Lessons Learned

hi fellas
new to brewers friend. and couldnt help but get a laugh out of smittys "excited yeast" pics.
heres a pic of my timothy taylor "landlord" doing much the same. i have a video that shows the airlock blowing off completely. i called my local all grain guru and explained. his reply, "ahhh so your finally doing some yeast pitch calcs!" :?


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Nosybear said:
Patience, especially when doing something new or particularly when using a new yeast. Brewed a honkin' big saison a few weeks ago and have been tending it like a mother hen ever since, particularly since I was fermenting it in my summer garage at 90° F (32°C for all our friends with a rational measurement system). The yeast worked as advertised, stalling after eating about 30 points of sugars. Now this guy has maize and some Turbinado sugar in the mix so you can imagine what the yeast ate, all the simple stuff. So, finally, thinking it was irrevocably dead, I brought it in, cooled it to cellar temperatures and pitched WLP 090 (San Diego Super Yeast) to dry it out. And it worked! I have a wonderful beer now named "90° Farmhouse Saison", big, sweet, malty and aromatic but light bodied enough you can really screw yourself up on this before you know it. It isn't perfect (but what brew is?) but it's close enough I will be, at most, tweaking the hops next time around. And there will be a next time. Patience is a virtue best served cold.

Sounds like a really good beer you've got there. I went with 2 lbs of turbinado, inverted first, in the last batch. Worked out fantastic, good color offset to ultralight malt.

Lately in my area, organic turbinado has come down in price.
Turbinado's pretty cheap here in bulk at our Sunflower Farmers' Market. Between that and the Savory Spice Shop, I get most of my ingredients other than malt, hops and yeast. The Saison is still fermenting, the WLP 090 is chewing through the last bits of sugar and I'm hoping for a nice, dry Saison with a touch of corn sweetness. Right now, green, it's very sweet - if that holds I'll have a Cajun food's dream of a beer!
Changing your setup in any way makes a noob out of you all over again! It's amazing what I'm learning by brewing experimentals one gallon at a time....
Two lessons learned recently, one philosophical and one practical. The philosophical lesson: Recipes are guidelines. This is to say, brew your own beer. I took inspiration from a Dogfish Head brew and quite possibly produced my best beer so far. Is it theirs? No, it's mine. It's not a clone, it's an "inspired by". Beer is cooking - use your ingredients, your nose and your senses to produce your beer. Why clone when you can buy?

The second lesson: Scaling down makes a different brew. Moving from five to one gallon makes a different beer of a recipe but it also opens up some experimentation. Tonight I was working with a "blackened pale ale" and dried chipotle peppers, making a tincture in vodka then experimenting with proportions. The ale will be different in a 5-gallon batch - I have more control and the measurements are proportionally more precise. But I know how to make what I want, even down to noting that you need to seed the chipotle peppers if you don't want burn. Circling around to lesson-learned number one: The idea of using chipotle peppers came from a serendipitous visit to a spice store where I was simply sniffing spices. I sniffed the chipotles, remembered the idea for a beer I was making and next thing I knew I was checking out with the peppers. And learning a lesson about using them in beer.
Yesterday I brewed my 10th batch (approx 1per month since I got the best Christmas present this side of a RedRyder BB gun), 4th AG. While I still struggle with understanding proper measurements and monitoring (that will be a separate post), yesterday's brew (oatmeal stout) was a breeze, numbers were spot on.

As I become more familiar with technique, equipment, timing, etc, the brew day is less eventful, smooth and routine. Proper equipment is essential. Upgrading to a wort chiller, borrowing a 10 gal mash tun, and my new plastic carboy all add to the overall improvement to my process.

So, my message is to keep brewing. Learning from mistakes (it seemed that every session had an unexpected minor mishap) makes a better brewer.

I am very proud of my beers and there is nothing better than compliments from friends and other home brewers.

Can't wait for this Stout. I think it's gonna be awesome!
I can remember when I was in your shoes and all I can say is keep it clean clean clean, sanitize everything use only fresh yest and ingredients, keep doing what your doing and your mistakes will disappear almost over night
Lesson Learned: I can get 9 batches brewed from one propane tank. LOL.
Thankfully, it kicked out before boil started and not mid-boil.
I knew I was pushing it.
How big is your tank? I can usually only get 3-4 out of a 20 lb tank.
Whatever the standard tank is you pick up at Home Depot in the exchange racks???
And I realized it was really 8 batches, not 9; the first brew I did was with borrowed stuff.
I'm using one of those Bayou Classic brands (bought in on Amazon).
Two things that might be helping conserve:
-I do my steeping on the stove and then dump it in the boil pot, where I've already started with some volume of water and the extracts dissolved in, well on it's way to boil (the lower volume of water is usually up to 170 or so, by the time I added the result of the steeping grains).
-Once I get boil, I back it down and keep just enough heat to keep it rolling.

The burner I'm using takes about 20-30 minutes (I'm guessing, haven't really timed it) to get the 6.5 gallons I'm typically doing up to boil. (full volume boil).

Just started a new tank yesterday, so now will have to see if I get as far with this one.
Ah, so you're doing extract brews; that makes more sense. Most of the time with my all grain brews I'm running the burner for almost twice the length of the boil (different water additions and such) so it would reach your 7-8 batches.
yes since an advanced all grain batch takes me at least 4 hours to make and I always mashed with the flame on mostly 90 minutes and boiled 90 and at the same time brew 11 gallons , you can guess how much propane I used lol thats why I went to electric, while very costly to start but saves you allot of money and headache in the end
That's the direction I would like to go, but I rent a condo right now and we don't have a 220v anywhere except behind the stove (gas dryer). There's no external exhaust in the kitchen (interior shared wall) so that's no good either.

I don't think I'll be there long enough for it to be worth it to pay for one put in either. While I trust myself to install one; I don't think the landlord would like it very much.
I bought a 25 foot cord to run my rig outside if I want, right now I brew in the garage, plugged into the dryer it will reach out on the back deck, always nice to get outside lol
I thought it would be a good idea to eat mushrooms and brew. Never do this. My Cream Ale turned into a Belgium Specialty due to my lack of math skills and hop addition times. Right now its sitting in my keg carbonating. Who knows maybe it will be better than my original recipe.
skeevystoner said:
I thought it would be a good idea to eat mushrooms and brew. Never do this. My Cream Ale turned into a Belgium Specialty due to my lack of math skills and hop addition times. Right now its sitting in my keg carbonating. Who knows maybe it will be better than my original recipe.

Hah! Yes brewing is part science and the amounts and times do matter! Try the brew feature as a guide next time. That's how I avoid accidentally forgetting something.
If you fine a beer with gelatin, don't take it out of the fridge until you're ready to bottle it. I did, and got this ropy looking gunk floating in my beer. Also, don't fine with gelatin a second time - strips the heart and soul out of the beer, well, at least a lot of the flavor. I'm left with a very subtle blonde ale.

If you have to fine a second time, Super-Kleer KC seems to work well.