Home brew / wine making

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Re: Home brew / wine making

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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:

Re: Home brew / wine making

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!

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 02 Jan 2018, 7:30 am

Just had a quick look.....Woodforde's Wherry doesn't need any sugar for primary fermentation.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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:

Re: Home brew / wine making

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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:


Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 17 Jan 2018, 6:36 am

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.

Re: Home brew / wine making

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 ?

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 23 Jan 2018, 2:38 pm

:dunno: Hmmm.... :dunno:

About to start bottling cider, so checked the SG -- it's now down to .996 !!
By my calculations, that's about 9% ABV !! :dizzy:

( Anyone want to double-check ? Starting SG of 1.065, finishing SG of .996 .....theoretically, that's an attenuation of about 105-110%, which to me is an impossibility - it's usually somewhere around 70-80% at most )

Re: Home brew / wine making

Mon 29 Jan 2018, 5:45 pm

Just over a month since I bottled it, so decided to try another bottle of my hopped pils.
Still got a pretty short-lived head, which would appear to be one of the down-sides of bottle-priming as opposed to kegging, although it may improve with longer conditioning ( reviews of the basic kit say it gets better after several months )
Hoppy-malty aroma, very hoppy-malty taste and plenty of bite, with a lingering after-taste....I should call it 'Ninja Pils', because it jumps up & kicks you in the head when you're not expecting it ! :lol:

'Home Brew Online' currently have twin-packs of various Black Rock craft beer kits on offer ( http://www.home-brew-online.com/sale ) so I've picked up some 'Mai Bock' to try, also considering getting some Oatmeal Stout and/or Pilsner

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 31 Jan 2018, 9:27 am

Just started a batch of Mai Bock ( using 1 can for 12L )
As with some other kits, no mention of a starting SG. I've checked mine & it's just over 1.04
The finishing SG is listed, it should be 1.014 .... if that's correct, that would work out at only around 3.7% ABV, which is about half what a proper Bock is. :dunno:

Edited to add....
Several more tests of the SG still gave just over 1.042
I've added 500g of dark spraymalt & it's now up to 1.054
If it finishes at 1.014 ( I'm hoping it'll go lower ) it would be around 5.25% ABV.....still low for a Bock, but a lot better than it was.

After only a few hours it was frothing away nicely, so let's see how it does.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Fri 02 Feb 2018, 1:31 pm

After 2 days the brew's already down to 1.02 ( about 4.5% ABV ) :biggrin:

The 'Home Brew Online' offer on Black Rock kits has changed....some of them are now down to between £15-£17 for a twin-pack. :up:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Mon 12 Feb 2018, 12:44 pm

The Mai Bock brew stuck at 1.02 :sad:
After almost a week, I chucked in some fresh yeast.
Thankfully Danstar Nottingham yeast & a daily stirring of the brew have done the job & it's now down to 1.012 ( about 5.5% ABV ) :biggrin:
Despite it being 12 days since I started it, I'm going to leave it brewing a few more days to see if it drops any more.

Relatively light in colour with a very hoppy-malty taste.

I E-Mailed Black Rock regarding the lack of starting SG or potential %ABV in their instructions & received the following reply :

No we don’t have any charts but are updating instructions to provide this info in near future.

Rule of thumb - 1 can extract into 23 L = 1.022 SG = approx. 2% ABV depending on fermentation characteristics

Standard cider make-up (1 can cider + 1kg sugar) = starting SG of 1040

Maibock instruction is to make up 2 cans which would give a starting gravity of 1.042, instructions state an end SG of approx.. 1014…we believe this should be 1.008 – 1.014 which would give an alcohol of 3.7 – 4.5% ABV. On the can it states for a traditional brew use 3 cans which should give an ABV of 6.4 – 7.2% depending on fermentation.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 14 Feb 2018, 3:37 pm

Once the Mai Bock's finished, I'm looking at a bit more silliness...
Cider again.
A 13-15L batch, consisting of 2 Black Rock cider kits ( each of which is supposed to make 23L @ 4.5% ABV ) 4L apple juice ( el-cheapo Morrison's, but it's 100% juice which is what matters ) and however much water's needed to make up the 13-15L.
May even get another 4L of apple juice to go with what I've already got.
Undecided whether or not to add sugar, depends on the starting SG.
Going to use the supplied yeast, but got some Mangrove Jack's M02 cider yeast ready just in case.

I could end up with an evil drew in either sense, or possibly both ! :lol:

On the subject of yeast -- according to the bumf on the packet, the M02 yeast is supposed to be good for 12% ABV and up to 100% attenuation....so the %ABV & attenuation figures I got for my last lot of cider may not be far out.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 14 Feb 2018, 7:45 pm

I've found a load of apples in my mother's freezer that i put in there a couple of years ago and forgot about. They came from the tree at my in laws house. I had the intention of making some cider but never got round to it. I might give it a go soon.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 21 Feb 2018, 9:24 pm

Just finished bottling the Mai Bock.
The SG of 1.012 mentioned in a previous post is what it finished at, so about 5.5% ABV.

2 lots of finings & 5 days on, there was still a lot of suspended sedement....ended up running it through a medium-grade filter when bottling it but there still looks to be a fair amount of fine sedement in it -- hopefully it'll settle out. :sad:

Cider next....decided not to go totally silly ( this time :lol: ) so sticking to the original plan of combining 2 kits & 4L juice.

And I've still got a couple of red wine kits to start !
They were on offer, so going to indulge in a bit of mixing - going to make them as 50/50% batches : 1 of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot ( your typical Bordeaux style ) ; 1 of Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinot Noir

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 27 Feb 2018, 4:02 pm

I've been bemoaning the lack of good head on my home-brews.
Earlier today I opened a can of Fosters lager & poured it in my usual beer glass.....and the head was as short-lived as my home-brews :oops:
Guess beer just doesn't froth well - or stay frothed, to be more precise - in acrylic beer glasses :biggrin:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 28 Feb 2018, 9:30 am

Well, as threatened I've just started my batch of 'super cider'.
2 Black Rock Cider kits, 4L 100% apple juice, enough water to take it up to 13L.
With a little bit of sugar added, the starting SG is 1.09
The stated finishing SG for the basic kit is 1.006
If it does brew out to this, it'll be about 11% ABV :dizzy:
Initial mix is - unsurprisingly - extremely sweet.

Be interesting to see how this progresses. :biggrin:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Sun 04 Mar 2018, 4:51 pm

Checked the SG of the cider today...... 1.002 !!
That's about 11.5% ABV :dizzy: :biggrin:

Only 5 days into what should supposedly take 10-15 days to finish.
Still frothing a bit, so I wonder if it'll drop further - last batch I made finished at 1.000
Not that I'm complaining, you understand :lol:

Tastes good, not sharp or too dry ( tasted even better once I'd let the sediment in the sample settle out :oops: )

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 06 Mar 2018, 8:13 pm

Wow that's strong! With regards to a nice head, I usually keg my brews in a pressure barrel. Always get a nice, frothy head from the fermentation, then if the pressure drops I use a soda stream gas bottle to perk it up again. Even shop bought bottled ales lose their heads pretty quickly.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 06 Mar 2018, 9:44 pm

This lot's now down to 1.000 too -- about 11.8% ABV :drool:
No visible activity & very little sediment in the sample I drunk, so it looks to have finished.......going to leave it a few more days, though. :biggrin:

Good head ?
Sampled another bottle of my Christmas Ale today.....it must be Belgian, because when I started pouring it in a tall glass it was about 1" of beer and 7" of froth :lol:
Didn't last long, though, I guess that's the difference between bottle-primed & pressurised.
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