Anyone here homebrewed? — Totseans

Anyone here homebrewed?

RemadERemadE Global Moderator
edited April 2012 in Life
So I was looking at things to do while in my last year of University. Even though the booze is cheap, I'd love to be able to brew my own.

Was wondering firstly what is the safest to make? Wine? Beer? Spirits seem to be just like a time bomb, not least as my extraction fan could spark and blow my bathroom up.

Has anyone here ever made Wine or Beer at home? I was checking out tutorials but would like a personal level of interaction. Will go into town to get aupplies later this week if I can think of where to get them on the cheap.

Comments

  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    I've made beer, lager wine and once had a still in the past. The best way is to buy a starter kit. You get everything you need to start off, and full instructions. The first batch you make will cost you for the equipment, but it still works out at about 1/2 the price of buying it ready made. The next batch you make will be dead cheap as you only need ingredients.
    This site sells everything you will need. A beer or lager kit costs about £63 to make about 40 pints. And they sell ingredients quite reasonably too.

    http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/index.html

    If you have any questions ask away.
  • RemadERemadE Global Moderator
    edited November 2011
    I suppose a purpose-built kit gives you the option to make as much as you want over the time it lasts which I like, not least as it's purpose-made.

    I was thinking, is it easier to make wine, as Beer can make off quite a stink I assume with all the yeast involved? I have a friend who makes the two and I certainly can tell the difference in his garage.
    I was thinking along the lines of something like this,

    but if that fails, then I can always go for a regulated kit where I know the %ABV of the end product which y'know, tends to help. Would like to live a few more years.
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    Beer is much easier to make than wine, I've ended up with more vinegar than bad beer lol in fact using the proper equipment I've never had a bad batch of beer or lager. The most important thing to remember is to sterilise EVERYTHING. Even down to funnels and measuring spoons and tubing.
  • RemadERemadE Global Moderator
    edited November 2011
    Yeah I remember my mates Dad telling me to be very sterile. I'll do some research on brewing beer. Anything that will save me cash in the long run :)
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    You can buy sterilising tablets, but the cheapest way is to use clear bleach watered down 50% with cold water. Immerse everything in the solution for 10 mins and rinse them well in cold water.
  • Darth BeaverDarth Beaver Meine Ehre heißt Treue
    edited November 2011
    I have an entire kit for home brewing including the ingredients, 60 bottles, and 60 caps. One of these days ima get off my ass and make some beer.
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    Homebrew comprises 90% of the stuff I drink now, to be honest. It's easy, cheap, and you pick up on improvements fast for the next batch.

    It's interesting that chippy finds beer easier to make than wine, as wine in my opinion is almost impossible to screw up. You can practically make it on accident. The only hard part is waiting a month or so for it to ferment. I've made everything from dandelion and other floral wines to fruit wines and proper grape wines. The key is making proper airlocks and having enough sugar for the yeast to convert to alcohol. If the alcohol content is high enough and the airlock reliable, it's never going to spoil. The main concern is stopping fermentation at the right time and racking before the sediment can have a negative impact on flavor. I'm an all natural guy and don't add shit like sulfites, and I don't filter. But I still get wines with good clarity because I take the time to rack and bottle to precision. Eventually you want a hydrometer to make sure you've got the right gravity. You can start out without one and have excellent wine but something about it makes you picky and you're going to insist on perfection.

    "Made wine" ales are also piss easy. They're basically ales made with a gruit and no malts. Bitter wine, basically. Nettles are really good for this.

    Mead has always been my pain in the ass brew to make. It takes longer to ferment, clarify, and taste best. But it's still fairly simple - at the base level it's just honey, water, and yeast.

    And that's really the "spirit" of homebrewing in my opinion. I used to be caught up on really "exotic" ingredients for making cool novelty wines that I couldn't even find online but the same basic ingredients can taste 1000 different ways. It's all in the details that go into making it. It's an art.

    I can't say I've made legit beer with hops, only ales because I'm cheap and I'm not going to buy hops. Instead I use ground ivy old-school style and malt my own cereals. I've got a few upcoming pursuits including an amaranth ale and a smoked oatmeal stout. Beer and ale can be quite the art as well, there's such a huge assortment of bittering agents and cereals to play with out there. And the bitter wines are almost limitless. Experimenting is half the fun. At my worst, I made a psychotropic ale with mugwort but that's for another time. :D

    The most important points are good airlocks, quality yeast, sterile equipment, a siphoning tube, and eventually a hydrometer. Also from experience, the less sugar you have to add, the better. Adding sugar in order to raise the alcohol level almost always makes the end product more harsh IMO. However, in some cases this can impart a desirable quality. I like to lay on the brown sugar in my bitter wines. Again, experiment.

    Oh yes, and if you've never had it before, you owe it to yourself to make a batch of hippocras from a good red wine. It's not really homebrew so much as a mixed drink. Easily my favorite "dessert" drink. I'd drink myself into a diabetic/alcohol poisoning coma with it if I had an unlimited supply.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    yes I agree, wine is far easier to make than beer.

    this is what I use to make before I was old enough to buy alcohol myself. mum figured it wouldnt taste good enough to drink and get drunk off so she diddnt care. she was wrong.............

    you will need!

    - electric jug
    - fruit
    - yeast (get wine yeast, not bread yeast or turbo yeast)
    - tea
    - sugar
    - one ballon
    - large bottle ( those water cooler ones work well)
    - tupper ware container
    -pot
    -funnel
    -pin

    firstly! be very very clean! bacteria is the enemy. so are fruit flys

    skin and chop up fruit into the tupperware container(leave the skins out haha) pour boiling water over the fruit till water covers the fruit and seal the container.

    leave for two or three days.

    strain fruit and water/ now juice mix and pour it into a large pot and bring it to a slow boil. add sugar, add the sugar with a ratio 4:1 ( a good guide is 1/4 cup of sugar to every 1 cup of water) stirr till sugar is dissolved. then grap your bottle. pour some boiling water into the bottle and slosh it around to kill any bacteria. then pour the juice into thee bottle (still hot). now brew a cup of tea and throw that in too (hold the milk and sugar). cover the top of the bottle and leave to cool to room temp.

    now add some yeast. I used to throw in about a table spoon. watch out you dont use too much or it will taste foul. them put the balloon over the top of the bottle and prick it with a pin.

    wait till the brew is more or less clear, bottle and enjoy! leaving it for a further 6 months will make it taste better.

    I perffered to use feijoas. tastes fucking beautiful!

    this will make you a very basic drinkabe fruit wine. if your really going to get into taste/ smell/ clear quality. your will need to refine the process more. using hydrometres etc, to get the right alcohol content and taste and so on.
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    I think the problem I had with the wine was, I was making the beer from kits and following instructions. The wine I was making from fresh fruit and using equipment I begged borrowed and stole and following recipe's handed down.
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    chippy wrote: »
    I think the problem I had with the wine was, I was making the beer from kits and following instructions. The wine I was making from fresh fruit and using equipment I begged borrowed and stole and following recipe's handed down.

    You should really give it another go, it's fun. I'd actually love discussing homebrew on here with you guys, I'm always bullshitting with a friend about it who makes just as much as I do. If it makes you feel any better, my first batch of wine was made in a bunch of individual 1.5L bottles because I didn't have any larger containers and I used a latex glove while fermenting with baking yeast. :facepalm:

    On the plus side, it was REALLY amusing to see the glove inflate and wave at everyone.

    It's pretty cool though how quickly you pick up on it. That batch wasn't too terrible but now apparently my wine is good enough for family to enjoy as well and some people buy bottles off me on occasion. I try to keep my cellar stocked with my own supply but it's hard when you drink proportionately to how much you make and I've almost always got various things in the back going.
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    I think that's the thing. Wine whilst easy to make, unless you have a lot of trial and error experience isn't as good as a decent wine off the shelf. Where as it's easy to make better then canned stuff from a beer kit.
    I remember the first batch of elderberry wine I made. I left it on top of the spare room wardrobe after it was bottled. Unfortunately it hadn't stopped fermenting, and upon returning from a fortnight's holiday, found that the ceiling and opposite wall were stained dark purple. Even after 3 coats of paint it showed through. I re papered the walls with lining paper and the stain showed through that too.

    I've rescued a few batches of sour white wine in the past by adding a little brandy to each bottle :)
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    Yeah it took me awhile to get something that honestly tasted as good as a $5 merlot or white zinfandel. The real disaster was my first bottle of mead. I didn't let it sit long enough and my yeast failed so the end result was this overly sweet but still alcoholic abortion of a drink that was absolutely awful. Of course, since it was done on new years I choked it down anyways along with my first attempt at biltong which was really dry and bland because I was using a "brush on" method of making it and not marinating.

    Good news is, it's really inexpensive to get to the point where the drink is good. But it's that way with all drinks, really. Got a bunch of dried fruit in the freezer and nothing to do with it? Make wine. Oatmeal on the shelf and weeds in the yard? Oatmeal stout. Maybe I'm just too much of a cheap ass to bother with kits.
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    You know, talking about it on here has stimulated my interest again. I may give it another go. I did produce a lot of good beer, and eventually made some good wine. I found the purpose bought grape juice made the better wine but it was more expensive. The best stuff I made was with the home made still. I used to bung all the crap and so so wine through it.
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    How did you make your still and how well did it perform? I've been wanting to make a copper one for awhile now but keep pushing it to the back burners.
  • chippychippy <b style="color:pink;">Global Moderator</b>
    edited November 2011
    Pressure cooker with some rubber tubing over the bit sticking up where the weight goes into some 8mm copper pipe bent into a coil immersed in a washing up bowl of cold water then down into a jug in the bottom of the sink.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    Psychlonic wrote: »
    You should really give it another go, it's fun. I'd actually love discussing homebrew on here with you guys, I'm always bullshitting with a friend about it who makes just as much as I do. If it makes you feel any better, my first batch of wine was made in a bunch of individual 1.5L bottles because I didn't have any larger containers and I used a latex glove while fermenting with baking yeast. :facepalm:



    haha I did the same thing, and i used normal store bought juice. yeast dont like preservatives :facepalm:

    yeh I'v been meaning to make some more as well. being a broke student means not much drinking so throwing some home brew in the cupboard wouldn't be such a bad idea.
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    I'm probably going to overcomplicate the whole process by making a big purpose built still that can be hauled around but knowing me when I get started on distilling spirits I'll want to keep doing it repeatedly so it could be worth it. Pretty much just a matter of getting motivated to do it.

    Spinster, are there many fruit trees or berry bushes where you live? A lot of people are cool with having someone come in and pick from their yard and it's a good way to fill buckets with fruit for booze. Most people don't even use the fruits from what I've found. Floral wine can be really difficult to work with because petals just don't pack sugar so you have to really add sugar to the must for any reasonable amount of alcohol content. Otherwise, you're only going to get maybe 5% alc. if you're lucky and it's easy to spoil because of this low number.

    A lot of ales should be really cheap for you to make as well, the biggest thing is being able to identify greens that are bitter but edible. This can be anything from dandelion to ground ivy or even mallow. You can get really interesting results using something with any sort of altering effect such as mugwort, wormwood, or wild lettuce but you need to know what you're picking. You use these to make a gruit in addition to spices if you like. You can use this with or without a malt and obviously, you can use hops just the same. Hops isn't magical, it's just a standardized bittering agent that became something of a legal requisite for beer in the early 15th century. As an example of a spruce beer recipe not using a malt:
    An American recipe from 1796 states:

    Take four ounces of hops, let them boil half an hour in one gallon of water, strain the hop water then add sixteen gallons of warm water, two gallons of molasses, eight ounces of essence of spruce, dissolved in one quart of water, put it in a clean cask, then shake it well together, add half a pint of emptins, then let it stand and work one week, if very warm weather less time will do, when it is drawn off to bottle, add one spoonful of molasses to every bottle.

    So you can hopefully imagine that you can make it from tons and tons of different plant combinations and more to the point do so cheaply and easily. The only things you'd really need are yeast and whatever type of sugar you prefer. Maybe some spices. Everything else you can grab from trees or the ground. Plus, you get to drink stuff nobody else is running around drinking. "Bud Light? Hell no bitch, I'm drinking prickly pear cactus wine..." :cool:
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    yeh my granparents have alot of fruit trees. I wanna make plum, kiwi fruit and some more feijoa wine. I have also wanted to give making mead a go too.
    you said something about making mead right?
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    Right. Mead is fairly simple but it's also the most expensive to make since honey prices are outrageous right now. Hopefully it's better over on your side of the pond. Find a recipe online to figure out how much honey you'll need for however much you're trying to make and from there I find the best thing to do is add the honey to your fermentation container and add in the water while it's boiling so it turns into a solution. Then wait for that to cool before adding everything else and especially before pitching the yeast. Wine or champagne yeast is necessary since under-fermented mead is way too sweet and it's pretty gross IMO. Adding a packet of tea works for mead as well. The best basic recipe I've had was honey, lemon peel, orange pekoe tea packet, and a small pinch of ginger per gallon/3.7L. Without a hydrometer, deciding when to stop fermentation is mostly guess work. In general, you're probably going to want to wait 6 weeks give or take one or two depending on how sweet or dry you like it. Rack and bottle, then wait another month before you drink it at minimum.

    So basically boiling water into container with honey on bottom, whatever shit you like, yeast, and be more patient than with wine.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    cool thanks. I might just make 1L for shits n giggles.
    Im going to try making beer in the future. but I think that I will cop out and buy a kit. :D
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    Right on, man. Happy brewing. I've put honest thought into raising a beehive just mead honey, but I'm juggling way too much crap already. I've heard that raw honey tastes way better. There are also some interesting recipes out there for burnt honey mead which is supposed to be quite the treat. Might be worth looking into.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    I wonder how well mead keeps, its got alcohol and honey in it so I would imagine it would last life time at least. do you reckon?
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited November 2011
    Spinster wrote: »
    I wonder how well mead keeps, its got alcohol and honey in it so I would imagine it would last life time at least. do you reckon?

    Actually I have no idea. Common sense says you'd be correct since both alcohol and honey are preservatives so if you racked it to perfection with no sediment and kept it in a cool, dark place it should last quite some time. I would look it up. Good luck on keeping a good bottle of mead around that long, though. :D
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    Psychlonic wrote: »
    Actually I have no idea. Common sense says you'd be correct since both alcohol and honey are preservatives so if you racked it to perfection with no sediment and kept it in a cool, dark place it should last quite some time. I would look it up. Good luck on keeping a good bottle of mead around that long, though. :D

    haha lol, being made from honey it might have good medicinal propertys too. thats give me an idea, but an expensive idea. Royal jelly wine?
  • dr rockerdr rocker Regular
    edited November 2011
    I have done a little and am from the land of mead. Its interesting to note that mead developed because monks kept bees primarily for wax to make candles so they could write scriptures and gospels whilst it would have normally been dark. They had to do something with the honey they got also, and so mead was perfected. I have found adding a little tea and lemon juice kick it along nice - its the tannin and citric acid, it helps the yeast. I think back in the day the monks would have had quite a few tannin rich products, as the gospels the monks wrote were written on velum - calf skin - and this itself would have had to have been cured, maybe with oak bark. They could have used a bit of that juice to kick start he brew back in the day.

    As for my method of keeping stuff clean - it gets washed so all physical traces of dirt are removed. It then either gets 100c water if it can stand it, if it cannot it get 40c water with bleach then a cold rinse. Never had a batch fail.

    I just use kits at the moment. When I was a kid I would malt my own barley and buy hops, but there were a lot more home brew shops then. I also put it on the back burner for a few years.

    If you are using kits, I would use at least a can and a half of the gloop per 40 pint brew. I know the can says in most cases 'do 30 but its good for 40' but this simply is not the case unless you add something like spraymalt - maltose extract. Beers made with sugar are not beers as wines made with sugar are not real wines, however I have done both and will do again depending on how much fermentables my batch has in it.

    The way I do my beer - bitter and stout mostly - is to do 80 pints at once. I start the yeast off first, dissolve a couple of spoons of sugar in a cup with boiling water, add cold so it is blood temp and add the yeast and stir. For each 40 pint fermenting bucket, I add a can and a half of stout or bitter gloup and half a pack of spray malt. Put boiling water in your containers before hand and have some extra spare to get all of the gloop from the cans. Add twice as much cold water (making sure what ever you use is clean - I use the kettle, as it has been boiled a lot recently, its pretty damn bug free) and feel the temp. You want it at blood temp and stir the yeast in.

    Let it be for a few hours for the yeast to take hold and then top it up to about 60-70% full. Do not fill it. Put the lid on it somewhere warm and out of the way. After 8 hours it will be near foaming - if you had filled the container it would overflow. You want it going quick so no wild yeast have a chance to breed in and taint the brew or cause settling problems.

    When it has finished fermenting, after 5-7 days I syphon it into a clean 40 pint barrel or fermenter and let it stand for 2-5 days, by which point it is pretty much clear. I syphon it into pint bottles primed with 1 tsp white sugar - you invariably get some yeast cary over and this refermentation gasses the beer in the bottle. While this creates a little more sediment, its no problem, as long as you do not throw the bottles around it stays in the bottom. I let them sit a week and then they get 2 days in the fridge. As long as you drink your beer from a glass like a propper gentleman its no probs.

    I have got some good recipes for things like elderflower champagne (laughably cheap to make) and ciders you may wish you had never learned to make due to their potency and complete ease of making with relativly little kit.

    Oh, and if you use two cans of gloop per 40 pint brew, you end up with some strong, thick stuff. It can be thicker than guinness or best scotch (if you know best scotch beer) and do not add so much water to cool it - let it cool on its own before you add the yeast as it could blow its top once it gets going.
  • PsychotogenPsychotogen Regular
    edited November 2011
    I did n' had great success. Theres a thread in here somewhere about what I did. I want to brew another one soon.
  • bra1234bra1234 New Arrival
    edited November 2011
    sanitation is the key fresh ingredients a good process and you can make a great beer.....There are plenty of places to get great variety....Currently have an Irish Ale, American Pale Ale, and Agave Whit....in the bottles.
  • Darth BeaverDarth Beaver Meine Ehre heißt Treue
    edited November 2011
    I have got to get off my ass and break out that kit I have for a year and give it a go.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
  • dibbsydibbsy New Arrival
    edited November 2011
    Yah ive homebrewed.Ive not done it in a while though.All you need is a fermenter,hopped malt extract,sugar,yeast and thats about it.Check out a brewing forum and you will find an answer to all your questions.If you want to keep it as cheap as possible you could do an inmate brew where you get a big bottle of fruit juice put yeast in shake it about then puncture a hole in a condom and put it over the lid wait at least a week then check it you should have alcohol.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited November 2011
    lol done that. dosent work, fruit juice has preservative in it.
  • dr rockerdr rocker Regular
    edited December 2011
    Spinster wrote: »
    lol done that. dosent work, fruit juice has preservative in it.

    Some of it does, but it is mostly cordial that has preservative in rather than juice. I have made shit loads of turbo cider with cartons of apple juice. For best results, check the ingredients - the preservative I see most often is sodium metabisulphate, although I have fermented juices that contain that.
  • SpinsterSpinster Regular
    edited December 2011
    yeh I used apple juice and it worked, but black current or anything berry ended up with a queer taste. it was like the additives diddnt agree with the alcohol or something. I think the berry drinks have less real juice to keep the price down.
  • dr rockerdr rocker Regular
    edited December 2011
    I have had success with fermenting Ribena cordial, dont know if you get that in NZ? If things contain artificial sweeteners, they would taste wrong, but I try my best to avoid anything like that anyway.
  • DaktologistDaktologist Global Moderator
    edited December 2011
    dr rocker wrote: »
    I have had success with fermenting Ribena cordial, dont know if you get that in NZ?

    Yeah you can. I love the stuff.
  • PsychlonicPsychlonic Regular
    edited December 2011
    I don't know the brands used, but I know some people have had success with frozen fruit juices that you're supposed to mix in a pitcher with water. It's possible. For what it's worth, you can also make a decent wine using seedless grapes from the produce section. They're usually pretty cheap. It's not the same thing as using actual wine grapes at all, but the end product is still good and if nothing else still makes a decent hippocras compared to other non-grape wines.
  • edited April 2012
    definitely trying what that guy in the youtube video did.
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