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johnnyivan

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Hi All,
I watched my dad brew beer as a kid and teenager, but most of his beer was only drinkable if mixed with supermarket stuff! Some of it occasionally smelled of eggs or tasted of vinegar but he still drank it! Somehow... When my mum said "Why don't you clean and sterilise everything!" He replied, "Agh, I can't be bothered. Minimum effort, maximum amnesia." Eventually he started to clean up his act and the stuff got better.

When I started again years ago I found that the most basic thing like sterilisation - even with bleach - made a huge difference. Also bottling it in basic 2 litre plastic fizzy drink bottles and adding hops to the wort created bitterness and fizz that hid a multitude of faults! But there was always that slightly umpleasant 'home brew ' undertone. I still don't know what that is.

Recently I started again and I've followed some of my friends' advice. He's a scientist, and inspired and advised by me, he immediately surpassed his master with beers that are better than bought ones. He usually boils up the grain himself, uses higher quality yeasts and nurtients and all sorts of techniques. He records everything that he does and tweaks.

I do some things that he does, trying to keep all infection to a minimum. I'm still using kits but I get much improved beer doing this:
  • I bought a sealed bucket with a tap - and for the first time ever - an airlock
  • I use an acid no-rinse steriliser
  • I boil the contents of the can and the sucrose for about an hour
  • I boil ALL of the water that I use (which takes ages) then seal the fermenting bucket up with the airlock and wait for it to cool to room temperature and pour the yeast into the airlock's bung-hole. My friend reckons the boiling removes the in-solution chlorine in the water (but it also removes oxygen)
  • I still bottle it in 2 ltr fizzy drinks bottles
What I might need to try next is better yeast; yeast nutrient and that prepping the yeast business before pitching it into the bucket; and better sugar/s than sucrose. I was looking around for glucose yesterday for priming the bottles but couldn't get any. I thought it might make the beer less sweet, and cleaner tasting. Less 'home-brewy.'

But to be honest, at present it's tasting nicer than any I've ever brewed, and I don't want to negate the financial savings of brewing my own. I know you can take it to higher and higher levels and spend more and more.

Couple of questions:
  1. Might it actually be MORE cost effective to boil up the barley myself?
  2. Is it beneficial to get oxygen back into the wort after boiling all of the water? My friend rocks the bin around with the lid on to achieve this. Maybe a pump of some kind, with tube down to the bottom of the wort would be better?
Thanks all. Looking forward to learning more from the experts on here.
John
 

the baron

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Welcome to the forum
1. It is generally cheaper to Mash/Boil your own grain also it gives you way more control over your recipes as you can use all sorts of grains to make the wort/beer.
2. you do need to aerate the wort before adding your yeast as the yeast needs oxygen to work effectively but usually most people would just let the wort run into the FV from a height which is usually enough but its entirely upto you all I can say is get a method that works for you.
Yeast nutrient is not always used except in certain brews i.e high ABV beers etc but again do what you think is best for you
 

johnnyivan

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Welcome to the forum
1. It is generally cheaper to Mash/Boil your own grain also it gives you way more control over your recipes as you can use all sorts of grains to make the wort/beer.
2. you do need to aerate the wort before adding your yeast as the yeast needs oxygen to work effectively but usually most people would just let the wort run into the FV from a height which is usually enough but its entirely upto you all I can say is get a method that works for you.
Yeast nutrient is not always used except in certain brews i.e high ABV beers etc but again do what you think is best for you

Hi Baron,
Thanks for all of that. I suppose aerating it by whatever means increases the chance of contamination? In the industry do they pump in pure oxygen?
John
 

Gerryjo

Still brewing though never get much time....
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Hi and welcome to the forum. Just wondering what part of Ireland you are from as there are homebrewers all over the island and many of whom would quite happily put you through a few steps in person now that the dreaded lurgy is receding a bit though if you stick to sanitisation and keeping all your equipment clean you are best part there.
 

the baron

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Hi Baron,
Thanks for all of that. I suppose aerating it by whatever means increases the chance of contamination? In the industry do they pump in pure oxygen?
John
Yes it does in theory but in practice it is very unlikely to get a infection as it is wort and the yeast has not been added as yet.
It is pretty standard practice to let the wort run from the Boil Kettle in to the FV.
Ps putting oxygen in by using air stones etc also creates a potential risk in theory.
As long as you have a good clean and sanitisation regime you will be ok
 

damienair

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Hello and welcome to the forum. I’m in Navan, I’ve done loads of kits now which has been a great way to learn and the results have been fantastic. I've done around 18 kits so far. My last brew was a full extract kit where I had to steep the grains, boil the wort and add hops at different intervals during the boil. It was a little step up from kits without being difficult. It is a middle point perhaps between kits and all grain brewing. I'm going to do a few of these for a while. Enjoy and happy brewing.
 

johnnyivan

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Hi and welcome to the forum. Just wondering what part of Ireland you are from as there are homebrewers all over the island and many of whom would quite happily put you through a few steps in person now that the dreaded lurgy is receding a bit though if you stick to sanitisation and keeping all your equipment clean you are best part there.

Hi Gerry,
I'm in Dublin. Thanks for the welcome ;)
John
 

johnnyivan

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Hello and welcome to the forum. I’m in Navan, I’ve done loads of kits now which has been a great way to learn and the results have been fantastic. I've done around 18 kits so far. My last brew was a full extract kit where I had to steep the grains, boil the wort and add hops at different intervals during the boil. It was a little step up from kits without being difficult. It is a middle point perhaps between kits and all grain brewing. I'm going to do a few of these for a while. Enjoy and happy brewing.

Hi Damien,
I've done a couple of Muntons Coinneusseurs Pils kits and they taste great. I'll try another American IPA again soon, I think.
I've got a hop plant in the garden and I'm looking forward to using the flowers again, like I did years and years ago.
John
 

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