Hey all, great thread and as always its surprising how many common interests span STW and the depth of knowledge that exists here
First time Brewer, Woodfordes Wherry, Bottled up last Sunday, Looking forward to results in 9 days and counting!
tacopowell, welcome to the world of home brewing! As a complete novice myself (brewed my first wherry last June) I can suggest the most important skill to master (IMO) is patience! I bottled a festival IPA in July and it was fully 4 months before I felt it was at its best. It’s like a punch in the face from a grapefruit, not unlike Punk IPA but a lot less refined than that. Still my best kit brew to date although I would definitely recommend the Festival beer kits range over any others I’ve tried (albeit the only others I’ve tried are Woodfordes kits)
Luckily my garage store is a mile from my house (sister’s garage) so the immediate urge to drink beer is tempered by a 15 minute round trip to get it... I find with almost every kit brew I've done they taste a lot better after 3 months, but I’ve still noticed the homebrew "twang" which is why I’m thinking about dabbling with BIAB
In terms of the brewfridge there is a great guide on building a temp controller based on the STC1000 mentioned by Trout on the previous page. Even a mildly competent DIY’er and a few bits scavenged here and there can make something that looks pretty good and works really well. I managed to pick up an old fridge from freecycle, reinforced the bottom shelf and jammed the temp controller probe and a 60w greenhouse heater in there and it will keep my brew within 0.5 degrees for the life of the fermentation. One tip - make sure the probe is well insulated on the side not touching the FV otherwise the controller will start hunting i.e. fridge cools below threshold it so immediately starts heating, heat rises quickly above threshold so it turns the fridge on to cool etc. As some have said it might not be top of the list for a novice brewer but I really liked putting the project together and I think maintaining a steady temp can only be good for the brew.
Link to the thread on BrewUK here, which is an excellent source of info and people on there are helpful too.
Sadly last weekend’s project didn’t go quite to plan I decided to have a go at building a wort chiller out of copper. I’d managed to procure the copper coil at a reasonable price from a local plumbers' merchant and found a paint can approx. the diameter that I needed, but it wasn’t tall enough to wrap the copper all the way up. In the usual style of “if in doubt, flat out” I set about it on the kitchen floor and actually got on quite well until a momentary lapse in concentration produced a slight (note slight) kink in the tubing. Cursing myself I carried on to about 95% completion, but the kink was bugging me already. I’m sure more than a few of you are aware of the gnawing, nagging sensation that it’s just not 100% right and once you acknowledge this debilitation condition all rational thought goes out of the window
The reality was the kink was so slight I could have left it, or just squeezed it gently with pliers to sort it but no, I had to do something about it. After confirming the external pipe bender I had would never get to it in a million years (it was about 1/3 way up the coils) I foolishly decided to unroll the coil and start again. BIG MISTAKE. The project rapidly unrolled in front of my eyes, figuratively and literally. The coil began kinking at every turn, probably because I’d moved out of the relative warmth of the kitchen into the cold garden and the copper did not take kindly to being bent a second time. Cue lots of huffing and puffing, muttered swearing and a few slaps for the shed, then the whole 10m coil of copper was consigned to the recycle bin. Needless to say I was raging at myself for a: attempting it without having everything I needed to get the job done properly and b: letting a pretty insignificant event derail the whole thing and cost me £16.
Needless to say I’ve learnt my lesson and have a couple or revisions to make before I attempt it again.
We’ve all been there when the screwdriver is good enough to do the job, then it slips and gouges the frame…..
Anyway, that’s my painful weekend experience laid bare so I feel at peace now and ready to move on. Keep the great tips, advice and recipes coming.
PS peterfile that RIS sounds magic and Trout that death cocktail you posted sounds scary awesome!