Help, 1st attempt, do i need to ditch my beer.

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Nov 7, 2023
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So my 1st attempt at brewing ever is an all grain kit, brupaks crisp victorian steampunk ale my local LHBS recommended. Ive made loads of mistakes but ive learnt loads about the process on the way. Im very much a learn by doing kind of person so kind of accepted the first attempt may end up down the drain, was wondering if anyone could suggest if this batch is salvageable. Heres what ive done so far.

Chevallier heritage 4.7kg
munich malt 0.94kg
crystal 150 0.4kg
chocolate malt 0.06kg

I ignored the water profile stuff in the instructions, i used manchester tap water.

Heated approx 28l water to 74degrees in a kettle with a heating element in the bottom. First lessons learnt, my kettle has no measuring lines so i completely eyeballed the volume, ended up with more in the bucket than expected. Second lesson, the instructions said heat to 74, add grains to get a mash temp of 68. As i decided to use a full volume mash and the instructions didnt my temp didnt drop, hardly at all, so the mash was at about 74 for a good while. Mashed for an hour, was outdoors in manchester with no insulation so it dropped really quick and i turned the element on the heat it up a bit again, another lesson, get some insulation. So mash temp was a bit all over, likely scorched some of the grains at the bottom as i left the mesh basket in while heating the kettle back up to temp. Added hops as instructed, boiled for 1 hour after removing basket. Added a bit of sparge water to the top of the basket as i was surprised how much the grain absorbed. Again, eyeballed volumes.

Chilled with a wort chiller, noticed my connections werent great so a bit of cold tap water leaked from the connector into the wort during cooling. More mistakes, pitch the dried US-05 into the plastic bucket and then shook it up to oxigenate, soon after realised may have killed some yeast. OG 1.052, lower than the 1.058 kit predicted. Actually got a few days of vigorous bubbling at about 18c, then i went away for 2 days and my flat dropped in temp probably as low as 13c. On returning, day 6, zero activity, gravity 1.026, few more days no movement, tried all the online solutions to stuck fermentation, stirred up the trub, increased temp slowly to 20-22, even add another yeast, rehydrated it properly this time, tiny bit of activity for 48 hours and now its 1.024 with minimal activity.

Despite all these errors, ive learnt loads, ive enjoyed it, and when I take a sample to test with a hydrometer which ive checked is at 1 with water, it tastes ok! Not overly sweet, tastes like a flat cask session ale.

My questions are:
1. Which of my many mistakes has given me the crazy high FG, kit says supposed to be 1.012 so im miles away. My feeling is its the initial mash temp.
2. Is it safe to bottle now, i have pet or glass bottles i can use, hasnt moved in gravity for a week despite all my interventions
3. Should i chuck it or is there something else i can do to save it
Don't ditch it. At the very worst you can practise your bottling techniques and learn any more lessons wink... sounds like you made mistakes we all have and have identified them and learnt for brew two

Doubt you killed the yeast by shaking , personally I don't bother , just pitch it in and leave it but plenty do.
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One more vote for bottling it and seeing how it tastes. I'm guessing you'll end up with at very least drinkable beer, but likely even better than that. Let us know how it goes.
Thanks for the replies so far, Im happy to bottle it and see what happens, my only worry is ive read bottling a beer so far off its FG leads to high risk of bottle bombs?
Hi @db - welcome to the forum!

Firstly, as others have said - definitely no need to ditch it.

If the gravity hasn't dropped in over a week then it's safe to assume it has reached it's final gravity. That means there should be no fermentable sugars left for the yeast to work on, so it's unlikely you will get bottle bombs. You've most likely ended up with a lot of unfermentable long-chain sugars due to the high mash temperature. At 74degC you will get almost no work being done by the beta-amylase enzyme so the long-chains won't get broken down into the short-chain sugars that yeast like to consume.

As I think you've already figured out, you want to keep your mash temperature as consistent as possible throughout so that you get a fairly predictable composition of long and short-chain sugars. That is the basis for how final gravity is calculated when creating a recipe.

You've, understandably, skipped doing any water treatment for your first brew. That's probably how most of us started out too. However, there is a chance that your mash pH was outside the optimal range of 5.2 to 5.6, which would also have an impact on the effectiveness of the enzymes in the mash. That may have contributed to your lower than intended original gravity, although the uncertainty about your water volumes will also have had an impact.

Also, as you used tap water, did you add a campden tablet (sodium metabisulphite) to remove any chlorine or chloramine? If not, there is a chance you could end up with chlorophenols in the final beer, which will have a medicinal/solvent flavour.
If you are afraid of bottle bombs put the bottles in a beer/milk crate if you have them or get some cardboard boxes and use them then cover with a old towel etc to contain any possible explosions.
After a week of conditioning open one and see how much pressure has been created(use a plastic bottle if you have one so you can press it to see how hard it has got with pressure). If the bottle seems too much pressure you can crack the tops to release some pressure then re-seal them all
Not much to disagree with there among the replies except perhaps to add that it's very difficult to brew a bad beer by mashing. You may not get the result you wanted or expected but it will almost certainly be drinkable and who knows? You may enjoy it so much you will want to re-create it then you'll need to have notes of all the 'mistakes' so you can re-make them!
Ok so high FG doesnt necessarily mean bottle bombs. Ive added checking mash ph to my list of process improvements for next brew day along with insulation for the mash.

Thanks everyone, ive left it outside to cold crash for 24hours and will bottle tomorrow using the plastic bottles for safety. Will post back in a couple weeks with results.
I would leave it longer to see what happens. I once did a kit that took 5 weeks before it was actually finished. You could try using some amylase enzyme which sometimes works though not always. It breaks down complex sugars to fermentable ones.
Hot mash nearly always equals a high fg.
Just bottle it and leave it a few weeks. It will be fine.
It WANTS to be beer.

All grain NEEDS to be beer

You have to do something ridiculously stupid to have to ditch it
People have been making beer (or something like it) for thousands of years; and they didn’t have thermometers, right?
Well done for jumping in and getting started. You’ll get beer: the yeast‘ll take care of that for you. It might not taste particularly refined; but trust me I’m still learning something most times I brew, and I’ve been doing it for a while now.
Just remember to keep notes of everything in a brewing journal (not just the brewing but also the taste and how it develops over time). That’s the key to moving forward,
Welcome to the forum!
Can't add to the advice already given apart from suggesting purchasing a graduated measuring jug for your volumes. I bought a set comprising 1, 3 and 5 litre jugs, and I checked the graduations against a known volume before trusting them...
I think using the term "bottle bombs" gives the wrong impression to people who might be interested in getting into the craft. Conotations of hand-grenade type explosions ... in most cases it's excess pressure without shards of glass flying about.

Just recently I had a small batch of beer which I bottled but when I started to open the first one (flip top) I could tell there was enormous pressure int the bottle. Managed to release most of the excess pressure by gradually releasing/closing the cap, and salvaging 2/3rds of the beer in the process. After that I kept the offending bottles in the fridge well in advance of drinking (i.e. a few days) which helped with some of the bottles, others still started to spray beer on opening but I was prepared for that.

Clearly one should be careful with the brewing process down to complete fermentation and priming process. And if bottling avoid bottles which are not designated for bottling beer, apart from strong soft drink PET bottles.
Pet bottles create fountain instead 😂

Only thing I will add is taste your beer all the way along. It is not toxic. You will learn an immense amount from your sensory analysis and be able to reference/compare that in the future.

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