giovedì 17 settembre 2015

My worst homebrewing errors

Here the seven worst error made during my homebrewing years. Small distractions and huge mistakes.

7) Wrong Preboil OG
After sparging, I went to take a sample from the boiling pot to measure preboil OG. After cooling I read it with a densimeter: 1,026. What?!? Mash and sparge went well, iodium was OK, same procedure as ever..well, maybe malt was too old and lost some conversion power. Well, I didn't want a 1,030 OG beer, so I added sugar, did a 90 minutes boil to add some OG points and added a bunch of american hops to make a zesty session beer to drink during summer. After cooling the worth, I measured again the density: 1052.
I made a huge mistake taking the sample for the preboil OG measure: I took it from the upper part of the worth, without stirring, so I measured the lowest density worth coming from the end of the sparge.

6) Diamalt (bakery malt extract)
At dawn of homebrewing in Italy, many websites (and many homebrewer) used to brew with baking malt extract: cheaper than extract malt and similar, everybody tought it was the same thing. Including me. I got this Diamalt extract from a bakery and brewed an English Ale. The beer was something acid but sweet, with vanishing fizzy head, no hop aroma.

5) Wrong priming procedure
It was my second brew from kit, and I wanted to improve bottling and priming: not sugar in the bottle anymore, but mixing all sugar with the beer. So I measured sugar, made a syrup and added it in the primary fermentor. Without moving the beer in a secondary tank. I stirred very gently, to avoid to move the yeast cake and the bottled. Obviously, bottles had a huge sediment and beer was undrinkable...

4) Burning Mash
I mash in a 25 liter pot, on the fire to set temperature: here you must be careful to not overheat the whole mash. I just tried once an Imperial Stout, that was when I forgon the fire on after 30 minutes mashing. It reached 75°C, enough to denature enzymes and block conversion reaction. I went on anyway, mashing at alpha amylase temperature, but I had a very low efficiency and a 1050 OG after boiling. Anyway, the stout I produced was quite OK.

3) Open spigot
The fermenting tank was sanitized and ready to be filled with worth, after six hours process. I started the transfer from the pot and I realized the tank spigot was open, and the worth pissing out on the floor. I tried to close the spigot, but it was wet and slippery, so I drop the tube spilling worth, closed the spigot, trow on myself some worth, cleaned the couple of liters that went on the floor and started back the transfer from the pot. I was pissed off and tired, so I just sucked the tube to make empty and start the tube transfer. It works, you don't get any problem or infection if you do it correctly. No need for pumps or other strange method to prime the tube.

2) Dirty hop bag
Once I brewed an heater beer: To give it aroma, I added some heater flowers at the end of the boiling. The problem is that I added those flowers at flameout without sanitizing the hopbag (heater has tiny and light flowers; I didn't want them floating on the top of the worth). This hopbag spent few months in a drawer, colletting all the bacteria that were in my kitchen (not really clean...). I got an acid infection, and after a couple of months, when I tasted my Heater Ale I found out a nice sour beer.

1) Missed FG and explosions in the cellar
I was a noob at my third brew by kit: I bottled at 1,020 density, as the FG concept was not clear to me and I did't consider effect of overcarbonation. It was summer, and one morning explosion came from the cellar. I was lucky nobody was around, I just had to clean the mess of beer and glass and did,t get hurt.
THIS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS MISTAKE EVERY HOMEBREWER CAN DO, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER BOTTLE IF YOU DIDN'T REACH FG, AND DENSITY ISN'T STABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.

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