My Homebrewing Escapades

Grandmother Goose

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It's great to revisit this thread. I used to make a fair bit of wine - some from recipes, but most from kits...as I got better, I was buying the higher end kits - there's a big difference. Thinking about it, as we increase our fruit production at the country place, I'll have to revisit.

I considered brewing some beer as well. I understand it can be done with pretty much the same stuff as for winemaking. Is that correct, or was I mislead? Can anyone speak to how much the process differs for beer compared to wine?

A much simpler drink I've been working with recently is a couple of fruit liqueurs. I make a cherry vodka and black currant brandy from fruit we grow. They are far too tasty.
I've only recently started looking into homebrewing anything, how it's done, etc; as I plan to get into homebrewing sometime next year. I did find a youtube channel called English Country Life that was useful, easy and pleasant to watch. It's almost like a less punny English version of Mark's Self Sufficient Me channel. The guy goes into everything from home grown foods, poultry keeping, recipes, etc like Mark does, but he also does home brewing with a playlist called Country Wines. He mostly makes country wines made from fruits, flowers, and even parsnip, but also ciders, and he did one video on beer showing how that's done with a kit, which isn't too much different, if anything it's more simple. He explains what all the stuff is, how kits differ, even different types of sugars and malts that you can use and the pros and cons of each. He also explains that if you want to do it without a kit, get some grains and hops and brew it from scratch, it becomes a lot more complex and needs different equipment, temperature controls, things like that. He hasn't yet got one about brewing beer from scratch, but his video on kits is a good place to start. He does it all on the cheap as well, explaining what is needed and why, what is optional and why, and what else you can use if you don't have all the proper brewing gear. I recommend having a look at some of the videos on that playlist, as it might answer some of your questions.
 

JoshW

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Sneaking in a brew before Xmas - Cheeky Peak American Pale Ale. If I get some more time tomorrow I'll be doing a farmhouse ale with Kviek yeast.

Few little mods for ease of use - more cam lock fittings so no swapping hot hoses around. New stainless pump head - has never bled so quickly.

 
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JoshW

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Just mashed in the farmhouse ale - WFH does have its positives on days like this.

I'll make a big effort to do a start to finish, grain to glass article in the new year. It'll encompass a brew day, sanitation, fermentation and record keeping and then a kegging session - from an amateur perspective of course.

Here's a mini peak at my No-sparge, No-chill brew day today.

Mash in grain at 66°c for 1 hour, recirculating the entire mash.



10 mins mash out @ 75°c, let the grain basket drain while the Nano ramps up to boil.



So now we've hit boil temp basket gets put in spa to ensure all liquid left doesn't end up on the floor. 60 mins bittering hops are added. See you back in 50 mins to add yeast nutrients and whirfloc



Whirfloc added, boiled further 10 mins then element off, whirlpool until 80°c then transfer to cube.



When cube full, squeeze until all air out that can get (handle recess can't be helped). The cube is sanitise but the 80°c tenp makes sure the nasties are good and dead.



Once capped, flip the cube to ensure all surfaces have been in contact with the hot wort.

The yummy proteins left from the boil thanks to the whirfloc.



Now the cube can be used tomorrow after cooled down, it can be used next month or even next December. If the cube swells at any point, cut losses and ditch it.
 
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daveb

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re-circulation mash :) , with a single temperature, you could do some step mash to get a mix of simple and long chain sugars, you would have same ingredients and two uniquely different body mouth-feel and ABV% even tho you are a recalculation mash you can still imitate a 2 or 3 stage decoction mash if your heater has enough watts to push the temps up fast enough. or as mine is it basically uses the same set up but on my return tee i have a separate heat chamber with element and controller. i have two tee's and ball valve i can fill then divert flow past the chamber to raise the temperature then pass the flow back though it the step infuse the mash to another heat level. working liquid volume on mine is 1.25 bbl ( 39 gallon volume with the mash ) currently packed away while i remodel kitchen so i can have my brew room back. i have to dig out some of my records from the brewpub. was actually written up in ski magazine as best off mountain brew pub in the east ( eastern usa ) " with a brown al to make even the surliest englishman smile " was their comment we had some Kiwi up that winter skiing here on a mountain and they came to pub every night i was invited to be one of the reps to china back at the time when they did an exchange between breweries but was unable to go. i miss working as a brewmaster. but josh do try your hand at some wines they will open your eye to a whole new taste experience specially if you make a mead . and remember KISS process
 

JoshW

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I will be exploring step mash at some stage, I'm limited on 2.2kw element atm so can take a bit to ramp. When we eventually move I'll have a 15a circuit wired in with a 3.6kw element and maybe move to a 2V. This is only the 3rd time doing the mash out step at 75°c. Little steps
 

daveb

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I will be exploring step mash at some stage, I'm limited on 2.2kw element atm so can take a bit to ramp. When we eventually move I'll have a 15a circuit wired in with a 3.6kw element and maybe move to a 2V. This is only the 3rd time doing the mash out step at 75°c. Little steps
for now you could do the old method determine the percentage to remove transfer to stove warm it and re infuse it back in. OK if you want to try a simple mead sometime depends on yeast and final character i want for mead. a basic starting point and sorry in weights and volumes from here not in L or kg - (4.5 gallon water + honey ) 5 lbs= 5.0% ABV ; 5.5 lb = 5.7 ABV , 7.25lb = 7%ABV , 9lb = 8.5%ABV i use mead or wine yeast and yeast nutrients FG will be in the .998 to 1.010 range depending on yeasts tolerance to alcohol i have also brewed mead with morgans beer yeast coopers yeast and with wyeast-1056 each give a different tone taste and FG you can also use apple cider pear or cranberry juice for base instead of water. i do my cyser ( apple honey mead ) with 50-50% cider water and 7 lb of honey it takes a good year to age and mellow out to a smooth character, the cider tends to give it a hot alcohol bit until it ages. i have even done cyser with spices and dry hop addition

i took 2 second national for my cyser decades ago it was 16.5 %abv ? nicknamed " mother-in-laws tongue " it was a spices cyser 2.5 gal cider - 5 quarts ( aprox 15 lbs ) wild flower honey from a friend and water to make just over 5 gallon volume , with 1 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon - nutmeg - ginger - clove - and 1 small to medium vanilla bean ( spices were added in two additions half as i boiled, and then the balance after fermentation started ) , dry hopped with 2.5 oz of Czech Saaz hop ( home grown ) second day of fermentation and used a champagne yeast,
it got its nick name because i was over helping a friend work on his computer and had brought over a couple 6 packs of bail top Grolsch bottled cyser. long story short his mother in laws was a busybody knew everything, telling us do this do that etc on the computer. suddenly andy and i noticed about 40 minutes later it was quiet, looked over and she is sitting on sofa fix glazed eyes, eye glasses in one hand TV remote in other ( tv not on by the way ) mouth open with funny grin watching the tv totally wasted on 1 1/2 bottles of the cyser. andy look at me and made comment well the silenced her tongue we both grinned as i said no more mother in laws tongue and he looked at the cyser and hence the cyser was named

pardon any typos have had non stop interruption while trying to type this out
 

HelenCate

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@daveb how much does added yeast change the Mead flavour? I've been doing Mead using natural yeasts and it's a really good honey flavour.
 

daveb

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makes a huge difference not just in flavors but mouth feel and alcohol content , wild yeast versiosn yeast cultured for various types of beers or wines all have different alcohol tolerance. some stop working in the 5.5 to 7 % range other can ferment upwards to 20 and 22% alcohol the same mead with different yeast could be sweeter and a heavier ( thicker ) mouth feel because because less honey fermented leaving large amounts of non fermented sugar, other yeast wines yeast can easily do in the 16 and some 18% abv , a champagne yeast in the 21% + , and with these also come the various flavors compounds they can produce
 

HelenCate

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I guess it's just trial and error then, finding something you really like. I have some elderflower mead on the go and have got some organic pear juice for another blend.
 

daveb

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i always found my best were a good ale yeast or wine yeast champagne tended for my taste to be too dry and it took longer to age. as it is a decent mead can tack 6 to 12 months to age to a nice smooth tone, i did a number of mead using yeast from Morgans brewing in Beenleigh down In Queensland, Australia i met grant the owner decades ago but lost touch i assume he has passed away and son taken over by now
 

HelenCate

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I drank my first (small) batches quite young and they were pretty tasty. I'm leaving this current batch longer to see how it changes over time.
 

daveb

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I drank my first (small) batches quite young and they were pretty tasty. I'm leaving this current batch longer to see how it changes over time.
well i sat down and looked for a few articles to show you one yeast flavors but as yet not real good to the point articles except on one of the wine yeast i use but ran across a few that you may find interesting and insight to how much mead varies .

#1 little bit of info on one yeast, note the flavors mentioned and alcohol tolerance - https://meadist.com/making-mead/mead-tips-tricks/best-yeast-for-mead-making/

#2 a decent listing of most but not all the type of meads and what they are called - https://www.beaconmead.com/blog/types-of-mead

#3 the most critical and the most overlook with mead; unlike beers that carry nutrients and various organic compounds along with nitrogen over to the fermentation that are leached from the grains and hops or broken down into the wort during mashing meads. it is critical to add nutrients nitrogen and trace minerals to the mead. If you have calcium and mineral hard water ( but not iron hard water )all the better, the City of Berton upon Trent england which by many is considered the best brewery water in the world as one writter summon it up water hard enough in minerals you could almost walk on water and was refered to as brewing capitol of the world for very long time ( please do not use RO processed water to make your beers wines or meads with there are no trace organic or minerals in it what so ever ) - https://frugalhomebrew.com/easy-guide-for-mead-nutrient-additions-what-is-staggering/#:~:text=Types of Mead Nutrients and Their Affects , stimulates fermentation 4 more rows
 
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HelenCate

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@daveb wow thanks 😀 , that will keep me busy for a while. I'm currently using filtered tank water for brews, but if and when we get our bore up and running again will likely be using that.
 

daveb

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hard water is fine to brew with infact some of the best brewery sites in the world are extreme hard water as long as its not metalic or chloride radicals or harsh akolides you are fine . if it calcium carbonates as in free calcium from aquafiers in dolomite lime stone and some marbles. pop onto amazone see if you can access this item thats what i use to test mine a couple times a year because salts and stuff they use on highway near here and i have been curious and tracting changes in water quality as season changes, most filters used on wells are not R/O ( reverse osmosis ) most filters are sediment lead iron filters. no one advantage of a city water supply IF you have a good aquafier supplying it the chrlorine hit and filtering at the water treatment will precipitate out the iron to some extent but most have switches from chlorine to chloramine to hit the water. just grab a good test kit . i used a residential version of three stage sand / active resin filter / carbon filter is all i use my well is a driven well that was hammered about 1880 and still as clear and fresh as ever but i carry a calcium hardness of about 75 ppm, zero lead iron or copper no registered nitrates or nitrites and have extremely good yeast fermentation.

16 in 1 Drinking Water Test Kit |High Sensitivity Test Strips detect pH, Hardness, Chlorine, Lead, Iron, Copper, Nitrate, Nitrite | Home Water Purity Test Strips for Aquarium, Pool, Well & Tap Water​

my mistake it didnt show link to item on that site just search amazon to see the test kit from SJ Wave its inexpensive works decent just dip the test strip set it down wait a few minutes and compare colors
 
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daveb

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Josh i ran across a whole stack of misc, recipes i had in a card file for customers when i had brew supply shop, most were generic styles but found one tucked away in back.


Spring in Vermont Maple Beer

6 lbs light unhopped malt extract
14 cup grade B Vermont maple syrup ( had a note on card to myself for next back - full gallon can be used )
1oz Tettnanger hop pellets plus 1oz Saaz hop pellets ( 60 minutes boil )
1/2oz Saaz hop pellets 30 minutes
add 1 to 1 1/2 Tsp irish moss at this hop addition
1/2 Saaz hop loose leaf drop in just before remove from heat leave in during chill
1 package Vierka Dark Munich ( strong ) beer yeast
3/4 cup priming sugar

chilled with super chiller boiling to 62 degrees 6 gallon boil. from boil to pitch temperature 6 1/2 minutes

ferment @ 60F degree and NOT above 65
SG 1.076
TG 1.023
ABV 6.9%
i won 2nd in specialty beer competition with this many years ago the took off point because they wanted a more pronounced maple tone
this make a very subtle light maple hint to back of beer and very clean with this yeast.


second batch was made with 14 cups grade C maple syrup with a very pronounce dark syrup color and flavor is more intense, malt was 4 lbs alexanders unhopped pale malt plus 1 lb light dry spray malt unhopped same hops and irish moss additions. Fermented at 68f with Package of Coopers dry ale yeast, SG 1.078 TG 1.008 ABV 9.1
very strong alcohol tone it mellowed with aging, pronounce maple flavor subtle fruity tones
 

JoshW

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Thanks for the recipe Dave, if I ever get some cheap maple syrup I will definitely give that a crack. That's about $70 worth of syrup over here I reckon.
 

daveb

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Thanks for the recipe Dave, if I ever get some cheap maple syrup I will definitely give that a crack. That's about $70 worth of syrup over here I reckon.
i found a whole stack of old recipe cards , still looking for my note books from the brew pub of my recipes
 

JoshW

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Giving pressure fermentation a whirl. I'm not fermenting with temperature control yet, going under pressure gives a bit more headroom if we get a hotter day but primary benefit is I pick this up when it's done and into the fridge and serve once cold without having to carbonate. It won't last long enough to have any impacts from sitting on the yeast cake and the fermenter has a floating dip tubeso not sucking in trub. Wins all round from my perspective.

 
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Mandy Onderwater

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That looks pretty cool! I had friends that pressure fermented (without fancy tools though), but they always forgot about them until one of the bottles finally exploded. Oops, haha.
 
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