HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
edited May 2013 in Welcome To The Forum

There are a few things to check as you're first starting out and to be aware of, take a look and make sure you avoid any problems. The process is fairly simple so don't worry, it's not as precise as you might think, most things are not an exact science, so just do your best, it will turn out great;

1 - Sterilise, sterilise, sterilise! - Make sure your equipment is well cleaned ideally with warm water and a steriliser such as VWP, and then well rinsed with clean water to remove any residue, it's time well spent! When brews do go wrong, the most common cause is contamination from equipment not properly cleaned. Whilst you want your fermenting vessel to be clean, do not use a scourer or scratch it if possible, as this can damage the surface and cause bacteria to infect the brew as it is harder to keep clean in future. If using a barrel make sure the tap is tight, give it a little nip up with a spanner or pair of grips to be sure before you fill it - you don't want your precious brew leaking out!

2 - Follow the instructions (usually on the ingredients tin/box or under the lid), mix the ingredients well with water, be careful if rinsing tins out with hot water as they can get very hot so use a cloth, and give it a good stir, and then add the yeast making sure it comes into full contact with the liquid and not just froth (if any). Yeast should be added as soon after mixing as possible. There are instructions and a video guide on this forum which you may want to take a look at too. If using a hydrometer you should take your first reading now, which can then be used later with your final reading to work out the approximate alcohol content of the finished brew.

3 - Cover and leave it to ferment either by fitting the lid loosely, or by sealing the lid on and using an airlock. The vessels do not need to be airtight at this stage. If using an airlock it needs to be half filled with water, and the red dust cap can be left in place on the airlock. Whether you decide to use an airlock or not, any gases need to escape from the brewing vessel so it does not build up too much pressure, and the vessel should be well covered to keep any contaminants out. We recommend you brew somewhere out of the way where the vessel will not be disturbed.

4 - Keep it at the right temperature recommended in the instructions - this is often room temperature, use your thermometer (the self adhesive LCD type in the kits are easiest to use) to check it is roughly around the right temperature (and don't worry if it's not exactly right), this will help it ferment quickly and produce the best flavours - there are plenty of heating devices available if it is being kept somewhere cooler - we recommend the 25l heater tray as it is easy to use and sorts itself out without any messing around. If brewing at cooler temperatures the fermentation can take much longer.

5 - It will now ferment on it's own - sometimes it will produce a lot of froth and if an airlock is used it may bubble like mad, other times you will hardly notice anything and the airlock wont move - it varies drastically from brew to brew, just leave it to do it's own thing. If the airlock doesn't bubble that is perfectly fine, they sometimes don't, there is no hard and fast rule of what you will see, it varies so don't worry or mess around with it too much. Relax. Remember to store it in a place where damage cannot occur if it were to leak or froth over.

6 - If using a hydrometer take your readings, you can do this by half filling a trial jar, or other clear container, with some of the brew, pop the hydrometer into the liquid and read the number where it passes through the liquid. It should be around what the instructions for your kit recommend, and you can double check by reading it for 2 days in a row and making sure the reading remains constant - this is a good sign it has finished. If using hydrometer readings to work out the approximate alcohol content you need to make a note of your final reading at this stage. If in doubt leave it to finish off for an extra day to be on the safe side. No trial jar? put the cleaned hydrometer straight into the fermenting vessel and read it there, plus there is no washing up! If not using a hydrometer, make absolutely sure all signs of small bubbles rising through the liquid to the surface have completely finished before continuing, if in doubt leave it longer to be sure,

7 - Transfer to your keg or bottles - this can be done straight away now, or if you want to leave it a couple of days until you have more time that's fine, it wont spoil for a day or two. Carefully syphon it out of the fermentation vessel over into your choice of keg or bottles - which will depend on your preference and how you drink it - a barrel is great for beer, bottles are easier to put in the fridge so you can chill your finished drink down if you like it nice and cold as lager and cider drinkers often prefer. Bottles are easier to take round to that BBQ or party you're off to too. If you want to you can put some into bottles and the rest into a barrel, but do this now before it is primed with sugar, not at a later date after it is airtight. Take care not to put the tube onto the bottom of the vessel, you want to leave as much sediment behind as possible, so your finished drink is not cloudy. This means that you must leave some of the brew behind with the sediment, but don't worry, this has been allowed for. If you do get some sediment going through, don't worry, it will settle down. Ask someone to give you a hand with this if needed, using the syphon tube is a bit of a skill which improves with practice, and there are a few devices on the market to help with the transfer which can be awkward, such as the 'little bottler' for filling bottles when you don't have three hands! Bottles should be capable of withstanding pressure so choose carefully, cleaned recycled old beer bottles (but not wine) will be fine, or food grade plastic (PET) - if it had a carbonated drink in it before, it is probably OK to use for bottling your home brew as a general rule.

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  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    edited March 2013
This discussion has been closed.

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