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Lugh Ildánach

Home Brew Guide

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This is designed for those who received home brew kits over xmas and are ready to start brewing, although of course it can be used at any time. Its for kit brewing. I hope to make the transition to extract and all grain brewing early this year, and of course, I'll post up the details when I do.

 

I'm starting with a Coopers Irish Stout kit, but the instructions work for any of the kits.

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OK, the basics of home brewing can be divided into three steps

 

1. Initial fermentation

2. Secondard fermentation

3. Bottling

 

For those who only have the time to homebrew at the weekends, a basic rule is that beer stays 1 week in the initial fermentation, 2 weeks in the second fermenter, and 3 weeks in the bottle before its ready. 1-2-3

 

The first stage is the initial fermentation, and its very simple.

 

First of all, sanitise all your equipment, either with sanitiser tablets that are provided with the kit, or simply with cold water, bleach and vinegar. Don't forget to sanitise your paddle or whatever you're going to stir with, and your container for taking a sample for testing (i find a plastic cup is much easier to get a sample with than using the sample tube that comes with the hydrometer). Also don't forget to sanitise your airlock and anything else that is going to come into contact with your mix (eg. thermometer)

 

The bleach and vinegar combine to make the bleach much stronger. A cap of bleach and two of vinegar is enough for about 5 litres of water, and this should be enough to sanitise all you need for the first step. Put everything that is going to touch your brew into the bucket, put 5 litres of cold water in and add the bleach and vinegar. Fix the lid on the bucket and shake it up so that it goes all round the bucket and everything in it. Leave it for at least 2 minutes (about 10-15 minutes if you're using sanitiser or no vinegar), and then rinse everything and the bucket with hot water.

 

Hot water deactivates bleach, so you use cold water for sanitising and hot water to rinse afterwards.

 

While you are waiting for the sanitising, bring approx 4-5 litres of water to the boil in a pot.

 

Take the yeast out of the top of your kit (its usually held inside the lid), and place the unopened kit into a sink of warm water to soften up the contents. Leave the yeast to the side in a dry spot.

 

Put the amount of sugar that you need for the kit you're using into the boiling water and stir to make sure its dissolved. The kit I'm using calls for adding one kilo of dark spraymalt. For pilsner and lagers, you'll probably be using simple glucose (also known as brewing sugar) or an extra light malt so that the delicate flavours aren't overpowered. For ales, use a light or medium/amber malt, and for darker beers, a dark malt. There is also wheat malt for wheat beers and all sorts of fancy malts and sugars too. If you have a liquid malt, then simply add it into the bucket, it doesn't need to be dissovled first.

 

Once your equipment is sanitised and rinsed thoroughly, open the kit with a tin opener and pour it into the bucket. Use your boiling water to rinse out the remains of the tin, and add to the bucket.

 

Then fill up the bucket to the required amount (for my recipe and most Coopers kits, this will be the 23 litre mark on your bucket). Yeast can tolerate up to 30 degrees and ideally should be at least 18 degrees to start with. You can use a thermometer if you're worried about the temperature, but with this amount of boiling and cold liquid, it should end up about 20 degrees which is fine. For more complicated all grain brewing temperature control is more important, but its pretty simple when you're using kits.

 

Once you have your bucket filled up to the required amount, take a sample with your hydrometer and record the Original Gravity. This is the base level which will be used to calculcate how much alcohol is in your beer. As the brew ferments, this number will decrease towards 1000, usually somewhere between 1004-1008 depending on the recipe. Most coopers kits start off about 1035-1040.

 

Then sprinkle your yeast on top of the liquid and give a good stir to get as much air through the liquid as possible (this helps the initial yeast growth).

 

Put on your lid and fix the air lock. It should be kept at room temperature, somewhere where temperatures aren't going to fluctuate too much (DO NOT keep in your hotpress). If the temperature in the house is likely to dip much below 15 degrees, then place a blanket around the bucket to help trap some of the heat from the fermentation. Lagers and pilsners are more tolerant of colder temperatures.

 

It should start to bubble within 12-24 hours and within 2 days should be bubbling a few times every minute. This frequency should start to decrease a little after about a week.

 

So, we're ready to leave this be in a corner and we'll come back to it in a week. Of course, if this is your first kit, then you'll be sitting watching the bubbles for a week in amazement!

curious, Fodla32 and nico like this

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Sounds great! I'd love to get into it but only in a small flat at the moment, so not really practical. I'll refere back to this info though if I ever get into a bigger place. Would love to do a cider.

 

The cider that we do is delicious, although there's loads of other different kits as well. The one we use is the Finlandia Apple & Pear Cider. We tried a couple of other kits but they didn't come close. Its really full of flavour, sweet, but not too sweet, and at least 6%!!!

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I have begun to ferment some cider from a kit this morning.  I've been going about like a demented Paracelsus heating pots and stirring mysterious liquids while chuckling to myself.  The batch is bubbling away nicely.  It's a very satisfying process.

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I have begun to ferment some cider from a kit this morning.  I've been going about like a demented Paracelsus heating pots and stirring mysterious liquids while chuckling to myself.  The batch is bubbling away nicely.  It's a very satisfying process.

 

Its such a soothing noise those bubbles coming from your new baby, I could listen to it for hours!  Although don't make the mistake I did and have it in the bedroom, or you'll be up all night!!  I also keep mine wrapped in blankets to keep the temperature constant (although probably not needed during the summer!).

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Its such a soothing noise those bubbles coming from your new baby, I could listen to it for hours!  Although don't make the mistake I did and have it in the bedroom, or you'll be up all night!!  I also keep mine wrapped in blankets to keep the temperature constant (although probably not needed during the summer!).

Mine is bubbling far more today than it did yesterday.  Must be the heat, it's 27 celsius in the bucket according to the thermometer.

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Siphony siphon, bottlely bottle, capeddy cap cap.  Muwha ha ha!  This is how Jesus must have felt at the Wedding Feast of Cana.

 

And on the eighth day Moogie said "Let there be cider bottling.  And yea there was cider bottling."

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Its legal to brew beer and cider isn't it? Aka my landlord next year won't go ape shit if I try and brew some?

 

Also how much do yous think would be needed to keep up a good supply?

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Its legal to brew beer and cider isn't it? Aka my landlord next year won't go ape shit if I try and brew some?

 

Also how much do yous think would be needed to keep up a good supply?

 

Its perfectly legal, although many old fashioned tenancy agreements do have terms in them that prohibit the fermenting of alcohol.  If you're worried about the landlord, then just make sure that you have it somewhere where its not going to spill over and damage any carpet etc.  The landlord mightn't be too happy with hundreds of bottles lying around the place either, although before I found out that my landlord was partial to a drop of poteen himself, I kept my bottles hidden under sheets when he was coming round.

 

As for supply, it depends on how much you drink.  At the start you probably want to be brewing as much as possible to build up a good variety of beers, wine, cider etc, but once you have your core stock built up you only need to replenish your supplies.  One batch gets you more than 40x 500ml bottles of beer or cider, or 30 700ml bottles of wine, so probably sticking on a batch once a month would probably keep most people.  If you're brewing for friends (or a soviet) you will need more :)

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Siphony siphon, bottlely bottle, capeddy cap cap.  Muwha ha ha!  This is how Jesus must have felt at the Wedding Feast of Cana.

 

And on the eighth day Moogie said "Let there be cider bottling.  And yea there was cider bottling."

 

Only 8 days from start to bottling, that's very quick.  Some of the kits I've done have finished within 10 days, but most kits tend to recommend 2-3 weeks.  Did you take a hydrometer reading before you started to bottle?  How much sugar did you put in to prime it?

 

I'm drinking a pint of my latest batch of Finlandia cider at the minute, I'm not sure what I did, but this batch seems to be like rocket fuel, I only had a pint and a half with dinner and I was dizzy standing up!

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Only 8 days from start to bottling, that's very quick.  Some of the kits I've done have finished within 10 days, but most kits tend to recommend 2-3 weeks.  Did you take a hydrometer reading before you started to bottle?  How much sugar did you put in to prime it?

 

I'm drinking a pint of my latest batch of Finlandia cider at the minute, I'm not sure what I did, but this batch seems to be like rocket fuel, I only had a pint and a half with dinner and I was dizzy standing up!

I used 1.3kg of sugar to prime.  After a further 5 days in the bottle before chilling it tested as slightly over 5%.

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Its perfectly legal, although many old fashioned tenancy agreements do have terms in them that prohibit the fermenting of alcohol.  If you're worried about the landlord, then just make sure that you have it somewhere where its not going to spill over and damage any carpet etc.  The landlord mightn't be too happy with hundreds of bottles lying around the place either, although before I found out that my landlord was partial to a drop of poteen himself, I kept my bottles hidden under sheets when he was coming round.

 

As for supply, it depends on how much you drink.  At the start you probably want to be brewing as much as possible to build up a good variety of beers, wine, cider etc, but once you have your core stock built up you only need to replenish your supplies.  One batch gets you more than 40x 500ml bottles of beer or cider, or 30 700ml bottles of wine, so probably sticking on a batch once a month would probably keep most people.  If you're brewing for friends (or a soviet) you will need more :)

 

Im just lookin to save money at uni lol, so prob need a right bit. Do you think it works out less that buying from the shop doing it the standard way?

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I used 1.3kg of sugar to prime.  After a further 5 days in the bottle before chilling it tested as slightly over 5%.

 

I take it that the 1.3kg was how much you put in initially.  How much did you put in at the bottling stage??

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Im just lookin to save money at uni lol, so prob need a right bit. Do you think it works out less that buying from the shop doing it the standard way?

 

Startup kit will cost you about 60-70 Euro.  WIth this basic equipment you can make beer or cider for approx 50cent a bottle (500ml) or 1 Euro for a bottle of wine.  If you drink like a student, it shouldn't be long before you have saved yourself a small fortune lol

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I take it that the 1.3kg was how much you put in initially.  How much did you put in at the bottling stage??

A teaspoon as per the instructions.  It is palatable and I'd recommend the Magnum brand.

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Startup kit will cost you about 60-70 Euro.  WIth this basic equipment you can make beer or cider for approx 50cent a bottle (500ml) or 1 Euro for a bottle of wine.  If you drink like a student, it shouldn't be long before you have saved yourself a small fortune lol

 

Is there any kits on that site that youd recommend? I was lookin but I'm not sure what all I need. I don't need a kit with the bottles cause we will have enough in the house.

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Just to give you all a little follow up on how I got on with my Magnum cider, it tasted pretty good (what little of it I got to taste).  I went on holidays after bottling it and left it in the care of my father.  When I got back the cider fairies had visited and most of it had mysteriously vanished.  I found the flavour to be more like an English cider rather than the Bulmers/Magners that you get here; there was more of a bite to it.  It also seemed to be very strong compared to over the counter stuff.  I drank a litre bottle of it one night and I found myself a bit giddy (and I'm no lightweight).

 

So now that all of my first batch has been consumed I currently have another bubbling away that should be ready for bottling on Sunday or Monday.  Then next weekend I plan on starting a batch from my own apples.  I don't have a clue how that will turn out or even how much juice I will get from 2 trees.

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Here's an update regarding the cider from my own apples.  It turns out two trees will make loads and loads.  I used one tray from the salad crisper thingy in the fridge full of apples (maybe 5 kilo) to make 25 litres by diluting it with warm water.  The colour and the flavour seem about right.  However, despite filtering the cider twice before bottling some of the bottles have a lot of sediment in them.  They should be ready for chilling tomorrow or Friday so should I unbottle them and filter again or should I just leave well alone?  They're in plastic, screw top bottles so unbottling wouldn't be a big deal financially but it would be a pain in the arse.

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I've never made it from my own apples, so i don't know.  It could be that the price you pay for 100% homemade cider is more sediment.  It shouldn't affect the taste of the cider.  I wouldn't bother filtering again if you have already gone to the trouble of bottling.  It could even be that the sediment will give you a nice cloudy effect and make it more appealing!

 

If you do decide to open the bottles to filter again, you'll either have to bank on there being enough sugar still in the mixture to re-carbonate, or you'll need to re-prime.  Although flatter cider is also perfectly nice!

 

It could be that some extra time for the cider to settle in your secondary fermenter before you bottle might help reduce the sediment in future.

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I'll be drinking some of this stuff over the weekend so if it's ok I will start another batch straight away.  I reckon I have enough apples to see me through Winter.

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