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Keeper of the Scrolls

2010 Posts
Posted -  12/11/2007  :  17:18
I was just thinking to myself if there was still enough time to nip out and get one of those home brew kits so that it will be ready in time for Xmas.

I've never produced any before and I don't know how long it takes, but I fancy having a go this year.

I have a few plastic 5 gallon barrels available so I might do a larger and a bitter.

Have any of the other members got any experience on doing this, or your recommendations as to what kits/components to buy.

Please discuss.

TTFN - Doc

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The Demo Man
Regular Member

620 Posts
Posted - 12/11/2007 : 17:26
Doc, I've not dabbled myself but it's always been one of those things I intend having a go at, you know, on that never ending list of "must do's" we all have.

My Dad was always brewing something or other when I was a kid and I've looked into doing it a few times. You can get kits now that are ready in 7 days, how good they are I'm not sure but the Old Man's used to sit beside the fire for weeks I remember. He brewed some Brown Ale once for Xmas but the tempation of the stuff got the better of him and my older two brothers, they guzzled it all before Xmas and then spent Xmas week queing for the loo! So tread carefully I think is the motto - good luck with it.

Titch Go to Top of Page
Regular Member

90 Posts
Posted - 12/11/2007 : 18:05
Doc as a general rule of thumb - you get what you pay for - so beware of the "budget" kits and go for a "make". Something like John Bull or Geordie usually have drinkable results. IMPERATIVE make sure EVERYTHING is CLEAN!! When it is ready for bottling I've used barrels - glass or plastic and found the latter probably best. Thoroughly clean a coke or similar bottle and it should seal and keep you beer well.
Its always very satisfying when it all goes right and doesn't cost a fortune if it doesn't.

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VIP Member

6502 Posts
Posted - 12/11/2007 : 18:21
Deadly got a a kit for a pressi, says it makes ten pnits in 20 days, so like you i was thinking it might be handy to get it on the go around the 5th of dec.

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Site Administrator

3793 Posts
Posted - 12/11/2007 : 18:22
My problem used to be drinking it too fast !!!

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Regular Member

233 Posts
Posted - 12/11/2007 : 18:47
Doc, Have a look on Leyland Homebrew's website ( for a good range of beer kits. HEY! a hyperlink just appeared!! Sorry, I'll continue - the ones by Muntons are supposed to be good (Muntons supply malt to major breweries). I've just started brewing again after a lapse of several years, but I do the full mash process which is a bit fiddly and slower, but the results are delicious!

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Traycle Mine Overseer

6250 Posts
Posted - 13/11/2007 : 08:20
Geordie was a good make when I used to brew it - easy to get a nice drink and not too complicated. I had the problem that Ringo mentions - I just drank too much of it. Same with the wine which we used to make out of all sorts of things. It got to the stage that the wine never saw the bottles - poured straight from the demi - johns. Nolic

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Big Kev

2650 Posts
Posted - 13/11/2007 : 09:06
It got to the stage that the wine never saw the bottles - poured straight from the demi - johns.
nowt wrong with that. Boots Hedgerow wine, not worth bottling, just drink it by the gallon.......

Big Kev

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A.J. Richer

24 Posts
Posted - 13/11/2007 : 12:34
Did this for many years myself - usually as the other gent mentioned above from full mash but more than the occasional extract batch.

If you can get straight malt syrup (no added cane sugar) recipes are easy to come by - add the right hops and steep some cracked crystal malts in during the boiling time and you can make a very tasty brew indeed.

Clean, clean CLEAN is the name of the game - bleach rinse, then boiling water after that will make damn sure anything in the fermenter is quite dead. Wild yeast will ruin your whole day (or batch).

What I used to do was to get the materials together, then boil up 4 gallons of water and syphon it off to a sanitized container. After this was cooled, then I'd do a boil of the actual proto-beer - a couple of gallons of water with the syrup, a knee-high stocking from a  pair of tights (clean and new - cheaper than steeping bags) with any added grains and another containing whatever hops I wanted to use. This got boiled aof a time (exact time escapes me at present) till I got a protein break (foam on top of theboil) which got skimmed off. After the requisite boil time a few gallons of the sterile boiled water was syphoned into the (glass, but you can use plastic) fermenter, then the hot mix syphoned in on top of that, and sterile water added to make up the difference.

This proto-beer then was allowed to cool covered to yeast pitching temperature (90F or so), the  yeast added and the cover reapplied with an air lock on it to keep out outside air.

From there it was monitor the brew till it completed, then syphon it off there to a sanitized bucket with priming malt added, then to bottles or a keg for final carbonation.

 Hey, it was the only way to get decent beer here....beat drinking the local swill! :)

If you want recipes let me know - i have my logbook at home and could easily dig them out. 


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Local Historian & Old Fart

36804 Posts
Posted - 13/11/2007 : 18:21
Sounds like serious brewing Al.  Did you ever try distilling it?

Stanley Challenger Graham

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A.J. Richer

24 Posts
Posted - 29/11/2007 : 17:37
Stanley asked: Sounds like serious brewing Al. Did you ever try distilling it?

NOOOOOO, thank'ee! That was a very, very good way to run afoul of the local excisemen...the puritanical types here didn't get to repealing prohibition on even home brewing till the 1970s!

Yes, it was serious stuff. I had gotten pretty well self-sufficient by the time I got good at it - used to culture my own yeast strains, built my own multi-boiler brewing setup and generally had a ball with it. Keg cooler and all - used to use stainless steel soft-drink kegs for my batches and was thinking about moving up to 15-gallon batches and "real" kegs when i quit.

Heck, where else can you find a hobby that combines the best of cooking, microbiology and welding! Such fun.

It doesn't need to be that way, though, lest I discourage anyone reading these words in the futrure. All you really need to do it is a pot capable of boiling a few gallons, a couple of clean plastic buckets with lids (restaurant supply sells very nice graduated ones) and some odds and ends of plastic hose, bleach, a couple of airlocks for venting fermenters and other bits typically found around the house anyway.

Just for those who might want a recipe: THis is a beer I named Diesel Crankcase Stout, after seeing what the 2.25 Diesel in my Land-Rover could do to oil in a matter of hours. If someone wanted to do this as an extract beer (no mashing, just boiling) You could replace the pale barley malt with malt extract, and crack the rest of the grains, put them in knee-high tights and steep them during the boil. Would work just fine.

Diesel Crankcase Stout - a.j. Richer
9 Lb. Pale Barley Malt
.5 Lb. Biscuit Malt
.25 Lb. Black Patent Malt
.25 Lb. Chocolate Malt
1 Lb. Cracked Oats (Oatmeal can be used here)
- Oatmeal is there for body - Lots of it!
.5 Lb. Dark British Crystal Malt
2 Lb. Dark Honey - it ferments almost completly away but leaves a nice
flavor component.
1.5 ozs. Northern Brewer hops
1 Tablespoon carrageenan flakes AKA Irish Moss (to help clarify)

Mash-in malts with 11 quarts of water at 176F. Ensure that the cracked oats or oatmeal is thoroughly stirred into the mash, or you'll have a glutinous mess on your hands when sparge time comes around.

Perform a single-stage infusion mash for 45 minutes at ~152F, then sparge with 6 gallons of 180 F. water. Boil until volume is reduced to 5 gallons (about 1 hour) adding hops at beginning of boil. Force-chill to 80F, then add yeast starter of Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale or equivalent.

A good dry yeast can also be used here, but nothing too attenuative.

Ferment single-stage for 2 weeks, then siphon to bottling bucket, adding a prepared priming syrup of 1 quart water with 2/3 cup of corn sugar, boiled for 10 minutes then chilled. Bottle or keg as is your wish. I personally find that this brew does better after a month in the keg, then chill it down for a week to pack the yeast blanket at the bottom of the keg.

Edited by - A.J. Richer on 29/11/2007 5:38:50 PM

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Local Historian & Old Fart

36804 Posts
Posted - 30/11/2007 : 06:35
That sounds like seriously good beer to me Al.  Nothing but good stuff in it.  You had my mouth watering.......

Stanley Challenger Graham

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John T
Regular Member

62 Posts
Posted - 11/05/2008 : 01:36
Hang on, hang on...

"Deadly got a a kit for a pressi, says it makes ten pnits in 20 days, "

Belle you have to be the most patient, least alcoholic, temperate person I have ever come across!

The string theory proves that everything is connected, though it may  just be in a different dimension.
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Regular Member

233 Posts
Posted - 11/05/2008 : 16:42
Perhaps it's 6.5% ABV!

My setup does 40 pints in 3 weeks, worth the wait. The current beer (now drinking) is a dark bitter called 'Piston Broke'. This is from an old recipe from Hook Norton Brewery, we've re-named it  Piston Broke as our brewery is called the Branch Line Brewery, and the one time condition of its owner!

Next brew is an organic wheat beer, to a recipe from the Craft Brewing Association.

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VIP Member

5150 Posts
Posted - 13/05/2008 : 20:53
A.J.'s description of his mashing process brings back some memories for me. I was lucky  (long ago) to be able to experience the old and the new commercial brewing processes side by side. Standing by a mash tun at 4 in the morning and watching the porridgy mash pour from a Steele's mashing machine into the tun was quite an experience. The steam, the smell, the heat. You had to juggle the controls on the machine so that the mash was the right consistency and the right temperature - anything slightly wrong and you've lost it. The grist (ground malted barley etc) was in a grist case (inverted cone) above the mashing machine and you pulled out a slide on the machine to let it out. At the same time, you turned a wheel to let the hot water (brewers call it liquor) into the machine. The mashing machine was a broad, horizontal copper pipe fitted with a screw to mix the mash and push it along and out of the end into the mash tun.

As well as pulling the slide for the grist and turning the wheel for the liquor you had to have an eye on the thermometer. In the very old days, before thermometers, the brewers judged the temperature of the mash by its appearance. All to do with whether you could see your face in the surface and whether steam was rising.

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A.J. Richer

24 Posts
Posted - 14/05/2008 : 22:18
Tizer, mate - great description of the commercial side of that process. i agree - it's pretty obvious when a mash is outside the bounds of temperature - you really can see it if you've the experience.

I do miss brewing as a hobby - but as I've completely given up drinking it wouldn't  be too useful...


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