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Autumn Ale Brew Day

My grains and yeast arrived on Friday so I was prepared to brew on Sunday morning. The hops didn’t need to be purchased, because the Autumn ale called for homegrown ones.

Since this year’s harvest was plentiful, I had enough hops to try out some hopping techniques like first wort hopping. After the first runnings were in my kettle, I added a half ounce of my Cascade hops to take a swim while I sparged the grains to get to my full boil volume.

There was a mishap with my mashtun during this brew day. The tube that connects the false bottom with the tun’s spigot got disconnected during the mash. To get things flowing again, I poured the grains and liquor into another cooler, fitted the tube back in place, and then returned the mash contents back to the tun. Clearly, that was not an ideal situation but I felt victorious in finding a workable solution that allow me to continue with the brew day. It would have been a tragedy if everything had to come to a halt at that point.

The Magnum hops were used as my bittering charge and they were added right at the start of the boil. They do have a nice non-funky, non-fruity flavor so they can be used to give your beer a hoppy, bitter background taste on which you can build upon with some bolder flavors.

I had a 10 minute hop addition of Cascade hops and at flameout. the remainder of the bag were added which turned out to be 1.25 ounces. There was no need to save them for another brew. This Autumn ale needed more hops.

The only other not-so-smooth moment was when I pitched my yeast. Both vials of the WLP001 exploded when I removed the cap like shook-up soda bottles. It seemed like there was some kind of pressure change that made the yeast vials to spray out like that. Weird. Anybody else encounter that – exploding yeast vials?

Anyway – photos! BREW ON!


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  1. brewelladeville

    First time I used White Labs it exploded, ever since then I’ve cracked them when I take them out on brew day, then crack every half hour or so until pitching to keep pressure from building up. I haven’t had one explode since. They’re warming up on brew day, producing gas, so it’s inevitable they’ll go off like geysers unless the vial is cracked now and again.

  2. I’ve done the same thing, losing my mesh straining tube in the mash in my batch sparging mash tun setup. It drives me nuts! The good news is, I haven’t had a beer turn out badly because of it. I’ve tried to be more careful about stirring the mash since then, so that I don’t lose it again. It’s a total pain to move that much 155 degree wet grain. Hope yours turns out well! Sounds tasty.

  3. Thanks brewelladeville – I haven’t had explosions with other yeast strains. The WLP001 was big time pressurized. I will remember to crack it open little by little next time. It really was like opening a soda bottle that has been shook up.

  4. Thanks Andrew B,

    Yeah, I think it will be just fine. It was more annoying than anything else. Sometimes I think homebrewing is good for testing your problem solving skills. I was glad my solution saved the brew day.

    The barb connection to the round screen was loose on the false bottom – I tightened it so it shouldn’t happen again.

  5. Herb Meowing

    The trick to opening WL vials without gushing is to crack the seal as soon as they come out of the fridge.

    Wash the vial.
    Sanitize the vial.
    Crack the vial’s seal.

    Once the vial warms to room temperature…it’s safe to shake and pitch without fear of a foam-over.


  6. Thanks Herb – I need to practice on the next vial of WLP001 I get.

  7. Why, yes. Yeast has exploded on me (go to website link for photo proof). One way to avoid exploding yeast vials on brew day (unless you use dry yeast, which completely gets around the issue) is to make a yeast starter (http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter6-5.html) a day or two before your brew day.

  8. Hi Norm,

    Yes, I have made yeast starters in the past. Not sure how making a starter is going to solve the vials exploding since I would need to open them to add them to my starter wort. I had two vials to add instead of creating a starter since I was low on time and could afford an extra vial.

    I think the cracking the vials slowly is the solution.

  9. While it might not prevent the vial from exploding, making a yeast starter would keep it from exploding on brew day (to me that was the crucial point, no yeast and cool bacteria-attractive wort is a problem that the yeast starter would fix). Otherwise, yes, just try the cracking method. I have gone to using the Wyeast “smackpacks” for my specialty yeast needs. They work well.

    I’ve found that Safale 05, 04, and other dry yeasts give me what I need. They don’t explode and they work well (plus, they’re cheaper than wet yeast).


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