Author Topic: Homebrew thread  (Read 7484 times)

Sherringford Hovis

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #30 on: March 26, 2020, 12:14:02 AM »
[edit]

Too mouse-bummed on top-drawer homebrew cider to post coherently.

Will return to boast about how excellent I am at making cider when saying the word "excellent" is less slurred and spitty.


Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #31 on: March 26, 2020, 01:37:59 PM »
Bit concerned here lads. Closed the lid and plugged in the airlock at around 3pm on Tuesday, now almost 48 hours on I'm still not getting any obvious bubbling in the airlock.

The bucket is pretty translucent and I can see a nice thick layer of yeasty foam has formed on top of the liquid. The temp seems at the low end of optimum so still pretty good. I can definitely feel a bit of heat being given off below the liquid level, and my strip thermometer tells me it's about 1°C higher than the temp above the level. I have also caught a couple of faint but definite whiffs of something that smells very yeasty and beery and tasty, so I guess the beer is bubbling when I'm not looking.

Am I being impatient here? Also the St. Peter's kit I'm brewing says to give it six days before proceeding to the secondary fermentation- isn't that a bit optimistic? Shouldn't I be giving it two weeks at least?

No nasty smells at all though so I guess my aseptic technique is up to scratch.

MojoJojo

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2020, 01:51:03 PM »
My guess would be the lid isn't airtight and gas is escaping out that instead. It's not a big deal, enough gas is given off in early stages you don't need to worry too much about contamination.

daf

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #33 on: March 26, 2020, 02:05:39 PM »
Gave up on cider - never managed to make anything worth drinking.

Switching to wine, I've had spectacular results with plum - the trick is to add sugar surup (to taste) after it finished fermenting - turns a rather harsh plonk into pure nectar.

Currently have four bottles of Redcurrant mellowing in my wardrobe (I know what I like), and a demijohn of blackberry on the go. Ah, this is the life!

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #34 on: March 26, 2020, 02:20:43 PM »
My guess would be the lid isn't airtight and gas is escaping out that instead. It's not a big deal, enough gas is given off in early stages you don't need to worry too much about contamination.

I looked up a few homebrew forums just now and found out this is exactly what the problem was, thanks. Checked the seals on the bucket and found one hadn't quite clicked into place. Clicked it shut and now the airlock is bubbling like a mofo.

6 days is still a bit optimistic though isn't it?

MojoJojo

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2020, 02:49:24 PM »
I seem to remember it's a bit muddled what secondary fermentation means.

6 days seems like a reasonable time period before transferring to a demijohn. If I was doing a pulped fruit wine I'd probably transfer it after fewer days to get the liquid off the rotting fruit. As long as it's died down enough that it won't bubble out the top you're fine.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2020, 06:27:22 PM »
Why 6 days? An ale like that, I’d leave for 3 weeks (2 at the minimum).

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2020, 06:46:12 PM »
Why 6 days? An ale like that, I’d leave for 3 weeks (2 at the minimum).

The instructions on the side of the box say 6 days, how could they be that far out? What happens after fermentation peaks? Does the extra time allow for the beer to become clearer or something?

Sorry, I'm a total n00b here, any advice would be very welcome.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2020, 06:56:28 PM »
The instructions on the side of the box say 6 days, how could they be that far out? What happens after fermentation peaks? Does the extra time allow for the beer to become clearer or something?

Sorry, I'm a total n00b here, any advice would be very welcome.

No worries! Happy to help.

The majority of the fermentation is done in 72hrs, the yeast continues to work eating up the rest of the sugar and turning it into CO2 (you’ll notice your airlock slowing). For ales, I like to leave a little longer to let the yeast clean up any residual sugar so they are nice and crisp. If you bottle too soon, there can be residual sugar in the beer that is still being fermented away, but the CO2 won’t have anywhere to go once bottled so it’ll carbonate the beer (nice) but also build up extra pressure inside the bottle. In extreme circumstances, the bottles will explode, but that’s very rare. Happened to Hank in breaking bad.

Did you get a hydrometer with the kit? Little floaty thing? You can measure the FG of the beer by dropping it in and seeing where the liquid comes up to (sterilize it first!). Then do it again 2 days later, if you get the same reading, then it’s done fermenting and good to bottle (but you’ll need to add priming sugar to carbonate in the bottle)

Does the kit say anything about adding “priming” sugar into the beer when bottling it? If not, they could be relying on an incomplete primary fermentation (6 days vs 2/3 weeks) to carbonate the beer? Or you may have a very efficient yeast strain, but I suspect it is US-05 which I like to give 2 weeks.

ALL THAT SAID I’m sure 6 days is absolutely fine if that is what they are recommending. You said your airlock has been going like mad so you’ll likely be alright whatever you do at this point.

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2020, 07:00:50 PM »
Hahaha, yes, I have been feeling like Hank Shader here.

Kit says to add sugar prior to secondary fermentation- are these instructions designed for impatient n00bs? Should I give it 2-3 weeks before reviving the yeast with a bit of sugar? Fermentation seems at its most aggressive right now, I'm expecting it to calm down soon.

Also I neglected to buy proper brewers' sugar because I had no idea I'd need any- will boiled sugar water do the same job?

Big thanks again for passing on your wisdom here, it is massively appreciated.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #40 on: March 26, 2020, 07:16:14 PM »
Hahaha, yes, I have been feeling like Hank Shader here.

Kit says to add sugar prior to secondary fermentation- are these instructions designed for impatient n00bs? Should I give it 2-3 weeks before reviving the yeast with a bit of sugar? Fermentation seems at its most aggressive right now, I'm expecting it to calm down soon.

Also I neglected to buy proper brewers' sugar because I had no idea I'd need any- will boiled sugar water do the same job?

Big thanks again for passing on your wisdom here, it is massively appreciated.

Brewers sugar (or DME I suspect?) is a bit of a swizz for priming. It is a form of sugar with a broader range of unfermentable bits in there, so the final beer has more unfermented sugar = sweeter/maltier = more body. Fine if you want that added in the primary, but for the volumes you’ll be adding for secondary/priming it is absolutely fine to use regular sugar. In fact, any sugar source is fine - I used to get gimmicky and use syrup/treacle/honey/fruit juice for priming just because I could.

There’s a good calculator online for priming sugar (posted it last page I think, and it’s in my massive write up) - I’d suggest adding the priming sugar to a glass of water so it dissolves then adding that sugar water into the fermenting bucket for priming and stirring around. Makes the sugar distribution more even - as you can imagine, having one very sugary bottle might lead to it being over fizzy and vice versa. Good tip here - add a tiny amount of clear flavourless gelatin (if you have any), in a small amount of water in a microwave and add at same time as the priming sugar. Your beer will be lovely and clear - search for “gelatin homebrew fining” and you’ll get a nicer guide. Not mandatory of course!

6 days seems like an aggressive timetable to me (and I suspect you are right - it’s for people who want their hooch RIGHT NOW) but you’re probably fine to go with the instructions. Like I say, I’d leave it 2/3 weeks but that’s force of habit (and because I’m lazy).

You’ve got it fermenting, so at this point you are out of the woods! It is very difficult to go too far wrong, which is why it is such a fun hobby

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #41 on: March 26, 2020, 07:20:36 PM »
The starter/easier kits all seem to have short turn around times.

Puce Moment

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2020, 07:21:07 PM »
Would be good to see a picture diary of its progress. I loved checking in on mine every morning when I was regularly home brewing. The first time I ever did it I simply could not believe you need that much sugar just to make beer.

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2020, 07:46:20 PM »
Not got much to photograph tbh, right now it's just a plastic bucket. The gurgling sounds are the best bit.

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2020, 07:56:03 PM »
"Extract brewing" - you get the sugary stuff in tins, add water, and ferment. It's technically easier, but it takes about the same amount of faffing about, basically the same amount of equipment, its very dull and anti-climactic, and the beer isn't that good. It's fine to get started.

Please may I pick your brains on this? Would it be worth getting one of those cheapo homebrew kits from Wilko to brew up something like a basic stout, but adding something like chocolate extract or coconut to make it more interesting? Stewart's Brewing used to do a lovely coconut porter but it was a limited edition, and Campervan do one too but I don't see it very often.

I'll take the plunge and get a 5 gallon pan once I feel more confident about this, and once I have the storage space.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2020, 10:34:12 PM »
Please may I pick your brains on this? Would it be worth getting one of those cheapo homebrew kits from Wilko to brew up something like a basic stout, but adding something like chocolate extract or coconut to make it more interesting? Stewart's Brewing used to do a lovely coconut porter but it was a limited edition, and Campervan do one too but I don't see it very often.

I'll take the plunge and get a 5 gallon pan once I feel more confident about this, and once I have the storage space.

Yeah, I did that very thing my third or fourth batch - coopers stout kit, but I added a load of treacle. It was... interesting. There’s no rules! Add what you like! Beer from kits will only ever be alright. Not bad of anything, but because the mashing and hops are already done, there’s a a limit to how much you can alter the beer at the other end.

Re: adding stuff - things with higher sugar quantities ferment out more fully and give you more abv, but can taste a bit “hot” or unfinished if you go mad with them. You want to be careful and try and stay below 7% as beers that are stronger will probably take a while to age nicely and be drinkable, and you’d be getting near the tolerance of your US-05 yeast which I assume is what is in these kits. Amazon has a decent range of dry yeasts if you want to try a different one.

Dark fruits tend to be quite nice used sparingly in a light beer, that’s a nice addition I’ve done in the past. I can recommend a simple app like beersmith for designing recipes. All sorts of ingredients, and it’ll calculate what impact adding 500ml of honey (for example) will have on the final product without having to test and hope. Pretty sure it has most extract kits in as basic recipes, so you can boot one up then start adding stuff to it to tinker away.

Honestly, brewing gets as complicated as you want it to. No point getting a load of gear if you’re not sure yet. I’ve known people get a tiny grain bag, and make 4 pints of beer at a time to see how they like the whole process and if they’d be comfortable scaling it up.

I’d be happy to give advice if you have any ideas, or you’re welcome to give them a try without my input!

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #46 on: March 26, 2020, 10:37:25 PM »
And to add - it is lovely to be able to make a beer that you want but can’t find. I’m a native of the West Midlands, but haven’t lived there for 15 years. Every so often, I crave a pint of mild. Shit, warm, weak, flat, lovely mild.

But you struggle to find good ones outside of the midlands (and I have fuck all chance in southern Ontario) so making 40 bottles then leaving it in the cupboard for months at a time until the craving hits is really nice.

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #47 on: March 26, 2020, 10:40:19 PM »
Maybe do a big eggy guff into the vessel before bottling if you want to add a hint of Marston's Pedigree.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #48 on: March 26, 2020, 10:44:23 PM »
Maybe do a big eggy guff into the vessel before bottling if you want to add a hint of Marston's Pedigree.

It’s called a gas “blanket” and is how brewers get away with open fermentation without ruining their beer. As Blue Jam’s vessel was technically open prior to the airlock being involved, they used a variation of this method to avoid oxidization. Marstons may have pioneered this, I’m not sure.

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #49 on: March 26, 2020, 11:03:57 PM »
Hey, you leave Marstons out of this. Their Revisionist Craft Stout is very nice and very smooth. Also they own the Wytchwood brewery and run The Auld Hoose in Embra.

I would do a big eggy guff into the homebrew, alas I hate eggs.

Ferris- Mr Jam and I are both big fans of Titanic Plum Porter and fruit flavours are something I shall have to experiment with one day, cheers

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #50 on: March 26, 2020, 11:09:10 PM »
No worries - use the fruit sparingly is my only advice! I rmemember a batch of witbier that was like burned (pissed up while brewing and scorched the grain), unsweetened raspberry milkshake. Horrible. Couldn't give it away.

All the best with it!

easytarget

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #51 on: March 27, 2020, 03:50:26 AM »
Mac OS package management fans leave thread disappointed.
lol
LOL, though.

<gunshot>

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #52 on: March 27, 2020, 09:51:19 AM »
Thanks to everyone, especially Ferris, for all the information.

This should make my lockdown in the European covid ground zero a lot more fun.

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #53 on: March 27, 2020, 12:01:48 PM »
My small air distiller is really coming into its own now I can churn out litres of drinkable 60% hand-sanitizer.

I don't do beer very often (wine's easier) -- but the best kit I've done is Cwtch from Tiny Rebel. Not only is it my favourite beer, but it's also the only one I've brewed that came out tasting pretty identical to the real thing.

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #54 on: March 27, 2020, 11:42:28 PM »
The instructions on the side of the box say 6 days, how could they be that far out? What happens after fermentation peaks? Does the extra time allow for the beer to become clearer or something?

Sorry, I'm a total n00b here, any advice would be very welcome.

The general advice is to completely ignore the times given on kit instructions. Your beer will be fermented when you get a steady hydrometer reading a few days in a row (don't go by the bubbling, it could still be fermenting away without that). Usually it's at least 2 weeks, but it won't hurt to leave it longer if you're unsure.

I do kits in one bucket then transfer to a bottling bucket with the dissolved priming sugar (about 80-100gms for around 20 odd litres depending on style). A bottling wand would be a good buy if you don't have one.

Another tip - if you're doing glass bottles, fill at least one clear plastic bottle with the batch. Give it the odd squeeze and you'll know when the beer is carbonated and starting to clear.

Generally the longer you leave it, the better the beer, especially with dark styles like porter. Wheat beer is better young but I've found nearly every batch of homebrew I've done just starts tasting really great by the time I'm down to my last few bottles.

Thanks for the gelatine tip Ferris. I'm going to try that with my next brew. Cheers!

Flatulent Fox

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #55 on: March 28, 2020, 01:07:39 AM »
Nice one there Blue Jam,
                                      Turbo yeast.

Mental.Had to stop.

Quote
    It calls for 3.5Kg of sugar to yield 11-15% sport.
    I would add 6-7Kg to make it overproof and approach the 20% mark,though this will require a longer brew.
    It will be possible to drink it at 11-15% after 30 days but it will be very sweet ,so leaving it a bit longer will make equivalent of sherry.

    25l of sherry.


I am that soldier,but either way it is still fine sport.


FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #56 on: March 28, 2020, 02:32:13 AM »
That sounds miserable. As yeast approaches it’s tolerance, it starts doing a shit job of fermenting and craps out all sorts of esthers and things.

I’ve pushed US-05/Safale01 to 9% and it was just unpleasant beer.

Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #57 on: March 28, 2020, 01:27:31 PM »
Even the professionals struggle to make strong beer nice.

Blue Jam

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #58 on: March 28, 2020, 01:47:50 PM »
Yes, all those gimmicky double-strength ones I've tried (Williams Double Joker IPA, Pilot Double Mochaccino Stout) just taste like someone's dumped a shot of vodka into the glass. Presumably the extra alcohol produced during the brewing of these isn't that far off being bad vodka. Only the Belgians seem to consistently do strong beer really well- what's their secret? Do the monks all just pray really hard?

Ta for the gelatin tip Ferris- my dad used to use isinglass but that's basically another form of collagen which is more of a faff to use. Maybe there are some advantages for large-scale commercial brewers, is it marketed to homebrewers on the pretence that it will make their beer more like the commercially-available stuff?

Time for an update I guess: Day 4 and that airlock is still gurgling happily but noticeably less frequently now. I think I'll give it at least another week to calm down and get settled before I add the sugar (and gelatin) and get kegging/bottling.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Homebrew thread
« Reply #59 on: March 28, 2020, 03:52:00 PM »
Well, there are two types of homebrewers; curious beer nerds looking to give it a try, and old men who like to do [XYZ] cos that’s how I’ve always done it! The store has to cater to both, so they tend to stock mad stuff that isn't particularly useful like isinglass and Irish moss (which ostensibly does the same thing but in my experience is USELESS) so the old blokes can come it and buy it and complain about young people.

Realistically you get the odd beer nerd like me who will be a regular customer and shuns the internet for buying these things to support their local business, but the homebrew store’s stock in trade is the mad old bloke who’s been going in for extract tins and Irish moss since the ‘70s, so that tends to be the way the physical stores lean.

The various online brewing communities are a more equal split and tend to be more progressive in their brewing outlook, but again that’s my experience so YMMV.

Ps. Strong beers you just have to age for ages (months, essentially) to make em nice for boring esther/yeast reasons and it’s usually not worth the faff. Belgians must be a more patient lot than everyone else, and their yeast strains are probably very specifically adapted to survive and thrive in those environments now.

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