Tag Archives: wort

New and old, recipe and brewer mix up

Saturday brew day was a long one, nearly 5 hours. I wanted to have another crack at the Baltic Porter. Chas wasn’t available so my mate Kilan came over to give me a hand.

Kilan has done a bit of home brewing over the last few years. Most of his equipment is in storage. He’s still been able to make some cider and brought over a bottle to share. Will talk about that later.

Was fun to have Kilan over for the arvo. We worked on a few things that neither of us had done before. Had a couple near misses and a whole heap of improvisation. By the end of the day we had bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA and brewed what we felt would be a really good beer.

The last time I did the Baltic Porter it was a 10 litre batch. The beer came out nice enough but lacked some body. The beer had a little too much sweetness. There was room to adds more complexity. In short, there was a lot that could be tweaked.

Baltic Porter #2 Mash

Baltic Porter #2
Grains in bag, in pot and mashing

Given the relative ease of the full grain mash at Chas’s last week I thought of trying a mini mash. The recipe was upping to a 17 litre batch and ingredients to match. That meant a lot more grain. Last time the recipe only had Crystal grains, which can’t mass by themselves. With advice from Chas I decided to include some Chocolate malt, which I believe can mash. So all 2kg of the grain went in to mash.

Kilian was a champ and crushed the chocolate malt grain. The only thing I had was a mortar and pestal which meant some grain got crushed. Hope that doesn’t make much difference.

The Crystal grain went into a grain bag and into the pot. The Chocolate grain got thrown into the bag then all was stirred in. Mash was done at 68°C and had 5 litres of water. Wow, that grain soaked it all up and expanded like a balloon! Mash went for a full sixty mins.

While waiting for the mash to finish we bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA. The final gravity came in at 1.019. With the carbonation drops it will be 6.4% alcohol. And before you ask, yes I will move to bulk priming soon.

We opened the apple cider that Kilan brought. That was an interesting drink, and I mean that in all ways. We chilled it right down and was cold most of the time. First up it tasted like alcoholic orange juice, not like apple. Sort of super sweet and slightly tart. The smell was pretty bad, almost like something off. As it warmed up the cider became more like apple and more dry. Much better cold. I think something might have gone wrong with the yeast and / or fermentation. Let’s see euchre same thing happens to my cider.

Back to the brew, and mash was done. Only problem now was how to sparge the grain. And there was a huge amount. Was fortunate that the kettle we have at home has different temperature settings with the lowest being 75°C. So we used that and poured the water over the bag of grains. Each time we tried to press out as much liquid as possible, but we didn’t really have the right set up. After a few kettle’s worth of water at said temperature there was a lot of volume for the boil. I would have liked to do more sparging, but the boil pot just wouldn’t hold it all.

Baltic Porter #2 Grains

Baltic Porter #2
Grains ready for more sparging

So onto the boil. Earlier I realised that I didn’t have the exact amount of hops to do what I wanted. There wasn’t as much Warrior and that was suppose to be the bittering. As a compromise I moved some of the Fuggles from aroma stage to taste. By moving them earlier it should add a bit more bitterness, and hopefully balance. Will have to wait and see.

Once the boil started we re-hydrated the yeast. It’s the first time I’ve done this. It was pretty easy. The only problem is the water that was boiled so early on it cooled down too much. A quick zap in the microwave brought it back up to temperature. The yeast sat in the water while we dissolved the tea spoon of dry malt in half a glass of boiled water. Then waited half an hour before adding that in and gave it a mix.

I held off on adding the dry malt for a bit. Have been getting advice not to add all malt at the start of boils and wanted to try it out. As a result we didn’t get a hot break, it just came to a boil. Bittering hops went in at start, then taste hops at thirty minutes with the first 800 grams of dry malt a five minutes later. Another fifteen minutes later added in the last 400 grams of dry malt. Five mins after that the aroma hops. Then only five more mins before flame out.

Pot was transferred to an ice bath. Some ice cubes went directly into the wort, water previously boiled before frozen. A second bath for the pot. Then into the fermenter. Added a little more sparged grain liquid, that might not have been the best idea as I’m not sure if that could have lead to contamination. Too late now! The liquid malt only went in at this stage, note that it wasn’t part of the boil. Not sure if that will make much difference. Let me know what you think with a comment below.

The wort was still quite hot. That was even after adding about four litres of very cold water. Will need more ice if I’m going to do something this large and this method again. After a couple hours the temperature was down to something close to what I wanted. Yeast was pitched at about 25°C. I forgot to put the yeast nutrient in at the same time. So, went back an hour later and put in four heaped teaspoons and sealed back up.

 

Baltic Porter #2 Yeast

Baltic Porter #2
Re-hydrated Yeast in the jug

60 min mash at 68°C

– 1.5 kg of Crystal 120
– 500 grams of Chocolate Malt 600

Boil wort from mash
60 min
add 8 grams of Warrior hops
30 min
add 14 grams of Fuggels hops
25 min
add 800 grams of light malt extract
10 min
add 400 grams of light malt extract
5 mins
add 5 grams of Fuggels hops

Into ferment:
– wort
– 1.7 kg of Amber liquid malt extract (Black Rock)
– water & ice to bring to 17 litres

Once at 25°C
add 7 grams of yeast, 5g Windsor & 2g kit yeast (previously re-hydrated)
add 4 heaped teaspoons of yeast nutrient

A bit of a strange brew. Some new techniques and processes. Some corrections from previous brews. Some ingredients just thrown together, like hops and yeast. The final gravity came in at 1.071 which is pretty good given the calculated was only 0.002 higher than that. If fermentation can take it down to 1.025 that will mean about 6.5% alcohol before bottling. And this one will be bulk primed.

-Mikey

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Making beer at home, again.

It’s been too long. Way too long. Last brew day for me was on 1 September!  Over a month between brews. Just over six weeks!

In my defence there were a lot of things going on. The bottling day that was meant to include a brew was just bottling as I couldn’t sort out a time with Ian. Plus the only brew I was set up to do would of been another 23L batch and that wasn’t smart as I had just run out of bottles.

Then a whole lot of important-life-things happened. This isn’t really the place for that stuff, so I’ll just say home brewing had to take a back seat.

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale on the stove.

Anyway, I finally got back to brewing and there’s nothing like something relatively easy to get you back into it. I ordered a couple kits from BrewSmith. The was the IPA which have done before, and is good as it has dry hopping. Also picked up the new Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, for this brew.

Kit was simple enough but still managed to make a couple mistakes. We kind of jumped in a little to quick into this. Which is odd because I prepared a whole lot of stuff before Chas turned up. Kit contained:

  • Dry Malt Extract
  • Grain (mixture of stuff) for steeping
  • Wattle Seeds
  • Hops x3
  • Yeast

First mistake was not adding the Wattle Seeds to the grain when we put that into steep. Just clean overlooked that. Only missed a few mins, so hopefully that doesn’t change things much. Used a grain bag and tried to shake in the seeds, not sure if that really did anything.

Next up, the grains steeped longer than the 30 mins. This was two fold. One, it went on early and the boil wasn’t ready as quickly as I though. Second, we didn’t put the steeped liquid into the boil when we were meant to. Again, oversight by not reading the instructions from top to bottom.

So, Wattle Seeds went in late. But steeping was longer, about 50 mins rather than 30 mins. That meant it only had 5 mins in the boil rather than 15 mins. My gut tells me that this will make a difference as the (middle) hops didn’t have as much to be absorbed into . This might mean a lighter hop flavour and more aroma hops. But that’s just a guess.

Finally there was the cold break. I’ve been reading up a lot on brewing lately. Will be sharing some of that stuff once I get back into the 101 pages. Yes, I know they’re well overdue. I might move to fortnightly rather than weekly as there’s only a few more ‘basics’ to cover before diving into heavy detail.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the cold break. To really get a good break without fancy equipment I decided to step up the work on the cold bath. Yep, still doing that as don’t have any funky equipment. First up was two 1.25L soft drink bottles that were full of frozen water. These acted as giant ice cubes in the ‘bath’ water to cool it down. Then also dropped in a tray of ice direct into the wort, it’s okay the water was filtered. Still did the second bath, but no extra ice into the wort. After that transferred the wort into the carboy, while straining out the hops.

The temperature was still up a bit so put the carboy in the big boil pot and filled with ice cold water, from those bottles that were used as ice cubes earlier. After about 10 mins half the carboy was cold and the rest warm. Pitched the yeast and shaken up, for airation.

The OG came in at 1.042 which was a little lower than I expected for a BrewSmith kit. That might be due to the stuff up with the steeped grains going in late. Or maybe too much water added. But it could just as easily be the right OG.

The day was a pretty short with no bottling to do. And that was really nice for a change. Final thing for the day was getting the temperature control set up, but I’ll cover that in another post.

-Mikey

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Lesson learnt, a bit too late

On Sunday we had another brew day at my place. Was time to do another Porter and a using some grain for the first time since the Brewsmith kits.

There was bottling of the Australian Amber Ale and tasting of the Australian Pale Ale. Both are a lot darker than ‘amber’ or ‘pale’ and should be renamed ‘dark’ and ‘amber’. The tasting of the Amber was, how should I put this, bad. The idea behind the two brews really wasn’t thought out well enough. I had assumed the sugars in the liquid malt cans would mostly ferment leaving only a slight sweetness. I was very wrong. And I should have realised it when we did the gravity readings. Chas has a review that will be going up, but to summarise… it’s bad. The amber came in at lower gravity than the pale, so that might be worse. I’m not going to even attempt tasting the Amber Ale in two weeks. I think both beers need to condition for a number of months, maybe six or more.

So, with that in mind I’m very glad we did a brew of something that should turn out a fair bit better. Or at least in theory. The brew can’t be classified as a ‘Partial’ because the grains used were crystal. That means no enzymes to convert starch into sugar, aka a mash. This was Steeping of the grains, and therefore this brew should be classified as an extract. Plus a can of amber liquid malt extract was used. There was 500 grams of Crystal (ebc 115-145) used.

Baltic Porter #1

Grains for Baltic Porter #1 steeping in the pot

I wanted to get the most out of the grains so steeping occurred for a full 60 mins at around 80C. I say around 80C as the temperature wasn’t fully controlled the whole time. It dropped down to around 77C and was as high as 86C at one point. Not great. But, in defence it was only steeping and not mashing.

And so the Baltic Porter started.

After steeping there was a sixty minute boil. The can of liquid malt and the liquid from steeped grains were all thrown into the wort. Once the hot break occurred in went 7 grams of Warrior hops.

After 30 mins there were 3 grams of Fuggles added. Then finally another 2 grams five mins before flame out. This was then put in the big 30L fermenter and topped up to the 10L mark. Windsor hops were added and fermenter given a good shake to get more oxygen due to the expected high alcohol.

  • Crystal grain (ebc 115-145) – 500g
  • Black Rock Amber liquid malt extract – 1.7k (cans are now bigger)
  • Warrior Hops – 7g
  • Fuggles – 5g (split 3-2)
  • Danstar Windsor yeast – aprox 5g

The original gravity was calculated at 1.081, but only came in at 1.072. That’s probably a good thing considering what happen to the two Australian Ales recently brewed.

The day had some painful lessons. And they were kept to small batches so there’s not too much pain. If this Baltic Porter turns out bad I think it might be time to return to some kits for a little bit.

-Mikey

PS. Forgot to mention we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout and Gauss’ Law hopped cider. Review for stout is up and review of Gauss’ Law will be coming soon.

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Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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New Brew for New Financial Year, Happy Brew Financial Year!

Yeah, I know that’s a bit of a crap name for a post. I did want to do something witty, didn’t quite get there. Plus, the other options were pretty bad.

Black Rock Miners Stout

Black Rock Miners Stout can and fermenter

As Chas mentioned yesterday it was a busy weekend. Last if the lager was bottled. Then 5 litres of the Newcastle Brown Ale went into storage while the other 17 litres went into bottles.

There were tastings of a whole range of brews. Cider, dark ale, lager and porter. Reviews will be slowly going up over the next week out so. And then there was a brew.

I wanted to make something simple and easy. And I wanted another dark beer. When I picked up the kit for Newcastle Brown Ale I also grabbed a can of Black Rock Miners Stout. Picked up some “stout booster” as well. On some good advice I also grabbed a pack of Windsor Ale Yeast to replace the kit yeast.

Yep, some would say it’s a step backwards in home brew. But when you are running low on time, or just can’t be stuffed, a can kit does fine.

First there was the can as the base. The “stout booster” was a kilo mix of dry dark malt extract, light malt extract, and maybe dextrose. And lastly threw in the 900 grams of Dextrose, which was left over from the original Heritage Lager kit.

  • Black Rock Miners Stout – 1.7kg
  • Brew Blend Stout Booster #25 – 1kg
  • Dextrose – 900g
  • Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast – 11g

Had a lot of trouble with heat on this one. Didn’t really pay attention to how much boiling water went in at the start. As a result, even after for trays of ice, we had to leave the wort cool for half an hour before pitching the yeast. The lid, with airlock, was put on to prevent infection. Overall it was a real pain in the arse. There is a good lesson in there about temperature control.

Final gravity was 1.045. I was hoping for more. That’s three brews in a row where final gravity was less than what I wanted. If I had thought about it, I would of thrown in all the rest if the sugar in the house into the wort. Probably for the best I didn’t think of that at the time. Next brew will have a lot more dry and/or liquid malt extract. Or, maybe just a lot of grain. Hrmm, there’s a thought…

The wort was more bitter than expected. But I’m pretty sure this one will be a nice, somewhat basic and somewhat light, stout.

-Mikey

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Blondes and Browns, big brew day

Sunday was another brew day at my place and it was big, in many ways.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale ingredient list and instructions

First up was a trip for supplies from Australian Home Brewing, aka Liquorcraft, aka Brewcraft, aka something-something. We have done a fair few porters lately. They are pretty awesome and good over the colder months, but time for something else for the cold. An English brown ale was what I wanted. Ended up with a Newcastle Brown Ale kit, plus a basic stout kit for another day.

Then back in the Mikey mobile (aka ‘car’) and back to brew headquarters (aka ‘home’) for brew day.

First order of business. Bottle the lager. Final gravity was 1.012 which means the beer will only be 3.8% alcohol, after bottle conditioning. That’s a fair bit lower than what I was going for. Rather than just a cup of dextrose we should if put in half a kilo. That aside, the sample we took was quite promising. Should be a good session beer.

We have been having some over carbonation in a couple of my beers. Nothing horrid, but the IPA and coffee porter (only a couple sample bottles) have overflowed when opened if shaken even slightly. I’ve been using caster sugar for priming and a few people have suggested this might be the reason. That said there’s not a lot of info on the internet about different types of cane sugar. To test this I primed some bottles of the lager with caster sugar and others with carbonation drops. Had a mix of different bottle sizes as well.

After bottling the lager it was time to start brewing. Cracked open one of the Summer Citrus Blonde Ales and got stuck into it. Chas is going to get a review up soon, so I’ll leave it to him.

The brown ale was a mixed kit. There was chocolate malt (200g), a can of light liquid malt, a can of Nut Brown Ale, some Fuggles Hops, and Safale S-04 yeast.
The malt was left to steep for about 45 mins rather than the 20-30 recommended. Mainly because we were trying to do to much at once.

Chas got the liquid light malt in a pot and brought it to the hot break. And I cleaned the fermenter. Hops were added with the steeped grains. The recipe said an optional 400 grams of brown sugar could be added. Only had 300, but it went in. I finally finished cleaning the fermenter just in time for the fresh wort to go in. Last was the can of Nut Brown Ale. Like the lager, we found the liquid a bit to hot. Was a lot more manageable this time round. Finally, yeast went on and airlock.

  • Black Rock Nut Brown Ale – 1.7kg
  • Black Rock Light Liquid Malt – 1.5kg
  • Crushed Chocolate Malt – 200g
  • Soft Brown Sugar – 300g
  • Fuggles Hops pellets – 15g
  • Safale S-04 yest – 11.5g

Have to say that this was a bit of a hectic brew day. Started late and had a huge amount to do. Tried to do too many things at once. Even spilt some of the strained hops back into the fermenter. Luckily it wasn’t much.

The wort smelt great. Gravity reading was only 1.045 which is a bit below what I would expect for the style. Hopefully this yeast brings the final reading right down. Anything less than 4.5% and I’m going to be disappointed. So, a final gravity from about 1.012 or lower will be good.

-Mikey

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Summer Citrus, first attempt

Summer Citrus in fermenter

Summer Citrus Blond Ale #1 in fermenter. Just before yeast added.

Didn’t look like we were going to be able to do a brew last weekend. But shuffled a few things around and did a brew on Saturday. Another Brew Smith kit, this time the Summer Citrus Blonde Ale.

Was expecting another partial boil with grain, needing two pots. Not the case. This was a simple one with malt, hops and extras added straight into the wort. Two lots of malt, three hop additions, coriander seeds and lemon rind. Yeah, I was thinking the last two were a bit odd. But hey, it is a citrus blond.

Did add in a bit more water than meant to at a couple of stages. For example washing out the malt bags to get all the powder out, and into the wort. For this one had to grate lemon rind in. We did it directly over the pot and used some boiled water to rinse the bits off the grater. Anyway, as a result we didn’t need to do any extra top up of water into the glass carboy fermenter. A side effect was that the wort was about 29 degrees Celsius. Plastic wrap went over the top of the carboy until the temperature could be dropped. The photo above was taken at this point. Extra cooling was done, but after another 20 minutes we could only get it down to 27 C. Not ideal, but needed to get the yeast in. Airlock went on and stored away to brew.

This is the second time we got a proper gravity reading on these small batches. Came out at 1.054 which is more or less in the range I was expecting. Means the beer will be around 5% to 5.5% alcohol, if all goes well.

We’ve done a few of these Brew Smith kits now and this was the easiest by far. Bottling will be in about two weeks, just after good beer week (www.goodbeerweek.com.au). Then another two weeks in the bottle before tasting and review.

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Starting small, but not dumbing it down.

Choc Paradise Porter #1

Chocolate Paradise Porter #1 in the carboy with airlock

I promised Chas that I’d put something up about my first few brews. And here we are. The whole home brewing thing has been a journey that started about two years ago. Won’t go into all that today, that’s another story.

Back in October 2012 I decided that it was time to try this brewing at home thing. I requested a brew kit for my birthday from my wife. But I couldn’t really decide on what type. Presents didn’t turn up until start of January 2013 because of my inability to chose. So I got both.

I could launch into the different kits, but again, that’s for another time.

My first brew was on 5 Jan 2013. It was a ‘Chocolate Paradise Porter’ from Brew Smith. The team at BrewSmith take a lot of complexity out of making beer, and still allow you to make some good quality beer. You use a 5 liter carboy. This is like a giant glass bottle. End result is 12+ stubbies (330ml-375ml) of beer. Due to the size of the carboy and amount of beer, this is sometimes referred to as apartment brewing.

Anyway, back to the beer. This Porter is made with a partial boil so it means making wort yourself with malt, hops and grain. The whole brew process on the stove takes an hour. Prep work is about 10 mins before. Then there’s about 30-40 mins of cool down and getting it into the carboy. All up you should be done under two hours.

Bottling was on the 12th. That was probably too early. Cracked open to drink on the 26th.

How did it turn out? Pretty good. Without telling my wife the beer was ready I gave her a taste test. She didn’t even pick that it was home brew. The beer did lack body and the chocolate flavor was a bit light, but everything else was there.

Overall this was really easy. Beer was really good and happy with the outcome.

-Mikey

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Brewing can be easy and fun, and a bit tedious

Thought a good first post would be one that covers one of the basics of home brewing.

As Chas mentioned yesterday, sanitising is king. The reason is that any bacteria that gets in can ruin your beer.

The beer making process is basically:

  1. Make a tasty sugary liquid.
  2. Add yeast which turns the sugar into alcohol.
  3. Make it bubbly.

Now there is obviously a lot more going on than that.

The tasty sugary liquid is called wort. And I’ll be using that name going forward, even though “tasty sugary liquid” does sound awesome.

Your wort is very vulnerable to all types of bacteria. Whatever gets there first will go crazy eating and growing. We only want the yeast to do that.

Hence making sure everything that touches the beer is:

First cleaned of any dirt, liquid, grime, dust, gung, bits, and whatnot.
Second sanitised to kill all bugs, bacteria, yeast, and tiny bad things.
Finally rinsed (if needed) and kept free of contamination.

This process can take a long time. Sometimes longer than all other steps combined! But if you get it right, which isn’t hard, then you’re well on your way to make tasty home brew beer.

-Mikey

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