Share your dumbest brewing mistakes

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by MCBanjoMike, Sep 2, 2015.

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  1. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    Just made a real idiot move, and if I don't share it with you folks then I'm just going to stay mad, so...

    I was making a starter tonight, so I grabbed two of the gallon jugs that I use for those and filled one of them with StarSan to sanitize it. After a few minutes, I transferred the sanitizer over to the other jug to save it for later. I sanitized my funnel, my hands, even the vial of yeast. Then I opened up my vial of WLP530 and poured it through the funnel...into a gallon of StarSan. I forgotten to move the funnel over to the empty container after transferring the sanitizer, and the two containers were identical, so I didn't notice until it was too late. Guess that's what I get for using two containers of the same type.

    The only saving grace was that I had another yeast to build up, so at least my starter wort didn't go to waste too. But now I've got to try to make it out to my LHBS and hope they have 530 in stock, or else mail order it and eat the shipping fees on top of the replacement cost. Maybe when my son is older, I'll be able to brew during the daytime when I'm not so tired...
  2. inchrisin

    inchrisin Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I just dropped an unsanitized weight into my ale pale on Monday. I ran out of blow off tubes and I used a heavy washer on the outside of some sanitized aluminum foil. I had to sanitize my arm to pull it out. I pitched yeast that was old, I didn't make a starter, and I had 6 gallons of wort in a 6.5 gal fermenter. I'm hoping for a slow fermentation when I need a quick fermentation. The whole thing is inside of a trash bag in case I get excessive blow off. I added some Nottingham after 24 hours of inactive fermenter.

    It was a double batch and this will be the first to tap. The other half will be taking pumpkin spice and should shape up very nice.
  3. CurtFromHershey

    CurtFromHershey Initiate (0) Oct 4, 2012 Minnesota

    I once racked a beer to a bottling bucket, mixed priming sugar, prepped sanitized bottles, then didn't have bottle caps on hand. On a Sunday. Thank god for Wal-Mart and seltzer water.
  4. Buck89

    Buck89 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,656) Feb 7, 2015 Tennessee
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I recently brewed and fermented a pale ale exactly to plans, and then I f'd up the damn priming sugar. I was low on table sugar, so I boiled some DME. I added the DME quickly to a boiling saucepan and scorched it. I didn't notice this until I added it to the bottling bucket. It looked dark brown and smelled off, but in my haste I just siphoned the beer onto it and bottled. I forgot about it until 2 weeks later when I chilled a bottle and tasted. I had forgotten about the priming step and was surprisingly disappointed in a harsh aftertaste. Smells fine and initial taste is good but the finish really bugs me. FG was 1.012. I'm convinced it's the damn scorched DME. I have 40 bottles of this batch and hope that it "ages." Not optimistic.
  5. CADETS3

    CADETS3 Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2014 Texas

    This passed Sunday, I kegged a batch and racked a batch to a balcones whiskey barrel. I had roughly 6 gallons that I was trying to rack into my balcones barrel and had a nasty overfill all over my dining room floor. At the same time, I was kegging a blonde ale into a 5 gallon korny keg and also, had an overfill and spilled about 1 gallon onto the floor. Next time, I'll pay a little more attention.
    Avelasquez80 and inchrisin like this.
  6. inchrisin

    inchrisin Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Nothing like cleaning up a few gallons of hard work. :slight_smile:
    CADETS3 likes this.
  7. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    Ha ha, thanks for all the stories guys, I feel a little less stupid.
    inchrisin likes this.
  8. ghostinthemachine

    ghostinthemachine Initiate (0) Aug 14, 2015 Louisiana

    First batch i made was an extract batch. i didnt think sanitizing was that important (just used some soap) and then fermented in my bedroom (the temp never got below 78 in my house)
  9. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Pooh-Bah (2,456) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Too many to list... a few batches back I was going to do a double brew day, IPA and Saison. Bought the specialty grains, milled everything up. Did the strike water for the Saison (1.043 OG) and added the base grains for the IPA (1.060) along with the specialty malts for the Saison. It was super thick and I didn't have a way to fix it. Couldn't just adjust on the fly since it was a test batch. Had to dump the grains and go for just the IPA that day. Luckily I had more base malt at home and a mill.
  10. jamescain

    jamescain Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Texas

    My most recent mistake was accidentally brewing a 5 grain bill that was intended to be 8 gallons and only adjusting my base grain accordingly. That's how you end up with nearly 20% flaked oats in a sour base. :flushed:
    jbakajust1 likes this.
  11. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Canada (AB)

    I once forgot to sanitize my fermenter and realized immediately after racking into it. It was an IPA with a huge hop stand, so I really didn't want to reheat to pasteurize. Ended up fermenting for two weeks, racking to keg and force carbing with no infection.
  12. atpca

    atpca Initiate (0) Jun 10, 2013 California

    I had a keg of wild stuff that had been sitting warm for a few days. I put it out on the patio, clipped on a cobra tap and went back indoors to grab some other stuff. I hear my girlfriend shout "oh my god!" from outside, and turn just in time to see that the silicone tubing on the cobra tap has ballooned up to about 4" in diameter. Fraction of a second later it blows, sending a jet of warm sour beer 15 feet across the patio and in the open kitchen door where the arc maxes out against the ceiling above the refrigerator. I have to run back outdoors dodging the jet of beer while my girlfriend is literally ROTFL. Figure about 2gal sprayed out. Spent almost an hour mopping the ceiling.
    jtk, ericj551, NiceFly and 4 others like this.
  13. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    It almost feels like you aren't a true brewer until you've had to mop the ceiling at least once. Or in my case, the top surface inside my fermentation chamber.
  14. Lukass

    Lukass Pooh-Bah (2,665) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio

    Ha, a buddy of mine did this same thing a while back.. thankfully I had some bottle caps, and he quickly drove over to my place to pick them up.
    Avelasquez80 and CurtFromHershey like this.
  15. Lukass

    Lukass Pooh-Bah (2,665) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio

    I think my dumbest brewing mistakes happened when I was just getting into brewing. I would pitch single packs of yeast into imperial beers, thinking that would be enough to get the job done. d'oh!
    Avelasquez80 likes this.
  16. CurtFromHershey

    CurtFromHershey Initiate (0) Oct 4, 2012 Minnesota

    In my case it worked out fine as a learning experience. Turns out I cannot drink 2 liters of 7% beer without falling asleep on the couch.
    Lukass likes this.
  17. telejunkie

    telejunkie Savant (1,095) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    When I first got my RIMS tube going and didn't have it properly rigged to the PID controller, I had left the electric element on when I had the pump running as they are configured through the same emergency shut-off switch...RIMS tube was partially filled with wort, so it started boiling. Was using silicon tubing...noticed a GIANT balloon had formed in the tubing (so I could see right through the tubing...the size of your birthday party balloon) just before the tubing popped. Ears were ringing for a few minutes and was picking up pieces of silicon tubing for like a 20 yard radius for weeks afterwards. Made sure the PID controller was hooked up for all subsequent brews
    Naugled and NiceFly like this.
  18. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I once used an auto-siphon and a bucket fermenter without a spigot...what was I thinking? : )
    NiceFly and jbakajust1 like this.
  19. ssam

    ssam Initiate (0) Dec 2, 2008 California

    I was teaching a friend to brew and we got way to high during bottling day... We stripped labels off with bleach and I was sure I rinsed them really well before sanitizing and bottling, but a couple weeks later my friend called me panicked because he tasted bleach. I personally didn't but each bottle had me worried and drinking beer that might poison you takes a lot of the fun out of it. Very sad drain pour.
    bushycook, FeDUBBELFIST and Lukass like this.
  20. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,281) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I forgot to attach the tip on my auto-siphon when I was transferring the beer to my bottling bucket. (I had dry hopped in the primary carboy so there was a ton of hops in there.) I wasn't paying attention to the clear tubing to see that stuff being sucked into the bucket until I was about halfway thru the process. By then, the siphon had cleared everything away within 'sucking' distance and it was minimal transfer of the hop glop after that. Instead of another siphon transfer (with the tip on) to try to fix this error, I decided that I would have to live with a bit of extra trub in each bottle since all of that stuff kept getting stirred up when I kept mixing the priming sugar in the bucket. The beer did turn out great, although I had to settle for decanting and drinking only 11 ounces from each bottle.
  21. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Grand Pooh-Bah (3,142) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I made a yeast starter for a packet of dry yeast on my first batch and didn't use a blow off tube...
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  22. MCDForm

    MCDForm Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2010 California

    Once racked 5 gallons of a saison to a bottling bucket with a vial of Brett. I realized that the spigot was pointing in the wrong direction so I twisted it and it came completely off. I had to quickly stick my whole unsanitized arm into the bucket to tighten the spigot back on. Turned out to be my best beer to date.
    stealth, SFACRKnight and ssam like this.
  23. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Maven (1,259) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    1) Needing to sanitize the rim around the starter jar before decanting ... grabbed and gave a half-squeeze from the Windex spray bottle instead of the blue StarSan-filled bottle next to it. Little if any got into the starter jar and full-on disaster was averted.

    2) Placed the kettle's glass lid atop four pot well-used holders on the counter at flame-out. Went to replace the lid for the hop stand and one of the pot holders came along for the ride where proceeded it free fall into the wort. Fished it out ... returned the kettle to the stove ... boiled another few minutes ... and another full-on disaster was avoided.
    NiceFly likes this.
  24. jimboothdesigns

    jimboothdesigns Initiate (0) Nov 1, 2014 Pennsylvania

    My biggest mistake was not home brewing sooner!
    NiceFly likes this.
  25. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    The one (well, two) that stands out the most in my mind was the first day I was inspired to brew 2 beers with one main mash. The beers were an IPA, and a dubbel, with separately steeped darker grains and some candi syrup. Lots of planning went into this considering liquid volumes, the blending the first and second runnings in different proportions for the desired gravity, and so forth. I did consecutive boils full boils on my stovetop, so this was a long brewday. When it came time to add the yeast, I pitched a starter into the dubbel. Then I hydrated some US-05 and pitched that into the dubbel too. Oops. That was supposed to go into the IPA. So I biked to the local small grocer that carried good beers and some limited homebrew supplies. I got a pack of Nottingham, hydrated, and pitched in the IPA. As I am unwinding getting ready for bed, I notice an online rumor about bad packs of Notty. I compare my Notty's numerical code to the suspect one online: same code. So I run to the homebrew shop again, minutes before they close, and grab Windsor dry yeast, and pitch that. The next day, the thread on the Notty had lots of peeps saying the didn't experience this problem. So two beers, 4 different yeasts pitched, was a memorable mistake. Both beers were excellent, though. I'm sure I have some bigger mistakes, i.e., where the beers sucked, but those tend to be not so obvious, you just end up with meh.
    Avelasquez80, ssam, NiceFly and 2 others like this.
  26. machalel

    machalel Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2012 Australia

    I tried making a Berliner Weisse (

    Brew day was a mess
    - Incorrect measurements
    - Forgetting that I didn't have a single pot large enough to mash / boil, so had to split the batch
    - Accidentally threw out the aged hops I was going to use, so had to use fresh
    - Burnt myself

    Initial fermentation was a failure
    - Left the Lacto blend addition too late
    - Very uninspiring + v little sourness

    Secondary fruit addition was a failure
    - Couldn't find the fruit I wanted, so settled for Tangellos
    - Accidentally added too much rind & pith : turned out not nice at all

    The upshot? Two years later and the brew that I made the most (and dumbest) brewing mistakes has turned out to be one of my best.
    Avelasquez80, NiceFly and PapaGoose03 like this.
  27. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina

    Dumped 12lbs. plus of grain into 170ΒΊ mash-in water and realized I'd never ground the grain. Recovery was messy – I won't go into the detaisl – but eventually the brew turned out decent if a little light on the gravity side.
    NiceFly likes this.
  28. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,281) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    A bad day for sure, but it turned out good. Way to go! You just disproved that this hobby is an exact science.
  29. NiceFly

    NiceFly Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    I boiled starter wort in a flask on an electric element on my stove. I heard some popping but did not see a crack. This was before I had a stirplate. I had swirled a few times without a problem. Went for it again and as I was swirling the bottom came out of the flask.

    Loosing the starter was one thing, cleaning all the fermenting starter wort off of everything in the kitchen was another. From then on I boiled in a pot and poured into the flask.
    inchrisin likes this.
  30. gcg49

    gcg49 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2014 Texas

    First "big" beer:

    -No temp control, airlock blew off, fusel alcohol smell/taste
    -Added ground coffee in secondary. Tasted way too strong and kind of like stale coffee that had been sitting around all day
    -Added cocao nibs from whole foods. Didn't know they would add fat content. Bottles have a thin layer of fat at the top

    I don't "wing it" as much anymore after that disaster of a beer
    Avelasquez80 and HugeBulge like this.
  31. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I think a lot of people don't know how much fat is in nibs. Over 40%. Cocoa powder is a lower fat alternative.
  32. Cadmando18

    Cadmando18 Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2015 Oregon

    I was brewing a kit beer that was half grain half DME, 5 gallon batch. It was a porter, like a Black Butte Porter clone. All the ingredients were in clear bags and I'd set them all up in order of application. In the process of starting the brewing and cleaning everything I'd set the white powdered cleanser bag next to the ingredients. In my rush to add everything on time I accidentally added the entire contents of the cleanser into my boil. That was the end of that batch of beer.
  33. monkeybeerbelly

    monkeybeerbelly Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2012 New York

    on my first batch i didnt realize that if the bottling bucket was covered completely the beer wouldnt flow out the spigot.
    spent an hour gurgling cheap vodka and blowing in the fill tube to try and unclog the horrible "clog".
    after filling about a case in an hour and a half it hit me.
    I'm stupid
    jtk, inchrisin, 2ellas and 2 others like this.
  34. jbbumpy

    jbbumpy Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2015 Pennsylvania

    On my first batch I didn't exactly know what the hydrometer was used for so I placed it in the wort as I began the boil on the stove! I thought it would tell the temperature or rise according to the heat or something?! Luckily I figured something was wrong and pulled it before a rapid boil!
    Avelasquez80 likes this.
  35. Jmamay22

    Jmamay22 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2006 New York

    Had a great brew day and after chilling transferred to a fermenter with a spigot. Didn't realize the spigot was open as I was cleaning up until I lost half the beer onto the patio.
  36. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,281) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I had a similar accident, but for me it was just sanitizer into the sink. Very quickly I produced a magic marker and wrote 'open' and 'closed' on the side of my bucket.
  37. paulys55

    paulys55 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania

    I haven't started yet...dumbest mistake ever:slight_frown:
  38. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    This is fixable.
    Avelasquez80 and paulys55 like this.
  39. paulys55

    paulys55 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania

    I just need to find some free time. I work two jobs and have two kids. Kinda tough right now. But it is definitely in the works.
    machalel, Avelasquez80 and pweis909 like this.
  40. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    Sometimes I don't seat the gasket properly inside the keg disconnect output and beer spews like mad through the top of the disconnect when I tap it. That really makes me angry. F bombs drop. It's happened twice.

    Other than that, not much to report.
    Avelasquez80 likes this.
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