Home Brew Questions

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

  1. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    I think I know what a homebrew "twang" is now. :(
  2. TopCat

    TopCat Gone away, no forwarding address

    I fucked a large brew by doing it in the winter and running out of heating money just as i bottled up. It never really recovered. The yeast must have died.
    I still drank it though.
  3. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    It actually seems the harder part to get right. I'm open to the idea of heating my FVs as they are definitely on the cold side and seem to take forever, but if I doesn't then go fizzy after its a nightmare.

    Have been looking at keg systems, but they are quite expensive and don't go in the fridge that easily.
    TopCat and Pickman's model like this.
  4. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Bottling day. 80 pints to find homes for. I've. Got through about half the last batch and have really gone of it. Would rather drink nice commercial bottled brews. Going to hide it somewhere and see if a few months improves it as much as I've been told.

    Not actually going to put anymore on till I work out whats happening. It's a lot of faf for something that's not that great. At some point I'll have a go at doing an extract brew with no LME to see if it makes a difference, but it's a bit gutting at this stage.

    On the plus side the ginger wine I thought was rather average I took to a party and everyone was blown away and wanting to know how to make it. Except I think they were already drunk and on drugs.
    Pickman's model likes this.
  5. existentialist

    existentialist FiVe ᵈAʸs tᵒ FʳᵉeᵈOᵐ

    There's a huge difference between tasting your own brews, and tasting commercial/other people's.

    When you're sampling your own product, the tendency is to be tasting critically, looking for anything that's not quite right; it's the other way (usually) when we're tasting someone else's - then, we tend to start with an expectation that it's going to be OK, and only notice defects if they make themselves obvious to us.

    You learn - eventually - to "accidentally" taste one of your own brews as if it was someone else's, separating quality control out from consumption :)

    Someone poured me a beer at their home once, and I was really impressed: it seemed like a very individual (and very nice) pint compared to the normal commercial brewery beers, and I asked him where it had come from.

    "You", he said.

    Funny thing was, I had a couple of bottles of the same batch at home, and when I tried one of those, knowing it was mine, then even though it certainly tasted like the one I'd had at my mate's place, I still found it hard to experience that slight "wow" I'd had with the other one.
    TopCat and Ground Elder like this.
  6. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Well there's hope there I guess. As I've been putting of bottling them it turns out both are ready and yet I've only sampled one as I tested and it has that same 'twang". However the Coopers I did doesn't. However I added the same LME to both of them, so I may be out in what's causing that slightly off flavour. Will try one in 3 weeks and fingers crossed it may be ok. The other can just wait at the back of the cupboard for a good while.

    Bloody hell bottling takes ages. I've done the first one. Lunch break whilst the second batch of bottles soak.
  7. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Fuck it. I think I'll make some Turbo Cider next. You know where you stand with that (only just after a few)
  8. existentialist

    existentialist FiVe ᵈAʸs tᵒ FʳᵉeᵈOᵐ

    Once I get into it, I quite enjoy bottling, but yeah - it's a daunting task. Much easier if you've got delabelled bottles.

    I find it easier to think of the hygiene process in steps - first "clean", then "sterile". With bottles, "clean" means de-labelled, free of any lingering yeast deposits and beer residues; sterile is all of the above plus rinsed with something disinfectant.

    Delabelling is a royal pain in the arse. Just a miserable job that has to be done when you're using the bottles for the first time (because, of course, you're going to be careful to label your own brews with something easy to remove - I favour ordinary printer paper, stuck on with Copydex).

    After that, what I find works is to delabel your bottles when you've drunk them, and give them a rinse out to get rid of any yeast. It's worth squinting down the neck to make sure - you don't really want old yeast polluting your new brews. Then I put them away until I need them.

    So you start bottling with a supply of clean, but not sterile, bottles. At that point, I usually give them a soak in hot VWP solution - it seems to bring them up nice and sparkly as well as being a disinfectant. But it is a chlorine-based one, so you have to give them a rinse. I haven't worked out a good way of making this hassle-free, but it'd be nice to sort out a nozzle you could just plop the bottle on and wash/rinse it like a mini jetwash.

    Then I bottle the beer in batches. I've bought all the usual gadgets - special syphons that automatically stop when the level gets to the right place, anti-foaming tubes, yada, yada. None of them really worked, and I tend to go with a bottling stick on a rubber (plastic) tube that I just pinch when the bottle's full, and move on to the next one. It's got a little tap for in between batches.

    I find that the bottles always foam up as you're filling them, and you have to go back and top them up. That's why I usually use batches of 6-8, as it gives the first one a chance to settle down as you're part-filling the rest. You don't normally have to go back more than 3 times, progressively topping them off. Then you cap them and set them aside. You can get a nice rhythm going, and it does become quite therapeutic after a while :)

    Then it's a quick wipe down with a damp cloth to get any spills off, let the bottles dry, and slap on the labels.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  9. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    I belive you can a device as you describe that sprays a starsan solution into the bottle which is no rinse, but I'm not buying more kit till I get good beer!

    I'm just dumping them in the bath with a mild bleach solution to sterilise. Second batch is taking me longer as I didn't have enough bottles free of labels. I've found OXY cleaner works quite well, but my kitchen sink is quite small. Think in future I'm going to save them up and leave them in a bath full of it over night for maximum soaking time.

    Not thought of putting my bottling wand on a tube, it's just on the tap on the FV with me sitting underneath the counter! I'm decanting into a second FV first and adding my priming sugar to that.
  10. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Finally done!

    TopCat likes this.
  11. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Well after the ball ache of today I thought I'd do something quick and easy. 7L of Apple Juice and 3.5L of Black Tea and some sugar. Should yield 8.5%. I've been keeping all my 330ml bottles, so should go nicely into them as suspect you won't want to drink it by the pint.

    Has anyone tried using sweetness for the finished product. I don't like Bulmers and that kind of stuff, but something to take the edge of the dryness would be nice, but obviously more sugar may lead to the bottles going bang!
  12. existentialist

    existentialist FiVe ᵈAʸs tᵒ FʳᵉeᵈOᵐ

    I believe artificial sweeteners are the way here, but I don't like the idea much.

    Commercially, they stop fermentation with sodium metabisulphite ("Campden tablets"), sweeten, and then pressurise after it's kegged. That's not really a feasible option with bottles, though. OK for "still cider", though.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  13. extra dry

    extra dry Happy to be here

    Not mine but a mate who goes to great lenghts to add a touch of style. 18739778_1377787598977319_3568734331170950399_n.jpg
    doddles and UnderAnOpenSky like this.
  14. doddles

    doddles Appreciates the good eggs

    I've just finished my first batch using a new fermentation fridge and kegorator. What a difference being able to dial in the temperature for fermentation and not worry about it. And filling up a keg is much faster and easier than filling all those bottles...

    Anyway, for the comments above on the "homebrew twang", I would say to avoid liquid malt extract, use some specialty grains at least to add some complexity. Then being super careful with sanitation and temperature control. For sanitation, nothing beats a kitchen spray bottle filled with a diluted starsan and water mix. Simple and effective. For temperature control, another way to think of it is to use a yeast that is quite tolerant to a range of temps. I use safale T56 which is a dry Belgian yeast. Works well from 16 C to 22C. At the top of that range you will get more fruity esters but it will still taste good.
  15. doddles

    doddles Appreciates the good eggs

    Very nice. But I hope your mate knows not to put hopped beer into clear glass bottles unless he likes skunky flavours :)
    existentialist likes this.
  16. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    I'd love a brew fridge, but not spending anymore until I've produced some beer I'm at least mostly happy with. I've mostly stalled tbh, I've got a shit load of beer that as a student I would have happily drunk, but I really like good beer these days. Need to get on it though and clear some space, hopefully it will have improved slightly.

    Ive read similar to what you've posted through so that's helpful to have it confirmed. Mostly using a different yeast and not using the LME. Annoying as I've got a fair few cans left as I'd thought it was the way to pimp kits over using sugar. I'll also examiner my cleaning. At the moment I'm using a mild bleach solution in the bath and lots of rising afterwards.

    I think next time I'm going to do an extract brew, but not a kit and produce less. Goes against the grain (no pun intended) to spend time and money not getting much beer, but better then ending up with 40 pints of something I'm not keep on. Silly question but there is any complications in using a big FV to make only 20 pints?
  17. existentialist

    existentialist FiVe ᵈAʸs tᵒ FʳᵉeᵈOᵐ

    Ideally, you want as little opportunity for contact with air as possible. The brew helps that by creating a blanket of carbon dioxide that, as it's heavier than air, will tend to sit on top of the brew...but of course if you have less liquid, but with the same surface area, you're going to get less CO2. So it'll be more important not to disturb it so that the CO2 layer is dispersed and leaving oxygen to come into contact with the beer.

    All that said, I'd imagine a 20 pint brew would be unlikely to be a problem, particularly if you're careful handling it during fermentation.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  18. badseed

    badseed Mighty but thin.

    Lactose is the answer, non-fermentable. I use it in Ginger Beer and Alcoholic Lemonade.
  19. badseed

    badseed Mighty but thin.

    The only way I have eliminated the extract twang is to boil the wort, all of it. You need a massive pan and it's a pia.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  20. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    Anyone got any homebrewing projects lined up for 2018?

    I'm just approaching completion of my kegerator, have repurposed a fridge and heat pad on thermostatic controls to make a really stable fermentation chamber, and have built a Heath Robinson version of a (small) grainfather from a tea urn with a 12V pump, and some other bits and pieces.

    Want to make this the year that I really perfect some all-grain recepies, that I can regularly reproduce.
  21. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

    Still a bit cold for me to start but I've got a couple of kits lined up to have a go at :)
  22. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Not yet, but I want to have another go. Finally thrown away the last of batches I did last year. Feel I owe it to myself to give it one more go and see if I can get something half decent before I give up. Got a fair few supplies left, so may start with just a small heater and some better yeast.
  23. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Thank fuck it's not over.

    Does anyone know of a decent port kit?

    I made one decades ago, it was a Hambleton Bard kit (which they discontinued). It was a give gallon kit, I got it to the right level of sweetness, then stopped the fermentation with 4l of brandy. It was exactly 20% by volume. :D It never did get bottled, it was all drunk before it got to that point.
  24. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

    I think IR Dovydaitis has a good one :hmm:
  25. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Thank fuck it's not over.

    Don't bother with labels. Either use different coloured caps, or a permanent marker stripe on plain ones. Use a notebook to detail the brew.

    When I started off doing this, thirty years ago, I bought a starter kit, and a 40 pint kit. The starter kit was supposed to make 8 pints. I did it in a demijohn, using 50% glucose solution (out of date from med stores) instead of water, then gently added a kilo of sugar over the next three months. It was astonishing. I bottled in 250ml bottles, and one was enough. Oh, champagne yeast.
  26. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

  27. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Thank fuck it's not over.

  28. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Thank fuck it's not over.

    I would tweak that quite a bit. Not starting with an over-full demijohn is good.

    There would be at least another 500g of sugar going in there, with a fermentation time of about three months. If you add the sugar as inverted syrup, very very gently, you can push the alcohol to about 14.5%, not too quickly or you kill the yeast.
  29. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Thank fuck it's not over.

    I had a dozen red wine expel their corks whilst we were away on holiday. Not the best thing to come home to.
  30. existentialist

    existentialist FiVe ᵈAʸs tᵒ FʳᵉeᵈOᵐ

    Oh, the labelling bit I love. It's getting the fucking things off the pre-owned bottles that gets my goat.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.

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