The Homebrew Project (kit based) pt1

Whilst I have been busy with my marine tank (I have a major red slime algae issue, another entry will be needed for this), I have restarted the production of my own beer.

As a few people have asked “how do you make your own beer”, I decided to add an entry to my blog, This guide covers kits.

So First Things First…

The Kits…

I have tried quite a few kits, or real ales (bitters/blondes), however I have found only the “all malt kits” to my liking, These are generally 2 can kits, or a single can kit, and then purchasing, dried spray malt. In this guide I will be brewing “Woodfordes Wherry” a traditional English Bitter Ale, at around 4.6% -> Clicky Link

Next the equipment you will need…. For the first stage you will need

a) a primary fermenter, I use these clicky
b) steriliser to make everything nice and clean
c) an air lock, I use these clicky
d) a spoon with a long(ish) handle
e) a kettle to boil water
d) a container big enough to hold you cans to warm them
e) a thermometer
f) hydrometer and Trial Jar
g) your chosen beer kit (+ brewing sugar/spray malt, if your kit requires)

for stage 2 you will need

a) 40 or so empty 500ml beer bottles (finding and cleaning enough beer bottles is probably the hardest part of this process)
b) a bottle capper
c) 40 new crown caps

1) First things first, time to get the primary fermenter cleaned and sterilised

I use these to sterilise equipment (they are 73p a pack from ASDA), just pop 3 tablets into 10l of warm water and swish around making sure every surface has had contact every 5 mins for 40 mins.

As these are chlorine based, you need to make sure all equipment is fully washed out (several times) to ensure no residue is left, as this will kill the yeast, or leave a taint (The home brew taste) to your beer.

2) Next task is to make sure the cans are warmed. This is to make sure the extract is easy to pour out of the cans. So place them into a suitable sized pan and fill with boiling water.

3) leave for around 15 mins, then pour the contents of both cans into your primary fermenter.

4) Now start the kettle an boil, and refill the cans with boiling water into the to ensure as much extract as possible is transferred from the cans, then pour this into your fermenter.

Nice empty cans….

5) Now boil the kettle again, and pour this into the primary fermenter

6) Now with a suitable sterilised spoon mix, to ensure the extract is fully dissolved. I store the spoon used in one of the empty can. We will need this spoon later…….

7) Now we need to fill the fermenter up to the levels required, this kit needs us to fill up to 23 litres, however I usually brew short (which makes a slightly stronger beer), so I will be filling up to the 20 litre mark. As our water tastes horrible, it has a huge amount of chlorine, which give the beer “the home brew taste”, I use my Reverse Osmosis unit to filter the water (remembering to disconnect the DI unit). Plain RO water is OK for kits, however for All Grain methods I will need to re-add minerals.

Time to kick back and wait a while, it takes around 2 hours to filter, to fill up to the required amount….. (an excuse to drink a beer :D)

8) Next we need to aerate the Wort, as we need Oxygen in there to feed the yeast, so grab that spoon we stored in item 6 (you did keep it clean didn’t you???) and give it a “good mix” for say 5 mins

You should end up with something like this

9) Make sure the wort is around 18c-20c (this is important, if its too hot you will kill the yeast, or too cold stall the ferment). Sprinkle the yeast into fermenter and give it a good stir to make sure the yeast is fully mixed.

10) Now Put the lid on the fermenter, and add the air lock and place somewhere that will stay at around a stable 18c.

11) Next its time to wait… This kit says “ready to bottle in 4-6 days, or when the bubbles stop”, this is rubbish… Wait until the Specific Gravity stays stable for 2-3 days (see part 2 of this guide on how to use a hydrometer), plus a few days to allow the beer to clear a bit, this usually takes around 10 days.

So its may….

its warm… so the maybug, or

The common cockchafer
Latin name : Melolontha melolontha

are out in force

The isopod trap

This is how I made my isopod trap

Items I used to build the trap

1 * Small jam jar (cleaned and sterilized)
1 * The top cut off a 2 litre bottle (I used a Vimto bottle)
2 *  elastic bands hair bands as I could not find any elastic bands big enough!


Next I drilled a 6 mm hole into the bottle cap


Then using the elastic bands to hold the cap in place, place the bottle cap inverted into the jar, so hopefully the isopods find their way in but cannot get back out.


I bait using tetra marine crisps as they dissolve slowly an the pods really love them for some reason!!!

Nearly there

Well tonight is a very disappointing night for isopod hunting, I caught a grand total of 5 larger pods and a few of the smaller ones, I’m hoping it won’t be long till I have am rid of this pest!

Day 2 of the isopod hunt

Day 2 of the isopod hunt, made a few minor modifications to the trap, to make it a bit easier to assemble.

caught around 60-100 pods…

The hunt continues tomorrow night!

So… I built a Cirolanid isopod trap

So after doing a bit of reading on the internet…. I decided to build a trap….

The original idea came from here :

So I built something similar to half way down on the page…. and placed the trap into the DT and this is what happened after approx 4 mins….

Now im off to do some more  more hunting….

I have a cirolanid isopod problem :(

Whilst performing a bit of maintenance…. One of these decided to take a liking to my hand….

Now I have captured a couple more

Unfortunately after closer examination, they seem to be cirolanid isopod; which are not good to have in any marine tank. Luckily they seem to love marine flake food, so im busy trapping them to rid me of this pest.

Silencing the TMC V2 120 Skim

One thing that has really been annoying me over the last few weeks, is the horrendous noise the skimmer makes. The unit in question is the TMC v2 Skim 120 (

After a bit of playing around, I found the source of the noise is the air inlet on the unit. So time to get the Dremel out….

First step, is to split the unit as per the manufacturers instructions,

Here are some pictures of the bit we will be removing :

Now time to get the dremel and drill out…

First remove the top of the air intake :

Now I removed the blue air-intake and removed this bit

I had a bit of spare 6mm air tubing with a silencer on the end


So i drilled the hole that was left, out to 6mm

Now time to re-assemble…

First remove the blue pipe completely from the mixing head, and push your new hose onto this

Now re-assemble as per manufacturers instructions..

The skimmer re-assembled

Silence 🙂

Please note: this is a Guide only, I take no responsibly for you damaging your own equipment, yourself, or your tank.

LED light upgrade

So I have been busy researching on replacing the 2*18 compact pl lights that have are installed within the hood.

My main reasons for this are that

1) I want more lighting, so I can have more complex coral
2) I want to reduce the running costs (60 GPB every 6 months for bulb replacements will be expensive) along with the current load which for the hood is approx 70(ish) watts
3) To reduce the total heat load on the system, currently I am evaporating 1-2l of water a day
4) I want to keep the hood on the display tank

So to look at off the shelf units, the TMC Aquabeam 100 reef light is sort of what I require (; however, this unit on its own is over 200 gpb, and the lighting controller is around 80 gpb… I would really like a bit more light (so 1.5 of these units)…

So time to investigate a home build solution, which will be integrated with the new Raspberry Pi I have on order (so to get some nice lighting effects),

So what I can calculate so far (I am awaiting some demo units from china to confirm my calculations)

the system will need a total of (hardware)

7* Cree XPG Q5 LED’s
8 * Cree XRE Royal Blue LED’s
2 * dimmable 27w constant current led drivers (maybe more at a lesser wattage depending on my effects programmming)
1 * 300mm x 250mm heatsink
1 * (possibly) 120mm fan
10 * xml 80 deg lenses
5 * XRE 80 deg lenses

a shed load of C++ code to control it all…

so here’s awaiting the samples so I can “test” things 🙂

New Fish

well today, i did intend on just getting water from the LFS, but unfortunately this little beauty caught my wifes eye, so now we have a new Orchid Dottyback.

It is somewhat shy at the moment….