach in the head. Although this was bad it was still ok, the beer tasted fine it just wouldn’t be as strong, that is doable.

Before sealing up the fermenter and waiting for beer to form I needed to add in yeast. For this brew I decided to use liquid yeast from Wyeast. This came in a “Smack Pack” where you have to hit the packet to activate it. The morning of, I took the packet out and smacked it. When it came time to dump the yeast into the fermenter I noticed that the pack had not inflated all the way and as I poured out the yeast, I could diffidently tell that yeast was not ready to be poured but since it was already opened I had to commit.
Once I poured in the yeast and sealed the fermenter I was left to my thoughts about what I had done wrong to get the bad hydrometer reading and the poor yeast. I sat down to research both. After reading some threads on I discovered my bad hydrometer reading was probably due to the gallon of water that I added to the wort to bring it to 5 gallons. When I took the reading right after adding the water I had not given it enough time to mix, thus giving me a bad reading. As far as the yeast, all I had seen told me to wait and that is what I did. On Saturday morning, like a kid on Christmas, I went to my fermenter and sure enough there was the tell-tell sound of bubbles. The yeast was working and everything looks to be going good.
So, after all that we come back to my original point,”When it looks to be going south, RDWHAHB”. Till the next time, Prost!

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