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Started by Hundredsand on Sep 12, 2013 10:09:05 AM
Bung an Airlock in the Demi-john

If you've got stuff brewing in the cupboard, are you doing it because it gets cheap result, or is a tasty little hobby which can cost more than buying a bottle of plonk?

djsuggz - 08 Apr 2014 21:16:10 (#81 of 663)

Instructions say to prime it, so I will be. Lovely looking silky black appearance already. Chucked a good few spoons of chocolate in there, so should be interesting to see what's fermented in a week from now.

Jinkjude - 09 Apr 2014 12:21:59 (#82 of 663)

The second lot of sugar is for secondary fermentation and carbonation . I'm surprised you've left the lid off for those 3 days. That's when I thought the pressure in the pressure barrel builds up. You need to hang on to the co2 not let it out. The beer won't be slightly carbonated and won't come out of the barrel otherwise.

djsuggz - 09 Apr 2014 12:47:09 (#83 of 663)

Fair point, I was just a bit worried about it being over-reactive or unfinished with the primary fermentation. It wasn't three days, in the end, more like half that, it was covered with a pillowcase and extra sugar went into the barrel to get it secondary fermented/carbonated, so it should be fine. Might add a smidgen more sugar, on an inspection in a few days' time, just to ensure it happens.

In retrospect it was an error (I don't know the process well enough yet) and the beer might be a little flat, but still perfectly drinkable, I'm sure.

Jinkjude - 09 Apr 2014 13:09:24 (#84 of 663)

Still drinkable DJ, but if there's not enough co2 pressure in the barrel the beer won't come out. You'll have to inject some in to get it out. For that you'll need a co2 valve on the barrel lid. I'd re-prime with more sugar, seal it with Vaseline around the seal and put it somewhere warm for a day or two while the pressure builds up. Then bung it in the garage to condition for a few months.

Hence bottling instead of headache pressure barrels...

djsuggz - 09 Apr 2014 20:36:45 (#85 of 663)

Sugar in, with a tiny amount of yeast to fire it up again a little further, and a towel over it to maintain temperature. I do have the Co2 kit, but I'll turn to that in the event of an emergency. There's litres of beer above the tap, so gravity will send it out at drinking time. This lot isn't sitting out there for months. Just a test batch, so we'll have a bash at it in a month or so.

Added some black treacle to the stout. Smelling promising.

Jinkjude - 09 Apr 2014 21:40:10 (#86 of 663)

Sorry to labour the point but gravity won't. Even if there's 20 litres above the tap. It'll let half a glass out , gurgle and that'll be your lot except for a tiny trickle.

djsuggz - 09 Apr 2014 22:35:13 (#87 of 663)

Why? That makes no sense to me. Be interested to know.

Guess if it comes to it I could siphon a jug off at time into a jug and serve it from there.

JennyRad - 09 Apr 2014 22:37:15 (#88 of 663)

A vacuum at the top of the vessel stops gravity working as well as it might. With kegs of cider I open the top of the barrel a bit to get things flowing, but that of course allows enough air in to do bad things to the longevity of the brew. (So boil-in-the-bag, I beg their pardon, bag-in-box ciders are preferable, particularly for home use, but in a festival context too.)

Jinkjude - 10 Apr 2014 15:31:10 (#89 of 663)

Pretty much what Jenny said DJ.

You could save yourself a lot of trouble later if you do it properly now. Reprime and get it sealed right away. None of this pillowcase nonsense. You shouldn't need any more yeast also. What have you got to lose?

djsuggz - 10 Apr 2014 15:43:05 (#90 of 663)

Already reprimed, sealed, and heated, as instructed and outlined above - tiny bit of yeast to generate fermentation was the only deviation from your description of what was required. Please don't refer to my occasionally misguided actions as 'nonsense', it's most discouraging, as I am simply an amateur getting to know the process as best he can; everyone goes a little off track now and again, surely? Hopefully I won't have lost anything at all.

Jinkjude - 10 Apr 2014 17:10:22 (#91 of 663)

I'm sorry for any offence caused DJ.I'm an amateur too and thought my mistakes might save you a few. The pillowcase just seemed a strange step to me. Fingers crossed for your beer!

djsuggz - 10 Apr 2014 17:17:59 (#92 of 663)

Ach, no worries. All about the sharing. I have an innate fear of my homemade grog blowing the house up whilst I'm at work!

Crossing fingers the last bit of fermentation happens and finishes off the product nicely. Will report back three weeks from tomorrow.

Meanwhile the two Country Wines are nearing the finish line. Turbo Cider into the two demijohns once the vino's bottled.

Hundredsand - 16 Apr 2014 18:38:33 (#93 of 663)

I've seen fit to decant my gallon of elderberry and consume. Needs must. Astringent, yet quaffable.

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2014 19:18:37 (#94 of 663)

My elderberry has been fermenting for a fortnight and is still going strong. Long, for a kit and dried berries.

Stout goes into sugared bottles on Friday. Looks and smells lovely.

QuaintIrene - 16 Apr 2014 19:55:39 (#95 of 663)

So about how many spoons of chocolate/treacle should you put into 5 gallons?

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2014 20:31:31 (#96 of 663)

In my case, I went for half a dozen tbsp of dark treacle and about 100g of powdered drinking chocolate. Guessed though; no recipe.

QuaintIrene - 16 Apr 2014 21:54:12 (#97 of 663)

Thanks - good to know.

axolotl - 22 Apr 2014 13:58:29 (#98 of 663)

"I have an innate fear of my homemade grog blowing the house up whilst I'm at work!"

In my experience, you have to seriously over-do it with the priming for this to happen. One year I inadvertently used double the amount of sugar I had intended to use (which was already at a level determined to give a lively carbonation).

When I was cleaning up the aftermath, it was hard to tell whether only a single bottle had exploded and destroyed a load more, or whether several had gone. In any case, it created a significant mess and caused the collapse of a shelf onto an empty carboy that was below, causing the destruction of the latter.

I've tended to be somewhat more conservative with the priming sugar ever since. These days I always bulk prime using this online calculator:;rh=ht

djsuggz - 23 Apr 2014 11:53:02 (#99 of 663)

I'm going to have a crack at some Pilsner, for my next trick.

The stout bottled fine (just plastics, it's only very gently carbonated, but pours off okay already, with a little head). D Day for the golden ale is the end of next week. If it went flat, or didn't prime properly due to my errors, I am going to try firing some CO2 into it next Friday (the end of the third 'clearing' week) and seeing if it'll pour after that (a day or two later). I figure that opening the tap at the bottom of the keg for a moment to check on its 'pourability' won't spoil it; it's going to be drunk (in ten days or so) rather than bottled, anyway.

To go back to the Pilsner plan.. do we think this is a product that should go straight into sugared bottles (i.e. direct from the primary fermentation vessel, after about ten days), or into a pressure keg in the first instance, with some CO2 then pushed through it? I could always transfer it from there to bottles if it's likelier to gain sufficient fizz in there. When I start it depends on which path I take, as I need the keg available, of course, and right now it's full of brown beer!

Opinions on the CO2/priming sugar options very much welcomed.

axolotl - 23 Apr 2014 12:18:08 (#100 of 663)

dj - Your keg - is it plastic or a stainless steel "corney" keg? Assuming the former, I think you'll be disappointed at the level of carbonation for a Pilsner. Plastic kegs only really develop enough pressure (4-5psi) for ale, and for this they're perfect. Personally I think Pilsner, or any lager-style beer, needs a bit more oomph.

For a long time now, I've bulk-primed by racking off the beer into a separate container, just to get it off the sediment, then dissolving in enough sugar for the whole batch. This is a far more accurate method than adding tiny amounts of sugar to each bottle. Even including the racking, it's probably quicker too. I ignore the priming instructions that come with the kit as they tend to assume you're using a plastic keg that won't take much pressure - the calculator I linked to in my last post gives sugar levels which will result in similar carbonation to commercial beers.

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