How to make the most of your beer kit

Discussion in 'Beer Brewing "How-To" Guides' started by tubby_shaw, Jun 2, 2009.

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  1. Jun 2, 2009 #1

    tubby_shaw

    tubby_shaw

    tubby_shaw

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    How to get the best from your beer kit

    First read the instructions that come with your kit.

    Although the instructions supplied with many beer kits are adequate to produce acceptable beer there are things that can be easily done to improve the final quality of the beer.

    Sanitation.
    Whatever method of sanitation you choose be thorough and rinse your equipment well with cooled boiled water, to remove any trace of residual sanitiser.

    The next is water quality.
    Tap water is perfectly good to produce your beer from, however, most tap water contains chlorine and chloramines which can combine with the ingredients in your kit to give a medicinal or TCP like taste in your beer. The easiest way to counteract this is to treat the bulk of your brewing water with Ĺ of a crushed campden tablet per 25 litres. Simply add your water to your brewing bin and stir in the crushed campden tablet.
    Take the required water to dissolve the malt extract from this treated water and heat separately.

    Sugar.
    If your kit calls for extra sugar to be added, there are better alternatives to household sugar, these are in order of increasing quality, Brewing sugar(glucose), beer kit enhancer ( a mix of glucose and dried malt extract) and finally extra malt extract.
    These can all be used as a direct replacement for the sugar called for in the kit instructions.

    Aeration
    To give your yeast the best possible start in life it needs a good amount of oxygen to be dissolved in your beer. This is easily accomplished by a vigorous stirring or splashing the cold water into the hot water / malt extract mix, if you get a froth on top of your brew you will have sufficient oxygen dissolved into your beer.

    Temperature
    Fermentation temperature is also very important. Ferment to warm and you will produce some unpleasant tastes and odours, too cold and your yeast will stop working. A constant 18 to 22C is ideal.

    Finally patience, donít rush! Give your beer 10 days in the fermenter and allow the yeast to do its job and then settle to the bottom giving you clear beer.
    Whether you bottle or barrel your beer give it a month to mature, itíll be worth it.
     
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  2. Jun 3, 2009 #2

    Muddydisco

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    Nice one TS :thumb: That answers most of the newbie questions I had when starting out. What about a bit on gravity reading and when to keg, as that gets asked a lot?
     
  3. Nov 23, 2009 #3

    zcacogp

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    My first post ... be gentle to me!

    Thanks for this. I am both new to brewing as well as new to this forum. I made my first batch of beer yesterday, and it is in the brewing bucket as I write this. Another few days and I'll be putting it in the barrel.

    These hints and tips for improvement are very helpful - thanks. My father has brewed his own beer for the last few years, with very hit-and-miss results. He helped me do the brewing yesterday, and having read this short thread I can better understand why his results are so patchy.

    I intend to spend some time reading around the whole topic of beer brewing on this forum, but does anyone have a link to a good article on the process of home brewing? More specifically, I don't completely understand the role of the malt and the yeast in forming the character of the beer (which is more influential, and what happens if you use a different yeast with the same malt); the benefits of leaving the beer for longer in the brewing bucket or for longer in the barrel; the correct alcohol content to look for when putting it into the barrel and how this affects the quality of the beer, and so on.

    Apologies if I have put this post in the wrong section (or indeed in the wrong thread.) If the moderators could move it accordingly I'd be most grateful.

    Thanks, in advance, for any help.


    Oli.

    ETA: Ooops, just realised this thread is over 6 months old!
     
  4. Nov 23, 2009 #4

    tubby_shaw

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    Hi don't worry about the age of the thread :thumb:
    If you want to get some more information there are a few books that are worth a read, they are not all perfect and things have moved on since they were written but,
    This
    And This
    Will give you a good understanding of what's happening in brewing at home :thumb:
     
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  5. Nov 23, 2009 #5

    jamesb

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    I like John Alexanders book as well (sorry, no link; I'm on the mobile). It has it's faults but if you're vaguely technically minded then it's very good imho.

    Still waiting for Tony Barnsley to write his though. :grin:
     
  6. Nov 23, 2009 #6

    tubby_shaw

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    Is there enough paper in the world :wha:
    I agree with the John Alexander books but don't think they are the best bet for a self confessed Noob ;)
     
  7. Nov 24, 2009 #7

    Aleman

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    Seconded .................
     
  8. Nov 24, 2009 #8

    evanvine

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    An excellent first post Zcacogp, welcome to the forum.
    Just listen to what these guys have to say and you wonít go far wrong.
     
  9. Nov 24, 2009 #9

    tubby_shaw

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    Thirded ...............
     
  10. Oct 10, 2010 #10

    cask is best

    cask is best

    cask is best

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    Great tips, thanks. As a previous poster said he can see why his Fathers beers are hit and miss. Like mine have in the past. I will try and follow all of them. :cheers:
     
  11. Oct 11, 2010 #11

    zcacogp

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    What a fantastically timely revival of this thread. I was just pondering this forum last week, and then found an eMail in my inbox telling me that there was another post on here ...

    I'm the guy who spoke of hit-and-miss results from his dad. Suffice it to say, the batch I put together about a year ago was a duffer. Utterly undrinkable. So I put the kit away and haven't touched it since. But ... Christmas is coming, nights are drawing in, I am thinking that it could be a good time to dust it off and see if I can do better second-time-around.

    I think I know some of why it wasn't good last time. I am pretty sure the barrel leaked air which made the beer go off at that stage. There was very little pressure produced from the CO2 bottle, and this was relevant I think. I am also not 100% convinced that everything was quite as clean as it should have been ...

    So, Take 2. I need another brew kit, and enough time to do another brew. Which could be next weekend. Where can I get a brew kit online between now and then? And a new cap for my barrel which won't leak.


    Oli.
     
  12. Oct 11, 2010 #12

    Dunfie

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    Hi Oli

    You could take a look at the links above. Matchless and Brew Uk both sell kits. I would give them a call if you want it before the weekend.

    What is the problem with the lid on your barrel? Have you tried using some petroleum jelly on the seal and then testing with water and charging with the CO2? This should let you know if you have any leaks. However you should be able to get a replacement lid if it is still a problem. If matchless or brewuk cannot help then I would try Hop and Grape as they tend to carry that type of stock.

    Overall, brewing rewards cleanliness and sterilisation. I would allow you barrel to soak with some OXI type cleaner to get the grime out. Then I would soak it with sterilising agent like VWP for a night. Plenty of rinsing and then transfer your beer.

    Is all basic stuff but when you get it right you will be hooked. :cheers:
     
  13. Oct 26, 2010 #13

    gregv123

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    Beginners question......

    It's been in the barrel for a few weeks, downright impatience fored me to sample after about 3 weeks in the barrel....

    Taste's OK, not remarkable but a satisfying first effort, very bitter flavour. Possibly caused by use of Tate&Lyle for fermentation and also potentially too low temperature for primary fermentation. Quite flat too, not much fizz or barrel pressure though it seems to be sealed OK.

    Anyway now I've removed some beer, from the barrel, obviously some air has entered the barrel to replace it! Question is, will that potentially cause the beer to go off? Do I have to drink it quick now or will it be OK for a few months??
     
  14. Nov 20, 2010 #14

    zcacogp

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    OK, me again. And I'm still a noob! Don't take my very occasional droppings into this thread (and whole subject area) as being any sign of disinterest; it's merely a lack of time.

    I have now bought another beer brewing kit, and some brewing sugar, and am thus gearing-up for a second attempt. I have dug all my old brewing stuff out of the basement and given it a good wash. It was grubby. Very grubby. (Embarrassingly grubby.) I know that good brewing comes from good cleanliness and hence things are now clean. Not sterile - that will need to come next, but they are physically clean.

    I have also discovered why (I think) the last (and first!) batch went so wrong. The barrel cap I have wasn't designed for the CO2 cylinder I used. It seems to have been made for those small silver capsules of CO2 you can buy for cream-whipping machines, but I used a large grey CO2 bottle. (Large = 240g, maybe 12 inches long and 3inches in diameter.) I don't think this managed to push any CO2 into the barrel as the small pin that operates the valve was in the wrong place, and I suspect that was my problem.

    Consequently, I have bought a new cap with that aforementioned new beer brewing kit, and have tried Dunfie's suggestion of pressurising the barrel with nothing in it. I can now get a reasonable pressure in there with no (apparent) leaks - a small paintbrush and some soapy water on the outside of all the joins produced no bubbles, so I think I am in a better position than I was in before.

    So, next step is to make the stuff. I will need to do the sterilisation thang, and all I have is campden tablets. Will these be sufficient? Dunfie, you suggest OXI cleaner and VWP - are these the same as campden, or something else?

    And another question. One of the bits of kit I have is a flexible silicone tube, with a rigid tube on one end and a small tap on the other, for syphoning the beer from the bucket to the barrel. This has (despite my best attempts at washing) a residual brown mark in it, which (when I peer into the end) appears to be debris adhering to the walls. Noting the remarks about cleanliness, I suspect it would be a bad idea to use this in it's current state. Is this sludge likely to come out with a cleaning product, or would I be better advised to buy a replacement tube?

    Oh, and a final question - I am going to be brewing Geordie Yorkshire Bitter. Is this any good? I guess that's a matter of personal taste and personal taste alone ...

    Thanks again for your help, chaps. And thanks particularly to Dunfie who has been particularly helpful - thank you Dunfie.


    Oli.
     
  15. Nov 20, 2010 #15

    queues likely

    queues likely

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    For the cost of a syphon kit, replace it. this will be money well spent when you get the feel for the brewing caper. :thumb:
    As a Coopers fan I would go for a Coopers Dark Ale or IPA and brew kit enhancer, i get my gear from my local brew shop. :cheers:

    But i cant help but feel the Darkside, as i do now own my family Burco 37L boiler. :thumb: :party: Mash tun awaits

    happy brewing zcacogp
     
  16. Dec 11, 2010 #16

    zcacogp

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    QL, thanks. I bought some more tubing (from eBay - ordered and paid for 5 metres, and got something nearer 10! Cost a fiver delivered, which was much cheaper than a new syphon kit. And it was 'food grade' tubing ... not sure if this was relevant.)



    Oli.
     
  17. Dec 14, 2010 #17

    Redbloke

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    I do mainly full mash but I like to try different kits now and then.

    Cheers :drink:
     
  18. May 15, 2011 #18

    smndvy

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    How about someone setting my mind to rest (please) :?:
    Put my first kit together yesterday and I can see no activity whatsoever. Airlock bubble doing nothing and I cant see any bubbles forming in the wort.

    It's been about 15 hours now since adding the yeast at 21'C and it has been kept a constant 19'C ever since.

    Am I being impatient or has something gone wrong? :wha:
     
  19. May 15, 2011 #19

    gkinrade

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    I've found that sometimes it can take a day or two for fermentation to get going. What kit are you doing? I tend to ferment a tiny bit higher too (20-21 degrees celsius) so maybe that's slowing things down a little
     
  20. May 15, 2011 #20

    smndvy

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    It's a Youngs Lager - I have been speaking to Mark1964 in the chat and he has told me to wrap it up. I've taken a temp reading and it's only at 18'C. I've put the heating on now to try to warm it slightly and I'll look again tomorrow.

    S
     

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