Beer Making

glenwilson

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15 Mar 2012
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I've always loved beer and when I left school I ended up working in a brewery laboratory where a large part of the job was tasting beer which at 16 was a pretty good first job. Many of the kits make about 5 gallons of beer (about 19 litres) which is really more than is practical to make and store once bottled. So I found a beer making kit that produces 1 gallon (3.8 l) which my wife got me as a Christmas present. Yesterday was the first time I have had enough time to actually start the process. Basically it is like cooking, you just follow a recipe! Even in production breweries you have a recipe to follow. The kit I have gives you all the ingredients and equipment you need to start the first brew (excluding bottles and pots) and costs about £40.

If you don't know brewing there are basically five processes before you a get final product:

1. The Mash (first pic)- this is where you add the grains and malts to hot water and cook for 60 minutes. Temperatures are important as it affects the amount of sugar you get out of the grain and malts
2. The Sparge (second & third pic) - here you drain the grains and malt from the liquid. You then pass the liquid through the grains/malt again followed by more hot water. This ensures that all the sugars are removed. The spent grain/malt can be used as bird food.
3. The Boil (fourth pic) - the liquid (wort) is boiled for 60 minutes and during this process the hops are added at various times. Hops are there to add flavour, bitterness and also act as a preservative. Different hop varieties have different flavours and properties.
4. Fermentation (fifth pic (and yes I can see it is on it's side! :) )) - yep, once the liquid is cooled to about 21C, yeast is added and it ferments to produce the beer. This takes about two weeks.
5. Bottling - This is the final process. A little bit of sugar (honey) is added to the fermented liquid at the bottling stage as this will encourage in-bottle fermentation and carbonate the beer. In production brewing the beer is carbonated by using CO2 and the beer will also be filtered and other processes applied to it. At home though it just goes in the bottle as is! After two weeks it is ready for drinking!

Producing the fermentable liquid took about four hours and the ingredients would cost about £15 to produce about 7 500ml bottles. If you exclude the initial cost of equipment (as that will get reused) it probably works out at about £2 a bottle which is comparable to decent bottled beer here. Buying the ingredients in larger volume will help to reduce costs which I will look at once I get a few batches done. I found the process of making the beer quite relaxing apart the wife's comments about house smelling like a brewery and the mess in the kitchen! Now looking forward to bottling this batch and starting another and then tasting this one!

There are so many beer types and recipes that once I have the process sorted it should be possible to vary the recipes to suit personal tastes.
 

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Lady_Musketeer_GER

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2 May 2012
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The ability to do something new, challenging, unusual and rewarding is the basis for all hobbies.
Brewing beer, just like any other hobby, has its own intrinsic value: It’s the creative process as such that people find inherently rewarding.
On top of that, it’s a challenge as well. The challenge, however, is part of the charm. Pushing the limits of the hobby to create the perfect brew (or soap, cake, model aircraft or whatever it is that you like to handcraft) is part of the fun.
It’s not just any beer, it’s y o u r beer which you designed and created.

Hats off to you, Glen. :)
 

glenwilson

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Absolutely agree. Like many hobbies it is the fun of doing rather than the end result. The only "problem" with brewing is you don't know if you are successful until a month later! A little bit like photography used to be with film, you take a picture or two, then some more and when the film was full send it away to be developed and printed (or do it yourself), review the results and then try again to get better. Digital photography has reduced the time in which you can learn from a mistake and quite often you can review the result and try again.

Brewing is similar to cooking, you follow a recipe but a slight change in a temperature can make a difference to flavour of the cake, dessert or whatever you are making.

Playing games, for me is also like this. You try and get better (and often fail) but have fun trying!
 

Sweney

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15 Mar 2012
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That is awesome glen.my wife abd mother in law night be a nice 5 gallon beer making kit this Christmas. I week be brewing a batch in the spring because I'll be storing it in our basement for fermentation but it's a little too cold right now for that do right now I'm trying to decide on what to brew. I like lagers but I am impatient when it comes to lagering the beer in a cold spot do I'm thinking an ale first then a lager.I also want to try and make hard cider for the wifey.
 

glenwilson

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I went for the gallon size as for me it is more practical but would love to do big batches. I'm able to keep the gallon jar out of the way and in the dark and at room temp.

I'm not sure if I'll try an IPA again to see if there is a difference between batches or something different. Would be interested to see your process when you do it.
 

RIZLOID

EL Gringo
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10 Oct 2012
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Now thats a proper hobby. Ive been thinking about it but at the moment Im still at the drinking stage. :joker:
 

Steffos666

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16 Oct 2012
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Looks like fermentation has nearly completed. Bottle scheduled for Friday!
nice, we are waiting for our try this bottles now. :O
when diarrhea strikes ? No just kidding i really look forward to you saying how it is

in my area you basically drink your beer unfiltered its nothing bad just for the looks :D

lol i always wanted to have a beer exchange with you all i bet we all have good beer to share ^^ i loved danish as i was there for example :D

in the netherlands i was a bit let down cause i only found heineken and more heineken yellow water
 

glenwilson

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Beer has finished fermentation. No more bubbles appearing and yeast settling to bottom. Working today so bottling tomorrow. Expect photos of brown liquid being moved to brown bottles!
 

glenwilson

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Bottling Day (also known as racking for some reason that I cannot be bothered to Bing for)

Basically it is putting the fermented wort which is now beer into a bottle! Simples! Though the beer is now complete and in theory drinkable it should really be conditioned in the bottle. This is done by adding some additional sugar for the yeast to begin fermentation and carbonate the beer. This can be done in a couple of ways. One way is to dissolve sugar or honey into some water and then add the beer to that or to add a small amount of sugar to the bottle. I actually used the latter where you add a small candied sugar lump to each bottle. This way is a little more controlled as you can know how much you are adding.

Whilst you can syphon the beer straight to the bottle from the fermenting cask it is a bit easier to syphon it into an intermediate vessel. This just makes it more controllable to avoid getting the yeast at the bottom of the jar. Once that has been done then the beer is syphoned into a bottle (with the sugar lump) and sealed. Now I just have to wait for at least two weeks for the beer to condition and secondary fermentation to end. At that point it is drinkable.

When syphoning the beer from the jar and the bottling vessel I did manage to taste some of the beer and though not carbonated it tasted really not bad. Looking forward to tasting the final product. The process has produced 6 500ml bottles or 3L total. This a bit less than a gallon but that is due to a few syphoning mistakes but you learn as you go along.

For the next batch I will have a sparging bag - all the grain ingredients go in the bag so you don't have to use a sieve and it is easier to handle the spent grain. The used grain doesn't go to waste, we fed it to the garden birds who loved it! We do now provide a drunk tank facilitated for intoxicated birds!

The photos are:

Sterilised bottles
Fermented wort (beer)
Syphoning beer from fermenting jar
Beer into bottling vessel
Syphoning from bottling vessel
Syphoning to bottles
Filled bottles
 

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glenwilson

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Checked the bottles and all are still intact which is a good start! Have had some explosions in the past. A week in to,bottle conditioning and you can see the beer starting to clear and the yeast styling to the bottom. As we are away next weekend I'm going to leave them for three weeks before trying.
 

Sweney

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15 Mar 2012
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Nice glen did you do a secondary fermentation? I need to buy a ingredient kit soon staying to get eccited. I might brew one move it yo the secondary abd start another brew.I have sound 150 12oz bottles right now.
 

glenwilson

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Only one primary fermentation but some sugar in the bottle for a secondary fermentation to gas the beer in the bottle. I have a second brew ready to start, a grapefruit and honey beer but haven't had time to start it yet. Need to get a couple of extra bits before I start. I have got a sparring bag which should be easier to handle than using a mesh strainer. Also want to get a syphon pump, again to make things easier.

Can't start this weekend but probably the week after.

My main advice is read the instructions! Then read them again and again. I found it withwhile printing them off and then writing down the process you need to do and the times it takes to get them done. The time it will then give you a good idea as to how long it will take and roughly when you need to expect to do things. For my small batch it was nearly five hour in total from start to having the wort in the fermenter.