My very first brew - sharing experience

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Active Member
Nov 17, 2022
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Hi all,

Got a few minutes thought I would share my only one brew under my belt experience 👍🍺

1. The connection to beer
For a very long time beer for me was the commercially produced Stella Heineken Corona etc. Mostly lagers.
Didn't not drink beer for about 15 years, stages of life I guess. It's not like I didn't to drink for a reason, just didn't drink any alcohol. Until a couple of years back a friend who worked for brewdog invited me to have a drink there after he finished his shift. Then I realised that beer wasn't just Heineken 😀 there were much more to it.

2. Decision making
After tasting a few, last summer I did taste so many all I know was too many that I tracked back all beer purchases and the spent amount was wow, was wow. I still feel a bit ashamed spending that much on beers. But it was a good experience, definitely a good start to learn and get more interested in beer. Books, YouTube, forums and the constant research has begun. I was able to filter down what style I like, there was basically everything new because beer for me was Heineken and it's friends. Although, I can recall that iny teenager years when there was an option, financially as they cost more, I always preferred Amstel Bock, and where I lived that time that was the only commercial dark beer available. Very soon I decided to see what it takes to make my own beer. Got into the equipment research part. That's a dangerous field 😀

3. The actual start
Put the money together and bought an aio system. Was still cheaper than what I spent one summer on beer 🙄
I talked asked questions on forums and received mostly negative about starting even considering with an aio system. A few convinced me that there was absolutely no need to understand homebrewing on a stovetop level so I went with the aio system that's is mostly needed by practicality, available space. I have nothing against stovetop processes and bucket fermenters, I do see and understand they are good for the purpose. What I didn't understand is why so many people was against buying a more expensive system and start there. Anyway.

4. The brew day
Again some says it's not recommended but ... My first brew was Rob's Twisted Stout from The Malt Miller. Got the ingredients and waited a week roughly to make it happen.
The mash - went well until I did something that I still briefly know what's we as it. Half way the mash I thought here is this top screen that supposed to sit in the top of the wort. It didn't, sank down and compressed the grains. Finished the mash this way, it was like this for about 30 mins out of the 60min mash time. Got 5 liter water ready just to rinse the grains. Not really a proper sparge. Lifted the grain basket but the false bottom and the small holes on the sides were completely blocked. Removed the top screen (wasn't easy) them moved around the grains with the paddle then the transfer started.
The boil - went well until I forgot that every ingredients should have had haved according to the half batch brewing. The hops were not halved and put them all in, 100g instead of 50g.
Chilling - since it was a half batch chilling happened quick there was no issue apart from a tiny leak on the chiller connection.
Transfer to fermenter - I assume that compressed grains by the top screen caused the block of the pump and the spigot as well. Half batch - I was able to lift the kettle and let gravity work things out. Took a while though.
Fermentation - all went well, hit both OG and FG. During fermentation I was confused (maybe still a bit) about cold crashing. Needed not needed, it went into a keg and the fridge, kind of the same thing (this is my opinion, can be easily argued).
Kegging - closed transfer, calculated low psi as set and forget method and patience. I meant to carbonate for 7-10 days as I was told it should be ok for a half batch. Within the 9-11 days I tasted twice. First was terrible extremely bitter (extra hops maybe) but I don't forget what I learnt from you guys. "Finish it, doesn't matter how bad it is", "my best beers were the ones I messed up", so tasted again and somehow got better but the head just wasn't there. It was a very huge bubbly disaster. Let it rest longer.
Being patient - The 13th days of carbonation I tasted again. Not much changed. That day I decided to get rid of it the next morning. I almost just poured the whole thing out but something suggested not to just bin it, it's there why not experiment a bit. Not sure what I wanted to do by experiment but before that I poured another glass. And I still kinda don't believe it. The bitterness was hugely reduced, the head was there. I didn't do anything different from the other days. So I didn't pour it out. Today is the 15th day on co2 and transferred 1 liter into a pet bottle and added a shot of coffee. Quickly carbed it up and it's amazing. I'll scale up the coffee volume to the keg and hello coffee stout.

I am very happy with my first brew, it was more challenging than needed to be but this way I learned so much more of my system and the processes.

Today I had 2 glasses of my own beer - can't really believe it 🍺
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Great write up! Have you got your next brew planned? If so what are you going for?
Yes, this weekend. A friend coming over and will show him the equipment this and that and will brew the Verdant - Lightbulb recipe from malt miller.

Almost everything ready but going to need some new equipment - another keg, magnets for dry hopping, secondary regulator, scale measuring salts, need mineral water.

Trying to get these sorted/ordered tonight.
Robs twisted stout is a great place to start, it quite robust and the heavy flavour will mask most mistakes, the other thing which is great for mistakes is time, leave it in the keg for a while and it will get better and better.

I wouldn't be worrying about the taste after a week or two in the keg, I find a month to six weeks minimum to get a smoother more rounded taste, an imperial stout I did took over a year.

Good effort and I am sure things will get smoother with practice.

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