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[P]
The Brouhaha over Homebrew

By cpse in Culture
Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 12:13:18 PM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

Many people like to have some sort of pet, perhaps a dog or a cat. Some people, like me, like to keep their critters in little jars in a cabinet or the fridge. No, I'm not talking about bonsai kittens. I'm talking about yeast. These little critters can make everything you'll ever need, from bread to beer. Or maybe that's all it can make. In any case, we've seen how to make a fine sourdough bread already. My aim is to show you how to make your very own cold ones. Or, if you prefer, room temp-a-ture ones.


The Theory

The idea behind brewing your own beer is simple, really. You need to take some barley and ferment it. Of course, it's never really that simple. See, fermentation is caused by the little critters we call yeast. They eat up the sugars present in your wort (unfermented beer, pronounced wert) and release alcohol. The problem is that barley isn't something that's digestible by the yeasts. There are too many starches that need to be broken down into simpler sugars.

The way this is done is through malting. Barley is sprayed with water in a controlled environment until it barely sprouts. The sprouting barley is then dried out, resulting in malted barley. The sprouts can't survive on the starches inside the grain either, so they start to break them down, giving you a suitable base for your brewski. Coincidentally, if you grind malt really fine, you get the same stuff used in malted milk balls or milk shakes.

Now that you have malted barley, all you need to do is feed it to some yeast, right? Wrong. Well, you could, but you wouldn't get a very good beer. What's missing? A crucial ingredient called hops. The hop plant is a relative of cannabis, and provides essential aromatic oils and bittering agents to the brew.

Okay great. Now we have everything. How about brewing the stuff? So we boil our malt and our cannabis, I mean, hops, then we put it in a vessel and bam. Not quite. You need to toss in a yeast. Yeast is the magic that makes it happen. And it's not enough to use that standard Fleischermeister stuff you find in the baking aisle. You need a brewing yeast. And you've got some choices. You can have an ale yeast or a lager yeast. Ale yeast is a top-brewing yeast, meaning it lives and floats on top of the wort as it ferments. It also works at slightly warmer temperatures. Lager on the other hand, well, I think you've figured it out. Bottom-living and cold-loving. It also does its job much slower than an ale yeast. Since I don't have the space in my fridge to store some 5 gallons of wort for several weeks, I like to use an ale yeast. The difference in taste is something that I can't really describe, since I've never brewed anything with a lager yeast, but if it helps, most American beers are actually pale German lagers. (The German isn't pale, but the lager is.)

Once this is done, you have a number of options. You can put it in a secondary fermentation, like bottling, or the other secondary fermentation (bright beer tank), and then bottle. Either way, when it goes into the bottles, you add a li'l bit of sugar to get some fermentation going, just a little bit, to get some carbon dioxide into the mix. Then, you let it sit a while, pop it into the fridge, and enjoy your fine drink in a nice frosty glass.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it is. First, let's start with your materials, shall we?

The hardware
  • One or two fermentation vessels
  • A big stock pot that can hold (potentially) 3 to 5 gallons of liquid
  • A long plastic or metal spoon
  • A funnel
  • A strainer that can sit comfortably in the mouth of your fermentation tub
  • A hydrometer
  • A probe thermometer
  • A Fermometer
  • An airlock
  • Bottles

And the software...
  • Water
  • Malt Extract
  • Milled, malted barley
  • Sugar
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Bleach

And now for something completely different... an explanation.

So I know you're looking at those lists and wondering, "Huh?" Well fear not! For all will be made clear. First of all, yes, the list of hardware is daunting, but it's not nearly as special as you think. Let's start with the fermentation vessel.

Your fermenter should have three things. It should have a solid, airtight seal on the lid. There should be some way for CO2 to escape. Lastly, it should have a way to extract the beer afterwards. Sounds complicated? How about a 7 gallon bucket? Sure, you may need to drill a hole in the lid for the airlock, and it doesn't have the spigot on the bottom that professional beer brewers have, but it costs next to nothing, and is perfectly okay for your first brew. And naturally, smaller brew, smaller bucket. You want your wort to mostly fill the bucket, but not too much. See, oxygen is bad because it... well... oxidizes things. Also, the air you're breathing can be hiding some pretty nasty stuff. So if we minimize exposure to oxygen, we'll be good. The less space between the liquid and the lid, the better. All the oxygen will be pushed out of the airlock by the CO2 generated during the brewing process.

Speaking of the airlock, you'll want to buy a commercial 3 piece glass airlock. Some people will tell you that a rubber balloon or plastic wrap and rubber bands are okay, but they're really unacceptable. Balloons are pourous, and may let nasty stuff into your precious brew. Don't worry. These things cost a dollar apiece, and will probably last longer than a bag of balloons for the same price. You'll want to cut a hole into the lid of your bucket (assuming you didn't get one of the expensive brewing buckets) and stuff a rubber bung fitted with an airlock into it. Your airlock will have a little line on the side. Fill it up to this line with water. The clever little mechanism will allow CO2 from the fermentation to escape, and prevent oxygen from getting in.

The rest of the hardware is mostly optional. You don't really need a thermometer, if you know what you're doing. The Fermometer is just a sticker-style thermometer that you attach to your fermentation vessel to keep it at a controlled temperature. (But how many of you have such fine control over your indoor heating to keep anything at a constant temperature?) The funnel and the strainer are useful items, but you may find that you don't need them. The hydrometer too, is super-useful, but we won't use it. However, it's incredibly important when making wine, but that's another story.

Oh yeah. You'll want an auto-siphon and some tubing so that you can.. uhh.. siphon things.

You generally want all of your equipment to be made of food-grade plastic or stainless steel. Aluminum may impart some off-flavors to your beer. Weak plastics are... well... weak. They may not hold up to the heat or the handling or what have you. I guess that most acceptable containers are made of poly-ethylene, but I'm hardly an expert on that.

Oh yeah, you'll want to sanitize everything as well as you can. You don't want nasty stuff turning your beer into not-beer. Plenty of microbes and bacteria can get in, ruining the batch. So you have to be as clean as possible by soaking everything that isn't an ingredient in a solution of 4 tablespoons of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Fill your bucket with it, slosh it around, put all your tools in the bucket, including the bucket lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then drain and rinse with hot water to get the bleach smell out.

Enough talk! Let's make beer!

I suppose that you've sat through quite enough theory and talk. Let's see how it's done. The following information is for a 2.5 gallon tub of beer.

Start by sterilizing everything. Clean? Good. Now, take your steel pot and start boiling 4 cups of good clean water. When it comes to a boil, add your malt extract. Somewhere close to 3.5 pounds of it. You can get away with as little as 1.2, but 3.5 will give it more flavor. Toss in a little bit of your bittering hops, say oh, I dunno. I'm guessing a quarter ounce. I don't really know, I'm not terribly familiar with hopping my beer. Let it boil for maybe 30 minutes. This step is to wake up the flavors of the malt and hops. You'll want to watch it. It could easily boil over. If it looks threatening, turn the heat down, or stir it up a little.

Now, for the second application of hops. This is purely for aroma. Remove the pot from heat, then drop in about a quarter ounce of your favorite smelling hops (cascade seems to be popular) and let it steep for 5 minutes with the cover on.

Now, everything gets transferred to your fermentation dealie. Put about 4 quarts of water into the sanitized tub, then strain the malty liquid (called a mash) through your strainer lined with a cheesecloth, right into your tub. Don't worry about catching everything. You're going to transfer it all again after a week anyway. Now, top it to 2.5 gallons with water. Stir like a madman, using a sanitized spoon of course. Sprinkle your yeast packet (they come in convenient packets. Then cover it with the lid, attach your airlock, and run away. Well, don't run away, but don't touch it anymore. Let it sit. Put it in a relatively warm place that maintains temperature well. Let it sit for a week. You can watch your airlock bubble up and down while waiting for it to ferment. Or you could do something else. It's up to you.

After a week, you'll have beer. Almost. You can taste it. It'll probably taste pretty good. At this point, you can bottle it and be done, but you could also send it to the bright beer tank, where it matures and clarifies a little more, which undoubtedly improves the flavor. To go the bright beer route, simply siphon off all your beer (Using an auto-siphon, preferrably. You don't want to contaminate your beer with mouth bacteria this close to the end.) into another tub, and let it sit another week. Either way, you're going to end up siphoning your beer into something else. You'll be left with a strange looking mush called trub (pronounced troob) at the bottom of your fermenter. This is the yeast and various other solids precipitated out of your beer. They're quite high in protein, if you like that sort of thing. Anyway, on to bottling!

To add bubbles, you have to add sugar. Ordinary table sugar. C&H. Mommy uses it to bake us cakes sort of sugar. Sugar = CO2 in the grand equation of beer. How much sugar you ask? Well, it's hard to say. Too little sugar, and you get no fizz. Too much sugar, and your bottles start exploding. Consulting my handy-dandy chart I have here, you'll probably want either 1 teaspoon, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons, or 1 and 1/2 tablespoons. That would be for 16 oz, 20 oz, 1 liter, and 2 liter bottles respectively. What's that you say? A 2 liter bottle of beer is absurd? Hardly. It's easier to transport, and it's easier to find a bottle for it. Those plain old plastic PET bottles that are used for sodas are perfect. They're cheap, and they can withstand the pressure of the carbonation. Just clean them out (and sanitize, I can't stress this enough) and put the appropriate amount of sugar in. Then, siphon your beer, or bright beer as appropriate, into the bottle. Fill up to some reasonable amount (it's hard to say exactly, pick something that looks good, not too full, but not too empty), then cap it off. You did remember to sterilize your caps, didn't you? Let that sit in a temperature-stable area, and after a week, voila! You have beer!

Afterthoughts

If the thought of brewing in a paint bucket scares you, you can always go for a commercial brewing system. Most will run you about 50 USD. You can do much better. I highly reccommend the Mr. Beer brewing system. It's half the capacity of the more expensive systems, which is far more manageable in a small apartment. Also, it lets you control the brew process completely, unlike other systems. However, their single serving cans of malt extract are a little weak, so you'll have to use more than one or supplement it with malt from another source.

Like any other alcoholic beverage, beer improves with time. More time in the primary fermentation stage, bright beer stage, or in the bottle will do wonders for your beer. While you could easily have a brew ready in two weeks, sometimes it's worth it for the flavor to mellow out for a while. It's also beneficial to cold condition the beer after it's been bottled. Put it in your fridge and let it sit for a few weeks before drinking.

Always remember to sanitize. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Poor sanitization is the usual culprit for a skunky brew. The bleach solution works well and is quite cheap, but might be hard to rinse off. If it annoys you, you can always purchase a sanitizing solution or powder from your local brewmaster. Don't have a local brewmaster? There's always the internet. Look around.

While you can brew your beer in a bucket just fine, you may want to invest in an official fermenting tub, which is usually just a bucket with a hole for an airlock and a spigot. However, if you happen to be the intrepid type who cut a whole in the lid for the airlock anyway, you're probably clever enough to cut out a hole for a spigot, which can be purchased at various places online. Either way, the spigot is incredibly useful because it means that you don't have to siphon stuff around, which can get annoying.

I hope that clarified the mystery of beer, and that you're soon on your way to brewing your own batch. It's amusing and rewarding. Don't be afraid to experiment. Try making different flavors, like fruit. You could also try making different beers, like a stout, or a porter. There are plenty of recipes online. Most of all, have fun. What's the point of doing it if you don't enjoy it? Unless you're under 21 and this is the only way you can get alcohol, but you shouldn't be doing that anyway.

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Poll
What's your favorite kind of one?
o A cold one 32%
o A not-so-cold one 9%
o A room temp-a-ture one 6%
o A cool refreshing one 17%
o I like a cold none 34%

Votes: 82
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Mr. Beer
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Display: Sort:
The Brouhaha over Homebrew | 128 comments (94 topical, 34 editorial, 0 hidden)
Keep it clean! (4.71 / 7) (#11)
by gordonjcp on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:57:26 AM EST

(and sanitize, I can't stress this enough)
No-one can stress this enough. Seriously people, if you're making beer at home, clean everything thoroughly. Scrub the bath out with something bleachy or disinfectanty, rinse it thoroughly, then fill it with scalding hot water and sterilising fluid. Milton is good for cleaning your bottles. Get loads of it, it's cheap because it's for cleaning baby bottles and hence zero-rated for VAT (or your local equivalent).

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Very informative. (4.21 / 14) (#13)
by pocide on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:37:31 AM EST

If anybody would be willing to vote up a story about the Burmese method of manufacturing Yaba (also known as "Nazi speed", a highly pure methamphetamine pill that first appeared in the USA two years ago), tell me now. I don't want to waste my time submitting a story just to have it voted down by a a bunch of truth.com crusaders.

(Yes, I know the proper way to manufacture Yaba. I have taken my own shit. If you want to see the effects of it, read any comment of mine that contains the word "thus.")

*** ANONYMIZED ***

Synthetic meth. (none / 0) (#16)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 07:24:27 AM EST

Where I live, synthetic meth is considered to be the worst, most degrading drug. It's what addicts take when they have fallen so low that they cannot afford anything else; it ranks somewhere with sniffing superglue to get your high.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

As opposed to "organic meth," I'm sure. (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by pocide on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 08:02:16 AM EST

Yaba only takes hours to make, is extremely pure, extremely addictive, and the materials are easy to come by. I do it (in serious moderation) because it helps me feel my music and because it tastes good.

It is also a career opportunity for unemployed science/math geeks.

*** ANONYMIZED ***
[ Parent ]

yea post an article (5.00 / 4) (#30)
by Recreational Abortion on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 10:13:33 AM EST


----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
[ Parent ]
Uhm yes. (none / 0) (#42)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 12:58:57 PM EST

Does it also melt your brain after 3 months of use, like other synthetic stimulants?

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Parent is synthetic troll. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by pocide on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 01:40:02 PM EST

Moderate accordingly.

*** ANONYMIZED ***
[ Parent ]

So. (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 02:53:51 PM EST

I take the answer is "yes"?

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Depends (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by Xanthipe on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 08:06:53 AM EST

Would you vote on an explanation of how to make high quality LSD if I put one up?

--

The best answer I can give to the question of whether I am alive or dead is "Yes"...


[ Parent ]
Only for it's political incorrectness... (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by joto on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 08:30:17 AM EST

...but I guess that is as good reason as any.

[ Parent ]
You might have better luck on a NASCAR forum(nt) (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by JayGarner on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 10:46:21 AM EST



[ Parent ]
g-g-go for it dude (none / 0) (#48)
by GenerationIgnored on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 02:50:54 PM EST

I need a hit real bad, can you help me out?

seriously, I'm all for the distribution of valid information here. But only if, unlike meth, it doesn't leave toxic residues.

- Meet my demands or fear my dinosaur-ry wrath!!
[ Parent ]

I'll vote it up. (none / 0) (#76)
by opendna on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 01:41:59 AM EST

If meth is evil, the people make a living off it are worse. Bring it on.

I vote up all the DIY articles, except the repeat ones that really suck.



[ Parent ]

smokedot.org (none / 0) (#78)
by Ultra64 on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 05:03:03 AM EST

If you can't get the story voted up here, try on smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
Interesting (4.37 / 8) (#26)
by Phillip Asheo on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 09:05:38 AM EST

I know a certain Scotsman on this site (who shall remain nameless) who makes his own whisky. He fills a barrel with water from a "burn" he tells me, and puts it into an old fashioned double washing machine with two drums facing upwards. He then adds all the barley and yeast and whatever and brews it up, then he distills from one drum to the other and puts the stuff into a barrel, then puts the barrel outside and waits ten of fifteen years.

This is all very interesting, but the thing that riles me is that for no good reason he has to keep it all terribly secret in case the state machinery finds out. It is illegal for him to make his national drink!! You'd think he was living under the Taliban regime or in Soviet Russia, but he's not, he's living right here in the United Kingdom and fearing for his liberty just because he likes to make his national drink, Scotch Whisky.

I find this an unmitigated disgrace and a scandal, and an example of how the coercive government likes to persecute the innocent in pursuit of its own cash-raising agenda. Of course he should be able to make his national drink. He shouldn't have to hide the barrels, and he shouldn't have to distribute the products of his labours in fear. He makes very nice Scotch he tells me, it is just a shame he has to hide it from the world.

What is the world coming to? I can think of no justification for this sort of persecution.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long

Thankyou (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by The Central Committee on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 09:32:55 AM EST

Your story has been passed on to the authorities.

You personaly are the reason I cannot believe in a compassionate god, a creature of ineffable itelligence would surely know better than to let someone like you exist. - dorc
[ Parent ]

Don't let the children suffer! (1.00 / 3) (#32)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 10:44:57 AM EST

How are the poor children going to be educated and receive medical care if rotten tax-evading cheats like your friend seek to avoid paying excise taxes?

If you want to drink whisky, fine. But don't drink on the backs of innocent children.

[ Parent ]

bootlegger? (none / 0) (#52)
by alias Mark on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 03:30:05 PM EST

I doubt it would be illegal if he was distributing it with a proper license of some kind.

---
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"
[ Parent ]
A proper licence (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by Phillip Asheo on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:40:35 PM EST

A proper licence would mean he'd have to pay the government lots of money for the licence, accept outrageous 80% "luxury" tax rates so the government can *steal* the great majority of his earnings, accept government interference and "inspections" of his place of business. He would be unnable to compete with established corporations. Governments ensure monopolies and reduce commercial competition. In the spirits trade they do it particularly well, while thieving most of the money from it.

I am proud of him for sticking up for himself.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

License (none / 0) (#100)
by ckaminski on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 12:34:11 PM EST

Why should I need a license for personal consumption?  If I drink 200 gallons of whiskey a year, who's to define personal consumption?  If I give away my hard earned whiskey to friends as gifts?

Thankfully, in the states, you can brew 200 gallons a year per household without taxation/regulation.  Not sure about distillation though...

[ Parent ]

Nope, the BATF likes their sin-tax as well. (none / 0) (#113)
by pla on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 11:33:30 PM EST

Thankfully, in the states, you can brew 200 gallons a year per household without taxation/regulation. Not sure about distillation though...

In the US, we only have a "personal use" brewing exception because of our "first" civil war (the US nearly split over cheap booze long before that whole slavery mess). But start distilling, and expect a visit from the BATF.

Incidentally, only the distilling itself actually matters - Making a mash that you could just happen to distill would theorectically count as legal (though I have little doubt that Ashcroft and his gestapo would push for "implied intent" of some sort).


[ Parent ]
Distilling is dangerous (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:27:34 PM EST

He stands a reasonable chance of starting a fire or causing an explosion, or of poisoning someone with the results. Brewing is fine, so the ban clearly isn't on homemade alcohol. It's on home distillation, which has all sorts of potential problems.

[ Parent ]
That's his choice (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Phillip Asheo on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:36:52 PM EST

If he wants to distill whisky, he is harming nobody but himself should it go wrong! Also, if home distillation were legal, the free market would step in to sell cheap, safe equipment suitable for home use just like it has in the brewing industry.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Home distilling and methanol (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by jms on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 05:41:30 PM EST

If he screws up in the distillation process, his whiskey will contain methanol, which tastes exactly the same as ethanol, but can cause blindness and/or death.

More information about a recent methanol poisoning incident here:

http://csf.colorado.edu/envtecsoc/2000/msg00541.html

Read the bottom section of this page for a DAMN GOOD reason why distilling is regulated:

http://www.rum.cz/galery/afr/eg/zottos/

On the other hand, there are NO known pathogens that will grow in beer.  No matter how much you screw up, the worst that will happen is that your beer will taste awful.  There is a wide spectrum of "failed beer defect" bacteria and corresponding bad tastes, none of which are dangerous to the drinker.

There is a significant fire hazard when distilling alcohol above 100 proof.  No such fire hazard exists when brewing beer.

In short, there's VERY good reasons to outlaw home distilling, as opposed to homebrewing.

[ Parent ]

That's mostly paranoia (none / 0) (#95)
by epepke on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 10:47:23 PM EST

The only way to get anywhere near dangerous amounts of methanol in the finished product is to distill something containing large amounts of pectin (e.g. brandy from wine). Even so, one would have to work very hard to get the methanol concentration high enough. When distilling a grain product, like Scotch, it isn't going to happen.

Cases of methanol poisoning happened during prohibition in the United States because some bootleggers added methanol to their products to give them and extra kick, and also because methanol was freely available.

Furthermore, distillation by freezing carries no risk of methanol, but it's just as illegal as distillation by boiling, at least in the U.S.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Distillation is easy too, and even best for wine. (none / 0) (#99)
by arivero on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 11:28:26 AM EST

I do not brew, but I distillate my liquor one or two times in the year. I use a old cupper system, but a chemical apparatus is about the same price.

You can start from plain boxed wine, very very cheap, and no risks of methanol - as it has been controlled in the factory. I can not tell for sure, but I have always heard that the methanol comes when you ferment other than the grape juice. For instance if you are fermenting the whole grape including the wood, or if you are fermenting some whole crop. In any cases, the methanol comes before the ethanol, so you can separate during the distillation process. Thermometer helps here.

The risk of explosion... As far as I have suffered, it does not come from the alcohol itself, but from the cooling system. You should admit some losses during the distillation, to avoid over-pressures. The most typical problem I have found is that if one cools the system too much one can form a block of ice inside the pipe, even just by condensation of ambient water from the air. This will raise the internal presure, causing the explosion.

Of course, if you are getting the alcohol too near the fire, you have a fire hazzard. More or less the same than while doing french fries... oil is flamable too, did u know?

[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#107)
by epepke on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 10:06:48 PM EST

You can start from plain boxed wine, very very cheap, and no risks of methanol - as it has been controlled in the factory. I can not tell for sure, but I have always heard that the methanol comes when you ferment other than the grape juice. For instance if you are fermenting the whole grape including the wood, or if you are fermenting some whole crop.

No, it comes from distilling something with pectin in it, which grape wine has (especially red grapes). However, the risk of methanol is still ridiculously tiny. 0.1 % methanol is still considered safe, and you'd have to work very hard to get that amount in the distillate. Actual methanol poisoning basically happens when someone takes a can of methanol and drinks it or pours it into the product.

The wood comment, I think, represents a degree of confusion. Methanol is commonly produced by burning wood. Burning wood is called "destructive distillation." It obviously has almost nothing in common with distillation by boiling.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Destructive distillation (none / 0) (#117)
by dn on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 03:00:08 PM EST

Burning wood is called "destructive distillation."
Almost. The wood is heated in an enclosed chamber, so that oxygen can't get in. It produces vapors that contain water, methanol, and a bunch of other crap, and charcoal is left behind. The process is very much like coking coal, just applied to wood.

Kinda makes you wonder where pork rinds come from...

It obviously has almost nothing in common with distillation by boiling.
It's exactly the same, just a slightly higher binding energy for the vapors. ;-)

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

In fact... (none / 0) (#108)
by laotic on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 08:26:25 AM EST

"On the other hand, there are NO known pathogens that will grow in beer.  No matter how much you screw up, the worst that will happen is that your beer will taste awful.  There is a wide spectrum of "failed beer defect" bacteria and corresponding bad tastes, none of which are dangerous to the drinker."

The Gueuze beer of Brussels ferments in open vats, using bacteria from the surrounding air.

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
Lambic is great (none / 0) (#123)
by epepke on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 07:15:53 AM EST

There are a whole lot of organisms used to ferment lambic, and one of the most important is Brettanomyces. It's very difficult to make a decent lambic anywhere else in the world, because Belgium just has the right mix of flora. Puddles in Belgium smell like lambic.

BTW, a gueuze is a blended lambic that is not otherwise flavored. It's very hard to get a straight, single-batch lambic outside of Belgium.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
No. Pure greed, nothing more, nothing less. (none / 0) (#114)
by pla on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 11:43:08 PM EST

If he screws up in the distillation process, his whiskey will contain methanol, which tastes exactly the same as ethanol, but can cause blindness and/or death.

Okay, so we can't freeze-distill the perfectly safe beer into ethanol because?

In that situation, both arguments fall flat. No methanol. No heat. No danger.

Distillation counts as a crime (in the US and UK and presumeably numerous other countries) for one reason and one reason only - The government wants its cut.


[ Parent ]
Uh oh (none / 0) (#118)
by dn on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 03:02:53 PM EST

You mean that time I accidentally put the cider in the freezer instead of the refrigerator (whoops), and then it accidentally fell into a strainer (whoops), I was breaking the law? I'm shocked! Shocked!

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

It's been 15 years son. (none / 0) (#69)
by Vesperto on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 07:37:00 PM EST

So go get a shovel, it's ready!

La blua plago!
[ Parent ]
Back when I wasn't inhaling... (4.50 / 6) (#28)
by cestmoi on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 09:35:44 AM EST

...there was a rumor that you could graft marijuana roots to hops leaves. The resulting bush would look like hops but would have the requisite THC. Don't know if it's true.

I can vouch for the 2 liter soda bottles being able to retain the CO2 buildup. Years ago when my boys were small, we would scavenge all the 2 liter bottles in the neighborhood and have a dry ice day. Dry ice days consisted of putting about 1/4 cup of dry ice into a bottle that was 1/4 full of water. Screwed the cap on *very* tightly and got away very quickly.

The dry ice boiled off and the bottles ruptured with a very satisfying whomp - akin to a shotgun blast.

If you do this - be careful, the pieces do fly. There's a lot of force released when the bottle ruptures. Sometimes we wouldn't put enough dry ice in and the bottle would sit at the cusp - ready to blow but not quite able to rip the plies apart. We'd shoot a BB from 30 feet away to push the bottle over the edge. It was a very odd experience to shoot a BB gun and hear a shotgun blast instead of the usual phttt.

The bottle's inventor was on NPR years ago and he said that the clear color was a complete surprise. The bottles are formed by spinning plastic thread inside the mold twice - once all the way up in one direction and then a second time at a 90 degree bias. When they opened the mold for the first time, they didn't see the bottle at first and figured the machine had malfunctioned.

Hops/Mary Jane (none / 0) (#35)
by Miniluv on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 11:29:42 AM EST

Everything I've read indicates that you can indeed graft them onto each other, and they'll appear just like their original leaves, but either direction kills the THC flow. I've yet to see even a single, remotely reliable source saying that the THC still flows with either a marijuana onto hops graft, or vice versa.

"Too much wasabi and you'll be crying like you did at the last ten minutes of The Terminator" - Alton Brown
[ Parent ]
What about kegging it? (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by z84976 on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 01:15:06 PM EST

Great article... you mention storage in bottles, etc, but another option is of course to keg it. A buddy of mine made quite a few batches of various brews a few years ago, and wanted to keg it up somehow. He found that those metal soft-drink "kegs" (the type used in a lot of fountain syrup operations) worked great. They hold probably 5 gallons or so each, have appropriate tubing, won't let in sunlight, and can be pressurized. Pressurizing with CO2 not only made the tap work great and consistently, it kept the beer fresh by not allowing oxygen in there. I had several glasses of an IPA he'd made one night... it was delicious, even after he told me that THAT keg was just over a year old.

Kegging is viable for the homebrewer ($) (none / 0) (#51)
by alias Mark on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 03:23:49 PM EST

My roommate and partner in the brewing arts is trying to talk me into getting a kegging system. I just don't have the money for it.

The soft-drink, aka Cornelius keg, seems to be the best option for the home brewer, seeing as how 5 gal. is the typical yeild of a beer recipe.

This also means you don't need handle bottles (no washing, capping, priming, or explosions), the beer is done sooner because it does not need to bottle-ferment for the carbonation, and gives you an incentive to finally build that kegerator. (although I dont know about keeping it for a year!)

I wonder if an acceptable N2/CO2 keg could be rigged up by the homebrewer for a Guinness-like stout experience?

---
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"
[ Parent ]

Mini-keg! (none / 0) (#57)
by TheEldestOyster on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:32:20 PM EST

My dad (a home-brewer), got a Cornelius keg for Christmas last year, and yes, it kicks ass.

He also got some copper tubing, and ran it as a coil through a cooler for forced, on demand cooling. (I'm unsure of the details, but it works. (Keg to hose to copper tubing, through cooler filled with ice, to hose to tap, to glass, to mouth.)
--
TheEldestOyster (rizen/bancus) * PGP Signed/Encrypted mail preferred
[ Parent ]

I keg, though don't brew as much (none / 0) (#59)
by georgeha on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:37:35 PM EST

I inherited a 2 prong tap and regulator (saving about $100), and with a $5 CO2 tank from a garage sale, started drinking from a keg. When I do brew, it's so much easier. I can sanitize the keg and tubing, siphon from secondary to my keg, drop in a bit of priming sugar and pound the bung in about an hour, cleanup included. Bottles would take 2-3 hours.

I haven't brewed in a while though, spending my free minutes working on my bike instead. I find Saranac Pale Ale in a keg an acceptable alternative.

[ Parent ]

Kegging and soft-drink containers (none / 0) (#60)
by epepke on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 05:04:21 PM EST

The soft-drink containers are hard to find these days, because most of the syrup is distributed in little bags in cardboard boxes.

You can use a "pony keg," which at 1/4 barrel or 7.75 gallons is about half again as much in quantity.

The big problem with kegging homebrew is that you pretty much have to use artificially injected carbon dioxide. This works OK for lagers but is suboptimal if you want to make a really fine English ale.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
kegging systems (none / 0) (#86)
by jms on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 05:23:38 PM EST

Cornelius kegs (5 gallon soft drink syrup kegs) are GREAT!  A couple of points ...

1)  They need to be professionally cleaned before you can use them for homebrew, or your beer will be eternally tainted by the residue of the concentrated soft drink syrup they formerly contained.  Buy your kegs reconditioned from a homebrew supplier, and you won't be disappointed.

2)  With a cornelius keg, you can force-carbonate your beer.  This is SO COOL!  It works as follows.  

a) When your fermentation is complete, you siphon the finished beer from the carboy into the keg, leaving the yeast residue behind.  

b) Use your CO2 tank to give a little blast into the top of the open keg.  This drives off the air and replaces it with CO2.

c) Close your keg, attach the CO2 tank, and set the pressure for about 30 PSI.

d) Grab that keg, hold it horizontal, and start shaking the hell out of it.  You will hear the regulator hissing away as you do this.  What you are doing is dissolving CO2 into the beer -- carbonating it!

e) After about two minutes of shaking, shut off the regulator and disconnect the CO2 tank.  Now leave the keg for about 30 minutes to settle, or drop it into a barrel of ice water if you wish, to quickly chill it.

f)  Pull the pressure release on top of the keg to vent off the high pressure inside the keg.

g)  Reattach the CO2 tank, set the pressure for about 0.5 PSI, attach the serving hose.  Viola!  Perfectly carbonated beer.

h)  Because you are pumping CO2 into the keg as you serve the beer, you don't have the problem you have with "frat party" kegs where the beer goes stale.  With those kegs, you are hand-pumping air (with oxygen and airborne bacteria) into the kegs to maintain the serving pressure, which makes the beer turn bad in a day or so.  With this kegging system, the beer stays fresh from the time you fill the keg until the keg is empty, because you are continually replacing the liquid with sterile CO2 gas, which doesn't react with the beer at all.

There's one more item that is worthy of mention.  There's a gadget called the "carbonator", available at:

http://www.homebrewsupply.com/equipment/accessories/carbonator.htm

among other places, which anyone with a Cornelius kegging system should have.  It's basically a Cornelius keg valve attached to a 2 liter bottlecap.  It's the coolest kegging accessory around.  

You use this with 2 liter soda bottles.  You can't get the taste of the original contents out of those bottles, so use bottles of soda water (plain carbonated water, having no taste) instead of Coke or 7up.  Empty and clean the 2 liter bottle, fill it with uncarbonated beer from the carboy, give the empty space at the top of the bottle a little blast from your CO2 tank to replace the air with CO2, and screw on the special cap.  Attach the pressure hose to the cap, set the CO2 tank for 30 PSI, and shake the heck out of the bottle for about 2 minutes.  Now disconnect the pressure hose, and put the bottle into your refrigerator to chill and allow the CO2 to evenly dissolve into the beer.

Viola, 2 liters of carbonated beer, ready to serve. PERFECT for taking along to a party or on a picnic.

Using a kegging system takes most of the drudgework and inconsistancy out of homebrewing (cleaning bottles, capping bottles, exploded bottles due to too much priming sugar, isolated bottles of spoiled beer because you failed to completely sterilize some of the bottles), and makes into more of a fun, repeatable hobby with less random problems.

[ Parent ]

A good start... (4.66 / 6) (#46)
by alias Mark on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 01:40:42 PM EST

This is a good outline for anyone interested in brewing, but IMHO not complete enough for a beginner to produce a quality batch of beer.

The ultimite guide to making everthing from your first results-oriented weekend homebrew, to a complete description of malting your own barley, is John Palmer's "How to Brew". It is free online and available in most all homebrew stores and catalouges.

I would highly reccomend getting a beginner's brewing equipment kit (not Mr. Beer!). For $45 you can get all the quality equipment you will need to brew and bottle your beer. As for the bottles, I only use glass and have never tried plastic, but glass bottles are much more fun to obtain ("We have to drink how much to get enough bottles?!"). I even made a little device to pull the torpedos out of Guinness bottles so we could use them. (mmm.. curvey)

On the subject of recipe kits, I don't reccommend that you use the beer kits sold in many homebrew stores and catalouges. Even using a higher quality kit from a trusted source, I experienced substandard results. Our other batch was done using a recipe adapted from one of John Palmer's (see above), and was excellent. For my ingredients I shop at the local homebrew store, or order from Midwest Homebrewing.

I have been brewing with my Dad since I was a kid, and finally got around to making a few batches of my own last semester. I count myself as a beginning brewer, but I enjoy it very much and have done a good bit of research on the subject. I reccomend brewing your own to anyone who has an interest in good beer.

Relax, have a homebrew!


---
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"

Well put. (none / 0) (#47)
by anderiv on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 01:54:46 PM EST

I was just going to say the exact same thing.

It is well worth the investment to start off with quality equipment. The end results will be much more consistant.

One other piece of advice - if you are interested in pursuing homebrewing, get yourself involved in the HB community. Most homebrewers (myself included) would love to answer any questions posed by a budding homebrewer. There are also many forums online that are very active - my two favorites are Norther Brewer and the USENET group rec.crafts.brewing.

In conclusion, I'll quote Charlie Papazian, a homebrew stalwart and author "Relax - don't worry! Have a homebrew!"

Good Luck!

[ Parent ]
Bottles... Grolsch? (none / 0) (#79)
by bodrius on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 07:57:03 AM EST

Hmmm... finally an excuse to use with my already annoyed roommates next time they complain about all those Grolsch bottles I keep collecting.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
a higly prized bottle (none / 0) (#81)
by alias Mark on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 10:27:18 AM EST

requires no stupid capping

---
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"
[ Parent ]
Grolsch bottles (none / 0) (#84)
by epepke on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 01:09:16 PM EST

They work pretty well. Of course, they're green, which is not the best color, because green light can react with the hops producing a skunky aroma, so you have to keep them out of sunlight. If the gaskets get old, you can buy fresh ones as most homebrew supply shops.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Grolsch bottles (none / 0) (#101)
by ckaminski on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 12:53:15 PM EST

They DO make dark amber grolsch bottles nowadays to combat this problem.  They are just a bit harder to find.  I'm torn between the Cornelius keg or using Grolsch bottles for my next few batches of beer...

[ Parent ]
Altenmuenster bottles (none / 0) (#104)
by epepke on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 05:28:49 PM EST

I've never seen an actual Grolsch bottle that was anything other than green. However, Altenmuenster bottles are flip-top, brown, and quite good. I used to have a bunch of these. I think they were even 22 ounces, so even better.

Also, some Brand bottles are flip-top and opaque.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Major inaccuracy (4.71 / 7) (#53)
by epepke on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:00:12 PM EST

The way this is done is through malting. Barley is sprayed with water in a controlled environment until it barely sprouts. The sprouting barley is then dried out, resulting in malted barley. The sprouts can't survive on the starches inside the grain either, so they start to break them down, giving you a suitable base for your brewski. Coincidentally, if you grind malt really fine, you get the same stuff used in malted milk balls or milk shakes.

No, you don't. The available sugars that you get from just malted barley aren't anywhere near enough to make beer. If you've ever tasted malted barley, you know that it's only slightly sweet.

The next step, after crushing (not powdering!) the grain is mashing. This involves mixing the crushed malt with water and raising its temperature. There are several types of mash: the infusion mash, which just involves adding hot water and is used for most ales, the decoction mash, which involves boiling a portion of the mash and returning it and is used for the best lagers, and various homebrew mashing styles, including the stovetop and oven mashes.

Mashing takes the mash and raises it through three fixed temperatures, keeping it for a while at the temperatures. These are called rests. The acid rest allows controlled growth of lactobacillus to produce lactic acid to lower the pH and is generally only needed when the water is exceptionally carbonate. The saccharification rest is the important one for sugars, where the alpha and beta amylase naturally present in the grain decompose the starch into sugar (specifically, maltose). The protein rest uses other enzymes to reduce the amount of protein. You need some protein for body and head, but too much can produce off flavors. Then the mash is raised to a higher temperature that destroys the enzymes.

Then the mash is set in a lauter tun. If the crush was done correctly, the husk of the barley will settle and produce a nice filter bed. Hot (but not boiling!) water is sparged, or sprinkled, on the top and allowed to filter slowly through the mash (Too hot water can produce cardboard flavors.) The water dissolves the sugars and produces a sweet fluid called wort. During this process, some of the remaining protein floculates to the top of the mash and forms a grey mass. The consistency of this can be used to determine whether there was enough of a protein rest. If you feel it, and it's gummy, the protein rest was too short, and if it feels really dry, the protein rest was too long.

This wort is either used directly to make beer, or else it is converted into malt extract. This is done either by boiling, which produces a thick liquid that's been somewhat caramelized by the brewing process. This is highly prized by the baking industry, which uses it to feed the yeast and likes the brown color, but it may not be suitable for light-colored lagers. Alternately, it is spray-dried, producing a beige powder.

This is the stuff that is used in malted milk shakes and malted milk balls. It's an important distinction, because malted barley flour is also used by the baking industry, because the time when bread is rising at higher temperatures, a fair amount of saccharification is going on.

How can you possibly neglect the importance of malting, especially as doing partial mashes is the gateway to advanced homebrewing? It isn't even a valid simplification to avoid the step.

See, oxygen is bad because it... well... oxidizes things.

Not quite. Oxygen is important in the first phase of brewing because the yeast can reproduce much faster in the presence of oxygen. Yeast respires and also ferments. After there is enough yeast, you want to avoid too much oxygen to inhibit the growth of aerobic bacteria. Also, the yeast won't make alcohol during respiration.

Put about 4 quarts of water into the sanitized tub, then strain the malty liquid (called a mash) through your strainer lined with a cheesecloth, right into your tub.

Nope. The mash is done long ago, before boiling with hops. This is wort. Hopped wort, if you like.

Like any other alcoholic beverage, beer improves with time. More time in the primary fermentation stage, bright beer stage, or in the bottle will do wonders for your beer.

This is largely an artifact of using pre-prepared malt extract, which has a harshness that aging can overcome. A full mash ale is ready two to three weeks after bottling or kegging and should be drunk while fresh. Higher-alcohol beers generally do better with aging.

Always remember to sanitize. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Poor sanitization is the usual culprit for a skunky brew. The bleach solution works well and is quite cheap, but might be hard to rinse off. If it annoys you, you can always purchase a sanitizing solution or powder from your local brewmaster.

Besides a bleach solution, there is also B-brite (essentially dishwashing detergent without perfumes and other crap), and sanitizing tablets, which you can get at any restaurant supply house. I generally do a final rinse with water and sanitizing tablets, because unlike bleach, they have been approved as a food additive.

While you can brew your beer in a bucket just fine, you may want to invest in an official fermenting tub, which is usually just a bucket with a hole for an airlock and a spigot.

There is also the 5-gallon glass carboy. Glass is easier to keep clean than plastic. Most people prefer to limit the use of carboys for secondary fermentation, because the foam from primary fermentation can squirt right out. I have successfully used glass carboys for primary fermentation by having a wide plastic hose that fits in the top, bends over the side, and is immersed in a bucket of water at floor level. Then, when the fermentation subsides, I replace the hose with a stopper and an airlock.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


BTF idophor (none / 0) (#89)
by jms on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 05:56:23 PM EST

> Besides a bleach solution, there is also B-brite
> (essentially dishwashing detergent without perfumes
> and other crap), and sanitizing tablets, which you
> can get at any restaurant supply house.

There's an even better product called BTF Iodophor.  B-brite cleans, but idophor sterilizes.

The recommended method is to dilute about a teaspoon in five gallons of water, then soak everything that's going to come into contact with your beer in the solution for two minutes.  You don't need to rinse off the solution -- it's a very tiny amount of iodine, and it's food-safe.

Cleanliness cannot be overemphasized in homebrewing.  Homebrewing is the art of making five gallons of scrumptious (to bacteria) sugar-water, then making sure that nothing but your desired yeast gets a crack at the microbiological smorgasbord.

[ Parent ]

Copper vs. steel? (3.75 / 4) (#54)
by awgsilyari on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:03:09 PM EST

I've been thinking about starting to brew beer once I get my apartment in a few weeks.

What would be the effect of using copper metallic containers instead of stainless steel? I'm not thinking about cost differences, I mean actual changes to the flavor of the beer.

And has anyone ever brewed beer in a gold plated container?

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com

Metals (2.50 / 2) (#106)
by nurglich on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 09:20:39 PM EST

The wort is a bit acidic to use in copper. I imagine it would end up much worse. On the other hand, most copper pots are lined with steel anyway, so I guess it wouldn't matter. Now gold would probably work well, so long as you didn't scrape the pots too much...

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
Uhhh. Didn't I already write this article? (4.28 / 7) (#58)
by Yellowbeard on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 04:33:01 PM EST

Oh yeah - it's here. Huh. One of the best ever too, what do you know.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


Yes you did (none / 0) (#63)
by alex3917 on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:10:19 PM EST

I was a little shocked when I saw this on the front page. I guess that is what happens when people like me get a little sloppy with taking the time to vote for things in the queue. A lesson on the pitfalls of democracy, perhaps.

Oh, and I don't post this comment to insult the writer of this story, except for that in the future search the old stories to see if your new article in genuinely improving on whats in the k5 "Canon".
--Alex
[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#102)
by MicroBerto on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 02:42:09 PM EST

I thought so too - but it's not like this is a topic that I would mind seeing on the front page EVERY day :)

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
Over the edge. (none / 0) (#119)
by Brett Viren on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 08:41:55 PM EST

Just wanted to say that your article was what finally pushed me over the edge to actually brew after thinking about it for years. Since then I have done dozens of batches and this year moved to all grain. So far my best batches are a Bigfoot clone (must... not.. touch...) and a extra gingery version of Hennepin.

Thanks for the push!

[ Parent ]

A One that is not cold is scarcely a One at all. (3.75 / 4) (#61)
by RaveX on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 05:07:27 PM EST

I seem to remember a wise man saying something like...

The Property of Ones:

"The one-itude is directly proportional to the cold-itude of the One. Thus, the colder it is, the more of a One it is."


---
The Reconstruction

on a scale of 1--10 maybe (none / 0) (#92)
by horny smurf on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 08:51:15 PM EST

consider this... what happens when you suck on ice cubes? You don't taste so well. If the beer is so good, why do you have to freeze your mouth to drink it?

Good beers/ales can be drunk at a warmer temperature, because they actually *taste* good.

I don't know if my mouth (or stomach) could handle trying tp drink a warm Budweiser.

[ Parent ]

Honestly, I tend to agree... (none / 0) (#105)
by RaveX on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 09:00:58 PM EST

...I just rather like the Strongbad e-mail from which the statement comes.

Even so, I prefer a chilled beer, even a good beer (I only tend to drink good beers, anyway), to a room temperature one or a warm one. By chilled I don't mean frozen, or anywhere near that-- I wouldn't want to destroy the flavor of a good beer. However, I do tend to think that any beer warm is a little less appetizing than the same beer at, say, 15.5C or a little colder.

All of which raises an important question... what are people's favorite beers, and how do they like them served (temperature, glass, with lemon or lime (if so inclined), etc)?
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

Huh huh... this one's, like, good... huh huh (3.66 / 3) (#64)
by wji on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:26:09 PM EST

What's missing? A crucial ingredient called hops. The hop plant is a relative of cannabis, and provides essential aromatic oils and bittering agents to the brew. Okay great. Now we have everything. How about brewing the stuff? So we boil our malt and our cannabis, I mean, hops, then we put it in a vessel and bam.
Which leads me to ask a question I've always* wondered about. Could one not use actual marijuana in brewing? Though you'd have to be careful, I think that cannabis buds and flowers have about the right THC content for consumption when substituted for hops.

Now it might taste like crap, but I'm sure that can be worked around.

*It's just an expression.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

There is... (none / 0) (#68)
by billbill on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 06:48:36 PM EST

this book. Good recipes, knockout beer.

[ Parent ]
Why yes indeedy (none / 0) (#90)
by rantweasel on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 06:25:19 PM EST

Hempen Ale exists.  It's not bad, but it's not really anything special, either.  Of course, if you were homebrewing, you wouldn't be restricted to inactive hemp seeds...  Since we're talking about 1 or 2 ounces of hops per 5 gallon batch (unless you're making an IPA or Pilsner), I don't know how high the THC contect would get.  Hempen IPA might be interesting, although getting the flavor right might take a while.

mathias

[ Parent ]

Hopheads (none / 0) (#110)
by czolgosz on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 12:10:19 PM EST

Long ago, any number of different herbs were used in beer; hops just happens to be the one that's still in widespread use today. That's probably because of its antioxidant qualities, which help to preserve the beer.

In Britain, heather was once an ingredient. The Belgians still flavor beers with things like strawberry (framboise) and sour cherry (kriek).

So there's no reason (other than the obvious legal one) not to try cannabis in beer. But if you're expecting a buzz from it, it's unclear to me whether the active ingredients (cannabinols) are soluble in beer or not. If not, you're wasting your time and herb. This would be an interesting experiment to attempt in one of those parts of the world where such an enquiry won't put you at risk of imprisonment.


Why should I let the toad work squat on my life? --Larkin
[ Parent ]
Not as a 1:1 replacement... (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by pla on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 11:14:33 PM EST

Which leads me to ask a question I've always* wondered about. Could one not use actual marijuana in brewing? Though you'd have to be careful, I think that cannabis buds and flowers have about the right THC content for consumption when substituted for hops.

When people call them relatives, they refer to both belonging to the same taxonomic family (cannabinaceae). And AFAIK, that family only includes the Cannabis (pot) and Humulus (hops) genus (genii? Anyone know the proper plural for "genus"?). You probably know of another two common plants with the same "close" relationship - Tomatos and Deadly Nightshade (both of family solanaceae).

Not to say one will hurt you and one won't - Just that sharing a taxonomic family doesn't make them all that similar.


Anyway, sorry for the babble. On the more practical side, if you want to make a hemp brew, you need to do two things - First, still use hops (if you want them, not needed but they have an antioxidant effect that lessens the likelyhood of a bad batch, and they do have pharmacological effects by themselves). Second, you will NEED to leave the hemp in the fermenting vessel (rather than boiling it and straining it out), as THC will not come out into water (but will, slowly, into weak alcohol).

One problem - You need to avoid biological (bacterial) contamination (since you can't use bleach on the marijuana, and probably won't want to boil it separately). To take care of this, as well as the previous point, use the same technique you'd use to add pot to a non-oily foodstuff - put it in the blender with just enough Everclear (or Graves, or any 95ish percent ethanol product) to cover it, and turn it into a green pulp. A cup or two of ethanol won't make much difference in a 5 gallon batch of beer, but will allow the THC to go into your beer rather than into the garbage.


[ Parent ]
Genus -> genera [n/t] (none / 0) (#115)
by epepke on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 12:06:59 AM EST


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Interesting. (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by Vesperto on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 07:45:55 PM EST

My 3rd hotlisted item. Yte homebrewing is but a mirage over here, it would be difficult to get the ingredients. Yet it might be worth a try when i get a palce of my own someday.

La blua plago!
order on the internet! (none / 0) (#97)
by thulsey on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 08:55:53 AM EST

I live in Taipei, and there are no brewing stores. My room mate and I make due. We have a 5 litre water jug filled with Hefeweissen that we are bottling tonight (Grolsch bottles, but we have the bottle capper and the caps, just in case). In another month or so we are bottling our Strawberry mead (which tastes something like corrupted hawaiian punch at this stage, I can't wait for carbonizaation....)

anyway, we ordered all of this on the net.

homebrew --go figure

http://www.cellar-homebrew.com -- where we got our stuff shipped internationally from the US.

We also are using rubber corks and fermentation locks which take care of all the air problems -- CO2 gets out, baaaad bacteria stays out. Hope that helps! Travis
(-_-) - take me to your leader
[ Parent ]

Odours? (4.00 / 2) (#71)
by Squidward on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 08:02:24 PM EST

Home brewing is something that's interested me for a while. Only thing is, I live in a very full apartment (7 inhabitants at the moment). Is this going to fill our living space with the smell of fermenting beer? Or can the fermentor be stuck in the corner of a closet somewhere with nobody the wiser?

Yes (none / 0) (#72)
by epepke on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 08:29:52 PM EST

It stinks to high heaven. Which I think is fine, but a lot of people don't like the smell. If odor is a problem, you might try making cider instead. It's a lot easier and doesn't stink.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Odor Control (none / 0) (#74)
by harshale on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 11:27:36 PM EST

I just posted on this topic. One way to handle the odor is in my post. #73

[ Parent ]
cooking and fermenting (none / 0) (#103)
by Altus on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 04:33:38 PM EST

when you are doing all of the boiling your house will smell of hops and malt, its the same as cooking anything else large.  

when fermenting the only thing let out of the container is CO2.  which your houseplants will just love...

I leave my fermenter in an upstairs closet during the winter (heated) and in the basement in the summer (naturaly cool) so that the beer stays in a good ale comfort zone.  realy you would never notice it was there unless you were looking for it.

the biggest problem you will have will be with bottleing.  it is kind of kitchen space intensive and if you dont have a dishwasher you have to soak all your bottles to sanitize them, generaly that would mean using the bathtub in an apartment.

happy homebrewing
"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

odour can be controlled (none / 0) (#122)
by towerssotall on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 12:40:47 AM EST

If you're malting then yes it'll reek and tie up the kitchen for a long long time.

but if you buy a vort kit then the smell of the beer actually fermenting will vary from bread to perfume.

not bad at all.

[ Parent ]

The brouhaha over brew (4.44 / 9) (#73)
by harshale on Tue Jul 01, 2003 at 10:56:21 PM EST

During my stay in San Quentin (the 60's) I set up and ran several different brewing operations and in two of them, built and operated two types of stills. We didn't have access to most of the equipment, materials and ingredients referred to in the article. Some of the concerns (elimination of oxygen) while valid seem to me to be over-emphasised to some extent. To the point; The container in most cases was made of 3/4" plywood, cut to size to make a 1'W x 2'L x 1'H box, the sides and bottom were screwed together and all of the interior seams were 'caulked' with plumbers wax. Nominally 2 cubic feet (just short of 15 gallons capacity). The lid would have 2 holes (1/2") drilled in it. If you were brewing in your cell, the box would be placed under the bottom bunk at the end furthest from the bars and near the toilet. After the ingredients (except the yeast)were in the box and it was near full we would add a couple of #10 cans of hot water to top it off and bring it up to something around ambient temperature we would add the yeast or whatever fermentation 'kicker' we had. Now the lid would be screwed on ('bedded' down on a bead of plumbers wax) This attention to making it air-tight ensured that oxygen was not going to turn our brew into vinegar, but more important it controlled the odors of fermentation. One of the 2 holes in the lid would be taped over, the other would receive one end of a 4 or 5 foot piece of rubber tubing inserted (and caulked) just far enough that it wasn't submerged in the brew, this served as a vent for whatever air was present at the outset and for the gases generated by fermentation. The other end of the hose was inserted in the toilet far enough that it was beyond the trap, now all the gases and odor were exhausted into the sewer line and not in the cell. The length of time that you let it 'run' was determined by the type of ingredients and 'kicker'. Orange juice, needed 4 days. Apples (pulverized), 5 days. Tomato puree; 72 hours max. Orange juice was used at about 1 or 1 1/2 gallons to 5 gallons of water. Apples a bit more. Tomato puree was the best 1 1/2 pints/gallon.Add sugar; 1 lb/gal. Yeast was usually very hard to come by, when the dough was being mixed in the bakery it was a guard that handled the mixing of the dry-yeast and adding it to the dough in the mixer. As soon as he did so and walked away a con would ease up and see if he could scoop up a handful if some was still not yet mixed in or at the least a handful of dough that was super-rich in yeast. In case the bakery guys couldn't produce I sometimes had a back-up going in the form of slices of a fresh apple that had been laying out in the open air for several days, sometimes they just turned brown, at other times they developed a green mold these would work but they added a day or two to the 'run' time. We would just float them on top of the brew and screw on the lid. After a couple of days we would pull the vent hose out of the toilet remove the tape from the other hole and inhale through the hose, if you were fermenting you would get a 'bright tingling' sensation on your tongue. Hose back in the toilet, tape back on the vent and hope there's no random cell shake down in the next few days. After another wait you would again pull the hose out of the toilet but this time you would push it an inch or so into the box so that you could suck out a taste of the brew in order to see how far along the fermentation had progressed. If it was done to your satisfaction you hefted it up on the toilet (holding your breath, you're dealing with about 125 lbs here, I've seen poorly constructed boxes fall apart at this point, brew running out of the cell and raining down off the tier...BUSTED!!! Assuming all goes well you can now syphon the brew out into your # 10 can, pour it from your can through the bars into the tier-tender's can who delivers to the waiting customers. 2 packs of cigarettes/quart. 2 quarts/fair buzz. Eventually you have to open the box to get the last of the brew and to dump the dregs. Smell is impossible to control at this point. If you have the necessities at hand for your next batch you refilled and used the slime that was growing on the inside of the lid as your kicker...it worked well. Flapping your blankets around dispersed a lot of the smell and the you sat tight hoping for the best. At some point I became a South-Block plumber, not really, but my name was on the list of plumbers, this let me out of my cell in the evenings, and gave me full access to the utility tiers that ran between the back-sides of the 4 sections of the south block. All of the cell electic and plumbing ran up and down walls of these interior tiers. On the first tier the drains ran thru the floor, down into a utility tunnel into the sewer main. This main ran from each end of the block toward the center of the block, 'pitched' all the way. It was elevated off the floor about a foot, supported by a series of concrete pylons. Access to this tunnel was by either of two steel grills in the first tier floor, padlocked...but the padlocks had been 'gaffed' and we (plumbers) had access without the guards knowing it. We had the wood shop cut parts that when assembled looked like the existing pylons, tacked on a layer of metal lath, rubbed on a thick layer of cement and we had pylons that slid under the main. There was no need to screw on or seal the lids as there was a constant draft that ran thru the tunnel...no oder problems. Also the guards never went down there. I'll be back on topic soon. Along one wall of the tunnel ran a large steam main, at the center of the block (low point of the pitched floor of the tunnel) the steam main was 'tapped' and fitted with a 1 1/2 inch valve and a coupling that plumbed to a steam driven syphon which allowed any sewage leakage to be sucked up and blown back into the sewer main. The sheet metal shop provided a 10" diameter dairy-tin cylinder(pot), the bottom was fitted with two 1/4 inch copper tube fittings (one; "steam in", the other; "steam out") connected to a coil inside made of about 5'of copper tubing. The top was fitted with a 4" screw-on cap, tapped and fitted to a 1/4" tubing coil (condenser). Fill the pot with brew, remove steam syphon from the main, attach 'jumper' tubing from main to "steam in". Connect condenser to top fitting of pot. Crack the valve and in a few minutes...drip ,drip, drip...out of the condenser Alcohol. Fine adjustments were made by watching "steam out". When the run was done; dump the dregs, replace the syphon, suck up the dregs, and stash every thing. Due to the steam main the ambient temperature was always very high, I've opened boxes of puree brew and seen a rolling wave coming up one side of the box and down the other. We lasted a long time with this set-up but eventually we got busted. A few years later I ended up as the maintenance mechanic at the sewage treatment plant. 5 gallon milk cans to brew in, lid drilled to accept a 1/4" fitting. Attach a home-made check valve, fill the can with puree, water,sugar, yeast, hammer on the lid, by-pass the sewage plant, pump down the deep-well, lower the can into the grit trap, put the plant back on-line,come back in 4 days, by-pass, pump-down, hoist out, set can over big gas burner, remove check-valve, connect real glass lab condenser, light up, and wait. When the run is done, dump dregs in deep-well, carmelize some sugar, mix into distillate and label as ferric sulphate and store in chemical locker. After this play came apart it was on to Folsom for a year, there it was guys in the cannery carrying around hot-water bottles of working mash.

Wow. (none / 0) (#82)
by samuel4242 on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 12:19:13 PM EST

If only I get web access when I do time, I'll be able to use your plans. Is it any wonder that they kept Mitnick from the web?

[ Parent ]
Double wow (none / 0) (#87)
by p3d0 on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 05:27:45 PM EST

That's the longest damn paragraph I have seen in recent memory.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
You should write a book (none / 0) (#93)
by cryon on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 10:09:37 PM EST

seriously!
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]
Preferably one with paragraphs (nt) (none / 0) (#116)
by brkn on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 01:52:25 AM EST

.

Assumption is the mother of all fuckups
[ Parent ]
My comments. (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by lukme on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 12:40:12 AM EST

Hops are used as a preservative, they are not necessary to make beer.

Making either wine or mead is easier, in that you don't need to malt a grain. Same fermentation equipment, less hassel.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
I think maybe you are right (none / 0) (#94)
by cryon on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 10:15:07 PM EST

brewing beer is a hassle. But wine takes so long. Is there a quick recipe?
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]
quick wine (none / 0) (#111)
by glip on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 08:14:11 PM EST

You can buy 4 week kits, and 6 week kits... but time greatly improves wine...

[ Parent ]
Hops, etc. (none / 0) (#124)
by Phelan on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:25:33 AM EST

These comments are based upon my 10+ years of homebrewing mead experience (with a few successful beer batches as well). Hops are a fundamental part of the flavor of beer. They're not required to make "alcohol" but they really are kinda required to make "beer". They're the bittering/astringent agent that keeps beer from tasting too sweet, and they also have some minor preservative effect. Sweet fermented barley drinks without hops, but with other spices and herbs, were traditionally called "ales". Hops have been a traditional part of beer making since at least 822, which is the year of the first known written reference to hops (germany). In the 1500's, hops became standard brewing practice in England, through the spread of brewmaking techniques from Flanders (Belgium), so we can surmise that hops use in Belgium and Germany were likely standard practice long before the 16th century. In making beer, you don't need to malt a grain either, if you buy your grains pre-malted, use malt extract, etc. Local homebrew supply shops provide a variety of liquid and powdered malt extracts you can use to easily and quickly make a batch of beer. Good mead (honey wine) is actually harder to make than beer, and the following paragraphs explain why: It ferments for a much longer time. You can be sipping a cold beer two weeks after you first start boiling your extract. Mead can take anywhere from 6 weeks to two years to ferment and clarify. The longer brew time means that there's more chances for sanitation lapses, there's a greater period for bacteria and other goodies to spoil the flavor of your mead, and there's a real risk of "yeast bite", an off flavor that occurs when your mead is in contact with dead yeast cells for too long. You can re-rack a lot to mitigate yeast bite, but each time you do, you introduce oxidation and risk of contamination. It becomes an art of compromise. Malt and extracts contains a lot of the acids and nutrients that will allow yeast to grow easily. Mead requires careful attention to water mineral levels, nutrients, acids, and many other factors, or you are liable to end up with "stuck fermentation", where the yeast has gone dormant, but has not died, and has not fermented much of your sugar, either. Barley and hops are fairly strong-flavored. You can mess up beer, certainly, and end up with off flavors. But you have to be ever so much more careful with honey, which has much more subtle and subdued flavors. There is nothing in a traditional mead (such as hops) that will help mask slighty off flavors (esters, etc) that can come about from a variety of reasons. If you accidently add, say, a fourth of a tablespoon too much citric acid in a five gallon batch(!) of mead, and the resulting mead will be considerably tangier. Such a mistake wouldn't be nearly as noticeable in beer (not that you'd be adding citric acid to most beers anyway).

[ Parent ]
bah, with text formatting... (none / 0) (#125)
by Phelan on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:26:07 AM EST

These comments are based upon my 10+ years of homebrewing mead experience (with a few successful beer batches as well).

Hops are a fundamental part of the flavor of beer.  They're not required to make "alcohol" but they really are kinda required to make "beer".  They're the bittering/astringent agent that keeps beer from tasting too sweet, and they also have some minor preservative effect.  Sweet fermented barley drinks without hops, but with other spices and herbs, were traditionally called "ales".   Hops have been a traditional part of beer making since at least 822, which is the year of the <a href="http://www.hops.co.uk/sectionone/History.htm">first known written reference to hops</a> (germany).  In the 1500's, hops became standard brewing practice in England, through the spread of brewmaking techniques from Flanders (Belgium), so we can surmise that hops use in Belgium and Germany were likely standard practice long before the 16th century.

In making beer, you don't need to malt a grain either, if you buy your grains pre-malted, use malt extract, etc.   Local homebrew supply shops provide a variety of liquid and powdered malt extracts you can use to easily and quickly make a batch of beer.

Good mead (honey wine) is actually harder to make than beer, and the following paragraphs explain why:

It ferments for a much longer time.  You can be sipping a cold beer two weeks after you first start boiling your extract.  Mead can take anywhere from 6 weeks to two years to ferment and clarify.  The longer brew time means that there's more chances for sanitation lapses, there's a greater period for bacteria and other goodies to spoil the flavor of your mead, and there's a real risk of "yeast bite", an off flavor that occurs when your mead is in contact with dead yeast cells for too long.  You can re-rack a lot to mitigate yeast bite, but each time you do, you introduce oxidation and risk of contamination.  It becomes an art of compromise.

Malt and extracts contains a lot of the acids and nutrients that will allow yeast to grow easily.  Mead requires careful attention to water mineral levels, nutrients, acids, and many other factors, or you are liable to end up with "stuck fermentation", where the yeast has gone dormant, but has not died, and has not fermented much of your sugar, either.

Barley and hops are fairly strong-flavored.  You can mess up beer, certainly, and end up with off flavors.  But you have to be ever so much more careful with honey, which has much more subtle and subdued flavors.  There is nothing in a traditional mead (such as hops) that will help mask slighty off flavors (esters, etc) that can come about from a variety of reasons.  If you accidently add, say, a fourth of a tablespoon too much citric acid in a five gallon batch(!) of mead, and the resulting mead will be considerably tangier.  Such a mistake wouldn't be nearly as noticeable in beer (not that you'd be adding citric acid to most beers anyway).

[ Parent ]

Cold Beer is Best & my first Beer Kit. (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by dan hunt on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 03:58:42 AM EST

I love beer as much as the other 40 something year old men in our village. However when it comes to making beer, I am going to start slow. Not that I have to. Why Hops grow locally, and barley is easy to aquire where I live, I could have a semi-trailer full of the best barley in Western Canada all over my lawn in 60 min or less with enough cash and a mind to make my wife angry. My good buddy will even turn it into specality malt if I bug him. But when It comes to making beer, *today* I am going to cheat. I drove to Prince Albert Saskatchewan and at a Petro Can Gas Station a few blocks South of "The Great Canadian SuperStore" I picked up a beer kit from these people for only $25.00 Canadian. I love making things from scratch, but for my first beer, cheating is better than not having any freinds who will taste the stuff.

Wow, you must really love those men... (nt) (none / 0) (#80)
by gilrain on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 09:12:20 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Northern Brewer (none / 0) (#83)
by tarsi210 on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 12:36:50 PM EST

I highly recommend Northern Brewer for beer supply needs. They ship UPS and have a great selection, high quality brewing equipment. I've had good success with them in the past.

I would second that recommendation. (none / 0) (#109)
by Lizard on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 09:57:36 AM EST

I would second that reommendation, but after glancing at your username, I notice that I know you and your whole experience with northern brewer comes from drinking the beer I made from supplies I purchased from said establishment. :)
________________________
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]
Listermannn (none / 0) (#120)
by Brett Viren on Sat Jul 05, 2003 at 09:00:53 PM EST

Most online homebrew sites will do good by you (as long as you don't get on The List).

My fave is listermann.com (one or two n's but 2 prefered). Dan is a homebrewer inovator and a regular on rec.crafts.brewing and always willing to give a newbie some good advice. You will see a lot of his "Phil" products resold elsewhere.

[ Parent ]

Keg it... (none / 0) (#85)
by ehintz on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 04:06:01 PM EST

Homebrewing is great fun, but if you bottle your beer, over the long run most folks get tired of all the trouble and drift away from it. Purchasing a keg setup during the first year or so is one of the best investments you'll make if you want to continue brewing.

I've got some pix of my kegerator online, shows what can be done with a small amount of cash and an old fridge. I've since modified the setup so I now have a shelf above the 2 kegs on the freezer side where I put lagers. Keeping the freezer side at lager temps leaves the fridge side at the lower end of ale temps, so I can ferment 2 batches simultaneously. I generally start with a lager, and do an ale a week later, then keg both 2 weeks after starting the ale. Within just over 3 weeks time I've got 10 gallons of beer on tap, a most enjoyable result.

Regards,
Ed Hintz
oh my. (none / 0) (#121)
by towerssotall on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 12:38:10 AM EST

you are my god. i shall worship no other. that is the coolest thing i've ever seen. ever.

"the fate of Charles the First, hath only made kings more subtle
- not more just."

- - Thomas Paine
[ Parent ]

Recommended books. (none / 0) (#91)
by jms on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 06:31:56 PM EST

A couple of highly recommended books on homebrewing:

1)  The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charles Papazian.

Trust me.  This is the book.  It's written for beginners, makes everything easy and fun, and gets you going with a minimum of worry and stress.

If you have never brewed beer before, I would recommend getting Papazian's book, and brew an ale using unhopped liquid malt extract, compressed hops pellets, and (more expensive but worth it) Wyeast liquid yeast instead of dry yeast (But read the directions on how to activate the yeast -- you have to do it a day in advance!)  There's no point on trying anything more complicated or exotic, such as mashing, until you successfully make beer from liquid malt extract. Never mind the naysayers, you can make EXCELLENT homebrew from liquid malt extract.

2)  The Brewer's Companion, by Randy Mosher.  

Out of print, but worth finding if you can.  This book won't teach you how to brew beer.  This is a technical reference.  It contains an enormous amount of detailed information on advanced brewing techniques, such as decoctions, and a lot of scientific information on such topics as hops, computing bitterness, effects of water minerals, diagnosing defects, the mashing process, enzymes, etc.  This book is useful once you decide to "get serious" about brewing and want to better understand and control what you are doing.

Those are the two books I've found most useful.

Some hard-learned tips (none / 0) (#96)
by xtal on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 11:23:32 PM EST

I lived with four or five other engineers going through University - Hi Dan, Dave, Ed, Calvin, Colin.. anyhow - we were really hard up on money, so we brewed our own beer, and made our own, uh, alternative chainsaw fuel. But that's another story. Here's some things we learned about beer and beer kits: Use about 5 times the amount of sterilizer they recommend. You really need to use foolish amounts of that stuff; be careful, because it makes things very slippery. I'm after forgetting what that pink powder was. Bleach, of some sort. When bottling, use at least twice the recommended amount of sugar per bottle if you like fizzy beer. The commercial kits have the recommended amount of sugar scaled back for liability and safety reasons, but if you like foamy beer, charge it up good. Don't put the sugar in each bottle either - when you're ready to bottle, mix the sugar and beer in a big vat, then siphon and bottle. 2 liter pop bottles are an effective means to bottle a lot of beer quickly and cheaply. You can get brand new caps from most homebrew places. Make sure to sterilize them! Of course, if you don't like sediment, then you have to drink it all at once. Another good compromise are grolsh beer bottles that have resealable tops - you can get them from a bottle recycler. I have a few hundred of them still, no caps required, super fast. Pre-dissolve the yeast in lukewarm sugar water before adding to the mix. This insures you get a good mix right off to kickstart the fermentation. TEMPERATURE CONTROL IS VITAL. You need to make sure the yeast takes hold before stray bacteria do, and the best way to do this is to keep the beer on the high end of the scale. Yes, hotter temperatures are not ideal - but the compromise is worth it, as you almost never have to worry about beer being contaiminated by odd bacteria. Use glucose instead of powdered sugar. It tastes much cleaner and you get almost no byproducts from the enzyemes in the yeast, which just love glucose. We used sugar for bottling, and glucose for the fermentation for alcohol. It usually comes in a can, found in the wine section.

If you rearrange the letters (none / 0) (#98)
by Relinquished on Thu Jul 03, 2003 at 10:09:49 AM EST

In "Asking why do we brew yeast beer? See, I think we sip algal scum"

you get "Why? Simple, because growing weed breaks law. Aye, it stinks, eh?"


(Yes, though I've never taken any biology class, I'm well aware that yeasts and algae are not related.)

--------------
If you rearrange the letters in "anagram for signature" you get "famous at rearranging".


this is what gives brewing a bad name (5.00 / 2) (#126)
by ramar on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:17:43 PM EST

I appreciate the effort the author put in trying to spread the gospel of homebrewing, but these instructions are inaccurate at worst, and difficult to follow at best. If you're interested in brewing, don't make your judgement now on this write-up. I'll second another user's comments that John Palmer's free how-to on the web is the best place to start if you're interested. Don't waste your time hacking something together that is unlikely to be palatable.

Agreed (none / 0) (#127)
by smkndrkn on Sun Jul 20, 2003 at 11:36:34 AM EST

Do not follow these instructions. I do not work for this company but I buy a lot of my equipment from them: http://www.northernbrewer.com I suggest taking a look under "ale kits" and looking at their instructions. They are of course specific to that particular recepie...but that shouldn't surprise you as all beers are different. The above instructions are too vague in some areas, like moving your beer to a secondary. The author doesn't seem to know anything about adding hops to the boil and does things in ways that I certainly wouldn't. I wish I had time to write something up and hopefully this article will inspire some people to make some beer but just use better instructions.

I find this corpse guilty of carrying a concealed weapon and I fine it $40. -- Judge Roy Bean, finding a pistol and $40 on a man he'd just shot.
[ Parent ]
The Brouhaha over Homebrew | 128 comments (94 topical, 34 editorial, 0 hidden)
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