Author Topic: homebrew?  (Read 32391 times)

Woofage

  • Ain't no hooves on my bike.
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2013, 01:02:22 pm »
Just sampled my first bottle of cider. Not bad <hic>, not bad at all. It's not supposed to be ready just yet but it's quite drinkable as is. Very potent though: needs treating with respect.

I discovered yesterday that a local shop sells all the separate ingredients for beer making. Although kits are easy, I don't really want to make 23 litres of beer each time. What is the panel's view of making a small batch, say a demijohn or two, rather than a big bucket's worth?
Pen Pusher

Re: homebrew?
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2013, 01:23:32 pm »
I've pretty much given up with kits, and also become more frustrated with the taste from my extract brews. I'm wondering if something happens to some of the molecules in the malt extract during the freeze drying or concentrating process now (possibly something known as a Maillard reaction to the biochemists - it's a well known phenomenon in wine kits) -  leaving them as unfermentables in the wort and giving that distinctive but subtle homebrew 'tang'. Although my latest Fullers ESB extract clone is OK, after ten weeks in the bottle, the carbonation and colour are both fine, but it lacks the top-end marmalade hoppiness, punch, and sweetness of the real thing, and it has that slight 'tang'. It's at best, an approximation. I used the Fullers yeast too.

For those (like me) who would like to go all-grain, but don't have the space (or the justification for spending money on all the kit either), there are two other possibilities to explore.

1) BIAB (brew in a bag) where you put your grains in a large muslin bag and mash them in your boiling vessel, before hoisting the bag out, letting the wort run-off into the vessel, and boiling that up as per usual with hop additions at various times. But there's no sparge (rinsing the mash) involved which means low-efficiency and you'll need a very large pot and hoist for lifting out car-engines or similar.

2) Partial Mash. You place your grains in a large picnic drinks cooler (about £25 from Argos),  mash (steep the grains) for an hour (the cooler keeps  the temperature constant) and then either tip the resulting wort into the boil vessel and proceed once again as normal but with a smaller volume*, or adding more water and a lot less dried malt extract (DME) than you would have for a straightforward extract brew for a full-volume boil. Again - low efficiency because you're not carrying out a sparge.

Even better is to bodge a tap into the side of the cooler (with a filter if you're posh), so you can run the wort off after mash, and also sparge the grains - meaning you extract more from the grains - resulting in a higher efficiency. This is pretty much the start of an all-grain boil, as you should end up with the full amount of wort to boil up if you've done your sums right. But for all grain, you'll need a mahoosive (30+l) pot to put on the stove, so it's preferable to do get something rigged up outside or in the garage if you have one.

*you can stop at this stage if you want to do smaller brews (@woofage)

'Something....something.... Something about racing bicycles, but really a profound metaphor about life itself.'  Tim Krabbé. Possibly

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
homebrew?
« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2013, 02:10:52 pm »
Woofage - Nothing wrong with that at all. If you're using a two can kit, you can make it up to 20 pints using just one can.

Re: homebrew?
« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2013, 04:34:17 pm »
I've pretty much given up with kits, and also become more frustrated with the taste from my extract brews.

Care to share a recipe in case we can give any tips ?

I can't find my recipe sheets but my last London Pride would have been something like this (Saracen from Brewuk's recipe - basically one of Graham wheeler's from 'Brew your own British ale', and retweaked by running the numbers through the Beer Engine*.)

13g Target Hops

7g Challenger

7g Northdown

19g East Kent Goldings

370 g Crystal Malt

2.5kg Light dried malt extract

Steep Crystal grains in 6l water for 30 mins @ 65-67oC (I use a stocking bag to hold the grains). Remove bag and bring to boil. Add some DME (can't remember how much at this stage - maybe 1 - 1.5 kg? Maybe all of it?!**)  Add 13g Target @ 60 mins, 7g challenger, Northdown and 12g EKG @ 15 mins with a Protafloc tab. (the remaining 7g EKG added either @ flame-out and left to steep, or dry-hopped after a few days. Can't remember which!) Place boil vessel in sink-full of cold water for the cold-break (no wort-chiller) then strain wort into fv through sieve and sparge hops with more water to make up to 23l. Add remainder of DME and stir like billy-o to remove lumps. Take OG reading. Pitch pre-smacked Wyeast 1968 or Safale S-04 at 20oC and leave lid loose-ish until krauesen has died down. Seal and leave 18-20 days in total for diacetyl rest. Rack to bottling vessel, bung in some finings and leave a further couple of days to clear. Bottle with 1/2 tsp table sugar per bottle, and leave to condition - my rule of thumb being at least four weeks for a 1040 OG ale.

Although  LP is a malt-forward beer, this one ended up too malty and cloudy. It had the characteristics of the commercial product, but like the ESB I did (which is pretty much the same recipe, but with a bit more grain and brewed short), it lacked the zest and punch of the real thing. It was 'muddy' and had a tang. I Sent a message to Saracen at Brewuk and he said he'd look at the numbers but I don't know if he adjusted the recipe. The only things I think I might be slack on are keeping a constant mash temp (although I use a thermometer), and keeping a good vigourous boil. I don't think there's a problem with the boil volume itself wrt hop utilisation.

This tang thing is something people do or don't seem to taste. There's a similar thing in kit wine-making and I've pretty much given up on the mid-range kits for this reason.  I pick up a strong bubble-gum taste when the wine is young, and I don't have the patience to lay them down for a year for it to (supposedly) disappear. I'm just about to get cracking on a Winexpert Luna Rossa which has a higher percentage of pure juice, so hopefully none of this 'kit-taste'! So my primary fv will be in use for at least six weeks and no beer-making for me for the time being.

* http://www.practicalbrewing.co.uk/main/calculators/beerengine/

** Have read discussions about hop utilisation vs boil gravity and from what I gather it doesn't seem to matter at what stage of the boil you add the extract. Some say you can omit it entirely (effectively making a hop tea) and add all the DME directly to the fv post boil, without affecting the taste of the final product.
'Something....something.... Something about racing bicycles, but really a profound metaphor about life itself.'  Tim Krabbé. Possibly

Re: homebrew?
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2013, 11:14:02 pm »
Aaargh! I just spent over an hour typing a lengthy reply, but then my effin' login timed out so it wouldn't post - and I CBA to type it all again! Probably for the best....I used to hang out on a couple of homebrew forums, and still crop up on one from time-to-time, and am aware of most (if not all) of the issues you've raised.

I don't actually leave the lid off at the start, but just loose, as I read the initial fermentation is aerobic and it might stop the yeast going into oxygen debt (joke), and in any case this is only something I've recently started to do. I also generally batch-prime too using a calculated amount of sugar in solution , but might resort to the sugar-traight-in-the-bottle method if my schedule gets messed up through work. I've only recently started using the same primary bucket for both beer and wine too, but understood this not to be a problem with proper cleaning and sterilising. (I might come across as a bit slap-dash, but in reality I'll spend hours consulting forums and poring over techniques and tweaks before I put them into practice)

One thing is, if I go for a full volume boil then I might as well go AG anyway (I fancy knocking up a mash tun of some description just for the lolz) as the grain is cheaper than extract for a start. However, my limiting factor aprt from money is SPACE! I live in a 55 m2 flat which is already taken up with bicycles, and bits of bicycle and motorbike. I'll soon need a room just to keep all my brewing stuff in!
 
One other thing that's starting to irk is time vs money. It costs about £30 for a good extract brew (using Wyeast or White Labs) ending up with 40 or fewer bottles. Factor in the cost of the equipment and the four hour's total labour, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it to save what, £30? With a large AG set-up (say 60 litres at a time and a cheaper grain bill to boot) I can see the point. But I'd need a much larger kitchen or  a garden for that sort of operation. Or perhaps an RV and a desert...

'Something....something.... Something about racing bicycles, but really a profound metaphor about life itself.'  Tim Krabbé. Possibly

Re: homebrew?
« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2013, 08:55:46 am »
I asked one of my colleagues and he insisted that I shouldn't bother with any kits but do  a full mash from scratch as it would make much better beer. Seems like a lot of work for a first try.

He is correct on one count - to make the stuff that dreams are made of you have to mash. But a decent kit or extract based recipe can easily beat 90% commercially brewed stuff.

There's no way anyone should try mashing for their first go, there's just too many techniques to learn. Start with a (non-boil) kit, move on to using extracts & hops, then mash. It also means you don't splash out on all the equipment in one go.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2013, 09:23:57 am »
Well I have a bucket and a pressure keg so will drop by the brew shop today and seek appropriate advice.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Mrs Pingu

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Re: homebrew?
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2013, 05:14:38 pm »
You have a brew shop in Dundee?
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2013, 05:43:46 pm »
Yes, and very helpful she was too. I came away with a coopers IPA kit, a hygrometer and some sterilising stuff. Beer bottles? Ask your local pub (there are three within 200m of my house.) Having read the instructions I popped back in to ask about the 'mix it with malt and other sugars' which was a bit indistinct in th einstructions and she said that for a first brew just use ordinary sugar, then when you see how it all works, spend the money on malt etc.

So if I have time this evening I will sterilise and set up the brew. It will then sit at a bit cooler than intended (probably around 16 instead of 18-23) for a week before checking to see how it has gone.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2013, 08:30:31 pm »
And it is up and going. Everything well sanitised, then well washed. Probably a few degrees to cold but hey ho, there is a 25 litre bucket in the cellar that I can ignore for a week or so.
SG(start) 1038
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2013, 04:25:22 pm »
Daughter (16) on discovering me brewing said 'How long does it take?' and then on hearing 'about a month'  replied 'Oh good, can I have some for my birthday?' and proceeded to regale us with the stories of what she had been drinking on her mongolia jaunt (allegedly dry!)

I think it might be too cold in the cellar - have to add some heat down there.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #36 on: December 25, 2013, 09:57:21 pm »
I have added a small oil radiator to the room to raise the ambient a little. There is a pleasing amount of pressure under the lid so I presume things are working. Will investigate further in 10 days.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2013, 07:17:36 pm »
The lid on the bucket is definitely rounded. I am in the process of acquiring bottles into which to deposit the fetid brew nectar of the gods.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #38 on: December 29, 2013, 10:19:42 am »
I have added a small oil radiator to the room to raise the ambient a little.

This may be of interest: I've just ordered an Eheim Thermocontrol 25W heater off eBay for £16. This is rated to heat an aquarium of 20-25L, though perhaps if the room your FV is  in is very cold, the 50W version might be better.

Quote
There is a pleasing amount of pressure under the lid so I presume things are working.

You might want to crack the lid open slightly to let some of the pressure out occasionally - before it lifts itself off of its own accord.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
homebrew?
« Reply #39 on: December 29, 2013, 10:36:44 am »
Ok, my long/boring post comes to an end now :-)

Not boring at all - very useful! My fears about my stout proved unfounded - it eventually fermented down to 1011, then I racked it into a barrel primed with 90g muscovado sugar and it has been conditioning away nicely for five days now - and I can tell it's working because I cracked the lid slightly and there was a hiss of escaping gas (I had to let a little out because I don't like my stout too fizzy).

Had a little taste as well and, by Jove, it's splendid!

It's a Coopers stout kit made up to 20L with 1kg of dark DME, 250g white cane sugar and 30g Fuggles boiled in some wort for 1 min then left to steep for 30 mins. I thought priming with muscovado might add an extra dimension but it's not very noticeable - just a slight caramel hint. But I'm very pleased with the result - smooth, strong, very dry.

So anyway, my "room temp" is obviously fine for ale brewing, especially on a small scale, but I still want the aquarium heater for that bit of extra control and consistency.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #40 on: December 29, 2013, 05:40:51 pm »
The lid, when placed under pressure, seems to vent OK. I pushed gently on the bulge and could hear gas escaping so presume it regulates the pressure OK and won't suddenly blow off.

So once it has fermented, I could rack it off into a barrel or bottle it. I have to source some bottles - PET or glass? Crown or Screw?
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
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Re: homebrew?
« Reply #41 on: December 29, 2013, 06:03:44 pm »
Glass crown top. We usually use empty beer bottles, but that assumes you've been drinking bottled beer and saving the empties!
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2013, 06:33:28 pm »
I'll have to pop into the pub across the way then and see if they have any spares they will let me have.

Into a barrel or straight into bottles? It is a coopers IPA made to 23L with 800g sugar.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: homebrew?
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2013, 06:52:46 pm »
Glass crown top. We usually use empty beer bottles, but that assumes you've been drinking bottled beer and saving the empties!

Agree, for perfection, but it can be a bit of a palaver sterilising, rinsing, filling, priming and capping 40-something 500 ml bottles, or worse still, 80 half pint bottles. But larger bottles means you have to have a large jug to decant and once it's poured it has to be drunk. A good compromise is screw top flagons or glass litre cider bottles if you can source them. PET is absolutely fine as long as you're not hoping to mature it for many months, and yes they can definitely take the pressure, much more so than glass bottles. The only issue is they tend to be 2 litre and it all has to be poured out in one go! If you use clear ones, keep them in the dark.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2013, 06:55:48 pm »
500ml PET bottles are readily available and there are loads on the recycling market (in the shape of Coke or other pop bottles. And they are even cheaper ready sterilised (just pour out the Tesco value sparkling water and replace it with a far better sparkling water). What is the issue with ageing in PET?
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
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Re: homebrew?
« Reply #45 on: December 29, 2013, 07:36:40 pm »
If it's going into a barrel you're drinking in out of the barrel.
We have a giant BDH barrel which used to contain 50Kg NaCl which is very useful for sterilising bottles with the correct number of Milton tablets dissolved in the water. We then put about half a tsp of sugar into each of the clean bottles before we decant from the fermenter for the 2ry fermentation. (I have a disposable plastic cup fashioned into a funnel to get the sugar into the bottle.)

The kitchen floor usually needs a good clean after we've done this bit!
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #46 on: December 29, 2013, 07:45:01 pm »
I was thinking of decanting into the barrel as a temporary and easy way to then fill lots of bottles after adding the sugar to the barrel so the whole batch is consistent.Yes it is one more handling step but would make bottle filling much easier. (Think of it as a mixer/funnel with tap). It would be in the barrel for a few minutes (long enough for me to carry upstairs and into the kitchen from the cellar)

"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #47 on: December 29, 2013, 08:03:04 pm »
Why is a bottling bucket different to a barrel, or can I just use the barrel as a bottling bucket?
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Mrs Pingu

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Re: homebrew?
« Reply #48 on: December 29, 2013, 08:04:31 pm »
We do rinse, lots :)

I guess to do it DM's way you would have to make the sugar a solution before putting it in the bucket, otherwise you'd have to stir it and mobilise all the crap. Never really thought of doing it that way.
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: homebrew?
« Reply #49 on: December 29, 2013, 08:36:17 pm »
A separate vessel. I am fermenting in a 25l bucket. The plan would be to decant into the barrel (a pressure keg). And then add the sugar and immediately decant to bottles.  The barrel makes it easier to move the brew from the cellar. It was entertaining enough moving it down there.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes