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The Home Brew Thread

Discussion in 'Permanent Threads' started by Nettdata, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. Nettdata

    Nettdata
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    Mr. Toast

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    I recently had a PM asking about advice on how to make your own beer.

    I don't home brew, personally, so I have no idea.

    Thought it might make a good thread, though.


    FOCUS: Discuss home brewing. Do you? What's your setup? Recipes to share?

    ALT-FOCUS: Get your questions about home brewing answered here.
     
  2. Frank

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    I'm honestly shocked Nett hasn't worked in beer brewing for at least two years and won several awards for signature beer recipes.

    I'm far from an expert, but I've done a couple kits in my day and was looking to transition to making my own recipes or at the very least measuring out the grains myself instead of having it done for me. I know there are some hardcore brewers on here, anyone have a good step by step recipe I could start with just to get used to not going with a kit?

    If it matters I've only brewed stouts and porters so far, I don't know why that would matter but I figured I'd throw that out there in case brewing lighter beers had processes that are much different.
     
  3. Binary

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    Honestly, just do a google search for "<type of beer> recipe" and start poking through results. Or, you can do a search for "<specific beer> clone recipe" if you have a specific beer that you like and want to try to make.

    I recently brewed this and found it to be fantastic:
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/janets-brown-ale-partial-grain-93993/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/janets- ... ain-93993/</a>

    It is a 6-gallon recipe but I didn't realize that until I had already brewed it for my 5-gallon setup, and I don't think I would change a thing. It turned out stellar, and is only getting better as it gets older. Little higher alcohol because it's 6 gallons of grains in a 5-gallon container, but really - I'd make it again in a second.

    Both the all-grain and partial-grain versions are in that thread. I'm still doing partial-grain beers because I don't have the room or equipment for all-grain right now. Frankly, some of the beers I've made have been so good that I'm not in a hurry to switch.

    Some tips:

    - Buy Star-San sanitizer. Holy crap, is no-rinse sanitizer awesome. Make a bunch in a squirt bottle, go nuts with it, and then all you have to do is empty out the excess - no rinsing or worrying.

    - Pantyhose make fantastic filters for when you're transferring the beer out of the primary fermenter into the bottling bucket. Cheap, strong as hell, and widely available. The cashier looks at you funny but you can just give her a wink and say it makes you feel pretty.

    - Buy a scale. Just go ahead and do it up front. It's easier than guessing.

    - Don't guess about your gravity either. Buy a hydrometer. The hydrometer knows all. It will tell you if your beer is on track with the recipe, it will tell you if your beer is fermenting, and it will tell you when your beer is done fermenting. Learn to love your hydrometer. There is no other reliable way to tell if your beer is fermenting, or finished.

    - Work clean. It's not hard, just think about what you're doing. Up until the boil, it's not critical, but everything after the wort has been boiled has to be clean. With a squirt bottle of Star San, it's a cinch - just hose down everything. No smell, doesn't hurt anything, I just leave my surfaces wet with Star San.

    - Yeast starters are under-utilized by new brewers. They're so easy and virtually guarantee success. That's the biggest thing people worry about - did my yeast work? Why isn't it bubbling? Is it infected? Is there a problem? Did the yeast all die? Was it no good to start with? A starter gives you confidence that your yeast is alive to start with, and it gives you sufficient yeast to out-compete everything else in the beer.

    - Oh, yeah, and on that subject: stop worrying. No, really. Stop it. Your beer is fine. Be patient, the beer will be done when it's done. It's okay if it takes a day or two to get started. It's okay if it looks like it's still fermenting after a week. It's okay if you didn't have time to bottle it and it spends an extra week, or two weeks, or three weeks, in the fermenter. It's okay.

    RDWHAHB - Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Home Brew.

    Questions? Post 'em up.
     
  4. Frebis

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  5. Binary

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    PSA:

    Secondary fermenter is really a misnomer. Your beer should be done fermenting before you transfer it to another container. Secondary should be used for dry hopping, flavoring with fruit/oils/whatever, or for letting the beer clarify.

    Yeast are pretty efficient little guys. When you initially dump them into the wort, they happily reproduce and ferment as long as there is oxygen left (aerobic process), and stick to fermentation when there is no oxygen left (which can be an anaerobic process). When they are done fermenting all of the sugars in the beer, they start feeding on the byproducts that they produced during fermentation, thus cleaning up those byproducts out of your beer.

    The problem is that people are impatient, and they worry about yeast autolysis which is when unhealthy yeast cells die and start breaking down rather than doing what happy and healthy yeast do, which is go dormant until there is a new food source. So people tend to transfer beer to a secondary after just a few days or a week. This problem is exacerbated by rules-of-thumb like "1-2-3" which is one week in primary, two weeks in secondary, three weeks bottle conditioning. Or the frequent advice from brew shops to transfer after a week because they want you making more beer.

    Autolysis is virtually non-existent in homebrewing now that homebrewers have access to all of this great, healthy yeast - plus, you made a starter, right? What leaving the beer on the yeast cake does, is allow all of those byproducts of fermentation to be cleaned up, and it also allows more yeast and more sediment to settle out and compact itself on the bottom.

    So, let your beer finish and then give it a few days to clean up at the very least. The hydrometer will tell you when it's done - if the beer spends 3 days at the same gravity, it's done. I have stopped using a secondary entirely, I leave my beer for 3-4 weeks in primary and then bottle it. I find clarity is far more impacted by the actual boil/cooling process than by transferring to a secondary fermenter, and I only transfer to secondary when I want to get my primary open for another beer.
     
  6. lhprop1

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    I make my own wine. I'm not terribly experienced, but I know the jist of it.

    I've currently got a batch of merlot that should be ready in the next month or so.
     
  7. Burning Beard

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    I am looking to get into brewing my own beer.

    To start, I was thinking of buying the following Deluxe Starter Kit:

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.cachettedubootlegger.ca/startb.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.cachettedubootlegger.ca/startb.html</a>

    Is this everything you need to get started (excluding hops/yeast)? Are any of the extra equipment necessary?
     
  8. Binary

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    You'll need a thermometer for the brewing - I went ahead and sprang for a fairly expensive thermocouple digital thermometer with a replaceable probe. Ran me about $75 but I was sick of blowing through cheap kitchen thermometers. But in any event, you'll need some kind of thermometer.

    The auto-siphon is useful but they tend to be a little weak and sometimes break. I don't use an auto-siphon... but go ahead and use it until it breaks, then decide if the utility is worth it for you.

    Frankly, I'd see if I could snag a kit that has a 6gal glass carboy like that one, but instead of a fermenting bucket, it has a bottling bucket. That kit is expecting you to bottle out of the secondary fermenter which isn't as easy. you can ferment in the glass carboy, then transfer to the bottling bucket. The only difference between the bottling bucket and the fermenting bucket, is the bottling bucket has a hole drilled in it and a dispensing nozzle fitted - so you could do it yourself if you want.

    You'll need a bottle capper and caps (and bottles, obviously).

    You'll need a 4+ gallon pot to cook in.

    Buy a bottle of Star San instead of the powdered cleaner/sanitizer they package it with.
     
  9. Burning Beard

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    Great, thanks for the tips. I am going to pick all the stuff this weekend and get started.

    I'll post pics when I start the process for any other aspiring novices.
     
  10. lust4life

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    I haven't brewed my own in over 10 years, but I enjoyed it (the process and the end-product) when I did. Two things come to mind:

    1. Recipes vs. kits: The shop where I bought my supplies had a large recipe book, made up mostly of recipes contributed by other customers. The place also held tastings on a monthly basis, so you could sample some of the brews made by other customers and get tips and recommendations on recipes they've submitted. I found it to be a great resource.

    2. Water quality. I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned already. I found that using bottled spring water yielded much better beer. I tried a batch one time with water from the tap (which was untreated well water) and it was barely drinkable. I tried it again after we had a whole-house water filtration system installed, and while it was better, it still didn't compare to using spring water.
     
  11. LessTalk MoreStab

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    I’ve been brewing for several years. Normal brews are a mix of extract and partial mash designs, with plenty of fresh hops. currently building up the gear needed to go to full grain mash brewing. Will still do my hybrids though due to the time associated with full grain.

    The point of secondary fermentation/decanting was raised. I used to do this but haven’t for about 3 years, I get a better results putting the primary ferm in the fridge for 3-4 days before kegging, all the sediment drops out nicely. If you are bottling and want to bulk prime this is an excellent time to add your extra hops rather than doing a "secondary", simply “brew” your hops in a coffee plunger/French press for 5-8 minutes and then plunge and pour in with your sugar before decanting onto it.

    I dry hop my kegs using the insert from a teapot with cling film secured over the top, I fill it with 20grams of hops and turf it in, means every draw has a massive hop kick.

    Typical LTMS Brew:

    2kg LDME
    50g hops (typically Citra or Cascade) (approx 20g boiled 1 hour for bitterness)
    1kg pale malt (mashed 70 min) (or if being lazy 500g steeped crystal and 500g dex)
    20l of Tasmania water
    Safe Ale SA5 yeast.

    Brewed between 16-18 deg c for 7 days, rest in fridge at 4-5 deg c for 3-4.

    Makes a brilliant, crisp pale ale.

    Made many hundreds of brews, happy to help.
     
  12. Judas

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    Timely thread, just bought a starter kit with a friend and we are currently awaiting this beauty in the mail.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.amazon.com/Prime-Pacific-Stainless-Steel-Quart/dp/B0017WPY1A/ref=pd_sbs_k_3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.amazon.com/Prime-Pacific-Sta ... pd_sbs_k_3</a>

    That Star San stuff seems perfect. I will probably order that once we run out of the stuff that was intially packaged.

    Anyways, I'll post pics like I'm sure Burning Beard will once the process starts.
     
  13. fishy

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    What's the process for kegging home-brew vs. bottling? Is it a serious investment equipment wise?

    I'm assuming you'd have to sterilize the keg yourself, or buy empties that have been sterizlied. Suggestions on this? I would assume it would be to pricey to buy one online & have it shipped.

    I haven't brewed a drop of anything, but have had the bug up my ass for a while now to get started. Maybe I'll drink a 6 pack and order stuff this weekend, its how most of my hobbies usually begin.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  14. Binary

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    For bottling, you just need empties, caps, and a capper. All cheap.

    Sterilize them yourself - clean them, then hit 'em with some Star San.

    For kegging, your best bet is to find a local homebrew store because a lot of homebrew stores sell used 5 gallon soda kegs.

    Kegging is far less labor intensive than bottling (filling, capping, and wiping down 50 bottles, then cleaning up the area, for a 5 gallon batch is a bit of a pain). However, I give away a lot of my brews and frequently drink the beers slower than I brew them, so I don't keg. Bottling lets me give away lots of bottles and stash some away if I don't drink them right off.
     
  15. bewildered

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    Can anyone go into more detail about the homemade hard cider thing? Netdaddy mentioned using a glass carboy in the other thread, so that's one thing I'll need to get. Apparently making hard cider is one of the easiest alcoholic beverages to create, so I'd like to try that out first.
     
  16. fishy

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    I have a couple 5 gal kegs as well as a 1/2 bbl's from my Kegerator. The 1/2 bbl's are way too big, but if I wanted to use the 5 gal's I already have, how would I sterilize them?

    Is it easier just to buy them and not waste my time?

    What kind of equipment is needed pressurize them ? I have a spare cylinder & regulator, but is there anything else?

    My primary motivation is to save $ on my kegs, right now I'm paying around $180 for 1/2 bbl's of good beer. I'd like to be able to make a pale ale or an IPA and keg it, and bottle some other varieties I can sit on for a while.
     
  17. Binary

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    <a class="postlink" href="http://lmgtfy.com/?q=brew+hard+cider" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://lmgtfy.com/?q=brew+hard+cider</a>
     
  18. LessTalk MoreStab

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    Easiest, best and cheapest way to get started with cider and sparkling wine is with the OZTOPS linky attached.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.oztops.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.oztops.com.au/</a>

    Unfortunately not as simple as just buying a keg. You will also need:

    • Co² Gas bottle
    • Regulator
    • At least 2 kegs
    • Beer taps/gun
    • Lines
    • Fridge either custom or an old fridge tooled up (I went for a stainless steel custom job, it’s sexy)

    Cornelius kegs are the best to use, sometimes called soda kegs, they are easy to clean and when full weigh only about 22kg so are easy to handle. Also all the connections are cheaper.

    For the brewing you will also need fermenting vessel, big ass spoon, hydrometer thermometer etc, but that’s a separate story.

    Replacement cost of my total brew/keg kit would be approx $1400.

    You can get into brewing for less that $100 though, and if you use screw top PET bottles rather than glass you can even save even more on a capper and caps.

    Tip for the day, if you are using beer kits (which you shouldn’t do if you have done more than 5 brews.) Throw the yeast that comes with the kit away or use it for baking, it’s utter shit and I wouldn’t let it anywhere near my beer. Yeast is the engine that drives beer. Shit yeast in = shit beer out.

    Best Yeast = <a class="postlink" href="http://www.wyeastlab.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.wyeastlab.com/</a>

    Good Yeast = <a class="postlink" href="http://www.fermentis.com/FO/10-Home/home.asp" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.fermentis.com/FO/10-Home/home.asp</a>
     
  19. Binary

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    If you want to be thorough, buy some Star San (how many times am I going to pimp this product? I don't know, but I used to use bleach to sanitize and fuck me if that wasn't fucking miserable to rinse, AND it smells bad AND it's bad to get on your hands), and use the appropriate mixture to fill the entire keg up, let it sit for a day. There are a lot of food-grade sanitizing products, pick one and use it. Bleach will work but it stinks and you have a lot of work to rinse it all out.

    Seriously, kegs are kegs. Don't spend money on them if you already have some.

    Also, kegs are not the place to stress about sterilization. By the time your beer gets to the keg, the yeast don't have any more work to do (since you'll carbonate via pressurized CO2) and there's lots of alcohol in there to suppress growing things. You really just need the keg clean not necessarily sanitized.
     
  20. JohnnyWadd

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    I've owned a home brewing supply store (beer and wine making) for 18 years, so if anyone has a question feel free to PM or email me. I don't want to post answers in the thread, since that would look like blatant self-promotion.