dusting off my old barrels

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Tanglefoot

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Hi all,

Just joined up to better educate myself on the finer points of making some decent ale !

I used to homebrew about 20 years ago - with surprising success considering I can't recall using a hydrometer ever though I was always
very careful with sterilisation and cleanliness.

Like a lot of folk during the lockdown with time on my hands I thought I'd dig out my old barrels and FV again, picking up steriliser
new airlock and hydrometer online with a couple of one can kits to get started.

For old times sake I went for a Scottish heavy by Youngs for my first brew ( seem to remember it as first kit I ever did ) which is nearly ready to barrel.
Guide says 5-10 days, after 7 with krausen subsided and only occasional bubbling from airlock I took a sample and checked with hydrometer.
Reading was 1.006 , the top end of what guide advises 1.000 - 1.006 so will check again later to see if its dropped.

Had a little taste test on the sample which was promising ! Sweetness was gone which is an indication of finished fermentation according to the guide.
I'm sure though it could benefit from a little extra time for the yeast to 'clear up' from what I've picked up reading around.

I did try to take the starting gravity of the wort but it was difficult to read as it was quite frothy, I think it was approx between 1.045 - 1.050.
The recipe was 1.5 kg of brewing sugar and suggested ABV is 5% so should be about right ?

Hoping I can pick up whatever tips and advice I can to improve the beer I'm making so thanks in advance for any help, I'll try and search forums before asking
obvious noob questions !
 

An Ankoù

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Welcome, Tanglefoot. Used to be one of my favourite beers before they reduced the gravity some decades ago. 1006 seems quite low so if it stays there for 3 or 4 days, I'd bottle it up. As for the diacetyl rest, if you keep it between 16-19 is degrees, it'll clean up nicely in the said 3 or 4 days mentioned above. A tad of diacetyl isn't necessarily out of place in the style, I think, anyway.
Good luck.
 

Tanglefoot

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Hello. Ask away!
Ok, you asked... !


My old barrels were from Boots ( probably 25 years old ) with 4" neck. The tops have a simple pressure
release valve so I've ordered some replacements with a pin valve so I can add C02 - it was always a problem
with flat ale if I didnt drink it quick enough !
Will the new tops be a sound fit do you think ! Bit late now mind you if not :roll:
 

terrym

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Welcome @Tanglefoot
You might find these useful
Basic beginners guide to brewing your own beer from a kit - The HomeBrew Forum
Guide to a Standard Home Brew Pressure Barrel

Standard advice to new and returning brewers, until you get to know what you are doing, is to use the 2+2+2 rule, which is 2 weeks in the FV, 2 weeks to carb up in a warm place, and 2 weeks conditioning before you sample when it may or may not be ready for regular drinking.
As far as your PB is concerned I took over an old PB a couple of years back and it lasted two brews before it failed when full of beer (shell leak), so I suggest you have a contingency plan perhaps some bottles ready should you have the same happen.
And dont forget to test the pressure after 3/4 days rather than wait weeks only to find it has leaked
 

An Ankoù

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Ok, you asked... !


My old barrels were from Boots ( probably 25 years old ) with 4" neck. The tops have a simple pressure
release valve so I've ordered some replacements with a pin valve so I can add C02 - it was always a problem
with flat ale if I didnt drink it quick enough !
Will the new tops be a sound fit do you think ! Bit late now mind you if not :roll:
I've got five of these barrels. Even after 25 years they're as sound as a pound. The difficulty with ordering new lids is that there are at least four different threads among these 4 inch caps. The Boots caps are very robust, though, and they can be drilled out to take a CO2 i injector valve. Make sure the seal ring inside the lid is sound and give it a good coat of Vaseline.
 

Tanglefoot

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I've got five of these barrels. Even after 25 years they're as sound as a pound. The difficulty with ordering new lids is that there are at least four different threads among these 4 inch caps. The Boots caps are very robust, though, and they can be drilled out to take a CO2 i injector valve. Make sure the seal ring inside the lid is sound and give it a good coat of Vaseline.
I did think about fitting a valve to the existing tops, I'll see what the new ones fit like - if they're no good maybe I could rob the valves to put in the old tops ?
 

Jason42

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if they're no good maybe I could rob the valves to put in the old tops ?
Hi and welcome!
Yes, I’ve done the same thing. Important to remember, though, is not to over tighten the lock ring (to avoid distorting the seal ring) and use plenty of vasaline. Same thing when you fit a cap on a barrel, don’t over tighten! A lesson learned by me the hard way🤬
Enjoy!
 

Tanglefoot

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Good news ! Got the new king keg tops today and they fit the old boots barrels well it seems - I half filled one with water and pressurised it with a co2 cartridge then checked in an old tin bath for leaks and sound as a pound athumb..

My next question is whether the valve in the new top has pressure relief capacity - push the pin down like on an inner tube ?:confused.:

Its a Youngs make top labelled as Inlet/outlet valve with piercing pin.
 

Jason42

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Around the base of the valve you will see a band of rubber. That is the relief valve. If the pressure goes to high it just blows out from under the band. The pin is for piercing the little co2 bulb and does nothing else.
 

Tanglefoot

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Now have this first brew conditioning in a pb, with a pilsener from the same Harvest range by Youngs in fermentation.
My next kit will be a Master pint IPA, which I plan to pimp up with add some extra light spray dried malt extract and cascade hop pellets.
I'm hoping someone can advise me on a few points ;

- the kit requires 1 kg of sugar, how should I substitute DME - like for like, half for half ?
Perhaps add .5 kg to 1 kg sugar for a slightly stronger brew ?

- after some reading around, I plan to dry hop with the pellets into the fv after primary fermentation ( with FG reached ) and leave for 3 -5 days while yeast cleans up etc.
Would I be better off getting a bag to put them in ? ( The beer will be going into a pb .)

- is it worth considering dry hopping my pilsener ?
It's had a week in the fv tomorrow and is still pretty actively fermenting, bubbling every 20 seconds or so.
Again I was thinking of dry hopping into FV after primary, I'm bottling the lager so perhaps more argument for using a bag in this instance or possibly end up having to strain whilst bottling ?

I'd be grateful for any opinions or pointers - cheers !
 

Banbeer

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the kit requires 1 kg of sugar, how should I substitute DME - like for like, half for half ?
Perhaps add .5 kg to 1 kg sugar for a slightly stronger brew ?
I personally would use 1kg of DME as a substitute but it depends what you want the ABV to be as to adding more sugar?
Dry hopping would be good and a bag is an option but not as much hop flavour is obtained this way, much better adding straight to the fermenter and if possible cold crashing for a few days b4 bottling/kegging to get the hops etc to clear up and sink to the Trub, depends on your set up.
 

Tanglefoot

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I personally would use 1kg of DME as a substitute but it depends what you want the ABV to be as to adding more sugar?
Dry hopping would be good and a bag is an option but not as much hop flavour is obtained this way, much better adding straight to the fermenter and if possible cold crashing for a few days b4 bottling/kegging to get the hops etc to clear up and sink to the Trub, depends on your set up.

Advertised ABV is 5% , I would 'nt mind a little stronger brew so perhaps use ! kg DME and .5 kg sugar.

My set up is pretty basic at the moment. I'm brewing in my ( insulated ) shed, with the fv in a box lined with celotex insulation and a heat belt.

I monitor the temperature by thermometer on side of fv and plug in belt accordingly.
Ambient temp is probably between 14 - 16 right now, the pilsener is quite happy at that with no extra heat ,
will probably just give it a go letting it sit in shed cool as possible.
 

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