View Full Version : Brewing your own beer - advice?

3rd Aug 2010, 10:53
During last nights evening constitutional dog walk, always an opportunity to put the world to rights, air the occasional marital discord, receive instructions etc, Mrs C announced that I would have to cut right down on beer consumption when I am retired, for purposes of prudent financial management. Although that day is at least 10 years hence, I spent a fretful night pondering this terrible diktat. Then I had a brainwave.... why not brew your own? why not do it effective immediately? Any advice or comments for a complete tyro?

3rd Aug 2010, 10:55
We're gonna need a bigger shed!:}

3rd Aug 2010, 10:59
Any advice or comments for a complete tyro?Yeah, don't bother. You will have to make industrial quantities of the stuff to make any return on your initial investment, and to cover for spoilage. Mrs C will be sick of the smell and disruption after a very short period and there are plenty excellent brews on the market to sample without wasting time and effort on what is just a right of passage for most blokes.

Gentleman Jim
3rd Aug 2010, 11:12
It will cost you more, and Mrs C will be very unhappy about the nasty wind that you will develop, so bad in fact she may even leave you and................wait a minute, thereby leaving you to spend what you like on beer....................ha ha I have a cunning plan Baldrick!

tony draper
3rd Aug 2010, 11:17
I remember when the Home Brew craze took off up here, before this time one never saw a drunk about the place until after three PM, after twas possible to trip over someone deeply ale fuddled at 8 in the morning,the stuff was lethal.
Fortunately the craze did not seem to last long or perhaps home brewers with less self control just died the ale death leaving the sensible folk to continue with the hobby, a sort of Darwinian selection one could say.

3rd Aug 2010, 11:24
Make wine..................

3rd Aug 2010, 11:26
It's possible to start off pretty cheap - I did. You only need a big brewing bucket, a big stirring spoon (plenty of them on JB) and an empty barrel of some sort, together with a beer kit and a bag of sugar. You also need something to sterilise the kit with, and things like jugs and funnels you probably have already. I started with a barrel by scrounging an empty "Polypin" from my local. This is a 5 gallon plastic cube with a tap on, which collapses as you draw the beer out thus keeping the air from the beer. Unfortunately 5 gallons takes quite a bit of drinking, and as you get older and less active the downside is your waistline rather than your wallet, so you tend to drink less. I found I could only sensibly drink about half the barrel before it went off, so ended up getting a load of bottles (Grolsch are the best as they have their own stoppers) and bottling half each brew as soon as it was ready thus giving me a bit of leeway as to when to start the next batch. I usually had about 8/10 bottles left when the next brewing was ready. After a while I felt I could afford to invest in a "King Keg" type pressurised barrel out of the money I'd saved.

Now (at 64) I drink so little beer that I buy slabs of tins from the supermarket when on offer and I gave all my kit away. Always plenty of kit on fleabay.


Gentleman Jim
3rd Aug 2010, 11:36

Careful there! I used to make wine, and we made an 'apple wine' once and drank a bottle between two, we were both almost comatose:}

I was in Saudi a while back working, and with nothing to do that evening thought I will get something to drink and watch TV. I saw some Green Grape Juice and thought yummy, I'll have that with Ice. When I got to the checkout, the Indian checkout boy said to me, 'Sir you have forgot your yeast!' 'pardon' says I. 'You have forgotton your yeast' and walked me back to the shelf and showed me all stacked neatly in a row, green Grape, red Grape, Sugar, Yeast:} Knowing I couldn't make a 30 minute wine I politely refused.

3rd Aug 2010, 11:39
Many of my friends have tried. While they are, of course, very defensive of their own efforts, the best description I can give is that it tastes like diluted glue.

There is one exception: friend Paul over the road, whose homemade beer is truly excellent, and tastes how he intended it to. He makes a fair bit, and he and I drink it with some panache. His "red ale" is very similar to Hobgoblin (and costs a tiny fraction of the price). He makes a "golden ale" that is somewhere between Spitfire and Bishop's Finger in taste.

I don't think he's giving lessons in brewing. He'll teach you to play the organ, though.

So - give it a go. Don't buy commercial home brew kit. An old Burco boiler is Paul's main implement, and he picked that up for a tenner.

3rd Aug 2010, 11:40
I buy slabs of tins from the supermarket when on offer

During the World Cup, Morrisons were selling 3 packs for 16. I bought draft Guinness amongst others. 36 cans for 16 is pretty hard to beat and even the missus wouldn't complain about that. These offers are always repeated at some stage so stock up accordingly.

3rd Aug 2010, 11:53
Thanks for all the good advice so far, keep it coming! My downfall is this bloody recycling system we have nowadays Saintsman. I'm a fan of strategic buying too, and even Mrs C can see the logic in that, but I am forced to face to when the recycling box is overflowing. It is a perfect monitoring system for the beverage-aware spouse. Its so unfair - tea ought to come in cans.... I hate it. Hiding empties at the bottom of the Wesco Kickmaster always backfires as I get an additional ear bending for not recycling.......

3rd Aug 2010, 11:54
M buys my beer on her regular shopping trip. She likes a bargain, so whichever on my longlist of preferred brews is on offer - that's what I get. I think she enjoys the challenge.

The beer fridge is full at the moment, so the offers must've been good.

3rd Aug 2010, 12:15
I haven't brewed for years, but it always came out well. In those days, Boots had a very good Best Bitter kit: it worked out (early 1980's) about 2-50 for 30 odd pints. I found that after bottling, keeping the bottles somewhere cold (but not freezing) led to a good clearing of the beer. Found the last bottle when it was 20 years old, and it was superb!

3rd Aug 2010, 12:40
I've tried. It's really not worth the aggravation and the results are at best, mediocre, depending on your tastes. If you like a heavier yeasty type of beer, you might be happy, but I prefer clearer, lighter, lager types and was never happy with the results.

On the positive side, it could achieve your wife's objective of getting you to cut down on beer intake because it could put you off the stuff for life.

3rd Aug 2010, 12:51
Good advice

Now (at 64) I drink so little beer that I buy slabs of tins from the supermarket when on offer and I gave all my kit away. Always plenty of kit on

Avoid diabetes.

3rd Aug 2010, 13:10
Try it. You know it makes sense...............! :ok:


3rd Aug 2010, 13:11
I've the Old Man's Vat out in the shed, and a thorough dosing of sodium metabisulphate will sterilise all..ready to go again, haven't done it for 8 yrs or so....Lagers turn out crap, stouts turn out very well.

One of the local home brew shops said my equipment was too old, **** off it has character, the brewing vat is at least 30 yrs old??....

Thing is I don't drink much beer at all.....but that which I used to brew I would sample, just to check you understand, after 2 weeks..it was very 'green'......check another it may have been a 'rogue'...nah, just as bad...and so on and so forth.........I have a bottle in the bar right now that is 13 yrs old, a home brew relic, it may be magnificent, it may be grain vinegar, but I think it's greatest value is that it hasn't been open...

Would have loved to have done some wines.....drink more wine than beer certainly, not sure if the nuances of a 30 odd yr old Beer vat would work with a wine..........though perhaps it begs a single malt mash...but how to fashion a still?....and how to make a Scotch in SEQ in any case??

3rd Aug 2010, 13:38

Pick up a copy of 'The Complete Joy of Home Brewing' by Charlie Papazian (Amazon has it.) This book contains all you need to know about brewing the suds at home.
It'll also give you a very good idea of the endeavor your about to possibly embark on.
It's very detailed and goes a long way to help ensure one doesn't brew home skunk.

I used to brew my own for years. At first the task seems daunting. But, like anything else, if you stick with it then eventually it becomes that much easier. However, the first time you brew a batch that comes out just the way you wanted it to brings one a sense of satisfaction and pride like no other.

Prosit und zum Wohl! :ok:

3rd Aug 2010, 14:18
Some things in life - Crisps, Curries, beer & wine strike as more trouble than they're worth to make.

3rd Aug 2010, 15:11
As I've grown older I've found that quality becomes more important than quantity, thus the cost of ale becomes less significant.

I'd suggest that rather than resorting to brewing your own, you reach an agreement with your wife that in retirement, you'll only spend as much on beer as she does on make-up. ;)

Cardinal Puff
3rd Aug 2010, 15:18
Buy a brewery. I did:}:ok:

Seriously, there's a Caledonian mob who produce an artefact called a Brewsack. Fill with hot water, mix well, allow to cool to desired temperature then mix yeast with a little warm water and add. Hang in bathroom/garage/behind dunny door and allow to hiss, bubble and fart for a couple of weeks. If it doesn't explode and cover your car in sticky goo, it can be consumed in about four weeks. Not bad at all.

Got a pressure relief valve to allow for over pressure but it can stick. The little tap at the bottom is handy for pouring your pints (around 20 IIRC).

3rd Aug 2010, 15:23
allow to hiss, bubble and fart for a couple of weeks. If it doesn't explode... ...pressure relief valve to allow for over pressure but it can stick...A brewsack you say? Made by the Caledonians? Sounds suspiciously like a development of the doodlesac to me. No good can come of it, mark my words.

3rd Aug 2010, 15:32
I'm not certain I'd be inclined to drink anything which started life farting. :yuk::eek:

3rd Aug 2010, 16:20
Home brewing has come along way since the early days and the kits now are pretty reliable. It takes hardly any effort to knock up 40 pints so there is no excuse for not giving it a try.
You can buy kits on line. Pm me and I will send you a link to the people I use. But start off with a kit from woodfordes, or brupak as both makes have worked for me. Expect to pay 18 for a 40 pint kit and you need nothing else apart from a big bucket and preferably a pressure barrel to store it in. My advice would not be to start with bottles, use a barrel.
There you go. Start now you will have some for the autumn.

Cardinal Puff
3rd Aug 2010, 17:04
If it doesn't have suspicious floating bits it's not real beer.

3rd Aug 2010, 17:10
If you are serious........ http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.homebrew.com.sg%2Fproducts%2FBrumas-brochure.pdf&ei=Oj9YTJbsMcOL4QbikuGlBw&usg=AFQjCNFym9sstzc9wZ-pIHxn2zu54fBaMw

3rd Aug 2010, 22:41
He makes a "golden ale" that is somewhere between Spitfire and Bishop's Finger in taste

Last pint of home brewed Bishops Finger I sampled, smelt like it had been up the Bellringer's Arse.

Tread carefully, each man to his trade, find a good inkeeper:)

4th Aug 2010, 06:50
Get your wife to do it. Brewing beer for the breadwinner was a normal domestic chore a hundred or so years ago. It's about time we brought some old traditions back.

rusty sparrow
4th Aug 2010, 08:22
Last week I made my first batch of beer in ten years. The kit was 40 pints of St Peter's Ruby Red (http://www.brewuk.co.uk/store/index.php/beerkits/st-peters/st-peters-ruby-red-3-0kg.html) - I tasted it when bottling and it was pretty good then.

Making the beer from the two cans just meant adding a couple of litres of boiling water, topping up to the 40 pints mark and adding the yeast and hop extract. Took about 20 minutes in total.

Watch out when barreling or bottling - a lot of pressure is created in the secondary fermentation. Years ago I barrelled a batch which put into the spare bedroom. A couple of days later, at 3 am, there was a loud bang and hissing noise. I opened the door to see a fountain of beer rising up to the ceiling from where the pressure bung on the barrel used to be.

4th Aug 2010, 08:36
Having this place within walking distance has increased the value of my home here downunder.
Barleycorn Beers - Barleycorn Brewers (http://www.barleycornbrewers.com/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?keyword=BarleycornBeers)

Might be a winner of a business for some enterprising beer enthusiasts in the old dart.

A A Gruntpuddock
4th Aug 2010, 15:19
I wouldn't bother with bottles. Washing 40 bottles with a brush to get out all the sediment, rinsing with anti-yeast products, rinsing again to get rid of anti-yeast products, filling them then capping them (with the occasional messy breakage) takes much of the fun out of it. And if you have decanted too quickly the beer can spray everywhere when you open it. A friend had a neighbour who bottled vast quantities then stored them in his garage. Heard a lot of noise one night and found that one had exploded, set off the next one, etc. Thorough car wash required!

Get a pressurised barrel or 'beersphere' and it is all much simpler. Brew up in a large plastic bucket, decant then enjoy. These use 'Sparklets' CO2 capsules so you can leave them open to let the gas out when brewing and also have safety valves in case the pressure gets too high.

Some beer kits ensure that the yeast settles out into a firm sludge which remains undisturbed if you draw the beer off carefully. So you can brew up in the pressurised container, give it time to settle then you only have one barrel to wash.

Watch the strength though! A neighbour who rarely drank had 3 glasses then had to be carried home.

Cardinal Puff
4th Aug 2010, 17:35
One is the proud owner of a small part of this:-

Gilroy Natural Beers - Brewery, Restaurant, Bar, Beer Garden, (http://www.gilroybeers.co.za)

Beats doing it in the garage...:ok:

4th Aug 2010, 19:41
Before the 2nd World War Tientsin, now called Tianjin, was a multi national concession area. The German sector had it's own theatres and a brauhaus.
When the westerners were turfed out in 1949 the brauhaus and a lot of other examples of Western culture survived.
You can now drink beer brewed on the premises which tastes a damned sight better than commercial Chinese beer.

5th Aug 2010, 14:31
Thanks again for the practical and amusing advice. Taking all into consideration, I am going to give it a go:

- Buy a Woodfordes starter kit (because I like Woodfordes beer out of the tap in a pub (Happy weekday afternoons in the Short Blue in Gorleston come to mind... The good old days when Yarmouth had an oil business and a lunch break wasn't for sparkling water and radicchio on ciabatta.).

- Try to get Mrs C involved in the brewing and consuming process as she isn't averse to hoisting down half or more of my allocation....you know the score, you settle down to pprune for the evening, having first offered to fetch a distaff beverage and snack, then with this offer being declined, you end up getting precisely 3/4 of your beverage and snack snaffled, yet somehow end up being blamed for guzzling the whole lot!

- Prepare for a farting competition which I will undoubtedly lose.

By the way Steve757,That is a lovely but of kit. Tempted!

In the meantime I've stocked up on the Tanglefoot, Old Specked Hen and Abbot.... Cheers and happy aluminium recycling........

mr fish
5th Aug 2010, 20:56
never tried home brewing, but a couple of years back myself and a couple of likeminded fools had a go at home distilling.

did a minimum of reading up on the web and got stuck in.
one pressure cooker, one pedal bin (for the "mash) one metal bucket and a a few feet of smallbore copper pipe for the condenser.

filled the pipe with salt (to prevent kinking) and bent it round a metal flask to produce a workable coil, this was sealed into the pressure cooker at one end and the bucket at the other using heatproof putty.

made up a mash using water, sugar, yeast and a few mashed up apples,
about a week later she was ready to distill and we set to work.

we filled the metal bucket with ice water placed on a stool and loaded the pressure cooker with a few pints of mash, lit the gas cooker and crossed our fingers.

not long after we were rewarded with blue liquid (methanol) and we knew all was going to plan.

soon after came the "good stuff".

you know the scene in THE GREAT ESCAPE where the yanks sample their 4th of july brew, well that was almost exactly what we did.

almost impossible to drink neat but well worth the effort.

if your idea of a good drinking session is one where you end up fighting post boxes, lampposts, parked cars etc i strongly recommend giving it a go:eek::eek:

8th Oct 2010, 15:26
Just a quick update. I bought these:



Followed the instructions, paying particular care when sterilising anything that came into contact with the brew. Fermented it in the bucket until the bubbling ceased, (about six days) left it for another day, siphoned it into the keg to condition for two weeks, and sampled the first two pints yesterday evening. Temperature was 16-18 deg while fermenting - a bit on the low side so it took a bit longer.

Dead easy and very pleased with the result, if it was served up to me in a pub I'd be happy to pay the going rate. Except that this cost me 50p a pint. :ok:

8th Oct 2010, 15:36
The kit you bought is missing one item - a second pint glass for the stream of expert pprune brewers who will be calling in to check out the quality of your production.


8th Oct 2010, 15:41
As you've already noted, extreme cleanliness is everything. It's been a long time since I brewed beer, but when I started it was costing me 2p when it cost 22p in the pub. Later on the major cost was the lost deposit on the self-sealing bottles I was no longer returning (statiegeld op bougieflessen). I'm slightly surprised it's costing you 50p a pint.

8th Oct 2010, 16:24
Cheerio, I have some useful information for you. PM me anytime for details.


(I don't want to advertise a business here, and I can't PM you - the friendly and knowledgable husband of a colleague runs a home brew business, ships all over the world and is happy to chat by email. He's been in the business for 30 years and loves talking about beer, in fact. I'll give you his name and details etc if you like.)

Cardinal Puff
8th Oct 2010, 16:56
Well done mate. Got two kegs of Rat's Bum Dark Lager in the conditioning room at the brewery. Going to try a sparkling ale when I get back home, as well as a ginger beer. Reckon if we get enough malt sugar into the ginger beer it'll darken and flavour it quite well, and the addition of a mystery ingredient (cardamom and cinnamon) should keep folks guessing. Kick off at around 1040 or so SG and crank it down to 1010 should give us 3-4% alc by volume while not being too bitter. Got plans for a herbal and a spiced mead as well.

Lager should be ready to drink today. Pity I'm 3000 miles away...:}

Rusty Rivet
8th Oct 2010, 17:00
"Jim's Beer Kit" has some good practical advice on home brewing. Well worth a look.

Home Brewing and Beer Making at Jim's Beer Kit! (http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/index.htm)

8th Oct 2010, 17:03
Tried the beer in a sack just add water Home Brew Beer Kit | Brew Your Own Beer (http://forfoodsmokers.co.uk/acatalog/Home_Brew_Beer_Kits.html) It worked clear beer with a head but it doesnt taste of much and quite expensive .
I am now trying a BrewBox still brew and serve from the same container but the range of beer kits looks much better .

Has anyone tried this The Beer Machine Co. UK Ltd Beer Machines (http://www.beermachineuk.com/acatalog/Beer_Machines.html)
I like gadgets but reviews are mixed and it aint cheap .

I like the idea of brewing smaller quantities .

8th Oct 2010, 17:20
It'll never replace Ringwood 49er:ok::oh: was that me :suspect:?

8th Oct 2010, 17:51
capetonian wrote:....but I prefer clearer, lighter, lager types....

Have you tried water it would probably have more flavour?

My late father started home brewing beer. It kept him busy and he brewed some excellent ales at very low cost.

8th Oct 2010, 23:07
mum's gotta load of 'elder berries in he freezer.

gonna' make it some sort of beverage :-)