Charlie Is Right. RDWHAHB.
The words of Charlie Papazian in his book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (if you don’t own it, click that link and buy it, help support my site!) ring out on nearly every beer forum anywhere. It’s hard to follow the advice sometimes, but that doesn’t change that the advice is good.
My last brew is one that was… interesting. It was my first all-grain brew, and it was big. I also messed up a few places, I forgot to add the lactose until into the boil. I didn’t get the yield I wanted (and didn’t sparge to get it, even though I should have). My OG was high.
Fermentation was interesting, too. I split the batches, which resulted in about 2.25 gal (8.5 l) of wort once boil was over. I used Wyeast 1968, with a starter, which may have gone according to plan. I fermented one in a carboy and one in a bucket. The carboy bubbled and bubbled. In fact, I let it ferment an extra week because of how bubbly it was! Even with the FG settled at 1.034 (readings taken over a week apart, not just 3 days), it was still bubbling like it was fermenting. The bucket didn’t start bubbling at all. At one point I thought maybe it needed to be aerated and I shook (sort of) the bucket. It bubbled then (and only then) and so much so it pushed all the sanitizer out of the airlock. It’s FG settled to nearly the same as the carboy.
I will admit, I was worrying. The samples were a little thick and too sweet. I don’t care much for sweet beers. Two nights before bottling, I added a shot of vanilla tincture to one. The night before bottling, I added around 8oz of cold coffee to the other. I bottled them on the day before Thanksgiving, not without a minor issue.
I try- but never succeed- in giving beers a full two weeks of bottle conditioning. I put one of each batch in the fridge 10 days after bottling, and cracked one open as a nightcap after one of my kids’ birthday party. It was the vanilla, affectionately known as E=1/2mvStout (yes, I’m an engineer). I was still concerned that it would be thick, sweet, and not good.
I was wrong!
It was good. The vanilla was not as strong as I wanted (but perhaps I could have that as a play on the ‘1/2’ in the kinetic energy formula). The head is not what I wanted, but it’s a starting point, and a damn good one.
So the next evening I tried the coffee one, E=MCStout. I was concerned all along that the coffee flavor could overpower this one, as I have had coffee stout beers that were just too powerful with the coffee. At this point, though, I knew it was at least a 3.5 star beer, so I was less apprehensive about trying it.
It was better. Better than the vanilla stout.
The moral of the story: Mr. Papazian is right. Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.