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Home Brewers?

Last post 07-24-2011, 7:13 PM by josephcush39. 34 replies.
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  •  07-15-2006, 12:48 PM Post number 1232

    • Gowry is not online. Last active: 07-15-2006, 3:33 PM Gowry
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    Home Brewers?

    How many of you are homebrewers?  I've been brewing for over a year now and have had quite a few tasty experiments.  I've done about 16 brews with only one "failed" batch.  My next brew is going to be a Vanilla Milk Stout for a nursing friend of mine. 

    What about the rest of you?  Any other brewers in our midst?

  •  07-16-2006, 5:35 AM Post number 1256 in reply to post number 1232

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Hi Gowry,

    I would love to try my hand at home-brewing but basically have never quite managed to get off my backside and do it ;). I know that Adam Machanic, who uses these forums quite a bit, is an experienced home brewer.

    I'd be interested to hear what sort of equipment you use and recommend for a novice brewer.  Maybe this is the year I start...

    Cheers,

    Tony.

  •  07-16-2006, 6:00 PM Post number 1266 in reply to post number 1256

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Hi Gowry,

    As Tony indicated, I'm also a homebrewer.  Have been brewing on and off for about 12 years now, and (furiously knocking on wood) have only had one major failure in that time (an experimental brew that used 100% malted rye and which got scorched in the mash tun). 

    These days, due to living in a very small apartment, I don't brew too often.  Only during the winter, and I no longer do full-grain brews (but I've perfected my partial mash technique using a large grain bag, a strainer, and a tea kettle, and I'm quite happy with the results!)  I mostly brew amber or brown ales and fruit beers...  I also do two ciders each year -- always one "light" cider made from just sweet cider, and a second batch made with an adjunct (FYI: 4 lbs of brown sugar is the current winner).

    Tony: All you need to start is a big kettle, couple of carboys (or buckets, but I really don't like to use them except for fruit beers), a bit of vinyl tubing, a couple of stoppers, and an airlock.  Around 25 USD for the equipment plus 20 more for the ingredients and you'll be off and running.  Let us know when you're ready and we can recommend a good first batch to make.  My first brew, incidentally, was a cream ale, which I have never made again but keep meaning to -- it was good enough that it got me quite hooked on this hobby :)


  •  07-21-2006, 7:07 AM Post number 1381 in reply to post number 1266

    Re: Home Brewers?

    I'd love to try to brew some ginger beer.

    Does anyone have a really good recipe? I've seen some dreadful recipes that produce stuff that is undrinkable.

     

     

     

  •  07-21-2006, 9:48 AM Post number 1385 in reply to post number 1381

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Andrew Clarke:

    I'd love to try to brew some ginger beer.

    Does anyone have a really good recipe? I've seen some dreadful recipes that produce stuff that is undrinkable.



    Are you referring to an alcoholic end-product?  Here in the US, at least, "ginger beer" usually refers to a stronger form of ginger ale (a non-alcoholic soda flavored with a small amount of ginger).  Ginger beer is generally made by smaller independant soda makers who apparently feel the need for the drinker of their product to actually taste the ginger, whereas the ginger ale is made by huge companies who apparently think we only want to taste sugary carbonated water :)

    Either way, I think I have some recipes around here somewhere for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, so let me know what you're interested in.

  •  07-21-2006, 10:55 AM Post number 1386 in reply to post number 1385

    Re: Home Brewers?

    It is the very low alcohol drink made with brewers yeast and ginger root, sugsr and various other ingredients. There was a time that schoolchildren used to brew the stuff in large quantities. (as recorded in Enid Blyton's books, but she didn't seem to realise that there was a mild alcoholic content) Originally, it was a way of making water, that was a bit suspect, safe and pleasant for children to drink, because the heating process was enough to kill off bacteria and creepy-crawlies. 'Small Beer' was another similar drink. I remember it tasting remarkably good, and refreshing, completely unlike the ginger ale you buy in tins from the supermarket.
  •  07-21-2006, 11:38 AM Post number 1387 in reply to post number 1386

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Andrew Clarke:
    It is the very low alcohol drink made with brewers yeast and ginger root, sugsr and various other ingredients. There was a time that schoolchildren used to brew the stuff in large quantities. (as recorded in Enid Blyton's books, but she didn't seem to realise that there was a mild alcoholic content) Originally, it was a way of making water, that was a bit suspect, safe and pleasant for children to drink, because the heating process was enough to kill off bacteria and creepy-crawlies. 'Small Beer' was another similar drink. I remember it tasting remarkably good, and refreshing, completely unlike the ginger ale you buy in tins from the supermarket.


    OK, I'll look around my recipe file.  If not I bet we can create our own.  Would you expect the final result to be sweet or dry (or somewhere in-between)?  If you don't stop the fermentation process you'll end up with a very wine-like result (especially if you use table sugar, which will ferment out almost completely leaving no residual sweetness -- some other, longer-chain sugars, could be added to keep some sweetness in the final product).  Do you know how long it fermented or what they did with it afterwards?  E.g. did they bottle and carbonate it?


  •  07-21-2006, 12:20 PM Post number 1389 in reply to post number 1387

    Re: Home Brewers?

    We used to like it like champagne, the fizzier the better. It wasn't particularly sweet as I remember it, but plenty of ginger. We used to experiment with elderflower and elderberry, hops, and so on, but we may have just been pre-adolescent dope-fiends. (elderflower and hops have narcotic ingredients

    The reason Ginger Beer is so cooling in summer is that the ginger actually promotes sweating. The addition of hops provides a mild narcotic quality due to the resins in the hop flower  (the plant is of the family Cannabaceae, which tells you how and why). The Elderflower has a mild narcotic quality too but I don't know why. Try sniffing it or drinking elderflower wine and I defy you to stay awake. So ginger beer was the perfect brew to drink on a hot stuffy summer afternoon whilst watching cricket. Ideal for the busy programmer too!

    I have a beer recipe dating from the seventeenth century but it may not help us, particularly as it talks at some length about how you clarify pondwater by scooping off the surface sludge of the brew  with a spoon, as part of the brewing process!

  •  07-22-2006, 8:47 AM Post number 1399 in reply to post number 1389

    Re: Home Brewers?

    OK, I don't see anything similar to that in my collection.  So I'm going to try to create my own.  Here's my idea for an initial recipe:

    1 gallon spring water
    1 lb dark brown sugar
    6" ginger, peeled, roughly chopped, and bruised
    Juice of 2 lemons (to give it a bit of brightness?  is this a bad idea?)

    - Boil water.  Add brown sugar and ginger.  Let boil for 10 minutes.  Kill heat.  Add lemon juice.  Force cool to 70 degrees.  Pitch yeast (I'm thinking Chardonnay or Montrachet wine yeast will be a good choice -- neither of these yeasts are as attenuative as Champagne yeast, so will leave a bit of sweetness (Chardonnay moreso than Montrachet, but I think I have a packet of the latter sitting in my fridge at the moment so that's what will be used :)) -- and I'm not sure if an estery ale flavor profile will work here.

    What do you think?  Will this approximate what you used to drink, or have I missed some key element?


  •  08-07-2006, 10:57 AM Post number 1552 in reply to post number 1399

    Re: Home Brewers?

    I finally did this last night.  I used:

    1.5 gallons of spring water
    Approximately 20 ounces of brown sugar
    A lot of ginger <g> (maybe 8-10 tablespoons, freshly grated)
    Juice of 3 lemons

    Procedure: I boiled .5 gallons of the spring water, along with the brown sugar.  Let it boil for only a few minutes, just to kill anything that might have been in the sugar.  I wasn't too worried about the ginger or lemon, so I added them right when I killed the heat.  I force cooled the mixture, then mixed it up with the other gallon of water.  Pitched that packet of Montrachet yeast that was, indeed, sitting in a back corner of my fridge.  And it is now bubbling away in the carboy.

    I tried to take a photo to share, but it didn't come out too well (very dark, and my camera is out of battery power at the moment so I can't grab another one)... but here it is, anyway, in case you want to check it out!

    I'll let you know how it progresses as it continues to ferment.  Unlike many of the recipes I read yesterday before making this, I am not going to create a bomb in a bottle (or a keg) by halting fermentation early.  I think that's an incredibly dangerous practice, and those recipes that claim that chilling will halt fermentation are totally wrong.  It does slow it down, but does not halt it completely, and if you keep a bottle around long enough, it most likely will explode.  One of my favorite quotes from one of the recipes is something along the lines of, "... and it seems to get fizzier the longer you keep it!"

    I wonder how many eyes have been lost due to ginger beer bottle shrapnel?


  •  08-07-2006, 11:42 AM Post number 1556 in reply to post number 1552

    Re: Home Brewers?

    I'll give it a go. I've got a proper French corking machine (well it is just a gadget with a lever but I have to say that a home is not complete without one) and a good supply of corks. Fortunately, I'm rather partial to Sparkling Vouvray and so I have a large collection of tough bottles. I suspect we can cope with a little bit of secondary fermntation safely, even though the cellar may end up running in ginger beer.

    I was hoping to have 'Lashings of Ginger Beer' ready for the forthcoming Red-Gate Summer Party, but I suspect  I've left it too late.

    The explosion of Ginger Beer was always part of the fun of brewing it in childhood. I've always wondered how we survived without Health and Safety regulations, but I never heard of anyone being maimed by a ginger-beer bottle explosion. I suspect we always used corks then.

  •  08-07-2006, 12:06 PM Post number 1558 in reply to post number 1556

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Yes, corks are much safer, as long as you don't wire them.  If I were you I would store them upright in cardboard boxes with a bit of headroom, and lined with plastic.  And keep 'em cold.

    Beer bottles with crown caps are probably the worst bet from a safety point of view -- the caps will not release under pressure and as a result the bottles will explode... And they don't have the strength that good champagne bottles do.  Lots of brewers I've talked to have encountered the odd exploding bottle or two from time to time.  I never have (knocking on wood), but I've gotten close --  I once opened a bottle of a long-forgotten brew and after a very slight delay (it seemed the brew was almost deciding whether it should or shouldn't), half of the bottle's worth decided to jump out in a huge gusher which sprayed me, the cieling, and the wall in a huge brown splash.  Still, I'm happy that I opened it before things got worse!  Some other brewers I've spoken with have also blown up carboys -- not enough headroom left, or use of too-thin blowoff tubing for the krausen (the thick foam produced when beer is fermenting), so the carboy gets plugged up, pressure builds, and... boom!  One guy described waking up in the middle of the night and finding chunks of glass embedded in the walls around the carboy.  Good thing he wasn't in the room when it went off.

    For this experiment I'll be using my kegging system, which can easily handle 80 PSI (the most I've pressured it up to), so I'm not worried... but as I said, I'll also let it ferment out first.


  •  08-07-2006, 12:25 PM Post number 1559 in reply to post number 1558

    • WBrewer is not online. Last active: 02-08-2013, 2:47 AM WBrewer
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    Re: Home Brewers?

    This is a good recipe printed in the 1960s, but it seems to be a lot older as it goes on about using only oak casks to put the ginger beer into (I deleted that bit). It looks as if Adam is on the right lines. Why not put up a Ginger-Beer-Cam. We could all watch it brew then.

                Ginger Beer
    2 gallons water:
    31/2 lb loaf sugar:
    the rind and juice of 4 lemons:
    2 oz root ginger, well pounded:
    1 egg white:
    2 tablespoons yeast.

    Boil all together, with the exception of the lemon juice and yeast, for 10  minutes. Pour into a large crock to cool. Add the lemon juice, and when the liquid is 'milk warm' put in the yeast. Leave for 24 hours. Strain into a small cask and after 3-4 days close it. Bottle the liquid in 3 weeks and it will be ready to drink 3 weeks after that.

  •  08-07-2006, 3:28 PM Post number 1560 in reply to post number 1559

    Re: Home Brewers?

    WBrewer:

    This is a good recipe printed in the 1960s, but it seems to be a lot older as it goes on about using only oak casks to put the ginger beer into (I deleted that bit). It looks as if Adam is on the right lines. Why not put up a Ginger-Beer-Cam. We could all watch it brew then.



    Interesting, especially the egg white!  I've heard of using egg whites to help clarify wines and beers, but it's usually used raw, after fermentation (it's added, then allowed to settle out and the resultant--hopefully more clarified--brew is siphoned off. Note that there are better things to use than egg white, such as gelatine or bentonite; egg white is a really old ).  Boiling it up with the brew would result in something closer to egg drop soup, I'm betting :)

    I would set up a cam, but I think it would be about as entertaining as watching grass grow.  Imagine a brown mass of bubbling stuff with some weird floating debris and that's about as good as it gets!

    By the way, what's "loaf sugar"?

  •  08-07-2006, 4:13 PM Post number 1561 in reply to post number 1560

    • WBrewer is not online. Last active: 02-08-2013, 2:47 AM WBrewer
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    • London UK
    • Level 2: Deep Blue

    Re: Home Brewers?

    Loaf sugar is an old term for granulated sugar. Hmm.. looks like a very old recipe!
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