On a cold day off, I decided to take advantage of things and brew a beer.
It’s been a while, too.
The one I chose? A kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop – peanut butter porter. Yeah, it sounds awesome I’m thinking. And, in about a month or so, I’ll have the chance to tell you how it tastes.
Anyway, I did all that was said to be done, but somewhere along the way, I must have done something wrong with this batch. I’m hoping I didn’t, but it’s highly possible.
The directions from the Brooklyn Brew Shop are easy to follow.
Sanitize. Mash. Sparge. Boil. Fermentation.
Bottling will come later. But for now, everything was easy enough. I measured everything out, but in the end, I still needed to add about a quarter of a gallon of water.
Maybe my boil was too much?
I didn’t think so, but it’s possible.
I also made sure to strain everything. But in the end, I still got a bunch of excess “crap.” So, honestly, I have no idea if I am doing something wrong or not.
So, this is what I did – and maybe I did some things that shouldn’t have been done, but even when I did things in the past, it seems to sometimes end up the same. So… here we go.
One mistake I made was the size of the pot for the mash. I should have used a slightly smaller one as I think it would have heated a little more even. I ended up adding a little water to the mash as it seemed to be burning on the bottom a bit, so I think it might have been a little dry. Also, it didn’t seem to heat evenly. I’d have a good temp in one spot, and not in another. So I’d mix it all up and heat a little bit to get it to the spot.
Outside of that, the mash seemed to be ok. Things looked fine.
OK, this is where things might have gotten dicey – but this is the only place.
With many kits I use, the sparge isn’t done. With the all-grain brewing, it’s a necessary step. One thing I’d like to figure out is how to brew in a bag as I think it would help me with several aspects. I need to do some research to figure out how the best way to attack that would be, though. I’d also have to find some good brew bags.
Anyway, with this one I did as the instructions said. I boiled up the right amount of water (actually may have had an extra cup or two in there) and got things ready. This is where I realized I had one issue – my strainer isn’t big enough to hold all the grain. I had to figure the best way to tackle this, so I put half of the mash into the strainer and did the sparge, and then did the same with the second half of the mash.
But, my thought here is – did the mash get too cool in that amount of time? Did I do something to mess up the normal way of going? If I am going to do this the regular way, I think I need to invest in a bigger strainer. If I am going to the brew in a bag method, I might not need to worry about it.
Outside of that, things seemed find. I got a nice dark wort, and it was ready for the boil.
Ok, here’s my question for those who know brewing – do I start the timer (the directions said 75 minutes) as it heats up, or not until it actually starts boiling? I didn’t start the timer until the boiling started as it made more sense and I think that’s how I’ve done it in the past (note: I haven’t brewed in a while and even longer for all-grain), so hopefully that was fine.
I did have one issue during the boil, though. I got the “light boil,” but on the low heat, it lost that low boil. So I had to crank it up (probably 10/15 minutes into the boil) to get it back to a good spot. From then on, it seemed to hold well.
Everything was added when I was supposed to (and with that peanut butter addition – it smelled good!), so it was time to continue on.
I put the pot into an ice bath and I had a mixture of water and ice, so the pot kind of bobbed a little. Eventually I axed the water and went with all ice, figuring that was best. I’m not sure if it was exposed too long, but that wouldn’t have done anything to the amount of liquid. Once I hit the target temperature, it was time to put it in the fermenting jug.
I set up the strainer and the funnel and started to pour. I loved the look of this porter. The smell was outstanding. If it tastes as good as it smelled, I will look forward to it.
But, there was a lot of junk still being caught. I thought most of it was gone during the sparge, but apparently not. It caught a lot and I think some might have even made it into the fermenter, which is fine as I can deal with it.
Still, I was looking for something a tad smoother (which is why I think brewing in a bag might be my best bet), so I got wondering as the jug started to fill – and it only got to about 3/4 of a gallon. Maybe a little less.
As per the instructions, I added tap water to bring it to the gallon line, but not sure what it will do having to add that much water.
I didn’t take an ABV reading on this as I am worried I did something wrong, so I’m just going to figure it’s about (or a little less) than what is estimated for this brew. It definitely looks like a porter, so that’s good. However, you can see some floaties in the jug, but I am pretty sure that’s somewhat normal, especially for a gallon brew where I don’t necessarily do everything one might for a five-gallon or higher brew.
It’ll be about two weeks before I bottle it, then another two in the world of carbonation. From there, I’ll be able to test what this beer tastes like.
I have several other kits from the Brooklyn Brew Shop that I plan on brewing up. The kits they have are incredibly excellent in regard to flavors and such, so I am looking forward to doing them (I have some stouts, wheat beers etc.), and I am hoping I can make the process a bit smoother.
For you brewers out there, any thoughts? Did I mess something up with this one, or should things be fine? Any tips for brewing in a bag? Or any other tips?
I am hoping after I finish these kits (again, I have several), I might be gutsy enough to think about going to the five-gallon brews, though I have to admit I like the smaller batches. That way, if it’s a beer you aren’t too fond of, you only have 10-11 bottles to worry about!
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