Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Stone

Homebrewers?

Recommended Posts

Thanks very much for the advice! I'm reading through John Palmer's book online and I have to say it seems like the kind of stuff that would make a lot more sense were I actually following the steps instead of just reading about it.

I will be sure to update with further information after the holidays, if applicable....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks very much for the advice!  I'm reading through John Palmer's book online and I have to say it seems like the kind of stuff that would make a lot more sense were I actually following the steps instead of just reading about it.

It definitely is. My first batch was accompanied by a friend who was indoctrinating me. But it really isn't so bad as it seems. If you can make soup, you can make beer.

I will be sure to update with further information after the holidays, if applicable....

Hopefully, I can speak for the group and say, please do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am a newby here, but I will pitch in my $.02 worth.  I bottle my homebrew in plastic (I  can hear the gasps from here) Pepsi bottles.  It tastes just fine to me, and from what I have read, the one limit is that the beer should be drunk within 3 months.  I don't know why, but I don't really care, mine never lasts 3 months anyway.

Interesting. I guess the only real concern is gas escaping through the plastic or the cap, but that's probably not a biggie. I doubt the plastic would affect the taste of the beer.

I think the bigger problem with brewing in plastic (at least for secondary fermentation) is that the plastic is permeable to bacteria which can get in and skunk your beer. Glass doesn't have this problem.

Actually, this incorrect on a couple of levels. Plastic is not permeable to bacteria, but it is permeable to oxygen. And oxygen is the number one evil of beer. The number two evil is UV light. It causes beer to become skunky (by breaking down certain compounds in the beer contributed by the hops). Glass does indeed have this problem depending on the colour. Brown is best, green is next, then clear. Both green and clear will skunk in minutes out in the sun. Hence the vast difference between a bottled PU and one from a keg. It's so prevalent in continental pilsners bottled in glass that brewers do it on purpose now to get that flavour. People have grown to expect it.

The only issue with plastic re bacteria, is that it can be very difficult to sanitize if there are scratches. The bacteria will harbour in the scratches despite best efforts.

The plastic is permeable to CO2 (the beer will lose carbonation) but not to a noticeable degree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, it only took me three years. Myself and a couple buddies took the plunge and got some brewing equipment.

There is a great brewshop up on 145th and Greenwood called "The Cellar", they also sell wine and cheesemaking supplies.

Our first beer was a pale ale that turned out ok, it seems to have a slightly off aftertaste that I can't really put my finger on...but it will get cha' drunk!

We moved on to brewing a scottish ale that is in the secondary fermenter right now and smells fantastic. I can't wait to bottle it up. At the same time, we expanded our operation by another carboy and are in the process of brewing up some hard cider. The fermentation went pretty crazy and the yeast decided to spout off some Sulphur in the process so I just have to cross my fingers that the smell will go away.

Brewing is fun!

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric and I exchanged gifts yesterday, and I gave him the homebrewing equipment. I really thought he'd caught on to me somehow, because he's spent the past week talking about how much he wants to learn to brew in 2006. Perfect gift! The first beer he'll be making is just a nut brown ale that came in a kit. The guy at the supply shop gave me an extra packet of yeast and extra malt and his phone number in case we had any questions. I can't wait to help with the brewing process....

Believe it or not, Eric's present to me was a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, and a few books about making sausage. So we'll be alllll set for good times in the coming year, don'tcha think? :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eric and I exchanged gifts yesterday, and I gave him the homebrewing equipment.  I really thought he'd caught on to me somehow, because he's spent the past week talking about how much he wants to learn to brew in 2006.  Perfect gift!  The first beer he'll be making is just a nut brown ale that came in a kit.  The guy at the supply shop gave me an extra packet of yeast and extra malt and his phone number in case we had any questions.  I can't wait to help with the brewing process....

Believe it or not, Eric's present to me was a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, and a few books about making sausage.  So we'll be alllll set for good times in the coming year, don'tcha think?  :raz:

Nut Brown is an excellent choice for simmering onions and bratwurst!

Have fun, let us know how the first beer turns out. Point Eric to http://hbd.org/discus/messages/1/1.html?1087231765

An excellent forum for home brewers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We should be starting the brewing process tomorrow evening. We were going to do it on Monday, but by the time we got back from the family gathering we were both too tired.

I have a question, though. The kit is a hopped extract, which is a liquid. Its directions do not instruct us to boil it - it says simply to put it in the fermenter, add boiling water, then the extra malt or sugar, then cold water, then just put the yeast on top. Should we ignore that and boil it anyway?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I dont want to mess with kit instructions, but regular sugar in your beer is a big no-no for real beer. It is just a cheaper way for kit makers to get a desired alcohol level out of a beer. Also a pre-hopped extract is usually a poor alternative to boiling real hops.

I would say do as your kit instructs but then look into buying your ingredients from a good brewshop. They will be able to hook you up with good recipies and ingredients.

If you want to do one thing that will make a difference in this batch; get a better yeast than what came with the kit. Find a good brew shop and ask for a liquid yeast that matches your style of beer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, basically that kit came with the brewing equipment. The guy at the brewshop said that it wouldn't be great but that it would get something fermenting and done quickly for that initial satisfaction. He gave light spraymalt to use instead of regular sugar and a different packet of yeast to replace the one in the kit. So we've got that at least.

The kit is a Munton's Nut Brown Ale, for what that's worth. After this we'll be using our own ingredients.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We should be starting the brewing process tomorrow evening.  We were going to do it on Monday, but by the time we got back from the family gathering we were both too tired.

I have a question, though.  The kit is a hopped extract, which is a liquid.  Its directions do not instruct us to boil it - it says simply to put it in the fermenter, add boiling water, then the extra malt or sugar, then cold water, then just put the yeast on top.  Should we ignore that and boil it anyway?

If it were me, I would boil it. No question. The bitterness won't go away, but if the pre-hopped extract includes some flavour hops as well, then that contribution will go away. You could ask for an ounce of hops from the shop to put it back, but it's not important for a nut brown.

So, I would bring about 2 gallons to a boil (or as much as fits in 80% of the pot you will use).

Turn off the element.

Add the malt extract (give the can a bath in hot water to make it flow better), and the dry malt. Bring back to a boil.

Boil for 15 minutes.

Pour into your sanitized fermenter (if you added an ounce of hops you will need to strain - sanitize the strainer too!).

Top up the fermenter with cold water to 5 gallons.

(you could check the temp, you want it to be about 68-71F).

Sprinkle the yeast on top, if it's too foamy, then either let it subside for an hour (lid on) or use a sanitized spoon to be able to see the top of the liquid. Don't sprinkle the yeast on the foam.

Let it ferment for a couple of weeks, then bottle it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great! It sounds like you are on the right track. For sure replace the sugar.

If you opt to boil instead of pour boiling water on top, do the following:

1. Boil your water (use the same amount suggested in the kit)

2. Put the remaining amount of water in the fridge or freezer to get really cold

3. Add the malt and stir to dissolve (don't let it burn on the bottom of the pan!)

4. Boil the mixture (wort) for a half hour (normally an hour or so, but you are not adding any hops outside of what is in the mixture).

5. While this is boiling, start to activate your yeast in a small amount of warm water (boiling it and cooling it is best for sanitation; you could fesably use some cooled wort)

6. Cool the wort down as fast as possible. I use a wort chiller to help this (copper coil that you run cold water through). You can put the mixture in an ice bath and add the chilled remainder of your water. How you do this will depend on how big of a pot you have. The key is to get it cooled to about 80 deg to be a nice home for the yeast.

7. Once cooled and in your fermenter, add your yeast and mix well.

8. Pop the top on and add your airlock.

9. You should see some bubbles the next day.

Remember the whole time to work with sanitized tools. I use Star San, which is a great sanitation solution.

Enjoy the process!

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice. We're definitely brewing tomorrow night so I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, a friend pointed me to this software for the Mac which looks like it might be really useful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a lot of info on brewing, getting started, and even quite a few recipes at brew-monkey.com

Cheers and beers...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jeniac42-

you got some great advice here, I hope all goes well. Good luck tonight, and do post back with how things are going with the brew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't brewed beer in a while, but I just resurrected my fermentor with a batch of wine. Pinot grigiot. I will let you know how it goes (even though this is in the beer forum).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the beer is in the fermenter now. Since we were both doing this for the first time, it caused a few disagreements, but I think it'll turn out OK.... :blink:

It was Eric's present, so he really did all the work for this. First he sanitized everything. Then he boiled the extract and the extra malt together with 1.5 gallons of water per the advice in a book (Complete Joy of Homebrewing perhaps?). It's my opinion that it never actually reached a full, rolling boil, but it was at least simmering for 45 minutes. Then we poured it into the fermenter and added cold water to make 5 gallons of liquid. It cooled down pretty fast so we put the yeast in, applied the lid and the airlock, and went to bed.

This morning I woke up because I heard a sound that I thought meant a cat was about to cough a hairball up on me, but it was just the airlock bubbling away (there's some water in it, again per the instructions in the book).

We're not sure how we'll know when to bottle it. The book says 14 days; I've also read 6-7 and anywhere in between. Room temperature in here is usually about 64F at this time of year. The bubbling currently is about every five seconds.

Thanks again for all the advice! I'll update again when we bottle it....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, the beer is in the fermenter now.  Since we were both doing this for the first time, it caused a few disagreements, but I think it'll turn out OK....  :blink:

It was Eric's present, so he really did all the work for this.  First he sanitized everything.  Then he boiled the extract and the extra malt together with 1.5 gallons of water per the advice in a book (Complete Joy of Homebrewing perhaps?).  It's my opinion that it never actually reached a full, rolling boil, but it was at least simmering for 45 minutes.  Then we poured it into the fermenter and added cold water to make 5 gallons of liquid.  It cooled down pretty fast so we put the yeast in, applied the lid and the airlock, and went to bed.

This morning I woke up because I heard a sound that I thought meant a cat was about to cough a hairball up on me, but it was just the airlock bubbling away (there's some water in it, again per the instructions in the book).

We're not sure how we'll know when to bottle it.  The book says 14 days; I've also read 6-7 and anywhere in between.  Room temperature in here is usually about 64F at this time of year.  The bubbling currently is about every five seconds.

Thanks again for all the advice!  I'll update again when we bottle it....

The temperature is a little cooler than is generally recommended, but in my opinion that's good. If it was Danstar Nottingham it's doubly good. That yeast tends to leave a beer pretty dry, and maybe the lower temperature will leave it a point or two sweeter. It sounds like you did everything right, you definitely want a boil though, not just a simmer.

You will definitely notice a slowing of the bubbles after 2 days or so, but that doesn't mean it's done. I generally leave it for two weeks, but opinions differ wildly on this subject. For you, I would suggest for your first batch, simpler is better, leave it two weeks, and then have a peek in the fermenter, if there is no more foam (called Krauesen) then it's almost certainly finished. And you can go ahead and bottle it. But to be absolutely sure when to bottle it, you should check the gravity, it should be between 1.008 - 1.014 depending on the fermentability. If you bottle it too early it can be dangerous.

Do you have another vessel for the bottling?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll second all that, but I do have a question jeniac42 if you don't mind. What exactly was the problem with the boil? Was it that you didn't want a boilover or was it that your burner wasn't hot enough? Either way you will want to solve that issue as you get more into brewing. A good rolling boil will help with your hot break as well as get you proper utilization from your hops. Do not be tempted to cover your pot during the boil, however, because the vapor condensation from the lid will drop back into the wort and give you DMS problems, which you definitely don't want.

I used to like to ferment cool myself (66-68F), but 64F may be pushing it a tad. If you drape your fermenter with a towel or a light blanket you may get better results.

Glad to hear it went well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just brewed too ... a porter, http://brewery.org/gambmug/recs/975183377-19305.shtml it's a great beer that I've brewed before, and loved. A friend is opening his third restaurant, and he asked me to brew a couple of beers for the pre-opening staff party. This was the second, the first one I just tried for the first time today. An american pale ale with IPA hopping but only 5.5% abv. And the hops are almost all cascade that I grew in my garden! It tastes pretty good. I put it in a keg yesterday ... and am drinking it today. When you get sick of bottling jeniac, you'll have to get a second fridge which stores some kegs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the boiling wasn't so much of a technical problem as a philosophical one. I couldn't manage to convince Eric that it wasn't actually at a full, rolling boil. We know for next time, though.

I do have a question, though: How high can you crank the burner up without being in danger of burning the wort? Eric's stove is no great shakes so I suspect we could just turn it all the way up, but we were both concerned because of the (perceived) high sugar content in the wort.

We should be bottling pretty shortly and we want to get another batch going right away, so I'm on a mission to find a good beginner beer from ingredients. I've seen so many now I'm starting to go cross-eyed. I might leave that part to Eric (I'm trying to convince him to sign up here) and work on a bratwurst recipe to serve at the upcoming Beer Tasting Party.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It IS an issue. Presuming it's an electric stove. The spiral elements seem to impart very uneven heat to the kettle, I remember seeing caramelized wort on the bottom of the kettle in the shape of the spiral. So, you can in fact caramelize those sugars. I don't know if it would still happen if you did a full wort boil, probably not, but it's a moot point because the stove probably doesn't have the power to keep 5 gallons at a boil.

What you want is a trivest, I think that's what they're called. Just a little wire gadget that sits between the kettle and the element.

Don't worry about it too much regardless, just make sure you are stirring the wort somewhat as it's coming to the boil. I do 10 gallon batches on a propane burner, and never have any caramelization on the bottom of the kettle.

Mark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On an entirely different note for homebrewing, does anyone keg their homebrew in soda kegs? Do you have information on where to get the supplies?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On an entirely different note for homebrewing, does anyone keg their homebrew in soda kegs?  Do you have information on where to get the supplies?

I do. My LHBS sells reconditioned kegs. There's a problem though, they're being bought up for scrap, they're getting hard to find. This place http://rcbequip.com/ has a good reputation for buying over the web. And of course you can get them from http://morebeer.com too.

As for the rest of it ... hoses, regulator(s) disconnects, shankds and taps, the two places above will have them. But chances are there is a beverage equipment distributer in your town.

Try and get Perlick faucets. The reason is that the valve keep the tap clean. Not that big an issue for bars since they see so much use, but a big issue for home use. You want to see disgusting, don't clean your taps for 6 months.

Lastly you'll want to get a CO2 tank. 20 lbs is a good size. About the same size as a keg and will last about a year depending on how you use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen the homebrew myself in about a week (school started again so my free time is, oh, non-existant), but Eric wanted me to ask a question. He believes there is still yeast on top of the beer. I asked him to describe it and he said it's not a foam, but something like pieces of "solid material" floating on the top. I believe the bubbling activity in the airlock stopped some time ago. We're looking to bottle on Thursday so we just want to make sure everything seems OK. I may be able to take a photo of it tonight for clarification, but any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hmmm, how much material is floating on top? It could certainly be yeast, but keep an eye on it. Also note how the beer smells at this point.

This weekend, we bottled our scotch ale and are waiting for the bottles to carbonate.

We also brewed a belgian white that is sitting in the fermenter now. I can't wait!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Tanya_Tarhan
      Would it be enough at the begging and for home parties?
      Barmen tools set included:
      – Cocktail Shaker
      – Mixing Spoon
      – Cork / Wine Opener
      – Stainer
      – Ice Tongs
      – Muddler
      – Bottle Opener
      – Two Double Jiggers
      – Two Pourer
       
      Waiting for your feedback and appreciate your opinion
      thanks

    • By liuzhou
      Picked this up this morning, not because I wanted it, just to add to my collection of silliness.
       

       
       
       
      Love the brewery's honesty in their choice of name.
       
      My only question is "Why? I mean "Why?'" (to be uttered in a tone of despair).
       
      It tastes like some one had a glass of grapefruit juice with breakfast and then forgot to wash the glass before pouring a beer hours later.
       
    • By liuzhou
      500 years ago, Martin Luther started off the Reformation. In a way, this not only changed religious affairs in Europe, but also changed our beer.
       
      Article here.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×