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Monday, June 6, 2016

Misadventures in Homebrewing: Safe and Sane on Brew Day

By Matt Ross

I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. Unfortunately, most mistakes on brew day are beer related since, as we all know, you must drink beer to make beer. Most rules start after someone did something regrettable. (Ever wonder why there are signs surrounding electric fences reminding you not to touch them?) My regrettable moment: I connected my corny keg to an open faucet and pushed beer all over my feet and floor. Now I don’t drink beer until I am done with the boil.

I digress. Not all of my mistakes are that dramatic and more often than not they turn out fine. I suppose the purpose behind this blog post is to laugh at myself and point out avoidable pitfalls to help your brew day run without a hitch. 

    • If you are using glass anything, do not leave it in your murky Star San. I broke a lab thermometer (filled with mercury) in a plastic fermenter filled with sanitizer. It is now a compost bucket.
    • Never ferment 5 gallons of wort in a 5-gallon glass carboy unless you have a blow-off tube. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
    • If you have a boil pot with a valve and screen, be aware of protein production and the power of Irish moss. I clogged my screen while making a beer that was 40% rye and using a Whirlfloc tablet. It was a mess. 
A large portion of brewing is controlling variables to the best of your ability. Sometimes life intervenes and you’re caught with your pants down. Moments like these are humbling and make me sympathize with Homer Simpson (D'oh!). My stories are mostly laughable but as brewers we are responsible for gallons of boiling wort and powerful chemicals, which is to say: Be safe and brew smart.


  1. In preparing a Gose last night, I mistakenly pitched a champagne yeast instead of an English ale yeast. It is bubbling away this morning. What differences can I expect with this?

    1. Thanks for sharing your misadventure in homebrewing! This is probably not the worst problem to have. I would expect a dry final product due to the aggressive nature of champagne yeast.

      However, while brewer's yeast is geared towards fermenting barley sugar, champagne yeast is geared towards fermenting fruit sugars. Since I have never fermented beer with champagne yeast I cannot say specifically. I am sure that it will be similar to a gose but you may notice differences.

      Thanks again for sharing and keep us posted!