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[Homebrewing] Or how I learned to stop worrying and brew my own damn beer

minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
So I'm under the impression homebrewers can't shut up about their projects.
Ya'll like to yak on and on all about your newest brews, what wonderful combination of grains, hops, and yeasts you just used for your amazing batch that's fermenting as we speak and will be the best thing ever.

I bet you'd like us all to believe your beers all come out looking like this
landscape-1431702498-beer-glasses.jpg
But let's be honest.
They're probably more like this
10mist-3-2539.jpg

So let's hear it. What have you got fermenting in your bucket/carboy right now?
What do you have kegged and ready to go?
Or perhaps you're going the bottle conditioning route and you want your beer alive and naturally carbonated.
Are you an extract or all-grain brewer? Maybe a bit of both?

Does your bedroom/office/garage look like this?
Home-brewing-005.jpg
Have people become concerned about your "hobby"?

Share some recipes while you're at it!



Or perhaps you have no idea what terms like carboy, bottle conditioning, pitching, wort, mash, and lauter tun mean. But would like to.
If there's anything homebrewers love more than talking about their brews, it's instructing homebrewing noobs on how to properly brew.
Here are some resources to get you started as well:

http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html
http://brooklynbrewshop.com/instructions
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Joy-Homebrewing-Third/dp/0060531053

Need some equipment?
http://www.mrbeer.com/category-exec/category_id/132
https://brooklynbrewshop.com/
http://www.brooklyn-homebrew.com/
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/
http://www.northernbrewer.com/


Edit: here's an excel spreadsheet for calculating various beer numbers (real extract, abv, abw, calories per 12 oz, apparently attenuation, and real attenuation). I got the fomulas from here.

minirhyder on
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Posts

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    I'm presently thinking about giving this a go.

    It's a bit tricky, though, because I'd rather brew small batches (like, five litres at a time or so) and most of the information, equipment, and ingredients around are based on people brewing in batches of multiples of five gallons.

    I think I have rough ESB recipe planned out as a starting basis from which to tinker, so really I'd just have to start buying stuff to try it out.

  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    I do gallon batches (~3.3L) which has been working out great so far because I get to brew every two weeks or so.
    Lots of experimentation time for me so I can really get into knowing ingredients and stuff.

    You can get a gallon carboy for <$10, and all other equipment is really for any size.

    You can scale down any recipes to your batch size.
    I just divide ingredient amounts by 5 or 10 (depending on the recipe size). It's been going well so far.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Good to know.

    What has been your experience with how long ingredients keep? I'm thinking specifically of yeast (because it invariably comes in packages intended for five gallon batches) and hops, which are sold by the 100g, of which I think you'd only need like 15-25g per batch.

  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    You can store your hops in the freezer in a zip-lock bag for up to a year, I believe. They will retain their aroma, though it will degrade a bit over time.

    The yeast, I'm afraid, will die no matter what you do with it. I've tried freezing it and refrigerating it, and it's dead in a few days.
    Seems like once that air seal is broken, the yeast is only good for a few more days.

  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    Hm, so I opened my blonde ale that's been bottle conditioning for two weeks now, and it's wayy too foamy.
    Like it explodes out of the bottle foamy. Which destroys the clarity, re-suspending all that yeast at the bottom.

    Am I not giving it enough time in the primary fermenter? Or am I opening it too early and not letting it condition enough?
    It's been in the fermenter for 17 days. The FG reading was on part with the recipe (1.010).

  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    Thanks for making this thread, because I love talking about homebrewing.

    @minirhyder I have had this problem with a couple batches. So far, I haven't been able to figure out what it is. I thought it might have been some odd infection, but generally I haven't tasted any off flavors. I also thought it might be over-carbination, but I weigh out my carb sugar so... I still don't know what it is. 17 days is a little short in the fermenter. I suppose if it wasn't done completely fermenting, you could be doing some extra in the bottles that would cause that.

    As far as what I have? I've got an IPA in bottles, and my Coffee Vanilla Stout in a keg in the fridge. The stout is a test run for my wedding in May, for which I'm brewing two batches to have at the reception. I've also recently ordered a 2 tap tower for my fridge, which I'm super excited about. Right now I have to open the door and pour it with the plastic tap, but I can't wait to pour a proper beer out of a tap.

    PSN: the-K-flash
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    I've been doing this for about a year now. I have a two faucet kegerator in my basement (actually, I had that before I started brewing -- long story) and usually I have at least something on tap, but sometimes (like now) my timing gets screwed up and I'll have emptied the kegs when the beer in the fermented still needs another week or two.

    I'm doing an oak-aged IPA right now. I'm a little concerned because I haven't used oak before and I just sort of tossed the woodchips into the secondary, but they were in a sealed bag when I bought them so I think they were sanitary. I guess I'll see.

    My best beer was probably this Belgian-style dubbel that I did just before Christmas; I ended up giving a lot of it away as gifts. Then I found out that I didn't write down the recipe, the way I did for every other beer I've ever made. Still kicking myself for that one.

  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    kuhlmeye wrote: »
    @minirhyder I have had this problem with a couple batches. So far, I haven't been able to figure out what it is. I thought it might have been some odd infection, but generally I haven't tasted any off flavors. I also thought it might be over-carbination, but I weigh out my carb sugar so... I still don't know what it is. 17 days is a little short in the fermenter. I suppose if it wasn't done completely fermenting, you could be doing some extra in the bottles that would cause that.

    According to this I'm not letting it condition enough. I'll leave it for another week and see if that improves it any.
    And upon closer inspection, the ale itself wasn't very carbonated. Just a ton of foam on top of flat beer.

  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    Yeah the majority of the time, exploding foam from a bottle usually means it hasn't hit its final gravity.

    That's why I don't use bottles anymore, keg carbonating is the way to go.

    BFzWh4r.png
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    kuhlmeyeAresProphet
  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    Deadfall wrote: »
    Yeah the majority of the time, exploding foam from a bottle usually means it hasn't hit its final gravity.

    That's why I don't use bottles anymore, keg carbonating is the way to go.

    I'm on my second kegged batch, it's such an improvement over bottling. No more cleaning bottles, capping or any of that nonsense.

    PSN: the-K-flash
    Deadfall
  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    It's also easier to carry a corny keg to parties instead of 50 or so bottles.

    BFzWh4r.png
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  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    So my brown ale has been fermenting for some 14 days now. Past two days it's been looking pretty done (I know it's not). Barely any bubbles.
    I looked just now? Many bubbles again. Anyone know why that happened?

  • shadowaneshadowane Registered User regular
    Temperature change at all? Did you shake it up when you tested it?

    Rich on Beer - I talk about drinking beer. You read about it.
  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    Anyone have any recommendations for starting a kegging setup on the cheap? The cleaning and filling of 50 odd beer bottles every batch is wearisome.

    Surprise.
    - Spy
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    shadowane wrote: »
    Temperature change at all? Did you shake it up when you tested it?

    Nope to either of those. It's just been sitting put there on the windowsill, covered with a towel.

  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Anyone have any recommendations for starting a kegging setup on the cheap? The cleaning and filling of 50 odd beer bottles every batch is wearisome.

    What do you mean by "on the cheap"? I'll go through what I have:

    Keg(s): I'm using ball locks, because it's what my local place had. At this point, I'm having a hard time finding the kegs for under $50. Most local places have been upping them to 60.
    Regulator: Typically will be about 60-80 bucks, depending on what you get. I have a dual gauge regulator, which is 70 on Midwest Supplies currently
    CO2 tank: 60ish? But then refills for me are like 15 bucks.
    Lines and such
    and then you need a refrigeration technique. I have a mini-fridge I used during college that was still kicking, so that was free.

    I would say total cost of my set-up currently, if you include the fridge is maybe about 200 bucks. Overall, it is totally worth it. It takes 10 minutes to "bottle", set up the gas, and it's ready to drink in couple days. You only have to clean 1 container, as opposed to 50. Plus, I'm pretty sure you can bottle out of kegs should you decide you still want to give some away.

    PSN: the-K-flash
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Anyone have any recommendations for starting a kegging setup on the cheap? The cleaning and filling of 50 odd beer bottles every batch is wearisome.

    The high price of scrap stainless steel has set a price floor for used Corny kegs at around $60. Then you're spending another $60-$100 for a CO2 cylinder and probably another $80-100 for the regulator and lines and coupling and other incidentals. The cheap way to dispense is to get a plastic beer faucet on a line coming from the out port; this is what I use when I'm taking a keg places, it only costs a couple bucks. You could just leave the keg and CO2 tank in the fridge and open the fridge whenever you want a beer. The classy way is to have a big metal tower with stainless steel faucets and fancy tap handles and such like a bar has; that gets pricey quick.

    Used fridges get really cheap around May and June when college kids are moving out of dormrooms, so you can save some money there.

  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    Also, I forgot to add in the tap tower I recently purchased. I bought a 2 tap tower, since my fridge is luxurious enough to fit two 5gal kegs. My tower clocks in at 170, bringing my total set up to almost 400.

    It's supposed to be coming today, and I plan on installing it tomorrow.

    PSN: the-K-flash
    Deadfall
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    Do you guys have any recipes you can share with me? I need to go ingredient shopping in the near future, and I'd like to stock up on stuff for my next three batches to avoid future trips.

    I'd like to go for a stout, maybe an amber ale, and don't know what after that.
    Also I have Citra, UK Kent Golding, and Styrian Golding hops left over. So bonus points if your recipes have any of those involved.
    But I think I might experiment a bit with my third batch anyway.

  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    Purchase Radical Brewing. I have been using recipes from that book for roughly three years now.

    BFzWh4r.png
    xbl - HowYouGetAnts
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  • CincituckyCincitucky Registered User regular
    Looking forward to joining the foray of beer brewing soon, supposedly will be getting a brewkit for the birthday.

    Don't believe the kit will include one of the fancy glass carboy fermenters but it should have everything to get me started. Aren't ales typically the first type of brew everyone begins learning?

    Imagine what "cheese' could exist if someone tried to copy Velveeta.
  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    Yes, lager yeast wants colder sustained temperatures for fermentation (between 45F-60F). Ales go from 50F-to77F, which is more suited to most homebrewers setup. I ferment in a downstairs closet.

    Surprise.
    - Spy
  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    So, this weekend I installed my tap tower on the minifridge I've been using to hold my kegs. The process was actually really easy, and only took about 1.5 hours.

    So, here is the fridge I'm using. I've already marked off where I want to put the tower. I got lucky with my fridge, as there are no lines running through the top of it, so I don't risk ruining the fridge's cooling ability.
    20130302_123028.jpg

    Then, I used my drill to drill out pilot holes around my marking, and used my jigsaw to connect the dots. I also put some duct tape around the hole to cover up nasty edges.
    20130302_124044.jpg
    20130302_131359.jpg

    Drill some holes to run the mounting bolts through, and viola! Fridge with tap tower.
    20130302_133003.jpg

    Now I just need to get a proper drip tray, and more beer!

    PSN: the-K-flash
    GethTehSloth
  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Cincitucky wrote: »
    Looking forward to joining the foray of beer brewing soon, supposedly will be getting a brewkit for the birthday.

    Don't believe the kit will include one of the fancy glass carboy fermenters but it should have everything to get me started. Aren't ales typically the first type of brew everyone begins learning?

    Do not buy a glass carboy, they are capable of exploding/random disintegrating and potentially causing you extreme pain and/or blood loss. There are plastic versions called Better Bottles which work just as well and are usually somewhat cheap than the same size glass vessel.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    Under what circumstances do they explode/disintegrate?

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Glass that isn't sufficiently well made can fail either because you just subjected it to a bunch of pressure or due to thermal shock (rapid heating or cooling). Combining these two and you increase your chance of failure, although I would only expect it to happen if there's some sort of a defect in the glass. Plastics tend to be elastic enough to bend instead of shattering (unless you get it really cold, or the expansion is sufficiently rapid, or the pressure exceeds what the plastic can handle). A pressure release of some sort should handle most of these cases unless it gets clogged.

    On the downside, plastic is a bit harder to clean.

    edit: as far as disintegrating glassware goes, I have no idea. That would actually be a really neat trick, but the sort of thing I don't want to be anywhere close to. Shattering into high speed pointy fragments is definitely an option if you manage to put enough pressure on it though, which might be what was meant.

    Syrdon on
  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote: »
    Glass that isn't sufficiently well made can fail either because you just subjected it to a bunch of pressure or due to thermal shock (rapid heating or cooling). Combining these two and you increase your chance of failure, although I would only expect it to happen if there's some sort of a defect in the glass. Plastics tend to be elastic enough to bend instead of shattering (unless you get it really cold, or the expansion is sufficiently rapid, or the pressure exceeds what the plastic can handle). A pressure release of some sort should handle most of these cases unless it gets clogged.

    On the downside, plastic is a bit harder to clean.

    edit: as far as disintegrating glassware goes, I have no idea. That would actually be a really neat trick, but the sort of thing I don't want to be anywhere close to. Shattering into high speed pointy fragments is definitely an option if you manage to put enough pressure on it though, which might be what was meant.

    Basically this.

    Disintegrating was a poor choice of words and more for dramatic effect. A lot of glass carboys are made by one or two manufacturers now, and they are not heat treated nor that well made (the ones I have have visible bubbles in the glass) which can result in them shattering with minor bumps or changes in temperature. If you are really curious, do a GIS on "shattered glass carboy" and you will see some of the fun outcomes (warning: there is blood). I'm subscribed to /r/homebrewing (it is a good resource) currently and pretty much every week someone posts up images of their shattered carboys.

    So, they really are not that safe, especially when higher quality, cheaper plastic versions are available with Better Bottles. Just don't pour hot wort into them, they will shrink.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DoodmannDoodmann Registered User regular
    I got into the hobby last may. I've made about 22 brews, varying from one gallon kits to 5 gallon all grain home recipes. There is an IPA from nothern brewer bottle conditioning in my closet right now, a brown fermenting at the moment and my friend recently bought a kegorator so I'm hoping to start kegging some of the more standard stuff from here on out. Its fun.

  • CincituckyCincitucky Registered User regular
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Cincitucky wrote: »
    Looking forward to joining the foray of beer brewing soon, supposedly will be getting a brewkit for the birthday.

    Don't believe the kit will include one of the fancy glass carboy fermenters but it should have everything to get me started. Aren't ales typically the first type of brew everyone begins learning?

    Do not buy a glass carboy, they are capable of exploding/random disintegrating and potentially causing you extreme pain and/or blood loss. There are plastic versions called Better Bottles which work just as well and are usually somewhat cheap than the same size glass vessel.

    Did the "shattered glass carboy" search, very persuasive for not going the glass route.

    Imagine what "cheese' could exist if someone tried to copy Velveeta.
  • seabassseabass Doctor MassachusettsRegistered User regular
    So... am I the only one brewing hard apple cider here? I got gifted a brew kit last spring, and after a few beer kits, I decided to try my hand at ciders. My thought was, hey, I can buy fuck-awesome craft brews from the local breweries, but no one makes a decent cider around here.

    I've made 4 or 5 5 gallon batches now, and I'm still trying to get the sweetness of the resulting product just right. I like the dryer wine yeasts, since I seem to get more carbonation out of them, but then the cider ends up tarter than I want. If I over sweeten on the front end, then I end up with super boozy cider, which is sometimes fine, but I don't want a single glass to lay me out most nights. I think I may try back sweetening on the batch I just cooked on the 1st.

    For the curious --
    3.75 gallons of apple juice
    1 gallon of earl grey tea
    4-5 pounds of brown sugar
    cloves, cardamon, and black pepper to taste
    ale yeast for a sweeter cider, dry wine yeast for something a bit tarter

    Run you pigeons, it's Robert Frost!
    TL DRSyrdon
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    I will most certainly use that recipe @seabass!
    I've been looking into things I could brew other than beer (so I can use my leftover yeast).
    Also gonna try to brew me some kvass.

  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    Cincitucky wrote: »
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Cincitucky wrote: »
    Looking forward to joining the foray of beer brewing soon, supposedly will be getting a brewkit for the birthday.

    Don't believe the kit will include one of the fancy glass carboy fermenters but it should have everything to get me started. Aren't ales typically the first type of brew everyone begins learning?

    Do not buy a glass carboy, they are capable of exploding/random disintegrating and potentially causing you extreme pain and/or blood loss. There are plastic versions called Better Bottles which work just as well and are usually somewhat cheap than the same size glass vessel.

    Did the "shattered glass carboy" search, very persuasive for not going the glass route.

    Also, those glass carboys get real heavy once you fill them up with 5 gallons of beer. The glass adds a lot of weight, and I know I've almost dropped mine a couple times. I bought a better bottle and haven't used my glass carboy since.

    PSN: the-K-flash
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    What's the difference between [hop] flavor and aroma?
    I keep reading that you add flavor hops in the middle of the boil, and aroma hops at the very end, but what's the difference between those two?

  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    I can't give you the scientific explanation but: When you add bittering hops (usually around the start of the boil) it really only increases the general bitterness of the beer, adding very little flavour and virtually no aroma. By mid boil, you add flavouring hops, which will give your brew that particular strand of hops' flavour (for example, Cascade has a mildly floral flavour) but still will not add the hops scent to the beer all that much - this is due to the boiling breaking down whatever it is that causes the smell.

    Finally, towards the end of the boil, you throw in your aromatics, which do not add much in the way of bitterness or flavour due to a lack of boil time, but do add their particular smell. Using cascade again (I used it in a batch not long ago, it is fresh in my memory) you will get a refreshing citrusy smell that you can note in your beer.

    I hope that helps... You can do a search about it and get some very scientific breakdowns of why this works the way it does, dealing with heat and destruction of esters (I think) and such.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • CincituckyCincitucky Registered User regular
    Got a Mr Beer brewkit for my birthday! John Palmer's How To Brew book was included in the gift.

    Excited to get started!

    Imagine what "cheese' could exist if someone tried to copy Velveeta.
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    Comahawk wrote: »
    I can't give you the scientific explanation but: When you add bittering hops (usually around the start of the boil) it really only increases the general bitterness of the beer, adding very little flavour and virtually no aroma. By mid boil, you add flavouring hops, which will give your brew that particular strand of hops' flavour (for example, Cascade has a mildly floral flavour) but still will not add the hops scent to the beer all that much - this is due to the boiling breaking down whatever it is that causes the smell.

    Finally, towards the end of the boil, you throw in your aromatics, which do not add much in the way of bitterness or flavour due to a lack of boil time, but do add their particular smell. Using cascade again (I used it in a batch not long ago, it is fresh in my memory) you will get a refreshing citrusy smell that you can note in your beer.

    I hope that helps... You can do a search about it and get some very scientific breakdowns of why this works the way it does, dealing with heat and destruction of esters (I think) and such.

    Yeah I've looked into the science of it, but I just need a very basic answer - if I want my beer to be less bitter and more fruity/floral/[insert hop discription here], when do I throw in the hops?
    From your description, I'd throw them in around the mid-boil, right?
    And then the aroma is more for the smell of the beer rather than the actual taste? (Though I know smell is very important and flavor and I'd throw some in at the end for the aroma as well)

  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Yeah, you would add in your hops at the end of boil for aroma and flavour, not bitterness.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Yeah, the later you add hops, the less they contribute to the overall IBU of the beer and the more they contribute to the aroma.

    Dry hopping, for instance, adds absolutely nothing to the IBU's of the beer, but adds a ton of hop aroma. The only problem is that the molecule that makes hop aroma doesn't last an incredibly long time.

    kuhlmeye on
    PSN: the-K-flash
  • CincituckyCincitucky Registered User regular
    Just threw together the first Mr. Beer brew. Will see how it turns out after letting the yeast do its job.

    Imagine what "cheese' could exist if someone tried to copy Velveeta.
  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    Eh I've used glass for three years and haven't had one problem. I'm not saying it won't explode but it's not as catastrophic as these guys are making it seem. The homebrew store near me that holds classes uses dozens of glass carboys every week, and the Indian brewpub here uses glass to ferment their five gallon special batches.

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