The Dangers of Drinking and Homebrewing

I thought that I would take this opportunity to voice a little concern over drinking and homebrewing at the same time.  Now, for me, I see that the two go hand-and-hand.  What's better than kicking off the boil with a nice craft beer or, even better, a beer from your own last batch!?  Two nights ago I was doing just this and let's just say that by the end of the boil I obviously had lost some of my wits because I nearly made a huge mistake!  I wanted to write this up to highlight an important part of homebrewing:  Don't panic!  This hobby is very forgiving in a lot of ways and I'll bet that the beer will still turn out just fine.

This last brew was actually my first partial-mash (I'll get to all-grain one day!) so I had a little bit more on my plate than I normally do what with the initial mashing steps etc.  I normally don't add my extract malts in the beginning of the boil, despite the directions, because I had a little issue on one of my first brews that led to me scorching the malt a little bit.  To prevent the scorching I typically add the malt in the last few minutes of the boil or even at flame-off (I know, I know, I probably should avoid this because I might not be sanitizing the extract well enough).  Well I got all the hops in, boiled my wort chiller, added whirlfloc etc, got the wort chilled down to 80 degrees, poured the wort into the fermenter, and even added my top off water before I realized my mistake.

I forgot to add my malt extract!!

In a panic I quickly boiled a little water, stirred in the extract, and looked painfully towards my already nearly full fermenter.  Since I had already added the top off water the jug now contained 5.25 gallons of wort and barely any head space.  I had to remove a little wort with a wine thief to make enough room for the extra liquid and to make matters worse I had used a yeast starter which included even more liquid!  So, with my fermenter filled to the brim and my heart filled with worry I installed the blow-off tube and threw out a quick prayer to the beer gods for a righteous brew despite my mistakes.

As of right now the beer is doing just fine and with a little blowoff during fermentation it's down to manageable levels once again.

There are a couple of reasons I'm happy that this happened:

  1. Anytime something goes wrong it's always a learning experience.
  2. I've never added too much water before so I will be able to see the effects on taste/mouthfeel.
  3. It was my first time that I was able to use my blow-off tube and it was great timing to have it when there was little to no head space available in the fermenter!
  4. Even if it's a little watery, more beer is more beer ;)
Hopefully this will be a reminder to always double check your ingredients and keep an eye on your beer glass!

I'll update this post in a few weeks to let you know how the brew turned out!

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