The HomeBrew Forum Brewing FAQ
Brewing FAQ
After making up a kit how quickly should I add the yeast.
Can I just drop a beer directly from the boiler onto a yeast cake from a previous brew?
Can I re use screw caps on wine bottles
Can I use wine corks in screwtap bottles
Hot Break & Cold Break - What are they?
How do I Kill my yeast to stop fermentation?
How do I use Gelatine for fining?
How long does an All Grain brew take?
How long does it take for a Campden Tablet to work?
How much 'sugar' do I add to prime a keg?
How much difference is there between Kits and All Grain brewing
How much does a cornie hold?
How much sugar do I use to prime a 500ml bottle?
How strong will my beer be?
How to get started
Hydrometer - How do I read one correctly?
Liquor to Grain Ratio?
Sugar Points - What are they and how do I work them out?
What difference does mash temperature make?
What is 'invert sugar'
What is the difference between 'batch and 'fly/spinny' sparging?
What is the difference between EBU and IBU
What is WOW
What temperature should I ferment at?
What's the best way to store dry yeasts?
Whats the best way to store hops?
When should I stop sparging?
Which bottles should I use?
Will my hydrometer float?

 

? After making up a kit how quickly should I add the yeast.
The best thing to do is get the yeast pitched as soon as you can, while the beer is not fermenting it is not protcted by a c02 layer - get it to pitching temp and pitch that yeast - pronto!

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? Can I just drop a beer directly from the boiler onto a yeast cake from a previous brew?
Yes :)

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? Can I re use screw caps on wine bottles
Yes you can. They can be re used a few times, but repeated use will result in a poor seal and can leak. But if replaced on a regular basis they are fine. Steralise before use.

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? Can I use wine corks in screwtap bottles
Not recommended as screw cap bottles have thinner glass around the neck. The force used to insert the cork may crack the bottle. The other reason not to do this is that the neck is also slightly wider on some bottles resulting in a poor seal.

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? Hot Break & Cold Break - What are they?
Hot Break and Cold Break are the terms used to describe the flocculation of proteins (and other matter) during the boil (hot break) and during the cooling of the wort after the boil (cold break) this 'break' matter settles out at the bottom of the boiler and forms a part of the 'trub' which is normally filtered out by a hop bed when transferring from the boiler.

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? How do I Kill my yeast to stop fermentation?
There have been several threads in the various fora which state that 'adding Campden Tablets to a brew will kill the yeast' this is just not true! While Sodium Metabisulphite (Or more properly pyrosulphite) acts as an antifermentative and stops wild yeast from taking hold in the initial stages of fermentation to ward the end of a fermentation it is the alcohol that is acting as a metabolic poison, the Campden tablets 'stun' the remaining yeast but certainly do not kill it with any degree of success. . . . If you desire to stop a fermentation with any degree of insurance what you need to add is potassium sorbate which will do a proper job with no chance of fermentation restating.

Sorbate should be available from the winemakers section of the LHBS . . . . Or On line of course

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? How do I use Gelatine for fining?
I using the granules in a sachet, take about a pint of the ale to be cleared and put it in a small saucepan, turn on the heat, add the gelatine stirring constantly until the gelatine dissolves, do not allow the mixture to boil as this will destroy its fining abilities
Slowly add the beer/gelatine mix to the bulk of the brew stirring gently.

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? How long does an All Grain brew take?
A number of factors affect this (length of mash/boil/sparge and equipment/system) but 6 hours from start to finish is a good guide. It should be pointed out however that it's not 6 hours solid 'graft' most people manage to fit in a few other things during a brewday, such as getting the lawn mowed :)

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? How long does it take for a Campden Tablet to work?
They work pretty much instantly.

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? How much 'sugar' do I add to prime a keg?
Typically for a 5 gallon keg you would use around 85g of priming sugars, although normal white granulated sugar can be used, better results can be obtained by using spray malt.

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? How much difference is there between Kits and All Grain brewing
The quality of kits has come on in leaps and bounds since the kits that most folk think of when you mention homebrewing, the "one can of extract, loads of sugar and an airing cupboard" days are over. There are some excellent kits available to brew and for people who really are short of time they make very quaffable beer. That said, if you do have the time and inclination to have a go at All Grain brewing, you will find that the little extra you have to pay for equipment and the extra time you have to put in is worth it. The difference has been described as going from Black & White TV to Colour TV - brewers who make the leap and then go back to kits are hardly ever heard of.

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? How much does a cornie hold?
'Standard' cornies hold 18L ~31 pints, smaller versions are available which hold 9L ~15.5 pints

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? How much sugar do I use to prime a 500ml bottle?
As a general rule of thumb, use 1tsp for lagers and 1/2tsp for ales. Be sure to use nice strong glass bottles.

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? How strong will my beer be?
That depends on the Original Gravity (OG) and the Final Gravity (FG) this is an indication in simple terms of how much sugar the yeast has been able to convert into alcohol. Please enter your OG and FG figures into our forum calculator from the main header to get your %abv.

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? How to get started
That depends on how you plan to brew. Your options are, "kit brewing" for which you need, obviously the kit, also you'll need a long spoon (not wooden) a fermenter, a hydrometer, trial jar, syphon and bottles/keg to dispense and weighing scales are always very handy. For extract brewing you'll need all the same equipment, plus a brew kettle and a chiller and if you feel brave and want to go all grain you'll need a mash tun. Whatever you feel ready to do there will always be somebody around to assist in any questions you might find.

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? Hydrometer - How do I read one correctly?
To take a reading either draw a sample into a trial jar and drop the hydrometer in or place a sterilised hydrometer in the wort and take a reading from the liquids "skin" remembering that the wort will climb up the hydrometer a little which could give a false reading. It is also worth giving the hydrometer a little spin to free it from any small bubbles which could make it sit up a little --- Hydrometers are all calibrated at a certain temperature (it should indicate this on the hydrometer or on the instructions you got with it) readings taken at any other temperature other than the temperature it was calibrated at need to be adjusted, we have a calculator which does this which you can access using the 'calculators' button on the main banner. Enter the gravity reading e.g. 1.044 and the temperature of the sample and it will calculate the correct Specific Gravity (SG) for you.

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? Liquor to Grain Ratio?
Grain to Liquor ratio is the amount of mash liquor (water) you use in relation to the amount of grain you use. A typical ratio is 2.5:1 so 2.5L liquor to every 1kg of grain used, for example if you had a 5kg grain bill you would use 12.5L water (5 x 2.5), you can use different ratios to make your mash drier (stiffer) or wetter (looser) but 2.5L per 1kg is a good starting point.

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? Sugar Points - What are they and how do I work them out?
Thanks Phil for your explanation. "sugar points" is a term used to describe the quantity of sugar needing to be extracted from the mash to give you your required original gravity (OG) at your required volume. e.g. if you need 23L at 1.050 you need to extract 23x50 sugar points = 1150. This means that you should monitor what you have collected from the mash and stop sparging when you have collected 1150 sugar points (this may mean that you collect 19L of 1.060 wort 19x60 = 1140 (near enough) ) then dilute this down to your pre-boil volume.

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? What difference does mash temperature make?
The temperature of the mash has quite a significant effect on the extract you get from the grist and also how the finished product tastes. Lower mash temperatures of say 64c will extract more fermentable sugars from the grain this means that most of the sugars in your fermenter will be processed by the yeast, so this can have the effect of giving you a dry, thinner tasting beer. A mash at the higher end, say 68c will give you an increased amount of unfermentable sugars, so the finished product should be a little sweeter and have more body.

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? What is 'invert sugar'
Invert sugars are sugars which have already been split into fructose and glucose, the reason that they are used in brewing is that it makes it easy for the yeast as it doesn't have to split the sugar (sucrose) itself it's already been done! Golden Syrup is Invert Sugar and easily available from your supermarket.

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? What is the difference between 'batch and 'fly/spinny' sparging?
In basic terms 'Batch' sparging involves running off the mash liquor from the tun then topping the tun up again with heated sparge liquor stirring and running off again (after recirculating the initial turbid wort) another second addition is usually added and the process repeated until the runnings hit the lowest Specific Gravity (SG) that you are happy with --- 'Fly' or 'Spinny' Sparging involves keeping a constant flow of sparge liquor passing through the grains to rinse out the sugars, commonly a 'spinny sparger' is used to spray the sparge liquor over the grain bed. Normally a 1" layer of water is maintained over the grain bed for the duration of the sparge with the out flow rate matching the rate that sparge liquor is being added, sparging stops when the runnings drop to the lowest SG that you are happy with.

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? What is the difference between EBU and IBU
EBU stands for European Bitterness Units and IBU stands for International Bitterness Units. There is a small difference in how the two scales are calculated but from a craft brewing accuracy point of view it is negligable and the two can, if desired be considered to be the same.

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? What is WOW
WOW is short for Wurzels Orange Wine. See here

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? What temperature should I ferment at?
The temperature that you ferment at depends upon the style of beer that you are brewing, for example brewing a lager would require a lower fermentation temperature than brewing an 'ale' - most commonly people who brew beers such as bitters, stouts and pale ales should try to keep the fermenting wort at 20c for the duration of fermentation.

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? What's the best way to store dry yeasts?
Freezer

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? Whats the best way to store hops?
Freezer

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? When should I stop sparging?
It is commonly mentioned that you should stop sparging when the runnings from the tun reach 1.008 otherwise undesirable tannins can be extracted from the grains which can give your finished beer off flavours. It is also worth mentioning that many people believe that their beer is better by stopping sparging before this at around 1.020

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? Which bottles should I use?
The best bottles to use for bottling your brew are the heavier glass ones that can be re-crown capped with a capping tool, the swing top style bottles are also very good. Some people use plastic PET bottles as they can withstand the pressure that builds up during priming in the bottle. Beware though that if you choose to bottle in clear bottles you must store them in the dark at all times otherwise due to a reaction between sunlight and the hop extract you will induce an off flavour, commonly known as 'skunking'.

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? Will my hydrometer float?
Yes it will, it's surprising how many people think that they will sink.

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