First post, and in need of some advice please.

Firstly hello everyone.

Glad to see there is a forum here, great news.

To give a little background on my experience so far and my setup.

I have successfully brewed 4 batches, all from kits (first one was a gift so not sure which one it was, second was St Peters IPA, 3rd and 4th were Wilko's Ale kits)

I am currently on my 6th brew which is a St Peter's Golden Ale kit and that is half way through primary fermentation, and seems to be fine.

First 4 brews were absolutely fine, really happy with them if I am honest.

Ok my gear.

I am using a 25 litre brewing bucket bought from here I believe (it was a gift) the variation that has a tap at the bottom. I brew in my garage which is un heated, so I am using a 100w brew immersion heater (bought from here) which I dangle in to the middle of the brew bucket. I also have a plastic keg but also recycle bottles, so mainly bottle the beer, and I use the maxale priming drops. I use Milton as a disinfectant and thoroughly clean everything first.

With my bottles, I just re use bottled beers I buy (Old Speckled Hen etc), I run them through the dishwasher twice, the first time after use, on a full cycle, and then before bottling I put a while load of them back in together in a quick wash. I then fill each one with Milton solution to disinfect.

So far I have not had any problems with fouled beer (or in other words, no bad tummy!)

Ok so far I have not mentioned my 5th brew which is what I would like a little advice with.

I used this kit:

Which is the Youngs APA (American Pale Ale) which is supposed to be similar to Sierra Nevada, which is my favourite beer.

I have had issues though. Firstly, the instructions say the brew can take up to 15 days, which is far longer than average. I left it 3 weeks, but, after the first 14 days or so, I had a power cut. My immersion heater is on an RCD so it didn't come back on and the brew went cold overnight and the next day. I put it back on when I realised. After about 19 days, I tested it with my hydrometer and it read at about 1.02 and tested it again 2 days later and got a very similar result, added the dry hops, and then bottled it 2 days later. When I bottled it (well opened up the brew bucket) I noticed a small patch of what looked like white mould just on the side of the bucket right at the top. I also noticed some white-ish coloured looking slime on the wire that went in to the bucket from the immersion heater, but did not look to penetrate the top. Is this something I need to be concerned about, or is it a case of "just try one and see what happens" - I am reasonably robust and a day of having a bad belly does not bother me too much.

Secondly, when I bottled the beer it was by far, cloudier then the others I have done so far, is this normal for these type of kits? I also noticed that, unlike the others, I had a yeast layer on the bottom of the bucket (like the others) but on this one, I also had a yeast layer on the top. Is this normal? When I drained the bucket through the tap in to the bottles, some of this top yeast layer started sticking to the sides and the level of liquid dropped, but also some of it became broken up and I have small bits of yeast in my bottles (it's not too much, just the odd little piece), again, is this normal?

I know the obvious answer is wait and see what happens after 3 - 4 weeks of it being bottles but I am just wondering if anyone with a bit more experience might be able to tell me if something has gone wrong or if I am just over thinking the whole thing way too much.
Beer League: 1. Young's - American Pale Ale 2. Bulldog Brews - Imperial Red Bad Cat 3. Young's - IPA 4. Young's - American Amber Ale 5. Bulldog Brews - Evil Dog Double IPA


  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    Welcome and it sounds like you're off to a great start, this latest brew can take longer in the primary fermenting stage often due to the yeast used and the amount of ingredients, and allowing time for hopping etc. The amount of sediment in the bottom of the vessel can really vary, and also the amount of froth and any crust on the top of the liquid, this is quite common, the appearance can vary and is not usually anything to be worried about.

    If you believe there was some mould then this may be a sign of a potential issue, the layer on top can vary in appearance but if it was mould then this may be a problem. Often if a brew has become contaminated it will smell strongly of vinegar or taste very unpleasant, this cna happen if anything not cleaned or sterilised came into contact with the brew (including the heater cable etc) but there is also the risk of airborne contaminants too - all you cna do is your best to ensure everything is cleaned, the vessel is covered whilst it ferments, and the fermentation gets off to a good start which then helps to protect against contaminants.

    From what you say it may be that if there was some mould present it may not have been in contact with your brew, if it smells and tastes OK (not strongly of vinegar etc) then it is worth bottling it up as you did, and leaving for a couple of weeks and testing it, the flavour wont have fully developed but it will be apparent if it is spoiled.

    Any sediment which has gotten through into the bottles or cloudiness will settle out as usual, and compact at the bottom of the bottles, sometimes with premium beer kit ingredients which include quite a lot of ingredients the amount of suspended sediment can be increased, but once it settles and clears it will look the same as usual, just be careful when pouring so as not to disturb it. We have made one of this range and remember it did take a little while to clear but was a great pint once it had.

    please update us and let us know how the brew turns out....
  • BUDFORCEBUDFORCE Member Posts: 275
    Ok thank you for the response, you ahve put my mind at ease a bit.

    I am pretty confident the white slime on the cable was airborne contimination. The immersion heater I am using fits with a rubber bung and the wire is mouled in to one side, but the bung itself has a hole in (for use of a stop lock) however I know for most ale kits you do not need to use the stop locks and infact they recommend not making them air tight, so I left the hole open to let air in. I have corrected this for my current brew now but placing the stop lock to cover this whole, put putting the lid on loosely to still let air in.

    As for the small patch of mould on the side, it may have been the same thing but who knows, to decribe it, the patch was small, no larger then a 5 pence peice, further to that, the brew definately did not smell of vinegar and looked and smelled reasonable normally.

    Also, so other further good news is that I have just put the bottles in the garage (I keep them in the house for the first few days) and I am quite amazed how much the beer has cleared in the bottles even in the space of 4 days.

    I will of course, as you ask, report back in a few weeks once they have had adequate time to condition.

    I have a question to add on if that is ok? I bought a plastic keg from Wilkos but the lid supplied just has a rubber band around a valve, and it doesnt work, my beer was completely flat (although otherwise tasted ok).

    The lid is very similar to this:

    I am thinking of upgrading to one that you can fit co2 canisters with, this:

    Two questions:

    1. Does anyone know if that would fit my Wilkos keg? - I am assuming they are all of a standard size and the specifications say 80mm diameter which matches my current one.

    2. Has any got any experience with them, and know how well they hold the pressure in? They are setup to release the pressure at a certain point, however as I have found, the basic valve system with the rubber band (or at least the one I got in Wilkos) doesn't seem to hold any pressure at all!

    Beer League: 1. Young's - American Pale Ale 2. Bulldog Brews - Imperial Red Bad Cat 3. Young's - IPA 4. Young's - American Amber Ale 5. Bulldog Brews - Evil Dog Double IPA
  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    Your brew sounds as though it should be fine from what you say, once it is ready for sample in a few weeks you will know for sure. As far as we know Wilkos stock the standard white pressure barrels and they are all made by WeltonHurst, so the caps we sell should be a perfect fit. The standard vent caps will just vent any excess pressure, but as you say the CO2 injector valves will vent any excess too but also enable you to add CO2 if needed, usually as the flow begins to slow or as the barrel tries to draw air in through the tap. The level of carbonation in the brew is usually determined by the amount of priming sugar added before the barrel is sealed up. If the barrel was not holding pressure then the barrel may have a slight leak, perhaps around where the lid seals, and it is worth checking the rubber seal on the top is fully covering the hole underneath which it should cover, and the rubber 2" washer is in place under the lid and it is screwed down nice and tight
  • BUDFORCEBUDFORCE Member Posts: 275
    Right well it's been about 3 weeks since I bottled it, which may still be a tad early but I thought I would try one now, and leave the rest another week or so until I really get stuck in.

    Firstly, I am amazed how clear the beer is now, and I did not need to use any additional clearing agents (irish moss etc), I would say this is the clearest brew I have ever done and is comparable to any shop bought beer.

    Also, I used the maxale priming drops in 500ml bottles, and as per the packet advises I put 2 per bottle. The beer is very fizzy, which is ok, but I think for future batches 1 priming drop should suffice.

    Tatse wise it's nice, a good fragrant and fruity hoppy IPA ale taste, with a slight bitter after taste on the first few mouthfuls but once you get stuck in to the pint you soon become accustomed to it - it possibly may need another week or two anyway.

    As for the patches of mould I described earlier on in this thread, the beer certainly tastes ok, but I will have a few tonight and if I am ok in the morning I guess all is well, I don't think there is anything wrong with it though.

    I have another batch of this in primary fermentation at the moment, which has been in 3 weeks at a nice constant 22-24c so I will bottle that up on Sunday.

    After that I am going for a St Peter's Golden Ale but dry hopping it with Goldings, so I will let you know how that one turns out.

    As for this brew though, so far so good, I will be interested to see how the flavour mellows out a bit over the next few weeks, but actually so far, pretty impressed and would brew again.

    Beer League: 1. Young's - American Pale Ale 2. Bulldog Brews - Imperial Red Bad Cat 3. Young's - IPA 4. Young's - American Amber Ale 5. Bulldog Brews - Evil Dog Double IPA
  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    edited July 2015
    Well it sounds like a great success, the flavour will continue to improve as it conditions, so compare it later and see what you think. You were right to be concerned about the possible contamination, but had there been an issue you would usually have known by now, a brew goes off quickly if contaminated and we're really pleased there has not been an issue with it. Keep us posted, and let us know your thoughts on the hopped St Peters Golden....
  • BUDFORCEBUDFORCE Member Posts: 275

    On to the second batch of this I brewed and seems the brew going cold did affect the brew a bit, it was nice but the second batch of this which went completely smoothly through the brewing process is noticeably better.

    Actually, this beer is fantastic. Highly recommend, I will post up a review on the shop site.

    Beer League: 1. Young's - American Pale Ale 2. Bulldog Brews - Imperial Red Bad Cat 3. Young's - IPA 4. Young's - American Amber Ale 5. Bulldog Brews - Evil Dog Double IPA
  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    Excellent news, pleased to hear it turned out so well, a review would be great as they really do help other people decide what to brew, Cheers
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