Making Your Own Beer

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MG11, 10 Feb 2018.

  1. MG11

    MG11 Member

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    Hi people! So I am fed up of traipsing out to the shops when I fancy a tipple, so I've decided I'm gonna make my own. I've found a good website as a guide. I just wondered if any of you had tried doing it and could give me a few pointers, how to avoid rookie mistakes hehe. Thanks. MG11
     
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  3. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member Associate Staff General Discussion

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    Well Mrs Cowley has a couple of times made us a load of home brew and it was really nice.
    I’m not very sure of the process, but I was pretty involved in the final stage of pouring it into me gob. :D
    I think it’s important to have decent glass bottles as my cousin Ian made a load (and put them in cheap plastic bottles) which he stored in his cellar, but one exploded and then set off a chain reaction that caused most of the others to explode and flood his cellar with beer. It’s surprising how much pressure is generated...
    It seems to me that it’s quite good fun going through the trial and error process when it comes to beer making.
    I’m just good at drinking it though to be fair...
     
  4. Dennis

    Dennis Established Member

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    If you want to go down the mashing route, I can recommend the recipes 'brewing beers like those you buy' by Dave Line; used to have the first edition when I started homebrewing back in the mid eighties and when things went well, the results really did taste like the real thing.

    Unfortunately, Mrs Lance disliked the brewing process because of the smell, so it's kits only for me now. I mostly brew the Woodfordes kits that Wilko's sell, the Sundew is particularly easy to make, always clear after about 8-10 days in the bucket and it never seem to suffer yeast bite. A word of warning - some of the cheaper kits can be quite nasty....

    Key to homebrewing is keep everything sterile; personally, I've found normal Fairy liquid good enough for cleaning everything, a good rinsing with cold water followed by sodium metabisulphite for sterilising (do not use with hot or warm water though, the fumes can be a bit nasty). All my beer goes into 40 pint casks, nowadays and naturally conditioned although top pressure can also be added using a 'sodastream' cylinder.
     
  5. xc170

    xc170 Member

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    I've tried making cider, it didn't taste fantastic but it was strong.

    Think white lightning and you'll get an idea of what it was like!
     
  6. eMeS

    eMeS Member

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    Beware of over-pressuring your barrel. I did, and the tap shot out, quickly followed by much beer onto the kitchen floor... I tried a kit for starters, and moved on to doing my own mashing. Gave up after moving house, when DIY was more important.
     
  7. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Its a few decades since I did any brewing but I agree about bottles. Use proper beer bottles with crown caps, a capper for applying the costs a fraction over a tenner these days according to Google.

    My first effort used glass lemonade bottles (tells how long ago that was) and the screw tops distorted under the pressure so that I couldn't open them.
     
  8. takno

    takno Established Member

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    I don't exactly have a life time of experience, but I've done it right before, and I've done it gloriously wrong. Overall
    • Get a kit, ideally a starter one that has a barrel and a brewing bin in it.
    • If you're planning on drinking it at home a barrel is far easier to do well than bottles.
    • Follow the instructions if you want something drinkable. We used to make super-strength beer at uni by just piling in more granulated sugar with the kit. It tasted awful and we mostly got through it using a series of drinking games and forfeits (not that that wasn't fun...). I've since made pretty good beer by following the instructions
    • The instructions really mean it about sterilising the equipment and keeping the lid on the bin. If you get dodgy yeast or bacteria in the brew it will be rancid
    • Specific gravity is your friend. Take a reading before the brewing process starts. Only barrel it once brewing is finished (to avoid explosions and foul beer), and keep records - frankly it's useful to know whether 4 pints is the same as a bottle of vodka or not.
    • If you don't have a warm room in the house where you are willing to have a somewhat smelly bin stewing away in the corner, keep it somewhere well-ventilated and get a heating mat or belt
     
  9. asharpe

    asharpe Member

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    How long does the beer keep in a cask if you top it up with CO2?

    I've got a cask and the injection system but haven't used it since I was at uni when it would all go in a weekend.
     
  10. takno

    takno Established Member

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    A month to six weeks is usually okay if it's kept somewhere reasonably cool. There is a risk that if dodgy bacteria gets into the beer during the brewing process it will start to affect the taste after a couple of weeks, so it's worth being a bit more careful about sterilization than you might have been with the brews at uni.
     
  11. asharpe

    asharpe Member

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    A couple of weeks sounds good enough for me. I'm put off brewing more due the the faff of cleaning bottles.
     
  12. Dennis

    Dennis Established Member

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    I'd agree with takno above, usually, I give the beer 2-3 weeks in the barrel before drinking over about a 2 week period. Normally, the secondary fermentation gives enough pressure to allow the entire barrel to be dispensed but, if not, a quick shot of carbon dioxide from the soda stream cylinder before pressure is completely lost will ensure no air enters the barrel.

    Beer coming into contact with air is problematical in two ways; firstly bacteria and wild yeasts are present in the air and secondly they need it to live, so when barrelling, use a long enough syphon to avoid splashing the beer into the barrel as this will aerate it and encourage the nasties to breed. I also try and avoid brewing or barrelling in the evening on hot days, especially if it is humid, as that is when the air is most laden with bacteria and yeasts.

    Try not to worry about how long it will keep - get on and drink it :p

    Any leftovers can be used for cooking or making environmentally friendly slug traps.
     
  13. asharpe

    asharpe Member

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    I'll have to buy a new one I think, or just a hose. Ive been using on of those special bottle taps at the bottom of the fermenter.
     

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