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.