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.

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