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Homebrewing...anything?  RSS feed

 
brett watson
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As per someone else's suggestion on a different thread here is a place to share your homebrewing stories, questions, comments, ideas, etc.

I love homebrewing beer and I grow my own hops for that. I am very interested in learning about holistic/homeopathic/healthful brews and uses for homebrews that are non-standard. I have a great book that I have not delved into quite yet called "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation". Anyone read it?
 
janette cormier
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i've picked up that book many times, but i just don't enjoy it.

i brew a fair bit. mostly honey wines (with wild berries and sometimes herbs), cider, and shine. used to make a lot of beer. especially non-hops herbal beers. i usually use wild yeasts either off fruit, from the air, or from sourdough starter.


 
Marissa Little
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I like that book.  I actually haven't tried to make anything inspired by it, but it's fun to read.

We mostly brew just boring old beer.  I've tried watermelon wine but the rats got into it (chewed through the airlock!).  I've been doing beer on and off for I guess 10 years now (mostly off...).

I like to make a really hoppy IPA.  We have planted hops a couple of times but they are tricky here.  I'm thinking about growing a beer patch of barley.  It would certainly be fun to grow as much of it as possible!
 
brett watson
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Yeah it has a particular anti-hop perspective that I can appreciate intellectually but have not experienced as yet on my palate.
I am partial to very hoppy beers and enjoy wines and mead, I am not a fan of distilled products because of an overindulgence of vodka one time in my (stupid) youth.
It is so interesting to read the hypersanitization of the how-to-brew books and I am VERY interested in learning how to brew with wild yeasts. Does the sourdough starter have a great effect on the flavor?
 
janette cormier
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brett, i really like sourdough starter for beers. it is definitely not everyones cup of tea, however. it imparts a more sour flavour to the brew and can also makes it cloudier. i'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to clarify it more. myself, i like having it cloudy because any sediment is a great source of B vitamins.

my favorite herbs for wild yeast beer making are yarrow and wormwood or another artemisia - usually a mugwort.

also, because with sourdough/wild yeasts you don't necessarily control the strain you can end up with different tastes. you can, of course, continue culturing a yeast you prefer once you get it.

i rarely sanitize anything to do with brewing. if i use anything it will be boiling water and perhaps vinegar is something is dirty.
 
Michael Radelut
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Being of rather effeminate/juvenile taste when it comes to alcoholic beverages, the first thing I made was Federweißer.
If you're interested and can get your hands on some sherry or champagne yeast - now is the season to do it !
 
Kat deZwart
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I've made beer, wine, liquors, and my favorite: mead!!!

Not that I drink a lot of alcohol, but it's a great thing to give away or to spoil yourself after a hard day of work.

Mead, made from local honey and fresh herbs is really something fine... but it has a viking-kick to it 
 
Phil Hawkins
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I love mead, and now that I have a bee hive, I am looking forward to some good strong local honey to use in mead.  I have seen recipes using orange juice, but I only have lemons and grapefruit here.  Does anyone know if that might work instead?  I like spiced mead best, so my thinking is that the cloves, etc., might distract from the more tart taste of those fruit?
 
Kat deZwart
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Sure it will work... It might taste a bit different, but that's part of the charm of homebrewing... In my experience you can't mess up mead. Flavours are personal, but it can hardly go wrong...

My basic recipe is:
16 liters water
100 ml rosewater (optional)
4 kilo honey
1400 ml fruitjuice (apple, grape, elderberry, you name it)
yeast (I've used breadyeast with fine results, last time i bought champagneyeast, and that was great!)

Flavorings (choice):
cinnamon or cassia
saffron
ginger
cloves
and/of: lemonrind, vanillapods, anise, chilipowder etcetcetc.

Boil water and juice (with spices), let it cool a little bit, stir in the honey and rosewater. Dissolve yeast, pop whole mix in fermenting vessel and enjoy the bubbling...

If you want to go all scientific you can use alcometers and stuff, but I just go with taste... Mead (if not sterilised with sulfur and/of by microfiltration) has a tendency to continue fermening or start again after a while. I use sodabottles to acommodate any pressure building after bottling. If you bottle before it has settled completely, you can enjoy a mead-champagne or bubblymead, because the rest of the CO2 formed in the fermentingproces will be dissolved in the mead.
 
Phil Hawkins
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Thanks for that - very encouraging (and exciting).  I wouldn't say I drink a lot, but I think there's something very satisfying about producing something yourself, and friends that brew their own beer have a wow of a time!  I was reading a polyculture gardening book recently that was talking up growing hops as climbers on established trees, and my eyes lit up

Could you keep mead in something like a port barrel instead of bottling it?  Presumably you put an 'air lock' U-bend through the cork in the top to protect it from pressure?
 
Burra Maluca
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I have a question about making mead. 

My other half believes that mead should be made with all the honey that sticks to the equipment when you extract it.  He seeems to think there's a way of rinsing the honey off, and then figuring out how 'strong' the honey/water rinse is so you can add appropriate amounts of either honey or more water to make mead. 

It does seem sensible to put every drop of honey to the best use, but does anyone know anything about how to figure out the strength? 
 
Kat deZwart
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Actually there is: You need a way of measuring the relative density of the solution. The easiest and most exact way is with a refractometer or a floating densitymeter for sugarsolutions.

The simple way is by eyemeasure. If you use a premeasured amount of water before rinsing, and you measure again after rinsing, you know how much honey you have added to the water. That is a volumemeasure. By measuring out an equal volume of the same honey next and weighing that, you'll know the weight of the added honey.
 
Burra Maluca
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Cat wrote:
The simple way is by eyemeasure. If you use a premeasured amount of water before rinsing, and you measure again after rinsing, you know how much honey you have added to the water. That is a volumemeasure. By measuring out an equal volume of the same honey next and weighing that, you'll know the weight of the added honey.


Doh.  That is *so* simple, I can't believe that we didn't think of it.  Thankyou!  You're going to make my other half a very happy man 
 
Kat deZwart
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Phil H wrote:
Could you keep mead in something like a port barrel instead of bottling it?  Presumably you put an 'air lock' U-bend through the cork in the top to protect it from pressure?

I think it could be done. Why not try...
Any wood will let some evaporation take place, so you may have to top up the barrel again after some time to prevent oxidation. Also, the wood will impart a flavour of its own, so you have to take that into account when making the mead.

An other option might be stoneware jugs or (if you want to go primal) animal bladders and the kind. Might be fun to play around with, but I'm just recycling my old plastic bottles time and again...
 
Phil Hawkins
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Actually, the comment about extraction got me thinking ...

I have a top bar hive, so extractors are useless to me, so assuming you crush and strain into those white 20l/5gal buckets with a honey gate, why not just crush and strain the required amount of honey in and make the mead in there too?  You could put a lid on (again, fitted with an airlock) and then just use the honey gate to dispense the mead into your warmed pewter mug (the proper way to drink it ) or decant into bottles as required.

Just a thought, but I reckon that would maximise the 'efficiency' of the honey usage, while reducing the amount of different equipment required.
 
Kat deZwart
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cat chicken urban
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Why not... again: try and let us know the results 
My white bucket has a tap on the bottom as well, for easy bottling after fermentation.
The fact that the yeast will remain on the bottom of the bucket after fermentation will influence the flavor (as well as adding b-vitamins) but that shouldn't be a mayor issue.
 
Leila Rich
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Another fun thing to do with a refractometer! Actually, more like the 'traditional' use, but so far mine's been just for measuring veggie brix. Interesting and all that, but when autumn comes it'll get a  workout, as brewing up various things is the plan!
 
Kat deZwart
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cat chicken urban
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Very offtopic:
Leila,
I was thinking "It's autumn right now" (looking out at the leaves blowing by), but then I went "uh, Leila is in New Zealand "
Back ontopic:
Sorry about the interruption, as you were 
 
Leila Rich
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Still OT...
A while ago there were permie representatives from Portugal, the Netherlands, the U.S., New Zealand and maybe France online together.
Kind of cool, especially the reminders of wildly different seasons, climate and even time of day
 
Moody Vaden
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<<<---Hebrew, Ibrew, Mebrew. 

I've done beers, wines, and honey stuff.  Not to mention lots of lacto-ferments...  I know just enough to be dangerous.

I have an apple cyser I started back in Dec 2010 and has dropped out nice and clear and is ready for bottling.

Here was some footage of fermentation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br_v8mdhVTc ;

 
Dave Bennett
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I am a mead maker but I also work at the local craft brewery.  I read that book a long time ago and when you mentioned it I went looking through my boxes of books but can't locate it. 

I mostly make Melomel (fruit flavoed mead) but have made some batches of Braggot using Crystal Malt and only used hops for aroma.  I am not much of a hops head and do not like excessively bitter beer and ales.  I have done some Cysers (apple mead) that turned out pretty good as have my Pyment (grape/honey).
I don't use much hops in my Braggot because all of my meads are very dry since I use Eau De Vie yeast.  At least that is what it started out as.  I harvest my yeast and grow more as I need it so it is possible that my yeast strain is something different now (10 years old).  I started with it because it is really alcohol tolerant (21% ABV) and ferments very cleanly.  I would suggest that my version of Ginger Beer is very good for the digestive tract.  It is not a soft drink but a very strong (7.5% ABV) Ginger flavored ale.  I use quite a lot of Ginger but I soak it to remove the starch and then boil it to covert it to sugar.  I chop the Ginger and add it to the mash along with about 15 lbs. of pale dry malt extract.  It turns out really spicy hot with Ginger.  In the summer I make it with less sugars and a less alcohol tolerant yeast so it is very refreshing on a hot day.


I have a friend that makes some brews that are flavored with herbs.  She has always called them her "elixirs" as in having medicinal properties.  I will see if I can get her to give up some recipes.  I won't tell her it is for a website forum because she believes that the internet is evil. LOL
 
brett watson
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Oh man Dave, that ginger ale sounds fabulous!
 
Dave Bennett
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brett watson wrote:
Oh man Dave, that ginger ale sounds fabulous!

I will try to write down the recipe and post it.  I have been brewing beer and making wines since I was in high school so my recipes are pretty much just "in my head."  I have operated stills before but never owned one.  I always have mead fermenting though.  I have a batch of Elderberry Melomel that should be ready to bottle around Christmas and a new batch of Black Cherry Melomel that is brand new.  I just pitched the yeast last Wednesday.  I have one more carboy but am waiting to hear from my honey source because it take 15 lbs. of honey for a 5 gallon batch of mead and I am completely out of it.  I only use honey from Va. so I can bottle it and sell it in the "Made in Va." store.  I am not a consumer of alcohol except an occasional glass of wine so 5 gallons would last me for a really long time.  By the way, I make a straight mead that I do with the same yeast strain and when it is finished tastes very much like Brut Champagne.
 
ronie dee
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I've made some real good rice champange. Also made white lightning (for use in the internal combustion engine of course) by the way described by Euell Gibbons... It is very simple way to distill with something you have at the house.
 
Dave Bennett
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ronie wrote:
I've made some real good rice champange. Also made white lightning (for use in the internal combustion engine of course) by the way described by Euell Gibbons... It is very simple way to distill with something you have at the house.

I have a column still for ethanol production I just don't have it assembled.  I built it about 5 years ago.  I ran it once to make sure it functioned correctly and then put it away until I am in a place where I can use it.  I do plan to use it as a source of fuel.  It amazes me that so few people understand just how well an internal combustion engine runs on straight ethanol.  I also have enough "lab glass" to build a very small still from my "chemistry set."  I used to use that for making grain neutral spirits in tiny batches for tinctures and extracts. 
 
Moody Vaden
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I bottled up my cyser the other night. Now it's time to get something new going! Anyone have any recipes to share?

 
David Hadjes
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janette Hatfield wrote:i've picked up that book many times, but i just don't enjoy it.

i brew a fair bit. mostly honey wines (with wild berries and sometimes herbs), cider, and shine. used to make a lot of beer. especially non-hops herbal beers. i usually use wild yeasts either off fruit, from the air, or from sourdough starter.




Which yeast have you found most successful ?
 
David Hadjes
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janette Hatfield wrote:brett, i really like sourdough starter for beers. it is definitely not everyones cup of tea, however. it imparts a more sour flavour to the brew and can also makes it cloudier. i'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to clarify it more. myself, i like having it cloudy because any sediment is a great source of B vitamins.

my favorite herbs for wild yeast beer making are yarrow and wormwood or another artemisia - usually a mugwort.

also, because with sourdough/wild yeasts you don't necessarily control the strain you can end up with different tastes. you can, of course, continue culturing a yeast you prefer once you get it.

i rarely sanitize anything to do with brewing. if i use anything it will be boiling water and perhaps vinegar is something is dirty.


When using sour dough starter how do you recommend clarifying it ?
 
Phil Hawkins
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There are a lot of apples about, and I have an empty fermenter.

If apples aren't the best eating (a little on the tart side), do they still make passable cider?
 
Craig Dobbson
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I've been making wines from some of the wild fruit around my property. Grapes, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry have all turned out pretty well. Last year I made an experimental batch of Dandelion wine. It had ginger, cloves, honey, lemon zest and cinnamon in it.

When I get something that doesn't come out too great, I make it into a jelly. Unless the wine is really awful tasting cooking off the alcohol and concentrating the sugar can usually make a huge difference in the taste. I think it's better with white wines but some darker wines will work too.
 
Phil Hawkins
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Hi gang,

So here's one of the apples I was talking about:


As you can see, it has some little bumps on the surface, but these don't seem to have any difference on the inside (eg: they're not little bugs or whatever).

Would these be okay to crush for cider?
 
Leila Rich
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Phil, those look like a much less scabby version of the apples I plan to use for cider! From what I've read (this will be my first attempt), if you don't have real cider apples, trying to get a mix of dessert, crabs and cookers makes for a more complex cider.
My mum has an insanely productive pear tree, who's fruit is pretty tannic and "meh", which sounds ideal for perry.
Considering the traditional English recipes I'm looking at say age it for at least 8 months, I know what everyone's getting for Christmas
 
Phil Hawkins
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Cool. I don't know anything about apples (or cider) apart from I like them.

We have about four apple trees of all different types. Those ones (whatever they are) are the ripest - they come off the tree pretty much just by 'holding' the apple.
 
Phil Hawkins
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Wait, you're a Kiwi - stay away from our apples with your damn fire blight!
 
Leila Rich
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Muah ha ha ha. I'll see your fireblight and I'll raise you a possum. Actually, about 30 million of the buggers!
 
Phil Hawkins
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I was at a birthday party with a bunch of Kiwis the other day. I wondered if I was eating BBQed possum...
 
Chris Kott
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Hi all,

Well, I have this raspberry patch that's taken over half of the lawn and a piece of the garden in my back yard over the last decade. I've just started to prune and take care of them, and they're yielding so much now that I have no choice but to ferment them on purpose, or let them do so on the ground. I intend to make a raspberry something out of them, but my question is this: what is the difference between a wine, a cider, and a beer? No, this is not the opening to a bad joke. If I throw a crop of raspberries into a clean glass wine jug (the ones you ferment in and cap with one of those bubblers), what will determine what I end up with?

Oh, and Dave, I was wondering if you would have any objections to disseminating your Eau de Vie culture to interested parties? My raspberries are sweet, and I prefer dry wines and ciders.

Cheers,

-CK
 
Phil Hawkins
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As far as I know, cider is any fermented fruit, although "pear cider" has its own special name: 'perry'. Maybe berry cider does too?

Beer is fairly strictly fermented, malted hops.

Wine? Who the hell knows... that's for Chardonnay-sipping socialists...

Maybe you should split the difference and call it "raspbeerry cider"

The one I don't understand is what's the difference between beer and barley wine?!


UPDATE
Wikipedia wrote:A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is, in fact, a beer.

So, there's that answered
 
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