Put me first ever home brew on last night :) Some issues...

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Active Member
Oct 30, 2013
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Hi Guys

I put my first ever home brew on last night

I've chosen a festival golden stag summer (ahem) ale.

I think things generally went well enough for a first go, however a couple of things didnt go quite to plan.

Firstly, I mesured the OG as 1.034, which is the lowest out of all the replies in the reveiw thread for that kit. I definally got everything out of both packs, I deffinatly didnt brew long and I had several attempts at mesuring the sample, so it cant be bubbles, so I guess its a mesuring error? I took the sample with a baster that I cleaned, sanitized and rinsed but didnt dry, only removed what I could mechanicly. Could the small amount of water left in it dilute a 50ml sample enough to throw the gravity off by 0.008 ish? I'll test the hydrometer in plain water tommrow to rule that out. Apart from that, could I be using it wrong? It looks pretty idiot proof, but maybe I'm not using it / reading it right?

Secondly, I live in a very cold house and I'm having issues with my heating set up. I'm using the waterbath / aquarium heater method. I set the thermostat on the heater to 19 and left it to heat up the water while I was making the kit up. I took the temp before I put the FV in it and it was 17c. So I turned the stat up to 21c, put the FV in and took the temp afer a couple of hours and it was 20c. I checked it several times over 4 hours or so and it was 20c each time.

I took the temp a couple of hours ago and its now reading 17.5c :( I checked it a few times up until now, and 17.5c each time...

I dont really know whats happening there. I guess I had those 20c readings before due to the warm wart in the FV heating up the water. I dont know if the heater's thermostat is way out or if its just not working at all. I dont really want to adjust it now as its under the FV, and its a real pain the in ass to get to it, but I guess I should turn it up a bit and see if it heats up...

On a positive note, the lid seal on my FV is rubbish, so I couldnt tell if it was working, but I opened the lid a crack to peep in and theres a little bit of foam on top of the wart (20h or so after pitching yeast) so its alive for now :D

So I'm not sure if this is going well or not really lol. I need to sort out this temperature issue :(
It's likely that you didn't stir all the extract in properly hence the low readings. If that is the case the yeast will find it anyway. Also spin your hydrometer so it doesn't stick to the side of your testing vessel.

The temp of your wort won't necessarily be the same as your water. You could always wrap it up in a blanket if you are concerned :thumb:
i think the above post of wrapping a blanket or bubble wrap round it is good but 17.5 isnt ideal but i think it will ferment at that just a lot slower.......
yeah the water on the outside will read 17.5 but the fermentation in the fv will create some heat aswell, aslong as it not upwards of 24 degrees you'll be fine. do the festival kits require any additional sugar or is it a 2 can kit? the kit instructions aren't always realistiv so don't worry if you are a few points over/under. :cheers:
18-20*C is ideal for most British ale yeasts so yours is probably bang on. Likely to be a bit warmer than the surrounding water. No idea why the gravity is low, I suggest not worrying, bottle/keg it, drink it, move on. I bet it will be fine.
When you mix the contents of the cans with the additional water in the fv/bucket aerate it as much as possible. This not only mixes the wort up and will give an accurate reading but will mix oxygen into the mixture and that will help the yeast get to work. That is the only time that you want oxygen in contact with your beer. Once you have added the yeast keep oxygen/Air away from it.

Another great tip I have learnt from the forum is to rehydrate the yeast before adding it. This is easy. Sterilise a glass, rinse and add water at about 25c. Add the dry yeast and leave for 20 mins. Make sure it is mixed up and then add it to your prepared wort. You should find that the fermentation takes off vigorously within 12-24 hours.

As for fermenting temperature, too hot is a real problem as it will cause the beer to have unpleasant flavours. Too low will slow things down and if really cold it might appear the yeast has gone to sleep. As well as checking the water bath temp you could add a strip thermometer to the side of the fv. Fermentation is exothermic. When fermenting vigorously it is likely to be a few degrees higher than ambient temperature. In my experience it drops off once the process starts to slow down.

Don't bottle or keg it until you are really sure it has finished its primary fermentation. I leave mine untouched for at least 2-3 weeks before I go anywhere near them to test the fg. I also rack them off the pile of yeast for a couple of weeks and I only bottle/keg once the beer has gone crystal clear. In this way they seem to condition more quickly and have less muck at the bottom of the bottle when I pour them.

Good luck
Thanks for all the replies.

To awnser your questions (in an abrubt way without formalities)

I mixed in the extract to the boiling water with a whisk. then, after topping it up, I stired it with the beer paddle for around 5 minutes. I felt I had done a decent job, but perhaps I was wrong...

I spun the hyrdometer several times. I took it out and put it back in about 10 times over 30 mins, so I think the reading is about as true as I could get.

No additional suger needed.

"I suggest not worrying". Yep, thats what I'm going to do I think :)

I airated the **** out of it with the whisk and had an Impressive foam when I was finished lol

I think I will hydrate the yeast next time. Thanks for the tip

I took the FV out of the water bath today, and the heater was not on. I turned up the thermostat by 2c, and it kicked in again (thermostat now at 23c or somthing lol) Hopfully now that will bring me up to 18c-20c

Thanks for the help all :)
Water bath temp is now at 21c

Do you think I should let it be, or turn it down a bit?

Stupid thermostat.
Hi, could your sample have been higher than room temperature? If taken at higher than room temperature, then the reading should be adjusted accordingly (online calculators I believe).

I know in the past I have used 3-4L of boiled water and topped up with bottled water which was at room temp and its been in excess of 30 degrees C(I think). If I had taken a hydro reading at that point, it would have shown a figure lower than the actual gravity. You might be able to add another 5 points or so to your reading if it was taken around 35 degrees C.
not heard of hydrating the yeast before...will try it when i get about 10 kits for chrimbo! :cheers: is it just that it starts fermenting quicker ?
There have been a few threads recently on rehydrating yeast... some people swear by it, others (like me) have never done it in nearly 30 years of making kits and don't have any trouble.

Basically for me the bottom line is, would the end product taste any better if you rehydrate the yeast first? Nobody has claimed that it would make any difference... so I don't bother.
Hi. Yes it seems to get it started with as short a lag time as possible. Brewferm kits recommend it. Simple to do and it won't hurt.

Others in the forum with much more knowledge than myself speak about the attenuation of particular yeast strains. I think this is refers to the efficiency of the yeast converting sugars to alchohol. It might help with that.

The other reason to get a brew kicked off ASAP is that when newly mixed up it is at its most vulnerable to infection. Getting it started quick helps and gets the beer under a protective lawyer of carbon dioxide.

As for taste, probably doesn't make much/any difference.
i'm not sure if this has been mentioned (lots of replies between your last one) but your brew will rise about 4-5c during fermentation, so your ferment temp should be okay, if anything just slow starting.

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