Home brew / wine making

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Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 10 Oct 2017, 3:59 pm

Tested the other mead today -- SG of about 1.1 !! :shock:
That equates to a crappy ABV of around 7% :sad:

I've now bitten the bullet and added a mixture of more yeast, honey & yeast supplement to the 2 I used wine yeast in to see if that sorts things out.

Lesson learnt, I think.....despite the claim that wine yeast can be used to achieve good results, next time I'll stick to proper mead yeast.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Fri 13 Oct 2017, 7:24 pm

Youngs beer yeast.
So your hoping to 'rescue' your lower alcohol brew? At least you've got other batches that you can fall back on! I only brew one keg at a time due to limited equipment. I'm always nervous before I taste it in case it's gone off for some reason!

Re: Home brew / wine making

Fri 13 Oct 2017, 8:02 pm

Trying to rescue - or at least make more alcoholic - the 2 brews which are still well above 1.0 SG as all the bumf in my books & what I've recently read online say that mead should normally ferment down to below 1.01 SG, so 1.06 & 1.1 would appear to be too high.
That's one of the reasons I started with 5L batches, it's not so disastrous if a batch does fail.

Oh, and wild yeast......yep, my grapes have got it !
I stuck a few Kg of them through a juicer, then put it in a 2L plastic bottle & left it on the sink overnight to allow it to settle.
Came down the following morning to find the top had blown off & the juice had done a Mount Etna impression with lots of foam frothing out ! :lol:
Three days on, it's still fermenting & smelling ( and tasting ) decidedly alcoholic.
As my current batch of red wine is about due to be bottled I may try knocking up a proper batch using just the natural yeast to see what happens. :biggrin:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Sun 15 Oct 2017, 2:31 pm

Three days, you're not exactly going for an aged vintage then?

Re: Home brew / wine making

Sun 15 Oct 2017, 2:43 pm

S'alcohol, innit.....and I can always claim it's my version of Beaujolais nouveau :lol:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Fri 20 Oct 2017, 6:23 am

I'd definitely be tempted to let the wild yeasts have their wicked way with a batch if you've enough to experiment with. I've read (or watched on TV, can't remember) that some of the cloudy Somerset ciders were brewed in vats out in the open, exposed to wild yeasts, and unfortunately other unpleasant things. The barrelling process might involve fishing out insects and dead pigeons. But hey, it's extra protein I suppose :lol:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Sat 21 Oct 2017, 6:24 pm

Cider's now been bottled, 10 nice cloudy 1/2L bottles of it :biggrin:
Did a mixture -- 4 bottles 'straight', 6 with a spoonful of sugar added, which so far doesn't seem to have done anything.

Both batches of wine have now been 'stopped' & had finings added to clear them.

Mead's still bubbling away after I boosted them, so hopefully they'll get a bit stronger alcohol-wise.

Scrounged a few 19L plastic water-cooler bottles from work, now trying to decide what to use them for :lol:
Might try a bit of ale-brewing, because I've seen some Brewferm(?) 'Flemish Brown' & 'Christmas Ale' on offer ( under £7 each, as they're within 3 months of their 'best before' date ).....anyone tried them ?

Re: Home brew / wine making

Thu 26 Oct 2017, 9:28 am

Not tried them myself. But those kits have come a long way in recent years, there's some really good quality brews available now. I'm hoping to get my Christmas brew on the go this weekend or next. I'm going to attempt a mid-coloured ale from malt extract, maybe a small amount of roasted barley added in to give it that 'winter warmer' look. Think I'll stick to some traditional English hops with this one.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Thu 26 Oct 2017, 10:52 am

I'll probably give them a punt ( at that price it's worth it ) as the reviews I've seen about them give them a good write-up.

The 'Christmas' one doesn't need anything added to it ( other than water ) & the 'Flemish Brown' just needs brewing sugar & water, which suits me as I can't be bothered with all the messing around brewing up a mash etc. these days.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 31 Oct 2017, 2:45 pm

Still getting there slowly with the meads.....
The one which was 1.015 SG is now down to 1.0 ( so now up to a minimum of about 13% from the 11% it was )
The one which was only 1.1 SG is now down to 1.016 ( so now up to a minimum of 14% from the earlier 7% :up: )
The one which was 1.06 SG has gone UP to 1.08 !! Huh ?? :dunno:

All 3 have been re-fed again, let's see what that does.

Oh, and I drank the 350ml or so of samples, as usual ! :dizzy: :lol:

Red wine's now bottled......started the batch as 5L, by the time it had been tested a few times, the must filtered out & the final filtering to remove the sediment, the end result was 4 bottles ( 3L )
Definitely have to make a bigger batch next year.

White wine next to be bottled, probably do that tomorrow.

I splashed out on a Harris filter kit the other day ( on offer, damaged box :biggrin: )......so much easier for filtering out all the sediment.

Also bit the bullet and got the following beer kits as they were all on offer, at least half-price ( some dented tins, some shortish expiry dates ) :
Brewfirm 'Christmas' ( 2 of, as it only makes 7L @ 7.5% ABV ), 'Flemish Brown' ( 12L @ 6% ABV ), 'Abbey/Abdij' ( 9L @ 8% ABV ) 'Ambiorix' ( 15L @ 6.5% ABV ) and 'Pils' ( 12L to 20L @ 5% ABV )
Tempted to get an also on offer ( dented tin ) Young's 'Scottish Heavy', but that makes 23L & it's debatable how well it would work cutting the amount of water so that it only makes about 15L

Finally....to go with the beer kits, for those that need added sugar I'm contemplating getting some spraymalt ( DME ) to use instead of ordinary brewing sugar -- anyone have experience on how well it works & what sort of a difference it makes ?

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 01 Nov 2017, 9:36 am

In the middle of bottling the white wine.
Finishing SG was 0.985, so around 15% ABV........a bit above normal for a Riesling :biggrin:
Tastes nice and all.

I'm obviously a peasant, though, as I'm putting it in screw-top plastic bottles ! :lol:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Thu 02 Nov 2017, 5:39 pm

Using malt extract instead of sugar will do your brews no harm. It may affect the flavour of the brew, but if you like malty beers that's not a bad thing. Also, depending on whether you use dark or light malt, the colour might be affected. The sugars in the malt are broken down by the yeasts more easily than standard granulated sugar, not sure how it compares to the specialist brewing sugar though. Having said that, most of the recipes I've followed which use malt extract, recommend half a kilo of sugar as well. Maybe if you're brewing smaller batches, you could try one with sugar, the other with extract? But then it sounds like you're already going to be rather busy! :lol:
On another note, if you're going down the route of malt extract, you're only a couple of steps away from a genuine home brew. Ever considered sourcing some malt/hops and experimenting? Good luck!

Re: Home brew / wine making

Thu 02 Nov 2017, 7:55 pm

Having a browse through various websites, I think I've solved the reason why the SG of one of my meads has gone up.....because it's fermenting again, I should left the sample to de-gas before testing it. :facepalm:

And the original demijohns I've got....another issue sorted -- they're 5L to the brim, but filling them to 2" or so below the bottom of the bung only takes just under 4.5L, so 3L bottled makes more sense.

As for the beer kits, I'll probably do them one at a time as I've still got the meads to finish.....and besides, I've only got enough brown bottles to hold about 20L ( got plenty of wine bottles, but I'm not daft enough to use them for beer )

From what I can gather from various websites, apart from it being a lot finer than normal sugar - it's akin to powdered sweetener - brewing sugar is a different type of sugar ( dextrose, made from corn not beet/cane ) and is supposed to be broken down by the yeast more readily - so like DME - and should result in a cleaner taste & higher alcohol level than using ordinary sugar.
That said, I've seen some people suggesting using molasses sugar in beer instead of brewing sugar.

Shows how much brewing's changed since I last did it ! :lol:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 08 Nov 2017, 11:26 am

Well, it was a toss-up between starting with the 'Flemish Brown' or the 'Christmas Ale'......being the festive season, the latter won. :biggrin:
Using the 2 'Christmas Ale' kits I've got to make a 14L batch, currently mixed ( I'd forgotten how much malt extract smells :dizzy: ) and waiting for it to cool down enough to add the yeast.
Original SG's a bit higher than it's listed as being ( 1.07 as opposed to 1.065 ) but I don't know if it'll result in a stronger brew ( finishing SG is supposed to be 1.01 )
Downside is that starting it now means it won't be ready for Christmas :sad:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 08 Nov 2017, 8:48 pm

Even a stronger brew should be ready by Christmas if you start it soon. I'm doing a 5.8ish % ale, which should be about ten days in primary fermentation. I'll transfer it to a keg with some priming sugar and finings, and expect it to be ready after about 3-4 weeks. I'm usually drinking my brews within 5 weeks of mashing up. If you're bottling your beer, it should be perfectly drinkable in less time, as the lower volume of liquid should clear more quickly. Incidentally, have you ever used gelatin as finings rather than the packet stuff? It seems to work really well, really quickly. No good if you or your drinking buddies are vegetarians though!

Re: Home brew / wine making

Thu 09 Nov 2017, 8:37 am

Brewfirm's own instructions say their kits take longer to mature than ordinary brews - 6 to 8 weeks after they've finished primary fermentation, which takes about 10 days or so - and the reviews I've read say the same, with a lot of them saying that 6-8 weeks is the minimum ( something to do with them being Abbey Beers )
The Brewfirm kits don't use finings, which is possibly another reason why they take longer to make.

Never tried gelatin finings, I've always used liquid Issinglass....the only problem now is that that's getting harder to find because all the manufacturers seem to be concentrating on the powdered stuff.
Mind you, Issinglass is no good if your friends are vegetarians either, as it's a fish product.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Mon 13 Nov 2017, 3:33 pm

Two days of 'Mount Etna' style fermenting from the beer - still frothed over despite only 14L in a 19L container - then it died right down to a small amount of 'bubbling'......apparently that's normal ?
If so, shows how much things have changed, last time I brewed beer you'd get a fairly consistant ferment until it finished.

Edited to add....
Just checked the SG ( after 5 days brewing ) and it's down to 1.02, so theoretically already around 6.5% ABV

Re: Home brew / wine making

Mon 13 Nov 2017, 5:17 pm

I've always been a bit cautious to brew my own beer, mostly because I'm not very patient! But it does sound so much fun.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 14 Nov 2017, 6:53 am

I've had brews where I've had to lift the lid on the fermenting vessel even with an airlock fitted, for fear of a beer fountain, then others that don't appear to have bubbled at all. My most violent brew was a Marstons Pedigree clone. Thought my missus was going to leave me over that one!

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 14 Nov 2017, 7:01 am

morningrise wrote:I've always been a bit cautious to brew my own beer, mostly because I'm not very patient! But it does sound so much fun.

It is lots of fun! You only need to be patient once. As soon as your first brew is bottled/barrelled, start the next one while your waiting. It just means you might need to neck a few quickly if you re-use the same bottles :lol: :dizzy:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Tue 14 Nov 2017, 7:43 am

G for George wrote:I've had brews where I've had to lift the lid on the fermenting vessel even with an airlock fitted, for fear of a beer fountain, then others that don't appear to have bubbled at all.

Luckily there was plenty of airspace in the container so mine did the usual, pushed the bung out & frothed down the side.....Just as well I've got into the habit of putting the containers inside a dustbin bag :lol:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 15 Nov 2017, 11:01 am

Mead with least honey has finally finished fermenting, settled down to an SG of 1.0 ( so looks to br about 13-14% ABV ) so I'm now bottling that.

Edited to add...
just checked the SG of the ale, now down to 1.016 ( so about 7.1% ABV ) :biggrin:

Re: Home brew / wine making

Sun 19 Nov 2017, 11:02 pm

Tested the SG of the ale again earlier today -- still 1.016
Gave it a good stir, let's see what that does.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Mon 20 Nov 2017, 3:50 pm

Mead which was 1.06 SG is now 1.056 SG & doesn't look to be dropping any further, so that's only about 13% ABV.
Good news is that - as expected - it's very sweet.
Just started bottling it.

Re: Home brew / wine making

Wed 22 Nov 2017, 2:28 pm

Well, tested the SG of the ale again today, it's settled to just below 1.016 ( about 7.2% ABV )
Doesn't look to be dropping any lower, so I've bottled it -- Various samplings of it means that what started out as about 14L has finished as just over 12L ( 24 full 500ml bottles and one about 3/4 full )
Bottle-primed with a third of them using dark brewmalt, a third using light hopped spraymalt, and the other third using ordinary brewing sugar.....given the small amount used in priming, it shouldn't make any difference but I thought I'd give it a try.

Bottles are plastic screw-topped ones & being a pessimist they're inside a bin-bag inside a sealed sturdy cardboard box, just in case some of them decide to turn into 'bottle bombs' :lol:
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