Ozexpat

The Home Brew Thread

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Many of you are aware of my obsession with all thing beer and brewing. It all started 20 odd years ago when my darling wife bought me a set-up so that I could brew English style ales while on an extended visit to Australia (3 years). It was a basic 25 litre bucket with a lid and little else. To this, you would add a can of pre-prepared malty goodness and sugar from a shop of choice, poor in some water and complete the task with the addition of a packet of dried yeast. A couple of weeks later, you have a liquid that has some semblance of character that could be associated with a beer-like substance. Yippee ! Not difficult to produce something drinkable and the way many did produce their beer-like concoctions.

There was something lacking, however. While they were, for the best part, quite drinkable (by Australian beer standards of the time :sick:), they weren't very good. Was it me ? Was it the basic kit based product ? Or was it the process ? I am quite (?) OCD, so I set out to try some modifications to the process. I started supplementing the kits with extra grains and hops.

BOOM !!

The beer was great. Not perfect but with real character. Due to my OCD, there was only one way forward but that would have to wait as the current circumstances didn't allow for my plans. After aquiring some extra bits and bobs (mostly 48 dozen 750ml bottles), the time came to hop on a plane back to Ol' Blighty. I sold the gear to a friend (and is still being used to this day) and off we went.

When we returned to these shores, it would have been reasonable to assume that due to the variety and availability of the native product, that brewing it myself would be a pointless waste of time and energy. No so, my beer drinking brethren. The availability of the raw ingredients and knowledge makes it a whole different endeavour. I found, to my chagrin, that the average mass produced swill was not what I remembered. Thus I set out to replicate the great brewery's offering without consideration to big business economics.

My earlier dream was finally made real. I now brew using the traditional technique of steeping grains in treated water, boiling the resultant malty goodness (wort) with a variety of hops and adding quality, style specific yeasts. A mixture of chemistry and art.

The results are, to paraphrase those who have tried my brews, outstanding.

There is always as much to learn still as I have done so far, which makes the experience even more enjoyable. The brews (with the occassional hiccup) improve with knowledge and, to these drunken tastebuds, equal to or better than the better commercial brews. Another benefit of the small scale is the ability to experiment with styles and flavour combinations. I'm am not tied to a specific brewing flavour tradition. I can experiment with "New World" hops and an infinite number of flavour combinations from various malts. I could go on (and I'm sure some of you think I have already).

I have been contacted by a couple of Wammers about homebrew and that is the point of this tread. If anybody is interested in starting to brew their own, or improving their current brews, then this can be a one-stop-shop for ideas and inspiration*. From basic "starter sets" to more advanced techniques, I'm at your disposal. In these tough economic times you don't have to go without to save money. A positive side effect of homebrew is the price-per-pint. With a basic kit brew you will get 40 pints @ 50p per pint. With my equipment, I attain 20p per pint. It makes good economic sense. And no, you don't have to be an alcoholic.

I will try to answer any questions with my usual frank, straight to the point manner. No bullshit. No PC crap. If I don't know the answer, I know a man who does. So fire away....

*Please note that any advice I give will have no financial benefit to me as I have no affiliations with any of the products or services that I may recommend.

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I'm now in a similar situation to the one you found yourself in 20-odd years ago. NZ does have some good beer, but they really know how to charge for it! $10+ for 500ml?

I did brew some nice beer while in the UK, but that kit stayed in the UK when we moved. And like yours, it is still being used.

I'd like to start again over here. Fortunately time has moved on a little and it is possible to buy the raw ingredients. However, I'm happy to start simple and work up to boiling wort.

Suggestions and recommendations would be very gratefully received!

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G'day Graham.

Indeed things have moved on. A quick search found THIS little lot (although I would advise looking around). It comes with everything you need for a batch of decent ale. And the bonus is that you only have to replenish with another can of Coopers (other products such as Black Rock and Morgans are available) and some more brewing sugar and you have a SECOND BATCH. The only caveat being that, unless you wait until you finish drinking one batch, you will need to buy more glasses. In Adelaide, we used to go to recycling depots and buy them there for a fraction of the cost of new. That might be worth a punt.

The process is the same as you have done in the past. Heat can in hot water (to loosen contents), pour into sanatised fermenter (thin unscented bleach will do), add brewing sugar (I would recommend Dried Spray Malt for a richer flavour), then top up with fresh water (if water smells of chlorine it can be treated with a Camden Tablet). When the temperature is down to about 20 degrees C, sprinkle the contents of the yeast sachet and stick the lid on (but don't seal it). Keep it in a coolish place out of direct sunlight for about a week or two (depends on how much time you have). Take a reading with the hydrometer. The reading should be between 1012-1008. If higher, leave for a few more days. Once it's reached the target gravity, take 3 reading over a few days. If they are stable then it is ready to bottle.

The Coopers starter kit comes with a DVD and pretty good instructions.

One thing I will say, is that cleanliness is absolutely essential. Everything that touches the beer (before, during and after fermentation) until after it's gone in the bottle and sealed needs to be sanatised. There are loads of different products on the market but chlorine based cleaners (well rinsed) are as good as anything. I use some proprietry products that don't require rinsing but that's for another day.

Good luck with it Graham, and let me know how you get on.

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Thanks Terry.

Back in the UK we used a Rotokeg:

rotokeg_brewing_keg.jpg

Don't recall it being that price. :( (About 80 of your English pounds.)

The downside to that keg is that it is a top tap. Our experience was that it worked well enough to start with, but fairly soon we had to use CO2 to increase the pressure in the keg until we got fluid from the tap. A bottom tap is an option, but then the keg can't stand on the floor, of course.

We didn't experience any problems with cleanliness, but I know people who have. Boiling water, good cleaning and cleansing agents are imperative. Chlorine won't be an issue as we're on tank water - the only water through our taps is rainwater.

I may have to take a trip to Hamilton. It can obviously all be done by mail order, but it's good to meet people too. There is a brew shop in Papakura, just down the road from us, but they've seemed expensive when I've been in - we bought some bits'n'pieces from there when making some vodka. I'll do some price comparisons. Hamilton is about 90km from here, so travel would also be a factor.

Couple of other things to sort first, but beer in quantity is needed!

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Kegs are fine but, yes, CO2 can get eaten in great quantity. I mainly bottle but have two Top Tap King Kegs (much the same thing). I always give them a shot of CO2 when I finish a session and haven't had any real issues. I don't like my Pommy ale fizzy anyway.

Ultimately, rain water isn't ideal for brewing (not enough of the relevant salts and minerals). We can discuss water treatments to give the best results at a later stage.

Brewcraft are quite expensive (well in Oz anyway) compared to UK pricing but I guess it's a volume thing. Even at those prices the return from your investment is worth it. Not to mention the variety and enjoyment.

:^

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40 pints of Woodfordes Wherry barreled tonight, hopefully ready for christmas.:upgrade:

Haven't made any beer for about 10 years, looking forward to tasting in 2 or 3 weeks time. :pint:

Wherry is a good pint. 2 to 3 weeks should be plenty of time. Leaving it a good 6 weeks will result in a better overall balance, but life's too short for that unless you brew in volume like me :^.

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Nice topic.

I discovered real beer only in my mid 30s, when I visited my brother in London and got the taste of ales. Before that all I knew were lagers :doh:

Right now ales are my favourite kind of beer... closely followed by porters and stouts. This is what got me into home brewing. While some bitters can be bought in Poland, they are 3-4 times as expensive as domestic beer and there are not many of them.

I went to a local free workshop organised by the Polish Homebrewers Association. Very recommended, if your local association does something like that. I attended a short course on all-grain brewing and tried this at home. Well the first results were not stellar, but at least I know what I did wrong :) I guess I went too far with steeping which made my beer taste astringent... anyway, a few days ago I tried the beer which I bottled six months ago and it was quite nice, perhaps the head was too impressive!

Unfortunately the biggest problem is finding free time to brew... I hope to get some time after Xmas.

cheers!

beer300_zpsc6ea0925.jpg

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Nice topic.

I discovered real beer only in my mid 30s, when I visited my brother in London and got the taste of ales. Before that all I knew were lagers :doh:

Right now ales are my favourite kind of beer... closely followed by porters and stouts. This is what got me into home brewing. While some bitters can be bought in Poland, they are 3-4 times as expensive as domestic beer and there are not many of them.

I went to a local free workshop organised by the Polish Homebrewers Association. Very recommended, if your local association does something like that. I attended a short course on all-grain brewing and tried this at home. Well the first results were not stellar, but at least I know what I did wrong :) I guess I went too far with steeping which made my beer taste astringent... anyway, a few days ago I tried the beer which I bottled six months ago and it was quite nice, perhaps the head was too impressive!

Unfortunately the biggest problem is finding free time to brew... I hope to get some time after Xmas.

cheers!

beer300_zpsc6ea0925.jpg

Excellent stuff.

Try reducing the amount of sugar when priming. This isn't a science as it varies with the darker malts and the style. My rule-of-thumb is; the darker the beer, the less priming it needs.

If you do over-prime, you can always chill it down and drink it like a dark "lager".

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Yes it may look like it's too much priming sugar. However, this is beer which I bottled half a year ago. The head was one or two fingers in the first months, I found this huge head in the last two bottles only... after six months. Maybe the yeast in the bottle ate through remaining sugar over all those months, I don't know. I tried to prime conservatively, bit under 3.5g per bottle IIRC.

Anyway the taste of my first efforts in brewing changed over the months, improving. I remember three or four weeks after bottling, all I could smell or taste was yeast - this went away after two months. I used Danstar Nottingham dried yeast, but I would really want to try liquid yeast when my brewing skills improve a bit ;)

By the way, did you read Graham Wheeler's or John Palmer's books on brewing? Very useful and informative IMHO.

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I've bought my dad a kit for Christmas to utilise the fact he has a lot of storage space and I don't. He also works away a lot so it's a good way to spend time with him if we do it together.

It's comes with a kit of Wherry and I bought some hop extract just because I love a hoppy beer.

One day I hope to expand to the all grain methods to make some great double style IPAs. But for now I'll stick with the kits :)

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