HOME BREWING

Here are some basic ideas to help you the new brewer. Once you gain a little experience and have produced a few successful brews then you will be able to start experimenting and really start to appreciate this very rewarding hobby.

Keep it clean

Try to keep your first batches simple

Good beer needs good water

Keep good notes

Chill the wort

Constant temperatures

Be patient 1

Bulk priming

Bottling

Be patient 2

Be adventurous

Keep it clean

This is the point where the beginner must form good brewing habits. Much advice exists out there for the brewer and it always starts with ” keep your equipment clean.” Clean your equipment before, during and after the brewing process using SO2 sterilising powder and NEO PINK washing and sterilising powder.

Your beer will taste better!

Try to keep your first batches simple

Home brewing from a kit is really a simple process. Religously follow the instructions and you will not go wrong.
Don’t forget that beer or a close relative of it was brewed thousands of years ago in the Fertile Crescent.

If you keep your first batches simple you will have a good foundation to build from. Remember that anything that you can do to organize the brewing process and keep it simple will make it more enjoyable and reduce the likelihood of mistakes.

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Good beer needs good water.

The main ingredient in beer is of course- water. Good water is often over looked when a brewer is putting his or her shopping list together. If your local water has a good taste, without too much chlorine, it will probably be fine. Bottled water is a good choice if you have doubts about your water. Keep in mind that water tends to pick up the taste of what carries it. So if you need to use a hose, use a food grade hose available from your local home brew supply shop.

If you have any doubts about the quality of the water that you intend to use then talk to us and bring us a sample and we can advise you of the best way to go.

Keep good notes.

What was the temperature when you pitched yeast? What was the gravity of the wort before fermentation? You will thank yourself latter for keeping good notes when you try to re-create your favorite batch.

Keep a thermometer and a hydrometer handy so that you can keep regular readings. If you keep good notes you will be able to look back and then make any improvements you think is necessary. If you do experience problems then it will help us give you advice.

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Chill the wort.

You will find that after you have followed the brew kit instructions and have made up the wort to the 23 litres its temperature is around the 30°C – 34°C and ideally you want to get this down to around 25°C as quickly as you can.

Since fresh brewed wort is a wonderful place for yeast to thrive, bacteria love it even more. Rapid cooling of the wort will give bacteria less time to get a foothold in the wort. This allows the yeast to take over, further decreasing the bacteria’s chances. Additionally, rapidly chilling the wort will settle out proteins that can put a haze in finished beer.

In the summer months this can be much more of a problem than during winter. This is your chance to inovate using water baths/ice the old frig etc.

Constant temperatures.

The life of the yeast depends on adequate food (or wort) and consistent temperatures. The temperature that the beer ferments at can have a major effect on the flavor of the finished product. When it is too warm, harsh off-flavors can result from hyperactive yeast. When it is too cold the metabolism of the yeast slows down. This will stall fermentation before it reaches the proper terminal gravity. Your yeast packet should specify a healthy temperature range. Ales ferment close to normal room temperature, lagers usually range from 10°c to 20 °C. Try to keep it in a nice undisturbed place away from sunlight such as in a cupboard or under the stairs.

Be patient 1

Keep a watch on the bubbles coming out of the brew and as they start to slow it give you a guide as to the level of activity. It is worth then taking a hydometer reading every day or so and using the beer kit instructions as a guide you will soon determine when the fermentation part of the process is over.

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Bulk priming

The secondary fermentation that occurs in the bottle to gas the beer is as a result of putting effectively a teaspoon of sugar in each 750ml bottle. A better way to achieve the same result and it also allows you to use different size bottles is to “bulk prime” your brew. This also guards against putting to much sugar in a bottle and getting a exploding bottle. The mess this causes has to be experienced to be believed.

As a general rule if you dissolve 160 gms of dextrose in 250ml of boiling water and let cool a little and then 30 minutes prior to bottling gently stir this into your brew so that you don’t stir up any of the settled sediment. A chemical process called “diffusion” will do the rest.

Bottling

This is arguably the most labour intensive part of the whole process, assuming you discount the effort that will go into drinking the brew.

Here the cleanliness of the bottles is most important and the hardest part is the initial cleaning of the bottles. Once you have used them yourself and made sure that you have rinsed them thoroughly when you have emptied them it is then almost just a case of sterilising them using SO2 powder.

If you have “bulk primed” your brew and use a bottle filler then the rest is routine.

Capping will always be easier if you use a press rather than the hammer and capping tool. Yes it is worth the investment.

Be patient 2

Casting my mind back to my first brew it was hard to wait for the couple of weeks necessary for the beer to clear and mature. It is worth resisting the urge to try one ealier as that first glass of homebrew will be remembered for a long time and once you have tasted success there will be no holding back.

Be adventurous

It’s important that you understand the principles of brewing, but once you have a good foundation, be creative. You never know when you might stumble over a great technique or recipe. Be open to new ideas, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Brewing is equal parts science and art.