Friday, 1 March 2013

Bottling the Beer

Bottling was a learning experience.
As is all of this blog, of course.

First thing I learned was it's very hard to prep the next bottle with a sugar drop while the one is filling. The thing to do, it transpires, is to prep all the bottles then fill them.

Something which didn't help this process was the needle valve was not able to stop 100% of the beer. It did drip somewhat.

Anyway, bottles filled... lids on tight... storing at room temperature for a week then it'll be moved to somewhere cooler for at least a week.

Next time will be the opening and tasting!

Sanitising Bottles


Once the beer had been in the fermenter for about 12 days I started to take gravity readings to see if the fermentation was at the stage where it can be bottled.

Two readings of 1.000 on my slightly dodgy hydrometer, spaced 24 hours apart, means we're good to go!
Sanitising the bottles...

Here's something I wasn't looking forward to. I tried to get hold of a none rinse sanitiser from a 'local home brew store' which turned out to be a tiny market stall that didn't have any.

Oh well, out with the bleach!

Soaking in bleach, same as the FV.

Also sanitising are the bottle tops and the bottling 'wand'. This is just a tube with a needle valve at the end so when the bottle is placed over it dispenses beer and stops when it's removed. 

Once they had soaked for half an hour they were well rinsed out. I gave got into a rhythm of 3 rinses with water, then one with the sodium metabisulphite, then another quick rinse with water.

30 bottles took about 45 minutes... maybe more. Next time I will have no rinse sanitiser!

Once rinsed each was stored upside down in the box. There was a towel in the bottom to try to stop the box getting soaked through.

In the interest of keeping these posts manageable and not too long I'm going to stop here and talk about the bottling in the next one.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Making the brew!

Again, no pictures of the process. Got a bit lost in it once I started, didn't want to make any mistakes and forgot about anything but making it right.

At least it should be right!
Basically the kit I got requires you to dissolve a can of treacle-like substance and 1kg of sugar in about 2 litres of boiling water to start with.
And so I approached the first unforeseen challenge: my kettle will only boil 1.7 litres at once...

My plan then became pouring the boiled 1.7l of water into the fermentation vessel along with the contents of the can, which I warmed in a water bath to loosen it a bit.
Then filled the kettle with enough water to refill the can and boiled that while I stirred the water and contents of the can which is now in the fermenting vessel to get it fully dissolved.

When the kettle reboiled the water was poured into the can and given a quick stir to get the majority of the remnants from it. It's horrifically concentrated so even a small amount will make a huge difference to the final outcome.

So once that was poured into the vessel too the 1kg of sugar in the "Brew Enhancer" was poured into the vessel and that was stirred to within an inch of it's life to make sure it was completely dissolved.

The vessel is filled up with cold/warm water from the tap until it was at the 23l mark. Pouring it in from a height means that there is plenty of air in the mixture which is always good for the yeast.

The gravity of the brew is checked before the yeast is pitched and on this my hydrometer reads 1.033 but it also reads 0.990 for our tap water so I guess that it's not terribly accurate. This isn't a big problem because it's consistently wrong so the change in gravity will still be accurate. 
(1.033 - 1.000 is the same as 1.041 - 1.008)

Once the yeast is pitched, that is sprinkled on the top, the lid goes on and away it goes!

A day or two into the fermentation and you can see the foamy head on the beer which is a sign that the yeast is fermenting and doing it's thing. You can probably just make out that there's condensation around the top too which is also a sign that the fermentation is on it's way.

Just have to leave it for about a week and a half to two weeks then start to check the gravity of the brew.

Once the gravity is consistent across two readings about 24h apart then it's ready for bottling!

Friday, 8 February 2013


So, the kit is here, all I have to do is clean and sanitise it so nothing contaminates my brew.
Easy, right?

Well... sort of.

There are easier ways to do this and if I had thought ahead I would have bought some of the vastly labour saving no-rinse sanitiser.

But I never.

So I used this:

29p for 2 litres... still can't decide if that amount of money saved is worth the hassle of having to rinse it but we shall see...

All I did was dilute it down at a rate of about... a glug per... some water... I didn't measure it very accurately as you might guess.

Leave this in contact with the equipment for half an hour or so, I just stuffed all of the gubbins, spoons and what not into the fermenting vessel (FV) and let it stew.

Rinse thoroughly, reeeeaaaally thoroughly... until not even a hint of chlorine can be smelt. Chlorine is what can make beer taste like TCP apparently so I was incredibly thorough. I feel I've something to prove to people who said it was silly to brew my own beer, this is going to be drinkable damnit!

That really was the most time consuming thing I think, rinsing time after time, I think it got about 5 thorough rinses in the end.

I'm not looking forward to doing this with the 40 or so bottles before I bottle the beer... there will be more pictures then of the process.

Wish me luck! O.o

Friday, 1 February 2013

Coopers DIY Brew Kit

How they package this box is utter magic.

Quite how they fit so much stuff into such a small box is beyond my comprehension.

The lid of the box lists the contents.

Wish I had found something to show the scale of the box... its not terribly big considering.

Inside the box:

The kit is meant to come with a Lager kit but the site I ordered it from allowed me to change it out for the Stout kit you can see there.

In the box there is a fermenting vessel which doesn't require an airlock, a beer kit with a pack of brewing sugar and everything needed to bottle the beer once it's done.

There are a few other little bits and pieces which are required such as a hydrometer and spoon. There's also some bits which aren't necessary but are a nice extra like a laminated log book and a dry wipe pen.

Altogether an excellent value box, I think. The beer is currently fermenting but next time I'll put up the process I used to sanitise the kit before I started. Probably going to be a bit light on pictures unfortunately, once I got started the taking of pictures left my mind completely. Nevermind!

Friday, 25 January 2013

First Post!

Well... this is exciting.

How does one start one of these... I guess I should start with a little bit about me, eh?

Currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle University.
In a committed relationship.
Tabletop wargamer.
Pen and paper roleplayer.
among other things..

This blog is primarily about my adventure into the world of home brewing, a brave new frontier for me.

My starter kit is ordered and on the way so once that arrives I expect I'll have some form of unboxing post and a run down of my first brew...

Also in this blog, expect to see bits about the wargaming models I've painted and what I think of them. Flames of War is my current poison but I've played Warhammer 40k for a number of years and I have a modest number of Infinity models too.

Guess this is probably it until the starter kit comes, might be that I will get a timetable going once I'm up and running... we shall see.