Review of the First Brew

I decided to start this blog after I had already brewed my first batch. So instead of giving a breakdown of the brew as it happened, I’ll be giving more of a recap.

I cracked open this Belgian Abbey Ale, made from a Brew & Grow kit, with a bit of hesitation on Friday night. The brew day went less than perfect, as to be expected from my first all-grain batch. I have done a few extract batches, but this was a whole different animal for me. The two major errors came during the sparge and on bottling day.

First off, I drained off the wort a little quicker than I should have. Then I didn’t let the sparge water sit on the grain for very long, and once again had a speedy drain. When I checked my efficiency, I missed the mark by a country mile. I was under by something like 0.02, getting 1.032 rather than at least 1.050.

Damn.

I finished off the boil, chilled and drained into the fermenter without a hitch.

Second, my sugar solution on bottling day had twice a much water as it should have. So I fully expected to have an under flavored and under carbed beer when I cracked open the first bottle.

Boy, was I wrong.

Now I have never had this style of beer before, so I have nothing to compare this to, but it looked and tasted pretty good!

The initial aroma was a little harsh. I had smelt it in the fermenter as well, and I thought it had gone bad. I probably mashed at too high of a temperature and cause some off-aromas. I got past the scent and took my first sip. Despite all the errors I still made beer, and I’m ok with that. It was more on the dry side, with just enough hop flavor for a crisp finish.

Color and clarity turned out pretty good as well. It definitely wasn’t my clearest beer, but for the first go around it was acceptable. I don’t have the ability to cold crash my fermentor in a fridge before bottling so I will have to deal with a little haze.

The other thing I noted was the head and carbonation were much better than I expected. I opened this one a day earlier than planned, mostly because I was impatient. All of my other beers seemed to be under carbed early on, or wouldn’t retain their head for very long. This beer was pretty active long after the initial pour, and this was probably the closest I had come to a commercial beer when it comes to carbonation.

So what have I learned this time out? Relax, don’t worry and have a homebrew (RDWHAHB). I see the phrase a lot on forums, and I really get it now. It’s not worth worrying over the little things. In the end, you’re still going to have beer once the yeast have done their job.

I’ve also learned I need to read the directions better when using a kit, and that I need to TAKE NOTES. I think documenting it all will keep me focused and prevent a lot of simple mistakes. I meanBut’s that what I started this blog for, right?

As I get closer to my next brew day, I’ll be sharing the progress of the Abbey Ale and show my planning process for the next batch. Hopefully, I’ll make just as good of a beer as this time around. See you then!

Cheers,

TJ

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