Everything Homebrew!

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posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 07:15 PM
Every culture across the world, even ancient civilizations, had their own method of fermenting something to make an alcoholic beverage.

I'm going to make this OP as broad as possible, and throw out a few terms right away:

Beer: Fermented grain, of any sort. Recipes are endless.
Wine: Fermented fruit, primarily grapes.
Mead: Fermented honey. Many variations.

National Homebrew Day is May 5th of every year, where thousands of people across the country get together to brew beer. Keeping the OP broad, as I want to learn how to brew mead, I welcome any input, and if any winemakers out there that want to share tips, please do.

The focus, however, falls primarily on beer brewing. There are more variations of beer brewing than the other categories combined.

That said, there are three primary methods for brewing (beer):

Extract: You acquire a kit, $23-45 USD, and it has complete instructions and ingredients. Beginner.
Mini-mash: You buy half-extract and use half-grain. More forgiving. Intermediate.
Mash: You buy 10-13 US lbs of grain, crush it, figure out your decoction schedule, sparg, and create your own wort. Advanced, as you are working off a recipe you've created.

All three methods provide a "wort", which is a sweetened base that the yeast can feed upon. Here's where the "all-natural" part comes in. Yeast makes bread and beer. Without yeast, we wouldn't have either. Could you imagine a world without bread? Without beer?

Well, the basic function of a yeast, in the crudest of terms, is that a yeast cell will eat something sweet, and poop out Co2, and pee out alcohol. Those air bubbles you find in your bread? That is the yeast creating a bubble of Co2, but it was cooked in the process. That is why you must bake bread AS SOON AS it rises. To let it set over a few days, without killing the yeast, the bread would grow to unfathomable proportions.

With homebrewing, we don't want to kill the yeast. We give them 5 gallon buckets of sweetness to devour. We get 5 gallons of alcohol. Two weeks of fermentation, and the yeast have devoured all the sweetness and have gone mostly dormant by then. It's time to bottle.

Now, there is a lot of technical stuff, but I want to touch on ABV for a quick bit. I hope other members will add their knowledge, so I am keeping this a general as possible.

After you have a "wort", and you have boiled your "hops schedule", usually 60 minutes, and you have chilled your wort to "pitching" temperature, you MUST get a "specific gravity" reading. This occurs before you "pitch" your yeast.

That reading is called your "original gravity". I use a simple hydrometer I paid $4.95 USD for, it was designed for canning, but it has served me faithfully for years. Ok, new term, OG.

I like to take a "gravity" reading after one week, when I "re-rack", just to see the progress. There's a formula for calculating ABV from your OG, and long as you have a FG (final gravity) reading to plug in. At one week, I have a different number than when I started, so I can calculate ABV mid way through.

I'll plug the formula in later in this thread.

The one aspect of this thread that I haven't addressed yet is recipe sharing. Brewing recipes are worked on by individuals, changed, modified, and clarified. You can find "clone" recipes online for any given brand, and try to duplicate it. Most find a slight variation yields better results, and they re-brew the same recipe.

Myself, I constantly modify recipes. I think about the flavors I want, and having tasted variations of brew, it becomes a challenge to match the flavor.

Any thoughts, comments, or questions?

edit on 4/16/12 by Druid42 because: hit enter before posting....facepalm!

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 07:27 PM
Am I supposed to be getting something out of this thread?

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 07:35 PM
See what happens Druid, when you sample too much of your home brew......

ETA: Yay...you filled in the OP with words...good home brewing words.

edit on 16-4-2012 by Destinyone because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 07:47 PM
Cool homebrew keyboard you made.

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 07:55 PM
Go go, Mr. Beer!

Sure it might be one of the shunned ways to get into homebrewing, but it's cheap and makes it pretty simple for beginners.

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 08:36 PM
reply to post by Destinyone

Duly noted.

Guess I should explain a bit more.......

.......Re-enforcements arriving soon.

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 09:46 PM
Hops Are for Beer:

Homebrewing beer is the act of converting the carbohydrates in grains into simple sugars. After the conversion, the wort is boiled for 1 hour, after adding the "hops" or bitterness, that you want in a beer. There are a few hundred varieties of hops grown worldwide, but with a global economy we are able to secure any type of hop we want. The hops are what differentiates a "beer" from any other alcoholic beverage. Beers are "bitter" to one extent, a "Doghead" for example, against a common "Budweiser". It's the hops.

Hops are gauged in AA (Alpha Acid) content.

(Right click and view image).

The higher the AA%, the more bitter your brew will be.

Hops are added after you have your wort, and the whole mystery of making beer is why we boil our wort for 1 hour after we add hops. There are several explanations, nothing definitive. Good ATS question here. It's the way things are. Aye?

Hops are relatively cheap, you only need 1 oz. per five gallons, and my friend I brew with has cascades and continentals growing beside his house. Hops are a vine, capable of surviving in Northern Climes, hardy, and the primary ingredient that distinguishes a beer from a wine. It's another creeping vine like English Ivy, but at the end of the year you can harvest buds, usually 3-4 ounces of that variety of hops per year. Enough for 4 batches of brew, if you are following a style. My friend doesn't like hops, thus the AA of the ones he grows, so he usually brews stouts and porters.

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 09:53 PM
reply to post by Druid42

I have yet to make beer but I love making fruit wines. By far the BEST is blueberry wine !
My mead aged for a few months and was still pretty off , I have heard though that you really have to age it quite awhile for the taste to be really decent.

It really does sound complicated at first , but once you give it a go it's really quite simple and fun . It's a neat little hobby to come up with your own recipes and try to "perfect " the flavors. I have a long way to go yet, I could definitely use a brew Guru.

posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:05 PM
reply to post by paleorchid13

I am hoping that other Homebrew gurus will show up in this thread, and offer their experiences. Otherwise, I'll pop out various articles about homebrewing. I'm no expert, btw, but I know how to create alcoholic beverages. Good to put on a resume, not, but after TSHTF, it'll be a good skill to teach. Best to read about it here, before all that, and know.

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 04:43 AM
reply to post by Druid42

You're pretty much dead-on in your description of how yeast derive their energy from the sugars. Can't get any simpler than that since most people would be lost with the technical mumbo-jumbo.

Hop schedules are tricky to follow. I like to boil one set of hops for 60 minutes and then boil the other hops at specific intervals within those 60 minutes.

Ex: Hop schedule starts at 1:00, boil Nugget for 60 min (til 2:00) and then add Cascade at 1:30 (30min), Northern Brewer at 1:45 (15min) and so on until you reach 2:00). *hop choices are examples only*

Speaking of hops, they're commonly used to add bitterness and/or aroma to beer.

Ex: Cascade for bittering, Tettnang or Saaz for aroma. *hop choices are examples only*

From what I know, there are two different methods to make beer:

Partial Mash- This method uses malt extract (a syrup extracted from grains) with specialty grains (usually in a muslin bag). The grains are steeped anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes (30 being the best if you wish to avoid extracting tannins and creating off-flavors) and once they are finished steeping, they're removed and the wort is brought back up to a boil before adding malt extract and eventually hops. Partial mash is ok if you're just starting out but the downsides are the freshness of the malt extract and the off-flavors that it can create if not done right. This is the method that I currently use. I'm looking to graduate to the next method.

All Grain- This method cuts out the extract altogether and increases the use of grains. The difference is that you must now mash and sparge the grains in order to extract the flavors from them. This process is a bit more difficult at first and requires more time/equipment. The advantages are more control over the flavors and over time, better efficiency. Downsides are probably costs (at first) and the additional time needed.

Sanitation- VERY VERY IMPORTANT! Always sanitize your 5 gallon bucket BEFORE adding the wort. Sanitize all equipment that will touch the beer and wash your hands often! I use Iodophor, which must be shaken vigorously and dumped. If it lingers, it will leave orange stains on your bucket! If a bucket has nicks and scratches, TOSS IT and get another one. These scratches can harbor bacteria, which can be difficult to remove at times. You can also use Star San and B-Brite for sanitation purposes.

I could go further into technical details but I will answer any questions that people have. I am actually writing up a final project on how to homebrew and this is practice for that.

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 04:47 AM
reply to post by paleorchid13

My father made wine from the Concord grapes he grows last year. He used nothing but Fleischmann's fast-rising yeast and a pot for fermentation. It came out very well and with only a few months of age, it was pretty damn drinkable.

My grandfathers on both sides made tomato and dandelion wine. My cousin is an all-grain homebrewer. Living in Vermont, it's very common to run into homebrewers, especially if they're the kind of people that you can't imagine doing that!

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 07:35 AM
reply to post by The Sword

Wow. I forgot to add in a section on sanitation, very, very important. Thanks for your comments, and yes, there is much more to add to the homebrew topic. I use Onestep brand sanitizer, 1 tbsp per gallon, and ANYTHING that gets close to the wort gets rinsed in it first. Airlocks get rinsed, as well as the fermentation bucket. Never had any staining problems with it.

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 07:44 AM
Thanks Dru for starting the thread. I have recently started homebrewing and while it DOES seem like a lot to absorb as far as technique, terminology and instinct, it's all pretty basic. Heat, Yeast, Sugars, Flavor.

Also - for anyone interested in a little history on "man's oldest beverage of choice", here's a fantastic little vid for ya'z

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 08:30 AM
Excellent primer Druid. One thing to remember is that EVERYTHING must be sterilized before you brew. Bacteria of any kind will kill your yeast and ruin your beer.

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 08:36 AM
I've been homebrewing for a little over a year now and while I've produced some good beers many have also seemed to have the same problem. They have a metallic taste. At first I thought this might be due to the water I was using so I started using distilled water. That didn't fix it. So next I assumed it was a contamination issue, but no matter how much I would sanitize this taste still lingered. Does anyone know what could cause this taste? Is it caused by not sanitizing properly or could it be caused by the metal my equipment is made from?

I'm also looking to start doing all grain brewing with my next batch. I've read you can make a mash tun using a cooler. Has anyone tried this method and if so how well does it work?

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 09:52 AM
reply to post by Xcalibur254

CHARACTERISTICS: A harsh, metallic taste noted both on the tip of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Can be felt throughout the tongue and mouth in large concentrations. Not desired in beer. Also described as tinny or bloodlike. CHEMISTRY: The ferrous ion (iron) and some organic compounds formed by hydrolysis of cereal lipids in grain, and oxidization of free fatty acids. HIGH RATE FROM PROCESS: Iron or mild steel in contact with beer; freshly-scrubbed stainless steel that has not been allowed to oxidize (passivation); improper filtering material; high iron content in water; poorly processed grain. REDUCTION: Use of stainless steel; low-iron water; use of citric acid to re-oxidize stainless that has been abrasively cleaned; use of filtering materials that are acidwashed to remove iron; use of fresh, high-quality grain malt.


Hope this helps!

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 09:55 AM
I've been homebrewing for 5 years now, though I brew a lot less now due to time constraints.

It's still my goal to crack into the brewing industry. It's expensive to go to brew school (two options are Siebel Institute and American Brewers Guild, of which the latter is in VT).

It's too bad that the brewers I know are just not interested in apprentices at this point.

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 10:02 AM
I've read up a little bit on what it takes to get going in the industry. The best advice was basically,

build a list of everything you need and how much it costs - land/space, equipment, supplies, logistics etc. When you're done - take the total amount and double it.

It also mentioned that a typical start-up is roughly 1million.

Time to call up some rich friends
edit on 17-4-2012 by TXRabbit because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 10:05 AM

Originally posted by jeantherapy
Am I supposed to be getting something out of this thread?

yeah - the hell out

posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 10:14 AM
I just started brewing my own stuff. I have batch #2 racked to 2nd fermentaiton and just polished off the first batch with impressive reviews and results! I'm sticking more to traditional styles but with a Texas twist - I'm smoking the grains using various woods and accompaniment.

First batch was a Hickory Pork Irish Porter. It tasted almost like a mix between Guinness and Newcastle. Unfortunately the smokiness wasn't quite noticeable but it had a lot of body and character. I didn't do any readings but I'd guess the ABV was around 5%.

Up next is a Mesquite Turkey Helles. I made sure the grains were on the smoker for awhile this time and initial indications are that it's going to come out really good (using a scientific method known as siphoning and getting a mouthful in the process )

I'm really enjoying it so far and prefer to master the common styles before venturing into the Chocolate-Oatmeal-Banana-Coffee-Mango-Bacon-Cherry-Truffle IPA with a 26% ABV

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