Tag Archives: Tips

New 101 – beer ingredients

So, far so good. First 101 went up last week and a week later second one is going up.

This week we’re looking at the basics of beer ingredients. There’s a lot of detail behind it all, but really there’s four main ingredients  MaltHopsWater and Yeast.

Page is under the 101 section. Hope you like it. Let us know if you think something else should be added, removed or fixed.

-Mikey

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Brew 101, it’s what you want

For the past couple months we’ve been letting you all know what we’ve been up to. What we brew. What goes in. What it ends up like. And that’s been great. We have even touched on what’s involved in the brew process.

The feedback has been that people want more. Friends, family, work colleges, barristers that we visit regularly, and random strangers out and about. Its something I was planning on doing after the Journey To Home Brew series. Its something Chas wants to do. And the time is now right.

So with that in mind we are proud to present… (drum roll) Brew 101!

We’ll aim to get a new one up every week (or so) over the next few months. The start will be on the very basics and we’ll work our ways across different brewing methods, styles, ingredients, equipment, bottling, cleaning, and everything else brew related. We won’t get it right first time for everything. We’re learning a lot of this stuff too. So, we’ll fix and add things over time.

First cab off the rank is 101 Brewing concepts.

-Mikey

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Search engine terms #1

Howdy!

I’m really into data and numbers, so I spend a good amount of time checking out the stats for We Make Home Brew.  One thing I’ve found interesting is the search engine terms; what people are searching for when they stumble upon this blog.

This has inspired me to do two things.  Firstly, there is a handy new section above that provides links to the occasional general tip article that we do.  Secondly, I thought I’d share some of the search terms and expand where possible.  Hopefully whoever originally found this blog through a search engine is still reading and now has their question answered!  Feel free to comment with questions and I can go into things further.

Adding to this, we’re currently in the process of writing some other general informational posts that we’ll throw into the new section.  A lot of this is to provide some information, a lot of this is because we’re taking a brief break from brewing because I’ll be going on holidays for about a month!

How do I make cider?  Also various cider related searches.

One of the reasons for the new tips and tricks section.  I’ve done a general run down on cider making here.

Buy super yeast for wine

All yeast is pretty super.  This is a bit of a strange search to do.  I have done a post on yeast, but there is so much to consider, it’s probably best to consult your local home brew store: they should be able to advise you on the best yeast to use for your brew.  All yeasts are different and it’s best to make sure you’re using the most appropriate yeast.

In relation to wine yeast, I’ve only used the SN9 wine yeast for my ciders.  This is advertised as generally good for whites and sparkling wine.  I’ve found it’s a pretty clean yeast that doesn’t leave any yeasty tastes.  What I’ve also found is that it’s a fairly slow fermenting yeast when compared to ale yeasts I’ve used.

Fermentation blanket

I’m not sure where this pointed the searcher, but I think we’ve made references to such things… I keep my fermenter in the kitchen, so I generally just throw a towel or an old blanket over it to keep things warm.  I’ve found that the fermentation process creates a little bit of heat, so in a modern house, a decent blanket can work wonders.  My kitchen also gets a fair amount of morning sun, and it’s best to keep UV off of your brew, so the blanket also helps to block the sun

Mikey, on the other hand, keeps his fermenter in the garage (AKA the Brew Dungeon).  Mikey has insulated a cupboard with old sheets which does a pretty good job.  To compliment this, Mikey also has a heat pad to use in case of emergencies.  Heat pads can be purchased at most home brew supply stores; I’ve even seen heat belts for sale as well.  For general heating, Mikey has thrown some Christmas tree lights into the cupboard.  Keeping these on for a few hours a day does wonders.

I’ve seen and read about various other home made temperature regulation systems.  A popular thing to do is to use an old bar-fridge (not plugged in).  Refrigerators are designed to be very well insulated, so the temperature should stay fairly constant.  Heating/cooling sources can be added to the fridge if the temperature is wrong.

Will yeast die if it gets too hot?

it depends on what is meant by “too hot”.  But yes, yeast is a living thing and will die if things get too hot, it’s always best to keep things in recommended temperature ranges (the yeast packet should tell you).  Even if the yeast doesn’t die, you can create fusel alcohol by mistake.  Fusel alcohol may form at temperatures above about 27 degrees C.  Unfortunately, if the temperature is too low for your yeast, the fermentation process may be too slow (same if you under-pitch your yeast), once again causing the yeast to sit in your fermenter for too long, causing other off tastes or also fusel alcohol formation.

Similar problems can happen if the wort isn’t aerated enough prior to pitching.  This can cause a build up of nitrogen in the fermenting wort, and once again, causing impurities or the wrong types of alcohol to form.

That’s it for now.  Maybe I’ll really nerd out and make some graphs in the future, we’ll see!

-Chas

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Buying in bulk

If you’ve taken a look at the Rules Of Home Brew you’ll have seen my advice about always having plenty of consumables such as bottle caps on hand.

Well, I took my own advice and bought this!

Yep, that's 1000 caps

Yep, that’s 1000 caps

I needed more bottle caps because Mikey and I will be bottling the the dark ale this weekend, and it just made financial sense.

Basically, as with anything, the more you buy, the cheaper it is, so buying 1000 caps is quite affordable. I would have got more sanitiser and sugar, but I’ve got plenty of that.

Adding to that, I was already shopping on line for some home brew supplies. Mikey and I have had some good luck with the BrewSmith kits, so we’ve decided to try and replicate one using our own recipe. We’ll be brewing that this weekend, and I’ll post the recipe then.

Unfortunately in my big online order, I forgot to include yeast! I have some spare yeast floating around, but it’s not the right kind, so I’ll have to pop down to my local home brew store before brew day. I’m not going to do a whole mail order just for a little bit of yeast…

Funny though, I was speaking to a friend about my horror at forgetting the yeast, and, since my friend isn’t a nerd, he didn’t know about all the different types of yeast and the importance of using the correct one.  Needless today, he now knows plenty!

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about my caps! I’m going to split them with Mikey so that we both get cappy goodness.

-Chas

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