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    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2010
    That's the second brewing thread suddenly ending on one of my recipes. I guess I'll interpret the silence as an expression of absolute awe. That way, I can go on with my life pretending I'm not a (shudder) thread killer.

    Anyway, rummaging trough these threads made me want to brew again. I've got everything except the usual collection of empty bottles, easily taken care of, and labels. Are they hard to do? How do you attach them? And I stink at graphic design. I suspect I'd need to teach myself some of that "vector" type of stuff. Come to think of it, that might come in handy for the cover remodel challenges too. Most of the links I can turn up have instructions that look rather advanced. Maybe there's a "for hyperactive, impatient drunkard dummies" version?
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2010 edited
    Okay! After reading through this thread countless times and getting pushed by friends and family to try it out, I've picked up a copy of The Complete Joy Of Home Brewing 3rd Edition (Upon the suggestions of this thread) and all that needs to be purchased is...well...everything. I doubt any of this will come to less than $100, so I'll be waiting a good long while before I can start brewing, but I've been reading through the book and it all looks incredibly exciting. Will be making the suggested first recipe of ale (the one only made with hop-flavoured malt extract and water) just to get the hang of it and then I'll be hitting the shops looking for good ingredients to start messing around with my own stuff.

    Just wanted to say thank you to all the people that contributed to this. Really inspired me to start brewing and is INCREDIBLY informative.

    EDIT: Criminy! I forgot to ask something: are the ingredients for home brewing (the hops, the barley, the malt etc) fairly cheap?
  1.  (1517.63)
    homebrewing is a lot of fun, my lady and i have done a few batches. it's not hard to put together a decent patch but there's enough depth that you'll be learning things for years.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010
    "all that needs to be purchased is...well...everything. I doubt any of this will come to less than $100, "

    I bought a 25 litre fermenter for $20 and an airlock for $3.

    I use bottles I bought at a local reject shop for $2 each.

    That's pretty much all you need.
    • CommentAuthorMDickey
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2010
    This is pseudo-brewing, but with the onset of the warm weather, anyone have any good Sangria recipes? Or even any recommendations of wines to use?
    • CommentAuthorkaregon
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2010
    absolutely loving this thread! (thanks for the pointer oldhat)

    just acquired some beer and wine brewing kit (myself and a flat mate are a bit bored now uni has finished), and started brewing my first batch of beer today (sadly from a kit).

    i think i might have a look into fixing up some mead next time. now all i need is about a billion bottles to store it all in!!!!
    • CommentAuthorScrymgeour
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2010
    @ MDickey, most sangria recipes are fairly similar but one think ive found that makes them taste amazing is teh addition of a few cinamon sticks and some mint. Oh so good. also if you are going to put lots of fruit in it I seriously recommend using cucumber as it freshens and lifts the drink making it excellent on a hot day.
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2010
    *looks over at book on the history of moonshining*

    Meh, not worth it.

    (I do come from a long line of moonshiners though.......)
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2010 edited
    Anyone got any tips for easily findable books on the science behind the brewing - beer, specifically? I know of the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, but I don't think that's quite what I'm looking for in terms of this. Actually, fuck it, good introductory general science texts which will set me on the path of understanding the science behind brewing would be fantastic. I stopped studying science years ago (after fourth form/year ten), and I kind of regret that now.
  2.  (1517.70)
    So I've now moved on to the crudest and most basic form of home distillation.

    I brew wine for immediate consumption so I can't really be bothered leaving it for weeks or months for the sediment to settle out.

    So I take the last few litres from my fermenter, which is so full of sediment as to be undrinkable, put it in a plastic bottle and freeze it solid in my freezer.

    Then I pull it out and let it partially thaw. The alcohol melts quicker than the water and the sediment stays trapped in the water ice.

    Bingo - fortified wine.

    I only draw off a glass or so at a time.

    The nice thing is that the more often you let it thaw, the more concentrated the alcohol becomes, because the refreezing process also separates out the alcohol from the water (which freezes faster.
    • CommentAuthorMDickey
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    @Scrymgeour: Sounds great, I will give it a try! Thanks!
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2010 edited
    I started brewing in College and have brewed intermittently in the intervening years but I find it to be a worthwhile pursuit as long as you have the space to do it in. My NYC apartment doesn't have the room for it, my renovated warehouse studio in Oakland did so I brewed again when I lived out there. I can offer a few things that I have learned over the years that take some of the drudgery out of brewing so that you keep doing it for the right reasons; delicious craftbrewed beer formulated to your tastes.

    You can brew in 5 gallon food grade buckets but they will leave a flavor in the beer that you can't get rid of. I recommended skipping them entirely and just getting a couple of carboys. You can order them from and if you buy above a certain pricepoint then shipping is free, this makes sense when buying a couple of relatively heavy glass fermenters. Also, they carry a rack that lets you invert the carboy to turn it into a conical fermenter with a trap valve in the bottom. The benefit of this, you ask? You don't have to rack the carboy to remove sediment, it all drifts to the bottom in to the trap and then you just lock the valve, pull the the trap out, dump the sediment and then pop it back on. Beats the hell out of racking and moving a full carboy around and all the movement will just reintroduce the sediment in to the brew, which undoes the whole point of racking. Plus the valve comes in handy when you are bottling since it is easier to use than a racking cane and involves not having to sterilize one more thing.

    Bottling: definitely the most tedious part of brewing. I recommend either using 22oz bottles or getting yourself a used pony keg (soda keg). 5 gallons of beer will yield about 54 12oz bottles or 22 22oz bottles. Think about it, it is literally half the work and when have you ever sat down and drank one 12 oz bottle of beer? I usually have two in a go so it works out for me. Or you can learn to share.

    Mead: the perfect thing to do 20 pounds of frozen strawberries. The only drawback is the brewing time, which is more on the scale of wine than beer. Give it 6 months to a year in the carboy, depending on when it clears. When the sediment settles and it is sparkling clear, time to bottle. The temptation to drink it immediately will be overwhelming after such a long wait but it gets better as it continues to condition in the bottle for another couple of months. The solution isn't an easy one, if you have a taste for mead dedicate 6 carboys to it and do another batch every 2 months that way after a year you have a stock that will continue. My friend made a batch with raw ginger and goji berries that was frankly fucking amazing. Experiment and have fun!
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2010 edited
    Oh yeah, and rather than labeling your beer get a couple of different coloured grease pencils and mark the bottles with an X or the snowtown tag or whatever and then just keep a chart on the wall in your brew room telling you whats what. It washes off easily but is a quick and dirty way of keeping track of what you got there.
    Oh, and forget trying to bottle in half gallon growlers, you need a special piece of equipment to vacuum seal the caps on. I tried it once and unfortunately half the growlers didn't seal properly and were useless.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2010
    As I can't find a good source of mead that's remotely affordable anywhere these days, I've been thinking about brewing my own.

    Anyone tried this?
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2010
    Yeah, see above. Best bet and best result comes from buying everything but the honey from a brew store. I get mine from the farmers market by the quart and use different types for different batches. See if you can source your honey to a local apiary and it'll be pretty cheap. Try out wildflowers or buckwheat honey, massive difference in taste between the varieties.
    Get your other supplies, (yeast, clarifiers, etc...) from the local brewstore or online vendor. Go with a live yeast culture rather than activating your own, and try different types of wine and champagne yeasts to see what happens. You'll need a big ass cookpot, 5 gallons or so. Making it is dead simple, it is the wait that is murder. 6 months in the carboy, at least(!) but better if you leave it for the whole year and then bottle. Also it keeps conditioning in the bottle so it'll get better with age. Set aside one or two from every batch you make as a reserve.
    Since it is a such a time intensive practice it may make sense to do a couple of batches spread out over the year so that you get (A) a steady supply and (B) some variety. Start out with a simple recipe for the first and thens tart experimenting with fruits and such. Raspberries, strawberries, ginger, apples, or try some spices like cinnamon or clove. I dunno, whatever your tastes are. Mead predated beer and wine as a popular drink precisely because once the nasty, stinging work of extracting the honey from the hive was done then it is dead simple and relatively hard to fuck up. Have fun!
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2010
    and if you are too lazy to make Mead I recommend Ethiopian honey wine. There is a chateau in California called "Honeyrun" that makes a kick ass honey wine and you can order it direct from them.