low-fi homebrew?

bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
edited September 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
hi guys,

it struck me the other day that i probably have everything i need for some kind of low-fi homebrew. i'm running an experimental ginger beer now but i don't like its odds; what i need is a little finessing of my very vague, unresearched strategy

i have a breastfeeding partner, which means i have a convenient means to sterilize bottles. i also have a big old bag of brewer's yeast, which is apparently good for lactation when baked into cookies. also, surely, beer. now, my idea would be:

sterilise a growler-style swing top bottle.

activate some yeast in a mixture of hot water and malt extract (which i also have handy because it's great for smoothies and stuff)

fill the sterilized bottle with the solution after twenty minutes or so, seal it, sit it in a warm place for a couple of weeks.

drink all-malt beer?

am i way off? what am i missing (other than hops)? are there crucial points of temperature, crucial durations i'm not being rigid enough on? am i going to need to think about quantities? am i at risk of either killing myself or going blind, if i run this experiement... or drink the one i've currently got going? or will it just taste like poo?

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Posts

  • RedDawnRedDawn Registered User regular
    Not sure about taste, but for sure you don't want to seal it off when you are fermenting. The CO2 that is released will pressurize and possibly burst any container if it is sealed off.

    You will need to boil the water and malt extract, if you don't you have the potential of getting really sick.

    Enc
  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    I'm not sure how effective brewers yeast is in actually brewing beer. I'm no expert, but i know i've never used it. the stuff i get from the local homebrew store is cheap as well. You need hops and grains for taste, otherwise you are going to just have alcoholic, yeasty water (i think?). What you are proposing (low-fi brewing) is essentially a Mr. Beer kit, if you find that online. there is a lot of waste when brewing beer (dead yeast, hops, etc) so you are definitely going to want 2 containers for the process at least. also, putting yeast into boiling water will kill it, so post-boil you have to cool the mixture down before adding yeast. then you need to add sugar after fermentation so it will carbonate.

    sterilizing stuff is not hard, as iodine is cheap as hell.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    You're missing an entire step in the process. You boil, then you ferment, then you bottle. You have to let the CO2 escape as part of the process, then you add your final sugars during the bottling process for carbonation.

    http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/

    There are step by step guides on the basics of what you need and how to do the process. You will at least need something with an airlock for the fermenting process. You also want to store it in a cool place (60-70 degrees is optimal for most brews). Temperatures over 80 can skunk your brew.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Look up some zymurgy references, there are 8 jillion resources online for this. Short story, you boil the grains and adulterants or make from extract, you let the temp get down and you pitch the yeast, you bring down the temp and place the wort with yeast into a primary fermentation vessel. After several weeks you then move to bottle-conditioning or kegging. You can find kits to start you out on 5 Gal. homebrewing in the $100-200 range. Yeast is very important for taste, and I don't think I'd ever use something like an economy "brewers yeast".

    Do not do primary fermentation in a sealed vessel, it will explode. You need to ferment in something that will let air out cause the yeast eats sugar, poops out alcohol, and makes CO2. If the CO2 has no where to go, then you will have a giant mess on your hands.

    Nothing you brew will poison you, but if you fuck it up it will taste like butt and you will toss it.

    Djeet on
    Enc
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Also, where you keep the fermentor will accumulate a LOT of CO2 even with just a 5 gallon kit. It will make the area smell if not well ventilated. It can also harm/kill pets and small ones if they decide to chill in a closet with one for too long (if ventilation isn't available).

  • ThrackThrack Registered User regular
    If you want to do a super simple batch of fermented something, maybe try hard cider first. Good fresh pressed apple cider is easy to get this time of year, just make sure what you get doesn't have preservatives. Also check and see if there's a brewing supply store near you. I use champagne yeast for my hard cider and it's $1.25 for a little packet that's good for 5 gallons. They'll also have air locks that might fit on your bottle, or you can get a cheap food-safe bucket with a lid.

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    If you really want to do something easy, try a turbocider (Google it)

    It's essentially fermented supermarket apple juice - get a few cartons of it, put it in a sterilised container, add yeast (make sure it's a big container, and well vented, apple juice ferments fast and you'll probably get a volume of yeasty foam as large as, if not larger than, your volume of apple juice). Wait for yeast activity to stop (if you used clear apple juice, this is really easy, just wait for it all to collect on the bottom of the container. Decant into sterilised bottles, leave to condition, probably for at least a month or it will be incredibly dry and harsh.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    alright, this is the information i need. thank you!

    i have been intending to get into proper homebrew for a while but my circumstances currently mean it's not going to happen. basically my idea is to run a sly experiment on the side to increase my understanding and interest until i have time, space and money to invest properly. which is a ways off. so, until then...

    could i ferment a single "beer" in the bottle if i left it uncapped until late in the process (2 weeks?) or is the yeast sediment going to mean it's still too active? should i just transfer it between bottles at that point - or out and in again - through a coffee filter?

    edit: the reason i'm being stubborn on the single bottle point is that the only place ventilated enough in my one bedroom apartment is on the bathroom windowsill. that's basically my reserved working surface, and it's probably a half a metre wide and ten centimetres deep.

    bsjezz on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    If you leave it open without any form of water filter you will have wild yeasts and other bacteria get into the bottle and ruin the batch. Also: light is bad for brewing. You want it in the dark.

    Enc on
    chrishallett83
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Essentially you will need one of these:

    https://www.midwestsupplies.com/airlock-3-piece-type.html?utm_medium=feeds&utm_source=google&gclid=CMybmpSf_cACFeRj7AodFTAAWA

    with some way to seal the bottom of your bottle to it (like a rubber washer).

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    i could seal the bottle with an airlock from a bag of coffee beans... and a rubber band?

    tis isn't going to happen, is it.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    :)


    Yes, you need an airlock: a one-way check valve that lets gas out, but nothing in. Brewing is ridiculously old-tech, there are lots of ways to Macguyver it. I don't think it worthwhile to try to one off brew a bomber with suspect methodology. You could probably do it if you wanted, but why not just get a 5gal setup and brew what you want from extract?

    I know you need to do this on the cheap, but you should do it the same ways us cheap asses do and put down $100 plus extract to get 50 bottles-worth. It is a very fun pastime. You can home the primary fermentation vessel in many ingenious places. Using a fan, towel, and a bin of water you can even accommodate a non-AC environment.

    DeadfallEnc
  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Get this: http://www.mrbeer.com/

    It's about as basic as you can get with brewing.
    basically my idea is to run a sly experiment on the side to increase my understanding and interest

    This is great! Welcome to the wonderful world of brewing. But I gotta say, if you're gonna do it to increase your understanding and interest, you might as well do it right. I mean brewing has been around for literally thousands of years, and civilizations have basically been putting shit together and seeing what happened for most of it. But if you want something drinkable, you might as well start learning right.

    We have a thread somewhere in D&D; it's not terribly active, but if you started over there we could help you step by step along the way.

    Deadfall on
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    www.hoptonogood.com - Beer/Adventure/Life
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    bsjezz wrote: »
    i could seal the bottle with an airlock from a bag of coffee beans... and a rubber band?

    tis isn't going to happen, is it.

    This wouldn't work because airlocks from plastic items require external pressure to vent. What you need is something that will allow the air to bubble up out of the fermentor without letting air back in (the item I linked you is only $2, and does it right).

    Honestly, if you are in an apartment, I'd just say get a standard 5 gallon kit and go wild. I got mine for about $50, $25 for enough bottles for five gallons and a capper, and a basic brewing kit for materials at about $25. You're looking at about $100 startup costs plus about 2 weeks for fermentation (then about 1-2 months for bottling depending on the variety), but you get your money's worth of brew or more out of the deal.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    There are homebrew kits you can buy that come with basically all you need, even down to the bottles to put the finished product in.
    They're plastic bottles yeah, but if you want, you have an excellent excuse to buy a couple of cartons of Grolsch for the sweet pop-top bottles for your homebrew.

  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    i saw something in whole foods, it was like "Brooklyn Brew" or something like that... it was a higher class Mr. Beer. i think it was only $50 or so, and i think you get 2 gallons. you still need all the bottling stuff though. My friend does Mr. Beer, it's.... ok. but basically, your brew beer in a single bottle plan is not going to work, no.

    oop, here it is. only $40!
    http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-kits

  • RedDawnRedDawn Registered User regular
    You could always put a balloon on top of the bottle as a cheap airlock if you are just going to try and do one bottle. I wouldn't think there would be enough pressure to pop the balloon, but there may be.

    Another way is to tape a hose to the bottle, then bend that hose into a cup of water.

    Very crude drawing:

    NiuaN4A.png

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    ...and by time you bought the hose, the balloon, and the tape you would have spent more than just getting a basic airlock.

  • RedDawnRedDawn Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    ...and by time you bought the hose, the balloon, and the tape you would have spent more than just getting a basic airlock.

    Sure..... unless you had the stuff laying around your house.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Guys, bsjezz is in Australia.

  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    bsjezz, is there a homebrew place anywhere around you?

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    yes, there is, it's just up the road.

    my idea at this stage was to ditch the idea for now and drop a couple of hints about homebrew kits for my birthday. i did see one during the week, and i know coopers, a local beer brand, sell them pretty cheap. i'd almost certainly have to just store the kit under the bed or something until we move, though.

    but the balloon has got me thinking...

    edit: this is the starter kit the bloke around here sells. if i were going to spend money, i'd spend it on a kit, rather than just a single peice of plastic for $5. but with a new baby and his paraphernalia taking up every spare surface... i just can't go down the dedicated equipment route. it's not worth worrying about right now, for another hobby project.

    bsjezz on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    I brew using my biggest cooking pot (ten litres) and a bucket with a lid. I sterilise equipment with basic supermarket bleach. It helps that I don't really do batches bigger than seven or eight litres (which is enough of one beer for me to get bored of it).

    Actually I have two buckets, only one has an airlock. The other I just put the lid on and don't seal it. The fermentation produces enough co2 that oxygen ingress isn't a problem.

    I have some specialist stuff (hydrometer, self starting siphon, bottle capper) but they aren't intrinsically required - you can calculate gravity with reasonable accuracy, especially if you use dry malt extract, and you can siphon with a length of silicone tubing. Reusing screw cap plastic bottles is free.

    Having said that a basic brewing setup costs as about as much as a couple of brew's worth of ingredients, so there's an element of diminishing returns in the convenience cost of going super basic.

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