First Homebrew: Mistakes and More Mistakes

Where to begin?

Well I guess the first major mistake I made was that I made some estimates where I should’ve actually put in the effort to get a better idea of how much water I would need for my mash. Not only did I grossly underestimate the amount of water needed, I also didn’t get that water hot enough before mixing it with grist. Instead of the anticipated resting temperature of 156, I ended up resting at 148.

But the beer seemed to survive this and a myriad of other mistakes. I forgot to take an original gravity reading (another mistake) so I’m not sure exactly how boozy this beer is now.

What I do know is that it is dark as midnight with a bitter chocolate flavor, like a decent dark chocolate bar but not as sweet. The brew is currently conditioning in the bottles and hopefully is carbonating. The resulting beer so far is flat (obviously) but also very thin on the tongue due to the low resting temperature (I think). I could have also added too much water, but considering I was shooting for 5 gallons and ended up with about 3.5, I don’t think it was that.

I had planned to use my leftover hops to dry-hop in secondary, but I decided (after dumping the hops in) that I had too much headspace in the fermenter to do a secondary fermentation without risking oxidization and off-flavors. Since the beer had been in primary for 3 or 4 weeks already, I decided to bottle and prime the beers… complete with floating hop chunks.


For all the mistakes, I’m not upset with how the flavor turned out.  This recipe is one I intend to revisit after I have a few more brews under my belt, and when the weather calls for a porter instead of a lighter beer. And also because I think the name – The Abyss Stares Back – is too good to allow to die as a first brew failure.


The Abyss Stares Back

The Abyss Stares Back

I also have plans to brew up a wheat beer – possibly a Leffe clone – both for a Wheatfest even a fellow homebrewer is hosting and also as a Father’s Day gift for Big Vin, who is a Leffe fan.



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