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Making Homebrew Beer

My husband and I have been making beer for a few years now and once we get into a routine its pretty easy to keep up a plentiful supply of nice tasting beer. We don't drink heaps, but its nice to have some there when you feel like it and I HATE throwing out cans and bottles all the time.


"[I recommend]… bread, meat, vegetables and beer."

-Sophocles' philosophy of a moderate diet
For a good explanation of the general beer making process see this website, I'm just going to explain what we do, but there are lots of different options to suit different timetables and budgets.  We use a keg system, so that we don't have to clean lots of bottles.  We have two fermenters and usually put down two brews at a time.  We use the big cans of concentrated malt extract and 1 kg bags of dextrose (one day if we have the time and energy, we'd like to try starting from the raw grains, but in the meantime, the cans work really well).  We currently have an ale bubbling in the kitchen and a lager bubbling in the bathroom (suits cold temperature, great for winter), and we make a couple of brews every few weeks, depending on demand.

We have two kegs and a modified bar fridge to keep them cold (hole drilled in the side to put the gas tube through - be careful doing the drilling, the first one worked out fine, but the second one was less successful - the fridge now needs to be re-gassed!).


The basic steps are:
  1. Clean EVERYTHING with mild bleach and hot water (we use the bath as we don't have a decent big tub!!).  This is where some people go wrong.  If everything isn't perfectly clean you can contaminate the brew and end up with that yucky home-brew taste.  We find that if everything is clean the beer comes out tasting great (even nicer than the bought stuff), and that's where it helps to have the kegs instead of lots of bottles to clean!
  2. Boil the jug, tip the dextrose into the fermenter and tip in the boiled water, stir thoroughly
  3. Open the can and tip into the fermenter, use hot tap water to rinse out the can and transfer the water to the fermenter
  4. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the fermenter and top up with hot/cold water until you reach 20 L at the right temperature (depends on the tap water temperature and the beer)
  5. Put the lid on tight, put some water in the u-tube and wait about a week, the beer should start bubbling in a few hours (lager takes a little longer if you're using a proper larger yeast at low temperature)
  6. Clean the keg, transfer the brew to the keg, chill in the fridge and then pressurise with food-grade carbon dioxide (we like to leave the lager in the fridge in a clean jerry-can to clarify for a couple of weeks before transferring to the keg, we also let it ferment a little longer as larger yeast is slower growing)
  7. Pour beer into jug and enjoy!

We have two fermenters and usually make two brews at a time

One of our kegs ready to go in the fridge
and a jerry can full of lager to be largered!
The empty cans are GREAT, we use them for everything - to hold pegs, to store nuts and and bolts, paint tins, feed bin scoops, grass seed scoops, to store dog biscuits while travelling - we have heaps of them now, so they are very useful and there's nothing to throw away :)


Do you make your own beer?  What system do you use?

Comments

  1. I just found your blog through The Greening of Rose. i think I am going to enjoy following your journey to self sufficiency. Love the idea of brewing beer...maybe in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is so interesting. I love the way you guys try your hand at so many different things. Life must be such an adventure for you! I'm not really a beer drinker, but I'm sure Paul would prefer if I made it to kefir.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been giving trying to home brew some thought... love the local micro brews in Seattle, but they're expensive...

    ReplyDelete

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