Boil, boil, toil and trouble

I've been meaning to brew beer for ages.  Several years ago my other half purchased me a starter kit with all the equipment and we just never got to it for various reasons.  Time, space, and a level of intimidation about the project.  What really helped was a well written book on brewing (Brewing Made Easy) that put the process into a better light.  I also discovered a new brewing store in Sunderland, DIY Brew, with friendly and helpful staff.  Finding this shop was key for me because I had an unpleasant experience at the other local brew store I had visited, and would much rather have a connection with a local store than buying all my supplies online.  Another really cool thing about DIY Brew is they have a fantastic collection of recipes freely available both online and in-store.  I decided on going with a Pumpkin Wheat since I had a can of pumpkin to use up and we happen to really like pumpkin beer.  If this is well I intend to pursue the somewhat more expensive to make Pumpking clone kit they have.

So on Friday, June 21st, I took the dive into my first batch of beer.

The process of getting my first batch off the ground was not without its missteps.

Problem #1: Electric stove.  We'll just leave it at that.

Problem #2: I thought I had a pot of at least 3 gallons.  2.5 gallons of water will not fit in a 2 gallon pot.  I now own a lovely 4 gallon stainless steel pot.

Problem #3:  No sooner did the pot of water reach the designated 170 degrees, than did I manage to knock the tip off of my thermometer and my digital thermometer seems to be suffering from more than a dead battery.  My other half was out already on errands but the brew store was out, so he ordered (and paid for) one, and then picked up two thermometers for me on his way home.

I definitely took too long to cool down the wort.  The first problem was that it took a few attempts to plug the drain, the second problem was that I used my limited ice before I could properly do an ice bath.  Next time I will throw in extra ice trays the day before I brew to have significant ice for an ice bath.  The improper sealing of the drain worked very well as the slow drain allowed for replacement of warmed water with cold.

Oh my god the sediment.  I don't know if this is solely because of the pumpkin, if it's a normal part of the wort, or if I just didn't stir nearly enough.  I've come across mention of transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter as an opportunity to improve the clarity, but I need to research this before going ahead.  I am fine with a murky beer, but I'd rather not have undissolved hop and pumpkin sludge to contend with.

I definitely was not using the wine thief properly to test the OG, but I think it would be easiest to just get a turkey baster for future testing.  What I did that was really stupid was go "oh, I sanitized this container for testing, I'll just dip it to get the liquid..." and then put my hand in the cooled wort.  *headdesk*  On the other hand, the OG is pretty much spot on.

 Today, June 23rd I noticed a few bubbles in the airlock, right on time.  Go yeast, go!

I've got about a week to decide if I want to move the beer to the carboy or not for the rest of the fermenting process.  Besides that I'm just waiting the 3-4 weeks for the yeast to do its thing (or for this to all fail horribly).


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