Home Brew #9

I can’t believe I’ve left it so long to get back to home brewing my own beer – my last batch was over a year ago!

Home brewing was a hobby which I took up back in September 2014 because I wanted to do something different, which would not only give me joy but save me some money  – it’s a fact that when I have home brew in the house, I spend far less or nothing on alcohol for home consumption. It isn’t an easy hobby but I think because of this, it’s a very satisfying one.

I only brew all-in-one premium kits, and the kit I made this time was Festival Razorback IPA.  This was probably the first kit I’ve attempted where I was a little concerned that I’d done something wrong.

After three days, fermentation still hadn’t started and I thought that I’d messed up with the water temperature, ie too hot, destroying the yeast and I dreaded the possibility of having to pour the whole lot down the drain.

Turned out it was the other way round, my kitchen was so cold that the mix had dropped to too low a temperature for the yeast to do its stuff, so as well as using a brew belt to increase the temperature, I wrapped an old winter coat round the tub and piled towels on top and that did the trick!

The kit produced 40 bottles (20 litres/35 pints) and cost £26.50.  So not accounting for the time spent doing the actual brewing, the cost of these beers work out at £0.66 per 500ml bottle or £0.76 a pint! Definitely happy hour! 🙂

Bit darker than the picture on the box!

Alcohol strength at over 5.5% is probably on the high side compared to what I usually drink but it still goes down easily! A good hoppy flavour, and this despite me not following the instructions exactly and leaving the hops in for just 4 days instead of the recommended 10 days, as I didn’t want to overdo the bitterness. From start to finish, this brew took just over 2 months before it was ready to drink and is likely to get better with time (that’s if I don’t drink them all quickly, haha!).

Obviously it’s nowhere near the quality of say BrewDog but it’s a decent beer with the important quality being that it pours with a good frothy head, which doesn’t disappear after a few minutes and which sticks to the side of the glass as you down the drink, just like a real pint you’d get in a pub! 🙂

I’ve now done 8 different beer kits and one cider kit. I had originally been planning to brew (and document) 10 different kits and then just reverting to brewing my favourites.

However, there are so many different kits out there, I may just keep going and trying new ones that catch my eye and picking up old favourites when I see them on offer.

Brewing as a Business

I can see me continuing with my brewing hobby and probably doing more of it when I no longer need to work.

Friends and colleagues have suggested that I should perhaps look into brewing as a proper business in the future (eg a microbrewery), but I’d rather not convert a hobby into a job.

Whilst it would be nice to earn money from a hobby, I just think that having deadlines and customer expectations would suck all the joy out of it. I’m happy just doing it for fun and sharing some of the fruits of my labour. My friends and colleagues are happy with the free beers they get off me but I reckon they might be a tad fussier if they had to pay!

I’ll leave the experts to rake in the profits that way!

I’ve promised a friend that I’ll do a cherry beer next – not something I would normally drink but I’ll give it a go in the next month or so.

Anyway, cheers!

16 thoughts on “Home Brew #9

  1. Despite not drinking this year, I still enjoy these posts. For some reason, your description of warming the beer reminds me of trying to raise baby chickens under an incubator light. Keep growing, beer!

    • Hi Mrs ETT

      The mad thing was that I did start talking to the beer as it was fermenting, like that would help, haha! Must have missed it, but do you still keep chickens?

  2. I’m the same. Having home made wine on the go stops me buying any and the price comparison is excellent. Another benefit / side effect is super strong wine that only takes one glass to make the stress fly out of the window but no hangover either.

    • Hi Becky

      My friends desperately want me to do home made wine, knowing that I would give it all away! Good to hear that you are not only benefiting from cost effectiveness of making your own – because I want my ‘stash’ to last as long as possible, I savour my bottles so don’t need to drink as much and yes, no hangover! 🙂

  3. We tried home brew once and got put off. Not beer as neither of us drink it, but elderflower champagne. Let’s just say it exploded!!!!

    Thankfully it was in the garage. Really ought to try again, something flat though, no bubbles! At the price you are making your home brew it’s almost a sin to buy it from the shops.

    • Hi Tuppenny

      Apparently home made champagne (and other ‘fizzy’ wines) are notorious for exploding! That’s another reason why I’ll probably continue to stick with kits where there’s at least an element of control if you stick to/close to the instructions. There are some decent wine kits available, if you fancy giving it another go. Here’s a good website I’ve purchased from on several occasions and they have both budget and premium wine brewing starter kits: http://www.home-brew-online.com

  4. Really great post! As your well aware Mr Fire will be brewing his own beer this year so I’m sure I’ll be asking you for some help (secretly of course!) He’s going to be micro-brewing.

  5. I’ve not had much luck with homebrewing. It never seemed to bubble up much and ended up always tasting soapy. Not quite sure where I was going wrong, perhaps I’ll give it another shot this summer.

    • Hey ERG

      Sorry to hear that you’re not having any luck with your homebrews.

      Apparently from the forum I checked, reasons for a ‘soapy’ taste could be:

      – Bottles/containers not being rinsed properly so still have detergent (dishwasher washed items need to be rinsed again properly)

      – The pH of the water you use for brewing could be a factor, eg too high in alkaline or too low can produce funny flavours. Some brewers I hear use only bottled mineral water for their brews, which might help if this is an issue with your tap water.

      – Time – the soapy taste might go away in time (ie a few more weeks), if you have the patience!

      – Time – leaving your beer in the primary too long with all the yeasty gunk could lead to breakdown of fatty acids causing soapy taste.

      Good luck anyway!

  6. Great post! I love the idea of home brew and have great memories of my dad making all sorts of homemade wine when I was little. My bedroom housed the cylinder cupboard so I could hear the wine in the demijohns fermenting away in the heat of that cylinder space – bubbling all night. Enjoy your WeenieBeer – it sounds delicious!

    • With all the bubbling demijohns, it must have seemed like ‘alchemy’! I too have memories of my parents brewing something (rice wine I think) – I just remember the alcoholic fumes were really strong from the airing cupboard! Thanks and cheers!

  7. Cheers Weenie!

    I’ve never tried any sort of home brewing myself, does it take up much space? I’m not sure I’d have the patience (or the space) for it. Wouldn’t rule it out entirely in the future, though I’d be more likely to try making wine than beer I think. Can you get organic kits (is that a thing?!), that would definitely appeal to me.

    Happy drinking!


    • Cheers Corinna!

      Home brewing beer does take up quite a bit of room because of the volume that is brewed – usually between 30-40 pints a go so you need a fermentation tub big enough to hold that and then either similar keg or bottles when the beer is ready so it’s storage space for that.

      Although I’ve seen organic beer kits, I’m not aware of any organic wine kits, as I think the tough part is making sure the grapes are organic and that might be too costly to just stick into a kit? But I’ll keep my eye out for them as you never know!

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