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Beginner Homebrew

  • 06-07-2016 10:44am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,358 ✭✭✭ almostover


    Hi- first time poster on this topic. Looking to get into the world of homebrewing and to have a few batches made for enjoyment over the long winter ahead. Have a spare storage room in my rented house which I can control the temperature of and have plenty of space in it. I'm not a beer aficionado by any means but am curios and would love to give this a try.

    My first question is what are the vital equipment pieces for a basic homebrew kit? i was thinking of puchasing this kit from homebrewing.ie to get me started? http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/superior-beer-cider-starter-kit-includes-25lt-fermenters-p-213.html

    Is there anything additional to that kit that I would need? I presume I'll need a large stock pot to boil water in for mixing with the brewing ingredients?

    What beer style is easiest for a first timer to brew?

    If there are any experienced homebrewers out there some guidance would be appreciated before I go spending my hard earned cash!


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Comments



  • There's a 96 page Stickied How-To at the top of the forum.

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2054869329




  • me_irl wrote: »
    There's a 96 page Stickied How-To at the top of the forum.

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2054869329
    Any recommendation on the starter kit I've listed?




  • almostover wrote: »
    i was thinking of puchasing this kit from homebrewing.ie to get me started? http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/superior-beer-cider-starter-kit-includes-25lt-fermenters-p-213.html

    Is there anything additional to that kit that I would need?
    Just bottles. If you stick with it there'll be things you'll change, like upgrading the siphon or switching to an easier sanitiser, but that lot will get you started.
    almostover wrote: »
    I presume I'll need a large stock pot to boil water in for mixing with the brewing ingredients?
    Nope, just boil the water in your kitchen kettle and mix the ingredients in the fermenter.
    almostover wrote: »
    What beer style is easiest for a first timer to brew?
    The darker the better, generally. The Coopers white label stout is decent. The 3kg kits will probably give you even better results. If you do go with a 1.7kg kit, get a kilo of spraymalt to top it up rather than sugar.




  • I am a fan of good stout so may give that Cooper's kit a try. What about the Cooper's IPA? http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/coopers-brew-a-ipa-17kg-p-3522.html

    Any good?




  • Another question, and pardon my ignorance on this one. Are all bottle necks the same diameter? What I'm trying to ascertain is if the bottle caps supplied with the kit will fit any empty beer bottles that I keep?


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  • almostover wrote: »
    I am a fan of good stout so may give that Cooper's kit a try. What about the Cooper's IPA? http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/coopers-brew-a-ipa-17kg-p-3522.html

    Any good?
    Never tried it. I've done this one though and it's really good.
    almostover wrote: »
    Are all bottle necks the same diameter? What I'm trying to ascertain is if the bottle caps supplied with the kit will fit any empty beer bottles that I keep?
    Pretty much. There is a bigger size, which fits mostly large format bottles, designed for champagne bottles really. But any 33cl or 50cl bottle you'll buy will take the standard size.




  • BeerNut wrote: »
    Never tried it. I've done this one though and it's really good.

    I just do kit brewing and country wines and that's my go to beer, very good. Unfortunately that line is being discontinued by Cooper's and replaced by what the OP links to. I hope it's as good.




  • BeerNut wrote: »
    Never tried it. I've done this one though and it's really good.

    I just do kit brewing and country wines and that's my go to beer, very good. Unfortunately that line is being discontinued by Cooper's and replaced by what the OP links to. I hope it's as good.
    That's my mind made up on the equipment and kit to try first. I'll purchase when I get paid at the end of the month. Now the unenvious task of consuming enough beer to leave sufficient bottling capacity for 23 litres of beer. Presume brown bottles are best?




  • Yes, brown is best. If using green or clear you should store them in the dark or the beer will get lightstruck.

    Your local craft beer bar may be able to help you with bottles. Swingtops are particularly handy.




  • Ok so I've purchased this homebrew equipment kit: http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/superior-beer-cider-starter-kit-includes-25lt-fermenters-p-213.html

    The siphon that was included seems hopeless so I've ordered an auto siphon too.

    I've purchased this extract kit: http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/coopers-australian-pale-ale-ingredient-pack-p-1146.html

    It comes with a bag of beer enhancer. What is this?

    Also when I'm transferring to the secondary fermenter I will need some sugar to create carbonation. What is best used for this?


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  • almostover wrote: »
    Ok so I've purchased this homebrew equipment kit: http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/superior-beer-cider-starter-kit-includes-25lt-fermenters-p-213.html

    The siphon that was included seems hopeless so I've ordered an auto siphon too.

    I've purchased this extract kit: http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/coopers-australian-pale-ale-ingredient-pack-p-1146.html

    It comes with a bag of beer enhancer. What is this?

    Also when I'm transferring to the secondary fermenter I will need some sugar to create carbonation. What is best used for this?
    Good kit, it's got everything you will need. The auto syphon will help but isn't necessary, still handy to have.
    Coopers pail ale is an easy kit, cant go wrong.
    Beer enhancer is dextrose and spray malt, its used instead of sugar as an added fertable. Gives a better flavor profile and far better mouth feel, sugar can be thin if you know what I mean. Also improves the head. (though not your head the next day)
    Not sure what you mean about adding sugar to the secondary,if it's for carbonation then it's added at bottling. I only use one bucket and add carbonation drops to the bottles, one to each 500ml bottle, works fine.
    http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie/coopers-carbonation-drops-250g-p-406.html
    You can add sugar to the entire batch before bottling, get brewing sugar rather than a bag of tesco's own brand but tbh the carb drops are super easy to judge the right amount.
    Oh I'd recommend getting starsan or some other no rinse steriliser as well as the VWP. Mix some in a spray bottle to keep everything clean as you go.
    Good luck, you'll be drinking it about 3 to 4 weeks from brew day so let us know how you got on.




  • I may be a little confused on this. From what I've read the process I need to follow is this:

    - Mix contents of beer kit can, beer enhancer and water in primary fermenter.
    - Bring temperature of above mix to 25 Celsius and add hydrated yeast.
    - Ferment until stable specific gravity. Fermentation complete then?
    - Add sugar/water mix to bottling bucket and rack contents of primary fermenter on top.
    - Siphon off into bottles and cap.

    Any other things I'm missing other than cleaning and sanitising all equipment which I understand is the single most important thing when brewing?




  • almostover wrote: »
    Fermentation complete then?
    Yes, but do not rush things. Give it a minimum of two weeks even if fermentation is completed, and there's no harm leaving it for a week or three longer.
    almostover wrote: »
    Any other things I'm missing other than cleaning and sanitising all equipment which I understand is the single most important thing when brewing?
    No, that's pretty much it. Just watch your fermentation temperature too -- though you start things around 25, you want to keep it lower during fermentation, ideally around 18 but never higher than 24, and that can be hard in the current weather.

    You used the word "secondary" in your earlier post -- to be clear, you're not doing or using a secondary, that's when you rack to a new bucket and leave the beer to ferment/mature further. Obviously you wouldn't add priming sugar at this point as the gas would just escape.




  • almostover wrote: »
    Also when I'm transferring to the secondary fermenter I will need some sugar to create carbonation. What is best used for this?

    Don't do this transfer to a secondary fermenter.
    you have a risk of contamination and a risk of oxygenation of the beer, for very little gain. the beer will secondary ferment in bottles.

    You might mean a bottling bucket, for bottling.
    In this case what I do is mix equal amounts of the cheapest white sugar you can buy( usually aldi caster sugar) with the same weight of water. heat to dissolve the sugar and boil briefly to sanitize. let cool, rack the beer from fermenter onto this in the bottling bucket, and bottle.




  • Planning on getting the fermentation started this Saturday morning - excited! One question it normally takes 2 weeks or so for the fermentation to complete - is there any issue with leaving the beer in the primary fermenter after the fermentation has completed? I probably won't have time to bottle until the end of the month which will mean the beer will have been in the primary fermenter for 3-4 weeks.




  • Should be fine so long as the fermenter is sealed and you have an airlock.




  • Should be fine and the fermenter doesn't need to be sealed and you don't need an airlock.

    The only purpose the lid serves is to stop stuff falling in: just sitting loose is grand. And the beer will keep improving if left for an extra week or two. Only around week six do you need to start worrying about getting it out.




  • BeerNut wrote: »
    Should be fine and the fermenter doesn't need to be sealed and you don't need an airlock.

    The only purpose the lid serves is to stop stuff falling in: just sitting loose is grand. And the beer will keep improving if left for an extra week or two. Only around week six do you need to start worrying about getting it out.
    Good to know - thanks! One final question: my tapwater wouldn't be the best. It's safe to drink but tastes very chlorinated. Is it worth boiling water the night before, storing it in a sanitized bucket and then using the cooled boiled water to brew the beer?




  • Great thread. Can't wait to see pics




  • almostover wrote: »
    It's safe to drink but tastes very chlorinated.
    Never had this problem myself, but I've heard that if you just leave the water sitting out overnight -- no need to boil it -- chlorine will evaporate off.


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  • If the Water smells Chloriney, it'll by definition not have any bugs in it...




  • Yeah, but a chlorine off-flavour can be just as bad as an infection off-flavour.




  • if chlorine evaporates off overnight, it'll presumably do so whether you've added added the kit to the water or not. I can see how it might affect results if you're doing a mash, but for a kit I wouldn't bother leaving it overnight.




  • Ok time to report back on this. The brewing went fairly smoothly, the kits are very easy to use and almost foolproof. I sanitised my bottling bucket the night before brewing and filled it with tap water and left in a cool room overnight in an attempt to de-chlorinate the water. It smelled less chlorinated the following morning but I'm not 100% sure this was effective or as people have suggested on here that it will have any effect on the final beer.

    Brewed the Coopers APA on Saturday morning. I purchased a bottle of star san in addition to the kit I listed here and I was glad I did. It's very easy to use and makes sanitising the equipment a doddle. I filled a small spray bottle with the star san solution and used that to keep any equipment sanitised during brewing. Once everything was clean and sanitised I steeped the can of Coopers APA in a sink of hot water to soften it, opened it with a sanitised can opener and poured into the fermenter. I had the kettle boiled and poured 2l of hot water on top of this and mixed. I rinsed out the can with some more hot water (approx 500ml) and added to the fermenter. I added the brew enhancer #2 then to the fermenter and stirred vigorously to dissolve it. Next time I'll dissolve this in hot water in a saucepan before adding as it took a lot of stirring to get rid of the clumps of brew enhancer. I topped up with the cold water from my bottling bucket then to 23l and gave the mix a final stir. Took an OG reading with my hydrometer which came in at 1044. Ran into a small issue then in that the wort was at approx 27-28 celcius which is a little warm to pitch the yeast. I read the instructions with the beer kit which said that anything below 32 Celsius won't kill the yeast and it's more important to pitch the yeast quickly rather than wait for the wort to cool so I pitched the yeast into the wort at 27 Celsius. Hoping that this won't affect the flavour of the final beer. Next time I'll bottle 5l of water and keep in the fridge so I can get the wort temp down faster. Then I put on the lid complete with airlock which had star san solution in it and put the fermenter in the cupboard under the stairs to ferment. I had left a thermometer in some water in a jar the previous night in the cupboard and it was at 20 Celsius the following morning so should be perfect for fermenting. Checked the fermenter there last night and it's bubbling away nicely so the yeast is doing its job. The temperature of the beer is down to 20 degress to so conditions appear to be ideal. Going to bottle up in 2-3 weeks and hopefully I'll have a decent beer at the end of this. I've attached a few images as one poster suggested. Thanks for all the advice folks and hopefully this will be a sucessful brew and the first of many.




  • I have no permission to attach images to this thread unfortunately




  • almostover wrote: »
    Ran into a small issue then in that the wort was at approx 27-28 celcius which is a little warm to pitch the yeast.
    Not at all, 27 is perfect pitching temp.

    Sounds like it's all working as it should be. The next difficult bit is leaving it alone :D




  • Just one thing I've noticed while observing the fermentation - There was never any major Krausen layer on top of the beer so far during fermentation. The most I ever observed was a 3/4" to 1" layer of Krausen on top. Have I anything to be concerned about?




  • Nope, fermentation is fermentation. Now stop opening the lid and go away.




  • loyatemu wrote: »
    if chlorine evaporates off overnight, it'll presumably do so whether you've added added the kit to the water or not. I can see how it might affect results if you're doing a mash, but for a kit I wouldn't bother leaving it overnight.

    heating would drive a lot of the chlorine off too. Some add campden tablets which is supposed to neutralise it or something. Stirring it well can also reduce it.

    I had a kit brew made with high chlorine water and it tasted of TCP, it was horrendous, stank of the stuff. Many sites say the chlorine is the cause of this, it can be infections too I think. In summertime if reservoirs are low in water they can have loads of added chlorine.

    Most say to have the lid off to make the chlorine dissipated, if people are putting airlocks on kit brews I can see how it would remain.


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  • almostover wrote:
    Just one thing I've noticed while observing the fermentation - There was never any major Krausen layer on top of the beer so far during fermentation. The most I ever observed was a 3/4" to 1" layer of Krausen on top. Have I anything to be concerned about?


    Most of my beers ferment like this, I've never had the mad krausen explosions you hear some people talk about. Even my last beer which fully fermented in about 3 days with an og of 1.06 didn't look mad when fermenting.


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