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Home Brew Questions

Discussion in 'suburban75' started by Voley, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    I've decided to enter the bearded and chunky-jumpered world of home brewing.

    Can those of you in the know tell me whether this is a good starter kit. It reckons it's got everything you need but I'd like to hear that from someone impartial.

    What do you reckon?
     
  2. AnnaKarpik

    AnnaKarpik Queen of all she surveys

    I DO NOT have a beard young man, nor a chunky jumper!

    I don't make beer either but that kit looks reasonably priced and I can't immediately spot any glaring omissions.
     
  3. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    Cheers. :)

    You should have a beard and a chunky jumper, though.

    You're letting the side down frankly.
     
  4. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    That kit sounds really good for the money, and really has everything you need, in fact I'm very impressed!

    The fermenting bin and the pressure barrel alone are 20 quid each from Wilkos, and the actual kit itself with the malt extract is another ten to twenty quid. Another two or three quid each for all the bits and bobs and you've got a good deal there.
     
  5. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    I'd recommend getting at least one extra hydrometer, for when you drop the fecking thing after a couple of ales to steady the brewing process. :oops:

    I've been through four already and only started last august. :oops:

    BTW What is is with the chunky jumpers? There's nothing at all wrong with a good cardigan, I'll have you know.
     
  6. aqua

    aqua made of cheese and gin

    wherry is lush mate you'll enjoy it :)

    looks good to me :)
     
    il_bastardo likes this.
  7. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    You even get a C02 injector, mine was over a tenner just for that I think....
     
  8. TopCat

    TopCat Gone away, no forwarding address

    Is the taste ant better than in the long ago past?
     
  9. berniedicters

    berniedicters On long vacation Banned

    Excellent choice of beer kit in there - for starting out, using a complete kit rather than the traditional "kit'n'kilo" approach is a great idea.

    You get all the useful gear in there (ok, thermometer's probably a bit technological), without unnecessary guff. If you decide to "cask-condition", you won't even need the CO2, or at least not until you've drunk half the brew and need to gas it up a bit.

    If you go into this seriously, you may need to consider additional bits. If you go for another fermentation vessel, go for one of the screw-capped ones that lets you use an airlock - just that they're more convenient to use, especially for slower-fermenting brews, as the risk of contamination is lower, and you get to see if the brew is still underway.

    The other thing to ponder on is whether you are going to start bottling your output. This has the advantage of keeping longer (with decent hygiene, you can keep bottled brews for 3-6 months, and I've drunk brews of mine after a year which have, if anything, benefited from the maturation). But it does require an extra investment in kit - you'll need a capping tool, crown caps, and a good supply of bottles, plus a suitable syphon and cleaning kit.

    Oh...that is one thing that looks like it's missing from your kit: sterilisation/cleaning stuff. I use VWP for cleaning and sterilisation, but you need to rinse well afterwards, as it leaves a slight chlorine taint. If you want to go for a no-rinse option, then iodophor is a great steriliser (but doesn't clean), or you can go all technological and use sodium percarbonate - also called "oxygen bleach", which sterilises but leaves no taint.

    It pays to sterilise very carefully - you don't want to wreck a brew thanks to substandard hygiene, though in practice I've found beer brewing pretty forgiving.

    And www.howtobrew.com gives you all you need to know, albeit from a slightly US-centric position. It's available in book form, too - I thoroughly recommend it.
     
  10. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    Cheers, Stig. Sounds like a pretty good deal, then. Ta.

    I doubt mine'll turn out like proper Wherry but it sounds like it's quite a good one to start off with. Low gravity (I think that's the right phrase) so easier to brew, apparently.

    Quite looking forward to having a go at this. Only ever made some lager many, many years ago and the first batch was really quite nice. The second one was rank, mind, because I didn't have enough bottles to put it in and it fermented for ages too long. Shouldn't have that problem with the keg that comes with this one.
     
  11. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    Thanks for all that, agnesdavies. I'll have a look at some sterilisation stuff. I seem to remember from last time that there's these soluble tablets that do the trick. Or have I imagined that? :confused: Another hydrometer's a good idea, too, Stig, I agree.

    TopCat - I guess a lot's down to how much effort you put into it. Homebrew can be seriously rank, I know, but I've had some good results once before - and that was as a teenager and when I didn't really have the right kit, even - so I'm hoping if I pay a bit of attention this time and with the benefit of decent equipment it might turn out alright. We'll see.
     
    TopCat likes this.
  12. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Top tip - when brewing stuff from the kits use two tins worth of gunk, but only make up one tins worth of beer iyswim.

    Gives you a nice strong, full flavoured tasting brew :cool:
     
    TopCat likes this.
  13. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    I might give that a go after I've followed the instructions to the letter first, bees. The memory of the foul second batch I brewed is still strong. :D
     
  14. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    You can play around with honey as well - use 1.5 times the amount of honey as they say to use sugar :)
     
  15. berniedicters

    berniedicters On long vacation Banned

    If you get it mostly right, your Wherry shouldn't be all that far off what you'd get in the pub. The nice thing about those full kits (where you get 3kg of wort and don't have to faff around adding malt or sugar) is that they're very reliable. A lot of homebrews fall down because people use sugar, which gives a rather thin, cidery characteristic to the beer that you don't get with malt.

    There's a few things you can use to sterilise if you don't want to go the whole hog: in particular, Milton tablets (or the TESCO equivalent), which contain another chlorine source (sodium dichloroisocyanurate) can be handy - and as tablets, they're convenient. Sniff'n'rinse afterwards, to be sure.

    I've seen it often recommended to avoid using washing-up liquid for the cleaning process (as opposed to sterilisation), as it tends to leave a taint that's very hard to remove. This is true in spades if you're washing bottles - at the risk of sounding like a breathless advert, you can feel the difference on a bottle washed in VWP (and rinsed) compared to one washing in washing up liquid: apparently the washing up liquid residue can have an effect on your beer's attempt to hold its head once poured.

    Ah, that won't apply here, because it's a gunk-only brew...in effect already doing what you're recommending! But, if he wants to save £££ later and go for kit'n'kilo, I would very strongly advise using spray-dried malt instead of sugar, or even buying in cans of LME (Light Malt Extract) to do it with. I'm most of the way through a 25kg drum, though I suspect it's probably starting to oxidise a bit now and might not be so lovely to brew with any more...
     
  16. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    I don't think the thermometer's too technological, you do need to ferment at the right temperature, as we found when our central heating packed up and I had to stick the beer in front of the fire wrapped in a duvet. :D

    Also, the kit already comes with an airlock, it says on that ad? (something I don't have yet and I'm on to all grain beer now...)

    I think bottling is the way forward, for sure, as we used to waste quite a lot of each barrel, but you only need a cheap capper and a few caps, as the actual bottles, well they just sort of appear round the house as if by magic :D

    You'll soon learn to distinguish between an excellent bottle for re-using, like a good old Timothy Taylor's Landlord, and a complete arse to re-cap, like some of the Youngs ones.

    Once you start selecting beers in the off licence on the basis of how easy it is to get the label off the bottle, you'll know there's no hope for you. :oops:
     
  17. berniedicters

    berniedicters On long vacation Banned

    Heh, and there was me thinking I was the only one who did this!

    I'm boycotting Badger now, because they changed their bottle neck from the standard profile to one which my winged capper thing won't clamp around. Bastards. So now I select beer on the basis of that...
     
  18. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    I always used to buy two pots of syrup and forget the sugar completely. In fact, even the for bottle conditioning I'm using glucose powder instead of sugar, i think it works better.

    If you want to save £££ later, forget the syrup and buy sacks of malted grain. The chocolate malt smells delicious straight out of the bag before you even do anything with it. :D
     
  19. rich!

    rich! stalin tache

    We're a bit worried by those new thin glass bottles Adnam's are using. Doesn't sound like the best thing for using under pressure...
     
  20. Zachor

    Zachor Think Free

    Thanks for the info about the sugar/honey ratios. I'm planning to make an apple and honey cider for a religious festval later this year and people like my apple and honey crumble so why not an apple and honey cider.

    So if you need 2.0kg of sugar you replace it with 3kg of honey? Am I correct?
     
  21. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    I'll have to add at this point my primary selection criteria is tasty beer, but some of them do go straight into the recycling, especially the ones with the plastic labels where the bottles never ever stop being sticky :mad:

    What you were saying about sterilising, I just use the bog standard stuff from Wilkos, because I've heard that bleach and chlorine tablets etc can lead to all sorts of beer flavour disasters if not rinsed manically, so I've been steering clear of them.
     
  22. berniedicters

    berniedicters On long vacation Banned

    The thing is, they'll have precisely calculated the strength of the bottle for the pressure they're using, and for single use. They'll also not factor in anything to cover fatiguing or stress cracks already in the glass (this is a huge issue when I bottle to champagne bottles - a good 10% or so of mine break off around the crown cap when I open them).

    It's a shame, really - one would think that, given the huge energy input involved in making glass bottles, they'd make them so they could be re-used, rather than recycled. Ah well.

    Anyway, on a related tack, I find that cider bottles, as beloved of Magners, for example, are excellent, too. May be worth chatting up local pubs.

    I'll have to have a look at what Wilko bog-standard is, then, because I thought they only sold chlorine-based ones. I find that using VWP or Milton (compatibles) and rinsing seems to be fine at removing any residual chlorine, though...it's just a faff making it a two-stage process, so bottles I've previously used I generally rinse after use, and then just "wash" in steriliser.
     
  23. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    :D Were you tearful ?
     
  24. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    Westons at least are the same as Landlord bottles. They use the same ones. :D
    I've had a few from our local, but tbh we arely need any emptied by random strangers, we get through enough on our own. :oops:
     
  25. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    No but I did get Comments about how it must be love, tucking the beer up snug every night and putting the heater on for it . :D
     
  26. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    I've got visions of you fussing over it, muttering 'my poor, poor baby' and the like.

    It's what I'd do, tbf. :D
     
  27. Voley

    Voley Peaceful Oat Goblin

    That's reassuring. I like draught Wherry.
     
  28. rich!

    rich! stalin tache

    Yep, that's exactly what was happening.

    Even the cats were looking jealous...
     
  29. Stig

    Stig Bull in a china shop

    Most of the people on my home brew forum :oops: swear by the Wherry kit as being the best of the lot. (they like coopers too, bizarrely...)
     
  30. lighterthief

    lighterthief Well-Known Member

    Another vote for Wherry, wonderful kit.
     

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