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Anyone else a budding home-brewer?

I plan on making plenty of Elderberry/Flower wine this year.

I'm also eager to go into All Grain beer brewing, having had fun and success tinkering with kits.

Other than the cleaning and boy is there a lot, i enjoy the whole process of making my own booze almost as much as drinking the stuff.

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You can buy kits in Wilko, Tesco etc for between £10 and £20. You would need a 40 litre food grade bucket(about £12) in which to mix and ferment, then possibly another to Syphon into for secondary fermentation prior to bottling.

Most kits say ready to drink within 3-4 weeks. That's a lie. Will taste like shite. The longer you leave them the better they get. (Within reason)

The biggest ball ache is finding somewhere that stays roughly 20 degrees Celsius throughout fermentation. A couple of degrees either way is fine but larger jumps in temp will play havoc with it and even stop the yeast from gobbling all that lovely sugar up.

Actually the biggest ball ache is washing out all your old empty beer bottles and sterilising them and all the other kit.

Put aside half a day for the initial making it, then as much of a full day for cleaning and bottling.

It is worth it though.

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I inherited a full kit with my house so have had a few goes.  It was a big faff until I got two great tips (I would credit them if I could remember):

  • Rinse your bottles after drinking (whiich I did anyway) but sterilise them in the dishwasher on high temperature with just water - far easier than sterlising fluid.
  • (If possible) brew your beer where you're going to bottle it - then you never have to move it (by the sink in my case).

I also use an aquarium heater (rather than the belt type ones) to keep the brew at temperature and that's led to a better standard of beer.

One thing I find with the bottle conditioning is despite their saying one to two weeks I find three weeks the minimum for a really good tasting beer as opposed to something merely adequate.  And also that bitter conditions better in the high temperatures of the summer and lager in the cold of winter.

Also I use a jug to bottle rather than syphoning as I find that much easier and leads to less spillage.

My kit now:

  • Big plastic brew vessel with lid - and sterlising tablets to clean this and the limited kit before brewing
  • Big spoon / stirrer
  • Plastic jug for bottling
  • Forty beer bottles - ideally clear and very ideally with those Grolsch-type pop tops.¬† If not you need crown tops and a crown top corker.
  • Aquarium heater
  • One 40pt brew tin from Wilkos or similar (plus brewing sugar if you want the cheaper kit)
  • A big saucepan in which to pour boiled water to soften the malt before opening and pouring

It's not hard but you need the space to do it and you need to follow the timing schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

13 minutes ago, Sucralose Ray Leonard said:

You can buy kits in Wilko, Tesco etc for between £10 and £20. You would need a 40 litre food grade bucket(about £12) in which to mix and ferment, then possibly another to Syphon into for secondary fermentation prior to bottling.

Most kits say ready to drink within 3-4 weeks. That's a lie. Will taste like shite. The longer you leave them the better they get. (Within reason)

The biggest ball ache is finding somewhere that stays roughly 20 degrees Celsius throughout fermentation. A couple of degrees either way is fine but larger jumps in temp will play havoc with it and even stop the yeast from gobbling all that lovely sugar up.

Actually the biggest ball ache is washing out all your old empty beer bottles and sterilising them and all the other kit.

Put aside half a day for the initial making it, then as much of a full day for cleaning and bottling.

It is worth it though.

Wow!  I'd say an hour for brewing (though the barrel & kit sterilising form eth day before) and two hours bottling.  Which includes time for sitting down and drinking tea.

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44 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

It's something I've never done, I'd like to try though. Is there an easy and cheap way to make beer? I don't want to send lots in case I don't like it.

If you have Sloes available locally Sloe Gin is pretty much foolproof, you only need a plastic bottle, some sloes,  a bottle of cheap gin and some sugar. Ready just in time for Xmas. Good addition to beer home-brew.

 

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10 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

Wow!  I'd say an hour for brewing (though the barrel & kit sterilising form eth day before) and two hours bottling.  Which includes time for sitting down and drinking tea.

I meant it more as a case of don't book anything else in on those days that can't wait. As a beginner it will take longer to do those processes.

I do bow down to your higher knowledge though Mr Hovis :-)

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2 minutes ago, Sucralose Ray Leonard said:

I meant it more as a case of don't book anything else in on those days that can't wait. As a beginner it will take longer to do those processes.

I do bow down to your higher knowledge though Mr Hovis :-)

Maybe you drink more tea than me Ray!

I find that the more experienced brewers (I don't include myself!) mystify it into some dark esoteric art with crystal malts and mashing that make people think that it's too difficult and it puts new people off whereas it's actually far easier than cooking a meal.

The only prerequisite IMO, other than the kit, is the space to do it and also to store the kit. It was one of several hobbies that I was able to take up when I bought a (small) house as when I was renting I kept "stuff" to a minimum as I knew I'd have to move it each time.

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Thank you all, I reckon I'd enjoy it.

I was thinking of doing it in the garage but if it needs to be around 20c maybe not, unless I get one of those aquarium heaters.

Anyway, thanks for all the info and tips.

 

2 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

Maybe you drink more tea than me Ray!

I find that the more experienced brewers (I don't include myself!) mystify it into some dark esoteric art with crystal malts and mashing that make people think that it's too difficult and it puts new people off whereas it's actually far easier than cooking a meal.

The only prerequisite IMO, other than the kit, is the space to do it and also to store the kit. It was one of several hobbies that I was able to take up when I bought a (small) house as when I was renting I kept "stuff" to a minimum as I knew I'd have to move it each time.

What other hobbies did you take up Frank?

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7 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

Thank you all, I reckon I'd enjoy it.

I was thinking of doing it in the garage but if it needs to be around 20c maybe not, unless I get one of those aquarium heaters.

Anyway, thanks for all the info and tips.

 

What other hobbies did you take up Frank?

Kayaking.

Cycling.

Both of which sit nicely in my garage / workshop / bike store.

Same reasons - when I moved between rented flats I used my car and didn't want to have to move a kayak and a bike each time.

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Did loads of country wine about 20 years ago, went mad at it and brewed more than I could drink, some ridiculously too strong and brewed some batches from stuff that didnt work like apples. Elderberry was by far king of the hill and can tolerate high alc by vol.

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Ive made a few batches in the past with varying results.

My best efforts though, were when Instead of bottling the beer into bottles, I put it into a pressure barrel with a tap for the secondary fermentation, then when its ready, you just pour your pints directly from the barrel.

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5 hours ago, Frank Hovis said:

Kayaking.

Cycling.

Both of which sit nicely in my garage / workshop / bike store.

Same reasons - when I moved between rented flats I used my car and didn't want to have to move a kayak and a bike each time.

Ah, kayaking I did but never did an Eskimo (sorry, how awful of me- Inuit) Roll.

Cycling I love but my bike's been in the garage with a flat tyre since moving 2 years ago. I've been very busy but would benefit from getting it sorted, what with me being unfit and a fat cunt.

I used to move in a taxi, one or two trips. A proper taxi though, not one of those dodgy foreign private hire things. Gathering stuff now, must clear out garage again.

so much to do and I'm typing away on this all day trying to get to 200 posts..

When did you bite the bullet and buy? I was on lurking on theotherplace for 10-12 years, could (and probably should *) have bought around the start of 2005. Looked at places and offered a few derisory offers and upped one offer a bit. Did nothing else (apart from squander the money) for years, thinking it MUST be about to collapse... Didn't buy until 2015.

Edited by Carl Fimble
adding bit about buying

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19 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

Cycling I love but my bike's been in the garage with a flat tyre since moving 2 years ago. I've been very busy but would benefit from getting it sorted, what with me being unfit and a fat cunt.

 

Sling the old bike, save up a few hundred quid and keep a search out for a cheap brompton - tough as old boots, folded will fit in a suitcase so will easily fit pretty much any car, tiny storage space, perfect commuting/travelling bike and don't seem to get anywhere near as many punctures with skinny kevlar tyres. Resale value if you change your mind will be pretty much same or higher if you bought reasonably well in first place. Great for visiting new areas as park up cheap and cycle around.

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1 minute ago, onlyme said:

Sling the old bike, save up a few hundred quid and keep a search out for a cheap brompton - tough as old boots, folded will fit in a suitcase so will easily fit pretty much any car, tiny storage space, perfect commuting/travelling bike and don't seem to get anywhere near as many punctures with skinny kevlar tyres. Resell value of you change your mind will be pretty much same or higher if you bought reasonably well in first place. Great for visiting new areas as park up cheap and cycle around.

I like my bike, it's got big wheels, mudguards n disc brakes n shit.

I don't ride no Brompton! Wot do you take me for bruv?

And I've no money, my bike only needs a puncture repair though.

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I love AG brewing, but don't drink enough to justify the effort now. I certainly used to find a brew day would take me the best part of 6 hours from start to finish and I'd be bloody knackered at the end of it. Also agree with Mirror Mirror, I used to use king kegs for secondary fermentation, and although I never got much of a head on the beer, it was easy enough to cheat with a C02 canister.

Highly recommend playing with liquid yeasts as well - loads of fun and a definite improvement on the finished product.

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14 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

I like my bike, it's got big wheels, mudguards n disc brakes n shit.

I don't ride no Brompton! Wot do you take me for bruv?

And I've no money, my bike only needs a puncture repair though.

Thing is I've got other bikes like yours, really didn't use them or when I did ended up with punctures, has transformed how much I actually use a bike - frequency and when/where I can use it. Stupid things like dropping car off for MOT which is at garage out of town, sling the bike in the back, toddle off and do stuff, come back when ready. More cycling, more exercise, more use.

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1 minute ago, onlyme said:

Thing is I've got other bikes like yours, really didn't use them or when I did ended up with punctures, has transformed how much I actually use a bike - frequency and when/where I can use it. Stupid things like dropping car off for MOT which is at garage out of town, sling the bike in the back, toddle off and do stuff, come back when ready. More cycling, more exercise, more use.

Yeah, useful and well made. Handy for the uses you list, not a good look though. Not that it should matter but still.. I'll look enough of a sight sweating and swearing away, all fat on my cool bike. Let alone me like that on a wee gimpy wheeled thing with a hinge in the middle.

I'm dreadfully stylish don't you know?

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21 minutes ago, Fully Detached said:

I love AG brewing, but don't drink enough to justify the effort now. I certainly used to find a brew day would take me the best part of 6 hours from start to finish and I'd be bloody knackered at the end of it. Also agree with Mirror Mirror, I used to use king kegs for secondary fermentation, and although I never got much of a head on the beer, it was easy enough to cheat with a C02 canister.

Highly recommend playing with liquid yeasts as well - loads of fun and a definite improvement on the finished product.

Oh no, I didn't realise it would be hard work. How does it work out cost wise? I know it prob tastes better but how much a pint for all the work?

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3 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

Oh no, I didn't realise it would be hard work. How does it work out cost wise? I know it prob tastes better but how much a pint for all the work?

I seem to recall it being about 50p a pint or something like that, if you didn't count the capital cost of the equipment or the cost of the actual brew day itself (i.e. electricity for the boiler, or gas if you're using a burner). This was a few years ago so may be on the low side now.

But brewing is the classic hobby of tightwads. Yes you can go out and buy brewing equipment, but you can also trawl freecycle and ebay and if you're a bit handy you can make your own stuff without too much bother. Check out the forum at Jim's Beer Kit and you'll find loads of DIY enthusiasts doing it really cheaply.

The thing I loved more than the cost was that you can search online and find "recipes" for your favourite brews, and you'll get something surprisingly close. My second brew ever turned out to be a pretty fine approximation of Spitfire, and I also reckoned I did a better Fursty Ferret than the original.

I made a few cock ups as well, but only one of them that was undrinkable (in an "On the Busses", put you on your arse after a pint kind of way), which we used for cooking. It was reasonably safe once some of the alcohol had been boiled off :)

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7 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

Oh no, I didn't realise it would be hard work. How does it work out cost wise? I know it prob tastes better but how much a pint for all the work?

Once you take the cost of all your kit out of it, you're looking at around 40p/pint for a kit, then all grain depends on how much of the raw ingredients you buy and how big a batch you make.

All in all its stupendously cheap compared to your local, even if your local is a Sam Smith's.


Mate of mine started brewing with Malt Extract (think of it as a stepping stone up from kits to all grain) and his brews are superb. Pains me to say it too, the bastard!

 

Oh, and as much as i love the old 2 wheeled, pedal powered horse, start a fresh thread for it you set of hijacking bastards!

Hugz x

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Many years ago I had a pressure barrel. You injected CO2 into a valve in the lid and it had a float so the beer was always poured from the top where it was clear. I think it was called a King Kong barrel.

But I kept going to work with a hangover....so decided I couldn't trust myself.

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36 minutes ago, Chewing Grass said:

Tried it once and the results were rather strange to say the least, didn't use cider apples and the end result had what could only be described as a mildly offensive sulphurus finish to it.

What did you use instead of cider apples, eggs?

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