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I'm in the middle of my first brew and I'm having some issues. Not sure if I have completely ruined this thing or what. Heres the deal...

During the process, everything went pretty much as planned with a few exceptions. For one, the guy at that local store didn't sell me enough DME for the kit I bought (Munton's Nut Brown Ale) so I ended up using half DME and half table sugar. I researched it beforehand it saw table sugar isn't really recommended, but can do in a pinch. Since I already opened the tin with the syrup, I figured this qualified as a pinch.

Second issue... my airlock O-ring wasn't set properly. Yesterday I got concerned at the lack of bubbles in the airlock and I popped the lid and saw the O-ring wasn't set. After setting the o-ring properly and reinserting the airlock, I did indeed see a pretty frequent bubble in the airlock, say every 15 seconds or so.

Now its only day three and no bubbles at all on the airlock again. After waiting a while I decided to do a hydrometer reading. It came out as 1.010. The kit says primary fermentation should take "4-7 days or until SG is below 1.008." So... Whats the deal? Did I containment when I popped the lid yesterday to adjust the airlock? I did read one forum that said table sugar often ferments faster, could it just have really gone that quickly? I did not see a lot of foam, but yesterday there was a fairly small foamy head on the brew. I certainly wouldn't say I saw a "vigorous fermentation" like I've seen others talk about.

For what its worth, the beer LOOKS fine.

I have no problem letting it sitting for as long as it needs, but if hope is lost I'd rather start over now that I know a little better what I'm doing. I definitely admit I rushed into my first brew due to a hectic schedule with work and family.

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It sounds like it will be fine. From my experience (only 6 brews so far) and from online reading, it's really hard to completely screw up a batch. –  CDspace Apr 11 at 15:28
Thanks for the responses, I'll post back as the process continues. I haven't touched it since I posted! –  rehz Apr 12 at 2:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First of all, don't open the bucket if you can at all avoid it. I know this your first brew so you're excited, but in general you want to leave it alone. I don't touch my brews for 4 weeks unless dry-hopping (as in, I pitch yeast, close the bucket and don't look or think about it again for a month).

Second--your beer is probably fine. The most vigorous fermentation is typically over within a few days. That doesn't mean primary fermentation is done, just that the most rapid CO2 production is likely over. After you let it sit for a while longer it may drop a few more points. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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Everything you describe is totally normal. Your beer is fine.

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Seems to me you're worrying too much. Unless a ferment seems to be stuck—which hasn't happened to me in several dogs' years of home brewing—or unless the final alcohol content really matters, I much prefer to leave the yeast to do its thing. I figure the less I touch it, the less likely I am to contaminate it. Beer is a tender thing, almost defenceless compared to wine.

When the primary ferment has settled down, I want to get it into a carboy and out of harm's way ASAP. I don't care what the SG is now, the protective head of foam is gone and the protective blanket of CO2 is dissipating every time I lift the lid to have a look & a sniff. Other home brewers may be more curious, careful, or crafty. Just remember to sterilize the crap out of everything & you'll be fine. Enjoy your first batch!

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