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Thread: Confessions of a home brewer - or the pursuit of hoppiness

  1. #1
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    Confessions of a home brewer - or the pursuit of hoppiness

    It started a little over four years ago now, just a simple little test, to see if it could be done, "where's the harm I remember thinking?" as I lugged home a big plastic pail, filled with plastic bottles, a big spoon, sterilising agents, hydrometer, test tube, yeast trap, lid and a kit of beer - Black Rock Pale Ale, on my trusty scooter.

    The next day I dutifully followed the instructions, sterilising everything to within an inch of its life and then tipping the can into the container and adding water to the right level, once the correct temperature had been mixed I added the yeast and waited. Within a few days the yeast trap started bubbling and I knew I had created life. The instructions say to brew for a week and then bottle, but I was wise to this - I brewed for a month, then bottled and left it for another month before opening the first bottle for a taste.

    It was good - well ok to be fair it was below average but it was palatable, nice and bubbly with a white head floating atop golden liquor - I was hooked.
    A few months later I had acquired more bottles and done a few more kits, both ales and lagers, and I wanted to try something bolder, so I started adding extra hops to the kit, this was good bit I still wanted something more...

    So I dumped the kits and went for partial grain and extract brewing - you see a "kit' is basically a dehydrated beer without the yeast that someone has already made for you, extract brewing is buying the concentrated malts, in ether liquid or dried form, adding water and your own hops and yeast to make beer (technically you make wort - the yeast the turns the wort into beer), by adding a little grain to the boil you got more flavour and colour coming through.

    I then bought a big glass carboy so that I could do primary and secondary fermentation's, essentially I would brew for two weeks in the plastic barrel, then transfer the beer into the glass carboy, less the trub or muck of dead yeast cells, where it would ferment away for another two weeks until time for bottling, in the meantime I would then have an empty fermenter so I could do another brew...

    This was all good for a couple of years when I once again decided to up the game - I bought a really big pot, got the wife to sew me a muslin bag and went full grain! Yeah baby, now we were talking, I now was buying just grains, hops and yeast, adding water and making beer the way it was supposed to be made, no more funny concentrates, just pure malty goodness.

    I guess I was brewing a lot, it just sort of sneaks up on to you, you kind of guess you may have a problem when you lie awake at night listening to the yeast trap bubbling away, or find your cup of tea has gone cold as you sit staring at the bubbles of gas escape through it, not knowing how long you have been mesmerised for...

    Before long I had bought a fridge, drilled a few holes in it, acquired a co2 bottle, regulator, some beers taps and kegs and now have my own kegerator - hey who doesn't like a beer from a tap, right?

    Next I bought a massive gas burner as it was getting too hard for the stove to generate the sort of heat I needed to boil my wort for a good 90 minutes. I thought everything was under control until this year when I decided to dump the bag and go full grain, I built a mash tun out of a chilli bin and started a blog to record what I was doing.

    I make some brilliant ales, porters and stouts, some delicious wheat beers but I had a problem with lagers, whilst they tasted good, being so light in colour it was easy to seen the haze that was present in them from the slow way my wort cooled to a brewing temperature, my latest quotation was a massive piece of copper tubing, coiled into a loop into which I run water into, through the loop and out the other side, this takes the wort, from 100 degrees to less than 20 in about half an hour - the result is crystal clear lagers!

    And currently I am just building some trellis for my hop vines to grow up...

    Anyway I figured you guys would probably get it, after all you are not the sort who thinks venison comes from the supermarket or fish comes fro the fish and chips shop...

    If anyone else brews and wants to swap ideas, tips, hop rhizomes (I have a saaz variant) or feels like a taste swap then post away!

    Shelley (wetabrewery is my beer blog).
    Wildman, Munsey, ishoot10s and 2 others like this.

  2. #2
    Load....Action....Instant ....Watch and Shoot! ishoot10s's Avatar
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    Awesome project! I don't have the patience to do it myself though. Going to your blog now....

    Ok, so the more rapid cooling of the wort causes suspended particulate to flock more readily?

    Some interesting ingredients you're trying, orange peel etc. I live pretty close to Halertau and really liked Steves "Porter Noir" that he brewed in old Pinot noir barrels. He once did a porter with a coconut infusion that was nice. I imagined it would have been a big hit amongst the Pacific Island community...
    Last edited by ishoot10s; 26-08-2014 at 04:03 PM.
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  3. #3
    Member Raging Bull's Avatar
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    Did you get down to Beervana this year?

    My breweries still in the building stage unfortunately, other things keep coming up.

    I have all the bits and pieces, burners etc, just need build the frame and put it all together.

    Fittings.
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gwstx3wkl...14.24.jpg?dl=0

    Mash Tun (no fittings)
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gwstx3wkl...1.jpg?dl=0&m=1

    Mash/lauter Tun (internal).
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gwstx3wkl...6.jpg?dl=0&m=1

    Kettle, Mash/Lauter, BK
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gwstx3wkl...4.jpg?dl=0&m=1

    2014 Harvest - Cascade hops.
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gwstx3wkl...9.jpg?dl=0&m=1
    Wildman and ishoot10s like this.
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    i want to know where you live, and can we all visit? no really just done a tour of Boags brewery in Tasmania, facinating hobby, becoming an alcoholic would be my concern.

  5. #5
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    Good guess and good understanding of the lingu but not quite, as the wort cools free amino acids clump and form protein chains, these are tasteless and odourless and for the most part can be ignored as you can't see them normally, but when you chill the beer these proteins become observable as a haze in the beer, by rapidly cooling the wort there is less time for these little buggers to form and so you get less of them and do not see them when the beer is chilled and held up to the light.

    Yeah, been to Hallertauu a couple of times, there is brewing comp held there as well; pretty damn fine beers!
    ishoot10s likes this.

  6. #6
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    Nice stuff raging bull, looks like you have both the skills and the tools to make a really nice setup there! Good load of hops too, nothing like the smell of fresh hops drying in the sun, ahh.

  7. #7
    Member Raging Bull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    Nice stuff raging bull, looks like you have both the skills and the tools to make a really nice setup there! Good load of hops too, nothing like the smell of fresh hops drying in the sun, ahh.
    Need to find an easier way to harvest them though, harvesting them off the vines in a pain in the ass.
    Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded

  8. #8
    338
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    Hey 338, nah mate that's like going to the butchers for your meat, better than the supermarket but not real, if you get my drift...

  10. #10
    Member BRADS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    Hey 338, nah mate that's like going to the butchers for your meat, better than the supermarket but not real, if you get my drift...
    If you new 338 you'd no that he drinks anything
    338 likes this.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    Hey 338, nah mate that's like going to the butchers for your meat, better than the supermarket but not real, if you get my drift...
    Any reason you can't do a real brew in one instead of paket beer tho?
    I have looked at them and thought "I want one" but too rich for my blood.

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  12. #12
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    Vetnamcam, no reason you could not do your own brew and put it in their machine I suppose, except for the price tag though, and no guarantee that their product is better than one done with homemade equipment.

  13. #13
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    Neat write up, @Shelley...very interesting
    ...amitie, respect mutuel et amour...

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  14. #14
    Member Willie's Avatar
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    Wow i hope i don't catch this bug. Brewing some "kits" irish ale works a treat for what i want and gets me where i want to be.Once i have own home yup kegs and cooler going in (shhh the wife doesn't know) but right now got another 25 litres of wheat beer on the warmer going for it. Mind you kits are a nice way to start and then go from there. Find your tastes and see what happens. If you drink Waikato anything is a step up by the way I also tried my own mix based on a recipe from a book, Leffe beer, sourced the malt syrup, appropriate sugar, hops and brewed. Nothing like the real thing but still nice and drinkable. Also leaves a nice glow after a few of them head retention is good, take from that what you will All fun and games till ones garage ends up stocked with a couple of hundred bottles and a good few litres of beer. Sweet. Very nice write up though.
    Sarcasm: lowest from of wit, highest form of intelligence.

  15. #15
    Resident Curmudgeon Kiwi Sapper's Avatar
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    Having made my beer for many years I have not encountered many other countries brews( apart from that carbonated dingo widdle from across the ditch) let alone the fizz from the USA.
    However, with the introduction of this pack size, I think the Yanks have become too affected by their own product

    veitnamcam likes this.
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