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View Full Version : So, You Want To Be A Homebrewer


StriderDL
02-02-2010, 09:17 PM
Seeing as we were sparking a side topic in The Beer Thread, this thread is for the discussion of techniques, recipes and personal experiences with homebrewing. Whether you are an experienced hand or just taking your first steps into the word of malts, mashes, and worts, be welcome. And have a homebrew.

I just finished bottling an Irish Red (Brewer's Best kit) that we altered by using Scotch Ale liquid yeast (White Labs brand). Belgian Dark ready for quaffing Sunday. Good times!

Violentvixen
02-03-2010, 08:47 AM
Although not a complete recipe, when Deschutes Brewery killed Cinder Cone Red (boooooo), they offered to send a clone recipe out. Here it is if anyone wants it:

Specifics:

Recipe type: All grain
Batch size: 5 U.S. gallons
Original gravity: 1.052-1.056
Final gravity: 1.014-1.018
Boil time: 90 minutes
Fermentation temp: 65 F
Yeast type: English Ale


Malt:
NW 2-row Pale Malt
Caramel Malt
Dextrin Malt
Black Barley

Hops:
Cascade
Amarillo
Simco
Tettnanger

**Note**
Temps, times and weights are the challenge. Happy Brewing!

StriderDL
02-03-2010, 10:37 AM
Interesting! Do we have any all grain brewers out there? I am still in the malt extract/specialty grains phase, but definitely looking to get into all grain brews.

Also, VV, were there any notes about when these hops were added, or if they were used for bittering or flavor?

Adrenaline
02-03-2010, 10:40 AM
I'm curious how much it costs to brew your own versus just buying beer. I imagine the initial investment is nothing to sneeze at but once it's set up it becomes better. I have some friends who do this and it usually comes out pretty good.

StriderDL
02-03-2010, 11:56 AM
My equipment kit cost me ~$130 and included the following:

1 5 gal brew pail
1 5 gal bottling pail
1 5 gal glass carboy
5' of poly tubing
Auto-siphon tubes
4 oz (I think) of no rinse oxidizing sanitizer
Hydrometer
Bottle wand
Bottle brush
Capper
Air lock, drilled rubber stopper

Note that this does not include other important equipment, such as a big pot for boiling the wort. And you will need extra sanitizer at some point, or use diluted bleach, whatever.

Once you have your equipment, the price for ingredients can range from ~$40 to ~$50 per 5 gal batch (48-52 12 oz. bottles). It depends on how much you want to play around with ingredients

So, a standard craft brew 6-pack may cost you what, $12? 13? $96-$104.

So...it costs much less, tastes much better (fresh, no hangover-inducing preservatives) AND you are practicing a hobby. And then everyone thinks you are totally cool cause you are that guy that brews your own, delicious beer. And don't you wanna be cool? Eh?

Patrick
02-03-2010, 01:07 PM
I bought a kit from a garage sale for $30. They were originally selling it for $90, but it was marked way down, and apparently it had never been used. It came with ingredients, but they were extremely old and I ended up tossing them out.

The kit includes:

Several (?) 5 gallon buckets
a curly copper tube
some plastic tubing
a big pot for boiliing wort
other things?

I actually have to check what came with it when I get home, I don't remember. I bought it in July and it's sat in my closet. A few months ago I bought a cheap ($15) self contained ingredients kit for a red ale, but I still haven't started it. I should really get on that!

There is a place in Chicago called Brew & Grow, which is located in a shady looking alley and sells lots of supplies that could concievably be used for growing pot. Nevertheless, they have an excellent homebrewing section with barley, malts, yeast, various additives, cleaning supplies, and a good supply of self contained kits.

At this point, I really have no excuse for not brewing my own beer. I just need to find some time to do it. Any pointers?

Violentvixen
02-03-2010, 01:18 PM
Also, VV, were there any notes about when these hops were added, or if they were used for bittering or flavor?

No, that was all they had in the email. I haven't tried it myself as I haven't brewed since I moved in 08. This place doesn't have a cellar/basement/AC so I don't have a cool dark place to store everything. I had a recipe for an awesome honey brown, I'll have to dig that up.

I'm curious how much it costs to brew your own versus just buying beer. I imagine the initial investment is nothing to sneeze at but once it's set up it becomes better. I have some friends who do this and it usually comes out pretty good.

Everyone noted important stuff, but another thing is to take all of the spare empty bottles your friends can give you. If you pay for bottles you are doing it wrong.

SEanEF
02-03-2010, 01:41 PM
Patrick, that curly copper tube might be worth it's weight in gold when your brewing. It's probably a wort cooler. When your done boiling your beer, you want to get it close to room temperature as quickly as possible so you can get it in the fermentation bucket with the yeast and sealed up so it doesn't pick up any random bugs that will mess up your beer. You hook up a hose, drop the tubing in the boiling hot wort, and run water through it to cool the beer quickly. The price of copper has been going up so these things tend to be expensive anymore.

Some tips to keep in mind:
When your cleaning everything, use a non sudsing cleaner if you can. Regular countertop dishsoap (the kind that produces bubbles) can leave a bit of a residue unless your super thorough about rinsing.

You will end up with a better beer if you boil up everything in one pot. Some beginner instructions have you boil up 2 or 3 gallons and then add boiled water to make a five gallon batch in the fermentation bucket. Related to this, keep in mind your dealing with a very large quantity of liquid. If your doing 5 gallons, I don't recommend using the stove unless you've got a VERY powerful gas model.

When your beer is fermenting, make sure it's in a dark, temperature stable place. A dark indoor closet works well. Garages are generally bad.

You can also use a diluted iodine solution for disinfecting.

If you throw everything in bucket after boiling your wort, seal it up and it doesn't seem to be fermenting, even after a day or two, don't give up on it!
You may have needed to oxygenate the wort more (splashed it around) or some of the yeast had trouble, but it can make a comeback. It can just take some time for the yeast to recover and build up enough steam (reproduce) to really get going.

Probably more to come as I think of it or people talk about stuff.

Patrick
02-03-2010, 03:14 PM
If not the stove, then where should I boil it?

And I have a spare room (not quite big enough to be a bedroom) that is going to be devoted to storing beer, in addition to its current job of storing books and extra boxes of things.

SEanEF
02-03-2010, 03:45 PM
Well, you CAN use the stove... it just might take several hours to bring 5+ gallons of water to a boil. Least that's how long it took for me on my electric. I don't think normal kitchen stoves are made to handle that kind of volume.

What I currently use is a propane burner. The type they use for boiling large quantities of shellfish or for deep frying turkeys. I use this model (http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-SQ14-Single-Outdoor/dp/B0009JXYQ4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1265236932&sr=8-4), but there are varying types, sizes and prices. Using this thing I actually start with 6 gallons of water. Since your cooking/boiling your wort for an hour you can get a lot of boil off. I had to buy a propane tank (it's just the normal type used for gas grills).

Unless you can borrow this stuff or get it for cheap, it's all investment. Definitely worth acquiring if your going to be doing this enough

My first time making beer I actually went to a friends house and used his gas stove. But I only boiled about 2.5 gallons and added boiled water for the rest of the volume.

Maybe someone else can chime in with idea's for a first crack at things without spending too much on extra equipment.

SEanEF
02-03-2010, 03:57 PM
You know, I realized it might be helpful to post some actual brewing instructions for people curious about the process and those wanting to learn about it.

So here you go. (http://www.beerandwinemakers.com/Starter_Kit_Instructions1.pdf)

That place is actually where I get my ingredients and where I got my initial equipment.

StriderDL
02-03-2010, 04:15 PM
This isn't to say that not boiling the full 5 gallons won't make good beer. I use a stove top and my beer comes out just dandy.

StriderDL
02-03-2010, 04:47 PM
Double post for relevant links from The Beer Thread:

For an introduction to brewing:
John Palmer's How to Brew is free, and recommended reading for new brewers. (http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html) - Provided courtesy of fumner

For the homebrewer with some experience, author of Brewing Classic Styles Jamil Zainasheff's website (http://www.mrmalty.com/) and his podcast (http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show). - Also provided courtesy of fumner

And for the budding homebrewer with some curiosity into making beer but doesn't want to make the 5 gallon commitment, or perhaps does not have a lot of space, a place where you can get 1 gallon kits (http://brooklynbrewshop.com/store/).

fumner
02-03-2010, 07:11 PM
Once you have your equipment, the price for ingredients can range from ~$40 to ~$50 per 5 gal batch (48-52 12 oz. bottles). It depends on how much you want to play around with ingredients

So, a standard craft brew 6-pack may cost you what, $12? 13? $96 - $104.


Fixed because those 48 homebrews equate to 8 craft beer sixpacks. You actually save quite a bit if you replace buying craft beer in the $12/six range for an equivalent homebrew. So you can make great beer and it costs roughly half the price per volume... sweet!

And in fact it can be even cheaper than this! When you stop buying extract and switch to all grain brewing, you'll begin to save lots of money. Bulk grain malt is much cheaper than malt extract. I also buy my hops in bulk and sometimes use one vial of yeast to brew 2 or three batches of beer. Overall I average around $30 per 5 gallon batch which is pretty cheap to me. But the switch to all grain does come with added equipment costs.

This isn't to say that not boiling the full 5 gallons won't make good beer. I use a stove top and my beer comes out just dandy.

Depending on the style of beer you are brewing, there can be major differences between a partial boil and a full boil. A partial boil is very convenient, I admit, but if you're going to be brewing beers with higher bitterness levels or lighter colored beers I'd advise against it. A full boil will allow for better extraction of the hops' alpha-acids which is extremely important for IPAs, barleywines, Imperial Stouts, etc. And if you're brewing a light colored beer, a full boil will reduce the rate of caramelization and therefore keep the beer's color from changing too much (though for some styles lots of "kettle-caramelization" is desired).

SEanEF
02-03-2010, 07:50 PM
Cool, someone who knows about whole grain brewing. I've only ever messed around with extracts.

The first batch I ever made (mentioned previously, made on my friends stove) was a basic amber ale, and doing the partial boil resulted in a bit of an odd beer. It wasn't bad, but it had a buttery nose (which was probably a temperature thing) and it didn't seem to condition right. Some swallows had a... bit of a watery taste? Not sure how else to describe it. Someone with way more experience than me said it was mostly the fault of the partial boil.

Ethan
02-03-2010, 07:52 PM
While there are advantages to all-grain and a full boil, I think it's very important for nobody to be even the slightest bit discouraged from brewing beer because of these things. I've had several of my friends' homebrewed creations before; many of them have tasted fantastic, and (I believe) all of them were made beginner-style, with malt extract and a partial boil. It's just not practical to go larger-scale than that in a city apartment, but you can still make great beer and have great fun.

StriderDL
02-03-2010, 08:23 PM
Fixed because those 48 homebrews equate to 8 craft beer sixpacks. You actually save quite a bit if you replace buying craft beer in the $12/six range for an equivalent homebrew. So you can make great beer and it costs roughly half the price per volume... sweet!

*facepalm*
I need to get back in a real job, my brain is atrophying. Adding and multiplication are fun!

fumner
02-03-2010, 08:53 PM
While there are advantages to all-grain and a full boil, I think it's very important for nobody to be even the slightest bit discouraged from brewing beer because of these things. I've had several of my friends' homebrewed creations before; many of them have tasted fantastic, and (I believe) all of them were made beginner-style, with malt extract and a partial boil. It's just not practical to go larger-scale than that in a city apartment, but you can still make great beer and have great fun.

I agree with the bolded part 100%. If you are brewing beer that you love, then you are succeeding.

Ethan
02-04-2010, 06:09 AM
Even though I've only brewed once and haven't even tasted the results yet, I already feel that being a homebrewer is kind of like joining a secret society an underground order of the world's least uptight chemists. Talking about it is great fun, and I'm constantly mulling over what my next batch should be and wishing I had a second set of equipment. It's easy to see how this could become a lifelong obsession.

Yesterday I found myself researching brewing schools. Apparently, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world is about four miles from my apartment. Very interesting.

Patrick
02-04-2010, 08:59 AM
Yesterday I found myself researching brewing schools. Apparently, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world is about four miles from my apartment. Very interesting.

What school?

Ethan
02-04-2010, 10:05 AM
Siebel Institute of Technology. They have a renowned 20-week brewing program that takes place partly in Chicago and partly in Munich, and gets you a certification that would most likely make you employable at brewpubs, micros, and macros alike.

I don't plan on doing anything like this right now, as I'd like to spend some time teaching English in the far east first, but I could see coming back here, taking a few continuing education courses in math and organic chem, and then pursuing a program like this.

There's also a very respected program at UC Davis.

Patrick
02-04-2010, 11:09 AM
Wow, I had no idea that was there. It looks like an empty lot on Google Maps, I'll have to stop by the next time I'm at Goose and see what it looks like.

StriderDL
02-10-2010, 06:03 AM
Chai Porter to be brewed tomorrow! We have to select a brand of tea, most likely an caffeine-free or decaf variety because we're not sure the if the caffeine will make it too bitter. Using English Ale Yeast (White Labs), and I picked up a pound of lactose to toss in. I am excited!

Violentvixen
02-10-2010, 09:05 AM
Dang, Chai Porter sounds crazy ambitious. I'm also not sure how the taste would be so I definitely want updates!

StriderDL
02-10-2010, 12:39 PM
Eh, it's not too ambitious. All we are really doing is taking a stock porter kit and dressing it up a bit. The hardest part is going to be figuring out how much tea to steep, but as fumner (I think) mentioned in the other thread, we can always prepare a tincture of chai to throw in at bottling if it's too weak.

I will definitely keep you updated though!

Patrick
02-10-2010, 02:02 PM
I think I'm going to start my first batch this weekend. I have a small kit for a Red Ale (makes about 13.5 liters), and a friend with some minimal brewing experience is coming over to help. I will report back with results!

Ethan
02-10-2010, 02:36 PM
If it turns out, I'll trade you a sixer of mine for a sixer of yours. My altbier is just finishing up its fermentation. I'm bottling it next week and then aging it for another two.

Patrick
02-10-2010, 02:53 PM
If it turns out, I'll trade you a sixer of mine for a sixer of yours. My altbier is just finishing up its fermentation. I'm bottling it next week and then aging it for another two.

Sounds good. And if not this batch, then one down the road for sure.

nunix
02-11-2010, 05:58 PM
Well, the east coast storm delayed stuff, but my 1gal kit should be here on Tuesday.

Next question: can I just use 1/5th of a normal 5gal recipe and have everything turn out fine? Or is there more advanced math/ratios involved?

Patrick
02-11-2010, 06:39 PM
So my kit has everything except for a sugar, which it recommends that I supply on my own. Any suggestions? Does it make a big difference?

fumner
02-11-2010, 07:36 PM
Next question: can I just use 1/5th of a normal 5gal recipe and have everything turn out fine?

Yep. The only major difficulty with small scale brewing is measuring the smaller quantities you'll be using. I'd suggest buying a gram scale for measuring hops.

It will also be nearly impossible to buy exactly the right amount of all your ingredients. For example, the smallest quantity you can buy of a particular hop is typically 1 ounce. You'll probably need much less for a 1 gallon batch. And you'll often need more than one variety of hop for your beer. Luckily these should last a while if you put the leftovers in a ziplock bag and freeze them. Liquid malt extract and dry malt extract will go bad pretty quickly, but the good news here is that you can usually buy amounts that are appropriate for small scale brewing. Yeast I wouldn't worry about too much. If you throw in a whole pack (or vial) you'll be fine.

What is the recipe you're brewing? I'd gladly give some specific advice if you give me the details.

Here's an article on small scale brewing I just found. (http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/19-brewing-tips/1410-small-scale-brewing)

So my kit has everything except for a sugar, which it recommends that I supply on my own. Any suggestions? Does it make a big difference?

For your priming/bottling solution (http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter11-4.html) (note: the info here is for a 5 gallon recipe)? Granulated cane sugar works just fine. I've also used brown sugar and honey and noticed no real differences.

Here's a carbonation calculator that I use. (http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator/carbonation.html?12017304#tag)

StriderDL
02-11-2010, 07:54 PM
Chai Porter is in the fermenter. Here's what we've done so far:

Ingredients (used local homebrew shop stock porter kit)
2 cans Breiss Sparkling Amber Extract
1 lb amber malt dried extract
1/2 lb chocolate malt
2 oz. Cascade hops (boiling)
1 oz. Halltertau (finishing)
2 tsp. Gypsum
And our freestyle ingredients
1 lb Lactose (to be added prior to bottling)
Stash Decaf black chai tea
White Labs British Ale Yeast (liquid)

Progressed in the normal fashion. Steeped chocolate malt, brought to boil, added extracts, gypsum, and Cascade hops. Boiled for 45 min. At the same time, steeped 10 tea bags in .5 gal of water. Added tea and Hallertau hops at 45 min, boiled for another 5. Followed typical cooling procedures etc.

At this moment, all I know is it's dark and smells amazing. The wort was incredibly thick too. Here's hoping!

fumner
02-11-2010, 08:34 PM
Chai Porter recipe

This sounds great. I might have to brew something similar...

But this weekend I'll be brewing a west-coast style IPA (that means lots of hops and not much "malt backbone") using primarily Amarillo hops. Recipe and results coming soon!

nunix
02-11-2010, 09:19 PM
Yep. The only major difficulty with small scale brewing is measuring the smaller quantities you'll be using. I'd suggest buying a gram scale for measuring hops.

It will also be nearly impossible to buy exactly the right amount of all your ingredients. For example, the smallest quantity you can buy of a particular hop is typically 1 ounce. You'll probably need much less for a 1 gallon batch. And you'll often need more than one variety of hop for your beer. Luckily these should last a while if you put the leftovers in a ziplock bag and freeze them. Liquid malt extract and dry malt extract will go bad pretty quickly, but the good news here is that you can usually buy amounts that are appropriate for small scale brewing. Yeast I wouldn't worry about too much. If you throw in a whole pack (or vial) you'll be fine.

What is the recipe you're brewing? I'd gladly give some specific advice if you give me the details.

Here's an article on small scale brewing I just found. (http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/19-brewing-tips/1410-small-scale-brewing)

Thanks! I don't actually have a recipe lined up yet, need to start looking around. Something basic-dark-stout. Re: scale: already have one of those, use it a lot in cooking, so no worries there.

Patrick
02-12-2010, 01:11 AM
For your priming/bottling solution (http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter11-4.html) (note: the info here is for a 5 gallon recipe)? Granulated cane sugar works just fine. I've also used brown sugar and honey and noticed no real differences.

Here's a carbonation calculator that I use. (http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator/carbonation.html?12017304#tag)

I love Brown Sugar and Honey, I may use them out of loyalty to deliciousness.

nunix
02-16-2010, 04:29 PM
nunix needs an easy + tasty recipe for a strong-flavoured black-as-night stout. I'm not enough of a conniesewer to tell "bitter" flavour from "hops" flavour; thus simply strong-flavoured. And a recipe that calls for 4-5 different hops is just too much stuff for a first brew attempt. So.. anyone got something handy? Going to hit the store (have 2-3 options, not sure which I'll go to yet) on Friday, probably, and if nothing else hopefully they'll have a suggestion.

StriderDL
02-16-2010, 09:20 PM
I have a recipe for a Brown Sugar Stout that turned out pretty well. I'll try to remember and post it tomorrow.

Homebrew shop proprietors are also viable resources, and of course there is the interwebz. Though I don't have links to any recipe repositories.

benjibot
02-16-2010, 10:00 PM
I'm interested to know how Patrick's experiments turn out. I too have a spare bedroom that is currently occupied with my video games, our collected cds, and our foster kitten's food and whatnot. I suppose it wouldn't be impossible to store stuff in our shared storage room. There's a lot of space there and it stays cool.

StriderDL
02-17-2010, 06:40 AM
It's really not space intensive at all. I keep my fermenters in my room, where the temp stays pretty stable (65-70 deg F, optimal for most ale yeast strains). Bottle conditioning takes place in my wardrobe, with a towel thrown over the top to keep any light from hurting my precious. I keep spare bottles downstairs, but if you have space in a spare room I would imagine you'll be fine.

JOIN UP!

Patrick
02-17-2010, 09:17 AM
I'm interested to know how Patrick's experiments turn out. I too have a spare bedroom that is currently occupied with my video games, our collected cds, and our foster kitten's food and whatnot. I suppose it wouldn't be impossible to store stuff in our shared storage room. There's a lot of space there and it stays cool.

I keep forgetting to post in here.

So I ended up brewing with a friend on Saturday (technically two friends, but one of them spent the whole time playing Rock Band and NSMB Wii). I had both brown and white sugar on hand, but I used brown because the bag was exactly the right size. I think that everything went reasonably smoothly, but I'm afraid that I added too much water. The instructions that came with my kit had directions for multiple styles, and it was really difficult to tell which direction I should follow at any given stage. I think I did a good job of keeping everything sterilized, and I didn't run into any other problems. Right now the beer is bubbling away in my apartment. Oh, and I don't know if I mentioned it before, but my kit came with a water lock, so I can actually see the bubbles coming out of the barrel.

I'm hoping to bottle it on Saturday, and I still need to get more sugar for the next step. One of my friends said that he has bought little sugar dots for each bottle, so I'm going to look into that. Otherwise, does it matter what sort of sugar I use? If I do stop by the brewing shop soon, I think I might pick up the same kit again since it was so cheap, and I can change a few things and see how it compares. The next time I do it everything should go much quicker and more smoothly.

Ethan
02-17-2010, 09:26 AM
Brewing shops sell pure corn sugar as "priming sugar", probably because it doesn't change the flavor of the beer too much, but I'm not completely sure of what difference you'd see with brown sugar or even simple table sugar.

Only one week for fermentation seems like too little. Everything I've read about ale brewing suggests between 10 days (only for certain styles) to 3 weeks. If that's what the directions say, though, I suppose they know more than I do about their own recipe.

I'm back from the Bay Area, which means it's bottling time for me. I need to get over to Brew & Grow today or tomorrow and pick up a priming bucket (with spigot?) and a bottle-filling wand.

Patrick
02-17-2010, 09:42 AM
Only one week for fermentation seems like too little. Everything I've read about ale brewing suggests between 10 days (only for certain styles) to 3 weeks. If that's what the directions say, though, I suppose they know more than I do about their own recipe.

I'm back from the Bay Area, which means it's bottling time for me. I need to get over to Brew & Grow today or tomorrow and pick up a priming bucket (with spigot?) and a bottle-filling wand.

I'll double check the instructions, but I think it said to check it after 5 days, then again the next day to see if the gravity had stabilized. Also, the kit was basically a can of grains + hops in liquid form, plus a package of yeast. I don't know if the pre-started Wort has any effect on it.

Also, Brew & Grow is probably the shadiest store I've ever been in, but they have a decent brewing section.

Ethan
02-17-2010, 09:56 AM
They're moving to a more legitimate location sometime in the next couple weeks, actually.

StriderDL
02-17-2010, 10:23 AM
There's a saying that the more no-frills a brew shop looks, the better it is. I wouldn't worry about how it looks, because it likely means that the owner's are more interested in the craft than making things pretty for customers. If that makes sense. I guess one could do both.

So wait, Patrick, did you add sugar directly to your wort? Is that what the recipe called for? Not that it's a bad thing, just curious. You, my friend, are going to have a boozey beer.

And yes, you can pick up packets of priming sugar from the shop, or use table sugar, I believe.

As for me, I'll be racking the Chai Porter tonight. I can't wait to see what it looks/smells like.

Patrick
02-17-2010, 10:37 AM
They're moving to a more legitimate location sometime in the next couple weeks, actually.

Sweet, let me know where it moves to.

There's a saying that the more no-frills a brew shop looks, the better it is. I wouldn't worry about how it looks, because it likely means that the owner's are more interested in the craft than making things pretty for customers. If that makes sense. I guess one could do both.

So wait, Patrick, did you add sugar directly to your wort? Is that what the recipe called for? Not that it's a bad thing, just curious. You, my friend, are going to have a boozey beer.

And yes, you can pick up packets of priming sugar from the shop, or use table sugar, I believe.

As for me, I'll be racking the Chai Porter tonight. I can't wait to see what it looks/smells like.

Brew & Grow is located in an alley between the highway and the river. There is a sign above the door that says Brew & Grow, and most of the store is dedicated to hydroponic growing systems. the website (http://www.altgarden.com/store/cart.php)makes no mention of brewing. The first time I went there I had no idea what I was getting into, it's hilariously weird.

Yeah, the recipe called for sugar to be added directly to the wort.

Oh, and I took pictures! I'll try to remember to upload them tonight.

benjibot
02-17-2010, 10:43 AM
I'm less concerned about the amount of space I have in my apartment than I am the heat. We have radiators and they mean business. This is the first apartment I've lived in over the winter in which I no longer need to wear a sweater.

StriderDL
02-17-2010, 10:54 AM
Brew & Grow is located in an alley between the highway and the river. There is a sign above the door that says Brew & Grow, and most of the store is dedicated to hydroponic growing systems. the website (http://www.altgarden.com/store/cart.php)makes no mention of brewing. The first time I went there I had no idea what I was getting into, it's hilariously weird.

Oh. That's...kind of interesting, actually. And awesome.

Ethan
02-17-2010, 01:14 PM
Yeah... I've only been to Brew & Grow once, and right before I walked in, I saw some guy darting out of the alley at top speed with what I'm sure was a car stereo clutched to his chest. It's an interesting location, but they do have a serious stock of brewing gear.

If I'm bottling tonight, that means my carboy will be freed up, which means I could start a second batch. Maybe I'll try a Belgian blonde.

Ethan
02-17-2010, 09:39 PM
I went to B&G again tonight and picked up a bottling wand, a priming bucket, some caps, and a carboy brush. I was also hoping to pick up the ingredients for John Palmer's porter recipe from the online version of How To Brew, but they didn't have a lot of the supplies on hand due to their impending move so I skipped it.

For the bottling, I boiled some corn sugar in water, put that solution at the bottom of the priming bucket, and then racked in the beer with the help of my roommate. Despite the rather massive amount of hop sediment at the bottom of the fermenter, it was fairly easy to hold the racking cane in a position that got out nearly all of the beer with minimal gunk going along for the ride. I put the priming bucket on higher ground, attached the bottling wand to the racking tube, got a siphon going, and filled up bottles. The wand made filling the bottles easier than I was imagining. My roommate capped them as I filled them. I did cap the first one, though, for ceremonious reasons.

I had a portion left at the end that wasn't enough to fill a whole bottle so I tried some of it in a glass. It looks, smells, and largely tastes like beer. With some fizz, some more alcohol, and some clarification, it could well turn into a very nice beer. I'm excited. The bottles are in my closet now, covered with a towel.

StriderDL
02-18-2010, 08:16 AM
Racked the Chai Porter last night. It smelled of cinnamon, ginger, and other chai ingredients. The only bad part is I have to wait more!

nunix
02-19-2010, 07:50 PM
So I have a 5-gallon batch of yeast for tomorrow's brewing.. do I use 1/5th of that for my 1-gallon batch, or use the whole thing? And is it worth saving the rest (which might not get used for another 2-3 weeks) or will it go bad if not used pretty quickly?

Also, I think we need to come up with some Silmaria-themed brews, Strider. A lambic for Erana, some kind of lager for Spielberg.. Erasmus already has root beer..

Ethan
02-19-2010, 08:34 PM
I think you'd want to use a fifth of it, because there are off-flavors associated with an overabundance of yeast. I'm not sure how you'd save the rest, though. If it's dry yeast, I assume it would keep for a while if you stored it refrigerated and in a tightly-sealed bag. If it's wet yeast, you could maybe culture it by using a beer bottle as a tiny fermenter and pitching it into a little portion of fresh wort. That would require another airlock. A friend of mine cultures yeast this way, with an airlock fitted into a small cork that goes into the bottle.

nunix
02-19-2010, 08:39 PM
It's wet. It wasn't expensive, so I'm not worried about stretching the dollar or anything, just figured I'd keep it on hand and use it later if possible. I might try culturing it for the fun of it, though.

StriderDL
02-19-2010, 08:55 PM
Also, I think we need to come up with some Silmaria-themed brews, Strider. A lambic for Erana, some kind of lager for Spielberg.. Erasmus already has root beer..

I like! Perhaps an Octoberfest or Pils for Spielburg, something dark and strong, for Mordavia, I think. A porter, perhaps? Or! An old ale, in the style of Old Engine Oil, dark and thick. Rakeesh's Righteous Rye? Ad Avis's Evil Eye Trippel? 'Enry's 'Efeweiss?


....though remember, do NOT drink the Dragon's Breath...at least until you're a big bad (and horrifyingly polygonal) hero. Although you will still pass out, and wake with a terrible hangover.

nunix
02-19-2010, 08:57 PM
Rakeesh's Righteous Rye? 'Enry's 'Efeweiss?

Oh man these are great!

nunix
02-20-2010, 02:06 PM
so a 5 gallon glass fermenter carboy is unbelievably heavy when it has liquid in it and your stove is upstairs and where you're going to do fermenting is downstairs.

also apparently the actual fermenting stage is a somewhat.. odiferous process? which i think is also going to cause problems.

haven't actually started yet, since i am now trying to deal with basic logistic stuff i hadn't realised was kind of important. -.-

Ethan
02-20-2010, 02:14 PM
I did my fermentation in a small closet with all my clothes hanging inches above, and they picked up no smell. The only smells I could detect from the airlock were hops and malt, and only when I stuck my nose right up to it. I don't think you get nasty fermentation smells unless the batch is contaminated or you're using odd yeast, like some esoteric Belgian stuff.

nunix
02-20-2010, 02:26 PM
I did my fermentation in a small closet with all my clothes hanging inches above, and they picked up no smell. The only smells I could detect from the airlock were hops and malt, and only when I stuck my nose right up to it. I don't think you get nasty fermentation smells unless the batch is contaminated or you're using odd yeast, like some esoteric Belgian stuff.

Yeah, just did some further reading, and it seems the fermentation process isn't anything to worry about (this is going to be in an unused shower downstairs, which is also the laundry room, so I didn't want to beer up clothes that might be hanging).

Will have to figure out what to do about the carboy; there aren't even small loop-handles on the thing. Maybe brew outside on a camp stove or something.

(rather than try and 1/5th the ingredients i already bought, i just gave in and split the cost with my sibling on a standard-size kit today. i'll probably use the 1gal kit on the next couple of batches, but figured i'd go with the full size on the first attempt, and stick to the recipe as written)

EDIT: Hah! I can set the carboy in a cooler, and haul it around that way.

I am going to go brew some beer now.

I am doing itttt >=I

Ethan
02-20-2010, 02:46 PM
there aren't even small loop-handles on the thing.

http://images.google.com/images?client=safari&rls=en&q=carboy+handle&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=EFiAS82KIIaJnQfc4vHXBw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=7&ved=0CC0QsAQwBg

nunix
02-20-2010, 08:57 PM
IT IS BREWED

i have no confidence in it

we will see

it is supposed to be an oatmeal stout! what will happen

today's conclusions:

brewing beer is 90% waiting for things to get to temperature, and if you have a stove/grill/something that can do that quickly, you are set!! and if not you are totally fucked!!

another 5% is pouring it into the carboy without getting it everywhere.

5% is miscellanousarisms.

EDIT: ~12 hours later and there're just a few small bubble patches on the surface. this doesn't bode well. =/

Patrick
02-21-2010, 10:09 AM
Sorry that this took so long, but here are my pictures from last week:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1209.jpg
This pot came with my kit. I think that the previous owners just threw it in because they had no need for something this huge. It's really much bigger than necessary, but the nice thing is that it fits over two burners on my stove.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1210.jpg
The label is stuck on pretty well.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1211.jpg
Here is the ingredients kit that I bought. It was just a can of liquid, and there was a small packet of yeast stuck with the ingredients between the top of the can and a plastic lid.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1212.jpg
Boiling the wort.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1213.jpg
this was my sterilization bucket. That's the copper cooling coil on the left, and the tube on the right is where I took the gravity of the wort.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1214.jpg
Fermentation bin w/ water lock. This picture is from last weekend, but it still looks exactly the same. Right now it's just barely bubbling (one every few minutes).

StriderDL
02-21-2010, 10:51 AM
I want your wort chiller. The last time I put the brew pot in the snow. Still took forever.

nunix
02-21-2010, 03:20 PM
so there's a nice white film - which looks quite a lot like mold! - on the top of the wort and absolutely no bubbling is happening, at all, and i'm not sure any has happened yet, either. i assume i totally fucked something up and should dump this? tried smelling it and it just smells like.. something vaguely beer-y, not bad, nor strong (surprisingly mild, really) so i don't know.

totally demoralised!

Ethan
02-21-2010, 03:59 PM
The wort itself won't be visibly bubbling. It should be releasing some gas, though. Do you see the airlock moving at all? After a couple days, my beer had a scummy, frothy head on it and the airlock was popping every 3 seconds or so.

What kind of yeast did you use? Did you activate it before you pitched it?

Did you aerate the wort when you pitched the yeast? (I actually forgot this step and my beer seemingly turned out fine, but it might be necessarily with a less hardy yeast.

Did you sanitize everything that made contact with the wort (other than the boiling pot)?

You didn't add the yeast when the wort was still boiling or very hot, did you?

nunix
02-21-2010, 04:05 PM
The kit had me set up a blow-something tube, so.. the airlock isn't in yet (instructions say to put that in 2-3 days from now). There's no air bubbles in the bucket, though (it has the tube running into a bucket with about a half-inch of water covering the end of the tube to create a seal, I guess).

The yeast was in a tube, and I was told just to shake it up really good and pitch it in, which I did.

Did aerate the wort.

Sanitised stuff pretty good, I thought!

Added the yeast at what I thought was the right temperature (~80 F or so). Wort is currently about 68-70 F.. I have a feeling it was colder than that last night, probably more 66-ish.

Ethan
02-21-2010, 04:16 PM
Sounds like you did everything right, so... I don't know. It probably isn't poor sanitation, because that wouldn't stop the yeast from getting to work it would just mean that other organisms are along for the ride. Maybe the kit had been stored for too long or subjected to rapid temperature shifts and the yeast died.

Are you sure the stuff up top is mold? If it doesn't look obviously like mold, it could just be yeast cells that don't want to act for whatever reason. I'd give it a couple more days and then, if nothing has changed, get one of those Wyeast activator packs and pitch that. I'm not sure how the beer would be affected by sitting for a few days without healthy yeast, but it's worth a shot. Worst case scenario is that it ends up tasting a little funky.

nunix
02-21-2010, 04:27 PM
I'm not at all sure it's mold. ;D But it's white, reminds me of the stuff you get growing on cheese, and has been steadily increasing since about 9am (I checked it around 8a and there were just some bubbles on the top. Came back an hour later and a bunch of whiteish dots had started to show up. Just been increasing ever since).

I'll give it another few days and see. Thanks for the help. =)

nunix
02-21-2010, 08:24 PM
Okay, so ~24 hours after putting the beer in the fermenter carboy, there's about a 1/2 inch "head" on the wort; it's foamy, and looks very much like the head on a glass of beer. Is this.. good? There doesn't seem to be anything going on in the wort itself, and the head seems fairly stable (not bubbling or foaming or anything).

StriderDL
02-21-2010, 08:48 PM
What you are describing sounds pretty normal to me. Typically a mat of "stuff" will form on the top of your beer as it gets to work. I wouldn't worry about it. Be sure to cover your fermenter, though. I am assuming from your description that you can see into it. Light hurts beer!

Also, it's not surprising if you're not seeing active bubbling yet. I've had yeast wait ~48 hours to start a bubblin'

Relax, have a beer!

fumner
02-21-2010, 10:44 PM
Okay, so ~24 hours after putting the beer in the fermenter carboy, there's about a 1/2 inch "head" on the wort; it's foamy, and looks very much like the head on a glass of beer. Is this.. good? There doesn't seem to be anything going on in the wort itself, and the head seems fairly stable (not bubbling or foaming or anything).

That's called krausen. It is just a mix of proteins, dead yeast, hop oils, hop debris, etc. that occurs during vigorous fermentation. Totally normal. The best thing to do during this phase is to just relax and forget about your beer for a while, because it sounds like everything is going along perfectly.

Probably in 2-6 days that krausen will drop off and the bubbling on your airlock will slow down. However, this wouldn't necessarily mean the fermentation is complete. The only way to know for certain is to take gravity readings with your hydrometer. A rule of thumb is after three days with no change in gravity then you're good to bottle. You should be collecting bottles now (i.e. drinking beers while you wait). Good luck!

Ethan
02-22-2010, 09:24 AM
Oh, I didn't realize it had been fermenting for less than 24 hours when you posted before. I thought it had been 2 or 3 days for some reason. Yeah, you're fine.

Now might be a good time to pick up Uncle Charlie's Bible (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Homebrewing-Third-Harperresource-Book/dp/0060531053/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266857253&sr=1-1). I've found that the torturous wait for my beer to be ready to drink is made more tolerable when I can read about making beer in the mean time.

nunix
02-22-2010, 09:40 AM
My little how-to-brew cheatsheet had said that fermentation was supposed to start within 5-15 hours (maybe they mean start-start and not visibily-start) and the whole process was.. a little hectic, so I was ready to believe I'd done something terribly wrong. ;P

Anyway, it's happily burping away now! I am totally making some beer!

Also I picked up that book with my kit, so, all good there. =)

nunix
02-22-2010, 07:20 PM
So here's a question!

I put my grains in a grain bag, and then put that in a bigass 5 gallon pot which.. was really too much, because my instructions told me to only put 1 gallon of water in the pot. So the grains were never fully covered (I flipped the bag over about halfway through, though).

Now, at the end of the process, it had me dump extra water into the carboy to make a total of 5 gallons of liquid. My question is, can I just use however much water I want during the grain-steeping phase? So that I can at least make sure it's adequately covered? Because the fill-the-fermenter stage makes it seem like the only purpose is to have 5 gallons of liquid, not to maintain some kind of wort-water ratio.

Hopefully that makes sense...

Strider, how do you normally chill your wort? Chilling it down wasn't a big deal, took maybe 10 minutes? Put about half a bag of ice in the sink, filled it with cold water, and kept stirring the pot. When the ice had all melted and the water was warming back up, I emptied the sink, and then just set the water to constantly stream against the side of the pot while I kept stirring another few minutes. Went from nigh-boiling to 80-90 deg or so fairly quickly, it seemed.

Patrick
02-22-2010, 09:42 PM
I'm curious as to how water effects the process as well. I've re-read the instructions, and I'm pretty sure that we added a lot more water than was necessary. Is that going to effect things beyond "watering down" the beer?

Oh, and I stopped by Brew & Grow today to get some sugar tabs. I guess they're moving to Kedzie and Addison. I took a picture of the alley where it's currently located:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/IMG_1217.jpg

Seriously shady!

StriderDL
02-22-2010, 09:50 PM
Same method, except I try not to touch the wort after I've removed it from the heat source. Mostly cause I've likely desterilized my stirrer by putting it somewhere bacteria ridden.

Others have said that boiling the full 5 gallons of wort does...something. I forget off the top of my head. But I have heard that using more water can effect the bittering potential of your hops. Or something. I just use 1-2 gallons. But I'm sure either way makes good beer.

EDIT: H'ooookay that is a bit sketchy I suppose.

nunix
02-26-2010, 09:29 PM
Anyone done hard cider brewing? I have this one gallon carboy and that seems like a fun thing to use it for. Papazian's book has a small section on mead but none, it seems, on hard cider. Some quick google searches makes the process seem pretty much exactly as beer-brewing (heat the soft cider for 45 minutes, chill, toss in fermenter, pitch yeast, air lock, wait a few weeks) but I want to be sure that I don't make something that gives me terrible food poisoning and/or kills me. ;P

EDIT: found these two (http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/10/how-to-make-hard-apple-cider.html) posts (http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/11/the-final-word-for-now-on-homemade-hard-cider.html) and it is exactly the kind of low-cost, low-equipment experimentation I feel like doing, so.. shall probably try the same.

SEanEF
03-02-2010, 03:17 PM
Anyone done hard cider brewing? I have this one gallon carboy and that seems like a fun thing to use it for. Papazian's book has a small section on mead but none, it seems, on hard cider. Some quick google searches makes the process seem pretty much exactly as beer-brewing (heat the soft cider for 45 minutes, chill, toss in fermenter, pitch yeast, air lock, wait a few weeks) but I want to be sure that I don't make something that gives me terrible food poisoning and/or kills me. ;P

EDIT: found these two (http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/10/how-to-make-hard-apple-cider.html) posts (http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/11/the-final-word-for-now-on-homemade-hard-cider.html) and it is exactly the kind of low-cost, low-equipment experimentation I feel like doing, so.. shall probably try the same.

Those articles look like a much better way to try making hard cider than what I went through. I'll probably give it a try myself later. Though I might go with ale yeast instead of lager since I don't have any place cold (and stable) enough to keep it.

The one time I've tried it was... interesting. I was sort of curious to try, since I like it and had all this equipment already from making beer. So i went over to my local supply shop and asked the owner about it. He said it was really easy, recommended champagne yeast and gave me a bunch of other things to consider. Mainly, using different types of apple juice (this was in late spring, not a lot of cider around) to get a more even flavor and using concentrate since it has a higher sugar level. The biggest thing, he said, was to make sure there were no preservatives in the ingredients used since it'll stop the yeast from working. So whenever I went grocery shopping I'd pick up a few cans of concentrate and bottles of apple juice, checking the labels very carefully for anything that sounded funny. When I had enough I threw everything in my 5 gallon fermenting bucket (think I was stuck in the 5 gallon mode from just making my second, more successful, batch of beer) and mixed in some water to get it to 5 gallons and so the sugar level (and final alcohol content) wouldn't get too ridiculous. Pitched the yeast in, closed it up and stuck it in my closet.

Seven days go buy and nothing is happening, a little worried, I go back to the shop and pick up another vial of yeast since maybe the first batch was bad. Come home, pitch it in and wait. A week later and still nothing. Resigned that I wasted a lot of money (2 vials of liquid yeast and that much apple juice ain't cheap), I figure I'll eventually just have to toss it. I get busy with other things and don't actually get around to getting rid of it. It's still sealed up in the closet so it's not in the way and it's not going to spoil so I figure it's no big deal. Four weeks later I start to hear some bubbling from the closet. I check and the juice is merrily fermenting away. Amazed, I go through the usual process I do for beer, eventually transfer it to a glass carboy for a while (6 weeks) then bottle it with a little priming sugar to get it bubbly. What I ended up with was more like a super dry, fairly clean, highly alcoholic (think it was 8%) apple cider/wine than any cider I've ever had.

nunix
03-02-2010, 03:24 PM
Yeah, quite a few of the posts about cider I found had people getting results where it tasted more like a dry wine, and almost all of them were due to champagne yeast. I actually picked up something called English cider yeast today (just waiting for the juice to get room temp before pitching) and am going to try that; I have a brand of apple cider/juice I really like called Simply (Fruit) Juice (http://www.simplyorangejuice.com/) and my little 1 gallon carboy from Brooklyn Brew Shop, so will get that going today, and then maybe in a couple of weeks try that Whole Foods glass jug style with some cider yeast and maybe also ale yeast. (I also don't have anywhere stable-cold enough to try lager).

I've also been reading that the longer you let it sit, the better it gets.. depending on how the next couple batches/attempts go, I think I might like to invest in some small wooden casks or barrels to let future cider batches age/mellow in.

Ethan
03-02-2010, 08:31 PM
I was shooting for a 2-week conditioning time, and technically tomorrow is the day, but I couldn't resist chilling and drinking one a day early. The verdict: it's beer. It's... good beer. It's beer that I'd be very happy with if I bought it at the liquor store at 10 bucks per sixer. The color is a cloudy burnt orange. It keeps its head pretty well. It has a sweet and non-citrusy hop aroma, a moderately thick feel in the mouth, a bitter bite that subsides quickly, and a maltiness that seems more Belgian than German to me (even though it was based on a recipe for German altbier). It has a much more pleasurable fizziness than the one I tried early a week ago for experimentation purposes, and the flavor has come together more, especially in the finish. I might go so far as to call this a rousing success. As a confidence-booster, I did try another beer for the first time today Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian IPA and, even though they're hard to compare, my beer is the better beer.

Making beer is a good thing. I think I'm brewing again in about one week.

nunix
03-03-2010, 01:14 PM
Well the cider started fermenting today, so.. so far so good on that front.

RE: BOTTLING:

Someone tell me how to siphon because I don't understand that at all. I'm not doing a second-stage fermentation, so this is going from fermenter to bottling bucket to bottles in the same day. The bottling bucket has a spigot on it so that's no problem, but it's getting the beer from the fermenter/carboy into the bucket that mystifies me. I know there's something with the fermenter being higher than the bucket, but that's it.

Patrick
03-03-2010, 01:44 PM
The bigger difference in height, the easier it will be. You need to have one end of the tube in the beer, and the other end hanging over the bottling bucket. Create suction on the lower end, and gravity will take over. As the beer falls out of the tube, more is naturally sucked up to take its place, and it will continue to flow as long as the higher end is still in the beer.

My tube has a plastic clamp on it, so I used my mouth to create suction, then locked it off once the tube was full enough. Once it was locked I sterilized the part that my mouth had touched, then put it back over the bottling bucket and released the clamp. My friend had never siphoned before, and he was sort of amazed that it worked at all.

nunix
03-03-2010, 01:48 PM
The suction part is what I was wondering about. You just suck on the tube as if it were a straw, I guess? A SUDDEN INSIGHT: I could set up a couple of pots or buckets and test this out in like, thirty seconds, and not have to make stupid posts. -.- A lesson is learned.

EDIT: so here is now another, different question.

Is it a bad idea to use a 5-gallon container to ferment only 2-3 gallons? I've spent a stupid amount of money already, and hate to spend more on another carboy or bucket, but I'd really like to experiment with smaller batches for the next couple of attempts. But I don't know if all the extra air in there would screw things up.

Patrick
03-03-2010, 02:03 PM
I'm planning to use my 5 gallon bucket for smaller batches, so I hope it's ok.

And yes, create suction exactly like a straw. I know that there are some devices out there that do this for you, so that you don't have to get your mouth germs on the tube, but I don't think it would be that big of a deal as long as you sanitize everything.

Ethan
03-03-2010, 02:25 PM
I'm not sure about fermentation, but I know that you want to avoid having a whole lot of open airspace during bottle-conditioning because it can oxidize the beer and give it off-flavors.

If you already have all the hardware, I'm not sure that just the raw cost of extract, grains, hops, and yeast would be so much that it's worth knocking the recipe down to 3 gallons. A full batch will let you follow a standard recipe without any fractional portions, and it's the exact same amount of labor regardless. Plus, if you really strike gold with a beer, you'll be pissed that you didn't make a full batch.

Brewing stores should sell auto-siphons, which cost about ten bucks and make the siphoning process much cleaner and simpler. I actually did my bottling with an auto-siphon instead of a spigot and it went quite well.

nunix
03-03-2010, 02:52 PM
I'm not sure about fermentation, but I know that you want to avoid having a whole lot of open airspace during bottle-conditioning because it can oxidize the beer and give it off-flavors.

If you already have all the hardware, I'm not sure that just the raw cost of extract, grains, hops, and yeast would be so much that it's worth knocking the recipe down to 3 gallons. A full batch will let you follow a standard recipe without any fractional portions, and it's the exact same amount of labor regardless. Plus, if you really strike gold with a beer, you'll be pissed that you didn't make a full batch.

The thing with the 5 gallons is that there's no way I'm going to drink that much beer inside of six months, and I will go poor if I buy thousands of bottles to store it all in while it's not being drunk. ;P I don't know enough beer drinkers to give the stuff away, even, and I'm not sure on state laws with selling homebrew. So I figure with small batches I'm not wasting so much of it, you know?

Patrick
03-03-2010, 04:02 PM
I'm pretty sure that it'd be illegal to sell homebrewed beer pretty much anywhere, but I'm also pretty sure that it'd be tough to enforce that law.

Might want to go with 2.5 gallons instead of 3, just so you can cut everything in half.

Ethan
03-03-2010, 08:30 PM
I made a "5-gallon batch" (which became a 4-gallon batch due to reduction of the wort) and I ended up with around 40 bottles of beer. That is not a lot of beer for 6 months. If you're drinking it yourself, having only one beer every couple days or so, they'd be gone in less than 3 months. If you ever invite beer-drinking friends to your place, or if you are otherwise sharing them (you will want to share them out of pride), they'll be gone in a few weeks.

Bottles are very cheap, but you shouldn't even have to buy them. Just tell a local bar that you're looking for used non-twist-off bottles and I'm sure they'd be able to gather all the bottles you need within a few hours of serving customers.

fumner
03-03-2010, 10:09 PM
I'm planning to use my 5 gallon bucket for smaller batches, so I hope it's ok.

And yes, create suction exactly like a straw. I know that there are some devices out there that do this for you, so that you don't have to get your mouth germs on the tube, but I don't think it would be that big of a deal as long as you sanitize everything.

Hey guys, go ahead and brew smaller batches in your "normal" sized buckets/carboys. The oxygen in the headspace is actually beneficial to your yeast's health during a primary fermentation. And by the time your beer would be in danger of oxidation, enough carbon dioxide should have been produced to displace any remaining oxygen out of your fermenting vessel. But keep in mind this only applies to a primary fermentation. Do not perform secondary fermentations with too big a container or else you will risk severe oxidation.

The best $10 I've spent on brewing equipment was on the Auto-Siphon. Before I had one, I used this method for siphoning. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6wnVFsGdv0)

Hey destro, I'm stoked to hear your beer turned out great! It's an awesome feeling to finally reap the rewards of your labor... but I guarantee that if you condition your beers a bit further by refrigerating them for 3+ weeks they will taste even better. Try it with at least a couple of bottles, and be amazed by the differences.

Ethan
03-04-2010, 10:13 PM
I've decided to name the beer Michael Brown Ale, after the ex-chief of FEMA, because I apparently did a heckuva job despite making many grievous errors and shameful oversights.

Ethan
03-08-2010, 06:10 PM
I've discovered mold in one of the bottles. The beer tasted good until I got to the bottom third of the glass or so, when it took on a strange flavor reminiscent of a substandard dry red wine. I looked in the glass and saw a little black thing, barely visible under the head. I must have contaminated it in the bottling process, because this is the first bottle (out of 16 or so) that's been flawed.

Brew & Grow reopened today. I'll be heading there later in the week and brewing soon after that.

Posaune
03-08-2010, 06:49 PM
That sounds like a scary moment.

StriderDL
03-08-2010, 07:10 PM
Eh, it happens. The real horror stories are the mats of mold that develop in bottles that haven't been rinsed for weeks/months. Get in the habit of giving a rinse after consumption, saves on decon time as well if you don't have to scrub out the bottles.

Patrick
03-09-2010, 10:20 AM
Brew & Grow reopened today. I'll be heading there later in the week and brewing soon after that.

Sweet, I'll head up there sometime soon as well. I really want to get started on my next batch, but I need more bottles before I can do anything.

I tried some of my beer yesterday. The bottles with 4 tabs of sugar were actually pretty good, but the ones with less tasted too bitter. I was obsessed with the idea of it being watered down, but it's actually very tasty. I'll leave the rest of it in the fridge for a few weeks before drinking any more, but most of the batch probably doesn't have enough priming sugar in it (since I only put 4 tabs in about 1/3 of the bottles).

nunix
03-09-2010, 02:37 PM
I BOTTLED BEER

IT TASTES LIKE BEER~

came out to about four gallons.. i was too worried about the dead yeast sediment in the fermenter to really try and extract everything from it.

it's a little on the bland side, but we'll see what another two weeks being bottled does for it.

thank you talkingtime brewers~

also, yeah, seeing it bottled? it's not really that much. the bulk of the beer went into 12 one-liter fliptops, which is slightly more than two pints, which is about what I drink when i have beer (1-2 pints). whilst this'll still probably last me 2-3 months, easy, it's not the "omh i'll have beer for a year" i was thinking it was.

StriderDL
03-09-2010, 03:25 PM
I BOTTLED BEER

IT TASTES LIKE BEER~

CONGRATURATIONS!

also, yeah, seeing it bottled? it's not really that much.

It never is :(

In other news, next up for me is a Belgian Trippel/Dubbel. We'll be swiping yeast from those Chimay chaps. It's our first time, so I have a few questions about yeast propagation.

First off, how do I do it? I mean, get the yeast out of the Chimay bottle and into the fermenter (aka beer bottle). Turkey baster? How long will the propagated yeast last? How much do I have to feed it everyday? We'll be using malt. Do I fill up the fermenter with beer or water with malt? So many questions!

Ethan
03-13-2010, 08:54 PM
Brewing a porter as I type this. The boil is about half done. I asked a guy at the homebrew shop to help me brew something similar to Bell's Porter, and this is what he came up with based on something he found online:

8 lbs. liquid malt extract
.5 lb. chocolate malt
.5 lb. 80L caramel malt
.5 lb. flaked barley
.25 lb. black patent
1 oz. Centennial hops at 60 min. for bittering, no finishing hops
London Ale yeast

The Bell's clone recipe he found online actually called for Guinness-style Irish yeast, and we both thought that was weird and would result in a beer that's too dry, so I went with a more traditional porter yeast.

This time I'm using Star San for sanitization, in one of my sink basins instead of a bucket. Much easier. This is going a lot smoother than my first brew day in general.

I still have a handful of bottles from my first batch conditioning in my closet. They have changed quite a bit since the 2-week mark. They have a drier, crisper taste and a clearer appearance.

StriderDL
03-15-2010, 08:08 PM
H'okay, so we just propagated some yeast! Or at least, we tried to. We took a small bottle of Chimay Red and followed the instructions listed here (http://books.google.com/books?id=CSGmdUzVyUkC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=reculturing+chimay+yeast&source=bl&ots=Dl_4uSNJeu&sig=P8AbllOsIk6-fQCt9EnfjGW6gn0&hl=en&ei=sgabS73hA8T68Aa66YSPDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCQQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=reculturing%20chimay%20yeast&f=false). I'll let you all know if the yeast resurrects. Like Jesus.

Ethan
03-15-2010, 08:19 PM
My porter's fermentation was vigorous enough to start forcing foam/beer up into the airlock, so I had to take the lock off and switch to a blowoff tube. It's happily bubbling away now. I have high hopes for this beer.

nunix
03-16-2010, 02:00 PM
Someone tell me about cold crashing, I think it's called? Do I NEED to put my beer in a fridge at some point to stop in-the-bottle fermentation, or will it stop on its own? If I put it in the fridge does it need to stay there, or will it stay stopped once stopped?

Ethan
03-16-2010, 02:13 PM
As I understand it, cold crashing isn't to stop the bottle fermentation. Cold crashing is something you do before you bottle, to clarify all the residues out of the beer before you take it out of the fermenter. A rapid chilling helps all the cloudiness settle out at the bottom of the fermenter so the beer looks prettier going into (and coming out of) the bottles. I think it's basically considered unnecessary for beers that aren't being sent to competitions.

There's no need to stop the bottle fermentation. By the time you bottle, your yeast will have already completed its fermentation of the malt sugars, so the only fermentation that happens in the bottle is the fermentation of the priming sugar that you added at bottling. That's a fermentation you normally wouldn't want to halt, because halting it would leave the beer overly sweet and undercarbonated.

nunix
03-16-2010, 02:22 PM
Ahh! Gotcha. Alright, thanks. =D

nunix
03-19-2010, 04:18 PM
This is sort of vague, but.. what causes bland-y beer? My oatmeal stout is pretty light on flavour. It doesn't taste bad, and there is a general beer-y taste and aftertaste, but it's very mild, and I like a much stronger flavour presence. I haven't had this recipe before so it MIGHT just be a quality of that, but I have a feeling I screwed something up in the process and that was the cause.

Ethan
03-19-2010, 04:42 PM
What was the recipe?

nunix
03-19-2010, 05:17 PM
the ingredients were:

grains: 1/2 lb Dark Crystal, 1/2 lb Roasted, 1 lb Chocolate, 1 lb Flaked Oats.

hops: 2 oz Northern Brewer hops for bittering, 1 oz Perle hops for flavour, 1 oz Perle hops for finishing/aroma.

the actual brewing process seems pretty basic and standard from what I've read o' Papazian's book and other websites.

Ethan
03-19-2010, 06:57 PM
How much extract?

nunix
03-19-2010, 07:58 PM
Oh! Totally forgot about that part. 7 lbs, I think it was. And I don't know what kind of extract off the top of my head, I could find out if it's important.

Ethan
03-19-2010, 08:39 PM
Hmm... 7 pounds of extract plus 3 pounds of specialty grains and 4 ounces of hops should make a pretty flavorful beer. Did you get the water up to 160ish before you steeped the specialty grains, and let them soak for half an hour?

Also, I noticed that you seem to have only conditioned for 9 or 10 days before chilling the beer. I tasted my first beer 7 days into conditioning and it did not have a very full flavor. It was good enough to drink after 2 weeks, and it's continued to develop in the weeks since. Maybe your beer just needs more time.

Or maybe it has something to do with your yeast selection.

nunix
03-19-2010, 08:54 PM
Hmm, we'll see how times goes then for later on. I'm pretty sure my temps were right for steeping, and for the right amount of time.

fumner
03-19-2010, 09:48 PM
the ingredients were:

grains: 1/2 lb Dark Crystal, 1/2 lb Roasted, 1 lb Chocolate, 1 lb Flaked Oats.

hops: 2 oz Northern Brewer hops for bittering, 1 oz Perle hops for flavour, 1 oz Perle hops for finishing/aroma.

the actual brewing process seems pretty basic and standard from what I've read o' Papazian's book and other websites.

I agree that giving your beer another few weeks to condition will help the flavor.

But I also think the problem could be this recipe - it's just a little too skewed towards a roast-y flavor with the 1 lb. of chocolate and 1/2 lb. of roasted malt. I think if you re-brewed this beer you might want to scale back these malts (say 1/2 lb. chocolate or less, and 1/2 lb. roasted malt or less) and up the crystal malt (I'd use 1 lb. of crystal 40). I think this would strike a better balance of flavors. Also the addition of some kilned malts would add more of a "malty" flavor, for lack of a better term.

Some other things to consider:

What yeast did you use? Yeast is really the main ingredient. Different yeast strains will produce vastly different beers.

Is your beer too dry? If so you could choose a yeast that attenuates less and will leave more sweetness in the finished product.

Is the flavor too clean? If so you could choose a yeast that gives off more esters.

How's the carbonation? If it is too carbonated the beer will have a thinner mouthfeel.

Hopefully you can pinpoint what you like and don't like about the beer and make changes to your next batch that will result in something that is perfectly suited to your tastes. Anyways congrats on the first beer and welcome to the world of recipe refinement!

nunix
03-20-2010, 12:05 PM
Bottled the cider today, tastes a little wine-y, but from what I've read cider goes through quite a flavour change after it's fermented and been left to sit for weeks/months, so, will try it again in a month or so.

Ethan
03-20-2010, 05:06 PM
I used my newly-acquired wine thief to draw some beer out of the carboy, and measured the gravity. It has gone from 1.086 down to 1.031, which means the current ABV is about 7.3%. That's a pretty high number considering the initial fermentation might not even be done yet. This is going to be a boozy porter.

I tasted it after testing the gravity. Sweet and roasty.

nunix
03-22-2010, 09:02 PM
Random anecdote: homebrewing is legal in Japan, as long as your beer doesn't exceed 1% ABV. Apparently it's never investigated or prosecuted (as long as you don't sell it, presumably), but it's still kinda funny. It seems like you'd have to work really hard to stay under 1%? Or water it down like crazy?

That's a question, actually.. if you're shooting for a general ABV range, what steps do you take to make something high or low ABV?

Also, homebrewing around the world seems like an interesting topic...

StriderDL
03-22-2010, 09:23 PM
Why, by varying up the amount of fermentable sugars in your beer! The more OM NOM NOM there is for the yeast, the more alcohol they'll excrete.

For example, for the Trippel (or Dubbel, we haven't decided yet) we included 3 cans of liquid malt extract, and 2 lbs of dried malt extract. It will be kickass.

nunix
03-22-2010, 09:34 PM
Why, by varying up the amount of fermentable sugars in your beer! The more OM NOM NOM there is for the yeast, the more alcohol they'll excrete.

For example, for the Trippel (or Dubbel, we haven't decided yet) we included 3 cans of liquid malt extract, and 2 lbs of dried malt extract. It will be kickass.

How does that work with flavours? How much is the grains and how much is the sugars/hops? Or does the sugar only go straight to alcohol content?

Ethan
03-23-2010, 07:46 AM
Some sugars are fermentable and others aren't, to varying degrees. If you add some table sugar or corn sugar to the mix, almost all of it will ferment, so you'll get more alcohol and less flavor. If you add a sugar that is harder to ferment, like the sugars in crystal malt, you will be adding more to the sweetness and body than to the alcohol. As I understand it, the sugars in base malt (extract) are somewhere in between.

You can also augment this with yeast choice. Some yeast is hungrier or, in brew-speak, more "attenuative" than other yeast. So you might want to use a less attenuative yeast strain if you want more residual sugars to be left in the beer, or a more attenuative yeast for a drier beer.

Once you know approximately how much much sweetness will be in the fermented beer, you can then base your hop choices on those calculations so that you add enough bitterness to complement the sweetness. Some commercial beers literally have 20 times the bitterness "units" of other beers, but those beers would also have vastly different amounts of sweetness, so both of them could taste balanced.

I don't actually know the methodology behind finding this balance. I just know that a methodology does exist, and there are books on it. I'd like to get a bit more experienced before I start making my own recipes, though.

Ethan
04-04-2010, 04:50 PM
My third beer is in the fermenter. This time I didn't follow an existing recipe, and instead threw one together based on the advice of a guy at the homebrew store. My goal was to make a beer that's spiced with celery seeds. I used 6.6 pounds of extra light extract, one pound of Belgian aromatic malt for steeping, half a pound of corn sugar to lighten the body a bit, about half an ounce of Pacific Jade hops for bittering, and another half an ounce of Fuggles for aroma right after I turned the heat off. A tablespoon of celery seeds went in at the same time as the aroma hops, and I think I'll be adding more seeds when I switch to the secondary fermentation.

The porter has been bottled for about 11 days. It's coming along, but it probably needs another couple weeks before it gets good.

StriderDL
04-04-2010, 06:31 PM
Wow, that sounds like an interesting one. Let me know how that goes!

So, the Chai Porter....it's good! At the 3 week bottle conditioning point it was a little assertive on the chai flavor, so we decided to let it sit another few weeks. The flavor has mellowed out a lot more now. Still, it's not something I would quaff all night. Next time I think we'd use about 25% less chai tea. Oh, and the lactose, I think, was a really good addition.

Other than that, the Trippel (or dubbel) will be bottled later this week, along with the brewing of our Corn Wheat...this one is entirely a freestyle, we'll be steeping some maize instead of malt (though using malt extract and all, of course). I am really excited for this one.

fumner
04-07-2010, 08:09 PM
Here's a pic of a pale ale I brewed which I'm drinking right now:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4058/4501719188_9024c1d495.jpg

Not pictured: my dumb grin

I've got another beer in primary right now that's a bit of a homage to 3 Floyd's Gumballhead. It's a wheat pale ale with a significant amount of Amarillo late hop additions and hopefully a slight sweetness to it. I'll probably keg half of it this weekend, and dry hop the other half with a bit extra Amarillo.

nunix
04-23-2010, 05:59 PM
How do you know when it's safe to bottle? The last recipe I used (a brown hazelnut ale) says to ferment for a week, then bottle, but a week seems a little short, and I really don't want exploding bottles. =/ It's got the airlock on right now, it has quite a lot of small bubbles in it. Every now and then a large bubble pops out but it's pretty infrequent it seems.

Ethan
04-23-2010, 07:17 PM
Gotta use a gravity meter to be sure. The conventional wisdom is to check the gravity for three consecutive days, and if the reading doesn't change over that time, the fermentation is likely done.

nunix
05-09-2010, 07:10 PM
So the hazelnut brown ale turned out alright. We split the batch up into two: half with some hazelnut extract (added at bottling time), and half without. The half without tastes regular stout-y, but with a nice hazelnut aftertaste (due to toasted hazelnuts being steeped with the grains).

The half with the extract.. the bottle said to use two ounces for five gallons, so we did 1 ounce for 2.5 gallons. The beer smells like the extract (no trace of hops), and 80-90% tastes like it. It's not bad, exactly, but I don't like hazelnut quite enough to make the taste enjoyable. ;P Probably 1 ounce per 5 gallons (.5 oz for 2.5gal) would been better.

Ethan
05-16-2010, 03:59 PM
The celery seed beer is pretty nice. It doesn't have an immediately recognizable celery seed character, although I can pick up a trace because I know what I'm looking for, but there's an interesting, vaguely savory note of spice on top of the earthy, grassy flavors of the other ingredients. It's a nice, refreshing, light-bodied beer with some pleasing idiosyncracies.

StriderDL
05-26-2010, 05:58 PM
Oh my, I have been remiss in posting my brewing adventures! Let's see...after the Belgian Triple-Double (which is still bottle conditioning. Only 1.5 months more to go!) we brewed a Maize Wheat Ale, which, at first, was slightly disappointing. But given a bit more time to age it's taken on a more estery character from the yeast, as well as a hint of corn at the end. Pretty good!

Then we did a kolsch, which is cool, since we've never done one, but my sister got it for me for Christmas and wants me to throw raspberry flavoring into it, so we shall see what happens.

Next up: Rye Pale Ale, followed by Maple Wheat.

Also, that celery seed beer sounds quite interesting. I'd kill to try it!

nunix
05-26-2010, 06:04 PM
The half of the hazelnut brown ale that we used extract with? It's basically alcoholic hazelnut soft drink, at this point; some carbonation, super-powerful hazelnut smell and taste, no taste of beer. A hard soft drink? A soft hard drink? Who can say?!

It'd be fun to do a similar thing but a) on purpose, and b) different flavours. Something in a berry, maybe. But I have enough beer to keep me for awhile, so it'll be another month or two before I get around to brewing more.

StriderDL
05-26-2010, 06:18 PM
Now I want to try that, too!

nunix
06-08-2010, 08:39 PM
You guys know anything about fusel alcohol or yeast allergies? This hazelnut ale that we brewed, my friend says he gets a headache almost immediately; I dismissed this as crazy talk, because I've been drinking it fine. But tonight I had a couple and also wound up with a mild headache (and I feel like the alcohol hit me a hell of a lot heavier than it should've). But it tastes and looks just fine, which makes me think it's not the fusel, which I read as having distinctive taste, smell, and sometimes appearance (a sheen). The other possibility I read was some kind of mild yeast allergy which sometimes happens with homebrew, since it tends to have a higher yeast content.

Daikaiju
06-09-2010, 12:02 AM
Does homebrewing make cats fat? there's a homebrew shop next to my comic shop and the cats that sit in the window are DAMN huge.

Ethan
06-09-2010, 09:15 AM
I'm building a cooler-based mash tun. I almost finished it last night, but I need a few more spacers to get it tight.

Daikaiju
06-09-2010, 12:50 PM
Another question... how many of you are trying to develop a continuing cycle of brewing/aging/consumption?

And yes, I was serious about the cats.

nunix
06-09-2010, 03:14 PM
Another question... how many of you are trying to develop a continuing cycle of brewing/aging/consumption?

I don't drink much, so.. I don't know if I need to develop such a cycle or if I've basically already fallen into one.

And yes, I was serious about the cats.

Well, alcohol is deadly for most animals (including humans; we just have a higher tolerance for the poisons), so I can't imagine how it'd be making them fat.

StriderDL
06-09-2010, 07:14 PM
Re: Fusels and Yeasts
Not a clue, sorry! I haven't had any headache complaints as of yet. Shruggles.

Re: Fat kitties
Cats don't drink beer! I know, I've tried. I mean, I offered it to them, I didn't force them or anything.

Re: Mash tun
That's sounds like a tun of fun!

Re: Drinking/Aging/Consumption
Ehhh a lot of my beer I give out, so it never lasts as long as I'd like. I'd need to be brewing almost constantly.

fumner
06-09-2010, 08:42 PM
Another question... how many of you are trying to develop a continuing cycle of brewing/aging/consumption?

And yes, I was serious about the cats.

I usually have that cycle going, and at times I even have a surplus of homebrew. But lately I've been busy with work and I'm preparing to move in couple of months so I've had to scale back my brewing. I'm still planning on brewing 10 gallons of ordinary bitter next weekend for my friend's birthday party at the end of June, but I think that's going to be it until August.

And for the cat question... I know one of the local breweries has a couple of cats to help keep rodents under control (mice/rats seem to love brewing grains) so maybe that's the reason.

Patrick
06-28-2010, 12:26 PM
Yesterday I finally started my second batch: an American Pale Ale.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/homebrew.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/homebrew2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v387/Padraig946/homebrew3.jpg

Oh my gosh, look at all those hops!

I used another kit, but this one was more complex than the first. I had to steep the grains, and add the hops and light malt extract at various points. It really wasn't much more complicated than using a pre-made wort mix, and I was a lot more confident in what I was doing. Oh, and it smelled way better (though the LME still gave it a somewhat unpleasant smell). I ate a little bit of hops afterward, it had an extremely intense flavor, no IPA I've tried comes even close. The back of my throat tingled for a while, it was pretty neat.

I did break away from the instructions slightly by adding more water while I was cooling the wort instead of adding it in the fermenting bin. It helped cool it down quicker, and I figure it was ok as long as I did it after the boil ended and before pitching the yeast.

The kit recommended doing a second fermentation in a carboy, but all I have is another bucket. How much will skipping that step that effect the end product?

StriderDL
06-29-2010, 08:13 AM
Well, there's a couple of reasons for using a secondary fermenter. For one, it allows you to get better clarity in your end product, as sediment from the primary will get left behind. Additionally, it will reduce the amount of contact between your beer and yeast by-prodcuts. I don't know if there is a perceivable difference, as I've always used a secondary, but that's what I hear.

Ethan
06-29-2010, 01:55 PM
Also, if you don't use a secondary, you run the risk of letting the beer sit long enough for the yeast sediment at the bottom to autolyze and start releasing substances into your beer as it decays. I've heard that this can start about a month into the fermentation, which is sometimes necessary for really big beers.

StriderDL
07-27-2010, 07:02 AM
Grumble grumble grumble

My past two beers (a weizenbier and now a rye pale ale) are both rather phenolic. I think the heat has been screwing with my yeast. But I can't run the AC all the time. Going to see if the basement will be cool enough for proper development.

Please don't die, Maple Hefeweizen!

Ethan
07-27-2010, 07:51 AM
I've crossed the point where I won't be able to start a fourth brew in Chicago and have it ready before I pull up stakes. I really wanted to do an all-grain batch, but there's been too much on my mind and I kept putting it off. I will be able to brew again once I get settled in, but it will be a break of 5 months or so. I'm bummed.

Ethan
08-04-2010, 08:50 PM
I'm drinking the second of the two beers Patrick gave to me. I drank the first one right at the 2-week mark and it was not ready much too sweet. This one is quite good, though. Big hops taste and a soft-edged, balanced bitterness. Highly driunkable, and better than many commercial American pales I've had. My roommate declares it "good as shit."

In my experience thus far, the conventional wisdom of bottle-conditioning for 2 weeks is a total lie. Maybe 2 weeks is enough if you're making something really light, like a British bitter or something, but every beer I've made and every beer my friends have made has taken 3+ weeks to get seriously drinkable, and has continued to mature well after that.

nunix
09-29-2010, 01:45 PM
So I bought a second carboy, finally, for two-stage fermentation.

I was going to make some spruce beer, except it seems I missed the window for new spruce tips by about 4-5 months. Stopped by the homebrew shop to just use some spruce essence instead, but they had none! They seemed to be out of a lot of things, actually.. so instead I grabbed a random dark malt, some hops, and some boysenberry essence, and I figure I'll just experiment a little and see what happens.

Also looking at trying some steam beer, which I guess originates in California. It's an ale, fermented at ale temperatures, but you use lager yeast instead. Probably do that in a week or two as well.

And in the plans for when the temperature drops: a lager! Probably ferment it outside in the shed, since I don't have space for another fridge or freezer to do the lagering in. No idea what recipe yet, though.

Question: the spruce beer recipe called for something called for something named "Breiss CBW traditional dark malt extract syrup". There was nothing like that with the cans of malt extract, but there WERE lots of bags of different types of Breiss malts (tho none seemed to be the CBW variety). What's Breiss and why is it different?

Falselogic
09-29-2010, 03:50 PM
read through it again and then ordered a 1 gallon kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. So when I need help I'm coming to you guys!

Guess, I should go through the thread again and follow up on those educational links...

StriderDL
10-01-2010, 08:41 AM
I think that Briess is just the name of the company distributing the malt. They are one of the largest.

Also, welcome to the club, Falselogic! What kit did you buy? I was considering trying their RPA, despite mine just fluking due to high temperatures during fermentation.

Haven't gotten a chance to do anything myself recently. I need my own apartment first!

Patrick
10-01-2010, 09:25 AM
I'm drinking the second of the two beers Patrick gave to me. I drank the first one right at the 2-week mark and it was not ready much too sweet. This one is quite good, though. Big hops taste and a soft-edged, balanced bitterness. Highly driunkable, and better than many commercial American pales I've had. My roommate declares it "good as shit."

In my experience thus far, the conventional wisdom of bottle-conditioning for 2 weeks is a total lie. Maybe 2 weeks is enough if you're making something really light, like a British bitter or something, but every beer I've made and every beer my friends have made has taken 3+ weeks to get seriously drinkable, and has continued to mature well after that.

I missed this when you first posted it, thanks for the positive impressions! You're right about aging it longer, I've noticed that the last few beers I drank were much better than the first few. I actually left about 4 bottles at my parent's summer home on accident, I'll be interested in seeing what they taste like once I get them back.

I'm hoping to do a new batch this weekend, but I haven't decided what it'll be yet. Maybe it's time to try a Lager?

Falselogic
10-01-2010, 10:16 AM
I think that Briess is just the name of the company distributing the malt. They are one of the largest.

Also, welcome to the club, Falselogic! What kit did you buy? I was considering trying their RPA, despite mine just fluking due to high temperatures during fermentation.

Haven't gotten a chance to do anything myself recently. I need my own apartment first!

I went with Apple Crisp Ale.

Ethan
10-02-2010, 07:22 PM
Maybe it's time to try a Lager?

Man... at first I was going to tell you you'd better have a dedicated fridge if you're doing a lager at this time of year, because the heat would fuck with your fermentation and ruin its lagerness.

Then I remembered that I moved to Hanoi, which has different weather than Chicago. So, yeah, perfect time to do a lager, especially if you have an unheated room that stays a bit chilly a mud room? a garage? maybe a back deck?

Patrick
10-03-2010, 03:14 PM
I'm going to brew it at a friend's and store it in his basement. He says that he wants to wait until November, though, so I might do one more Ale before then.

nunix
10-06-2010, 08:41 PM
So I faked my way through a blackberry ale today, pulling from several different recipes as far as how to do it. Wound up skipping grains, and just using a can of dark malt extract, a couple pounds of blackberries, and an ounce of Mt. Hood hops on the boil, with another .5oz of the hops @ 45 minutes and the last of it @ 55 minutes. Used Pacific Ale yeast. Also have some boysenberry extract on hand in case the berry is too underwhelming at bottling time.

Falselogic
10-12-2010, 09:33 PM
and I was very excited until I sat down to read the instructions and then it got scary...

mashing in, wort, mashing out, hot break....

This sounds complicated... Also I'm now paranoid about cleanliness...

I'm still excited about this just wishing I knew someone around here who'd done it a time or two before to be there to help out if necessary.

nunix
10-12-2010, 09:41 PM
Cleanliness paranoia strikes everyone, but honestly it's pretty forgiving in my experience.

Beer is basically like making soup, and then cooling that soup down and putting it into another container with some water.

1) Boil ingredients for 60 minutes. Add hops at certain intervals if you're using them.
2) Put the pot with the wort (beer soup) into a big sink of ice, to cool it down to 80 degrees or so.
3) Put some water in your fermenter (carboy; glass jug)
4) Put the wort in the fermenter.
5) Shake it all up.
6) Add yeast.
7) Add the cork/stopper and the airlock and then stash it somewhere temperature-stable and dark for 10-14 days.

There's a couple other things when you're using grains but I don't remember how simple that kit is, so there might be a little bit more.

You must know SOMEONE that's done it before. If you don't, one possibility would be setting up a webcam or something, and one of us could walk you through it as you do it.

EDIT: Also, when you make 5-gallon batches, it's helpful to have someone else there to help get it into the carboy, so that one person can pour from the pot and one person can hold the strainer and funnel. But since you have the 1-gallon kit, you should be fine to do everything on your own I think. Might want to practice to make sure you can finagle everything.

fumner
10-12-2010, 10:14 PM
Basically, what nunix said. Cleanliness is important but it's not something to stress out about. You can make small errors and still turn out a great beer so long as you use non-expired yeast and follow the kit's directions. I've probably brewed more than fifty batches now, and there have certainly been times I've carelessly contaminated my wort. I've never had an infected batch of beer. It's just so unlikely for bacteria or wild yeast to thrive considering the huge head-start the brewing yeast has on the fermentation. It's all about minimizing risk - thorough cleaning is just cheap insurance.

Anyways, Falselogic, welcome to the club! If you have specific questions, feel free to ask here and I'll try my best to help.

Daikaiju
10-12-2010, 11:01 PM
Yeah you can relax FL. There's a reason beer was preferred over water in olden days...

Patrick
10-13-2010, 10:01 AM
It all seems pretty intimidating until you've done it. Like nunix said, it's just heating up, cooling down and adding things at certain times, then storing it. I generally clean everything before hand with some no-rinse steralizer, then have a bucket or pot with some sterilizer standing by during the process so that I can dip my hands or any equipment in it if I need to.

It is a good idea to have a second person there when you do it, just so thatyou can both check directions and help with pouring or moving liquids.

Ted
10-14-2010, 03:13 PM
Sounds like you're in for a world of fun, Falselogic! For what it's worth, I've only brewed cider because I've never developed a taste for beer, so all the extra steps for beer brewing sound intimidating to me, too.

Here's my keep-it-simple, keep-it-cheap method for brewing up a tasty gallon of flat cider (disclaimer, I've only brewed three 1-gallon batches to date, but everything's been good thus far). This results in a flat Strongbow; at least it does to my tastebuds:

Supplies:

No-rinse sanitizer
Hydrometer
Food-grade siphon tube
1-gallon container

Ingredients:

A 1 gallon jug of pasteurized apple juice with no preservatives (ascorbic acid is okay, though)
Brewing or champagne yeast (Danstar Nottingham is what I've used to date)
Yeast nutrient


Steps:

Sanitize all equipment per instructions. Bonus: the jug of juice has already been sanitized by the friendly juice company
Warm up the juice to around 86F/30C by bathing the jug in hot water
Note the specific gravity of juice with hydrometer
Add yeast nutrient directly to the jug of juice
Pitch the yeast directly into the jug
Loosely replace the cap on the jug
Proudly place the jug on the kitchen counter. Avoid sunlight and heat. Muster up lots of patience
Note with glee when bubbles appear anywhere from Day 2 to Day 4
Allow bubbling to mesmerize for another 5 - 7 days or so
Measure specific gravity with the hydrometer
When fermentation is done, per hydrometer reading, siphon the good stuff into another container and park it in the fridge
When chilled, serve and enjoy. Back-sweeten with regular juice to taste on a glass-by-glass basis


Important notes:


This is basically the "science" part of cider brewing and is completely devoid of craft. Flat, unfinished cider is good enough for me right now
I wasn't specific on actual measurements of yeast and yeast nutrient because it can vary, and this was all top-of-head
You can go with unpasteurized juice if you throw in Campden tablets. An extra step is needed to release the resulting sulphur
Again, this method reeks of rank amateurism, but it appeals so much to my minimalist ways that my 2-gal fermentation bucket and vapor lock have stayed in the cupboard
Apparently, this isn't limited to just apple juice. You could even go so far as to ferment prune juice, which is called plum jerkum. Just don't come running to me if you self-inflict a bad case of the drunken shatz.

nunix
10-14-2010, 07:29 PM
I'll have to give that a shot! I tried one cider batch so far and it wound up more as a kind of vinegar-wine and was basically terrible. I used an English cider yeast and Simply Apple juice, so I don't know what went wrong.

Ted
10-15-2010, 07:16 AM
I'll have to give that a shot! I tried one cider batch so far and it wound up more as a kind of vinegar-wine and was basically terrible. I used an English cider yeast and Simply Apple juice, so I don't know what went wrong.

Cool; I thought there would be a few people interested in a little side project while their main rigs are brewing beer!

Bummers about your first attempt, nunix. It's possible that the yeast stalled during fermentation and then the batch became dominated by the acetobacter that was already in the apple juice. Acetobacter + oxygen + ethanol = vinegar.

Best of luck with attempt #2!

Falselogic
10-15-2010, 10:05 AM
So how do you make carbonated cider?

Ted
10-15-2010, 11:04 AM
It's the same process as with beer: either bottle it or force carbonate it in a keg.

I haven't invested in bottling equipment, so I drink 'er flat. I have to be careful with this approach, though: without the tingle it's easy for me to drink it too fast. *hic*

nunix
10-18-2010, 01:17 PM
I'm annoyed that, via metafilter today (http://www.metafilter.com/96779/Really-Really-Old-Style), I came across this recipe for Sumerian-ish beer (http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/17-brewing-history/145-archaeobeer). Tough part is that it ferments at 70-80, which would've been great a month ago when it was still too warm here to get that 66-68 temp. So now I've gotta wait a year!

Not the end of the world, I've got my next couple of batches planned (which will probably last until summer, anyway), but still!

ThornGhost
10-18-2010, 03:05 PM
It's bizarre, I was thinking just today I'd like to try brewing some hard cider. Been looking up recipes online and came here to post, but I see a discussion has already started.

I'm going to check out some local orchards and see if they sell non-pasteurized cider to begin with.

Ted
10-18-2010, 04:07 PM
So now I've gotta wait a year!

That is annoying. A year's a long time to wait!

I'm going to check out some local orchards and see if they sell non-pasteurized cider to begin with.

Best of luck! 'Tis the season, but the only unpasteurized juice around my parts has been via the friendly, local homebrew supply company. I even went to one orchard only to find out that they had used preservatives in their current crop stuff. Kind of frustrating. Fortunately I've got a couple gallons of prime juice in the freezer. But it probably won't be long before this poem (http://connect.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=144775758882003&topic=225) takes on a more personal meaning.

nunix
10-18-2010, 05:46 PM
That is annoying. A year's a long time to wait!

To be fair, I could just keep the door closed and the heat vent open, but I also kinda like just letting it fall to seasonal temperatures; keepin' with that natural rhythm.

Something I recalled from my cider attempt: while it was fermenting, it smelled foul. Like, sulfurous foul. Is that normal? I thought it was just due to the yeast strain I picked, but I'm wondering if that has to do with the vinegar that resulted.

Ted
10-19-2010, 06:27 AM
...keepin' with that natural rhythm.

I hear that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLrTPrp-fW8)!

Something I recalled from my cider attempt: while it was fermenting, it smelled foul. Like, sulfurous foul. Is that normal

Yuck! A foul sulfur smell is not normal in my experience with pasteurized juice, and it might not even be normal for vinegar. Mine have always had a heavenly bouquet of over-ripe apple goodness. My guess is that your batch got infected somehow and the yeast took a back seat. Did you happen to notice the consistency as you were dumping it? I've heard infected batches can get kind of streaky/snotty. Blech!

nunix
10-31-2010, 10:51 PM
Bottled my blackberry ale this week, and the berry flavour seemed a little light so I went ahead and added half an ounce of the boysenberry extract I had picked up. I think it was still too much, though, so I think this is the last time I try using an extract. Better to just go overboard during brewing and/or fermenting with whatever non-standard stuff you're using.

Has a great black cherry-ish color, though, so that's cool.

Ted
01-10-2011, 07:21 AM
The cider was gettin' low, so I warmed up another gallon of juice and pitched some wine yeast (Red Star Premier Cuvee (http://www.greatfermentations.com/Red-Star-Premier-Cuvee-Dry-Yeast/productinfo/3435/)) last night. This morning I awoke to find some decent effervescence in the jug. Nothing better than the faint sound of Rice Krispies on the kitchen counter!

Falselogic
01-17-2011, 10:33 PM
I brewed my beer today! Right now it's sitting in the dark where it will vent of some gas before I cap it for the next two weeks.

Things I learned (so far): I really should have two very large soup pots, instead of one. I should invest in a finer strainer. It is hard to keep your mash between 144 -152 degrees Fahrenheit. (I'm hoping occasional spikes into the low 160s doesn't ruin things.) I don't yet if I was anal or not anal enough about sterilizing everything... We'll find out soon enough...

Anyway to tell in the next two weeks if things are, or are not working?

fumner
01-17-2011, 11:30 PM
It is hard to keep your mash between 144 -152 degrees Fahrenheit. (I'm hoping occasional spikes into the low 160s doesn't ruin things.)


Check out the graph and chart on this page. (http://www.realbeer.com/jjpalmer/ch14.html) You should notice that alpha amylase is functional all the way up to 167; meaning you're still getting sugar conversion even in the lower 160s. It seems like @ 144-152, the mash temps you wanted coincide more with beta amylase. This means that your final product might be a bit sweeter and less alcoholic than what you wanted, but at least you've definitely got stuff for the yeast to ferment.


Anyway to tell in the next two weeks if things are, or are not working?

There are two easy ways:

1) Keep an eye on it. In the next few days you should see the yeast really kick into action. There will be a krausen that forms (it usually looks kinda like a foamy head on a beer, but with brown clumps on it). Other signs are if there are visible bubbles forming, or if your airlock is burping out CO2. But sometimes you see nothing at all, so...

2) Take gravity readings. This is the definitive method to determine if a fermentation has taken place. It is good practice to take gravity readings when you collect all the wort for the boil, after the boil (this is the starting gravity of your beer), and when you think fermentation is complete. This last gravity reading is critical, because it tells you when the yeast are completely done. What you should do is: when you think you're done, be patient a bit longer and check the gravity again three days later. If the gravity is the same? You're done! If not? Check again in three more days.

Waiting is the hardest part. Also, congrats on the first beer!

Ted
01-18-2011, 09:28 AM
I brewed my beer today!

Congratulations man! Yeah, the waiting... it can be a bit soul-consuming the first time out.

My latest cider batch wrapped up fermentation a couple of days ago and the wine yeast left things pretty tasty! I might have to look into actually bottling my next gallon to get that scintillating tingle.

Falselogic
01-23-2011, 12:00 PM
So while my beer definitely vented gases it wasn't so much that bubbles and beer were popping out. Is this normal or not?

man, this waiting has got me paranoid.

nunix
01-23-2011, 12:17 PM
So while my beer definitely vented gases it wasn't so much that bubbles and beer were popping out. Is this normal or not?

man, this waiting has got me paranoid.

Probably! Tough to say more without a picture to go by, but the only thing that should be coming out of the airlock is gas, so that seems fine.

Ted
01-23-2011, 01:14 PM
man, this waiting has got me paranoid.

Ah, there's nothing quite like your first time. http://www.gamespite.net/talkingtime/images/icons/icon7.gif

Yeah, you're probably not going to get any explosive, vigorous bubbling. My first time out I didn't even have noticeable bubbling in the airlock, but the common thread in all of my brew sessions has been a faint Rice Krispies sound.

If you're getting super-paranoid, the definitive status check is a hydrometer reading. But, you could also draw a sample and take a little sniff and swig. If it doesn't smell/taste bad, you're probably okay.

You might want to hop over to http://www.homebrewtalk.com/, too. They've got lots of stories of first-time brewing experiences and I found the advice reassuring.

Ted
01-28-2011, 11:14 AM
man, this waiting has got me paranoid.

So how goes the brewin', FL?

Falselogic
01-28-2011, 11:15 AM
So how goes the brewin', FL?

I've got another week until I bottle it and then two more weeks before I drink it.

I'll post a pic of what it looks like now in the Carboy and you guys can tell me if things are bad or good. I'm somewhat troubled because I never hear the airlock make any noise and someone here said it made a rice krispy sound for them...

Ted
01-28-2011, 01:35 PM
I'm somewhat troubled because I never hear the airlock make any noise and someone here said it made a rice krispy sound for them...

Hmm, the general Rice Krispies sound comes from the jug/bucket itself for me. I didn't get so much as a peep out of the airlock (not that I've used it lately since I cheat by brewing my cider in the very same apple juice jug). Did you take a quick taste test or a hydrometer reading?

nunix
01-28-2011, 02:37 PM
There won't be any real noise after the first couple of days, and there might not be much even then. You're probably fine.

Falselogic
01-28-2011, 03:10 PM
Hmm, the general Rice Krispies sound comes from the jug/bucket itself for me. I didn't get so much as a peep out of the airlock (not that I've used it lately since I cheat by brewing my cider in the very same apple juice jug). Did you take a quick taste test or a hydrometer reading?

Nah I havent done a taste test (guess I should) and I dont own a hydrometer (time to get one?)

Ted
01-28-2011, 04:08 PM
Nah I havent done a taste test (guess I should) and I dont own a hydrometer (time to get one?)

It's been a while since I've reviewed the steps for bottling (I need to get to this step some day), so this is top-of-head:

My understanding is that you really want to have a good handle on the specific gravity of the situation (harhar) at bottling time. The thinking is that you'll be adding a bit more sugar to the mix just before bottling so that the latent yeast can do their stuff, right? If initial fermentation isn't complete before bottling (as verified by hydrometer), you could get too much sugar in the bottles, and too much sugar = too much CO2 = bottle bombs.

Hopefully someone with actual bottling experience will check me on this.

tldr: If you think you're nervous now, just wait until bottle-bomb paranoia sets in. A hydrometer will prevent such woes and worries.

Ethan
01-29-2011, 07:53 PM
Yes, you add more sugar, and it's better to do that by boiling a small batch of sugar water and mixing that with the unbottled beer in one solid batch (as opposed to sugaring each bottle individually, which is more likely to cause problems). All the brewing books and resources should have a guideline for how much sugar and water to boil depending on beer style.

Or you can buy the little sugar pellets that are specifically meant for bottle priming. I think they're called PrimeTabs. You will have more control over your degree of carbonation if you do your own mixture, though.

nunix
01-29-2011, 08:14 PM
Strider, are you still watching this thread? I'm going to make an attempt at Rakeesh's Righteous Rye next week; got any thoughts on a recipe? I'm going to go for as strong a rye as I can, probably some dark malt extract + at least a pound of rye (I don't have the setup to malt rye myself for a 100% batch). Any other grains or additions that might give it that paladin punch?

My last fake-it recipe turned out pretty good, so I'm confident...

StriderDL
02-01-2011, 07:05 AM
Oh, hey!

I don't rightly have a suggestion for you, as my first (and last) tango with rye came out botched. I was going for a rye pale ale, so I think I used amber and golden extract and a pound of rye. The only thing you might want to consider is the yeast you're using. I think I ended up using White Labs' West Coast Ale yeast because I wanted a Sierra Nevada-y bite, but again, that batch didn't work out. Oh, and I think Wilamette hops for both bittering and flavoring. I don't know off-hand. Try dredging up some recipes on the internets to consider your goal. Do you want a darker brown ale? A pale ale like I tried. A raspberry lambic with rye compliments? please god no

Falselogic
02-04-2011, 01:44 PM
Uh oh! I'm supposed to bottle my beer this weekend but my caps and capper have yet to show up...

How bad is it if it sits a day or two longer in the carboy.

StriderDL
02-04-2011, 01:47 PM
Uh oh! I'm supposed to bottle my beer this weekend but my caps and capper have yet to show up...

How bad is it if it sits a day or two longer in the carboy.

It'll be fine. The timing is just a loose guideline.

Falselogic
02-04-2011, 01:48 PM
It'll be fine. The timing is just a loose guideline.

Thanks that is a relief.

Falselogic
02-07-2011, 10:11 PM
Bottled the beer tonight. That cane and hose and suction thing was a real bitch to get the hang of...

But I finally did and I got 8 beers out of it. 9 if I hadn't broke a bottle while trying to cap it.

tasted the beer and it seemed fine if a tad bitter. Used dissolved honet for yeast feed. I'll tell you how it tastes in two weeks.

Ted
02-08-2011, 09:13 AM
Congrats on the bottling! Now I can ask you for advice when I finally get around to trying it myself. :)

StriderDL
02-08-2011, 09:46 AM
Bottling isn't that difficult, just tedious. Sanitize all your bottles then fill-cap-fill-cap-fill-cap-fill-cap. It's better if you have a buddy, set up a little assembly line.

Wait. Did you bottle right from your secondary, FL?

Falselogic
02-08-2011, 09:47 AM
Bottling isn't that difficult, just tedious. Sanitize all your bottles then fill-cap-fill-cap-fill-cap-fill-cap. It's better if you have a buddy, set up a little assembly line.

Wait. Did you bottle right from your secondary, FL?

What's a secondary? The instructions I had called for me to siphon the beer out of the carboy into a sanitized pot that had dissolved honey in to it and then to siphon from that into the bottles.

Ted
02-08-2011, 09:54 AM
If I understand my brewing lore, a "secondary" is your vessel of choice for carrying out secondary fermentation (http://www.homebrewing.com/articles/secondary-fermentation.php).

StriderDL
02-08-2011, 10:59 AM
Ohhh that's right, you got a gallon kit, if I remember correctly. I don't think those come with a secondary fermenter.

After a week of fermenting in your primary fermenter, you can transfer the beer to a secondary fermenter and leave behind all the yeast-waste and stuff that has settled to the bottom. Essentially it allows you to decant your beer for more clarity and less yeasty taste.

I was just wondering if you were going right from the fermenter into your bottles, because siphoning is difficult enough as it is without having to worry about sucking up the crud. But no worries you're doing it right!

nunix
02-09-2011, 02:05 PM
Can someone talk about the different sorts of extracts? I've only used dark extracts so far, and I thought that the ambers and lights were specifically for lager-type beers.. but then I realised that's probably not necessarily true. Can you use any color extract for any kind of beer?

Calorie Mate
02-09-2011, 03:42 PM
I keep thinking about doing this.

Ted
02-09-2011, 04:56 PM
You mean you're not? And here I was thinking you were cool all this time. Just kidding. You should totally give it a shot!

StriderDL
02-10-2011, 06:13 AM
Can someone talk about the different sorts of extracts? I've only used dark extracts so far, and I thought that the ambers and lights were specifically for lager-type beers.. but then I realised that's probably not necessarily true. Can you use any color extract for any kind of beer?

You are more or less on the right track. The darker the extract, the 'heavier' your end product is going to be. Each extract is using a different type of malt, so each is going to impart a slightly different chracter to the beer, whether it be body, roasty flavor, notes of rye (if you get one with rye in it of course), etc. You're not going to make a stout with light malt extract, for example. It just won't have the same body or flavor profile.

At the same time, there's stuff like black lagers, that you need to use a darker malt to achieve. Although you are still going to want to use some lighter stuff to keep the body lighter. Maybe light malt extract with some specialty grains for color/flavor....hmmmm. Oh, the combinations...the beer!

I keep thinking about doing this.

You should.

fumner
02-10-2011, 11:51 PM
Can you use any color extract for any kind of beer?

No, not technically. You can use light extracts to make dark beers, but you can't use dark extracts to make light beers.

I mostly brew all-grain, but when I'm lazy and want to save a couple hours of work I'll return to extract brewing. I've brewed many dark beers using just pale extract and steeping with crystal malts and some roasted malts (chocolate, black patent, whatever). The results are always great.

I'd recommend against using dark extracts if you want to get into designing your own beer recipes. When you're using dark extracts, you're stuck with the flavor profile given. You can add things, but you can't subtract. For example, if the dark extract you use is too roasty and you actually want a sweeter dark beer? You're pretty much out of luck. However, when you start with a pale malt extract, you get to decide the ratios of specialty grains to add. If the final beer has too much roast? It's because the recipe you created used too much roasted grain, and for future recipes you can use this information to fine-tune a beer that's perfect for you.

My favorite brewing book, Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer uses the "light malt extract plus steeping grains" method for all if its recipes... including heavy hitters like Imperial Stouts. There's really no reason to use dark malt extracts other than for convenience.

Ethan
02-11-2011, 01:42 AM
Guys, I want to brew again so bad. Besides loved ones, making and drinking delicious beer are what I miss most about leaving the States. Every time I click on this thread I'm filled with yearning.

Calorie Mate
02-16-2011, 11:42 AM
So I started reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing yesterday. This sounds fairly easy, and fun!


Now I need to go figure out how much the initial set up is going to cost me.

Falselogic
02-16-2011, 11:58 AM
So I started reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing yesterday. This sounds fairly easy, and fun!


Now I need to go figure out how much the initial set up is going to cost me.

$50 bucks? If that. There's a store in Berkeley that sells starter kits.

nunix
02-16-2011, 12:10 PM
So I started reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing yesterday. This sounds fairly easy, and fun!

It is. I think I outlined it up there somewhere? It's basically just cooking soup and then cooling and then stashing.

Now I need to go figure out how much the initial set up is going to cost me.

Go on craigslist and look for used gear. As many people start homebrewing as decide they no longer have the time/energy/interest, so you might as well save some bucks. For 5 gallon batches (the majority of homebrew recipes) you need:

brewing and fermenting
* a large pot for brewing in (4-5 gallon), preferably with a heavy glass lid
* a fermenter (a 5- or 6.5 gallon glass carboy is best)
* a stopper or cap for the carboy with a hole in it
* an airlock (fits in the hole in the stopper/cap, lets CO2 out)
* a large funnel (for moving the fresh beer into the carboy)
* a large strainer that fits comfortably in the funnel (to catch the hops)
* a cool, dark place to stash the carboy for 7-14 days while it does its thing

bottling
* bottles
* bottle caps or stoppers, as appropriate
* bottle capper (if using caps)
* a large plastic bucket that can hold all the beer (specialty buckets with spigot is easiest)
* a length of tubing (you need to siphon the beer from the carboy into the bucket)
* somewhere to store 5 gallons of bottled beer (depending on the bottles you use, it won't all fit in a fridge.. unless you have a dedicated beer fridge)

other
* a large brush for cleaning the carboy
* long thin brush for cleaning siphon and blowoff tubes
* sanitiser (bleach works, or StarSan is also popular)
* a place to store all this crap when you're not using it

Total used: <$75? Maybe <$50 if you find good deals. Ingredients are going to run you ~$30-40 each time.

Bottles come in many sizes. You can do the normal 12 oz bottles, buy a bottle capper and caps, and do that, or buy 22 oz bottles which work exactly like the 12 oz bottles, or buy 1 L bottles which have nice reusable flip-top stopper-cork dealies, or buy growlers which are half-gallon jugs with (typically) a screw-on cap, or mix and match. Homebrew recipes state how many gallons they make, so just do some math to figure out how many bottles you need for a particular batch.

I think that would be everything you need to get started doing just extract brewing. If you want to add fresh grains, you'll need a second pot, probably 3-4 gallon size, and a grain bag. Somewhere down the road, if you get serious about it, you'll want a second carboy. If that's all a little daunting you can buy one gallon starter kits like Falselogic mentions. Even better would be if you knew someone local who did homebrewing, and go and assist on both brewing and bottling days, so you don't go into it alone and cold, screaming like the day you were birth-ed.

Ethan
02-16-2011, 12:23 PM
One of my favorite phases of assembling my brew kit was collecting bottles.

I just bought a lot of six packs.

StriderDL
02-16-2011, 01:04 PM
One of my favorite phases of assembling my brew kit was collecting bottles.

I just bought a lot of six packs.

Yes. One should never buy bottles. I've found that between me and my friends I have more than enough bottles (12 oz. or otherwise) to bottle 5 gallons of beer (which amounts to 48-52 12oz. botles, for reference).

I'm leery of using growlers. I get the feeling like I'd never be able to apply enough pressure to really keep it sealed. But then again I've never done it, so who knows.

Falselogic
02-16-2011, 01:06 PM
On the bottle collecting front just make sure they're not screw tops! I wasn't paying much attention when I collected mine and ended up snapping the top off of a bottle when trying to cap it...

Lost some good beer that day my friends...

nunix
02-16-2011, 05:05 PM
I've had to buy bottles because 1) I just don't drink that much beer (couple pints a week on average), 2) most of my beer intake at this point is either pubs or homebrew, so there aren't a lot of new bottles coming in, and 3) sometimes bottles get given away. Also 4) because I really like the litre bottles and their handy flip-tops. ;P Bottles are really very cheap to buy, also, so it's not a big deal.

My growlers have screw-on plastic caps, like a milk jug, but wider and made of a heavier-duty plastic. Haven't seem to have had any trouble keeping the pressure in.

Another alternative: mason jars. One of the local brewpub chains here in PDX sells their beer in them (you can also get it in regular bottles, but whatever). The problem with mason jars is that they don't seem to travel as well, for some reason; you'd want to open them and release the built-up pressure, and preferably refridgerate, before taking them anywhere.

Calorie Mate
02-17-2011, 11:23 AM
So can you drink the beer from the bottles? I thought I read that it's best to transfer to a glass because of yeasty sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which is kind of disappointing.

Ethan
02-17-2011, 11:31 AM
All beer is much better from a glass. A good deal of the flavor of a beer comes from the aroma, and the bottle makes it very hard to smell a beer as you drink it.

MCBanjoMike
02-17-2011, 03:23 PM
I know of precisely one beer that I prefer to drink from the bottle, an incredibly strong IPA called Corne du Diable. It packs such a punch that it's almost overwhelming when you have it from a glass (even worse if it's on tap!), but drinking from a bottle calms it down a notch and makes it pretty good. This is actually convenient, because there are some music festivals that I go to where they sell this beer, and it can be hard to find a glass to drink from in those circumstances.

When I go to other peoples' places and am offered beer, I always ask if I can have a glass. Good taste comes before good manners!

Calorie Mate
02-17-2011, 05:09 PM
But I feel like a cool asshole when I drink beer from a bottle!

taosterman
02-17-2011, 05:39 PM
About half of our freezer is taken up by chilled glasses for awesome beer-pouring purposes. Go alcoholism!

Calorie Mate
02-18-2011, 09:57 AM
Oh, that's another thing - what temperature do you have to store the beer at? I have a basement that probably remains between 60 and 65 degrees right now (this is likely to go up around April). Can I just stick them down there?

nunix
02-18-2011, 11:26 AM
Ales are fermented at 65-70 (66-68 is ideal). Lagers are fermented generally around.. 40 or so? Not only temperature but stable temperature is important, so just take a regular thermometer down there at several points during the day and see what it says. As long as it's not 68 during the day and 58 at night it should be okay.

Question: why am I using 7+ pounds of LME? My last batch I made, I faked it, and used only one 3.5 pound can (because.. I forgot you needed more than one). It turned out pretty okay! And that was without any extra grains, even. How much do I need/want that extra 3.5 pounds of extract?

StriderDL
02-18-2011, 11:39 AM
There are a few reasons for using more extract, or more malt in general. It will give you more of that malt's flavor in your beer, provide a bit more body, and the sugars from the malt are food for the yeast, which means more alcohol content. Triple bonus! If you like strong beers, that is.

nunix
02-19-2011, 11:06 AM
nunix beer #4, Rakeesh's Righteous Rye attempt #1

2.5 pounds of rye malt
3.5 pounds dark malt extract
3.5 pounds amber malt extract
2 oz Cascade hops
2 oz Mount Hood hops
White Labs' European Ale yeast

1.5 oz Cascade @60 minutes remaining, 1 oz Mount Hood @15 minutes remaining, 0.5 oz Cascade and 1 oz Mount Hood @5 minutes remaining.

I think I'll eventually want a much lighter-coloured ale, might need to all-grain that.

EDIT: And fermentation started within 24 hours. Always a load off my mind once that begins.

Falselogic
02-23-2011, 09:52 AM
Drank my beer last night! It turned out much better than I thought it was going to. While it did have a roasted flavor/odor to it, it wasn't unpleasant. The aftertaste of green apples was great as well. There was some sediment in the bottles but nothing smelled or tastes foul/tainted and my stomach seems fine 12 hours after the fact.

I'm definitely brewing in the future.

Pictures and what-not on my blog.

StriderDL
02-23-2011, 10:05 AM
Eh, there's nearly always going to be some sediment in the bottles. It's not bad for you. Actually, I think it's straight up vitamin B, but I may just be pulling that out of thin air.

Congrats on the successful brew!

nunix
02-23-2011, 10:15 AM
Put the airlock on this morning; glad I started with a blow-off tube, because this was a reaaaaally active batch. Papazian's book and a lot of other starters don't seem to even mention blow-off tubes, just tell you to use an airlock, but I'd have been in quite a bit of trouble (several times over) if I'd done that. -.- Now the trouble is just cleaning the little copper pipe that connects to the tube, all kindsa krausen junk built up in there, and due to the shape of the pipe it's impossible to clean the bend. I have some heavy-duty soaking stuff, though, so that should help.

Congrats, FL! You are hereby enlisted into BeerQuest, wherein we come up with names/recipe ideas for Sierra adventure game beers.

EDIT: also, the sediment is mostly dead yeast, along with random bits from the malt and grains. Won't hurt you, may have essential vitamins and minerals that make this meal part of a balanced breakfast, but most folk prefer not to drink it. There are various tricks you can do to limit the amount of sediment that makes it into the bottles, though it introduces extra steps.

Ted
02-23-2011, 11:56 AM
Rock on, Flawgic!

It's not bad for you. Actually, I think it's straight up vitamin B, but I may just be pulling that out of thin air.

Mmm, delicious Vegemite.

nunix
02-26-2011, 02:49 PM
Racked my extract-rye into secondary fermenter today. Didn't taste any but it smells great, has a nice middle-brown color. Have gotten pretty good at siphoning to the point where I don't really pull up any sediment and lose very little beer between transfers. Probably let it sit for another 10 days or so before starting to take hydrometer readings.

Next beer is probably going to be a spruce beer, once the new spruce growth starts to come in, maybe sometime in March, and then.. not sure what. Want to do another marionberry beer but those ripen in July, so have some space to fill.

Falselogic
03-03-2011, 12:08 PM
So this is weird (for me) but the beer I drank on the 2/23 tasted great. But the ones I'm drinking now (from the same batch) seem quite a bit more bitter than that first bottle.

I let the bottles sit in the same place, but after noticing the change moved them to the fridge. My assumption was that the yeast was still active and that in order to keep the taste I liked I need to kill them off with cold. I don't have any idea though as to what is really going on.

Anyone have some wisdom to drop on me?

Patrick
03-03-2011, 12:20 PM
I found a lot of variety from bottle to bottle in my batches, but they all tasted reasonably similar.

nunix
03-12-2011, 01:38 PM
I always hate bottling time. Not only is it messy and nerve-wracking, but I never really get 5 gallons of beer. It's always closer to 4. Today it was 3.7 -.- Bottling bucket sprung a leak at the spigot, I know I lost some there, but not entirely sure where all the rest went. Pretty frustrating.

Ethan
03-13-2011, 11:45 AM
I always hate bottling time. Not only is it messy and nerve-wracking, but I never really get 5 gallons of beer. It's always closer to 4. Today it was 3.7 -.- Bottling bucket sprung a leak at the spigot, I know I lost some there, but not entirely sure where all the rest went. Pretty frustrating.

Did you forget to add water to compensate for the boil-off?

nunix
03-13-2011, 10:32 PM
Did you forget to add water to compensate for the boil-off?

Well the instructions I've read all say to top off the fermenter to 5 gallons when you add the wort, which is what I do, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Between a bottle I mis-counted and the beer siphoned off for gravity testing, I'm back up to 4 gallons.. but that's still a gallon that's missing. MAYBE 1/5th of that was left in the secondary fermenter (and could've been salvaged I think, auto-siphon is pretty great for keeping out sediment), but the primary fermenter was pretty much beer-free at the end so.. yeah. Dunno.

Aquadeo
03-28-2011, 06:41 PM
I've been making kombucha (http://labville.blogspot.com/2011/02/bittersweet.html) at my condo for about a month and a half now, and I'm starting to get both a feel and a taste for it. This last batch turned out a bit vinegary, but that's not entirely out of character for its taste. Just a bit more sugar and less fermentation, and the next one will be fine.

Oddly enough, I've been using wildly different strengths of tea in the starter culture, and there's been almost no change between batches. I suspect that perhaps the main reason tea was used was simply because boiled water wouldn't carry any bacteria of its own. Regardless, there's still a different taste when I add a bad of herbal tea to the brew, so there must be some effect.

It's a good discovery, though, because I get really fussy about how long my tea steeps in a cup, and it's nice to know I don't have to worry as much here.

caviar.n.cigarettes
03-30-2011, 02:21 PM
Oooh...I am intrigued, and would greatly like to subscribe to your kombucha newsletter...I looks quite amazing.

nunix
04-16-2011, 01:19 PM
Personal brewery (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/04/the-personal-brewery-is-an-all-in-one-beer-factory/).

Daikaiju
04-20-2011, 11:59 AM
So Sprecher's Brewery is selling Root Beer concentrate. Anyone have info on home brewing soda?

nunix
04-21-2011, 10:34 AM
Making stuff at home is pretty easy, and there's a few ways to do it. A very simple way is to mix up the concentrate and some water in a 2L bottle, add some lager yeast, put the cap on, put it in the fridge. Every couple of days, open the cap to release some of the CO2 that builds up.

There are other ways (I seem to recall old relatives of mine doing something with dry ice?) but I'm not really familiar with them.

Root beer concentrate is actually pretty common, too; it's in my local hypermart, though I can't imagine that many people are making homebrew root beer so I'm not sure WHY they carry it. You can also get spruce essence (smells/tastes a bit like Pepsi) at a decent homebrew supply shop. If you're on the east coast, or dig around online, you might even be able to find birch and/or spearmint essences.

tl;dr makin' sody-poppe at home is dead simple.

Falselogic
04-21-2011, 01:54 PM
you could also just buy soda water and mix it with whatever you're using as flavor.

I do that when I make my own ginger ale.

Ted
04-21-2011, 02:41 PM
Making stuff at home is pretty easy, and there's a few ways to do it. A very simple way is to mix up the concentrate and some water in a 2L bottle, add some lager yeast, put the cap on, put it in the fridge.

Wait a minute, though. Wouldn't the wee yeasties be making alcohol? Here's your *wink wink* root beer, kiddies!

nunix
04-21-2011, 06:41 PM
gudfooht: less than 0.5%, which as far as the USDA is concerned is non-alcoholic. You're adding extract + water + sugar, and the yeast is metabolising the sugar. There's only enough in it to produce the carbonation, not enough to provide meaningful alcohol production.

falselogic: that too, but if you're making in bulk/frequency then that gets expensive and wasteful.

Ted
04-22-2011, 03:14 PM
Ah, gotcha! I was obviously overestimating the sugar content.

ultimatt
05-17-2011, 09:50 PM
You can also get spruce essence (smells/tastes a bit like Pepsi) at a decent homebrew supply shop. If you're on the east coast, or dig around online, you might even be able to find birch and/or spearmint essences.


Just stumbled on this thread.

Did you ever make the beer with spruce you were planning on? Would a beer of that kind have a slight pepsi smell/taste as well? Because that would be awesome.

nunix
05-18-2011, 07:29 PM
I never made the spruce beer. I actually was just reminded of it today (saw the new spruce tips at local hiking spot). I've read that it tastes a bit like Pepsi, and when I smelled some of the essence last time I was at the shoppe, it absolutely reminded me of Pepsi.

But I've (in the last few months) completely cut out the carbonated soft drink devils from my diet, and I figure that making cola-ish beer probably isn't the best idea for me. ;P It is awfully tempting, though.

Ted
06-09-2011, 08:06 AM
So I think I might have a beginner's mistake on my hands (not to mention a decent headache in my skull).

I pitched my yeast into a gallon of cider three days ago and the fermentation was really vigorous, petering out last night. I think I brewed too hot: the temperate in my house has ranged from 24 to 26C this week.

I racked it and took a couple test swigs last night; maybe four ounces total of the homebrew. Add that on top of having a Woodchuck and a shot of Sambuca and I have a pretty decent headache today, which is not normal. I suspect I've brewed up a bunch of fusel alcohol.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Meh, on second thought, I just need to chill for a while. The cider is probably just too green at the moment and I have a headache from having a few drinks during a very stressful time without eating a proper dinner. I'll take an 8oz drink after a week of refrigeration and see what happens.

However, sounds like 24-26C is too warm once the yeast takes off. I'll need to figure something out for next time.

nunix
06-09-2011, 08:52 PM
I think fusels mostly hit immediately, not in the hangover; we're talking headaches within half an hour of drinking homebrew (which can also happen if you have a sensitivity or allergy to the yeast or anything else in the brew). I had a mystery immediate-onset headache with a brew last year (posted in this thread!) and could never get a clear answer. Fusels were suggested, but everything I found on them said that it'd be REALLY obvious due to oily sheen on the surface + smell, which mine didn't have.

Just brewed up a kolsch. It's fermenting way warmer than I'd like, but it IS fermenting, so we'll see how it goes. First non-stout I've done.

Ted
06-10-2011, 10:28 AM
Hmm, that does sounds like a mystery. Maybe an allergy. Weird!

Thanks for the sanity check. Yeah, there were definitely no immediate woes and I didn't notice any oils. I'll chalk this one up to work being particularly sucky at the moment.

Ryonin
10-14-2011, 12:03 AM
Started my second attempt at kombucha today. We'll... see how it goes. the last one kinda ended before it started, due to fruit fly infestation. Once I get something potable, I'll set up a trap with it.

In the meantime, I'm going to start some mead soon, using this method: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/fast-cheap-mead-making.htm

Krakenbrau
10-14-2011, 12:11 AM
Man, I wanna get back into homebrewing. I never made anything really good, but I was having a lot of fun with it.

Ryonin: That mead recipe looks pretty cool, I might have to try it.

RE: Spruce beer: My dad used to make spruce beer in the Spring, with fresh spruce buds that he'd spend a day collecting. Apparently it was delicious, but I was too young to ever get a chance to try it.

Ryonin
05-14-2012, 09:05 PM
My home-brewing office lives! Took forever to get junk cleared out.

Expriment #1 was apple jack made with Martinellli's apple juice (1.5 litres) and SAF active dry yeast.
... Yes, I know, this is not the "right" way to do it. But it was an experiment.
Came out pretty dry. As in "Is this vinegar? ... No, this is what malic acid tastes like without sugar".

Started my first mead. Used 3 lbs of wildflower honey from Northern Brewer, EC1118 Lalvin yeast, and one gallon of ice mountain spring water. Just added 1/8 tsp of nutrient and energizer as the lag phase is clearly over. Bubbling happily.

06-03-2012, 12:15 AM

Update to the mead brewing effort!
I have the first and second meads in glass jugs now to finish fermenting, and a raspberry melomel (mead with fruit) going in the bucket now.

Didn't get a chance to try the first mead because it was still pretty active and full of yeast when I transferred to secondary, and tasting that would have been unfair. Transferred after one week. I needed the bucket, you see.

The second, using a less aggressive yeast, actually seems to be somewhat dry. Though it was kinda hard to tell over the harsh champagne-y yeast flavors still taking center stage.

Just looked at the melomel after fears that it was stalled, but it's bubbling happily now.

08-16-2012, 11:14 PM

The lack of other posts in this thread saddens me.

I've since gotten a raspberry melomel (fruit mead) into its secondary. Already nice and clear.

And today, I started a nut brown ale. I keep forgetting to take the gravity until after the yeast has been added. Started at 1.04 roughly. Looking forward to the end result. Gonna... gonna go check now to make sure I didn't need a blow-off tube.

Edit: Nope, doing fine. The lid was bowed out, though. Guess it's not very rigid. Airlock looks to be working, though.

Patrick
08-16-2012, 11:01 PM
I'm gonna brew on Sunday! I don't know what yet, but I'll post an update here afterwards and again once it's drinkable.

Ryonin
08-19-2012, 01:04 AM
Oh geez, the basement is just running at the bottom range of where this yeast is happy: 66 That would explain why it's no longer making the lid bow outwards.

Patrick
08-19-2012, 10:09 PM
We made a Belgian caramel wit, and added ginger and cinnamon. Everything went well, I'm looking forward to getting to taste it.

Do any of you have experience substituting honey for priming sugar?

Ryonin
08-20-2012, 09:45 PM
That does sound interesting. I hope it turns out well.

I was curious about priming with honey myself. Basic Brewing has a video mentioning it http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=basic-brewing-video-2006 Their Sept 12th 2006 video "Brewing Beer with Honey "

It would be nice to find a good source locally for honey. It would be even nicer to be able to have my own hive, but that'd be a project for a later date.

fumner
08-21-2012, 10:55 AM
We made a Belgian caramel wit, and added ginger and cinnamon. Everything went well, I'm looking forward to getting to taste it.

Do any of you have experience substituting honey for priming sugar?

Here's a calculator to help with priming with honey. (http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator/carbonation.html) Personally I would just use sucrose to prime - it's cheaper and easier. I've used honey for priming a pumpkin spiced ale and didn't notice any flavor contributions to the finished beer. But if you do give it a try, let us know how it works out.

Ryonin
08-29-2012, 01:30 PM
I was going to check the gravity last night so I could check it against one I would take today... But it's still quite foamy with a thick yeasty krausen. Not worth the time. Not like I can bottle any time soon with an active fermentation like that going. Just... just gotta be patient. Only been around two weeks...

Curious about top-cropping, since this looks pretty thick and healthy. But I don't have equipment to make a proper starter yet, so farming yeast isn't a strong option as of yet. Also I haven't tried the end result to see if I even like this yeast.

09-01-2012, 12:09 AM

Several days later, and I have realized that this is a strain specifically cultivated for top-cropping. Scooped out the yeast for rinsing and possible re-use, and took my reading. 1.02 roughly.

I really want a refractometer. Because damn if my hydrometer doesn't love to snuggle up to the sides of the test jar and screw up results. Not to mention how vague the numbers are.

09-11-2012, 10:47 PM

Bottled yesterday. Rushed the bottling process once I noticed fruit flies were showing interest in it. Hoping that racking the beer into the priming solution mixed it enough to not make half of them flat, a quarter of them perfect, and a quarter of them bottle bombs. Would have helped to have someone next to me capping as I filled.
Edit/Delete Message

11-04-2012, 12:02 AM

The nut brown is turning out great. Looking forward to seeing how it changes. It's already lost some sulfur notes I noticed after my father got impatient to try some less than a week after bottling.

Still considering what to brew for my next beer. Considering trying to make some small batch stuff. Like 2 gallons or less. Though I do have my eye on a Belgian strong ale, I still like the idea of making the clone recipe of moose drool.

Otherwise I have a gallon of honey that begs to be turned into five gallons of mead. Wildflower and cranberry, specifically. Going to be using two packets of Lalvin D-47

11-14-2012, 09:25 PM

The new mead has been happily bubbling away for a few days now. Unfortunately I missed a few nutrient additions, and put too much in in others. Hoping it doesn't adversely efect the flavors in a noticable way.

Now... Maybe a belgian double?

Ryonin
11-19-2012, 02:27 PM
Hoo... None of my mead is ready for drinking, that's for sure. The driest one of the least harsh at the moment. It all needs aging, and back-sweetening possibly. I'll probably make sure the yeast goes dormant, and then rack the raspberry melomel onto some more fruit for sweetening purposes.

StriderDL
11-20-2012, 08:29 AM
I've been monitoring the thread but not contributing since, well, I haven't been brewing! But making mead sounds like a fun and delicious way of getting a hard to find libation.

So you just throw the honey, yeast and water into a vessel and let'er rip?

Ryonin
11-20-2012, 11:21 PM
Mead is definitely easier to get going than beer initially. No need for boiling anything unless you're making a braggot (mead made using grains to suppliment the honey).

After you sanitize everything, you add the water and honey. Mix it well to get the honey evenly distributed. Preferably you will make an effort to aerate while mixing. Add yeast, and seal it up with an airlock device.

Most honeys won't have a lot of nutrients the yeast needs to thrive, so you'll want some form of nutrient. People have found, somewhat recently, that things go better if you add it a little at a time over the course of several days until the sugar consumption reaches about 50% or 5 days of additions every 12 hours. I have not been measuring sugar levels while doing this, and I suspect that might be part of why my stuff is harsh even with the yeast that's not supposed to be that aggressive.

TL;DR: Yes, just put the ingredients into the container and let'er rip.

Ryonin
03-16-2013, 09:23 PM
And~ It's time for me to nudge this thread again, as it's been roughly 72 hours since I boiled up some malted grains and started a Belgian-style ale. La Petite Orange ( "L'peti' OH-ranjsh" if you want to sound fancy and shit) from Northern Brewer.

Pitched the yeast and let it go for a few hours before realizing that the yeast likes it to be roughly ten degrees warmer than it is in my basement. No problem, let's put the heat tape (from my failed attempts at kombucha) around the outside! ... Let's put bubble wrap around that too! There we go~ 70-ish degrees and happily bubbling and producing fruity smells from the air lock.