If you have been following my inaugural foray into home brewing, you know that I was trying to spend as little money as possible while keeping the process as idiot-proof as possible. After tasting the fruits of my labor, I have to say that having better equipment probably would have resulted in a better end product.

I have opened 5 bottles so far and only one could be called acceptable. Two had very little carbonation and two were obviously contaminated. The contaminated bottles had the fragrance of dirty laundry and tasted about the same. While there are no known pathogens that can live in beer, that is to say it will not make you sick, the beer was undrinkable. The two flat bottles had decent flavor but flat beer is not very enjoyable.

My first home made beer

The one bottle that was good had a nice head and mouth feel, though not as full as I like. It also was a tad hoppy for my tastes but I don’t like overly hoppy beer. I would buy this beer but it wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Hopefully there will be some more good bottles in the batch.

So this concludes my experiment. It was definitely a learning experience. I enjoyed the process enough that I’m going to try it again, this time with proper equipment. Of course I’ll write about the experience here.

18 comments

  1. Thanks! I think I’ll call it SkunkButt Stout. 🙂 Some of the bottles were obviously contaminated and smelled awful. I’m glad you didn’t get one of those. It seems to be getting better with age so it’s fairly drinkable now, even without much carbonation.

    Wait until you try the beer I’m brewing right now. It’s an American Brown Ale made with 7lbs of amber malt extract, chocolate malt, and blackstrap molasses.

  2. Normal water bottles do not hold carbonation very well. You should use PET bottles that was previously used for carbonated drinks like Coke bottles. These bottles are designed to hold carbonations. That may be the biggest reason you have some many failed bottles.

  3. I suspected that was a problem. I have now saved enough glass bottles that I will no longer need to use plastic. I was just impatient with my first attempt at brewing.

  4. If you’re at all serious, invest in a homebrew kit and real equipment, including a bottle capper. It’s a little bit of money up front, but if you drink beer the way I do and homebrew regularly. I’ve been homebrewing for about a year and I’m happy to help if you have any questions. twitter me @thatguy314

    I’m going to fight the urge to ramble, because I think the best way to learn homebrew is to make your own mistakes. That said, I can toss you a few suggestions. I hope you keep brewing!

  5. Use 22 oz bottles. Half the amount of sanitizing and bottling required, much easier. Rogue has a good line of beer they distibute in 22 oz’ers

  6. The of the results of my “experiment” was the realization that proper equipment makes brewing easier. I have just bottled my 2nd batch and I used proper equipment for the most part. I’ll post about it after I taste it in a week or so.

  7. I must say that after I read your series I am glad I just went ahead and bought the coopers microbrew kit. Running around to store trying to save 30 bucks and the assembly… The kit seemed easy on their website, granted I did think about going cheap but now that I came accross this series…

    I’ll bookmark this page and come back in a few weeks to let you know if the kit was easier to use and what the results were.

  8. I think you probably made the right choice and saved yourself some trouble by buying a kit. Definitely come back and let us know how it turned out!

  9. So far with the coopers beer kit I’m 3 for 3. Good beer not award winning. I just have one problem, letting the beer age for more than a week…. I keep running out of beer before the next batch is ready to drink.

  10. I’m remembering my first batch of home brew (way back in ’96). Couldn’t get the siphon to work properly to transfer the beer from the fermentor to the bottling bucket. The tubing was larger than the racking cane, so incoming air would disrupt the siphon. I ended up wrapping several layers of plastic wrap and heavy duty rubber bands around the joint and instead of frustrating myself further by trying to prime the siphon hose with water, I just took a long pull on the tube with my mouth…

    The finished beer hit my mouth and I panicked. Having flashbacks to when my Uncles taught me how to siphon gas from an old car… I reacted instinctively and spat the mouthful of beer out… INTO THE BOTTLING BUCKET! After spending nearly an hour trying to get a decent transfer going I had about a gallon of beer in the bottling bucket. I was determined to keep going. “I’m not wasting this beer!” I screamed at my laughing girlfriend (now wife)…

    Two weeks later an eager crew of 6 friends, waiting to taste my first batch of home brew, watched as I opened the first bottle. A satisfying ‘sssst!’ followed by a sparkling pour. They all began to drink. I just kept my mouth shut and watched their reactions. To a man, they all finished with a refreshing “ahhhh!”

    I never told a single soul…

    Keep brewing. 🙂

  11. Depending on where you are in regards to your altitude above sea level, you must use more dextrose to carbonate your beer. I live in Calgary, which is above sea level, 1,048 M (3,438 FT) to be exact, and my package instructions said to add the prescribed amount of sugar, which i did. turned out flat, but good. Doubling the imput of sugar yields are far more carbonated beverage. Adding double the sugar at sea level will cause your bottles to explode.

  12. I have never heard of adjusting the amount of priming sugar because of altitude. I live at 4500ft and have never had any problem with carbonization.

  13. Hey hey…

    I’m starting my first attempt at homebrewing. I found this quite helpful to know what to expect! I, luckily, have a family restaurant in the tree so I won’t have to worry about finding buckets! 😉

    Just a note — the reason you need to cool the beer quickly is for sanitation issues. Most restaurants just use jars filled with ice, in all honesty. I’m planning on just replacing some of the water with ice and seeing what happens. 😉

    Great guide!

  14. what happens if i use too much sugar in my homebrew ? can any1 help
    also what happens if i add more yeast during fermentation?
    im brewing my first batch now and dont seem to be fermenting too well tempreture is 20 degrees.

  15. @daniel
    I assume when you say 20 degrees you are talking about Celsius which is 68 Fahrenheit. This is a perfect temperature for most ale yeast so I don’t think temperature should be a problem.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “too much sugar in my homebrew.” Are you talking about table sugar? Too much table sugar could lead to some off flavors but that’s about it. Generally, the more sugar you use, and by sugar I mean malt, the higher your alcohol content will be.

    I would not recommend adding more yeast after fermentation has begun. While it is possible to add more yeast to jump-start a “stuck” fermentation or increase the ABV for really big beers, this is an advanced technique that is better left to those with a lot of brewing experience.

    Since this is your first attempt at homebrew, my advice is to relax and don’t worry about it, to paraphrase Charlie Papazian. Chances are you will end you with a drinkable beer. If it doesn’t turn out like you expected, learn from your mistakes and try again. I certainly don’t consider myself and expert but I would be happy to try to answer any questions you have. You can contact me directly by emailing chris at beerutopia.com.

  16. Daniel,

    did you see any bubbles in your airlock within the first week? If the wort temperature was too high when the yeast was pitched, it can kill the yeast and thus no fermentation.

    If some of the yeast survived, it will slowly come back to life. Ideally, you want the pitching temperature below 80 degrees F, so the yeast stays alive. It is okay to add additional yeast.

    I prefer to use liquid form of yeast and multiply it for better fermemtation. The higher the yeast cell count, the less chance there is of a wild yeast taking hold.

    Another problem that can cause low fermemtation is chloronated water. If the chlorine is too high in your water supply, and tap water or ice cubes are added directly into the wort to chill it, the high chlorine content can kill off the yeast as well.

    Even with kit beers, I would suggest that all the water has been boiled. This will reduce the chlorine and reduce the chance of infecting the beer.

    Good luck, and keep on brewing.

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