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Notes from my first brew (all grain) - almost perfect until the end.

Did my first brew today. After a lot ( A LOT) of research I jumped straight into all grain.

Staring with a Belgian Blonde using Belgian Ardennes yeast

OG = 1.060

FG = 1.010

25 IBUs

11 EBC

6.5% ABV

Made water additions with calcium chloride, gypsum and epsom salt.

Mash at 64.4C, batch sparge.


My 1.5l yeast starter spilled over, a lot.

My mash tun made from 22l buckets insulated with bubble wrap and reflective wrap worked great. Only lost about 2C during mash. Mash temp was 1.5C under after strike water addition so i mixed in some hot to bring it to 65C.

Was really happy with my new burner from allgrain.co.nz

My 30l (actually 28l) trademe pot was too small. 

My pre boil gravity was under but then my OG turned out slighly over. I think i measured pre boil gravity wrong and my OG was ever so slighly high due to adding 30 mins extra boil time.

Then the bad part, my copper immersion chiller that I tested yesterday as fully working leaked, into the pot. I ended up trying to block the leak with tape (unsuccessfully). I then brought the wort back up to boil for 3 mins to re sanitize (from about 60C). After that I cooled again with a small amount a water leaking into the pot. Cooling to 21C took just over 10 mins.

To add to the problem, the hose connections on the chiller blew off from water pressure twice. This is after it working perfectly yesterday when I called 25l of boiling water to 20C.

So, I guess this batch will most likely be infected. Not ready to ditch it though. Even if its OK the hop profile will be quite different (up to about 33 IBU I estimate)

Oh well. New pot and immersion chiller it is. I might use the leaking coil as a pre coil in a bucket of ice. Might invest in a 3l erlenmeyer flask for starters as well.

Ready to try another brew now. Had a great time

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Don't stress about it. You did pretty good by the sounds of it for such an advanced brew for a first time. It is most likely not infected. Kits usually call to add cold water to get full volume so hopefully a wee splash in yours won't hurt. I've heard of ppl tie wiring the connections of the hoses together for extra insurance. Cooling down to 21C in 10mins is freaking awesome. I'd be reluctant to throw that chiller away with it doing such a good job. Maybe someone in your area could give you a hand to fix it up. Good work. I've found the key is not to stress out about it. Hope it turns out well for you. Welcome to the obsession.
And I found a 50L pot is ideal for 20 odd L brews. The 28L would make a good HLT.

I think I will get either 50 or 70l. I originally though 30l (as advertised) would be plenty big but once you take all the losses into account it really isn't. Yes it will make a good HLT, this time I had to heat the 10l batch sparge aditions in two separate 5l lots as I only had a 5l pot other than the 28.

Yeah. Definitely not stressing about it. Learnt a lot from this and I reckon I can get it right next time. 

It all good learning mate. With my wort chiller i just connected garden hose to it and used hose clamps- gave it plenty and fine. There may be the odd drip but i've bent the copper pipe down so the potentially contaminating water moves away from the wort. I find you don't need great velocity through the chiller so reducing the pressure at the garden hose tap helps avoid the blow outs. When you chuck the wort chiller in to sterilise it at the end of the boil i think that can soften the garden pipe increasing risk of popping off. Anyway- hoseclamps and steady on the pressure, hope that helps cheers Paul

I will get some hose clamps. I have pretty high water pressure and I cranked it up thinking it would cool faster so that's what did it. It leaked near the top wear a kink has been soldered to seal it. I brought it second hand in it has a lot of kinks

Your beer should be sweet as, especially if you pitched your yeast within a few hours after it cooled. There is a whole army of yeast cells to fight out whatever tiny amount of other creatures may have gotten in with the water. Ive also had this happen before and it was fine, Ive also had a fly do a dive bomb, and most recently, I accidentally dangled about a third of a tea towell into the cooled wort, still no issues there.

Good to know. Based on how vigorous the fermentation is going it just might be ok. Has a 1" diameter blow off tube about 1m long completely filled with gunk coming out.

Fermentation went really fast. Stopped bubbling after about 36 hours and I was worried that I had a stuck ferment but I took a gravity reading at 1.015 which is fully attenuated for this yeast strain ( although will probably go a bit further). Tasted the sample, pretty harsh. Quite bitter with no noticeable hop flavor or aroma, probably due to the extra boil time. Some alcohol harshness maybe from too high temp (its been between 19-23C). A little astringency as well. Way less spiciness/estery/Belgian funk I than expected based on the intense smells that came from the fermenter. Overall not great but not too bad either and it will probably improve.

That is a very rapid fermentation at that temperature range. I have recently used that Ardennes yeast myself on a beer with an SG of 1065. I pitched a starter at 19 C and over 5 days it rose to 26 C and fermented out to 1012. The sample was very drinkable with pronounced clove overtones. This yeast will most effectively impart its characteristic flavours at higher temperatures...I know some brewers who ferment up to 30C with good results...a great style to ferment in the Summer! It sounds like you have done a great job for your first brew and you will only get better. Give this beer a little more time to mature and improve.

I find Ardennes to be quite tart soon after ferment - this softens nicely after a week or 2 in the keg/bottle.

Took a gravity reading today and had another taste. Gravity was 1.006 which is very low. Is this normal/OK? Beersmith estimated the FG at 1.011. Taste was good, much better then when I tried it 5 days ago. Harshness/astringency is gone. The low FG puts the ABV at 7.3% which is way above the intended 6.5%.


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