Homebrew Beer FAQ


How do I brew Beer?
There are 2 main ways:

You can make it totally from scratch using grain which involves crushing roasted malted barley, simmering it at specific temperatures, straining, sparging (rinsing), then boiling it, adding hops and then cooling it before adding the yeast (all this will take you about 6 hours) and then fermenting and bottling the finished beer

OR

Make it from a beer kit where the manufacturer has already crushed the roasted malted barley, boiled it, added hops, strained and sparged, cooled and then concentrated, and put it into a can, so all you have to do is add water (possibly sugar) and then ferment and bottle it. – The EASY way!!!


Is it difficult to make your own beer?
No, making beer is easy.  If you have enough time, then make it from scratch otherwise using kits is a very easy and very tasty way of getting beer just like you’d drink in a pub.


How long does it take to brew a kit?
Fermentation usually takes about a week, with another couple of weeks waiting for it to clear.  It can take as little at 3 weeks from making to drinking, but the longer it is left to mature the better.


What equipment do I need?
If this is your first brew, you may find it easier to use a beer kit.  This has all the ingredients you need and with a small amount of equipment you can make very good ales.

Beer Kit
Bucket
Barrel / Bottles
Plastic Spoon
Hydrometer
Thermometer
Syphon
Jug
Steriliser


If you are looking to make it from scratch, you will need some extra equipment to that listed above.
Boiler
Mash Tun
Sparger (sprinkler)
Wort Chiller
Malt
Hops
Time


How do I know my beer is fermenting?
You will see lots of bubbles rising to the top, it may even form a big frothy head.


How do I know the fermentation has stopped?
2 ways. 
1 - Using a hydrometer and taking a reading over 3 consecutive days.  If the reading remains the same, then fermentation has stopped.
2 – If you don’t have a hydrometer, you need to check that no more bubbles are rising through your brew.  Best to keep checking over a few days and really stare at the top of the beer for a few minutes as the bubbles can be very small and easily missed.


What is a hydrometer?
This is used to test the Specific Gravity of a fluid.  In the case of brewing, it tells you how much sugar is in the brew.  Pure water is 1.000 (aka 1000) Specific Gravity.  The more sugar in the liquid, the higher it floats meaning a higher reading.


How much sugar should I use when bottling beer?
Use ¼ teaspoon of sugar per 500ml bottle, or 2 Carbonation Drops.  Or if bottling 40 pints of ale, lager or cider, add 2 ounces of sugar to the brew and thoroughly stir to dissolve, then bottle in the normal way.  This will mean that all of your bottles have exactly the same amount of sugar and therefore will be the same ABV%


How much sugar should I use when barrelling?
If barrelling 40 pints, add 2 ounces of sugar to the brew and thoroughly stir to dissolve.

How long is it before I can drink home made ale?
You can drink it as soon as it has finished fermenting (1 week) but it’s best to leave it 3 weeks to a month (or even longer if you can) to get the best flavour.



What is Must?
This is another name for the unbrewed brewing liquid.

What is Wort?
This is the name given to the fluid that is beer before the yeast has been added and fermented.

What are Hops?
This is a flower, that has lots of flavour, aroma and is also a natural preservative.  When boiled in the beer, it adds that distinctive bitterness.  If added at the end of fermentation, it adds lots of zesty citrus flavours.

Why won’t my beer clear?
Give it time.  It will clear.  If you want it to clear faster or give it a helping hand, then use finings.

You may have a protein haze, in which case you need to use a protein enzyme to clear the haze - if you made your beer from grain, you need to add a pectic enzyme at the cooling stage. Most brewers will use something called Irish Moss to stop the protein haze.

Can I use normal sugar from the supermarket?
Yes you can, but you will get better results using brewer’s sugar.  This dissolves quicker and the yeast can consume it easier as it is already broken down into its constituent sugars. You may also get an unwanted flavour added by supermarket sugar.
Some recipes call for demerera or muscavado sugar.
 

How do I measure how much alcohol is in my beer?
You will need to take a hydrometer reading of the wort before you add the yeast (this is called the Original Gravity (OG)), then a hydrometer reading once it had finished fermenting at the botteling stage( this is called the Final Gravity (FG)).  From these 2 readings you can work out the alcohol content of your brew using a simple calculation.

OG - FG = a
FG / 0.794 = b
1.775 - OG = c
a X 76.08 = d

d / c = y
y X b = % ABV


What bottles should I use when bottling?
You need to use bottles that are designed to hold pressure.  If you are reusing bottles, make sure they held a carbonated drink.  If you don’t have enough, you can buy new ones and we have plenty to choose from in stock.


What temperature should I keep my beer kit at while fermenting?
Follow the beer kit instructions or the recipe.  Beer will happily ferment between 16°C to 20°C, but a degree above or below shouldn’t make too much difference.


Is it safe to brew at home?
Very Safe


Is it legal to brew at home?
Yes


Can I drink it cloudy?
Yes, but it is better if you leave it to clear.


Is cloudy beer poisonous?
No.

How much yeast should I use?
Follow the instructions on the yeast.  But usually 1 teaspoon per gallon of liquid.

My brew tastes of vinegar?
Oops.   It seems that bacteria may have got into your brew.  Next time make sure you sterilise everything and don’t let any air glug through the tap into your barrel of brew.

I opened a bottle of beer and it was like champagne.
You may have put too much sugar in your brew when you bottled it or it had not finished fermenting properly.

Is beer healthy?
Depends on how you interpret healthy. Drink in moderation.

How many calories in beer?
Do you really want to know this????    Approx 180 calories per pint.

How many bottles do I need to bottle 40 pints?
If you are using 500ml bottles, then you will need approx 45 bottles.

Is tap water ok to use?
Yes, but ideally leave it for 24 hours in a covered bucket for the chlorine, etc to dissipate.


If you have any other questions, then feel free to drop us a line and we'll do our best to answer any questions you may have.

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