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How to make the best quality homebrew beer from a kit

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Yes its true, you can get pub quality beer from a homebrew beer kit, I’m often asked by friends when they start brewing if I have any tips and what process I go through to get great quality beer from kits so I thought I’d write it down.

If you follow the instructions that come with beer kits you will get a drinkable homebrew however with a few additional steps and a little patience you will get a considerably better beer!

Although not a professional I’ve been home brewing since around 2002, first doing kits and more recently moving on to full mash brews.

A summary of the process::

1. Buy a good full extract kit.

2. Make your wort up from the kit by adding water and yeast then leave to ferment in a bin using an immersion heater to regulate the perfect temperature.

3. Syphon off the fermenting wort after around 48 hours and leave to finish fermenting.

4. After 5-7 days once the specific gravity has stabilised, syphon into a pressure barrel with some sugar and leave to condition.

5. After 20-25 days you will have a great beer to drink, Enjoy drinking your finished beer!

Read on and I will explain the full process.

Firstly to brew great beer from a kit you will need some things:

A good quality beer kit – only buy full malt extract kits, these are the kits with two tins of extract rather than one which you need to add sugar too, they taste much much better when finished!

A decent pressure barrel – If you are going plastic I thoroughly recommend a “king keg” I’ve had one since 2002 and done hundreds of brews, it still works perfectly! they have a top tap which is fed by a float and have a C02 fitting as standard, you do need to use a little Vaseline to seal the cap but I’ve had two of the cheaper bottom tap barrels fail on me so I’ve given up on buying them!
My next purchase will be a corny keg (stainless pressure vessel) but more on that another time.

A beer immersion heater – this is a must in order to get a consistent fermentation, since buying one of these several years ago my beers have been considerably better!

Two fermenting bins, you can use one but it will make dropping your wort much harder!

You will also need:
At least one fermenter lid with a hole for the immersion heater
A siphon
A thermometer
A hydrometer
A large spoon
A sample tube or hydrometer jar
Some steriliser
And some sugar for barrelling (I use brewing sugar (dextrose))

The actual process of making a great quality kit beer is relatively simple and has a few stages; Preparing the wort, Fermentation and Dropping, Racking and Barrelling.

Preparing the wort for fermentation – In this stage we will hydrate the tins of extract (Basically concentrated wort) from your chosen kit beer back into wort ready for fermentation

1. Sterilise all your equipment as per the instructions on your steriliser and rinse it thoroughly afterwards! You don’t want your beer getting mould or other infections in it, besides not tasting good it will make you ill!

2. Open your beer kit and check the contents, you should have at least two tins of malt extract, some instructions and a sachet of yeast, Read the instructions but take them with a pinch of salt and don’t pay too much attention to the timings. Some kits also contain hops which will need to be used as per the instructions with your kit.

3. Pour some warm water in your sink and immerse the tins of extract to soften the contents.

4. Boil 2 full kettles of water and pour them into the fermenter, then put the kettle onto boil again as you may need hot water later.

5. Open the tins of extract and pour them into the bin, stir and have a little taste of the extract its great stuff! You may struggle to get the dregs out as its sticky stuff, I shake the cans in a circle and the centripetal force will throws the contents out!

6. Add a few litres of cold water and keep stirring until all of the extract has dissolved and any extract splattered over the side has also gone, top the bin up with more water to the wort volume in your kit instructions, make sure you check the temperature while doing this and if necessary add some boiling water, you want to get it to around 25 degrees Celsius to ensure a good start to fermentation.

7. Using your hydrometer check the specific gravity of your wort and write it down.

8. Add the yeast, Refer to the instructions on your yeast but generally you will just sprinkle it on the top of your wort.

9. Finally pop your immersion heater into the wort and loosly put the lid on the bin.

Fermentation and dropping – Fermentation is the process whereby the yeast converts the sugars from the wort into alcohol, Dropping is the process we use to discard the bulk of the dead yeast from your finished beer, this is the single most important thing you can do to turn your beer from drinkable homebrew to pub quality beer!

Fermentation usually takes around 5-7 days but could take more or less depending on the beer and the conditions, do not rely on the times stated in the kit instead use the estimated final gravity from the instructions with your kit, Essentially you need to measure the specific gravity of the wort using your hydrometer every day and when it gets to a reading around the estimated final gravity and doesn’t change for 24 hours it is ready for racking and barrelling however we don’t want to just leave it to do this as we will be dropping the wort halfway through.

Dropping needs to be done when approximately half of all the fermentable material has been fermented (usually around 48 hours after fermentation has started), to work this out take the Initial gravity reading that you measured and subtract the estimated final gravity from it, divide this by two and add it to the final gravity, when your worth reaches this specific gravity it is ready to be dropped.

e.g 1040 – 1009 ÷ 2 + 1009 = 1025

When your wort reaches the desired gravity, syphon the clean wort from one fermentation bin to another discarding the sludge at the bottom and any foam or floating deposits (you may loose some of the wort during this process but it is totally worth it as it seriously improves the quality of your final beer) so that your second bin contains only clean wort, position the tap on your syphon at the top of the second barrel pointing it into the side of the bin to allow the wort to aerate this will help the fermentation start again quickly, once this is complete put your immersion heater into the wort and leave it to finish fermentation.

Wort being syphoned into second bin:image

 

 

Dead yeast left behind in the original bin:image

 

Racking and barrelling – This is the final stage and the easiest although longest stage of the whole process. Essentially we are taking the fermented beer and putting it into a pressure vessel where secondary fermentation occurs creating CO2 and pressurising the beer, this conditions it forcing all the crud to the bottom clearing it and giving it its final flavour.

Once fermentation has finished take 50g of brewing sugar and add it to your pressure barrel then syphon in the clean wort from your fermentation bin discarding the sludge at the bottom and any foam or floating deposits and give it a gentle stir. Screw the cap on tight (If you are bottling add half a teaspoon of sugar to each bottle and syphon directly into the bottles before capping) remembering to lube up the seal and leave it somewhere cool until it is ready to drink. The instructions for your beer kit will give you a guide as to how long this will take (usually around 14-20 days) but always leave it longer than it says as a rule of thumb I usually say around 25% longer.

If you do want to drink it quicker you could always fine it before you barrel it, finings are an additive which encourage the trub to clump and fall to the bottom of the barrel much faster. Most commercial breweries fine their beers so don’t be afraid!
Although I have never used finings with kit beers I have with full mashes, (especially when using wheat in the mash) personally I use Kwick Clear and it does a fantastic job!

Green man kit conditioning in the “King Keg”
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Once all these steps are completed you will have a clear and great tasting beer. Although there are a few more steps listed here than the bare minimum outlined in most beer kit instructions it is worth completing them all as you will get a much better beer and after all that is what you want!

Stop helping the “Like Harvesters”

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Its called “Like Harvesting” and its a way for people or organisations to boost their facebook pages allowing them to target larger audiences with subsequent adverts or to sell likes and potentially your profile information to third parties.

Usually these will be a picture, maybe a small girl with a sign saying things such as “my mum says if I get 200,000 likes then I can get a pony”, a picture of a sports car/iPad/high value item with a bow on it pretending to be a competition or more often than not a high value voucher offer for a supermarket or similar.

Its not going to hurt you but think before you share anything on Facebook, try and make sure posts are not created purely for likes and check out the person posting it to see if their page looks legit.

Finally, if the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is!

Milestone brewing company – Green Man – beer kit review

Its been a while since I brewed from a kit but what with the recent arrival of a baby and prior to that months of working hard I’ve not had the time to do a full mash so I figured I might aswell put a kit on anyway!

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I’m making a Green man beer kit which I bought yonks back from Wilkinsons it is described as a light golden ale with citrus notes, so right up my street!

Its your standard variety cheap malt extract beer kit with two tins of malt extract and a bag of yeast (Gervin GV12 – Ale yeast), Unfortunately the dog ate the instructions but I managed to decipher the gravity readings and volume from the remains of the shredded paper.

I have made up the wort to approx 22.5 litres at 25C and am getting an OG of 1040 (bang on the recipe) I’ve put my immersion heater in, sprinkled the yeast on and will aim to drop it around SG 1025 (probably around 48 hours from now) FG should be approx 1009.

Update 14th December 2014 – Dropped wort at SG1020

Barrelled on the 18th dec at SG1010 so should be ready around the 11th of January at around 3.9%

Watch this space

1972 Mk3 Ford Cortina

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Well here it is, the new responsible family car my four door mk3 cortina in evergreen.

Originally a 1600L but now running a 2ltr ohc pinto engine from an 80s Sierra.

It is lowered on its original steel wheels and has had an Alfa Romeo leather interior fitted (it came with the original interior and springs if I want to put it back to stock at some point) and I have fitted front and rear inertia seatbelts

It’s a one year only car with the washer pump and intermittent wiper switch mounted on the floor.

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What does your starsign say about you?


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What does your starsign say about you?


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I took this test and the results were so accurate it totally blew my mind!
Start

RESULTS:

Your starsign says nothing about you at all.


Astrology is make believe, it is completely made up, it is pseudosciene and has absolutly no bearing on anything that happens in real life.


If you really think it is anything other than a bit of fun you are mistaken.


Do some research for yourself and while you are at it look into cold reading, you probably beleive in psychics aswell...


Your answers are highlighted below.
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Shaded items are complete.
1234End
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1967 Electric sunroof Type 34 Razoredge Karmann Ghia

1967 Electric sunroof Type 34 Razoredge Karmann Ghia,

I recently decided it was as time to part with the razor, its leaving me this weekend and below is a little information about the car from the advert I made.

This car is a 1967 model Electric Sunroof Ghia which was built in 1966 and originally purchased in Belgium as a LHD car but was converted sometime in the 70’s to RHD. I bought it in 2010 and unfortunately it fairly rapidly fell to pieces having been bodged beyond belief by previous owners, between 2011 and 2012 it underwent serious body off repairs and some restoration work at PanelKraft

The Chassis was fitted with a pair of brand new KlassicFab type 3 floorpans and any rust was taken care of, it was then sandblasted back to bare metal before being powdercoated. It was fitted with new brake lines and a new master cylinder plus new pads, shoes etc. The rear shocks were replaced and a replacement IRS sub-frame was sourced and fitted as the original one had been interestingly modified. It still has the original front beam which is tatty but solid.

Its Running on American Eagle 2ltr Porche Replica Alloys with modern Continental Tyres all round with lower profile Tyres on the front. I do also have a set of steel wheels that came with it which can be included.

The Body has no rust in it at all but is does have a fair amount of filler. Having been in Britain for many years the panels have had some patches welded in over the years and filler to smooth it out, To be honest it has had some fairly terrible welding done in the past which was uncovered when the interior was sandblasted I have had this bad welding rectified along with any rust before it was painted. The factory fitted sunroof works fine although its missing the dust seal and vanity panel, Its finished in a custom 2 pack Blue paint with matting agent giving it the satin finish which just looks lovely.

The bumpers are in excellent condition with only two very small dents, these are originals and took me a long time to source.

The front seats are Porsche tombstones which are incredibly comfortable and I believe are from a 924, these have been re-trimmed in black vinyl with blue piping the original rear bench seat has been trimmed to match, The carpet set is from spirit of the 50s.

It has an Empi Shifter, a Mooneyes steering wheel and Chrome Dash Knobs but besides these the rest is all standard and I believe there is nothing missing although the radio doesn’t seem to work and the glovebox liner is missing.

The car has been completely rewired with modern fuses, relays etc.

The Engine is an AN code 1800cc flat four motor from a Porsche 914 which is reported as being around 90bhp, it has a pair of rebuilt Solex 36-40 PDSIT carbs and runs like a dream. It has type 4 heat exchangers fitted and takes very little time to warm up although to turn the heating on or off does require the pipes to be added or removed so must be done while stationary.

The car pulls amazingly and it a lot of fun to drive, it corners beautifully and brakes well, it is a very comfortable drive and I absolutely love it.

The only negatives to my knowledge are that the bodywork is not perfect, it looks great but it does have patches welded in rather than replacement panels and a fair amount of filler under the paint. I don’t think this needs rectifying straight away but it will need sorting eventually I like to be entirely honest when selling a vehicle and if I didn’t mention it i’d feel terrible. It also has a few scratches and dinks in the paintwork (Carpark damage) but you don’t really notice them unless you look up close.
It is not stock, It does not have all the correct trim parts and it is nowhere near concourse but it isn’t that kind of car.

Click on pictures below for larger versions

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Dan Williams Allstars

Back in 2007 I did some live recordings for DWA crammed into a rehearsal space using a 10″ Apple iBook and a Presonus Firepod straight into garage band I can’t remember exactly why we recorded it now but I remember Tom used an edited version that he took from the audio which went on the second DWA Album, I do have all the original source files but below are the live mix versions unedited (besides a little EQ) and rough…

Dissrespection

 

Skull Shaped Rock

 

Slaughter

 

This confession has meant nothing

 

Shoehorn

 

Kicking K

 

Chucking Salt

 

Matt Starts

 

Anaesthetic

Press To Continue the lost songs…

So today I came across some old live recordings from 2007, the first PTC gig recorded 20th of September @ The George Hitchin…

Here is the first song, Chucklehead by Press To Continue

 

Song 2 – Knowledge by Operation Ivy

 

Song 3 – LDN by Lilly Allen

 

Song 4 – Beer by Reel Big Fish

 

Song 5 – All Hail Dude by Press to Continue

 

Song 7 – Monkey Man by The Specials

 

Song 8 – Another Girl by Press To Continue

 

Song 9 –  Superman by Goldfinger

 

Finally song 10 – Nicotine Girl by Press To Continue

 

I don’t know why but whatever we played 6th isn’t on the HDD.