Home brew / wine making

Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby iainpeden on Thu 28 Dec 2017, 5:48 pm

Given with a "this'll save you some money, dad" - I got a Woodforde's Wherry real ale kit for Christmas from my daughter. I've just got to a) work out what I need to buy (equipment wise) to make it, b) negotiate a place to make it and c) work out a timetable as I'm aiming for a dry January (some chance!) and will be away in February so it might have to wait a couple of months before production starts.
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Thu 28 Dec 2017, 8:32 pm

Depends which kit it is, the basic one or the full 'starter kit'
The full starter kit should include everything you need ( possibly with the exception of a keg or bottles to put the finished brew in ) the basic one doesn't.
It should say on the box or in the instructions what you'll need.

If the kit doesn't include them, at the very least you'll need : Something to do the main ( primary ) fermentation in, something - bottles or a proper brewing keg - to put it in afterwards ( secondary fermentation ) something to transfer it from one to the other, possibly some sugar to add to the initial brew & some to add to the bottles/keg for the secondary fermentation ( unless you like flat beer :biggrin: ) something to sterilise everything with & something to stir the initial brew with.

If you've got something like a Wilko store nearby, you should find everything you need there.
What you get depends on whether it'll be a one-off or if you plan to make more later.

Assuming it's a one-off :

Primary fermentation -- a lidded 25L or larger plastic bucket...you can use a proper fermentation bucket, or you could take the - possibly cheaper - option of using one of the large storage buckets DIY shops sell ( for paint, animal feed, etc. )....the good news is that - unlike wine - it doesn't need to be airtight for primary fermentation of beer.
You'll need to stir the mix when you first stick it in the bucket, but you shouldn't need to do so after that....they recommend using a plastic spoon, but you can get away with using a large metal one.

Secondary fermentation -- some people prefer kegs, others prefer bottles.....bottles are cheaper, in fact they could even be free if you clean & re-use old ones which have contained fizzy drinks or water. Beware of using the flimsy ones used for some still bottled water, though, as they won't withstand the pressure. You can even re-use the screw-tops, just make sure they really are screwed down tight or you'll end up with flat beer.

Cleaning -- you can get sterilising fluid specifically marketed for use in brewing....a bit of a cheat, though, is to use Miltons Fluid ( used for sterilising babies bottles, etc ) which will also do the job & has the added bonus of not needing rinsing out after use ( theoretically you can get away with just using boiling water, but that's up to the individual )

Transferring -- you can buy a proper syphon for a couple of quid....when you get it, you'll find that it's essentially a 6' length of clear flexible plastic tubing ( usually about a 4-5mm bore, so you could just go to a DIY store & buy some of that. Alternatively, if you're careful you can get away with using a plastic or glass measuring jug.....either way, you'd need to avoid stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the bucket.
What this means is that with a 23L kit you'll usually have to leave about 2L in the bottom of the fermentation bucket ( I won't mention coffee filter papers & plastic funnels :whistle: )

Sugar -- some kits need you to add sugar for the primary fermentation, others don't. If you can't see it listed as 'brewing sugar' in a shop, just look for dextrose ( it's the same thing ) although you can get away with using ordinary sugar. For secondary fermentation, you'll only need a small amount ( about a flat teaspoon-full for every 500ml )....put the sugar in the bottle before adding the beer.

Think that's about it.
You could also add a hydrometer & a thermometer - the latter's more important as the yeast only works properly between certain temperatures ( usually somewhere around 18-28C )....too hot & you could kill it, too cold & it'll take a lot longer to work.
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Brevet Cable

Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby iainpeden on Thu 28 Dec 2017, 8:45 pm

Thanks BC - I knew I just had to ask the question and you'd be on it like a whippet after a rabbit!

It's the basic kit so I suspect the concept of "money saving" may not quite work out - I'll keep you posted.
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Thu 28 Dec 2017, 9:23 pm

Sitting in work doing nothing, so it gave me something to do :lol:

Edited to add.....
All the other stuff you'll need to make it would probably come to somewhere between £10-£20.
If you buy new plastic screw-top bottles ( you'd need at least 40x 500ml ones ) that'll add another £10-£15.

So that's £20-£35 for about 20-21L beer, which still works out at under £1 per pint. :biggrin:
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby G for George on Fri 29 Dec 2017, 11:16 am

One thing I'd add, I've found that using a fermentation bin with a tap near the bottom is so much easier than a syphon. Less chance of contamination and less mess!
G for George

Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Tue 02 Jan 2018, 7:30 am

Just had a quick look.....Woodforde's Wherry doesn't need any sugar for primary fermentation.
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Tue 02 Jan 2018, 4:08 pm

The festive season's over & the first brew of the new year has just been commenced :biggrin:
Black Rock cider had a best before date of March 2018, so I thought I'd better get it going.
I splashed out on a few 20L lidded buckets, so decided to use one of them.
The kit's supposed to make 23L, but I've done it as about 15L but still used 1Kg sugar.

Instructions are pretty limited ( about a dozen lines printed on the side of the can ! ) with no mention of what the starting SG should be.
I checked mine, though, and it's about 1.065
It does list a finishing SG of 1.006 & it's supposed to be about 4.5% ABV.
If I can get anywhere near that finishing SG, mine would potentially be around 7.5% ABV :dizzy:
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 1:49 pm

Another brew with not a lot of frothing.
Just checked the SG and it's down to 1.032 ( so about 4.3% ABV )
Still tasts more like sweet apple juice than cider.
Minimalist instructions supplied say fermentation should take 10 to 16 days, so theoretically up to another fortnight to go.

Edited to add....
Tested again on Monday 8th, SG now down to just over 1.022 ( so about 5.5% ABV ) :biggrin:

Edited again to add....
Tested again on Wednesday 10th, SG now down to just over 1.014 ( so about 6.5% ABV ) :biggrin: :biggrin:
Doesn't taste like sweet apple juice any more.
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Mon 15 Jan 2018, 6:46 pm

Been a few days since I last tested it, but as it's well into the "10 to 16 days" period I just checked it.
SG is now down to 1.0 .... if correct, that works out at 8.5% ABV !! :dizzy:
It's extremely sharp ( anyone ever tried biting a crab-apple :whistle: ) and definitely has an alcoholic kick to it.
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Tue 16 Jan 2018, 5:12 pm

Thanks to the various plague-carriers at work who don't book off sick, I've been sitting here today with a wicked dose of the flu.
As honey & lemon's supposed to be good for you, I've been trying that....without the lemon & with the honey being fermented. :whistle:
After working my way through about 1L of it, it appears to be working.
The only downside is that for some strange reason it appears that someone keeps moving my keyboard around when I'm typing, or has hacked it so that it's throwing random letters up regardless of which key I hit. :dizzy:

:lol:
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Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby G for George on Wed 17 Jan 2018, 6:36 am

:lol:
Warning. This medicine can make you drowsy, talk politics and make you find unattractive people attractive. Do not operate heavy machinery after six pints. If symptoms persist, try a whisky chaser.
G for George

Re: Home brew / wine making

Postby Brevet Cable on Sat 20 Jan 2018, 3:51 pm

Well it seems to have done the trick :biggrin:

Cider - checked it again today, still 1.0 SG
Happily it's mellowed again, I'll give it a few more days to settle then look at bottling it.

Nobody else brewing anything alcoholic ?
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