Friday, 4 September 2009

Beer 003 notes.

Beer 003 is still around 4 and a bit months in. It's not a bad drop if I'm honest, but it's a bit of a pain because it fizzes madly when opened and has a tendency to stir up the sediment. I managed to open some this evening without it going too mad.

I want some Coopers IPA. Daz made some of that and it's just lovely.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Decisions, decisions

I've not got anything fermenting at the minute, due to not having a kit. I do however, have 20 one litre cartons of Princes apple juice. We did an on-line shop and it was a 2-for-1 offer so I thought, as I didn't have to carry them up the road I might as well. I can't decide whether to just chuck it all in the fermenting bin and do a large batch, or whether to continue with the smaller, experimental batches.

Daz and I are supposed to be going up the allotment today. One of the jobs is to pick and dry some nettles to make tea, as I saw a program on TV that said it's good for hayfever, which Daz suffers from. I had the bright idea of picking a bin liner full and making a nettle beer after seeing some recipes on-line, so that might get done this weekend.

My mate Martin, also said he has a pressure barrel and fermenting bin that he might want to give me on permanent loan. He's got a young baby and needs the room for pushchairs and the like. That will give me loads of fermenting capacity, or the possibility to do clearing using finings plus of course meaning that I can forget bottling (hurrah!). I could possibly convert one bin into a boiler at some point too.

Beer 003 -Bottled

I bottled the Coopers bitter last weekend.

2009-04-25: Gravity: 1012, bottled. Estimate 4.4%.

Cider 004 -Bottled

Cider 004 stopped fizzing and got bottled during the week.

2009-04-28: Gravity: 1006, Bottled. Estimate around 5.8%

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Cider 004 - Still Fizzing a little

The cider had settled down last night so I chucked most of a litre of apple juice into it. About an hour later it had fizzed and foamed again. This afternoon sees it settled down again, with a small amount if fizzing with my ear stuck to the FV.

2009-04-25: Gravity: 1006

Beer 003 - Finshed?

Beer 003 still has some foam on the top but has dropped to 1012. Will take another reading tomorrow.

2009-04-25: Gravity: 1012

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Beer 002 - Two months after bottling

Opened a bottle of Beer 002, now just over two months from bottling. It's definitely improved with age. I still maintain that it won't win any awards, but it's drinkable and that's the main thing.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Turbo Cider 004 - Pineapple

I decided to mix it up a little and started a batch of TC with 3L Sainsburys apple juice and 1L Princes pineappple juice, again using Youngs wine yeast.

2009-04-19: Pitched 4L (3 AJ/1 Pineapple), Gravity: 1050

Beer 003 - Coopers Bitter + Geordie Beerkit Enhancer

In a very rushed bit of brewing, which i hope comes out OK, I got this kit on.

2009-04-19: Pitched, Gravity: 1044

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Beer 002 & Cider 003

Beer 002 certainly wasn't too much of a success in comparison to version 001. Saying that though, it is drinkable, just not really nice. That being said, I haven't had any for a couple of weeks so it might have matured a bit more.

Cider 003, disappeared without hitting the sides when we had people round a few weeks ago. They said it made them feel very silly.

Finally... round to getting the makings of another brew. What with visitors and starting work and the allotment, I simply haven't had time to sort a brew out. I had been thinking about trying some extract brews, but I've chickened out for the moment and gone with a Coopers bitter kit (with beerkit enhancer). Hopefully I'll get that on and brewing at the weekend.

I've also shifted the desk out of the small room and upstairs into the bedroom, leaving the small room free for my brewing antics.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Beer 002 - First taste

After 3 weeks in the bottle I couldn't resist a taste of the poor performing Woodfordes Wherry kit. In all honesty it's not that great. It's drinkable, certainly not horrible, but just a bit bland. I don't think I'll do one of those kits again. I still have nothing fermenting. What with taking on an allotment, starting work and having people over to visit I haven't really had any time to get to a shop to buy another kit/some apple juice. I may just have to do a big online order instead.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Nothing fermenting

Because of family visits I have literally nothing fermenting at the moment. And I feel strangely sad because of it. Still, I have plenty to think about, with starting a new job in a couple of days. Hopefully, after the weekend and the family visits out of the way, the vessels can be filled again and away we go!

Turbo Cider 003 - Bottled

I also bottled the third Turbo Cider while I was bottling the Wherry.

2009-02-12 Gravity: 1006. Bottled.

Beer 002 -Bottled

After several successive hydrometer readings of 1016 I bottled the Woodfordes Wherry. It tasted sweet and bitter at the same time, not very beery whilst bottling. I do not hold out much hope for this being a successful brew. However time in the bottle may do something magical, so we will see. Stocks of Beer 001 are now perilously low.

2009-02-12 Gravity: 1016. Bottled, estimate circa 3.4%

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Turbo Cider 003 - Fast fermentation

Turbo Cider 003 had finished it's fizzing within about 3 days, although because of people being here I didn't get to do anything with it.

2009-02-10 Gravity: 1006.

Turbo Cider 002 - Taste

Gemma had been into a bottle of Turbo Cider 003 over the weekend, when Cider 001 was finished. She was quite remiss in her tasting duties, as she didn't report that there was a difference from TC 001. I found out as I opened a bottle to make a cider sauce/gravy with last nights meal and used the rest of the bottle as a taster. The verdict? This had a lot more of an apply sharp taste to it, a lot more body overall. This is curious as it was just apple juice chucked in over the goo from the previous batch. Curious.

Beer 002 - Unstuck

It looks like the nutrient and extra yeast has done something, as the Wherry has now slipped below the dreaded 1020.

2009-02-10 Gravity: 1016.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Weekend

Over the weekend I enjoyed several bottles of Beer 001, which turned out to be rather drinkable. We had Jo & Andy up and between the four of us managed to polish off a substantial amount of the supply of beer and cider.

I also managed to get down to Brewmart to pick up some yeast nutrient and a couple of packets of Safale S04. I made up a small solution of yeast nutrient and added it to Beer 002 along with a packet of the Safeale. I'm leaving it alone for a few days, then I'll check the hydrometer reading.

Unfortunately Brewmart in Hillsborough is closing soon, they are consolidating to their other shop on the other side of town. This is kind of out of my way, so I may have to start ordering on-line.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Beer 002 - Most likely stuck

I checked again this morning to see whether there had been any movement on the hydrometer. There hasn't been so I think that it has stuck. I've given the sediment a bit of a stir up to try and re-suspend the yeast, and I'll pick up some yeast nutrient this afternoon. Hopefully that will get it moving again.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Turbo Cider 003 - With tea

Prior to bottling Turbo Cider 002, I made a cup of tea with a couple of teabags, stewed until the tea cooled. After bottling and leaving a little of the cider/sludge mixture in the bottom of the fermentation vessel, I added 3L of apple juice, along with the cup of tea. The idea being that the tannins from the tea might give the cider a little bit more body.

Turbo Cider 002 - Bottled

The second Turbo Cider got chucked in 4 x 1L PET bottles this morning (2009-02-04). One of the bottles was a little short as I was trying to leave some in the bottom of the fermentation vessel for the next batch. I topped this off with a litle apple juice, which should mean it will introduce some carbonation in the bottle.

Beer 002 - Stickiness

I checked the Woodfordes Wherry kit this morning, and I can't be sure I hadn't made a mistake with the hydrometer reading last time, so I'm going to leave it another day, check again and then try and fix.

2009-02-04 Gravity: 1018

Monday, 2 February 2009

Beer 001 - Ready (according to kit instructions)

Since it was just after the fortnight anniversary (2009-02-02) of bottling the Young's kit, and as such the kit instructions recommended maturing time, I decided to crack a bottle open. The difference between the early taste and now is quite remarkable. The beer has lost the 'tang' that it had, there is no detectable yeasty smell upon pouring. I'd be lying if I said it was the best pint I've ever had, but on the flip-side it's certainly not the worst I've had either. It's an OK pint, and if it continues to get better in the bottles it'll be very good. The wisdom from Jim's forum seems to suggest at least an additional week before it's at it's prime, i.e. the kit's underestimate the amount of time required, probably so they can emblazon 'ready in 3 weeks' on the box.

Turbo Cider 002 - Ready

The cider has completely stopped fizzing. To be honest I haven't checked it nearly as much as the first lot.

2009-02-02 Gravity: 1006. Still would've thought that the wine yeast would let it get down further. Will be going in bottles when I free one up.

Beer 002 - Stuck?

Just checked the second batch of beer, hydrometer reads 1020, which seems to be the sticking point. I'll give it another check tomorrow and if it hasn't moved I may have to add some yeast nutrient or something to it.

2009-02-02 Gravity: 1020.

Turbo Cider 001 - Tasting

We cracked into the cider on Friday night (2009-01-30), this was after less than a week in the bottle. We were very pleasantly surprised. It smelled and tasted like cider, not unlike that which I've had in pubs before. If anything it lacked body, certainly in comparison to Weston's ciders, which are Gemma's favourites. I will have to have a think about what we can do about that, I have seen strong black tea mentioned (for the Tannin), so perhaps I'll give that a bash.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Beer 002 - Slow burner, Turbo Cider 002 - Fizzing

Maybe it's a little colder in the spare room at the minute, but the Woodfordes Wherry kit isn't doing much. It has developed a small layer of foam over the top, but certainly hasn't been as vigorous as Beer 001, which left traces of foam on the lid. As long as it ferments out in the next fortnight, as we have people coming to stay and I have been ordered that I mustn't be brewing when they are here.

Turbo Cider 002, on the other hand is fizzing away nicely.

Beer 001 - Early taste

I caved a week after bottling. With only some horrible Bulmer's pear cider in the house, and me fancying a drink, I thought I'd sample the beer. I thought it tasted OK, if a little 'home-brewy'. Gemma tried some and really liked it, saying she thought it tasted quite fruity. I will endeavour to leave it for another couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Turbo Cider 002 - Addition

Whilst I was making Gemma grumble at me for splashing wort about the spare room I decided to top up the second batch of TC.

2009-01-27 Added 1L apple juice. The cider was fizzing, but not frequently popping the cap before this addition.

Beer 002 - Woodfordes Wherry

Despite a massive thread about Munton's produced kits sticking well above the final gravity that they are supposed to get to, I went ahead and bought a Woodfordes Wherry kit. Mainly because I was in Wilkinsons anyway and they are a few quid cheaper there.

The Wherry kit is a premium, 2 can kit, so no additional fermentables are required.

2009-01-27 Gravity: 1042? Difficult to get a reading, despite trying to scrape the 'scum' to the side of the barrel, the hydrometer seemed to have a magnetic attraction to it. I think the bottom of the meniscus was at 1042. It's probably all wildly out anyway as I'm not correcting for temperature.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Turbo Cider 002 - Started

Whilst bottling Turbo Cider 002, I stopped short by about 0.5L (probably a little less because of spillage whilst syphoning). On top of this, hoping it was full of healthy yeast waiting to do it's magic, I threw in another 3L of juice and popped the lid back on again (loosely). I'm assuming a OG of 1048, since that is what the apple juice is when measured, even though the 0.5L will dilute it somewhat.

Turbo Cider 001 - Bottling

I had a weekend away, and hoped that the cider would continue it's clearing. It didn't seem to do much, although the top was definitely clearer than the bottom of the bottle. I took another hydrometer reading which was exactly the same, so I decided to bottle anyway.

2009-01-26 Gravity: 1006. So estimate 5.5% abv. Bottled into 1L PET bottles, unprimed and bunged in the cupboard with the first batch of beer. Sneaky taste whilst bottling showed that this brew is currently sharp and apple tasting, probably drinkable, but we'll let it age for a week or two and hopefully clear again (I fear my syphoning skills could do with improvement.)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

How am I supposed to wait?

I read the other day that the ideal minimum maturing time for home brewed beer is the value of the original gravity above 1000 divided by 2, in days. That's another 3 weeks, minimum, until I can drink my brew, that is something I am struggling with! I don't think I'll be able to resist a sneaky pint before then, obviously just for research purposes. Learning the noble art of home brewing, it seems, is a journey and to truly understand the maturation process of the beer I must obviously taste it at various points along that road.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Turbo Cider 001 -Gravity check

The first batch of turbo cider has slowed it's fizzing substantially. I'm looking at a very slight hiss and not much popping from the lid. I intend to leave it until it clears a bit before bottling. I think for this first attempt I will prime with just a dash of apple juice in each bottle as Gemma prefers a still cider. I will have bought some more apple juice as I'm going to bung another batch straight in the fermentation vessel (that sounds rather grand for a 5L water bottle) on top of the yeast sludge that is left to see what happens.

2009-01-21: Gravity: 1006. Fizzing very faintly.

Beer 001 - Very fast priming?

I had a quick look at the PET bottles that I filled with Beer 001 yesterday, perhaps I should have given it a stir to agitate the yeast and see if it would ferment a little more. The bottles, although not rock solid, have already lost their squished parts, so the priming seems to be happening awfully fast. Of course I'm not sure if that is normal or not. Oh well, I'll leave them to get rock hard and then move them to the cellar. My readings of the forum seem to indicate that I should be alright with PET bottles and the maximum pressure they can take.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Turbo Cider 001

One of the things that jumped out at me from reading the Jim's Beer Kit forums was how much fun people were having making Turbo Cider. Named for the speed in which a brew can be put together, it simply consists of supermarket apple juice and a bit of yeast. There are various ways of putting it together and people are wildly experimenting with the addition of different juices, etc. I decided to go for the basic version, so bought a 5L water bottle from the supermarket to act as a fermenting vessel and cracked on with it.

5 x 1L Netto apple juice (Branded Sungrove, 11.1g sugar/ml, Gravity: 1048)
1x tsp Young's wine yeast compound

Assuming sanitised equipment. Stick 3L juice in the fermentation vessel. Add the yeast. Shake well. Replace the lid but leave it loose to allow CO2 to escape.

2009-01-16: Gravity: 1048. I tested the gravity on a carton of juice as it seemed easier. Pitched on this date.
2009-01-17: Some foaming had occured, not madly squirting out volcanoes like other people had had.
2009-01-18: Had cleared up slightly with noticable sediment on the bottom of the fermenting vessel. Added 1L of juice. Checked a while later, fizzing steadily with the lid popping every second or so.
2009-01-19: Fizzing away still, stuck another 0.5L in. In the evening used the hydrometer, Gravity: 1018.
2009-01-20: Still fizzing, but maybe less intensely. Gravity: 1010.

Beer 001 - Youngs Bitter with Geordie Beerkit Enhancer

The first brew to go in was the tin that came with the kit, a basic Young's bitter. I picked up a packet of Geordie beer-kit enhancer (50% Dried Malt Extract/50% Dextrose) rather than use sugar.

1 x Young's Bitter Kit
1 x 1kg Geordie beer-kit enhancer
3.6L Boiling water
Cold water to 5g

Using sanitised equipment, loosen bitter kit by standing in a bowl of boiling water. Add to fermentation vessel, sprinkle on beer-kit enhancer add boiling water and mix well. Add cold water and allow to cool to between 18-23 degrees C (This was guesswork). Sprinkled on yeast packet and then gave it a good stir. Carried bucket upstairs and wondered why on earth I didn't do the kitchen stuff then add all the water upstairs.

2009-01-14: Gravity: 1043. Pitched on this date.
2009-01-17: Gravity: 102? Hard to read hydrometer because of foam on the surface.
2009-01-19: Gravity: 1012.
2009-01-20: Gravity: 1012. Initially I had thought the fermentation might go lower than that, but then I realised that the reason the beer-kit enhancer is supposed to enhance is that it contains non-fermentables which should give body to the beer. I decided that the brew was ready to bottle, and so cracked on with that. Estimate 4% a.b.v. (according to

A couple of trips to Netto got me a mix of 2L and 1L PET bottles from lemonade and tonic water. Both were foul so the bulk of the contents ended up going down the sink. It's probably helping to clear the drains out as we speak. I sanitised the bottles (hopefully properly), using sodium metabisulphate as that is what came in the kit. I shall be purchasing some thin unscented bleach when I next go to the supermarket. This process was quite messy and I managed to get rather wet.

With the help of Gemma and a re-purposed washing up bowl we managed to get the stack of bottles filled without completely messing up the spare room. We simply used granulated sugar to prime and gave the bottles a squeeze before putting the lid on so the CO2 has a somewhere to go. The bottling experience did leave me slightly yearning for a keg though. That's on the future shopping list. A sneaky glass filled whilst bottling was tasted. Quite nice, no obviously awful tang to it, nice bitter after-taste. Should be good when it's had a chance to condition.


Andy kindly bought us a brewing kit when we moved in. The kind where you get all the basic equipment, a bucket, hydrometer, syphon tubing, cleanser and a bitter kit. I hadn't gotten round to starting it for one reason or another, but put that firmly on the list to do in the New Year. So here we are and I have brewed my first brew (more to come later).

I've done my customary thing of having a bit of a read around the subject and found the excellent Jim's Beer Kit forums which are chock full of advice on all sorts of brews. I've lurked a little, found out quite a lot, and hopefully this will stand me in good stead for my future brewing adventures.