Prince of Fatness
OK. So I brewed yesterday. Here's how it went.
First I took the yeast out of the fridge. The yeast came in a packet. You break an inner nutrient packet and then it said that the packet should swell over a couple of hours time. That is what happened.
Steeping the grains was pretty easy. I divided them into two muslin bags and soaked them for 30 minutes. Temperature stayed at a steady 160 degrees during this process. My wife's thermometer worked pretty well. The guy at the store said to run some water through the bags when done, but do not squeeze them. This was pretty easy to accomplish with a colander.
I added the extract and brought it to a boil. I also added the hops (in another muslin bag). I boiled for an hour. I used this time to sanitize the fermenting stuff.
After the boil I put the pot in an ice bath in the sink. It took about 30 minutes to cool enough. I removed the hop bag.
I combined the wort and water to 5 gallons, then added the yeast. Then I had an accident. As I was putting the airlock on I pressed too hard and pushed the o-ring down into the wort. I had a hard time fishing to o-ring out, got pissed off, and just stuck my arm in and grabbed it. So I may have screwed up this batch. But hey, it got named. Elbow Deep Dunkelweisen. The lesson here is to put the airlock on the lid first, then put the lid on the fermenter. Nothing I can do about it now and I'm not going to worry about it.
This morning I looked and did not notice much of any activity in the air lock. It was pretty cool in the house overnight so I wonder if that is it. I don't want to keep opening the thing up to check it (yes I will get a carboy). I think that the yeast was good because the packet expanded as it said it should. And I don't think that the wort was too hot when I added the yeast. Any suggestions?
Elbow Deep Dunkelweisen. Love it.
Smack pack, yeast?
Think this is the cool thing about the homebrew process. So many different variables.
If you have the bucket, I'd make certain the lid is firmly seated and locked. It took alot of force to seal mine. (evidently with time it does loosen) this also seems to be why some question whether or not they are getting fermentation because they don't see any activity in the airlock. (hence the carboy to watch the action)
My 2nd batch brewed up last night is already bubbling, about one bubble every minute or two. Not much, but about all I got on the first batch as well.
Mash, next batch. Probably an IPA or Porter.
Oldman mid pack runner
If the yeast packet swelled you should be fine. It can take a day or two to start seeing some movement in the airlock. You're better off on the cooler side of temps since the higher temps can sometimes have bad side effects. I fermented a wit recently using a wheat strain and it took a few days to get going. My basement had an average temp of around 60 but the carboy was around 64-66. The buckets are usually light enough that you should be able to see any krausening through the bucket with a flashlight. Most wheat beers will foam like crazy and you might need a blow-off tube instead of the airlock.
I usually make sure the carboy/bucket is positioned in place where I plan to leave it and then add the airlock and vodka. You might try dipping the bottom of the airlock in your sanitizing solution to act as a lubricant before inserting it into the o-ring.
OK. There's one thing that I missed. There is no liquid in my airlock. I will throw some vodka in it when I get home. Well, at least I am getting all of the fuck ups out of the way with the first batch.
A Dance with Monkeys
I am not worried about your arm in the wort. Remember, humans have been brewing beer long before sanitation. In fact, I rarely "sanitize" anything. I clean it with hot water but I never use any of those toxic products that promise sanitation. 19 years of brewing, no problems yet. And I never super-chill my wort. I let it cool overnight and pitch yeast the next morning. No worries, no problems. And I am not really worried about your dry airlock. Frankly, there is not much that can live in wort with its high sugar, hop oil and acid content. And anything that starts to grow in there will likely be driven out the moment the yeast takes.
Agree with the others. The yeast can take several days before showing any action. You can start the yeast a few days before you brew in a bottle to get it going. But I usually don't do this. And it usually works out just fine.
So relax. Have a homebrew.
IMO, the biggest challenge to your chance of success was using extract instead of all-grain
I'm running somewhere tomorrow. It's going to be beautiful. I can't wait.
Oh, where are the pics?
Mrs. PH did take some pics. I need to get them off the camera. I'll try to remember.
And thanks for the reassurance (and thanks to the others that responded, too). I've already decided that I am not going to worry about it. It's a batch of beer. It was fun brewing it. And despite those couple of issues, it really is easy to do.
So I guess that fermentation could have got going, but since the airlock was dry I wouldn't see any bubbling. Duh. I'll try the flashlight trick tonight and see if there's any foam in there.
I don't have many pics but here you go. I used a 21 quart pot that I just bought. I eventually want to get a bigger one but this one was only 15 bucks. I don't have any pictures after the boil because the Mrs was getting done with the whole thing and I had a few beers and was just trying to focus.
Steeping the grains. That meat thermometer you see right there worked surprisingly well. .....
Adding the hops.....
I use a non-enameled stainless steel pot. Works great.
A buddy is creating (and may patent) a new type of secondary fermenter that resembles what the professionals use but is affordable and sized for the homebrewer. I may brew on Saturday to test out the 5 gallon model for him. So...what should I make? Currently I have in the closet: blueberry wheat, cherry wheat, amber bock, a Czech styled lager and some cider. Maybe I need to go dark...
I am going to get a bigger stainless steel pot, but for the price of the enamel one it was perfect to get me started. Plus I'll have an extra pot. Notice that I did this on the stove. I will eventually move it outside on that burner I bought. That will be a time saver, as it took the water quite some time to come to a boil on the stove.
I saw one of those conical fermenters at the brew supply store. I think that they wanted close to a half a grand for the 5 gallon one. Ouch. It will be buckets and carboys for me.
I know that this pains you but I am going to do one more of these kits, and then switch to all grains. I am going to get a carboy for the next batch, though, and rack it there from the bucket as you described before.
As for what to brew, this is a little new me, as I have to think in terms of what I will want a month from now, not right now. That's why I went dunkelweizen instead of outmeal stout. Dunkelweizen is a nice early spring beer, IMO. So, given that mindset I vote for the cherry wheat.