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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?

carterbrandon - 13 Sep 2013 22:07:06 (#1 of 663)

As Reggie Perrin says : "Weasel piss strained through a mouldy balaclava helmet". Having said that, being out of work I'll probably make more for cooking with, and for novelty fruit wine. I have high hopes of a tinned apple one that has been sat around for a year, which I plan to cook some pork in.

chillisauce - 14 Sep 2013 10:36:58 (#2 of 663)

Hmm. I've got loads of plums to harvest, and there's only so much plum pie a man can eat. It's been decades since I had a brew....

carterbrandon - 14 Sep 2013 12:44:07 (#3 of 663)

Plums freeze fine. Kept us in crumble all last winter.

Hundredsand - 15 Sep 2013 14:50:45 (#4 of 663)

I'm attempting blackberry wine, because I had so many berries piling up in the freezer. About 3.1 kilos with 300 grams elderberries added. It might turn out ok, or else I'm going to have a lot to sprinkle on my chips. At this point, I still think it will be drinkable.

SinnerBoy - 15 Sep 2013 14:52:35 (#5 of 663)

I've made blackberry and elderberry wine before and it turns out well, as a medium. Not so nice dry, a bit thin.

Hundredsand - 15 Sep 2013 15:08:28 (#6 of 663)

Medium is what I' m shooting for. Put it differently, this is what the hydrometer indicated. It's all new to me.

SinnerBoy - 15 Sep 2013 15:54:42 (#7 of 663)

I always worked on 4lb sugar to the gallon = sweet (or too syrupy to work!)

3lb to the gallon = medium. 2 - 2.5 lb = dry.

Of course, you may want to use grape concentrate and if you do, go for a white one, otherwise you lose all the berryish goodness.

Hundredsand - 15 Sep 2013 16:38:07 (#8 of 663)

I may have to use a non-fermentable sweetener when I rack to bottles. I used 2 kilos sugar.

djsuggz - 17 Oct 2013 16:46:59 (#9 of 663)

Just getting into this, for the first time. New gf's a fan and she's sort of given me the bug. She handles the whites and I'm on red.

Not really into the notion of big plastic bins full of the stuff - more a 5 bottles at a time with a little to taste from a Demijohn approach. Trialed my ability to do it right just by using a Wilcos red Cab Sauv kit and to my delight (and surprise) it turned out quite agreeable red wine in about 3 weeks.

I now have a second Demijohn and will shortly have a further pair of kit-based wines underway. I know you can do it from scratch with fruit, water, sugar and yeast, but I quite like the confidence of the concentrate forming the bulk of the product, and just monkeying with the taste a bit with some additionals at the stage where you fill up the Demijohn.

I have some frozen blackberries which I will pour the boiling water over tomorrow morning, together with the bottom half of my breakfast cafetiere. Let that cool and top her up once the water has cooled later on in the day.

Have found a local(ish) store that does a black cherry red wine kit, which I will have a go at in the second batch. I was going to fortify that a bit at the top-up stage with some tinned cherries (with the syrup washed off, so the extra sugar doesn't have a negative effect) and some crushed peppercorns in the boiling fill-up water. Be interested to see what comes of it.

Interested to hear of others' successes or failures, as well. I don't intend to become a pub bore on the subject, but it is rather fun.

tasselhoff - 17 Oct 2013 16:51:10 (#10 of 663)

I got into it as a teenager for beer. I even crushed my own malted barley, did my own hops and everything. The results were surprisingly good.

Hundredsand - 17 Oct 2013 18:15:50 (#11 of 663)

I'm new at this, so have already made mistakes, one of which has been straining my wine into a secondary instead of siphoning. I was slightly confused about exposing the wine to oxygen. Good for fermentation, but bad for ageing.

I've only got 1 gallon left of the blackberry, which I'd like to save for the holidays.The first gallon was welcomed and downed in a couple of days. It was medium-fruity, and drinkable despite newness. It also gave no ill effects, even after several large glassfuls. (I don't think the alcohol content was super-high, and I didn't add very much sulfite.)

The next 2 gallons I've got clearing consist of 2/5 elderberry, 2/5 white grape, & 1/5 apple; ingredients used because that's what was growing outside. I racked to secondary yesterday. It is very dry and can do with some more time in the jugs.

The next batch might be rhubarb. Been looking at recipes.

QuaintIrene - 17 Oct 2013 18:56:32 (#12 of 663)

Made a superb dry cider which was the easiest thing ever - cheap apple juice, yeast, sugar and patience.

djsuggz - 01 Nov 2013 12:26:58 (#13 of 663)


Finings and stabilisers went into the mixtures on Wednesday night. 24 hours of swooshing about and they'll now settle for nine days before bottling (need gf's help with the siphoning, otherwise it tends to kick up a load of sediment) on Sunday week, I reckon.

The blackberry and coffee-fortified wine based on a Wilko kit was the messier affair. It has a lovely dark colour and smells quite strong. The black cherry kit with tinned cherries and cracked peppercorns has a lighter colour and a very clean appearance already - smells nicer. That was a Youngs kit, from the brewing shop down the tram route from my place. I suspect I'll be using them again - the Wilko stuff is too lively to keep under control.

Trying to decide on the last two of the year. I am thinking about something more sholly and simply fruit-based. Possibly blueberry?

The other one is going to be my go at a 'Christmas wine'; going to try and create fortifying mixture that will generate a pre-spiced/mulled wine like they sell in the food court at IKEA. Cloves, orange peel, star anise, all that sort of stuff?

Hundredsand - 03 Nov 2013 02:02:34 (#14 of 663)

That the spicy Christmas wine idea sounds like it would be nice. There are loads of recipes online to get ideas from.

I have help from Mr100s to hold the siphoning tube. I think there is some sort of clip thing you can buy to hold it in place too, but buying lots of extra stuff sort of defeats the object.

Anchorman - 08 Nov 2013 17:28:17 (#15 of 663)

Rhubarb makes a lovely wine

Anchorman - 08 Nov 2013 17:28:41 (#16 of 663)

and tea wine is a bit like martini

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 12:40:11 (#17 of 663)

Quite forgot to mention I knocked up a batch of Turbo Cider, whilst in a gap in between wine kit-based experimentation.

Stormed along and was ready in a remarkable eight days. Flat, dry, tastes strong-ish, but not super undrinkable strong. 5 x 1 litre boxes of cheap apple juice, a skoosh of honey, an extra 80g of sugar and some yeast I had knocking about. Just under 6 bottles, in the end. Enjoyed the first one lightly chilled with some paella and have bottled the rest to go in the garage for a while. Discounting store cupboard ingredients and having a demijohn to hand, it works out at under 70p for a bottle (75cl).

My pre-mulled red will be going into finings/stabiliser phase tomorrow morning, so should be just about ready in another week, in time for me to get help siphoning it before nipping up to Scotland for a bit. Quite excited to see how that's turned out. Smells okay but not inspiring.

Other demijohn now has a second batch of blackberry and coffee working away in it.

Going to move into beer, next year, and treat myself to all the makings required as a 40th pressie to myself.

Other little side projects? Made a baby bottle of homemade Cointreau for the freezer, using vodka, orange peel and a dab of sugar. Have also just begun a 6-month wait for some blackberry whisky, which will be ready for Summer cocktails next year.

All good fun, still.

Anchorman - 19 Nov 2013 12:47:38 (#18 of 663)

Sounds like we all need an invite to your house!

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 13:04:47 (#19 of 663)

Heh heh - yes, indeed.

Am planning an early-Summer bash at my place, next year, at which I intend to supply all of the drinks, made by my own methods (apart from mixers, of course).

My ciders, my beers, gf's ciders, white and fruit wines, my reds and a skoosh of played-around-with spirits if anyone's feeling brave enough!

Anchorman - 19 Nov 2013 19:35:45 (#20 of 663)

Have you ever made Cider direct from apples rather than from bought apple juice. If so was it any good and was it a pain to do.

I've got access to tons of free apples!

djsuggz - 19 Nov 2013 21:38:49 (#21 of 663)

Nah, don't really have the patience to do that, or a press or similar kit. My partner is finishing off some apple-based wine at the moment though, so I'll report in on how that goes.

Does anyone have a view on the best beer kits to buy? Am moving on to brewing next year.

Antimatter - 23 Nov 2013 02:01:17 (#22 of 663)

We have made a Corona style beer, and an Irish Cream style beer with great results. The only thing I would say is to leave it a week longer than they tell you to before drinking, it really makes a difference. And wit the Irish Cream style, if you are doing the final fermentation in the bottle, make sure to measure the sugar quantities accurately.

I am looking into possibly getting a Kegorator for MrA for Christmas. That could be fun.

SinnerBoy - 25 Nov 2013 20:39:23 (#23 of 663)

Anchorman - 1

Have you ever made Cider direct from apples rather than from bought apple juice.

Yes, many times.

If so was it any good

Yes; a tip if it gets too dry is 2 teaspoons of glycerine per litre.

and was it a pain to do.

Get a meat mallet to bash the apples up. Otherwise, you have to chop them up and try to mash them against the side of the bucket. With a rolling pin, or similar. Very tiring.

Anchorman - 25 Nov 2013 21:34:04 (#24 of 663)

Interesting. How long does it take for the initial fermentation?

SinnerBoy - 26 Nov 2013 15:14:49 (#25 of 663)

About 3 weeks before siphoning it off into bottles.

djsuggz - 26 Nov 2013 15:33:23 (#26 of 663)

Final two inventions of the year are slowing down and will be getting finings and stablisers added in the next 24 hours, before I head up to Scotland for a few days. The pre-mulled 'Christmas Cracker' has fermented for ages (and smells really nice), but the second run of 'Black Coffee' has come together in little more than a week. Bottling in another ten days or so, I reckon.

Two further subjects for conversation?

1) Once these two wines are stowed away in bottles, I will have two empty demijohns (once cleaned) and enough time to make some more Turbo drinks before Christmas (might make a gift of a bottle or two). Do we think that the same approach as one took to Turbo Cider (apple juice and wine yeast - 8 days) might work with orange juice? Surely the cheap stuff has a lot of sugar in it; might that work?

2) Anyone got any recommendations on corks? I am ditching the packet from Wilco. You soak them, use a hand corker to press them in, and they then dry out in the top of the bottle only to crumble annoyingly when you try and open the wine, necessitating passing it through a tea strainer into a carafe. Bit of a faff.

Have eBay'd for a packet of straight corks from a brewing shop, as it says they will go in dry, but if anyone's used some that definitely work properly, I'd like to know about it.

djsuggz - 26 Nov 2013 16:04:03 (#27 of 663)

Hmm.. one or two online forums indicate that a 50% orange juice and apple juice mix works.

I reckon I'll have a go at that in one, and a 'spiced' straight apple Turbo Cider in the other one.

Shabbyman - 26 Nov 2013 16:15:24 (#28 of 663)

I did well with orange/grape juice a while back using 5l water bottles to ferment in. It's definitely bottle aging that makes the difference, and storage on their sides is supposed to keep the corks from drying out.

OneOfOne - 26 Nov 2013 16:32:28 (#29 of 663)

Mr Ron our superannuated brewdog swears by a scottish heavy kit, it comes out looking like brown ale, and tastes like it too. Not bad at all.

This keeps his throat wet, drinking a good two or three pints any night - he has a couple of brew barrels and a couple of pressure kegs to store/dispense it and that keeps him going.

carterbrandon - 26 Nov 2013 22:25:17 (#30 of 663)

Mr Ron

This is the voice...

Piscineaste - 26 Nov 2013 22:34:17 (#31 of 663)

Suggzy - just found this thread. If you want a brewing kit, go to these guys:

(Disclaimer - the guy who runs it is a good mate of mine).

You're not in ThatLondon, are you? Only the Craft Beer Co in Islington runs a very good homebrew club. Your local CAMRA branch should be able to point you in the direction of something similar.

djsuggz - 27 Nov 2013 11:47:12 (#32 of 663)

Thanks for all that Pisci

I'll have a look at your mate's site when it comes to buying all the stuff I need in the New year. I had one equipment set in mind that seemd to do everything, but can cheerfully have my mind changed.

A club? Hmm, possibly. As with most things, I would want to be able to lay claim to a certain level of proficieny before I went out to talk about it at a club. I am Captain Amateur in almost every aspect of life...

Post deleted by user
Hundredsand - 03 Dec 2013 17:34:12 (#34 of 663)

Noticed a bit going greenish around one of my demijohn bungs. On removal, there was small amount of liquid trapped between top of bottle neck and bung smelled vinegar. Sort of concerned it getting into the wine, so decided to rack off into bottles and a few Kilner jars. Gave some to friends with instructions to drink soon. Got favourable comments.

The wine was fine. Dry. Lovely colour. Made with 2/5 white grapes, 2/5 elderberries, and 1/5 apples, plus addition of blackberry jam.

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2013 17:41:04 (#35 of 663)

Jam. Now there's a notion. Hmmm.

Full of enthusiasm for home booze projects, right now, following a first visit to gf's parents up in Scotland. They're veterans of country wine making, cider making and twiddled vodkas, gins and whiskies. Nice people, they brought me an early Christmas present in the form of the book 'Drink Your Own Garden'. Out of print these days but it's nicely pitched for know-nowts like me.

Hundredsand - 03 Dec 2013 18:33:11 (#36 of 663)

My own homemade jam.

SinnerBoy - 09 Dec 2013 17:18:41 (#37 of 663)

Hundredsand -

The wine was fine. Dry. Lovely colour. Made with 2/5 white grapes, 2/5 elderberries, and 1/5 apples, plus addition of blackberry jam.

Did you add pectolase? The jam will contain pectin and make the product cloudy.

Hundredsand - 09 Dec 2013 17:26:05 (#38 of 663)

Yes, I added pectolase. However, the jam contained no pectin. I made it using plenty of sugar, that's all. The wine is crystal clear and a beautiful colour.

SinnerBoy - 09 Dec 2013 18:03:10 (#39 of 663)

It may not have been on the list of ingredients, but it will have had pectin. It's often included under the guise of mixed fruit, ie plums.

Hundredsand - 09 Dec 2013 18:16:36 (#40 of 663)

Fruit skin contains natural pectin, I guess. Commercial jam has it added, so they can use less fruit and sugar to make bigger profit.

These days, commercial jam tends to go off more quickly because of the addition of pectin, which is why I just use plenty of sugar in my homemade jam.

I put pectolase into my wine must the day before adding yeast, or something like.

SinnerBoy - 10 Dec 2013 16:01:21 (#41 of 663)

These days, commercial jam tends to go off more quickly because of the addition of pectin, which is why I just use plenty of sugar in my homemade jam.

Pectin's simply a naturally occurring carbohydrate polymer, found in some fruits. In the past, the plum growing industry in Britain did very well, as plums contain a large percentage of pectin.

It used to be that plums could be added to jam, labelled as strawberry, raspberry etc. EU rules changed that and said that such jam could only be sold as mixed fruit jam.

As far as I'm aware, most jams have the same % of sugar as they ever did, but less, or no artificial preservatives, which could account for them going mouldy. For what it's worth, I can remember jam, home-made and commercial, going mouldy from a very young age.

Tomnoddy - 10 Dec 2013 16:29:12 (#42 of 663)

Gin sitting in a demijohn and three Kilner jars over sloes. This should keep us in sloe gin from next summer for a couple of years at least.

The downside of a very good year for sloes is the cost of 4 litres of cheap gin. The upside is over a gallon of sloe gin :0)

djsuggz - 14 Jan 2014 21:03:29 (#43 of 663)

2014 update.

The pre-mulled effort went down very well at Christmas. I'll do that again, but the blackberry and coffee effort remains my strongest concoction to date, I think.

Three things on the go at the moment:

1/ A straight out, two-bucket one-week kit my mate bought me. Smells a bit synthetic and is taking longer than a week due to lack of consistent temperatures in Winter.

2/ A Cab Sauvignon flavoured by steeped dark chocolate and Serrano chillis. Experimental, that one. Feel it ought to work.

3/ A Chardonnay that will have lime, lemon, lemon grass and ginger in the cooled top-up water.

Antimatter - 15 Jan 2014 01:55:50 (#44 of 663)

We get a very good Barolo kit here, which includes a pack of dried Elderberries, might be worth considering.

We don't have Demi-Johns here, we have Carboys. Larger basically. Makes about 30 bottles at a time. I find that the cheaper packs of grape juice work fine, the extra you pay for expensive kits just isn't worth it. We just mix it all up, sling it in the furnace room and two weeks later reap the harvest.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 08:24:42 (#45 of 663)

Yeah, when I get the brewing kit I have lined-up for purchase for my birthday, it comes with a substantial fermentation vessel that you use before you pipe it off into a pressure barrel.

What I might do is buy a second such bucket (Carboy) and do something similar when I go away for a couple of weeks in the Summer. Leave it (a big kit's worth) a fortnight to ferment, then on returning home siphon it out into the other one and add finings etc. then let it settle. Could be a good route to a decent but cheap supply of everyday drinking red.

Jinkjude - 15 Jan 2014 14:45:01 (#46 of 663)

I'm currently waiting for 80 pints to condition in barrels. I think they're still months away sadly. I'm keen to do the hops thing this year too.

Rhubarb wine sounds great...we have plenty of rhubarb twice a year here.

OneOfOne - 15 Jan 2014 15:12:33 (#47 of 663)

We're going to set old Gaffer Ron up as our local brewer. We drink enough of his beer as it is, so we decided to buy a pressure vessel and install it in the poker house.

Ron will do us brews and fill it up when it's empty, and we will have a cash box for 50p a pint to cover his costs.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 15:57:51 (#48 of 663)

On reflection, I think I might do a cheeky Wilcos order before I get my brewing kit.

One can get a screw-lid, airlocked fermentation vessel for 25l of fluid, plus a Merlot 30-bottle kit for a smidge under £30 total. So, £1 per bottle (give or take a few pence for sugar) and I could get it done and squirreled away in the garage for later in the year before I turn my attention to brewing experiments.

I'm really enjoying this hobby. Can you tell?

Hundredsand - 15 Jan 2014 16:13:09 (#49 of 663)

I've got to shell out for some bottles. Earlier experiments I used plastic drinks bottles to store my wine, but it seems so hillbilly.

From what I read on the internet, there isn't much wrong with it if you plan to drink your vino within a few months. I've got some elderberry which I am assured benefits from aging.

Jinkjude - 15 Jan 2014 17:00:30 (#50 of 663)

I've been stockpiling screw top wine bottles in anticipation.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 18:41:38 (#51 of 663)

I think I might store my 'house red' thirty bottle stash in used plastic 2 litre water bottles. Can't hurt. Will save the bottles for my more 'artisan' efforts. Paying for bottles makes it a more expensive exercise.

carterbrandon - 15 Jan 2014 22:06:41 (#52 of 663)

Where my sister lives (the little town near Vancouver where they film Once Upon A Time), there's this place

where you can use their equipment to make big batches of your own. Beats having a demijohn blow up in your airing cupboard....

djsuggz - 16 Jan 2014 21:37:05 (#53 of 663)

Got the big kit this evening. Quite excited. 25 litres of water weighs a shitload, mind. Fermentation vessel full of it, with sterilising tablets. Setting it off tomorrow evening. Have to siphon the cleaner out first, as there's no way I can lift it up to the sink to empty it. Went for Wilcos 'Spicy Cab Sauvignon'. It works out at 90 x 250ml glasses at about 45p per glass. Extraordinary value, if it's even half drinkable. One of the best things about this stuff is it's always a sensible ABV level. I've become sick of the constant supply of 14% stuff in the shops. Too strong and sickly by far.

Elsewhere, the Hot Chocolate Drop and Thai Chardonnay are going great guns. The bucket kit is probably three days from being fined and cleared. Added a drop more yeast as the hydrometer indicates it isn't quite into the safe level yet.

Antimatter - 19 Jan 2014 20:01:57 (#54 of 663)

It really is good value, and I agree with you about the sticky stuff.

The thing with glass bottles is you only buy them the once. We store the empties in plastic crates in the garage. When it comes to bottling time, they just get a blast from the garden hose.

We do all our brewing in the garage, the primary fermentation gets done in the furnace room where it's nice and warm. MrA has also rigged up a stirrer attached to an old electric drill to speed up the stirring process.

It's quite the set up down there, at times it resembles a scene from Breaking Bad.

djsuggz - 20 Jan 2014 16:22:56 (#55 of 663)

We do all our brewing in the garage, the primary fermentation gets done in the furnace room where it's nice and warm

Reading this back, I am wondering if it could prove to be the answer to a problem I am having with the Big Kit.

Set it all going on Friday evening - 23 litres, in a screw-top fermentation vessel with an airlock and bung.

Gave it a stir at one point, as the instructions on the kit indicated 3.5 kg of sugar to go in, and it takes some mixing. Nice fermenting froth developed - probably 2/3 of an inch thick? However, no sign of any CO2 going through the airlock, as of this morning. We sealed both the screw top and the bung with vaseline yesterday afternoon, but that didn't do anything.

Does it just take longer for a larger vessel to emit sufficient gas to shift through the water in the airlock?

I thought it could be a regular temperature problem, given the amount of fluid that needs to be at the right temperature. It was by a radiator anyway, but heating only comes on twice a day - a total of 5/6 hours in every 24. Left it on constant this morning to try and warm up that part of the house, to see if that starts it. If it does, I can transfer it to a continuously warm bathroom downstairs, where my demijohns speed through in a week or so.

Any ideas, anyone? I'm slightly suspicious about the amount of year in the packet. if you do 4.5 litres, they give you 6g. This is 23 litres, and it was only 12g. More yeast needed?

Thought welcomed. I don't want to just have £££ of grape juice sat in the kitchen for the Winter!

OneOfOne - 20 Jan 2014 17:01:57 (#56 of 663)

I had a heating belt on my bigger vessels.

And yes, I think it will just take a wee bit longer to get going. The more air you have at the top of the thingy, the more CO2 you'll need to get before there's enough pressure to bloop through the airlock.

MOAR yeast, why the hell not. Won't hurt anything.

Hundredsand - 20 Jan 2014 17:53:40 (#57 of 663)

More yeast and yeast nutrient.

Antimatter - 21 Jan 2014 22:20:15 (#58 of 663)

The larger ones do take longer to get started. We have had ones that were slow to get started before now, but they have always turned out alright in the end.

Antimatter - 21 Jan 2014 22:21:13 (#59 of 663)

Come to think of it, when we brewed in the UK we used a heating jacket as our house was extremely cold.

djsuggz - 22 Jan 2014 08:40:42 (#60 of 663)

Chucked yeast and yeast nutrient in last night and gave it a stir. Tea towels over it, sat it by the radiator and now off overseas for five days. Fingers crossed it's cooking nicely when I get home.

Antimatter - 29 Jan 2014 01:23:56 (#61 of 663)

Hope you have a great trip! Found an interesting thing in our local co-op, it's a litre of beer, you just have to add the yeast and leave it somewhere warm. Within a couple of weeks, it ferments and produces a bottle of beer for $5. Looks good so far.

Jinkjude - 12 Feb 2014 12:08:52 (#62 of 663)

I've come to my pressure barrel after a couple of months beer conditioning and it's totally flat. Re-primed and once again the barrel has lost all pressure (after new cap/seals). Is the beer finished? It's been in there since before Christmas....

Shabbyman - 12 Feb 2014 12:30:39 (#63 of 663)

You could bottle it. Check the sg and reprime if necessary. It may not have undergone secondary fermentation at all yet.

Jinkjude - 12 Feb 2014 15:10:26 (#64 of 663)

It's got to be worth a try hasn't it. Thanks.

djsuggz - 12 Feb 2014 16:15:20 (#65 of 663)

I owe you all an update or two, I think?

The two-bucket kit turned out a rather sweet red Cab Sauv. Not undrinkable, far from it, but needs to sit for a while in the garage and think about it. Might become the sort of thing you'd roll out with a rich choc dessert at a dinner party.

The Thai Chardonnay is the second best wine I have made so far (the first 'Black Coffee' red was as good as anything you'd buy in a supermarket, and much more interesting). Genuine notes of lemon, lime, lemon grass an ginger running through it. Nice at room temperature, but a blasting mouthful once chilled down. My Mum's up and visiting in a couple of weeks and she'll love it.

Finally my 'Hot Chocolate drop'. Is fine, and not uninteresting because it has a really good hot and just slightly sweet chilli taste, but it didn't really draw up the dark chocolate so much. Another one to leave on the rack for a few weeks, I think.

The big fermenting vessel of House Red Wine has certainly appeared to ferment (layer of bubbles an inch thick at times), but never troubled the airlock for bubbles. Preumably the gas just leaked out over time? Going to siphon off a deep jugful on Friday night and test the strength with the hydrometer. If it's not 'done', I figure it's time to go back next to the radiator, cover it with a blanket or three and pitch in some fresh yeat and nutrient and try and get it to come on a bit more. Then decant into a fresh vessel, fine/stabilise and leave it for a month?

Gotout - 12 Feb 2014 16:18:04 (#66 of 663)

If your pressure barrel goes flat then there's a danger of getting a wild yeast in. That will give you several gallons of poor quality vinegar.

Taste it, if it's not vinegar then restart the fermentation (as shabbyman said).

Jinkjude - 12 Feb 2014 18:50:04 (#67 of 663)

It's not sour but I did think it might have gone off. It tastes a bit 'young' that's all.

Hundredsand - 12 Feb 2014 22:08:02 (#68 of 663)

Really pleased with a batch of wine I started beginning November, made with fruits I had in the freezer and a carton of grape juice. Best batch so far in terms of balance, but still quite different from anything I've ever bought commercially.

Hundredsand - 16 Feb 2014 15:35:39 (#69 of 663)

djsuggz - 16 Feb 2014 17:15:49 (#70 of 663)

Happily, the big 23 litre vat I had been so worried about is fully cooked! Fined and stabilised it on Friday. Decant to second bin next weekend, then into bottles with it!

That and some cider at home finishing off, then a bit of a pause during my two dry months. However next Friday I order my brewing kit, so the intention is to make the first batch during the last three weeks of April to have it ready for my glorious return to the sauce in May.

There's another project that comes to fruition in May, as well. My blackberry whisky will have been rumbling away for six months by then. Time to filter it through some muslin and into a bottle.

djsuggz - 15 Mar 2014 09:42:50 (#71 of 663)

Two weeks into my dry two months of the year, so booze creation is on hold. Start my first batch of beer on April 6th, so it'll be ready in time for hols on 3rd May. Kit all here, quite excited about the prospect.

My missus drank half a bottle of my Hot Chocolate Drop last night. When it came out, three months ago, it was too much chilli and too little chocolate and vanilla, but judging by my nose and her tasting it's smoothed out splendidly. Proof that letting these things stand awhile is the way ahead.

Look forward to getting started again in a few weeks from now. Another project will be cherry brandy (a litre thereof); partly to make miniatures as Christmas gifts for people, and a little bit for my cupboard. Herself's elderly Grandmother has a couple of cherry trees outside her front door, so will raid them in a couple of months or so.

Next wine project will be an elderberry red, I think. Maybe a strawberry one as well; a couple of fake 'Country wines' to be drunk chilled with a bit of soda water on hot evenings in the Summer. Probably go well with salads.

Hundredsand - 15 Mar 2014 10:32:05 (#72 of 663)

Yeah, if the fruit wines are a bit, well, too fruity and strong, there is the option to add some fizzy water. :)

Shabbyman - 15 Mar 2014 11:11:14 (#73 of 663)

Pleased to hear that, dj. Unless you've been reckless these things can be remarkably resilient.

djsuggz - 02 Apr 2014 15:06:40 (#74 of 663)

Time for an update. I like it when this thread trickles along a bit.

Still on the wagon myself, until 2nd May, but decided to start on the three projects, to maximise their quality and clarity in time for a bit of a family visitation in the following week.

We're into phase two with the two 'enhanced' Country Wines - the elderberry got topped up with boiled water, that I allowed to cool all day over a packet of dried elderberries. The same operation with the strawberry, although this time it was strawberries coming from a tin of syrup that went into the boiling, cooling, 'top up' water, so very sweet strawberry taste for a bit more voltage oomph. Fermentation went a bit crazy, initially, gouting out of the top of the demijohn, but they're now bubbling away quite sweetly. Should be into the fining and stabilising stage in another week.

Very excited about my first pale ale. It's in the initial vessel in the kitchen, as it's lovely and warm up there just now. Three days in, and it's come on in leaps and bounds. Popped the lid a couple of times to release some CO2 (the airlock is rubbish), and the smell of it is just divine. Should be able to rack it into the pressure keg with a bit of sugar by the end of the weekend, and then able to give it four whole weeks to cool and to clear before we attack it. Most excited. It's one of the kits from the St. Peters Brewery range; the first on the list here:

Delightful caramel and hoppy aroma. Lovely colour developing. Hope it works out well. For the price I paid for the kit, it'll be 64p per pint.

Bit more turbo cider once the wines are done, I think. Start to up the stocks for a barbecue in August. Might pop a bit of peach juice in one of them, along with the apple?

moto748 - 02 Apr 2014 15:15:02 (#75 of 663)

I've tried pressurised barrels of various types for beer in the past, but I came to the conclusion that you can't beat bottles and crown tops, and the faffing around sterilising bottles and siphoning is worth it. Plus, if you fuck up a bottle, you do just that, fuck up one bottle. If you fuck up a barrel...

djsuggz - 02 Apr 2014 16:03:22 (#76 of 663)

It won't be hanging around that long, moto. Four of us will get through that in 3/4 days, after some labour in the garden in the daytime, plus my pressure barrel is new and will be sterilised inside out and upside down for the cooling and clearing phase. Take your point, though. Certainly when I make pilsner this Spring/Summer and then stout, I shall be bottling them, and getting a capper to do it, too. Keeping the stuff under suitable control (effervescence-wise) sounds to me like the only thing that would make bottling tricky. Although if you attempt to do the filling over a sterilised bucket, you could always then pour the 'drip tray' gathered there into a glass and reward yourself with a pint!

moto748 - 02 Apr 2014 17:17:26 (#77 of 663)

Well after the last time I made beer, I vowed that the next time I did, it would stay in the bottles for a minimum of six months. And, to my mind, it is worth it.

djsuggz - 02 Apr 2014 23:51:20 (#78 of 663)

No doubt. I shall be trying a few different ones, as time goes on, and will bottle a few for keeping each time, I imagine.

Jinkjude - 07 Apr 2014 17:56:39 (#79 of 663)

Both my new pressure barrels didn't hold . I ended up bottling after all so I'm with moto. I'll probably half and half it next time. DJ, the St Peters Ruby kit is knockout. Even after all the arsing about repriming I gave it.

djsuggz - 08 Apr 2014 15:29:39 (#80 of 663)

2.5oz sugar mixed into the pressure kegful of St. Peters Golden Ale (to finish it, or whatever is supposed to happen in the final 3 weeks or so). Left in the house for 36 hours with the lid off and a tea towel over it for any last Co2 to finds its way out, and now has the screw lid on and in the garage for another three weeks or so to cool and clear and whatnot. Excited. Still smells lush.

Stout, next. 23 litres going on tonight. Might add a bit of dark chocolate to the top-up water. This will go from one fermenting bucket to another (after about ten days) with a screw-in airlock in the top (the same thing I used to make the mega vat of House Red Wine). From there it'll be going into the garage to cool and clear and then into bottles. Some priming sugar, or not, do we think?

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.

Hundredsand - 23 Apr 2014 12:20:27 (#101 of 663)

Yay! 101 posts!

djsuggz - 23 Apr 2014 12:58:44 (#102 of 663)

Excellent advice there, ax. Thanks very much, I shall go with that plan, as, yes, my keg is indeed one of the plastic jobs (I'm dead tempted to fire some CO2 into that golden ale, now you've said that) so I think I'll be using it for the odd 'drink now' brown beer.

I have two fermentation vessels that ideal for using your method for a bulk prime. I think I might mix some malt in with the initial sugar, too, as I read that tends to get nice results with yellow beer.

Quite excited now. Off to buy the kit shortly!

djsuggz - 23 Apr 2014 15:39:30 (#103 of 663)

Got my stuff, and Ms deej is sterilising the fermenter for me this afternoon. Got a little extra yeast and some malt to go in with the sugar, just to try something new. Pilsner ahoy!

axolotl - 24 Apr 2014 10:09:02 (#104 of 663)

Any time, DJ. I've not used dried malt or dextrose for priming but I guess it's probably better for the flavour than using'll be interesting if it's possible to taste the difference though, in view of the small quantities involved.

djsuggz - 24 Apr 2014 10:32:16 (#105 of 663)

Aha, actually the spray malt's a replacement for the sugar in the first phase of fermentation (with some extra sugar (granulated, ordinary table sugar) and yeast thrown in just to pump it up a bit. Set it off last night and there's a hearty foam on there already, so all going well. I need 85g of sugar for priming the lot in one go before bottling up next weekend. I'm just idly thinking about lobbing something else in there for flavour whilst the main ferment is going on, but I'm a bit low on ideas. I might try a Wilco Cerveza kit another time and pop some lime shavings in.

axolotl - 24 Apr 2014 10:38:00 (#106 of 663)

Ahh, I see. Spray malt is a *vast* improvement on granulated sugar for the main fermentation. I find sugar tends to give a rather sharp taste - not exactly what you want.

As for beer additions, have you tried adding a sprinkling of dried elderflowers? Just the lightest sprinkling though - if you overdo it the beer will not be drinkable....I speak from experience here.

djsuggz - 24 Apr 2014 10:41:56 (#107 of 663)

Might pop into the brewing place on my way home and see what they have, if I can skip out of work early enough. Only 24h in by the time I get home, so I could still screw with the brew a bit, for sure. Elderflowers is a good call.

Antimatter - 04 May 2014 00:34:11 (#108 of 663)

Blueberry beer is made here on The Island, very delicate and lovely flavour, we also have a honey wheat beer which goes down well.

Our local wine kit supplier has been trying to ship some old stock of the expensive wine kits at the same price that we usually pay for the cheap kits. These have about twice the amount of juice and are a 5 week fermentation. The first one has just been bottled and it is very good indeed, it was a red Zinfandel and included in the kit was a sock of grape skins which we had to prod everyday. Will try and keep a couple of bottles back to see how it improves with age.

Regarding the amount of fizz in your Pilsner, it's important to understand the factors that affect carbonation. These are: Change in temperature, change in pressure (it's why a good pint of Guinness is so hard to pour), agitation and the presence of undissolved particles (i.e. sugar, contamination of bottles etc). Bearing this in mind, it's likely best to to do the final fermentation the bottle. The thought occurs to me though that by using sugar you are effectively introducing undissolved particles, so maybe it would be better to use sugar syrup? and use a burette for accurate measuring? MrA did an excellent Irish Cream ale but accidentally put twice the amount of required sugar in it. The only way to pour it was to put the bottle and the glass in the deep freeze 20 minutes before you wanted to pour it.

axolotl - 05 May 2014 21:16:37 (#109 of 663)

"Will try and keep a couple of bottles back to see how it improves with age."

I always seem to struggle with this bit.

"The thought occurs to me though that by using sugar you are effectively introducing undissolved particles, so maybe it would be better to use sugar syrup?"

Experience suggests they don't stay undissolved for very long. In any case, if you bulk prime and dissolve sugar in small amount of beer before stirring it back into the bulk, this would be basically the same as using a sugar syrup.

Antimatter - 07 May 2014 01:11:25 (#110 of 663)

"if you bulk prime and dissolve sugar in small amount of beer before stirring it back into the bulk, this would be basically the same as using a sugar syrup".

Totally agree with that.

"Experience suggests they don't stay undissolved for very long".

True, but it doesn't take long to displace CO2, I have seen glasses of champagne rendered completely flat within moments of pouring because the wrong detergent was being used in the dishwasher.

I did manage to keep two bottles back from the last batch, MrA bottling up posh kit White Zinfandel at the moment, so far it tastes far too sweet, I am expecting full on diabetes by the end of the week.

djsuggz - 07 May 2014 11:15:24 (#111 of 663)


Golden ale stayed perfectly nicely carbonated in the keg, despite my early error. Pressure's dropped a couple of times, but we corrected that by opening the top a smidgen. Drunk about 2/3 of it now, so will leave the rest to my Dad. Smooth, lovely head on it, plenty of depth in the taste. Will try the stronger Pale kit next.

Country wines. Elderberry quite drinkable now, but have put five down in the garage for a few months. Strawberry is harder work. Chilled and mixed with some fizzy water it's nicer. Will haul it out again in the Summer months.

Chocolate and treacle stout is getting its first run out tonight (just a couple of pints, as we are off early to Dublin in the morning, appropriately).

Herself is making some some rose from a Wilco kit. I am making a small bucket of spinach white (well, green), which absolutely stinks to high heaven just now.

Ordinaire turbo cider is on the go, together with a blueberry version.

Pilsner 1.0 was mass-primed and is now working away in plastic 2 litre bottles for a few weeks.

Finally, I am about to start a cerveza kit. 4 cut limes going into the fermenting vessel (20 litres) and at the bottling stage, after mass priming, I shall be putting a double tequila into the bottom of each 2 litre bottle, to make a home-styled Desperado.

All go, here! Loving it.

OneOfOne - 07 May 2014 11:16:47 (#112 of 663)

By Jove, you're industrious!

I managed a couple brews of cider back in the student days.

djsuggz - 07 May 2014 11:33:10 (#113 of 663)

Have a wee tootle up this way with the missus, some time this Summer, Oners? We'll go and watch herself on the stage in something, then attack my cellar.

OneOfOne - 07 May 2014 11:59:42 (#114 of 663)

This would be nice, but herself's annual leave is already pretty depleted, and it's a bit of a road-heavy mission if we only have Saturday and Sunday to do it in.

Yous would be most welcome chez nous, we've upgraded the spare room, real bed and everything!

NZChris - 07 May 2014 13:02:51 (#115 of 663)

I've made cider from apples many times Anchorman. It's relatively easy, but do I just happen to have a heavy duty juicer to do it.

We used it to turn an overgrown crop of carrots into a demi-john of must tonight. We should be sampling our first taste of Carrot Whiskey in a couple of weeks.

OneOfOne - 07 May 2014 13:09:25 (#116 of 663)

Serious? I salute your indefatiguability.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone making hard liquor out of carrots (although not so different from potato vodka now I think of it)

axolotl - 07 May 2014 13:30:18 (#117 of 663)

dj - impressive work - you're an example to us all.

The other day we opened a bottle of cyment that's been laid down for the last three years. (Cyment is a medieval brew made with juice for apples and grapes, plus some honey to boost the fermentable sugar). It wasn't bad but definitely wasn't worth waiting three years for. Dry, quite a light flavour, with a noticeable honey tang. It was and interesting exercise to make it but I don't think I'll bother again. It's not nearly as good as the mead I made.

djsuggz - 07 May 2014 14:12:04 (#118 of 663)

I looked at a mead recipe the other day in my 'Drink Your Garden' book that the in-laws bought me for Christmas. Very tempting.

I didn't mention that my blackberry whisky turned out rather well. Just basic horrid Tesco blended scotch, but six months of blackberries and sugar softened it beautifully well.

I have plans for a cherry brandy, once I get over to Worcestershire to nab some straight off the tree.

djsuggz - 07 May 2014 18:37:19 (#119 of 663)

Sorry to brag, but we just broached the choc and treacle stout. A satisfying hiss from the bottle and out came two beautiful pints. Slick, smoky and full of treacle sweetness. Just cracking.

NZChris - 08 May 2014 03:24:57 (#120 of 663)

Google Joe's Ancient Orange Mead. It is a really easy, no fuss method. I've finished and bottled two Demis already and they are both really nice. Got given some more honey, so there are another five bubbling now.

I'd never heard of carrot whiskey until a few days ago. I had spare carrots and demis, so why not give it a try.

Antimatter - 08 May 2014 03:35:40 (#121 of 663)

My mum used to make carrot whiskey, said it was awesome. I will Google that Joe's Mead recipe, I have a yen to give it a go using Maple Syrup.

OneOfOne - 08 May 2014 06:48:19 (#122 of 663)

Hmm, I wonder if the home-brewing would be compatible with my being away for three weeks at a time. If I get it right, it might just be...

NZChris - 08 May 2014 12:15:00 (#123 of 663)

Very compatible. With a lot of methods, fiddling with them during the first few weeks causes problems. If your brew is undisturbed and oxygen is not available to it, it'll wait patiently for you to get around to doing your next bit and probably finish better than if you had rushed it.

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axolotl - 08 May 2014 12:22:21 (#125 of 663)

Re: Cider. I take my apples to an annual cider party run by a friend with a cider press. 10-15 of us usually attend and we typically end up with a demijon of juice each.

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inandout - 08 May 2014 12:24:54 (#127 of 663)

My mate improvised his press fairly simply from a couple of thick sheets of ply and 4 large G-Clamps.

NZChris - 08 May 2014 12:25:17 (#128 of 663)

I do have a garden shredder. It needs to be attacked with a grinder and a hammer to fit apples through it and that will happen one year, but probably not this year. I also have a reasonable sized wine press that I could use. Pressed 80kg of grapes to make Cognac and then grappa this season.

axolotl - 08 May 2014 12:31:38 (#129 of 663)

To be honest, having used a proper cider press as well as a home juicer, I'd highly recommend the former. It's a fairly significant investment but it produces lots of good quality juice from a given quantity of apples.

NZChris - 08 May 2014 12:32:58 (#130 of 663)

Watched a TV doco on cider making a few months ago. The reckoned they had been making cider the same way for several hundred years. Camera then pans to a guy tossing apples into a garden shredder the same as the one my Dad gave me.

NZChris - 08 May 2014 12:39:59 (#131 of 663)

My juicer is a bit better than your average home juicer. It's good for the 25l I usually do, but to do a 400kg bin like I was just offered, it just isn't an option.

Jinkjude - 08 May 2014 12:48:38 (#132 of 663)

Good news on your successes DJ!

I'm about to start on a St Peters IPA and as we've a glut, rhubarb wine.

This recipe probably...

Ricolas - 08 May 2014 13:17:01 (#133 of 663)

Very impressed by the hard work going on by people on this thread. And as for boasting? Go right ahead. I, for one, am bloody amazed.

Seems like a lot of hard work though, so I will not start again myself just yet!

axolotl - 08 May 2014 14:00:43 (#134 of 663)

"The reckoned they had been making cider the same way for several hundred years. Camera then pans to a guy tossing apples into a garden shredder the same as the one my Dad gave me."

I'm fairly certain they didn't have garden shredders several hundred years ago ;)

That said, I think some form of shredder would be useful, even if you do have a press - the press works much better if the apples are pre-pulped.

djsuggz - 06 Jun 2014 00:10:38 (#135 of 663)

Busy times, here. Currently on the go:

Demijohns of Black Coffee red, elderflower and raspberry white, rose, turbo cider, Thai Chardonnay, and Spinach white (smells, er, interesting.. needs plenty of time).

23 litre bins of Pilsner (first batch was sharp and delicious), apple and pomegranate cider (some to to be fizzed, some to say flat) and Wilko's deep red Merlot.

Just another pressure keg's worth of strong pale to go and we'll be all set for the Summer BBQ in August (doubles as a housewarming for my missus).

Loving it. Fruit and veg wines from scratch, come the Autumn.

NZChris - 07 Jun 2014 10:20:40 (#136 of 663)

It's good to see someone's busy. Very quiet at this end of the planet. The main fruits are all done and bottled or distilled and aging. I do have bit of sugar cane if I want to have a go at a small batch of Cachaça before the frosts kill it.

My carrot ferment went into the compost. It turned into a stringy bacterial slime. If there is a next time I'll pasteurize it and and pay more attention to the yeast starter.

Tasted Nocino for the first time tonight. Made from last season's walnuts, so it's only 6 months old. Very nice, but very different from anything else I've tasted. A walnut raid might have to become an annual ritual.

djsuggz - 07 Jun 2014 10:27:36 (#137 of 663)

Nocino's a fabulous drink.

NZChris - 09 Jun 2014 12:04:37 (#138 of 663)

It's time to start looking for walnuts if any of you topsiders want to make nocino, or walnut palinka. They need to be picked before the summer solstice.

djsuggz - 25 Jun 2014 14:06:43 (#139 of 663)

Time for an update?

Thursday night I shall be bottling 20 litres of my missus' Apple and Pomegranate cider. 10 x 2 litre plastic bottles (work fine with other stuff I have done); 7 will be primed with some sugar to get them to kick out some gas and fizz up a bit, and the other 3 will be flat.

Just fined 20 litres of Wilcos own brand Merlot. Straight from the can, didn't do anything to it. Smells a lot nicer than the Cab Sauv. What I will not be doing this time is bottling that in 2 litre plastics, as it just turns into an inducement to everyone to drink way too much of the stuff and end up completely plastered. Will invest in some more bottles and do it 75cl at a time. Be ready to draw off in another couple of weeks.

A further 22 litres of St Peter's IPA is nearing the conclusion of phase one, and will be going into the keg in the next week or so with some priming sugar. Lid straight on this time to keep some background fizz and the quality of the brew high. Lovely long time to clear in time for the BBQ on 3rd August. Smells beautiful already, I have to say.

On the 'artisan wines' front, I have 5 demijohns almost cleared, now. Siphoning en masse next Thursday, with a little assistance. The Spinach wine will be the wildcard there. Will have a taste at the point of bottling, but suspect, strongly, that it will need laying down until 2015 before it reaches whatever best it's going to reach.

Wilcos Rose is the other newbie. Nice colour to it, and it's cleared beautifully over the last couple of weeks. If it tastes a bit synthetic, we might put some petals in it next time, at a guess?

The other three are golden oldies and should be just fine: 6 bottles each (or thereabouts) of 'Black Coffee' Cab Sauv, 'Thai Chardonnay' and Elderflower and Raspberry.

Once all of that is stowed away we're all set for the BBQ and I'll have another little pause, having knocked out 20 litres of Pilsner and a further five bottles of Turbo Cider, recently.

As I have a couple of nice spirit bottles to hand, I am thinking about setting up a couple for the Winter, given we're at six months out from Christmas Day. Cherry brandy would be an obvious one to do at speed. Cheapish brandy, some fresh but slightly squished cherries, and plenty of sugar in a Kilner jar. Anyone got any suggestions for another one?

Continuing to love this hobby. Feel I have a handle on it a bit more, now.

OneOfOne - 25 Jun 2014 14:33:38 (#140 of 663)

So. Much. Booze!

djsuggz - 25 Jun 2014 14:58:22 (#141 of 663)

Indeed. The BBQ will be a day of legend, I feel. I shall be disappointed, frankly, if the rozzers are not called at some stage.


nemo75 - 29 Jun 2014 18:31:37 (#142 of 663)

I fancy having a go too, although I'd only have room for a couple demijohns. Have you been doing small scale too?

djsuggz - 01 Jul 2014 14:11:39 (#143 of 663)

Started just in that way, neems old lad.

Have only branched out to larger vessels in the last 3-4 months or so and with a big party in view, but mostly my favourite stuff on the wine front comes from demijohns. Provided they are up to a sufficient temperature to ferment (never a problem in Summer, of course) they can sit in a corner out of the way somewhere for the 4-5 weeks the whole process takes.

Bit of an outlay in the first instance, but only a small one given that demijohns, airlocks, a siphon and wine bottles can be used over and over again. Sterilising tablets go at 60 for 79p at Tesco (baby section), and a kilo of sugar is just under a quid.

I pretty much always go to Wilcos for my stuff. They often have 25% of all home booze equipment, and it's perfectly serviceable.

If you like white wine, I'd recommend their six-bottle Elderflower white, for a first go. If red, I'd try their six-bottle Cab Sauv kit. The latter's okay, but I got better results from messing about with it a bit, and adding traces of other flavours through a sort of bouquet garni muslin bag of stuff lying for a few hours in the hot water you cool to add into the mix on the third day. Grape concentrate can also be added to red to put a bit more body into it.

It's ever such fun. Definitely think you should try it. I know you like cider, too, and that can be done brilliantly in a demijohn.

nemo75 - 02 Jul 2014 09:27:26 (#144 of 663)

Thanks dj, that sounds very promising indeed. I have realised that this potential hobby isn't particularly compatible with my drive to get fit so I might have to stage things slightly.

I love Wilkinsons but they are suprisingly thin on the ground in centralish London. I might have to call in when passing and grab a kit for later use. My local Tesco used to have a home brew section but I'm not sure it survived the recent rearrangement.

Thanks for the tips on the white and the red though. I think I'd be inclined to have a crack at the white but my understanding is that reds tend to be a bit better than dry white from the kits?

I actually got a one of the Brooklyn brew kits for Christmas which I have yet to do. I think I will have a go at that first and then free up some of that kit for wine.

I shall carry on reading the thread with interest!

djsuggz - 02 Jul 2014 10:34:16 (#145 of 663)

Actually you'd be surprised how good the raw product of the white kits (at least the Wilco ones - appreciate it may be more difficult for you to get to one - they are ubiquitous here) is. Both the Chardonnay and the Elderflower made very well-cleared, sharp-tasting wines. For either red or white, I remain convinced that a few adaptations to the top-up water is the way to go for something a bit over and above the basic taste, and it's an adaptation that is pretty easy to make.

djsuggz - 18 Jul 2014 10:38:53 (#146 of 663)

Booze news:

The 20 litres of Merlot were really unexpectedly good. Much deeper colour and far better tasting than the big kit Cab Sauv. Got about 25 bottles out in the garage now, maturing for another month before the revellers descend. Shan't look beyond that kit, for larger volume. You can pay a lot more, but the underlying product is fine, and could always be adapted with some more enhancing products.

I have a day of grape treading coming up, which should be fun. Happily, in lieu of your labour, the organisers give you a bucket of juice/pulp, so I am going to use that to make some wine from scratch, I think.

Bottled up the stuff in demijohns, too. The spinach wine was the biggest surprise. Made a fabulous dessert wine, which I shall be laying down for a while (only got four) and using on a special occasion in the future.

Rose a bit dull, but can sit for a bit and be served quite cold. The three other old favourites turned out much as before, so that's all jolly good.

Alas I had to move the pressure keg full of 20 litres of lovely lovely St. Peters IPA across the kitchen floor to a cooler spot for it to continue to clear, and, having done that, whilst I was away in London for the day the bloody thing split and leaked everywhere. Lost the lot; gutted. No time to make more for the BBQ, so am going to treat us to some 1-gallon kegs of the real thing from Blue Monkey brewery.

Will buy a new keg some time and start again, but for now will take a breather and lick my wounds.

Autumn's going to be all about doing some more stuff from scratch, particularly after the success with the spinach. Try a few other veggies/fruits.

Other thing to report is that Ebay provided us with a packet of slightly better corks. Tiniest bit more tapered, so after an hour in water they slot in very easily with a hand corker but don't have to be fought with so much. Still seal the bottle perfectly well, and I hair-dryer on a foil over the top.

Oh yeah, and I have some cherry brandy on the go, as well. Only popped it all into the jar three weeks ago, so it's rough still at the moment, but the colour's taken nicely.

Anyone care to venture a view as to the best 'country wine' they have made, with fruit/veg plus sugar as the underlying basis? I quite fancy blueberry, but I'd have a bash at anything, really.

axolotl - 21 Jul 2014 10:22:39 (#147 of 663)

" the bloody thing split and leaked everywhere. Lost the lot; gutted"

Sounds incredibly disheartening. I've not made a big quantity of wine since I lost 23l of potentially very good shiraz, when the shelf gave way and the glass carboy smashed to the ground.

"Anyone care to venture a view as to the best 'country wine' they have made"

Not sure if this counts, but I made some half-reasonable mead a few years ago. The simple recipe used local honey, lemons and yeast. The finished result is too dry to drink, but with the addition of sugar it makes a pretty decent drink.

I've attempted parsnip wine too - I've tasted some fabulous examples of other people's work - but it never cleared. Elderflower "champagne" is a great one too, and far easier, I'm told.

nemo75 - 21 Jul 2014 10:26:30 (#148 of 663)

Do I recall reading that elder flower champagne can become explosive quite easily?

axolotl - 21 Jul 2014 10:29:13 (#149 of 663)

Yeah, like anything else that's carbonated in the bottle, it has the potential to go pop. Personally, I've never had exploding bottles, but I'm pretty careful about making sure primary fermentation has stopped before bottling, and the quantities of added sugar for in-bottle fermentation.

djsuggz - 21 Jul 2014 11:15:27 (#150 of 663)

Yes, in-bottle carbonation does carry risks.

I rather over-dosed the sugar on my second batch of Pilsner (we shared a 2 litre bottle yesterday afternoon) and it was fiercely bubbly in the glass and had not quite cleared as you would like. Perfectly nice tasting - just the techniques for these things need a little tinkering with.

Parsnip, eh? I might have a bash at that. I'm also bang up for elderflower fizz one day, when I feel sufficiently confident and competent.

axolotl - 21 Jul 2014 12:46:19 (#151 of 663)

FWIW, my friend who makes the Elderflower fizz every year insists that it's very easy. She uses beer bottles and crown caps instead of the "proper" champagne bottles, which are a bit of a pain.

The best parsnip wine is rich, warming and not unlike a good, medium sherry. Really excellent stuff. But not that easy to make, in my experience.

Antimatter - 24 Jul 2014 01:55:21 (#152 of 663)

My mum used to make the most excellent parsnip wine, and as you say axolotl tasted not unlike a fortified wine. Certainly worth a try.

She also made great marrow rum. Take a marrow, chop the stalky end off and take out the seeds. Fill with brown sugar, put stalky end back on and make hole in the non stalky end. Put marrow in a stocking, suspend and let the liquor drip into a funnel on top of a demijohn. Nectar of the gods.

inandout - 25 Jul 2014 12:34:29 (#153 of 663)

How is that rum?

Hundredsand - 03 Aug 2014 13:52:56 (#154 of 663)

Anyone here made a black mulberry wine before?

Have begun a rhubarb, mulberry, blackberry wine with a small amount of strawberry, fennel, mint, calendula heads & cinnamon. Will add strong tea for body and lemon juice when I add the sugar.

djsuggz - 04 Aug 2014 11:14:42 (#155 of 663)

Sounds interesting. Let us know how it turns out?

Yesterday was The Barbecue. A fine and high fooling day. Set to become and annual event, we think.

Fair old dent made in the home-made booze supplies. Principally the beer/stout/cider, but a fair amount of wine got taken out as well. Good effort, for 40-odd people. Once heads are clear and the house is sorted out again I shall take a bit of a re-stock of the cellar and make the next decisions on what to make in late-Summer/early-Autumn. Probably some cider from windfallen apples where herself used to live, and some wine from hedgerow blackberries. Need to make some more dark choc and treacle stout, too, as that got polished off in its entirety.

Hundredsand - 05 Aug 2014 08:23:53 (#156 of 663)

Nice, djsuggz, you've got a cellar too! I was tempted by the windfall of plums, but haven't got around to it. Amazing how much fruit gets left for the wasps to get drunk.

axolotl - 27 Aug 2014 12:40:39 (#157 of 663)

Anyone tried forcing a standard cork into a screw-top wine bottle? It looks like it'll probably fit but I'm concerned about the glass breaking.

I ask because we're struggling to collect enough cork-top bottles for homemade wine. We could buy some from Wilkos, but they're relatively expensive for something that could potentially be free.

djsuggz - 27 Aug 2014 14:30:19 (#158 of 663)

I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but a Wilkos hand corker would probably do it, if you soaked the corks for long enough. Failing that, I got some ever so slightly tapered wine corks off eBay.

If it's any help, I have found that my homemade stuff keeps well enough in reused screw-top bottles (having kept the caps). At least the larger volume stuff, like the Wilkos 20 litre Merlot does. I save using cork-stopped bottles for wine I want to lay down a bit longer, that I have added flavours to.

About to be gifted some plums and some apples, and we will shortly be scrumping some blackberries and elderberries, as well as some pears. Fair number to be had 'round and about where we live. Thinking cap going on soon for some Autumnal country wines.

Gooseberry wine is the only thing on the go just now, as they had some in at Tesco and I got a Youngs kit. Chucks up a bit (fermenting in the kitchen as I type), but I have high hopes, if it clears nicely. Love gooseberries.

Missus has some sloe gin coming along, and my cherry brandy has been in the jar for four months, now. Starting to build up to a more concerted effort in Sept. to Nov. Must make more stout, for sure. That was lovely.

axolotl - 28 Aug 2014 10:38:48 (#159 of 663)

Ahhh, I wish I'd kept the screw tops now. Oh well, something to remember going forward.

Scrumping time definitely approaches. I've already got a date booked in October for a cider-making party, held by a friend with a cider press. Normally about 10-15 of us turn up with carrier bags of 'acquired' apples and divide up into teams to wash, chop, crush and juice. One carrier bag full of apples yields a demijon or so of juice with which to make delicious cider or apple wine.

I, too, really love gooseberries - I'll be interested to hear how your gooseberry brew turns out!

djsuggz - 29 Aug 2014 12:20:11 (#160 of 663)

Still stinky, but slowing down now, so will be fined next week, I should imagine.

Bug has bitten me again this morning. Going to get going on some stuff next week, and get it all a bubblin' in time for us to go away on holiday. I reckon four more projects for now, to start building up stocks for the Christmas/New Year period:

Dark chocolate and treacle stout

Apple and elderberry wine

Parsnip wine

Blackberry and coffee wine (if we can find enough - might do this with some juice, as well as berries)

axolotl - 29 Aug 2014 19:59:10 (#161 of 663)

Blackberry and coffee wine sounds a bit Heston, if I'm honest. Can't wait to hear how it turns out.

I've got a lever-type cork insertion thing so I'm just going to put some newspaper down (in case of flying shards of glass) and have a go with one of these screwtop bottles. I've got several (without tops) and a demijohn of wine that'll need bottling in less than a fortnight. I'll give the corks a good long soak as you recommended.

Antimatter - 09 Sep 2014 22:55:26 (#162 of 663)

So, I wonder if any one here can answer this question for me. We usually buy cheapo wine kits that contain 6 litres of grape juice. This makes about 23 litres of wine. Now today I got a deal on one of the posh kits which has 12 litres of juice. This will also produce 23 litres of wine. Now my idea is to split the posh kit across 2 carboys, then add additional sugar. But I am having trouble working out how much extra sugar I would need to add. My best calculation so far is 2.4 kilos per carboy but that does seem rather a lot. Any suggestions?

axolotl - 10 Sep 2014 13:30:50 (#163 of 663)

To be accurate, I think you'd need to dilute it first and then take a measurement with a hydrometer to see exactly where you're at with the sugar concentration, then add sugar to bump the SG up to where it needs to be.

I do wonder whether you're going to end up with a wine that's lacking flavour though. The grape compound in the more expensive kits is much less concentrated (which improves the quality of the finished wine) so diluting it down won't necessarily work that well.

djsuggz - 12 Sep 2014 11:36:25 (#164 of 663)

Gooseberry now entering the clearing stage. Smells a bit funny, but am hopeful.

Apple and parsnip wines are thundering along, following their transfer to demijohns earlier in the week.

My good lady set out on her 2014 batch of orange and elderberry yesterday. It sits in a big tub in the corner of the kitchen, growling gently. Even the dog seems a bit afraid of it. He has good reason, as it was a fearsome drink last year. We didn't live together at the time, but I remember very well her texting, very drunkenly, that she was putting herself into the recovery position before closing her eyes for the night.

Last act before going on hols next week will be to get going on the Autumn batch of Chocolate and Black Treacle stout, which I am looking forward to enormously.

axolotl - 12 Sep 2014 12:25:41 (#165 of 663)

Great stuff. My parsnip wine is doing very nicely too. I used the recipe recently published in the Grauniad.

I'm considering giving the elderberry bush behind my office a good prune and making something alcoholic with the berries. I have one concern though: the land the bush is growing on is in a very industrial area with a lot of ground contamination problems. Does anyone know if heavy metals in the soil end up in the berries?

axolotl - 15 Sep 2014 13:22:46 (#166 of 663)

Did some bottling today and discovered that it is possible to seal (some) screw-top bottles using corks. Some are just too big - the cork barely touches the sides - but most seem just fine.

In related news, the 6-bottle chardonnay wine kit I made didn't quite make 6 bottles but it doesn't taste bad. I reckon once its had a month or two to mature it should be quite drinkable - easily as good as £5 a bottle supermarket plonk. Actual cost works out at £1.45 per bottle. Yay!

Hundredsand - 21 Sep 2014 09:50:22 (#167 of 663)

This year I've really made use of all my rhubarb for wine. The latest batches were rhubarb, apple and blackberry, also rhubarb, apple and strawberry. I have white grapes growing which I will use in a white grape and something.

djsuggz - 27 Sep 2014 19:57:39 (#168 of 663)

Gooseberry is in the bottles. Not bad, pleasingly sharp. Off to the garage with it for a few months.

Chocolate and treacle stout not smelling like the same triumph the first batch was. Oddly 'bananery' coming out of the vessel into two litre sugared bottles. We'll see how secondary fermentation pans out.

The three fruit and veg wines are storming along at a fearsome rate in their demijohns. Been fermenting three weeks now. Fuck alone knows what we've created...

axolotl - 29 Sep 2014 12:48:00 (#169 of 663)

It's a little over three weeks for my parsnip wine and it's really tapered off now. There still seems to be some very lazy activity though so I'll leave it for another week before stabilising/fining.

Anyone got a decent recipe for mead?

djsuggz - 13 Oct 2014 12:05:28 (#170 of 663)

Time for another update?

Chocolate and treacle stout (Vers. 1.1) has been clearing happily in the garage for a couple of weeks now. Ten x 2L bottles' worth.

The three fruit or veg wines have been fermenting for four weeks. Slowing down, now, so going to use just a teensy nibble of finings, once they have fully stopped, to get them to clear in time to bottle and do some tasting around Christmas with family (lots of bonus gifts of free homemade booze will be making their way 'round the country this year). Got some elderberry red and spinach white to share with folk too, that's been in bottles for some time. And a couple of pre-mulled reds that have matured for a year.

The cherry brandy smells excellent, and the sloe gin's taken colour quite pleasingly for drinking next Spring. Saved an old Highland Park and a Sipsmith bottle, and cleared off labels, to use them to send the flavoured booze into. Going to start off some blackberry whisky again soon, as the last batch proved a real hit.

The new project got started yesterday. A Tom Caxton 'Real Ale' kit from Wilco's, with a packet of hop enhancer in it. Medium colour, quite bitter. Making it with brewing sugar to try and make it as smooth as possible. I baulked at paying £24 for another pressure barrel. Part of the problem, aside from another one possibly failing, is the necessity to drink all 36 pints fairly quickly, for fear they should go off once the brew is in the barrel. I'm going for a new strategy. Rack it twice, rather than once, when primary fermentation is done, then send it into 2L plastic water bottles with two teaspoons of sugar just to agitate it a smidgen when it come to pouring. 2L servings means we'll be better behaved when drinking the stuff, too - that generates a nice pint-and-a-half each before dinner, which is better than just swallowing the stuff down in a hurry.

Finally, my colleague is about to press a load of apples and a load of black grapes, so we're going to go for straight cider and straight red wine, although I am thinking about adding vanilla pods and black peppercorns to the latter.

Still loving the whole homemade booze hobby. Been at it just on a year now.

Antimatter - 14 Oct 2014 22:55:36 (#171 of 663)

Would love to hear your recipe for Cider DJ. For such an apple obsessed nation there seems to be little going on in terms of proper cider production. On a brief trip to UK earlier this year I discovered Carling Draught Cider and it given me a taste of how good cider can be....

djsuggz - 15 Oct 2014 10:43:32 (#172 of 663)

Hi Anti!

Nice to see you on here. I started off cider making very small scale, with a quick and dirty route to some quasi-scrumpy, and only at demijohn volume (4.5L). However it was bottle-able and drinkable in 10 days or so.

Procedure for that?


5 x 1L cartons of cheap supermarket apple juice

80-100g sugar

5 x tbsps of honey

12g Any old yeast

First three cartons into the demijohn, chuck the yeast in, swirl about and leave for three days with an airlock in as fermentation cracks off. I generally put a tea towel or two over the dj at this point of the year, to keep it sufficiently warm.

After three days, add the sugar and honey, and top up the apple juice. Swirl once again, bung the airlock back on, and tea towels for warmth if needed.

Goes a bit custardy, for a while, but sort of 'half clears' over the next few days, and then, when siphoned, you get something a bit clearer than that. 6.5% or so, I think. We put it in wine bottles, but it occurs to me that if we put it in screw-tops you could pop a little sugar in the bottle and gas it up a bit. However I think flat is nicer for this recipe.

Herself did a bigger batch with some pomegranate juice over the Summer that was an absolute belter. Same principles, just larger quantities, and that one we did carbonate.

I shall be fascinated to see how some proper apple juice from a press operates.

axolotl - 15 Oct 2014 13:34:55 (#173 of 663)

Great stuff. We'll be pressing apples next weekend. Our recipe is much simpler though: just a blend of juice from eaters, cookers and crabs, plus yeast of course. Not as alcoholic at about 4%, but it's always tasted great.

My raspberry beer (Brewferm Framboose) is nearly ready for bottling and I'm going to be using a mixture of 1 pint beer bottles and 1 litre plastic tonic water bottles.

On the subject of plastic pressure barrels...well, I've had two, and they were both a bit crap. I just don't believe they ever hold enough pressure to maintain decent carbonation, and unless you're really diligent about topping up the CO2 pressure with a separate cylinder, there's the problem you mention of having to drink all the beer within a few days to prevent spoilage.

The ultimate solution - one which a friend of mine has invested in - is to buy a couple of Corney kegs:

They're not cheap but they're virtually indestructible and allow you to keep your beer fresh and properly carbonated for months. Personally, they're out of my price range, but if you're very serious about homebrew, perhaps worthy of consideration?

Hundredsand - 20 Oct 2014 19:36:39 (#174 of 663)

One of the things I find difficult about making homemade wine is letting the bottles age before consuming. Like this evening. Part of me says "This will probably be best for waiting at least 6 months", but then I open one up and think it smells quite good *alcoholic* and pour up for the husband and myself to drink with a casserole.

djsuggz - 20 Oct 2014 20:32:48 (#175 of 663)

Yes, I'm trying to get better at keeping 2/3 back from each set of 5 that's half decent.

Got a stockpile of 15 or so now. Need to keep at that.

Getting the grape and apple juices on Sunday. Quite excited about that. Vanilla pods and peppercorns in the red, I think.

Antimatter - 26 Oct 2014 18:50:00 (#176 of 663)

Mmmmm, scrumpy eh? sounds like the way forward. Just need to hook up with my apple juice supplier.

djsuggz - 27 Oct 2014 10:45:41 (#177 of 663)

Collected the grape juice yesterday. One mixed of reds, one straight (one-strain) red.

Quite a lot of faffing to get a cleaner mixture into the demijohns, through muslin and down a funnel and there will be a lot of clearing to do once the fermentation is done. Not enough in there to fill all three, so have gone for three different types of mixture, and slotted in a bit of vanilla and some peppercorns that flavoured the top up water for some heat. All three bubbling away now, so should have fifteen bottles and a bit of tasting fun to do around Christmas time, all being well. Heaven knows how long they will ferment for. The parsnip, apple and elderberry and orange wines are only just this week coming to a halt, so they bubbled for six weeks and smell VERY strong.

Other wee job yesterday was to rack the Caxtons 'Real Ale' kit into a second vat and chuck some beer finings in. That'll rest there until Tuesday night and then I'll move it back over before it gets bottled-up. Quite pleased it will get six or seven weeks clearing time in the garage. Optimistic my Dad will enjoy a bottle or two at Christmas. We broached the first of then 10 x two litre bottles of chocolate and treacle stout on Friday, and it's really very nice after only about four weeks clearing. Clear as a bell. More of a treacle hit in this one, but no complaints and was lovely before a spicy meal.

The fun continues. I'm going to think of a new project for next year, once all this lot is done, bottled and slotted away in the garage. I want to make some properly sharp Pilsner next year - something really crystal clear. Might start to look into that, in a quiet moment.

axolotl - 27 Oct 2014 13:23:22 (#178 of 663)

I tried Kwik Klear finings on a couple of my country wines this weekend, with stunning results. Highly recommended.

Hundredsand - 27 Oct 2014 15:22:19 (#179 of 663)

axolotl - do you know if Kwik Klear finings are not shellfish based?

djsuggz - 27 Oct 2014 15:55:54 (#180 of 663)

Just ordered some KC finings. I'd been wondering about them, and the reviews are uniformly strong. I think my country wines and the three grape ones I just put on could be a bit soupy, so having a strong fining agent ought to help with the quality/clarity.

axolotl - 27 Oct 2014 17:57:46 (#181 of 663)

No shellfish, Hundreds, but they do contain gelatine, so not suitable for vegetarians.

Hundredsand - 27 Oct 2014 23:44:48 (#182 of 663)

Just concerned for someone with severe allergy to crustaceans, is all. Thanks.

axolotl - 28 Oct 2014 12:25:26 (#183 of 663)

In that case, I'd assume it's fine. Besides gelatine, the only other ingredients are kieselsol (colloidal silica), citric acid and potassium sorbate.

djsuggz - 28 Oct 2014 12:39:49 (#184 of 663)

Arrived home last night to find the three new demijohns with the grape juice-based wine giving it some serious beans. Had to clean wine out of and de-gunge the airlocks, before wiping down the glass and settling them each in washing-up bowls, just in case of any more effervescent wastage should occur. It does happen now and again in the early stages, but they're settled into a nice gentle bubble now.

The other three are still going. Unbelievable!

Racking the cleared beer a second time tonight. Bottling with some assistance tomorrow night.

elghunden - 28 Oct 2014 12:50:37 (#185 of 663)

Interesting to read this thread. I didn't know there was a brewing thread on here.

I started for the first time this Autumn. I have tried to make cider. I have apple trees in my garden and I got a cider press for my birthday this summer.

It has been a very steep learning curve for me. I am not a practical person and I have found every step a challenge. It took three goes to get the yeast starter to work, and I'm still not sure what temperature I should have it at. I moved the fermentation bucket around far too much because I couldn't decide where it would be best to put it (but now I think I have the right spot for next time). My airlock never did bubble, so don't know what went wrong there. I had huge, huge difficulty getting the damn syphon to work when bottling. If I keep this up I will be getting an automatic one. Also, I bottled too early so the result is not particularly good.

But it was fun and I want to do it again. Next time I will have more clue about what I am doing and hopefully it will og better. I don't have any more apples to press but I was thinking of having a go with shop-bought apple juice. Anyone here done that?

djsuggz - 28 Oct 2014 13:20:47 (#186 of 663)

Hello elgers!

How're you doing?

If you read back just a short way you'll see my recipe for scrumpy made from cheap-as-chips shop-bought apple juice. It makes 4.5 litres, for an outlay of about £6, and is simplicity itself. If you get lucky it'll be ready in ten days. I just use baker's yeast, again from the supermarket, and chuck in about 13g of the stuff just to ensure it starts eating into the sugar inside the first 24h. Once it's going, unless it's really cold, it won't stop. I keep our demijohns in the kitchen, for just that reason. Down in the study in the Winter when the heating's on more often.

Siphoning on your own can be a bit of a bugger, and it's easy to disturb the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.

Often the airlock in larger containers doesn't fit quite so tightly as the one in a bung atop a demijohn. No cause for alarm, though; the CO2 will be escaping one way or another. If it wasn't, you'd see a plastic container starting to bow outwards and upwards. Frankly just a hole in the lid would do fine, provide you chuck a tea towel or similar over the top to avoid any foreign bodies getting in.

Good luck; I have found it a highly addictive hobby.

elghunden - 28 Oct 2014 14:32:08 (#187 of 663)

I'm doing good! A bit manic at work but I have a better work/home balance than last year and I am fighting hard to keep it that way.

I missed your recipe upthread for some reason. I thought I had read them all. I will give it a go. I also fancy trying the Ancient Orange Mead recipe someone else posted.

I have a stupid question to ask about the yeast: On the packet it says to have the temperature between 20-25 degrees. So I have used tapwater and a thermometer to check the temperature and then when it measures between those two heats, I put the yeast in. But the temperature in the water is going to go Down pretty fast and soon it will be under the bottom temperature. How long does it need to be at the required temperature for the yeast to start doing its thing?

djsuggz - 28 Oct 2014 14:56:04 (#188 of 663)

Cider procedure:


5 x 1L cartons of cheap supermarket apple juice

80-100g sugar

5 x tbsps of honey

12g Any old yeast

First three cartons into the demijohn, chuck the yeast in, swirl about and leave for three days with an airlock in as fermentation cracks off. I generally put a tea towel or two over the dj at this point of the year, to keep it sufficiently warm.

After three days, add the sugar and honey, and top up the apple juice. Swirl once again, bung the airlock back on, and tea towels for warmth if needed.

Goes a bit custardy, for a while, but sort of 'half clears' over the next few days, and then, when siphoned, you get something a bit clearer than that. 6.5% or so, I think. We put it in wine bottles, but it occurs to me that if we put it in screw-tops you could pop a little sugar in the bottle and gas it up a bit. However I think flat is nicer for this recipe.

In all honesty, elgers (and nice to hear things are going pretty well, btw), I pay very little attention to the temperature thing, myself.

As I say, a cold environment would be problematic, but often I have made things from kits that require only cold ingredients to get going, and, to some extent, I think yeast is just yeast, however it's packeted up. Room temperature and the odd towel thrown over the top, and you should be fine.

It's possible that because your airlock is not air tight you are being fooled into thinking fermentation is not happening. If you want to do a smaller batch, like my own above, and it's in a glass or a clear plastic container, you will be able to see the zillion of tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide making their way towards the top of the fluid, so you'll know your booze is cooking.

djsuggz - 18 Nov 2014 16:46:12 (#189 of 663)

Afternoon all.

A quick update?

The three fruit/veg wines are still going, but veeeeeerrrryyy slowly now. Smell okay, to me. Reckon my missus' elderberry and orange is going to be an absolute knock-your-head-off strength, once again, judging from the smell alone. Two glasses of that past year and she had to put herself to bed.

The three reds from grape juice all look most encouraging and, once again, are now coming very slowly to a conclusion. I have some proper finings, so hopeful we can have a fun little siphoning and tasting session before Christmas, and then file away at least four bottles from each of the six batches for use later on next year. Will then give some thought to the projects at the start of next year.

I do have the notion of trying a slightly fake elderflower champagne. My local brew shop sells (out of season) dried elderflowers and champagne yeast. I am working on an idea of mixing a gallon of (boiled and then cooled) elderflower cordial, dried elderflowers, sugar, lemon juice, raisins and a touch of cider vinegar, topped up with water. Bucket it for a week with some yeast and white grape concentrate, and keep it on the move twice a day. Then rack it a couple of times and siphon it whilst still fermenting into 5 x 1 litre plastic tonic water bottles that can take the strain of the extra CO2. Recipes say you can let a bit out now and again whilst they settle down, but that ought not to be too far off the 'real thing' which I won't be able to make until next Summer.

Bit of fun? What do folks think?

axolotl - 19 Nov 2014 12:32:55 (#190 of 663)

I've made an elderflower wine in the past, using dried elderflowers and one of those 250ml bottles of concentrated white grape juice. It worked well. The only caution I'd advise is go easy on the elderflowers because it can end up with a whiff of urine if you overdo it. I kid you not.

axolotl - 22 Nov 2014 18:16:50 (#191 of 663)

#188 - This afternoon I started off a variation of this recipe. Instead of honey/sugar I'm using dextrose powder as I had some in the cupboard and it ferments well. Also added some yeast nutrients and half a teaspoon of mixed acid, along with some Gervin yeast. If it ferments right out it should be around 7%.

elghunden - 22 Nov 2014 19:21:40 (#192 of 663)

My cider has been in the bottles now for over a month and it has just this week started to clear. I'm going to leave it until Christmas before testing again. We tried a bottle a few weeks back and it was much improved on taste.

I started the orange mead weekend before last. Currently it is fermenting in a cupboard. Fermentation doesn't seem to have decreased at all in since it started.

moto748 - 22 Nov 2014 20:25:09 (#193 of 663)

Well done elg! I really ought to get back into this. The cider sounds easy and promising, but the trouble is, despite (because of?) living in a cider-drinking area, I don't like the stuff much. Probably best to stick to beer.

elghunden - 22 Nov 2014 20:28:20 (#194 of 663)

I have the opposite problem. I love brewing stuff but I'm not really a beer drinker. I'm hoping the mead turns out to be nice so it gives me more brewing options. I've never tasted it before.

axolotl - 24 Nov 2014 11:30:52 (#195 of 663)

Well, my supermarket cider has got off to a very good start and nearly foamed out of the top of the demi-jon.

Elg - I don't think there can be many brews that don't improve over time. Even just a few weeks maturation always seems to make a big difference. I'll be very interested to hear how the orange mead turns out.

Hundredsand - 24 Nov 2014 13:18:37 (#196 of 663)

My cloudy looking rhubarb & blackberry concoction, begun in August, has started to clear!

djsuggz - 24 Nov 2014 14:55:22 (#197 of 663)

Excellent stuff - I bet that'll be delicious. And good to hear that the supermarket scrumpy is coming along.

My six demijohns are still going.Very very slowly, of course. Several minutes per bubble, but not done yet. Bit bored of it, tbh. I want to get them cleared, bottled, and, most importantly, sampled.

Idly wondering about doing one more big fermenter project that could then sit out in the garage over the Winter. Maybe another big House Merlot kit from Wilco, with a few extra ingredients in it to screw with it a bit? A cup of black coffee, some muscavado sugar to replace some of the brewing sugar, and some dark cherry juice with a bit of grape concentrate and some crushed vanilla pods or liquorice? Hmm.. it is quite useful from a household budget point of view to have a few handfuls of background basic plonk knocking about when you fancy a drink but don't want the supermarket outlay.

That said we're off to France for the day on January 2nd to buy fizz for our wedding next year, and it would be the easiest thing to just buy 30 bottles of really good Bordeaux for about eighty quid.

axolotl - 24 Nov 2014 17:04:08 (#198 of 663)

"Maybe another big House Merlot kit from Wilco"

What was that like? Seems very good value for money if it's worth drinking. Forgive my suspicion, but I tried the cheap Wilko's Cabernet Sauv and we weren't that impressed. It's okay for cooking with but I'm glad we only made six bottles.

djsuggz - 24 Nov 2014 17:18:31 (#199 of 663)

Yeah, I found the unadulterated Cab Sauv to be pretty nothingy. I've been using it for my augmented 'artisan' wines. The Merlot 20 bottle kit is a lot better. Even so, I think it would benefit from a bit of 'pepping up' as per my ideas above. Not bad though. Darker, more robust. Drinkable more with food than recreationally.

djsuggz - 25 Nov 2014 09:05:21 (#200 of 663)

Hurrah. It's almost as if the wine was listening to me. Orange and Elderberry, single grape red and more diluted red with lots of pepper and vanilla has all finished.

Onwards to the fining!!

djsuggz - 26 Nov 2014 11:52:32 (#201 of 663)

Finings all in. We'll see what emerges. Colours look good, and the grape-based pair smell wine-like, at least. The missus' fruit wine parts the hair when the bung comes out of the demijohn - frightening stuff. They'll certainly need racking before bottling. Thick as stew, they are, but the quality finings should help with that.

I'm still giving contemplation to my fake elderflower champagne idea, but it also occurs to me that I would like to make some rather drier white wine. The kits and recipes I have been monkeying about with tend towards a dessert-type wine, and that's fine, but not really for me.

What could I use to make a sharper wine, do you think? Kale, greens, or artichoke hearts, perhaps? Chuck a dab of cider vinegar in there?

I shall start looking for hints.

Hundredsand - 26 Nov 2014 12:50:51 (#202 of 663)

"Kale, greens, or artichoke hearts, perhaps?"

How about pine needles? Personally, I'd bump up the lemon juice for sharpness.

When my raisin sparkled summer wine at last went flat in the fridge, an over-lay of strawberry (of which I thought I'd been careful not to overdo), sat flat on the tastebuds like cheap cologne.

axolotl - 26 Nov 2014 16:27:09 (#203 of 663)

"Orange and Elderberry, single grape red and more diluted red with lots of pepper and vanilla has all finished."

Great stuff :-)

My supermarket juice cider has gone insane and filled the airlock with brown gunk.

Yesterday I ordered some wine and beer making goodies online and included a bag of smoked oak chips and a bag of dried elderflowers, with which to modify cheap wine kits!

In other news, I've been struggling to find white grape juice in the supermarkets. Some of them stock red grape juice but I can't find white anywhere. Tried Waitrose, Sainos, Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons. Anyone had any success buying it lately?

djsuggz - 28 Nov 2014 11:32:29 (#204 of 663)

Crikey, those Kwik Clear finings were worth the money!

Wine is already incredibly clear, after just three days.

Should be able to rack and then bottle it next weekend, I reckon. Have to sort some labels.

Hopefully the remaining red and the parsnip and the apple won't be too much longer, so we can fill the rack in the garage up a bit.

axolotl - 28 Nov 2014 11:37:48 (#205 of 663)

Kwik Clear has never let me down, even after other finings have failed.

I'm quite excited because my latest order of homebrew stuff has arrived. Looking forward now to a weekend of joyous homebrewing.

Hundredsand - 29 Nov 2014 06:29:28 (#206 of 663)

I looked online for the white grape juice. Seems that health food stores are most likely to stock it axolotl.

Ventured down a different street while trying to find a route through some bad 5 pm traffic and spotted a wine and brewers supply place in a nearby industrial estate. Must visit.

djsuggz - 29 Nov 2014 08:24:17 (#207 of 663)

Those three wines of mine are reallly clearing superbly well. Quite hopeful about them. Rack and bottle next weekend, I think.

Other three so nearly at a stop. Hopefully enter the clearing phase this week...

axolotl - 29 Nov 2014 13:59:19 (#208 of 663)

"I looked online for the white grape juice. Seems that health food stores are most likely to stock it axolotl."

Thanks, Hundreds, that's a great idea. I will check out my local one as it's generally very well stocked (already buy most of my baking ingredients there).

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2014 00:06:56 (#209 of 663)

Tasted the missus' orange and elderberry tonight, as we had some spare in a Kilner jar that had cleared very well.

A really quite frightening creation. I may not be lemon fresh, on the 'morrow.

Antimatter - 03 Dec 2014 01:03:31 (#210 of 663)

This method for Apple Jack looks interesting;

My father-in-law used to make apple jack by putting hard cider in a small keg and setting it out side to freeze. When frozen he'd de-bung and drill a hole to the center. What came out was some potent apple flavored alcohol.

Ummmm good

axolotl - 03 Dec 2014 12:03:16 (#211 of 663)

Not so good:

"The danger of freeze distillation of alcoholic beverages, is that unlike heat distillation, where the methanol and other impurities can be separated from the finished product, freeze distillation does not remove them. Thus the ratio of impurities may be increased compared to the total volume of the beverage. This concentration may cause side effects to the drinker, leading to intense hangovers and a condition known as "apple palsy"[3] (although this term has also simply been used to refer to intoxication,[4] especially from applejack"

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2014 12:15:34 (#212 of 663)

Gosh. That sounds like frightening 'shed hooch'.

What's that business one can do with a watermelon and a bottle of vodka?

The vodka food thread produced a recipe for Christmas Pudding Vodka which I reckon I am going to have a go at, and then set aside next year.

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2014 12:17:19 (#213 of 663)

Eyesight still intact today, happily. Sheesh but that elderberry and orange is a frightening drop. No way you could share a bottle over a meal, as much as it would probably go with some game. You'd be incapable of lifting your knife and fork by the second glass.

axolotl - 03 Dec 2014 12:55:04 (#214 of 663)

Did you measure OG/SG by any chance?

rustygstring - 03 Dec 2014 12:56:14 (#215 of 663)

I am enjoying this thread immensely. Thanks everyone!

I was browsing a homebrew site recently and noticed that you now get a "turbo yeast" which claims to be able to produce 25 litres of 23% alcohol from fermentation alone.

It is intended for use with stills but I have been wondering if it would be possible to brew a "neutral" mash with just water and sugar and then, after possibly a bit of filtering, use it to produce a wine by steeping fruits or hedgerow berries in it, much like you do with spirits.

Has anybody been curious/stupid enough to try this?

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2014 14:18:54 (#216 of 663)

Did you measure OG/SG by any chance?

Never seem to get round to that. By taste and feel I would say it was easily 20%.

Interesting, rusty. I don't know the answer to that, but my only instinct about it would be the lack of flavour if you don't get the flavouring ingredients in from the off. Making a strong 'booze water' would get you the kick, of course, but I'd probably do it in conjunction with the elements needed for the flavour you were trying to create. Also, from last night's experience, wine of that sort of strength is a bit on the scary side. You'd probably want to do it in a fairly large fermenting vessel to just dissipate the concentration of the alcohol a bit?

rustygstring - 03 Dec 2014 15:24:50 (#217 of 663)

Thanks DJ. I have a few kilograms of blackberries in the freezer which I was intending to use for some blackberry whisky, but somehow I can't bring myself to desecrate, for want of a better word, even a moderately priced bottle of whisky. It seems like sacrilege somehow.

The lack of flavour could well be an issue and I would obviously want to dilute it to a more sensible a.b.v. but I reckon six months of steeping, with a few elderberries for the tannins, and maybe a bit of sugar for sweetness, followed by six months in the bottle, and by this time next year I could well be on my way to blindness.

nemo75 - 03 Dec 2014 15:41:25 (#218 of 663)

I doubt it would take 6 months to infuse. Raspberry vodka is good in 4-6 weeks.

djsuggz - 03 Dec 2014 16:51:09 (#219 of 663)

My blackberry whisky took six months, but it was worth it. Also we should note that I started with a cheap horrible blend. neems is quite correct, however, in that vodka does seem to 'take' quicker. We have some damson vodka that's frankly already done, and has only been in the jar a couple of months.

Blackberries and a few elderberries in your wine mix sounds like a fine notion to me - and a balance of sweet and tart/dry. I had some blackberry wine in Slovakia last Winter and it was spectacular. Steeping will do the job, and frozen berries tend to give themselves up rather better than fresh - just a bit more mushy and gooey. The only other thing to consider will be how to keep the wine clear, of course. Hence my argument for having the flavouring in at fermentation stage, as you can then use finings to clear all the the muck out of the drink, rack it a couple of times, then bottle it. If you steep and bottle, you'll be pouring quite mucky wine out. Maybe a muslin bag or three with your fruits in, in the bigger vessel? The chuck them away, apply finings and bottle a week or so later?

djsuggz - 04 Dec 2014 11:38:35 (#220 of 663)

Final mixed-grape red has finished, so popped the finings in last night. It's a bit mucky, and smells a little curious, but I think it'll sharpen up okay.

Popped a second lot in the apple wine, as that's staying really quite cloudy and custardy, for now.

Pleasingly the parsnip wine has cleared off a treat, which can, I am told,not always be the case. Pleased with that one.

A little impromptu wine tasting here at work, next Friday before our Christmas lunch, using the spare amounts that don't make it into the bottles.

axolotl - 04 Dec 2014 15:32:22 (#221 of 663)

"I have been wondering if it would be possible to brew a "neutral" mash with just water and sugar and then, after possibly a bit of filtering, use it to produce a wine by steeping fruits or hedgerow berries in it, much like you do with spirits."

I think this is a great idea. I agree with dj - frozen berries seem to give up their fruity goodness more readily than fresh. However, I'd be interested in having a go with dried fruits as these generally have the most concentrated flavour and would tend to water down the alcohol less. Dried sloe berries and elderberries are readily available from homebrew sites.

As dj says, you'll probably want to filter the finished brew before bottling. For sloe gin, I use a fine-mesh sieve and just leave it at that. If you want a crystal-clear drink though, you'll need a proper wine filter or finings, or both. I've tried using coffee filters before and they tend to clog up very quickly, making the process extremely time consuming (I gave up after filtering about 1 small glass worth of gin - this took over half an hour).

axolotl - 04 Dec 2014 15:36:15 (#222 of 663)

In local brew news, our scrumped apple cider appears to have finished so this afternoon I'll rack it and bung in some finings - it's about as clear as pea soup right now.

The two demijohns of supermarket apple juice cider are still bubbling away merrily, as is the raspberry mead.

One top recommendation for the thread: California Connoisseur's Riesling kit. It's really very good indeed. Probably the best white wine I've ever made at home. It's not the cheapest kit (£39 for 30 bottles) but I reckon you'd have to pay at least £6-7 in the supermarket to get anything close. Highly recommended.

JennyRad - 04 Dec 2014 22:11:39 (#223 of 663)

For something in between a coffee filter and a fine-mesh sieve, is it worth trying a muslin cloth? It works excellently for that purpose when straining stock, so I can't see why it wouldn't for drinks, too. (Get it in the baby section of Boots, by the way, about six times cheaper than in the sort of serious cook shops where you can get it intended for stock-straining.)

djsuggz - 04 Dec 2014 23:06:42 (#224 of 663)

Muslin is a winner for filtering, true.

Nothing beats finings though. Apple wine has started to clear!

elghunden - 05 Dec 2014 06:44:16 (#225 of 663)

If you are using a syphon, how do you attach the muslin cloth to the bottom of the tubing, in a way that will be sterile?

djsuggz - 05 Dec 2014 07:59:23 (#226 of 663)

I don't. I only use muslin as lining for a funnel, if I want to use it.

On the syphon front, the one we use has a sort of 'foot' attached to it. That sits gently atop the must in the bottom of the fermenting vessel, and draws in the fluid from above.

If yours doesn't have that, you can just make a few pin-prick holes an inch or two up from the bottom of the tube, to keep you clear of foreign bodies.

Hundredsand - 05 Dec 2014 09:04:04 (#227 of 663)

I use a "Kilner" muslin for lining my funnel as well.

djsuggz - 09 Dec 2014 11:56:30 (#228 of 663)

Hello hello.

I can happily report on a mega-siphoning session on Saturday. All three types of red, the missus' properly finished Elderberry and Orange and the Parsnip.

The straight, 'one-grape and only grape juice' red is the best thing I have produced so far by a mile. It was beltingly good wine, and in another 4-8 months will be spectacular, if I can keep my greedy mits off it.

I need to move away from kit wine, unless it's just the 20 litres Merlot from Wilko with a bit of stuff shovelled in to make it interesting - just so there's a few bottles of 'house red' available.

The weakest link was probably the half and half wine, made up of 50% water and 50% single grape juice. It's too pale, and did not pick up the vanilla or pepper. The slight oddity was the mixed grape affair, which needs more finishing time, but has sucked up the pepper flavour delightfully.

Demijohn-finished E&O wine produced by the missus is way better than the kilner-jarred run-off we had last week. Smooth, strong, sugared and silky. You wouldn't drink a bottle, but it's good.

Parsnip has been racked and will be bottled tomorrow. Less sugary than I imagined, and has a little parsnip flavour and a good Tokaj colour. Still need to pull back the sugar content of my whites though.

First project of the New Year has been decided upon, following a request for her birthday from my beloved. 20 litres of Grapefruit Pilsner. She had a few of those in Croatia in the Summer and adored them, so I am going to set some going on 23.12.2014, as we are then away for ten days, during which it can ferment with the halved fruit sat in it.

Going to be v patient about clearing it when it's done, though. Plenty of those Kwik Clear chemicals to get it crystal sharp in the glass.

axolotl - 09 Dec 2014 19:11:19 (#229 of 663)

"I need to move away from kit wine"

How come? Are you feeling the urge to be more creative?

thatshallot - 09 Dec 2014 21:05:12 (#230 of 663)

The parsnip sounds good - are there details upthread?

djsuggz - 09 Dec 2014 22:21:28 (#231 of 663)


Yes, I am. You can do a lot with normal ingredients. The Wilko wine kits are cheap, but there's only so much mileage in screwing with them, I think. Might revise that view, but for now I am going to be more creative and spend less than I might on an 'exec kit'.


I'll dig out the recipe from Drink Your Garden and get back to you.

axolotl - 10 Dec 2014 11:13:42 (#232 of 663)

Ahh, I see. Well, I wish you luck. For now I'm doing a bit of a mixture, with one high-end kit on the go (still only £1.50 a bottle!) and some true DIY stuff. It'll be interesting to see how the latter turns out - I'm especially hopeful about the mead.

nolongerstumpy - 25 Dec 2014 13:20:40 (#233 of 663)

I have four liters of unsweetened bottled mulberry juice I will attempt to turn into wine. What sort of yeast should I use? Should i cut it with eater and if so how much? I have made mead and beer before, But this will be my first wine.

Post deleted by user
axolotl - 26 Dec 2014 15:00:28 (#235 of 663)

I've never made mulberry wine but given the type of fruit it is, I doubt it will contain adequate nutrients for the yeast to work properly. I'd therefore use a yeast/nutrient mix like Youngs super wine yeast compound, which contains the extra nutrients and vitamins yeast needs to thrive.. I've used this compound successfully with various country wine recipes. You might also consider adding some grape juice concentrate or chopped raisins to add body to the finished brew. Good luck!

nolongerstumpy - 26 Dec 2014 15:52:02 (#236 of 663)

Good advice, Thanks. How much raisins for 4 liters of juice, and should I dilute with water?

axolotl - 29 Dec 2014 15:56:50 (#237 of 663)

I'd try 500g, then check your specific gravity with a hydrometer if you have one.

nolongerstumpy - 30 Dec 2014 23:40:43 (#238 of 663)

Thanks very much. I will give it a go and report back.

djsuggz - 01 Jan 2015 09:35:46 (#239 of 663)

Ooh. Happy New Year, brewers and vintners!

Just remembered I will have some grapefruit Pilsner to put on to clearing when we get back in a couple of days from now! Excellent.

Off to France tomorrow, to buy some proper stuff.

Hundredsand - 01 Jan 2015 10:15:57 (#240 of 663)

Happy New Year, djsuggz! Grapefruit pilsner sounds interesting in a good way!

axolotl - 01 Jan 2015 20:17:31 (#241 of 663)

Yes, happy new year to you all. We've got 30 bottles of Reisling clearing atm, and three bottles of various types of cider waiting for bottling. That'll keep me busy for a while over the weekend.

Hundredsand - 05 Jan 2015 12:50:23 (#242 of 663)

Bottled 2 demi-johns on the 1st of Jan. One is definitely better than the other at this point. Both are rhubarb and blackberry, but the batches are different.

djsuggz - 05 Jan 2015 13:53:16 (#243 of 663)

Good stuff. Always an exciting time, is bottling up.

Grapefruit pilsner was well cooked by the time we got home, so hooked out the fruits and we're onto day three of clearing. Going to siphon across to a clean vessel tonight, I think, and then prime in bottles on Tuesday night. I always worry a bit about the flat beer not getting going again, if you leave it too long. Sharp fizzy grapefruit pilsner ought to be lovely, particularly in the warmer weather. Flat, it would be yuck yuck yuck.

Get that done this week, then the next project will be 5 x 1 litre bottles of fake elderflower champagne, as per my invention idea towards the back end of last year. Lord knows what will come out of it, but even if it's too strong or sharp we can always mix it with apple or or orange juice for longer cocktails.

Rather splendidly we were given a kit to grow our own sloe bushes, for Christmas. So by the Summer we will have sloes growing, a gooseberry bush in place, and a grape vine starting to grow up the fence in the back garden, with the apple tree entering into his third year.

I do love this hobby.

axolotl - 05 Jan 2015 13:56:50 (#244 of 663)

"Rather splendidly we were given a kit to grow our own sloe bushes, for Christmas."

Hurrah! How long will it be before you can harvest your own berries?

djsuggz - 05 Jan 2015 14:45:26 (#245 of 663)

Given we'll be starting from seedlings in March of this year, I can't imagine we'll have transplanted the bushes from pots until the middle of Summer, so September or perhaps October of next year might be the first point at which we get some? I'm a poor gardener, and don't know how quickly these things grow. However it's nice to have some stuff out there starting to come along a bit. Wilcos does a gooseberry bush most years for about £4, but I think I might treat myself to one from a proper garden centre that's pretty well developed.

axolotl - 05 Jan 2015 14:52:51 (#246 of 663)

Ahh, I see. Well, best of luck with the green fingers then.

djsuggz - 06 Jan 2015 10:32:31 (#247 of 663)

Got underway with the purchases for my fake elderflower champers yesterday. Just need some dried elderflowers and champagne yeast from the specialist shop at the weekend, and some white grape concentrate from Wilcos at lunchtime today.

My only concern about it is that it goes into bottles whilst still fermenting a bit (that's how it gets to be fizzy - trapped CO2, just as with lager or carbonated cider). As it's going to still have some working to do, there is, of course, the need to work off some gas. That's not a problem, but I am a bit worried there will be a fair bit of must in the bottle - at least at the bottom, and the drink will be 'muddy'.

Tricky. Want a fizzy glass, but not a blurry one. I suppose I could open the bottles for a moment right at the end of fermentation and slip a pinprick of Kwik finings in?

djsuggz - 06 Jan 2015 10:39:44 (#248 of 663)

Oh, and we racked the grapefruit pilsner and fined it a bit more last night. Encouraging whiff. Needs bottling tonight with some sugar to ensure the fizz. Slight cloudiness inevitable there, but not such a worry.

axolotl - 06 Jan 2015 13:10:32 (#249 of 663)

You can get some special stoppers which have a valve in. They replace the traditional champagne cork. You let the secondary fermentation proceed as normal and when it's done you partially invert the bottles, turning them each day, so the must drops to the top of the bottle. Then you invert the bottle completely and briefly open the valve, ejecting the must. They work quite well in my experience, and they're reusable.

djsuggz - 06 Jan 2015 14:22:26 (#250 of 663)

Ooh, an interesting notion. I shall have a google.

If I do do that, I'll have to get hold of some thicker bottles, I think. The benefit of plastics was to be allowing some of the gas out. Not all, obviously, but some of it. Although I suppose opening the must valve would take some of the pressure out of the bottle.

Bit more of a conundrum, this, but quite fun to think through. Got my white concentrate. Just need champagne yeast and dried elderflowers from the specialist shop and I am good to go!

axolotl - 07 Jan 2015 11:31:36 (#251 of 663)

Yeah, the stoppers do allow some of the pressure out but I'd still use proper sparkling wine bottles that are designed to take the pressure. There are many tales of exploding bottles in the world of home brew.

djsuggz - 08 Jan 2015 21:19:00 (#252 of 663)

Meant to say, the grapefruit pilsner is looking very pleasingly clear, now bottled up, and has picked up a good level of fizz. We're keeping a taster small bottle in the fridge which is near enough crystal. The missus is going to bench test it the weekend after next, as I am having a spell on the wagon, whilst I do some proper training, dieting and drop a few lb for new year.

Got all the ingredients now for the elderflower experiment. Get running on that tomorrow evening, I think.

We were discussing earlier this evening what projects we need for the big barbecue we put on for the acting community in the Summer. Thirsty bunch, based on the 2014 event. We can keep back some of the Winter stuff we have made, but the plan is 40 pints of Apple and Pomegranate cider - half flat, half fizzed. 40 pints of pale ale from a good quality kit. 40 pints of my Limequila Cerveza which went down a storm last year. Smaller batches of elderflower white, blueberry 'pop' cider, some monkeyed with Merlot and something new. Not sure what, yet. Perhaps something from which we can build a punch...

djsuggz - 09 Jan 2015 21:02:13 (#253 of 663)

Elderflower fizz is underway! Just waiting for the mix to cool sufficiently for me to add the yeast... <Excited>

nemo75 - 10 Jan 2015 08:00:39 (#254 of 663)

Worth penning it in in case of shrapnel?

djsuggz - 10 Jan 2015 08:18:52 (#255 of 663)

If I still had a cellar, neems, it would be down there.

nemo75 - 10 Jan 2015 08:21:01 (#256 of 663)


djsuggz - 10 Jan 2015 10:51:31 (#257 of 663)

Heh heh heh. The plastic lidded vessel is already starting to bow rather alarmingly outwards. It'll need a bit of burping, this concoction.

elghunden - 10 Jan 2015 19:40:08 (#258 of 663)

My orange mead has almost stopped fermenting. Going very slowly now and it has begun to clear. I have no idea what mead tastes like, so I am quite excited about it!

djsuggz - 10 Jan 2015 21:55:57 (#259 of 663)

Wonderful! My experiences with mead have always been positive. Enjoy. Pop a teensy drop of Finings in if you want it to clear quicker?

How much did you make?

elghunden - 10 Jan 2015 22:19:55 (#260 of 663)

5 liters. I thought that was enough for a first go.

djsuggz - 11 Jan 2015 15:58:16 (#261 of 663)

Nabbed some cheaper than usual cherry juice at the supermarket, today, at £1 per litre. Going to knock up some (flat) cherry cider as a little side project. Already got plenty of sugar knocking about, just need some Wilco yeast and a cheapo squeezy honey. Bit of fun.

axolotl - 11 Jan 2015 22:33:25 (#262 of 663)

Sounds interesting, dj. I really need to pull my finger out and bottle the three gallons of cider sitting in the corner of the living room.

djsuggz - 12 Jan 2015 12:02:28 (#263 of 663)

I saw this at the weekend, and I want one for the Summer bbq:

Fill it with iced cider and a bit of fresh fruit, I reckon. Nice centrepiece for a party.

axolotl - 12 Jan 2015 12:33:14 (#264 of 663)

I've seen those in Wilkos - very nice!

djsuggz - 12 Jan 2015 12:49:14 (#265 of 663)

Gorgeous, isn't it? Easy enough to clean, too.

Like having a MASSIVE optic.

JennyRad - 12 Jan 2015 15:57:05 (#266 of 663)

My only vague worry about that is the tap getting clogged up with the fresh fruit when you get to the end of the drink.

axolotl - 12 Jan 2015 16:01:32 (#267 of 663)

Good point, Jenny. You wouldn't want to use anything that'll break down like raspberries.

JennyRad - 12 Jan 2015 17:02:41 (#268 of 663)

Yeah. Or else you need to be very careful not to let it get to too empty, but to pour it out or top it up when the fruit's getting too low. Which requires a certain amount of alertness that I wouldn't want to be sure I'd have at a party that had a thing like that. :)

predicated - 12 Jan 2015 17:04:31 (#269 of 663)

I am failing to understand how a sealed jar will pour without a breather hole somewhere in the lid.

JennyRad - 12 Jan 2015 17:05:47 (#270 of 663)

Potentially messy amounts of glugging? I'm fairly sure you'd end up leaving the lid unsealed, in practice.

djsuggz - 12 Jan 2015 19:09:16 (#271 of 663)

I'd leave it unsealed at the point of service so it would pour.

Yeah, fruit's got knackered tap written all over it. I reckon beer or cider with ice.

Still cool, though. And only £20 from good old Wilcos.

Post by deleted user
djsuggz - 12 Jan 2015 21:23:46 (#273 of 663)

Cool! Cheery cider booze is underway and bubbling!

OneOfOne - 13 Jan 2015 09:38:11 (#274 of 663)


Haven't seen you on here in ages, nice to see you about! I think we met at Sorcha's wake?

djsuggz - 17 Jan 2015 20:02:44 (#275 of 663)

Elderflower fizz bottled. Not as pale a colour as I wanted, but getting clear and has plenty of fizz.

Cherry cider looks like it won't take long to cook.

JennyRad - 18 Jan 2015 13:30:35 (#276 of 663)

I think we did, Oney, yes! I'm still around and reading, I just don't post as much as I used to ... with a (nearly) Real Job, I talk to more people than I used to and so I don't have as many words to spare for the internet. :)

When you say cherry cider, djsuggz, I'm idly curious about why you call it cider?

djsuggz - 18 Jan 2015 16:07:26 (#277 of 663)

Because it's a short fermentation project, Jenny. Ten days rather than 3-4 weeks, and no finings.

Uses the same method as my turbo cider, starting with just supermarket juice and with only 100g of sugar and some honey added to it.

Cloudy, only about 7% ABV. I'm not really sure what to call it!

JennyRad - 18 Jan 2015 19:02:02 (#278 of 663)

Cloudy, flat, 7%, sounds like a cider, to be fair. I'm occasionally an active activist campaigning against CAMRA's ridiculous definitions of cider; on the other hand, I generally think anything called cider should have some apples in it[1]. On the other hand, what you're making there bears more resemblance to cider than anything else so I really can't think of a better name for it!

[1] CAMRA has no problem at all with beer having coffee, bananas, lemongrass, whatever the hell the brewer likes in it. On the other hand, traditional Kentish apple-and-strawberry cider, no way in hell, CAMRA doesn't allow that. FFS. Muppets.

axolotl - 19 Jan 2015 11:37:05 (#279 of 663)

Just wondering (and sorry if you mentioned earlier) how long your turbo cider took? I did the same kind of thing and I found it took over a month to ferment out. Does that sound reasonable to you?

djsuggz - 19 Jan 2015 13:45:06 (#280 of 663)

I find it can rather vary, actually.

First time I did it, it was at a stop inside 9 days. On another occasion, it took three weeks. I suspect that there are any number of factors that contribute to this, including temperature, quality of yeast and overall amount of sugar to be eaten up.

axolotl - 19 Jan 2015 13:53:20 (#281 of 663)

Thanks! Mine has stopped now but I'm going to leave it a bit longer to clear a bit (it's still very cloudy).

djsuggz - 19 Jan 2015 14:18:43 (#282 of 663)

Teensy drop of finings, to hurry matters along?

axolotl - 19 Jan 2015 14:54:27 (#283 of 663)

I did wonder about that, but whenever I've used finings in wine, the instructions have made it clear that you're supposed to degas the brew first and/or add stabiliser. I don't really want to do that as I intend to carbonate in-bottle. Are there any finings that work in gassy brews?

djsuggz - 19 Jan 2015 16:11:24 (#284 of 663)

Well, I popped some into my elderflower booze, and am carbonating that in the bottles, and the finings seem to be clearing it somewhat.

That said, I reckon you can fine the cider then bottle it with sugar and it'll still fizz up.

axolotl - 07 Feb 2015 16:59:09 (#285 of 663)

As it's only slightly cloudy now, I decided to just bottle it as it is and call it scrumpy.

Also today, I started off 12l of raspberry beer and a gallon of elderflower wine, based on 250ml of grape concentrate, dried elderflowers, mixed acid and a little bit of grape tannin.

Hundredsand - 09 Feb 2015 22:17:50 (#286 of 663)

One of the offspring has had a second glass of my homemade stuff and declared that it was more drinkable than what her friend have offered, which made me feel quite good.

djsuggz - 19 Feb 2015 11:36:07 (#287 of 663)

Time for a bit of an update, I think, as the late Winter/early Spring labours are shortly to commence. I go dry for forty days after my birthday (annual health kick, including lots of running and a low carb diet to ensure trimness in the Summer), during which time I shall bubble and boil a load of new stuff.

So, I made 5 x 1 litre plastic bottles of my fake elderflower fizz. They smell great. Had to be burped a couple of times, but the bottles are stiff with gas and the liquid has cleared really well, with not too much must to worry about. Pale (very pale) brownish colour. Will chill them down and drink them when my parents visit at the end of March, just before we go on holiday.

Tonight sees the bottling of the cherry cider. Going to fizz two of them and leave the other three flat.

Then, the following projects get underway:

Another 20 litres of my chocolate and treacle stout, which is a popular staple now, and will go down well at the Summer BBQ in early August

20 litres of good quality kit pale ale (will take some birthday money to the brewing shop on Saturday to pick something out)

20 litres of lager (unmolested - just want to get it properly clear this time - Wilco Pilsner tends to get too 'fuzzy' will hit them with Kwik Clear finings)

6 bottles of Elderflower white

6 bottles of 'Thai Chardonnay'

6 bottles of 'Black Coffee' red (my signature artisan success, so far)

6 bottles of experimental 'Black Tea' red (going to try popping some strong, strong Earl Grey in a Cab Sauv kit with some sugary blackberries and some vanilla)

As yet to be decided high-volume cider. Missus' department, really. Probably pomegranate and apple, but we'll see.

With other supplies still on the racks, that ought to see us through the big day and give us some other stuff to drink in the interim.

axolotl - 19 Feb 2015 12:23:46 (#288 of 663)

Wow - what an epic brewfest, dj!

djsuggz - 19 Feb 2015 14:28:49 (#289 of 663)


There were 40-50 visitors last year, and we'll no doubt see similar this year, so I am thinking ahead.

Actually I shan't be bothering with the Thai Chardonnay; we'll have some more of the nice Young's Gooseberry kit, instead. That makes a lovely, sharp and crystal clear wine.

djsuggz - 20 Feb 2015 10:22:06 (#290 of 663)

Cherry cider bottled-up, now.

Very clear, and really quite sharp tasting, which is nice.

Other boozular accoutrements to come will include the bedding-in of a gooseberry bush, this Spring, the sowing of the sloe-bush seeds, hopefully our first few grapes on the grape vine, and a wee crop from the apple tree. Nice to feel that the year is slowly starting to turn. Snowdrops and daffodil bulbs are just starting to poke through in our borders.

axolotl - 20 Feb 2015 13:06:13 (#291 of 663)

I've just recently bottled some of our brews, namely the homemade cider and the raspberry mead. The latter is surprisingly good (but terrifyingly alcoholic, about 17-18% I reckon). The former is somewhat more variable. The cider made from supermarket apple juice is rather good but the cider I made from found apples is much less pleasant - it's so sour it'd make your gums recede. Not quite sure what to do with it.

djsuggz - 20 Feb 2015 13:20:01 (#292 of 663)

One of my colleagues cut a similar brew with some vinegar and gave it away as cider vinegar. And, I have to say, it's excellent. I used some of our bottle only this week in a salad dressing.

axolotl - 21 Feb 2015 11:38:30 (#293 of 663)

What an excellent idea! I love cider vinegar for cooking purposes.

djsuggz - 25 Feb 2015 18:49:44 (#294 of 663)

All kits now on the premises! The Big Cider will be done from cartons of juice after Easter.

Opted for a Festival kit, called Razorback, a strong pale ale (40 pints at 5.7% ABV). Paid a bit more for it, so am hopeful of a good one. Comes with hop pellets and everything!

djsuggz - 25 Feb 2015 21:50:04 (#295 of 663)

Both my reds (blackberry and coffee, blackberry and earl grey tea) are tapping along nicely already. Amazing how, given they are the same kits (Wilco Cab Sauv - dull on its own but quite agreeable if you monkey with it) one of them (with tea) goes berserk and bubbles fermenting foam up through and out of the airlock, and the other (with coffee) just ticks over nice and neatly contained. Strange, eh? Mirror ingredients and quantities.

djsuggz - 25 Feb 2015 21:53:39 (#296 of 663)

Elderflower is slower to start, but makes a nice clean wine, as does the gooseberry (Young's) that I picked up earlier.

Pilsner filling the tub with foam; smells okay. Stout with a tin of Black Treacle and a whole tin of drinking chocolate already smells a million dollars. Amazing amounts of CO2; makes the lid dome outwards inside a couple of hours!

djsuggz - 25 Feb 2015 21:59:37 (#297 of 663)

Full of brewing thoughts tonight. No doubt a result of being off the sauce myself for 40 days. Personal tradition this time of year.

As I do like a fruit juice cider, I was just wondering about getting hold of some sort of Poundshop 'Um Bongo' and making a demijohn's worth of that.

Anyone else got any new projects underway? Or some new ideas?

axolotl - 25 Feb 2015 22:19:18 (#298 of 663)

"I was just wondering about getting hold of some sort of Poundshop 'Um Bongo' and making a demijohn's worth of that."

I had similar ideas the last time I was in Aldi but I was disappointed to discover that the juices I looked at were mostly water, plus some juice, acid and flavourings. I will check out Lidl at some point and report back.

Our elderflower wine still bubbling away at a healthy rate. Not sure whether to leave it as a wine or bottle carbonate it when it's finished. The current batch of raspberry beer seems to have done its thing so that'll be a bottling session coming up soon.

Your treacle and chocolate stout sounds very promising. Liking the "throw the whole tin in" approach.

djsuggz - 26 Feb 2015 09:19:10 (#299 of 663)

Yeah, I am not really one of life's measuring folk. I figure these things are mostly sugar, which the yeast will eat, and so up the voltage of booze (the basic kit behind it is only 4% ABV); the rest is lots and lots of flavour, which is all good.

One of the things I like about this is that one doesn't tend to make exactly the same product twice. It's sort of ever-evolving, if you will?

axolotl - 26 Feb 2015 18:35:02 (#300 of 663)

Yeah, I like that about homebrew. It also means that, from time to time, you brew something really awesome (and then can't quite remember what you put in it....!)

djsuggz - 26 Feb 2015 19:34:05 (#301 of 663)

Same as with food really, as a non-recipe chef. There's meals I have made in the past I would love to recall with a snap of my fingers. Plenty I'd consign to the vortex, mind.

As you say, it's that now and again "this is fantastic" moment that's so ace.

Everything bubbling away under nice control, now.

Antimatter - 27 Feb 2015 13:57:32 (#302 of 663)

Brewing currently curtailed, I had a rotten bladder infection which has meant I have spent the last couple of months vomiting etc, all under control now but I have taken against our current stock of wine. I have 50 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and I cannot stand the thought of drinking them. This is most unlike me. So my thoughts have turned to beer, however, our Christmas tree this year was 7' tall, when I finally took it down at the end of January, the snows had started in earnest so it is now languishing in the garage and spitting out pine needles at every available opportunity. As we still have 11' of snow on the ground, I will not be able to move it to the wood pile until end of March at the earliest, so the garage is currently out of commission.

However, thinking it forward, that raspberry mead sounds interesting, what's your recipe axolotl?

djsuggz - 27 Feb 2015 14:05:16 (#303 of 663)

Yes, indeed, do tell, axo!

Hello Anti - lovely to see you. Could you pop a case of your SB over to my missus, do you think?

axolotl - 27 Feb 2015 14:55:26 (#304 of 663)

4.5lb honey 250ml white grape concentrate 1tsp grape tanin 2.5g mixed acid 12oz frozen raspberries 1tsp yeast nutrients Gervin wine yeastWater to 1 gallon

I started by boiling up a couple of litres of water, then dissolving in the honey. concentrate, tanin, acid, and yeast nutrient. Then I added the raspberries, still frozen. I poured the whole lot into a demijon and topped up to 1 gallon with cold water - the mixture was then at about 25C so I bunged the yeast in straight away. I racked after the first week and again after about a month - this helps to separate the wine from the solid particles of fruit. Finally, I used Kwik Clear finings to render it crystal clear (but bright red!) and bottled up.

Even if I do say so myself, it's the best tasting brew I've made in some time. I'm hoping it'll be even better by next Christmas.

Enjoy :-)

djsuggz - 27 Feb 2015 15:23:24 (#305 of 663)

More than half tempting that.

Be interesting to see where I might buy 4.5lb of honey for anything less than £££...

Pretty sure I can get all of it from either Wilco or my brewing shop.

Did you manage to get the raspberries out of your demijohn okay?

nemo75 - 27 Feb 2015 20:48:01 (#306 of 663)

Costco would solve the honey issue.

djsuggz - 27 Feb 2015 21:03:55 (#307 of 663)

One of those places you need a card for? I might know someone...

axolotl - 28 Feb 2015 21:49:15 (#308 of 663)

"Be interesting to see where I might buy 4.5lb of honey for anything less than £££.."

Aldi :-)

Raspberries came out fine. Because they were pre-frozen they quickly broke down into mush.

djsuggz - 28 Feb 2015 22:03:16 (#309 of 663)

I did wonder if that might be the case.

Aldi 'round the corner from us. I'll have a look-see.

Half tempted to do this as a little side project to the mass BBQ brew.

What sort of voltage is it, axo?

axolotl - 01 Mar 2015 14:31:45 (#310 of 663)

I reckon it's about 15-16%. Quite pokey.

djsuggz - 01 Mar 2015 14:54:39 (#311 of 663)

Ideal. I'll keep a couple of bottles back for us and spread the rest around mini kilner jars as gifts for chums for Christmas.

Nice one, thanks.

djsuggz - 06 Mar 2015 11:00:49 (#312 of 663)

Moving things on a bit, this weekend. Both the tubs of Pilsner and Choc 'n Treacle Stout have had a fortnight to putter away, so I shall, one by one, siphon them off their leavings, into a holding vessel, and then back again to be fined, before they go into sugared bottles next week. Then the work on the Exec pale ale kit, and the apple and pomegranate cider can commence with the larger vessels freed-up.

The two artisan reds are now behaving themselves. I need to get to firing up the gooseberry white wine at some point. Then it's just the mead recipe above to get working on, and we should have everything we need made, stored, chilled and matured nice in time for the big day (Sunday 16th August).

Lovely stuff. I might use the interim period to dream up a couple of other things, just for us at home.

axolotl - 06 Mar 2015 12:09:29 (#313 of 663)

Great stuff, Dj.

A couple of top tips. Firstly, to avoid the faff of measuring and adding sugar to each bottle, consider bulk priming: Add the sugar to the barrel just before syphoning into bottles. I've used this calculator for working our the correct amount of sugar to add:

Secondly, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it hard to get an accurate reading from a standard hydrometer when fermentation has finished or almost finished. An aquarium hydrometer (designed for salt water reef tanks) is a useful alternative for measuring low SG - it's roughly twice as accurate as a beer and wine hydrometer. They're also quite cheap - a few quid.

djsuggz - 06 Mar 2015 13:00:55 (#314 of 663)

Interesting. I've never really got 'round the measuring the whole 'how strong is it' element of things. I suppose I should, really.

I may well for bulk sugaring this time, having fined the stuff to a point of clearness. It can always settle again in the bottles if mixing in the sugar stirs up any remaining sediments.

djsuggz - 08 Mar 2015 10:00:04 (#315 of 663)

Findings into the two big brews now. Both smell pretty agreeable. A good 80 pints to bottle up next weekend.

djsuggz - 08 Mar 2015 10:02:11 (#316 of 663)

Will start on the pale ale, then, and the cider just after payday.

The missus laid waste the other bottle of Blueberry Pop cider last night. It smelled delicious having sat for a few months in the fridge in the garage.

Have to make some more of that at some stage.

axolotl - 08 Mar 2015 16:35:15 (#317 of 663)

"It can always settle again in the bottles if mixing in the sugar stirs up any remaining sediments."

When I've done bulk priming, I've always racked the beer/cider first. It's a little more work, but there's a lot of time saved later.

I must admit, I don't usually bother working out the alcohol percentage very accurately. But on the odd occasion that I have, an aquarium hydrometer made it easier (and I just happened to have one hanging around).

We really need to get our arses into gear and bottle some of this lovely raspberry beer.

djsuggz - 16 Mar 2015 15:00:39 (#318 of 663)

Right, well, progress has been made.

20 litres of Pilsner and 21 litres of Chocolate and Treacle Stout bulk-primed and bottled and labelled, all ready to spend some time carbonating and maturing in the garage. Lovely lovely.

The three wines from the first batch are starting to slow down, and the gooseberry white is now underway. Started the 'Razorback IPA' kit, yesterday as well, which should yield another 22 litres. It has hop pellets in the kit, which I have to pop into the mix on Thursday. Most exciting!

So, now it's just two more things to get going on: a big bucket of 20 litres of milady's cider (apple and pomegranate again would get my vote) and the excitements of the raspberry mead discussed above.

Pause for a bit to let things tick over, once all the items are underway. Might have a think about some more artisan red wine making, during the Summer months.

djsuggz - 16 Mar 2015 15:17:53 (#319 of 663)

I realise now, with back-stocks included, we'll shortly have more than 200 pints on the premises, and more than 80 bottles of home-made wine.


axolotl - 18 Mar 2015 12:46:32 (#320 of 663)

How did the bulk priming go?

djsuggz - 18 Mar 2015 15:34:25 (#321 of 663)

Fine, I think, axo. It's a lot easier, for sure. I just panic a bit about equalising the spread, but I gave it a good old stir.

The pilsner was a little less lively than the stout, but I think it should pick up enough to gas the brew sufficiently. It'll stand untouched now for another 4.5 months or so.

Those two flavoured reds are starting to slow right down, now. I am fascinated to find out what a cab sauv with blackberry and earl grey notes in it will taste like.

djsuggz - 19 Mar 2015 20:32:32 (#322 of 663)

Hop pellets are 24h in the pale ale now. Don't half chuck up at the moment, but we'll see!

djsuggz - 21 Mar 2015 09:18:05 (#323 of 663)

Final big project underway. Just the mead to work on after this.

Nip over 20 litres of Apple and Raspberry cider.

20 litres of apple juice, a jar of honey, three tins of raspberries in syrup, 300g of sugar and 20g of yeast. Simplicity itself. Couple of weeks to bubble, rack into something clean and then a week to settle before bottling up.

Total cost, just over 30p per pint.

nemo75 - 21 Mar 2015 09:18:39 (#324 of 663)

Oh, that sounds very interesting indeed!

djsuggz - 21 Mar 2015 10:17:36 (#325 of 663)

£11.56 of ingredients and a large vessel is all you need neems.

Latterly a few plastic bottles, a tube and some 70p sterilising tablets, I guess, but it's a super cheap way of generating some nice booze.

Still contemplating that Um Bongo notion.

nemo75 - 21 Mar 2015 11:15:08 (#326 of 663)

I must away. Trying not to think about booze for another 25 hours.

Running Reading tomorrow.

djsuggz - 21 Mar 2015 11:17:48 (#327 of 663)

Indeed. Today is my 28th day (of 40) of juicelessness. Bit bored, but it's all good really.

Run well, good fellow.

nemo75 - 21 Mar 2015 11:27:10 (#328 of 663)

Thankee Kindly!

JennyRad - 21 Mar 2015 19:24:22 (#329 of 663)

Good luck, neems! A friend of mine is running it too - I expect to be feeding her a lot of cider tomorrow evening.

axolotl - 21 Mar 2015 22:38:39 (#330 of 663)

#323 - Sound excellent. We're currently enjoying some of the cider I made a couple of months back, using Aldi apple juice, and it's genuinely decent. I got the slightly more expensive (but still really quite cheap) not from concentrate type. I'm not sure there's much difference in taste though.

I think we'll have to give that apple and raspberry brew a go before this summer arrives.

djsuggz - 31 Mar 2015 15:20:03 (#331 of 663)

I shall be picking up my honey and raspberries later on today to have a bash at mead making. Got the other bits and bobs all sorted.

Going to start it off in a bucket, I think, and go through the initial racking phase from there, so's I don't have to get solid fruit matter into a demijohn.

All rather exciting.

djsuggz - 31 Mar 2015 22:34:12 (#332 of 663)

The mead is underway...

djsuggz - 02 Apr 2015 14:18:07 (#333 of 663)

.. and smells quite agreeable, a couple of days in. Going to let it sit and continue to works its magic for a few days in the small fermenting bucket whilst we nip off to Bulgaria for a short holiday. Just the liquid itself will be off into a demijohn in about a weeks or so from now.

Elsewhere, the Razorback IPA is fining away quite nicely. Gets clearer by the day. At the same time as the job above it'll be mass-primed and bottled. High hopes. V hoppy brew. The big raspberry and apple cider won't be far behind. Had a noseful of that the other day, and it smells awesome.

Further elsewhere, all four demijohns of wine (Gooseberry, Elderflower, Black Tea and Black Coffee) are all into the fining phase as well. Our siphons will be quite busy, once we're back from holiday!

KittyKarateRedux - 09 Apr 2015 16:05:58 (#334 of 663)

I'm such a conservative brewer, I'm basically 'buy a wine kit', 'follow instructions slavishly', 'drink in moderation' type. I admire your willingness to try chucking stuff in like the tea and coffee.

TheRenegadeMaster - 09 Apr 2015 16:32:42 (#335 of 663)

I'm quiet tempted by chucking some local oysters into a wilko's stout kit to see what happens

Hundredsand - 09 Apr 2015 18:22:24 (#336 of 663)

Nooooo! Not until it's finished. Then chuck one in a glass.

djsuggz - 13 Apr 2015 16:43:34 (#337 of 663)


End of the first day back in the office, and time for an update on the latest creations.

In the last week, we have decanted:

4.5 litres each of:

Foolish Gooseberry

Enthusiastic Elderflower

Black Coffee

Black Tea

A further 20 litres of Razorback IPA

A further 20 litres of apple and raspberry cider

So, just the 58 litres of additional stock. We have something ludicrous like 200 litres of homemade booze on the property just now. Good job we're having a party in the Summer!

The cider was just a tiny bit disappointing at first, but I think will mellow. The Razorback IPA is already a smooth drink with a hoppy bite; just needs to condition in the bottle for a bit.

The two whites are as good as ever - there is no better kit for producing a quick clear wine than Young's Gooseberry - it's a steal for £8.50.

The winner this round was the Black Tea red wine. Makes a smoother and more herbal tasting Cab Sauv than the coffee and blackberry mixture. Went very nicely straight from the demijohn with my dinner of cheese and ham omelette. It should sit and mature quite encouragingly.

So, just the old raspberry mead puttering away, now. Ready to rack into a second clean vessel in just over another week or so. Beautiful colour.

Having a bit of time off, but also starting to think of what comes next. Certainly a second go elderflower fizz, I think. First batch was lush, cleared a treat but was a bastard to serve cleanly. Also wondering about a more dry and crisp wine, made from veg, with less sugar. Not sure what, though. Maybe kale, or something less obvious.

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2015 10:54:17 (#338 of 663)

Just to keep this bumping along.

We're starting to have discussions on the home front about creating a still, which we'll use to work up a couple of bottles of the Apple Assault sweet white we made last year. It will get drunk at some stage, I guess, but it seems if we can get an old-fashioned pressure cooker for the stove top and a coil of copper wire and an old bucket to put it in (soaked in water) that may be enough for a bit of experimentation on a first batch of Doom Hooch.

Has anyone tried this? I know it isn't necessarily that legal, but we'd like to complete the full 'set'.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 11:09:32 (#339 of 663)

My bulgarian mates used to do the pressure cooker still thing to make home brew rakia. None of them are dead yet.

Hundredsand - 16 Apr 2015 13:11:12 (#340 of 663)

there is no better kit for producing a quick clear wine than Young's Gooseberry

djsuggz - are you buying this from a local home-brewing merchant or ordering online?

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2015 14:02:32 (#341 of 663)

Hello Hundred.

From a local shop, for convenience's sake, but it's easy peasy to get one online:

It's really, really nice. Ever so good - even straight out of the demijohn, after a few days to clear.

I'm pleased to hear about the rakia tale; I'll confess to being quite excited about the production of some straight out thunderous spirits.

Shabbyman - 16 Apr 2015 14:12:35 (#342 of 663)

Bubbling away at the moment I have 3 demijohns of apfelwein which should be ready in time for summer evenings. I'll be making some ginger beer in a week or two for drinking young and cloudy.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 14:21:52 (#343 of 663)

Sadly Tesco Direct don't do the gooseberry country wine kit. Have you tried any of the other variants? My local brew shop lists it on their website, but their bricks and mortar shop is pretty random.

I'm a lazy mare who uses Tesco a lot as they quite often have 25% off on home brew (one just finished) and they are on the way home from work.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 14:26:14 (#344 of 663)

Anyway, MrKitty is hogging our limited brew space by making an I.P.A. from a recipe in this book.

In a kind of all or nothing way, it's his first ever home brew and he's done it all without a kit.

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2015 15:55:17 (#345 of 663)

It's a quite tempting notion to have a go at beer from scratch. That's another thing I am as yet to try, but it always struck me as likely to be a bit of a faff, somehow.

However that's rather defeatist talk, I realise, and I love real ale, so maybe I should have a crack at it. I have background concerns about the availability of all the ingredients, but I might take a turn round my local place and have a look to see what they have in, as set against a list from an online recipe.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 16:12:07 (#346 of 663)

Oh I'd definitely agree it's got a high faff factor. Also possibly needs more 'stuff' in terms of pans, thermometers and miscellaneous grains.

I bet your local place has all the bits though - this is my local place and while their shop is mainly leaning towers of kits, they had all the bits for grain based brewing hidden around the place.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 16:16:33 (#347 of 663)

I wish there were more small batch beer kits available. I don't want 40 pints of beer cluttering up the house. 20 pints is a big ask, but 8-10 pints would be perfect.

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2015 16:22:18 (#348 of 663)

That's what our garage is for. There are mighty mighty great shelves on the walls that are now full of bottles for the Summer. It would not be feasible on that scale inside the house, although the fermentation stages take place in the kitchen, so we can keep an eye on things.

I really am tempted to do just one 40-pint run, and see how much it differs from the Razorback kit we bottled recently. That looks to be pretty splendid, at a net cost of about 50p per pint, and was beautifully altered by hop pellets. However, something from scratch as a comparison might be fun. And safer than distilling my apple wine.

Your brew shop sounds like ours. Kits up to the rafters, and other bits and bobs scattered around. It's quite a captivating place. Like a laboratory for boozehounds.

Tomnoddy - 16 Apr 2015 16:24:12 (#349 of 663)

I've a copy of Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home (CAMRA Guides) by Roger Protz, unless Son No2 has gone off with it. It is a fascinating read, with a lot of (now a bit out of date) info on sourcing etc. Protz recmmends getting hold of an old tea urn for amshing up.

Not having an urn, I've only ever salivated over the book and recipes.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 16:28:05 (#350 of 663)

Actually as I'm a lazy mare/conservative brewer, I'd happily buy a larger kit and not use all of it, but I'm guessing that it's not as straight forwards as only prepping 50% of the ingredients and I'm guessing they're not easily resealable.

Tomnoddy - 16 Apr 2015 16:28:15 (#351 of 663)

As for distilling, my grandad was a blacksmith, and made his own whisky still with a copper worm. It lived in the outside privy at his remote cottage in the hills south of Edinburgh.

My dad and his two brothers had a ceremonial drinking of the last bottle of moonshine in our house ten years after the old man died. They allowed my cousin Erchie to sip it as he was now considered old enough. The other four Noddy cousins could only look on in envy.

Shabbyman - 16 Apr 2015 16:40:21 (#352 of 663)


If you're brewing all-grain or even partial, 18 litres is about as small a batch as it's worth doing, just because of the faff involved. If you don't want all that much of the end product, why not give it away once it's bottled and let it clutter up someone else's house?

A smaller, higher OG brew like a trippel or an imperial stout might be one answer, but the stronger the beer the longer it takes to mature so you still get the clutter.

djsuggz - 16 Apr 2015 16:42:46 (#353 of 663)

That's a rather touching story, Tom.

So far as I can see, the only issue I'd have with the beer plan would be boiling up sufficient malt extract. I only have a vessel large enough to boil, I'd say, about 1.5-2 gallons of fluid. I guess I could do it in shifts, and add the same modest amount of hop pellets and other flavours each time. It all needs to cool down anyway, before you can add the yeast.

Sound reasonable?

Shabbyman - 16 Apr 2015 16:48:06 (#354 of 663)

Or you can go the hop tea + dry hopping route and avoid boiling altogether and still get great results. It only gets as complicated as you choose to make it.

KittyKarateRedux - 16 Apr 2015 16:54:48 (#355 of 663)

I'd have more chance giving away bottles of Chateau du Chat 'Chardonnay' than beer with my social circle. I'm a hoppy outcast.

deadmanwalking23 - 17 Apr 2015 09:19:02 (#356 of 663)

I've just started making stout again after a couple of years break. I just made some Coopers stuff which is really nice. Can anyone recommend any other brands or a decent online shop?

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 09:25:46 (#357 of 663)

Morning dmw.

I made my latest batch of chocolate and treacle stout using the basic Wilko kit, and I tried the test bottle last night to find it was smooth and tasty:

Can't really go wrong for a tenner.

deadmanwalking23 - 17 Apr 2015 09:46:04 (#358 of 663)


Yeah was thinking I may have to go to Wilko, there's not really one near me but can travel. The postage buying online whacks the price up a bit.

Just seen the link, now thinking it may be better to buy online as the range in my nearest place (Woolwich or Penge) wasn't that great.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 10:01:14 (#359 of 663)

Or you can go the hop tea + dry hopping route and avoid boiling altogether and still get great results. It only gets as complicated as you choose to make it.

I'm trying to work out how this works, by having a bit of a google, but I am not really getting anywhere. perhaps I am being thick?

Surely, if one is to use malt extract, or spray malt, for the sugar element, it needs to be heated up so as to dissolve? And, as part of that process, one wants a nice bag of hops sat in the heating fluid. I can't really see how to make beer without, at least initially, some heat.

Shabbyman - 17 Apr 2015 12:03:08 (#360 of 663)

Hot water from the kettle will do the trick and the instructions on extract kits specify how much so that when you top up your fermentation vessel with cold water it's all at about the right temperature to pitch the yeast. Malt extract syrup comes pre-hopped as all the boiling was done at the factory. You can of course dilute and boil to attenuate hop content but making a hop tea cuts the faff and works well too.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 12:43:08 (#361 of 663)

Yes, thanks, that makes a lot of sense to me now - bit dense at the start of the day, I've warmed up the grey matter now. I am thinking of using either 2 x Wilko tins of malt extract, or some of their bags of malt spray, dissolved into a comparatively smaller amount of kettle-boiled water. I like very much the idea of a hop/special grains tea, made with a muslin bag and then chucked in the main fermenter when it's cooler. Sort of a pot pourri approach, into which I could add a bit of floral flavour. It works well with the top up liquids for the demijohns of wine that I make.

deadmanwalking23 - 17 Apr 2015 12:43:58 (#362 of 663)

latest batch of chocolate and treacle stout

Hey Suggz, did you add the chocolate and treacle yourself? If so how and when?

Shabbyman - 17 Apr 2015 12:52:12 (#363 of 663)

2 cans of extract is a good way to go as you get more body, flavour and head retention in your finished beer. Adding sugar ups the ABV but gives a thinner result.

TheRenegadeMaster - 17 Apr 2015 12:53:00 (#364 of 663)

I am thinking of using either 2 x Wilko tins of malt extract, or some of their bags of malt spray,

House brew (sourced from Wilko's penge) is one tasteless lager kit, one tasteless bitter kit, one bag muntons spray malt (which seems to be 50% dextrose), brew til ready ish, then make a hop tea out of 50g citra from the malt miller online. It is awesome

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 13:22:14 (#365 of 663)

Yep, no worries at all, dmw.

Once I had mixed the Wilko kit in with the boiling water, and topped up with cold water to 20-odd litres, I quite simply upturned a jar of Tesco value drinking chocolate (a tub's about 90p) and a tin of Lyon's Black Treacle (a quid, over the road in Home Bargains).

I then stirred it in, to get rid of any lumps, pitched the yeast and stuck the lid on. It really works jolly well.

This time round I worked on the mass-priming principle. The second batch of this last year got bit fizzy, primed by the bottle. It's better to put 90g of sugar into 20-22 litres' worth. Just a light agitation and a bit of head in the glass on pouring.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 13:25:47 (#366 of 663)

House brew (sourced from Wilko's penge) is one tasteless lager kit, one tasteless bitter kit, one bag muntons spray malt (which seems to be 50% dextrose), brew til ready ish, then make a hop tea out of 50g citra from the malt miller online. It is awesome

Excellent! How do you make the tea? Just steep the hops in a bag in boiling water for a while?

deadmanwalking23 - 17 Apr 2015 13:32:58 (#367 of 663)

Think I'd like to try and chocolate and treacle but not sure about on a whole batch, you think I could do it at the bottling stage for a few bottles to taste?

TheRenegadeMaster - 17 Apr 2015 13:33:55 (#368 of 663)

split into 3 batches . boil first lot in a saucepan at 60 degrees for 45 minutes. poor into top of fermeneter at end

boil second batch at 80 degrees for 5 minutes

boil 3rd batch at clsoe to boiling for 90 seconds.

each time just pour in top of fermenter before racking. it disturbs the sediment a little bit but it seems to work for me. plus you can definitely tell its citra.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 13:35:28 (#369 of 663)

Not terribly easily, no, as the ingredients are a bit gungey and sticky and whatnot. Plus you want time for the flavour to get into the booze.

However, could you consider, once the initial stir and top up to 20 litres work has been done, pouring off a few litres and doing a small, doctored brew alongside the main one?

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 13:38:48 (#370 of 663)

each time just pour in top of fermenter before racking. it disturbs the sediment a little bit but it seems to work for me.

And, presumably, racking the combined liquids mixes the hop tea into the main brew sufficiently to gather the taste in each bottle?

What sort of quantity of tea to malt brew do you make? 1:20?

TheRenegadeMaster - 17 Apr 2015 14:19:57 (#371 of 663)

there seems to be sufficient time for the mixtures to mingle. top of the funnel sits below the water line.

I tend to ferment in a bucket, fine, transfer to pressure barrel (purely for ease of dispensing, plus removal of most of the lees, i don't tend to pressurise), settle again for a few days and then just bung in the hops and bottle soon after. It's about 1:20 ish, yes. possibly a bit less. It's the main reason i add the spraymalt in to beef it up in advance before it is watered down. This stuff can keep for months, possibly a year or more due to both hop and alcohol content, but i've never had the patience to leave it for long enough to find out.

KittyKarateRedux - 17 Apr 2015 14:24:19 (#372 of 663)

If it ever gets warm and sunny I think I'll have a go at making Kvass

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 14:32:37 (#373 of 663)

Ooh, that looks interesting, Kitty. Thanks for sharing. Bet it's an interesting taste.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 14:34:12 (#374 of 663)

I'm brimming with enthusiasm for making some slightly more artisan beer, now. Going to look online for hops.

TheRenegadeMaster - 17 Apr 2015 14:40:49 (#375 of 663)

Heh, due to its popularity, citra hops are now unavailable at the malt miller. oh well, a switch to a pioneer / chinook blend it is. I've been off the brewing due to moving house, but will be on it again with a vengeance in a few weeks and am properly inspired by the stout options of this thread.

KittyKarateRedux - 17 Apr 2015 14:46:07 (#376 of 663)

A Russian colleague brought me a bottle of kvass as a thank you present. It's definitely a bit unusual, kind of sweet and sour, heading more towards sour the longer you have it.

djsuggz - 17 Apr 2015 15:28:54 (#377 of 663)

I like the look of Cascade hops, by the description.

If I did a bulk buy off that site, even with a few delivery costs I could be making a brew at about 55p per pint, I reckon. V tempting.

djsuggz - 20 Apr 2015 11:58:45 (#378 of 663)

Raspberry mead is slowing, but still going.

Time to rack it off into a fresh vessel, I think. Want the finished product to be super clear.

djsuggz - 22 Apr 2015 09:17:38 (#379 of 663)

Job done.

Lovely colour, pleasingly sweet and strong already.

It'll be working for a while longer, I'd say. Happily it doesn't seem to 'leave' very much. Good clean brew.

Shabbyman - 23 Apr 2015 08:20:59 (#380 of 663)

Reading back I think I see what you mean about boiling and hops. You could do an extract boil and add hops but it seems unnecessary if you're using a kit as it will already have hops added for bitterness and you have the hassle of cooling. You could up the bitterness by using hop extract, but the hop flavour largely comes from additions during fermentation and conditioning (if you use a keg).

TheRenegadeMaster - 23 Apr 2015 08:52:41 (#381 of 663)

the hop flavour largely comes from additions during fermentation

I read somewhere that fermentation could remove some of the flavourings, due to solubility of the compounds in CO2. Hence why i go for the end of priamry fermentation, but before secondary. Seems like the best of both worlds so far, but i'm sure i could improve it. I'm just nervous to tinker with a recipe working so well for now.

Also, you may wish to taste a Wilko's own brand bitter or pilsner kit and decide for yourself if there are any discernible hop flavours. Or indeed you may not. Woodford wherry on the other hand makes a cracking kit that i wouldn't add anything to.

djsuggz - 23 Apr 2015 10:17:30 (#382 of 663)

I read somewhere that fermentation could remove some of the flavourings, due to solubility of the compounds in CO2. Hence why I go for the end of primary fermentation, but before secondary. Seems like the best of both worlds so far, but I'm sure I could improve it. I'm just nervous to tinker with a recipe working so well for now.

When I get round to this, I intend to go for much the same plan. Make my 'tea', elsewhere, chuck it into the main brew (not a kit brew) and let the combined fluids do their work to form one conditioned beer.

TheRenegadeMaster - 23 Apr 2015 10:25:20 (#383 of 663)

I have discovered that lovebrewing will do free delivery for orders over £46, and sell coopers malt (without hops), so just need to bulk order 5 tins and we're away. Result!

djsuggz - 23 Apr 2015 10:38:54 (#384 of 663)

Lovebrewing, you say?

I shall have a look.

deadmanwalking23 - 23 Apr 2015 10:59:29 (#385 of 663)

Wilko is free for over £50 I think

axolotl - 23 Apr 2015 16:56:24 (#386 of 663)

"Lovely colour, pleasingly sweet and strong already."

Nice one! Glad it turned out well for you. Mine is maturing in a dark corner now, ready for Christmas.

Thanks for the free delivery heads-up chaps!

Hundredsand - 29 Apr 2015 17:47:26 (#387 of 663)

This has loads of recipes:

deadmanwalking23 - 30 Apr 2015 09:24:08 (#388 of 663)

started another batch of stout last weekend and will bottle it in the next few days. Used brewers sugar when making the mix and have some left, will it make any difference if I use ordinary sugar when I bottle it or should I keep using brewers sugar? Doubt it would make that much difference but still.

TheRenegadeMaster - 30 Apr 2015 09:30:38 (#389 of 663)

I use normal sugar, it's fine, for me. I find that the addition of brewing sugar more cumbersome as it seems to absorb moisture whilst dispensing it in, resulting in a less even amount in each bottle, or a more fiddly time ocnsuming process.(I use something a bit like this:


If i was using the pressure barrel, I would definitely just chuck in 85g malt extract.

I am considering growing hops.

Post deleted by user
djsuggz - 30 Apr 2015 09:40:39 (#391 of 663)

I am considering growing hops.

Now there's a fine notion.

Our grape vine that we put in last year has, very happily, made it back to life in Spring. Other fruit bushes are tootling along well enough, and I have high hopes, eventually, for the sloes.

And yes, I use conventional sugar for priming; works fine. Definitely go in for the bulk method, now.

TheRenegadeMaster - 30 Apr 2015 09:43:14 (#392 of 663)

One of my colleagues at work does, and I do live in a very hoppy area so should be possible. However It will need to be in a pot and also compete with my (cider) apple tree espalier plans, so we shall have to see.

deadmanwalking23 - 30 Apr 2015 09:45:00 (#393 of 663)

I have just used standard tate and lyle in the past with good results. Probably won't need a whole kilo when bottling so wondering wither it's worth opening a fresh bag of brewing sugar.

Post deleted by user
djsuggz - 30 Apr 2015 10:08:34 (#395 of 663)

I use about 9g per 2 litre plastic bottle for 'real' ale, just to generate a little agitation in the glass. More like 12-13g for lagers where you want more oomph.

deadmanwalking23 - 30 Apr 2015 10:12:15 (#396 of 663)

I use about a teaspoon per 500ml bottle, sometimes a little extra. No exact measurements

axolotl - 30 Apr 2015 11:23:29 (#397 of 663)

"I am considering growing hops."

I like the idea of growing hops but unfortunately limited garden space means it wouldn't be easy. We're already growing apples, raspberries, gooseberries and a wide range of herbs - plenty of ingredients for future booze.

djsuggz - 30 Apr 2015 11:29:06 (#398 of 663)

We're already growing apples, raspberries, gooseberries and a wide range of herbs

Snap, plus grapes, blueberries and sloes to come!

Love it.

PS Raspberry mead still ticking over, slowly.

axolotl - 30 Apr 2015 11:37:27 (#399 of 663)

Ahh, I wish we could grow grapes here.

djsuggz - 30 Apr 2015 12:10:08 (#400 of 663)

I don't know how far we'll succeed. At least the vine is growing, has buds and leaves, etc. Well watered and in the sunniest part of the garden. It'll be attractive, even if not prolific.

Hundredsand - 30 Apr 2015 16:41:06 (#401 of 663)

I pitched yeast in a little too soon for another rhubarb creation, and I thought all was lost. However, having racked into a demijohn, see that it is now bubbling away.

djsuggz - 30 Apr 2015 17:49:33 (#402 of 663)

Good save!

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 09:50:12 (#403 of 663)

Milady went to Lidl, yesterday, and brought back a 1.5 litre bottle of their quasi-Um Bongo.

About 75p. Lovely stuff. Sort of like the multiple fruit/veg drink you get served, at times, in Continental hotels.

It's got to be done. Three of those, bag of sugar, pack of yeast, lid on. Wait.

In a tall glass, this summer, mixed with lemonade and crushed ice.

Antimatter - 01 May 2015 10:36:57 (#404 of 663)

We have always used regular sugar here, brewers sugar is expensive. Also, we always have regular sugar on hand for making up Hummingbird nectar. I would just caution that from experience it helps to be accurate with your dosage.

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 10:41:13 (#405 of 663)

I would just caution that from experience it helps to be accurate with your dosage.

Agree entirely with that. Particularly when priming.

axolotl - 01 May 2015 10:44:19 (#406 of 663)

Yeah, care is needed, although I find you can add a lot more than the regulation 1-tsp per bottle. In fact, you have to if you want anything approaching lager.

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 10:48:37 (#407 of 663)

You do, it's true. Same was also true of my fake elderflower champagne.

It's the stout and the brown and pale beer that needs close attention. You want some movement in the glass, and a bit of foam, too, but not have the stuff fizzing over your teeth.

axolotl - 01 May 2015 10:53:19 (#408 of 663)

Absolutely. Overly fizzy ale is horrible. I think it's actually quite a challenge to produce a decent real ale at home - certainly I've never managed to produce anything as good as what my local pub serves.

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 11:07:07 (#409 of 663)

The Razorback IPA got a first going-over last weekend, at an impromptu BBQ.

Available on Amazon, but a bit over-priced, there. It was only £23 at my brewing shop:

It's the best I have done so far with a beer primed in a bottle, rather than a keg. Closest to pub standards, anyway.

I like the whole keg thing, and as much as I am enthusiast for a good pint, the missus and I are never going to get through the stuff in sufficient time for it to stay good enough.

I suppose I could buy another pressure keg and just condition it there and then bottle some of it off? Hmmm..

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 11:09:42 (#410 of 663)

I watered it down just a bit. 5.7%'s a bit heavy-going for me, if I am going to have more than a single pint (and I generally do).

axolotl - 01 May 2015 11:30:03 (#411 of 663)

Cheers, dj, I'll check it out.

I tried doing the keg thing years ago but, with the exception of having a big party, my partner and I can't drink that much beer before it goes off. If I won the lottery, I'd invest in the Cornelius keg system but until then it'll have to be bottle priming.

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 11:41:54 (#412 of 663)

Inspired by the chat a couple of weeks ago, I just splurged a few quid on the Malt Miller website that was mentioned, including, in the process, some Citra hops for making a hop (and crushed barley) tea, to finish the brew off before clearing, priming, etc.

Delivery costs make it a bit expensive, but at least this way I can get everything in one bag, delivered to the door, to do the thing from scratch. 40 pints at 80p per pint. Still a third of the price of a cheap one in our CAMRA-friendly local, and with a whole lot of love going into it!

Project starts next week. Colour me excited..

deadmanwalking23 - 01 May 2015 12:13:21 (#413 of 663)

I find it hard to be exact with the sugar when pouring a teaspoon of sugar into the narrow neck of a bottle. Any tips?

djsuggz - 01 May 2015 12:28:39 (#414 of 663)

Method chez suggzy:

1. Grab cheapo digital kitchen scales, onto which I place a shot glass. Switch on.

2. Add required amount of sugar to the glass to reach correct weight.

3. Place small kitchen funnel into neck of bottle.

4. Empty contents of shot glass into funnel, and thence into bottle.

Works okay but, tbh, I am now a convert to mass priming.

deadmanwalking23 - 01 May 2015 12:42:12 (#415 of 663)

Yeah was just thinking I must buy a funnel!

djsuggz - 12 May 2015 08:43:11 (#416 of 663)

A wee while since my last update.

Raspberry mead still going. I make that about seven weeks now? Crikey.

Stuff arrived from the Malt Miller, so cracked off on that last Thursday. 3.5kg light malt extract and 1kg brewing sugar is fermenting along nicely, with a muslin bag of crushed wheat sat in it for flavour. Fining next Weds, then rack with hop tea to be made on BH Monday, all being well. Quite excited about this project.

axolotl - 13 May 2015 09:46:27 (#417 of 663)

Yeah, my batch of raspberry mead chugged away for ages too.

djsuggz - 13 May 2015 11:20:03 (#418 of 663)

Might pop the cork off and take a whiff of it later on, just to see what it smells like.

Going to be a beautiful colour once it's fined.

Other temptation is to rack it off again, just to get it clear of the must in the bottom. Want the most premium and clear product I can manufacture.

djsuggz - 15 May 2015 09:39:22 (#419 of 663)

In splendid news, milady picked up 4.5l of Lidl's cheapo version of Um Bongo, yesterday afternoon (a princely £2.34 the lot). So, tomorrow being 'sort out the garage' day, I shall drag a demijohn in, clean it and fire that up with a kilo of sugar and some cheapo yeast, and see what can be fashioned. Bit of fun, all for about £4 for six bottles of comedy grog.

Beer coming along nicely. Can smell the wheat in the muslin bag. About four days to go before the fining phase. Hop tea gets created on BH Monday, and we'll get it all together, primed and bottled!

Hundredsand - 16 May 2015 08:58:07 (#420 of 663)

I like the sound of gas bubbles making their way through the airlocks of the secondary. Happy yeast pets.

djsuggz - 16 May 2015 19:31:29 (#421 of 663)

Boozy Um Bongo is underway!

Bit scarily thick. We shall see...

deadmanwalking23 - 17 May 2015 14:09:41 (#422 of 663)

Got home yesterday to a kitchen covered in broken glass and a dark sticky mess over the floor, walls and ceilings!

Hundredsand - 17 May 2015 14:56:14 (#423 of 663)


axolotl - 17 May 2015 15:12:11 (#424 of 663)

Oh bugger. Too much enthusiasm with the priming sugar?

deadmanwalking23 - 17 May 2015 17:43:44 (#425 of 663)

Is that what it is? The priming sugar? I added a couple of bottles with some chocolate powder as well as the sugar.

deadmanwalking23 - 17 May 2015 17:47:43 (#426 of 663)

Or it may have been my two six year old assistants who were doubling up on the sugar as I went!

djsuggz - 18 May 2015 09:37:54 (#427 of 663)

Sorry to hear about things going bang! Oh dear..

Fining the 'from scratch' beer in the next 48h, as I think it is now cooked.

Um Bongo Booze is rattling along something quite fierce. Looks like a lava lamp on fast forward..

axolotl - 18 May 2015 10:38:43 (#428 of 663)

Chocolate powder often has a fair bit of sugar in it - that may have been the problem. Or the doubling up. These things happen. You're not a real home brewer until you've had a messy explosion....or something like that!

Lolling at lava-lamp style booze.

deadmanwalking23 - 18 May 2015 11:51:11 (#429 of 663)

My girlfriend decised to try a couple of my beers after I went to sleep Saturday night, both exploded as soon as she openned them giving the kitchen a second shower of stout as well as covering her from head to foot!

Just glad no-one was in when the first ones exploded as it would have meant a trip to A&E judging how far the broken glass went.

djsuggz - 18 May 2015 14:16:09 (#430 of 663)

Chocolate powder is much more safely added in the early stages of fermentation, I think. You get all the flavour, and the yeast eats all the sugar, so you know where you stand. Therefore when you then prime it, the only extra sugar fizz you are getting is from the modest amount you put in at the time (something like 90-100g total for 20-22 litres of stout), which is nice and sensible when coming out of the bottle and going into the glass.

deadmanwalking23 - 18 May 2015 14:52:55 (#431 of 663)

I should have listened earlier when you said that!

deadmanwalking23 - 19 May 2015 11:57:07 (#432 of 663)

'Home-brewed morphine' made possible

Hundredsand - 19 May 2015 15:40:12 (#433 of 663)

Wouldn't it be easier just to grow a few poppies?

axolotl - 20 May 2015 11:09:18 (#434 of 663)

Poppies are a lot of work (apparently) and the article really does show just how ignorant supposedly clever people are about the drugs trade. What any self-respecting drug lord would do is commission a far-eastern pharma lab to synthesise any synthetic opiate you like for a few quid.

djsuggz - 20 May 2015 11:13:04 (#435 of 663)

I'm not moving into the drugs trade, I don't think.

However, my from scratch beer is now set to fining mode!

Smells like beer, 'n all.

djsuggz - 22 May 2015 11:16:12 (#436 of 663)

TheRenegadeMaster - 17 Apr 2015 13:33:55 ( #368 of 435)

split into 3 batches . boil first lot in a saucepan at 60 degrees for 45 minutes. poor into top of fermeneter at end

boil second batch at 80 degrees for 5 minutes

boil 3rd batch at clsoe to boiling for 90 seconds.

each time just pour in top of fermenter before racking. it disturbs the sediment a little bit but it seems to work for me. plus you can definitely tell its citra.

I'm doing this on Monday. Quite exciting. Must remember to let each batch cool, so the yeast can pick up the priming sugar before bottling it up.

TheRenegadeMaster - 22 May 2015 11:58:58 (#437 of 663)

Ironically I've been inspired to make a chocolate and treacle stout next month. Though am 'bottling it' with respect to the oysters

deadmanwalking23 - 22 May 2015 12:02:26 (#438 of 663)

I'm glad I didn't include treacle in mine, the mess was bad enough as it was.

djsuggz - 22 May 2015 12:02:33 (#439 of 663)

The old choc and treacle's a fine glass, and a cheap affair, too. I may very well have some of last year's, tonight, when cooling off after my run.

Btw, did you use all of the 100g of hops in the vac pack from the Malt Miller? i.e three batches of 33g each?

TheRenegadeMaster - 22 May 2015 12:13:48 (#440 of 663)

50g in total, but mainly because the kits i used had already been hopped. if i went for example a Coopers unhopped one, i'd go for 100g per 23 litres. though i'd probably go for a proper bittering hop for the start, and go for 50/50 split. they keep reasonably well, i sealed it back up with gaffer tape though it did lose just a bit of freshness (over 8 weeks).

I'm definitely growing hops now. Prima Donna dwarf plant. it goes in this autumn. not sure if i need to dry them out before using or i can go straight into the pot. i guess i'll find out next September

djsuggz - 22 May 2015 12:17:55 (#441 of 663)

Hmm. My malt extract was unhopped, so perhaps I'll use the whole pack, and boil up half of them for the first lot at 60 degrees, and then 25% and 25% for the other times you mentioned a bit nearer to full boil.

All most exciting.

Cool to hear you are growing your own hops. That's ace.

Hundredsand - 23 May 2015 09:25:13 (#442 of 663)

I think hops are quite attractive plants.

elghunden - 24 May 2015 21:09:54 (#443 of 663)

I bottled my orange mead today. I think it went better than the cider (my previous and first ever brewing project). Certainly I managed to work the syphon and fill the bottles without spraying it everywhere.

Mead tastes... interesting. I have never had it before. The honey and orange combination will take som getting used to. It tastes a little like diluted throat sweets.

Shabbyman - 24 May 2015 21:15:57 (#444 of 663)

The longer you leave it in bottle the more mellow and complex it will become. I guess you're aiming for Xmas?

elghunden - 24 May 2015 21:20:37 (#445 of 663)

I wasn't really aiming for anything. But it is quite Christmassy. I think I will leave the rest of it until then.

djsuggz - 25 May 2015 14:30:11 (#446 of 663)

Made a litre or so of hop tea, today, with a little wheat in the first batch. Has the look of a pungent big mug of, well, tea.

Had to fine the main brew a second time, as it's rather too cloudy for what I want. Going to let the tea cool, mix it in gently and then give the whole lot another 24h to settle before racking a second time, priming and bottling.

Fingers crossed. All the smells are right!

Managed to score promises of a whole lot of fruit and juice over the Summer, so proper red wine, cherry wine, cherry vodka and damson and plum boozes all look good prospects. Excellent.

KittyKarateRedux - 26 May 2015 08:32:25 (#447 of 663)

My red wine (kit) has come out very weedy and tasteless. It was weedy and tasteless on bottling, and a month later it still hasn't developed a personality. Don't get the Youngs 7 day Merlot. The whites are ok, but the merlot is a big disappointment. The bugger is I got 2 of these kits when they were on offer - any suggestions on how to liven up the next kit so it actually tastes of something? I was thinking of buying some more grape or cherry juice to put in.

djsuggz - 26 May 2015 10:30:11 (#448 of 663)

I tend to be a fan of kits that don't boast a 7-day creation period. Longer to ferment and then to clear tends to make a better wine, I think.

Things you might consider.. one thing you can do is add a bit more sugar, but that really just ups the voltage more towards 13% or so. You can also add a little bottle of grape concentrate for additional 'body', which is pretty cheap from Wilcos. Using the Wilco Cab Sauv kit has worked very well for me, as I like to flavour my wine through steeping a muslin bag of ingredients into 1.5l of boiling water all day, and as the water cools it takes on a few characteristics that then play through the wine, when you add it on day three. Best results I have ever had with this method were with a recent combination of five early grey teabags and some crushed up blackberries. The wine's very good already, after three months, and I am going to keep a couple of bottles back for Christmas, I think.

To a great degree it is about staying patient, of course. Basic kit wine drunk very shortly after finishing and bottling is going to taste weedy. We have four bottles of Merlot from a 30-bottle kit I made 15 months' ago, in the garage, and drank a couple over the weekend, and in the eight months they have sat in the garage they had moved on amazingly well.

I now have a vat of pale-ish, but annoyingly still not that clear beer. Hop tea made and mixed in (that was fun, and smelled gorgeous). Letting it sit for 24h, and will prime and bottle-up tonight, and hope that the upright bottles clear themselves over the 11 weeks before the get uncorked at the Summer BBQ we host.

The missus has rather taken a run at the cider, I realised yesterday, so we're going to knock out one more 20l vat over the next fortnight. Cheapo apple juice, jar or two of honey, some sugar and a bottle of Cassis for extra interest value.

djsuggz - 28 May 2015 11:04:43 (#449 of 663)

Mead FINALLY stopped, and is in the fining phase. Boozy Um Bongo is starting to slow.

Home-made beer looks very muddy, sat in its bottles, but I am hoping it will clear, bit by bit, over the coming 10 weeks.

KittyKarateRedux - 28 May 2015 11:10:33 (#450 of 663)

MrKitty's home made beer came out lovely in the end. As it was Pilsner Malt + Simcoe hops it is like a lager with a lot of flavour (similar to Brewdog's This. Is. Lager! if you've tried that). We're telling folk it was bottle conditioned as there ended up with a tiny bit of sediment in the bottom.

djsuggz - 28 May 2015 12:00:47 (#451 of 663)

There's going to be some leave in the bottom of the 2 litre plastics I have put mine in, as it was mass-primed just before it went in. The bigger issue is whether or not the particulates in suspension in the fluid will all clear to the bottom as well. Muddy beer will inevitably feel like a bit of a waste of money. Frustrating. Smells nice enough, however.

djsuggz - 29 May 2015 10:06:04 (#452 of 663)

Just starting to clear a bit, now, but it's clearly going to take several weeks.

I think I forgot to mention that herself has lined-up an additional project to boost the stocks of cider for the Summer BBQ.

20 litres of cheapo apple juice, one 50cl bottle of Cassis(!), 400g of sugar and a jar of honey, with 15g of baking yeast. Should provide a formidable pint or two. It's a lovely colour..

JennyRad - 31 May 2015 19:23:07 (#453 of 663)

Ooh, that sounds glorious, dj.

deadmanwalking23 - 06 Jun 2015 14:47:31 (#454 of 663)

djsuggz - 08 Jun 2015 00:02:50 (#455 of 663)

Bottled up the missus' apple/cassis cider this evening. It's cracking stuff. Just delicious. Supremely sharp. She's the Turbo Cider queen.

axolotl - 04 Aug 2015 13:30:18 (#456 of 663)

Having a massive day of home brewing action here. So far I've started off 30 bottles of Gewürztraminer and a little 6-bottle kit of Barolo, bottled 12l of raspberry beer and I'm about to rack a gallon of elderflower wine.

This afternoon, I'm planning to make another gallon of raspberry mead.

Why all the raspberry brews? We're having a bumper harvest!

djsuggz - 04 Aug 2015 21:08:05 (#457 of 663)

In a pause phase here, but after our honeymoon I am going to run up another gallon of my 'black tea' Cabernet Sauvignon.

axolotl - 05 Aug 2015 10:59:57 (#458 of 663)

Is that with the Wilko kit?

KittyKarateRedux - 05 Aug 2015 11:02:10 (#459 of 663)

Tried my Beaverdale Blush that I bottled about 6 weeks ago. Nice. Definitely worth the difference in kit price from the Youngs 6 day (£8) to this (£14) for 6 bottles.

I'll definitely go for one of those kits again.

axolotl - 05 Aug 2015 11:04:36 (#460 of 663)

Ahh, the Beaverdale kits are nice. See also the California Connoisseur kits at around the same price.

KittyKarateRedux - 05 Aug 2015 11:09:37 (#461 of 663)

Ooh thanks for the tip. I'll see if my local home brew store has them (too cheap to pay postage).

axolotl - 05 Aug 2015 11:14:24 (#462 of 663)

At least you have a local homebrew store. We're at least 15 miles from the nearest.

KittyKarateRedux - 05 Aug 2015 11:36:45 (#463 of 663)

Mine's about 2-3 miles away, but is in a tricky area for parking. The shop is a proper Aladdin's cave, I'm always amazed that they fit all the stock they list on the website in there.

djsuggz - 05 Aug 2015 23:41:26 (#464 of 663)

That's right, axo. A Wilco job, topped up with Earl Grey and pre-frozen blackberries. Kit can be a bit fizzy early on but produces a nice result when you screw with it a bit.

My 'from scratch' pale ale test bottle was a bit sharp and over-hopped, at least after eight or nine weeks. Have to sit on it for a bit.

Racking my brains for some new ideas. Whites seem to work better, but I prefer red, wine-wise.

KittyKarateRedux - 06 Aug 2015 07:47:51 (#465 of 663)

Racking my brains for some new ideas. Whites seem to work better, but I prefer red, wine-wise

Surely rose is the compromise?

axolotl - 06 Aug 2015 12:25:42 (#466 of 663)

"Whites seem to work better, but I prefer red, wine-wise."

True, good reds are hard to produce - definitely trickier than whites in my experience. I've had decent results with the Beaverdale Shiraz in the past. Fortunately, I like white a lot, but it's nice to have a change sometimes.

djsuggz - 11 Sep 2015 13:45:50 (#467 of 663)

Right - going to make a start again in the next week or two, I think. Some more of my Black Tea Cab Sauv, and get some more stout underway for the Winter.

Hundredsand - 17 Sep 2015 12:24:29 (#468 of 663)

I have been drinking rhubarb wine concoction which was started around March, but I maybe unwisely added too many cloves, and despite diluting a few months back, it is still noticeable. Fortunately, as the weather cools, I think this is a nice quality. But I will be much more cautious with "cloves" in future.

axolotl - 17 Sep 2015 12:52:31 (#469 of 663)

It'll probably make a lovely warming mulled wine for frosty winter nights. Cloves are terrifyingly powerful wee beasties though - I noticed the same thing when making homemade gin.

Talking of which, I'd like to have another bash at doing gin. Any other gin fans around here want to share some recipes?

In other brewing news, I have another two demijons of raspberry mead still bubbling away after a month. One of them is the same recipe I used last time but for the other I used chopped sultanas in place of the white grape concentrate (which I'd run out of). The only noticable difference so far is the colour, which is more brown than the bright crimson of the original version. I'm very curious to see what it tastes like.

JennyRad - 18 Sep 2015 23:21:11 (#470 of 663)

I was going to go pear-scrumping and make perry this autumn, and life happened ... I wonder if the pears are still there?

I accidentally got ground cloves and ground cinnamon in opposite proportions in my last batch of "5-spice" and it's actually surprisingly good. I can definitely see a use for intensely-clove-y rhubarb wine, myself, as the weather gets cooler.

djsuggz - 27 Sep 2015 14:12:00 (#471 of 663)

Underway again, now.

Damson gin, damson wine and some black tea Cab Sauvignon. Going to do some Christmas Pudding vodka, and another batch of choc 'n treacle stout and strong pale ale, too. That lot should keep the cold out!

djsuggz - 28 Sep 2015 20:00:58 (#472 of 663)

Damson wine is foaming like mad. Redecoration of the kitchen looks likely. Smells nice though; chucked some teabags into the first fermentation vessel to try and make it a little on the drier side. Black tea is the usual show with an adaptation of a Wilco kit; bubbles up into the airlock for the first few days, then calms down. I'll get the stout underway in a couple of days. Never takes that long.

djsuggz - 07 Oct 2015 16:28:45 (#473 of 663)

Ticking over nicely on the wine front. They're settling down and bubbling gently.

Minding the pennies a bit at the moment, as my job has come under threat of redundancy, but still going to gather together the stuff needed for a nice big bucket of stout at the weekend. May as well have some cheap drinks available if it all goes pear-shaped.

TheRenegadeMaster - 08 Oct 2015 08:07:10 (#474 of 663)

Chocolate stout is doing vair nicely now. the intense bitterness has gone, and is very smooth. i'll definitely be using milk chocolate next time ,for the added lactose. I'll probably do a mocha after that - had an awesome one in tap east a few weeks ago.

the downside is that it has gone ultra fizzy in the bottles. it seems to still be fermenting away, even in a cool dark place. not too explosive, but any sediment gets ruffled up when opened. Good thing about it though is is so dark and sticky you can't really see it anyway, but you need to pour quickly - large frothy head guaranteed

Next up, pale ale but this time using dried citra pellets rather than whole freeze dried hops as there has been a run on the. And planting the hop in a few weeks.

axolotl - 09 Oct 2015 11:33:27 (#475 of 663)

Great stuff. Our two demijons of raspberry mead are finally slowing down so I'm thinking of racking off this weekend.

My first batch of raspberry beer bottled in plastic bottles came out ultrafizzy too. I think that's just because I messed up the quantity of priming sugar though.

If you're wondering why I'm brewing so much stuff with raspberries in, it's because our raspberry canes have done very well this year - a proper bumper crop. Still got several pounds of fruit in the freezer as well, so I'm wondering about trying a raspberry wine. What do you think?

djsuggz - 09 Oct 2015 12:16:51 (#476 of 663)

I think it would work, but I'd be cagey about the amount of sugar you use, if it was me. I like the fruit wines we make from raw ingredients, but they can come out far too sweet to be truly enjoyable.

You could defrost some, pop them into a muslin bag and steep them in some water that's used to top up a kit wine from Wilco or similar? That's worked quite nicely for me, on a number of occasions.

TheRenegadeMaster - 09 Oct 2015 13:26:44 (#477 of 663)

Raspberry Wheat beer (as per Whistable Brewing Comoany)

you can buy wheat malt in 1.5kg tins online, though i have no idea what sort of hops would work in them. Ferment to dryness, put raspberries through moulis, use that as the sugaring agent to make it fizz.

I tend to just put them in 55% rum and then drain and add sugar syrup to take it down to 35-40 and make a pseudo chambord. served over ice and/or in fancy pants cocktails

axolotl - 09 Oct 2015 14:13:57 (#478 of 663)

The rum sounds interesting, if expensive.

djsuggz - 09 Oct 2015 14:21:31 (#479 of 663)

I had a bit of trouble following all that, but its does sound like it might be nice.

Got the stout kit this morning. Fire that up over the weekend.

Tomnoddy - 09 Oct 2015 14:30:46 (#480 of 663)

I drank some raspeberry wine recently. Tasted a bit sacchariny to me and one glass was enough.

djsuggz - 09 Oct 2015 14:36:41 (#481 of 663)

That's why I suggest blending the raspberry taste into a basic Cab Sauv or Merlot. Bit of bitterness to balance it out.

Hundredsand - 10 Oct 2015 06:17:46 (#482 of 663)


Hundredsand - 11 Oct 2015 16:32:36 (#483 of 663)

I have been watching some of the YouTube wine-making videos, as I have quite a crop of white grapes which are ripe for harvest. Fairly inspired by "Making Italian Wine" or something like. An 85 year old man with all his wine-making apparatus, made the comment about not liking to filter his wine because it loses something. He just skillfully siphons it off into the carboys. A lot of wine-making is confidence in your own method, I think.

djsuggz - 12 Oct 2015 09:03:13 (#484 of 663)

Yes, I like gradually messing around with different techniques.

Stout's underway and it looks like the damson wine won't be long. Put a lot less sugar in this one, to try and get a drier wine.

Former Mrs Deej came up trumps with a bag of pears, over the weekend. I'm going to slice them, sit them in the sun for an hour and then steep them in a Wilco perry kit. Get that going and bottle with a drop of finings after about a week to get a really sparkling drink for Christmas.

djsuggz - 15 Oct 2015 09:32:33 (#485 of 663)

Perry underway. Loads and loads of fresh pear slices in it. Might see if my good lady wants to do something with them after fermentation, if they don't discolour too much.Possible mush for a future crumble or something?

Might do a couple of smaller bottles of it as a stocking filler, given things are a bit tight this year, with the working future pretty uncertain.

The two wines are coming along. Both will need a good heap of decent finings to get them sufficiently clear, but the whiff gives cause for optimism. Ought to be able to shift the stout over to a mass-priming vessel on Sunday, I think. Be nice to have another 40 pints of that out in the garage.

Must take the plunge and make that Christmas pudding vodka. Small bottle for us and, again, a few miniatures as gifts.

TheRenegadeMaster - 16 Oct 2015 15:45:19 (#486 of 663)

The day after payday and I got sucked into the copper kettle and malt miller websites.

I have now planned pale ale, (dry hopped, probably with chinook), wheat beer, mocha stout, and am going to have another go at lemon and ginger beer, using lemon rind (no pith), ginger, and extra pale spray malt, with whatever hops i have left at the end of this, which is most likely challenger. Will be brewing until Christmas at this rate, but that should see me through most of next year.

Hundredsand - 16 Oct 2015 16:54:09 (#487 of 663)

My white grape must is properly fermenting in the bucket. It was slow to take off. I added a handful of blackberries which I'd had left in the freezer, 1/2 banana, 1 thoroughly mashed apple, and one cup of blackcurrant and vanilla tea. Some brown sugar has been used too.

Hundredsand - 17 Oct 2015 13:41:13 (#488 of 663)

Just for the sake of conversation, has anyone been concerned about methanol levels in homemade wines?

djsuggz - 17 Oct 2015 14:55:20 (#489 of 663)

Who said that?


Tomnoddy - 19 Oct 2015 19:45:06 (#490 of 663)

I haven't tried brewing wooden sticks, if that's any use?

djsuggz - 20 Oct 2015 10:58:31 (#491 of 663)

Stout now clearing (into bottles on Thursday, and off to the garage to finish) and finings go in the Black Tea red later on today. Damson wine only a couple of days behind.

Perry will be racked and then bottled in the later fermentation stage in another week or so, I should think.

Making swift progress. Pale ale will go on next week, with a few funds from payday. With redundancy genuinely staring me in the face, now, we might need a few cheap drinks...

djsuggz - 04 Nov 2015 10:30:23 (#492 of 663)

Time for an update, now that the Stout, Perry and Black Tea red are all done and dusted.

The former is just fab, once again. We're working our way down an eight litre Kilner pouring jar of it, and have bottled and garaged the rest. The Perry with fresh pear slices is clearing, and has been for just over a week. A little cloudy still, just now, but plenty of pep to it. The Black Tea red is darker than the last batch, but has the same distinctive taste. Needs to mature out on the rack and be drunk next year; too young and a bit occluded just now.

The Damson country wine is just coming to an end, so I'll be chucking in some finings to that one soon. Not had a whiff of it, but it's a lovely inky colour.

One more project just got underway and one more to come. the first is a ginger beer kit (Wilcos - £13 and makes 40 pints) into which I have put 2kg of sugar and some defrosted elderberries and blackberries. Should be a nice spicy and fruity drink for the Winter.

Going to finish the booze making year with an American Craft IPA. Possibly this one:

It'll be a cheeky gift to myself if I ride out the redundancy storm at the end of this week/beginning of next.

Antimatter - 05 Nov 2015 05:27:28 (#493 of 663)

With regard to the red/white wine debate, I find the easiest route is to brew up some Zinfandel, looks like rose, but is supposed to be a white, easy to brew, very fruity and easy drinking. Having said that, local supplier has dried up a bit on that score so we are currently brewing Barolo which has an addition of dried elderberries but produces a very drinkable wine indeed.

Good luck on the R storm.

axolotl - 05 Nov 2015 10:00:06 (#494 of 663)

Interesting stuff, folks. I'm sure I'm not the only one reading this who would love to try some of these amazing brews.

Here at chez-axolotl I've just recently racked 2 demi-jons of made-from-scratch raspberry mead. I tried varying the recipe a bit this time: one batch was made with 250ml of white grape conc. as usual, the other with 1/4kg of chopped sultanas. During the first phase of fermentation, the latter looked dark brown, against the plum colour of the other brew. Now, racked twice, they're almost the same hue.

Also on the go are 5 gallons of Wilko's new all-malt wheat beer kit, pimped with a good wodge of dried elderflowers. That's smelling mighty good now and is nearly ready for bottling.

As well as that, I'm making 5 gallons of sauv blanc from one of the better quality kits (2:1 dilution), so we have plenty of good booze for xmas.

axolotl - 10 Nov 2015 22:09:03 (#495 of 663)

Well, the wheat beer turned out nice. Really very good for a very simple kit. Quick too.

Hundredsand - 12 Dec 2015 14:28:20 (#496 of 663)

Well, I'm here to say that my lovely rhubarb brew is now champagne. <Hic>

djsuggz - 12 Dec 2015 15:22:34 (#497 of 663)


Production has ceased for the Winter. Made some alcoholic ginger beer, with elderberries and blackberries, which is now clearing happily. I also made some v fizzy perry and another 5 bottles of my black tea red wine and a batch of dry damson country wine.

Plenty of stocks for the Winter!

nolongerstumpy - 12 Dec 2015 17:21:09 (#498 of 663)

What is the favored mead yeast on this thread pls?

djsuggz - 12 Dec 2015 17:51:10 (#499 of 663)

Tbh stumpers I used baking yeast in my batch. And it was fine.

However I suspect some champagne yeast would work well?

axolotl - 12 Dec 2015 21:57:10 (#500 of 663)

I've used Gervin white wine yeast a number of times in various mead recipes and it's always worked well.

nolongerstumpy - 13 Dec 2015 04:31:38 (#501 of 663)

Good to know, thanks.

I have thought about trying a strong barley wine yeast, and throwing in a load of nutrient. I might try a gallon and see how it turns out.

axolotl - 13 Dec 2015 14:27:09 (#502 of 663)

I tend to do single gallon batches as mead can be a bit unpredictable. Are you planning to use straight honey and water or additional ingredients?

nolongerstumpy - 13 Dec 2015 16:28:33 (#503 of 663)

Honey and water. Maybe a little lemon juice for balance.

djsuggz - 13 Dec 2015 16:38:34 (#504 of 663)

I may do much the same next year. Wondered about a bit of lemon thyme, for a slightly different flavour?

nolongerstumpy - 13 Dec 2015 17:19:07 (#505 of 663)

I really want the waxy flavour of the honey to come through, so I dont want to add any other flavourings, though I may do another 1 gallon batch with woodruff or sweet cicely, or maybe sweetgrass. That is the great thing about 1 gallon batches, it makes it easier to experiment and if a really good recipe is stumbled on, just scale it up.

axolotl - 13 Dec 2015 18:24:21 (#506 of 663)

#503 - definitely add plenty of yeast nutrient mix then. I'd also recommend adding mixed acid (available from brew shops) to keep the pH down. That will really help the fermentation. Good luck!

djsuggz - 24 Dec 2015 21:22:04 (#507 of 663)

Merry Christmas, booze creators! Some of my chocolate and dark treacle stout will be served at the BYOB curry house we are going to for lunch tomorrow!

axolotl - 22 Feb 2016 17:37:28 (#508 of 663)

Blimey - no posts since xmas. Is everyone still on the wagon?

I've just ordered another wine kit and some ingredients for making gin. Anyone got any good recipe suggestions?

djsuggz - 08 Mar 2016 00:28:24 (#509 of 663)

Booze creation restarts here on Wednesday:

6 bottles of gooseberry white

6 bottles of Black Tea red

40 pints of Wilco Pilsner

40 pints of St. Peter's IPA

Will contemplate other items in due course.

djsuggz - 16 Mar 2016 00:57:27 (#510 of 663)

All underway!

IPA smells nice. Went for espresso and frozen damsons in the red, in the end.

Gooseberry struggling to start working. Might be a loose bung, but popped it by the radiator in case it's too cool.

djsuggz - 25 Mar 2016 02:41:25 (#511 of 663)

All puttering along rather well. Mass prime the Pilsner this weekend and get it bottled. IPA midweek.

As I cannot sleep, I have been devouring Wikipedia. Found myself reading about the island of Rennell, one of the outposts of the Solomon Islands. Their home brewed speciality is coconut milk plus water plus sugar plus yeast.

Of course, I now want to make this.

djsuggz - 26 Mar 2016 01:46:22 (#512 of 663)

And now I am.

It's really kicked off, in a wee lidded bucket. 1 inch of fuzz on top already. Next weekend might be interesting..

Hundredsand - 26 Mar 2016 16:07:11 (#513 of 663)

That sounds like it might be strong, djsuggz.

djsuggz - 26 Mar 2016 17:06:33 (#514 of 663)

Hmm, yes. It doesn't smell of much, but I am gassing the container every couple of hours.

djsuggz - 29 Mar 2016 00:43:37 (#515 of 663)

Moved it into a new pot today, and shaved off the weird fermented cheesy layer.


djsuggz - 29 Mar 2016 20:04:55 (#516 of 663)

Jury's out on this stuff. Decanted again just now, through a sieve to catch the next lot of gunk. Initially a bit put off, but got a sniff of a more subtle coconut aroma just as I was putting the lid back on. Plus the underlying fluid's getting a bit clearer.

Think I am going to repeat the action twice more, then have a tentative taste on Friday.

Shabbyman - 29 Mar 2016 22:27:40 (#517 of 663)

It sounds like the sort of stuff thay make in the tropics when they worry less about the taste than the alcohol content. Like drinking a sugar wash made with turbo yeast that's really better for distilling into vodka.

djsuggz - 29 Mar 2016 22:35:13 (#518 of 663)

Yeah, I reckon so too.

Still, 'twas but a small outlay. Might go with some pineapple juice and lemonade.

Or clean the drains a treat..

Shabbyman - 29 Mar 2016 23:17:41 (#519 of 663)

Or have a go at distilling. If you're at all handy with the DIY it's very easy.

djsuggz - 29 Mar 2016 23:37:32 (#520 of 663)

Distilling is on the list, one day. Lady wife is much more handy on the DIY front, so we await her attentions. Likely to use a couple of bottles of rather sweet apple wine to make Calvados.

axolotl - 30 Mar 2016 18:11:58 (#521 of 663)

All you need for £160

axolotl - 30 Mar 2016 18:14:03 (#522 of 663)

I don't own one of these myself but I know a couple of people who have had very good results with them, using the shop-bought "essences" to customise the spirit. I tasted a few of the finished brews and I was really surprised at how good the whisky one was - basically the same as something you'd pay £15 a bottle for. Not premium single malt but not undrinkable filth either.

djsuggz - 30 Mar 2016 20:21:38 (#523 of 663)

Oh my oh my. I am clearly buying one of those the minute I land a job.

Oh yes. I'll have to dig out the apple wine for distillation once we get the hang of it.

I <Excited>

djsuggz - 30 Mar 2016 22:30:51 (#524 of 663)

Pilsner bottled. IPA in another ten days or so. Then we're on to cider, stout, and this year's 'guest drink'.

Hundredsand - 16 Apr 2016 16:02:42 (#525 of 663)

Bottled the last demijohn of rhubarb. It has been almost a year and has finally cleared really well. Events over the last year have interfered with all my hobbies and dented my energy levels. Hopefully, I can resume wine-making, which I find very satisfying.

djsuggz - 25 May 2016 01:10:34 (#526 of 663)

Just got some cider to make now, for this year's BBQ.

Got some Chardonnay on the bubble at the moment. The top up water I boiled and sat a muslin bag full of lemon balm and lemon thyme from the garden in it whilst it cooled. V cloudy right now, but should clear after a while. Interesting little experiment.

Antimatter - 25 May 2016 01:45:53 (#527 of 663)

Oooh, that still looks interesting. Loads of dandelions around at the moment although plucking off the petals looks like a bit of a faff, may have to save that for a rainy day.

Latest batch of Barolo has come out very well indeed.

djsuggz - 25 May 2016 13:21:42 (#528 of 663)

Barolo, you say? I love Barolo. How much is the kit?

Antimatter - 25 May 2016 15:21:40 (#529 of 663)

It's about $50 Canadian, and makes about 28 bottles. It includes a pack of dried elderberries which you boil up and add to the primary fermentation, gives a very fruity and smooth result, and good character for a home made kit. It's one of the cheaper kits, you can pay double that and the result is slightly better, but not worth the extra (in my book anyways).

djsuggz - 04 Jul 2016 17:37:50 (#530 of 663)

We've had rather a gap, haven't we? I've been pretty busy trying to get a job, which is going well but hasn't quite clicked yet.

The Chardonnay made with lemon balm and lemon thyme from the garden turned out very nice indeed. Just rustling up some turbo cider for this year's BBQ. Apple and ginger, this year, featuring chopped ginger, ginger ale, and ginger cordial, as well as a jar of honey for a bit of smoothness.

Fruit wines from the garden will follow later in the year, but if I can find the time I think I might reprise my Limequila Cerveza, which is always a nice Summer drink.

axolotl - 04 Jul 2016 18:37:52 (#531 of 663)

Yes, well, to be fair I've not done much home brewing until a few weeks ago, when I realised we were running perilously low on booze and put in an order with my favourite website. Just completed 22l of reisling, which we're very pleased with. Jury is still out on the beer: Brewferm's Abiorix, made with amber malt extract instead of sugar. I have high hopes but it's been slow to clear.

axolotl - 04 Jul 2016 18:38:03 (#532 of 663)

Good luck with the job, btw.

djsuggz - 04 Jul 2016 19:29:27 (#533 of 663)

What website are you using, old boy?

And thanks - I believe I am getting close now.

axolotl - 04 Jul 2016 20:04:52 (#534 of 663)

I like them because they have a pretty good stock of unusual ingredients (things like rose petals and Caracas orange peel) as well as all the popular kits. Delivery has generally been quick too.

I also drop into Wilkos regularly - they sometimes have amazing discounts when they're refreshing their home-brew stuff.

JennyRad - 13 Jun 2017 21:36:33 (#535 of 663)

It's possible this thread has already discussed this, and I will track back to see if I can find answers, but - bottle supplier recommendations anyone?

I've been making rhubarb gin and want to bottle some up in fairly small bottles for friends. (Because I want them to taste-test multiple varieties, ideally.)

Shabbyman - 13 Jun 2017 23:16:55 (#536 of 663)

If it's just for samples you can get 50ml miniature bottles on eBay. Lakeland are good for more generous sizes.

moto748 - 14 Jun 2017 01:52:42 (#537 of 663)

I am making some beer, for the first time in about twenty years. I used to do it quite regularly when I was young, with good results. I'm prepared to be patient.

KittyKarateRedux - 14 Jun 2017 09:02:36 (#538 of 663)


Wilko has some kilner bottles that are pretty enough in a variety of sizes

Poundshops sometimes have those flip top glass bottles. They also sometimes have kilner style jam jars if you want to give it a moonshine aesthetic. But it's a lottery really on what your local one stocks and you mightn't drop lucky.

TheRenegadeMaster - 14 Jun 2017 09:33:49 (#539 of 663)

If you want loads, a trip to Nisbets is where it is at.

My relatives live in the Arve valley in Chamonix, and knew one of the last Bouilleur de cru

They go for big bottles, and kilner jars for gifts. Small bottles are pricey and/or hard to get hold of. A local homebrew shop might have them.

djsuggz - 14 Jun 2017 09:47:41 (#540 of 663)

This latest flutter reminds me.

Must get back to the old hooch creation.

TheRenegadeMaster - 14 Jun 2017 10:02:52 (#541 of 663)

I put a massive pot of lemon and ginger with wine yeast and sugar in a bucket in the shed at the weekend. I will be bunging an airlock in the demi john in a few days when its not quite so vigorous - it has a tendency to spill over in the first few days/

Otherwise, i'm going to be mostly experimenting with non-alcoholic beer, which is tricky at home due to carbonation issues, and the bitterness levels when you boil off the alcohol

djsuggz - 14 Jun 2017 10:08:55 (#542 of 663)

A lemon and ginger-infused beer, or just an enboozed cordial?

TheRenegadeMaster - 14 Jun 2017 10:21:14 (#543 of 663)

enboozed fizzy 'cordial': 4 lemons, very generous amount of ginger, into the blender until fine, boil up for an hour in litre of water to extract flavours, add a kilo of sugar, and cold water up to 5.5 litres liquid, and add some gervin yeast. I tend to bottle up with just a little sugar left, artificial sweetener to take the edge off, and bottle condition. Around 7-8% ish.

Can be drunk 'neat' as wine but it's good for the summer, especially if you mix it into a long drink 50-50 with sparkling water / lemonade. Also it can be drunk quite quickly. I've been making beers that have improved over time recently, and they seem to be taking a good 6+ months to reach peak performance. So not got much homebrew (excluding spirits) on the go at the moment, but not much space either.

I have made lemon and ginger infused beer before and it was awesome. But only from a wilko bitter kit - you need to put something extra in to give it some taste - - and I've moved onto full grain brewing now. i suspect it would be a disaster if i tried again

djsuggz - 14 Jun 2017 10:47:42 (#544 of 663)

I got a bit put off by my attempt at brewing from malt extract with a hop tea. The ingredients cost me a bomb and the product was ever so vinegary.

I like the sound of your Summer drink though - might have a bash at that - v cheap to make!

deadmanwalking23 - 05 Aug 2017 16:30:00 (#545 of 663)

just made a batch of stout but the mix was best before 06/02/2017, will I die?

JennyRad - 05 Aug 2017 19:27:19 (#546 of 663)

Yes. There is no way for out-of-date ingredients to make you immortal.

Of the beer? Probably not.

TheRenegadeMaster - 05 Aug 2017 20:06:13 (#547 of 663)

Depends on the yeast. If the packet was not inflated then it will be fine. If it was it will probably not ferment properly and you may need to chuck another pack in

deadmanwalking23 - 05 Aug 2017 20:26:26 (#548 of 663)

yeast looked fine, tin was a bit expanded but then it had a few dents in it too.

nemo75 - 05 Aug 2018 19:11:47 (#549 of 663)

Is elderberry wine gipping? Or only when my dad makes it?

I notice there is a lot of fruit coming on the bushes near me.

JennyRad - 05 Aug 2018 20:29:03 (#550 of 663)

I've definitely had nice elderberry wine - possibly only commercial rather than home-made, though. (Also, I do like elderberries, and once got very severely told off for eating them randomly off the trees because my mother didn't trust me to identify them correctly. I was, I don't know, eight or so; I knew damned well they were elderberries.)

Hundredsand - 04 Oct 2018 00:10:31 (#551 of 663)

Got a first fermentation going. Rhubarb and grape.

Antimatter - 04 Oct 2018 00:28:52 (#552 of 663)

Rhubarb and grape should work well.

I always preferred Elder flower to Elderberry.

StammtischMentality - 04 Oct 2018 08:28:10 (#553 of 663)

This years hop (Prima Donna, a dwarf East Kent Golding basically) has yielded around 8 litres. It's conditioned for a couple of weeks and is really good, considering it's all from scratch, and not an ideal single hop. We're renting the house out net year (including gardener) and trying to decide if we should have a clause where i get to keep the hops.

Hundredsand - 19 Oct 2018 20:13:26 (#554 of 663)

And now a pear and red grape.

nemo75 - 15 May 2019 16:28:34 (#555 of 663)

Anyone done elderflower champagne? tis the season and I was thinking about having a go.

Antimatter - 16 May 2019 03:50:24 (#556 of 663)

Elderflower champagne is bloody lovely. If you have reasonable access to loads of elderflower then go for it.

nemo75 - 16 May 2019 07:49:35 (#557 of 663)

The recipe I saw said 15 large heads in full flower. Can probably manage that.

Hundredsand - 24 May 2019 14:27:03 (#558 of 663)

I was just thinking about doing an elderflower brew.

nemo75 - 24 May 2019 15:06:28 (#559 of 663)

I haven’t got around to it yet. The blooms are really coming through though.

Hundredsand - 28 Jun 2019 12:20:55 (#560 of 663)

3 demis on the go.

moto748 - 27 Oct 2020 18:35:20 (#561 of 663)

Did you make the elder-flower champagne, nemo?

I feel this thread is ripe for a renaissance in the current climate.

I have just started another batch of beer, using the recipe and technique I first developed (consults notes) over 35 years ago. This only the second batch I've made since 1985, though. Partly cos the last lot was a big disappointment. However, I think (or hope) I know where I went wrong.

nemo75 - 27 Oct 2020 18:39:21 (#562 of 663)

Did you make the elder-flower champagne, nemo?

No. Somehow I missed the flowering this year. Maybe it was when I wasn’t going out much.

moto748 - 01 Nov 2020 17:59:01 (#563 of 663)

Beer looking good so far. Should be ready for transfer into demi-johns in a day or two.

BasilSeal - 02 Nov 2020 09:21:48 (#564 of 663)

could anyone advise me on my cider making.

I've got two 33 litre plastic buckets with sealed lids full of pressed apple juice from trees on the farm. initially i had some yeast i bought last year when i intended to do this but never got round to it so used that, put camden tablets in the juice and pitched the yeast in 48 hrs later. i hydrated the yeast in a jug with luke warm water two sachets of lalvin ec1118 Champaign yeast. poured half into each tub. nothign happened, after three days i realised that it wasn't fermenting, so ordered some fresh yeast to re pitch it and some yeast nutrient.

I also realised that one sachet of yeast wasn't quite enough for 33 litres so ordered 4 . unfortunately they only sent two, so i re pitched one with the two sachets and the yeast nutrient and within 24 hours it was bubbling away nicely.

two days later the missing yeast was resent and i did the same for the second batch. after nearly two days, still nothing is happening. is there any point in having another go at pitching the yeast? i've got a different batch of the same yeast in the fridge i ordered at the same time in case the replacement didn't come on time.

djsuggz - 02 Nov 2020 12:14:07 (#565 of 663)

Amateur hour suggestion?

Get the remaining supply of yeast that you have going in a luke(ish) warm cup of ‘sugary water’, and put it in as it is - already working. It might then start chewing on the sugars in the main body of the juice?

nemo75 - 02 Nov 2020 12:39:57 (#566 of 663)

The lids aren’t sealed while it’s working, surely?

BasilSeal - 02 Nov 2020 12:42:49 (#567 of 663)

er yeah, once i'd put the yeast into the juice i put the sealed lid and airlock on top, should i have left the lid unsealed until the yeast got going?

BasilSeal - 02 Nov 2020 12:55:16 (#568 of 663)

DJ, that's pretty much what i've done already, mixed the yeast with 100ml of warm water with a tea spoon of dissolved honey in it to get it going, then added it to the juice after about 10 minutes along with a cup of water with the yeast nutrient in it.

I did wonder as a last resort whether to get a jug full of the juice and mix the yeast and yeast nutrient with that and leave it to stand with a tea towel over it for a while before adding it back to the main mix.

djsuggz - 02 Nov 2020 18:53:55 (#569 of 663)

Yeah, I reckon I’d give it longer to get up to ramming speed. Tea towel and pop it near a radiator. Get it shifting a bit.

Antimatter - 02 Nov 2020 19:57:58 (#570 of 663)

Certainly try warming up the environs a bit. We certainly ran into problems when we had heat pumps installed and the latent heat from the furnace was no longer available.

moto748 - 09 Nov 2020 16:49:23 (#571 of 663)

Beer now bottled. This time I went to the expense of a proper over-centre crown-top fitting tool. Unfortunately, I discovered that it only worked on about 25% of my empty bottles. It's all about the shape of the glass under the lip. The remainder had to be hammered on with a hand tool. Now it's a question of just waiting to see it if it clears OK.

djsuggz - 09 Nov 2020 17:34:12 (#572 of 663)

I have some frightening Winter Wine and Mead on the go.

The former fermented for two months (from crushed grapes) and the latter is capsicumel mead using honey, lemon, raisins, demarera sugar and a couple of whizz bang chillis in the mixture for a week or two. It’s still ticking over, just slightly.

moto748 - 16 Nov 2020 15:34:21 (#573 of 663)

Started second batch of beer today. First batch bottled 10 days or so ago. Minor tweaks to recipe, but similar to last time.

nemo75 - 16 Nov 2020 15:47:27 (#574 of 663)

Silly question. Is it ready when you bottle?

moto748 - 16 Nov 2020 15:58:03 (#575 of 663)

No. Obviously, at a minimum, it should be left until fully clear, but the longer the better; it does make a real difference. First batch should be drinkable by Xmas, but it will be better in March.

It's pretty daft to go to all that time and trouble to make it, and then start guzzling it before it's ready.

BasilSeal - 16 Nov 2020 16:00:14 (#576 of 663)

another daft question, other than saving your empties, what's the most cost effective way of sourcing bottles?

moto748 - 16 Nov 2020 16:04:31 (#577 of 663)

Saving your empties is best, but home-brew shops do sell empty bottles fairly cheaply. I need about 35 for a batch.

nemo75 - 16 Nov 2020 17:05:54 (#578 of 663)

Oh sorry. It was a genuine question. I’ve never made beer.

djsuggz - 16 Nov 2020 19:59:11 (#579 of 663)

I think, with most of this stuff, the longer you leave it the better it gets, neems.

With beer, a teensy bit of sugar in the bottom of the bottle leads to it carbonating a bit. A month later the product’s way better.

moto748 - 16 Nov 2020 21:03:19 (#580 of 663)

As I mentioned upthread, the last lot of beer I made, a couple of years ago, was so disappointing I poured it all down the drain. Except that I kept back half a dozen bottles for reference, out of interest. I tried one the other night. It was not great, but 'drinkable', which it certainly wasn't at the time. The moral being, all beer improves with age, within reason. Of course it shouldn't be necessary to keep it anything like two years to be drinkable.

moto748 - 20 Nov 2020 17:39:08 (#581 of 663)

In acknowledgement of our Glorious Turnip Future, I have dug out a recipe for parsnip stout.

Watch this space!

nemo75 - 20 Nov 2020 19:03:04 (#582 of 663)

Ooooh. Interesting. I think.

moto748 - 02 Dec 2020 13:45:11 (#583 of 663)

Parsnip stout now bottled. Looks quite promising, actually.

nemo75 - 02 Dec 2020 13:47:31 (#584 of 663)

Hmm. I thought this was the Brexit thread then.

moto748 - 10 Dec 2020 00:55:20 (#585 of 663)

Right, this is positively my last attempt at lager! Have never been successful in the (distant) past, but I'll give it another go with modern hops and yeast.

BasilSeal - 10 Dec 2020 01:05:40 (#586 of 663)

I've racked off my first batch of cider, i'd got three 30 litre fermenting vessels ready according to the hydrometer, and only one spare 30 litre vessel to go at so i filled that to the brim with one and a bit of the fermented vessels, then washed one of the emptied ones out and filled that, i was left with about half a vessel of cider still to rack and no suitably sized vessel so i've bottled that to see how it turns out.

moto748 - 17 Dec 2020 22:12:54 (#587 of 663)

Tried batch #1 of bitter tonight. A big improvement since my first taste (a couple of weeks ago), which had me a tad disappointed. Quite decent, actually. Will be fine for Xmas.

moto748 - 18 Dec 2020 17:26:25 (#588 of 663)

Parsnip stout #2 started.

moto748 - 27 Dec 2020 14:54:57 (#589 of 663)

I was musing yesterday as to whether it would be feasible to up production to the extent that buying beer became as rare as buying bread (I think I've bought two loaves since March). Possible, I think, but i don't think I'd want to go quite that far. Plus, I have a Xmas gift token for more beer from local specialised beer shop.

JennyRad - 27 Dec 2020 15:17:41 (#590 of 663)

One often likes more variation in one's beer than one's bread, too, and a sort of production-line effort may make that harder? Although I suppose it depends on your amount of storage space and so on ...

moto748 - 27 Dec 2020 16:39:32 (#591 of 663)

Yeah there's that about it too. A bit of variety is nice. But part of the objective is building up a stock so you don't drink it too early. There's a big improvement to be had by leaving it say a couple of months in the bottle.

JennyRad - 27 Dec 2020 16:47:10 (#592 of 663)

True - a friend has sent me a bottle of home-grown home-brewed cider which he says is drinkable now but will be better in six months. It's quite hard to resist. (But I'm keeping it, because the gift was one of those little things in December that was disproportionately cheering.)

BasilSeal - 27 Dec 2020 17:26:00 (#593 of 663)

you'd have to be keen to drink my home made cider now, i did open one of the first batch to try it but let's just say it's not quite vintage yet.

nemo75 - 27 Dec 2020 17:28:25 (#594 of 663)

Anyone do small batch grain recipes? I was given a Brooklyn beer kit a few years ago that I should use...

moto748 - 27 Dec 2020 17:36:27 (#595 of 663)

How long do you generally keep your cider before drinking, Basil?

BasilSeal - 27 Dec 2020 17:43:33 (#596 of 663)

I've never made any before so it's a bit wait and see. I had three 33 litre fermentation vessels which had done the primary fermentation by the end of November so i racked them off into two vessels of the same size and put the surplus into bottles, so they've been in the bottle for about a month, you could just about drink it if you were desperate but it's very dry and has a bit of a yeasty nose to it still.

I'm going to bottle the rest as soon as i get chance, i'l see if that is better for being racked off and settled a second time, i had to bottle some because obviously as all the fermenting vessels are the same size, if i'd racked three off into three then they'd have had too much air in. it's all a bit trial and error really.

moto748 - 27 Dec 2020 18:01:18 (#597 of 663)

Sounds like patience is the key! I know nothing of making cider.

djsuggz - 27 Dec 2020 19:16:29 (#598 of 663)

Never made cider in great quantities. Will do next year, as we should get a lot more apples.

Agree with the general principle that it needs time, though. Most of these things do. Funnily enough I have a demijohn’s worth of cider made from my own cooking apples just finishing off.

moto748 - 02 Jan 2021 15:36:33 (#599 of 663)

New Year, new beer!

arbitrary - 02 Jan 2021 23:40:42 (#600 of 663)

Once made cider from a gallon of apple concentrate from a wholefood cooperative. Brewed like a beer. Most excellent.

moto748 - 06 Jan 2021 16:58:11 (#601 of 663)

My first batch of bitter is nearly all gone now (I've kept one bottle of everything back in store to save for my son when/if I get a visit from him), but the moral is clear. I was initially disappointed with it but actually the last few bottles I has were bloody good though I say so myself. So, my second batch, still largely intact, I intend to leave for a few weeks yet, and make do with shop beer for now. Plus I have Parsnip Stout II, which should be ready fairly soon. And the lager, which I think will end up OK, but really does want to crystal clear, I shall be aiming to leave until the summer.

nemo75 - 07 Jan 2021 09:40:06 (#602 of 663)

(I've kept one bottle of everything back in store to save for my son when/if I get a visit from him)

Awwww. That’s a nice thing in shitty times.

moto748 - 07 Jan 2021 14:54:22 (#603 of 663)

Yeah, I'm glad I had him, on the whole.

moto748 - 04 Feb 2021 19:09:52 (#604 of 663)

Up to bitter batch #5 completed now. The kitchen floor is slowly filling with beer bottles! I just tried my December lager. It's clear, but not (yet) crystal clear, decent lager head and flavour, I'm quite satisfied, but I doubt I'll try it again. Next project is a weissbier, for which I have already sourced wheat malt and a fancy German yeast.

moto748 - 15 Feb 2021 15:12:35 (#605 of 663)

Weissbier now bottled. Awaiting with interest.

nemo75 - 15 Feb 2021 15:54:33 (#606 of 663)

How long do you leave it?

moto748 - 15 Feb 2021 15:59:42 (#607 of 663)

Normally a month at least for bitter, but the weissbier will be 'quicker', I think.

moto748 - 15 Feb 2021 16:02:16 (#608 of 663)

I sure hope it's drinkable,cos it's a big batch; I've made more of this than anything else! But should be OK, it pretty much tasted like weissbier (albeit flat and warm, obviously) at bottling.

nemo75 - 15 Feb 2021 16:05:19 (#609 of 663)

I know nothing about beer making. Is it clear already?

moto748 - 15 Feb 2021 17:39:24 (#610 of 663)

Weissbier is never clear! But the bitter is pretty clear by the time I bottle it. I just dug out the lager I made in December, it has taken a lot longer to clear, but looks OK now. put a couple in the fridge and will try them later.

nemo75 - 15 Feb 2021 18:28:46 (#611 of 663)

See. I told you!

moto748 - 15 Feb 2021 23:59:18 (#612 of 663)

I have probably had half a dozen attempts at making lager in my life, and this is the first time I've produced something drinkable. Whereas I find it not too difficult to brew better bitter than I can buy in my local (if it were open), producing something better than cooking lager is quite a challenge, which I doubt I'll repeat.

moto748 - 16 Feb 2021 00:03:45 (#613 of 663)

What I will say is that in common with all of them, it seems to give a vastly better high (and yeah, I think that is the right term) than beer you buy in the shops. Me, I put it down to the hops,

Tomnoddy - 16 Feb 2021 00:59:12 (#614 of 663)

I've revisited homemade wine after a long break. First attempt was a courgette wine, where I think I may have used too much sugar. It's fermented out, though, and the first bottle tastes like a reasonable Sauternes, to my dodgy palate. Not fir swigging though.

I've now got a pear wine which is settling out nicely, leaving a pale purple-pink liquor. On racking it was very dry - of course I ended up with a mouthful or two - but I reckon it will be worth drinking later.

Next, I still have a lot of frozen courgettes which I'll try again to get a less sweet version.

carterbrandon - 16 Feb 2021 11:22:13 (#615 of 663)

Courgette wine is Reginaldperrinworthy.

nemo75 - 16 Feb 2021 11:26:11 (#616 of 663)

My neighbour has a cat called courgette. Stoopid name.

Tomnoddy - 16 Feb 2021 11:26:40 (#617 of 663)

Hey, if you had a glut last year you'd be making courgette lager, so less of the Reggies.

djsuggz - 16 Feb 2021 11:55:31 (#618 of 663)

Fruit and veg wine never seems to need as much sugar as you’d guess. I made some spinach wine, once. Similarly came up with a Poundshop Sauternes result.

nemo75 - 16 Feb 2021 11:56:27 (#619 of 663)

That sounds very GREEN

djsuggz - 16 Feb 2021 11:59:41 (#620 of 663)

Know what you mean, but it was kind of pale gold, in the end.

nemo75 - 16 Feb 2021 13:00:07 (#621 of 663)

Sounds a bit like wee. In colour.

Mind you, so does a lot of white wine.

Tomnoddy - 16 Feb 2021 13:02:52 (#622 of 663)

They all sound the same, tinkling into the receptacle.

djsuggz - 16 Feb 2021 13:23:20 (#623 of 663)


The sort of wee that one might issue to the porcelain and, on seeing it, think “yeah - I need to drink more water”.

moto748 - 22 Feb 2021 00:45:50 (#624 of 663)

I am delighted with the weissbier. I was told it was OK to drink it young, and rather to my surprise, well, it tastes just like weissbier! nice and light and fruity and clean. Shame it's a summer drink, really. I've had it in the fridge, but still wish it was colder. I am seriously considering ice next time.

nemo75 - 22 Feb 2021 13:16:47 (#625 of 663)

That sounds wonderful! You must be pleased?

How much did you brew?

moto748 - 22 Feb 2021 14:34:51 (#626 of 663)

Turned out to be a bigger batch than anything else. I've got, I dunno, 30 plus bottles.

nemo75 - 22 Feb 2021 15:00:52 (#627 of 663)

Did you give them names?

moto748 - 18 Mar 2021 21:49:45 (#628 of 663)

Production is going into overdrive at Moto Breweries. A second polythene bucket has been purchased!

moto748 - 21 Mar 2021 00:06:49 (#629 of 663)

At last! The parsnip stout is a success! It's taken a long time to condition, and next time I shall use a different yeast, but I'm just about there.

djsuggz - 21 Mar 2021 07:52:40 (#630 of 663)

How sweet is it? What else went in by way of ingredients?

moto748 - 23 Mar 2021 22:22:03 (#631 of 663)

Fairly sweet, I will reduce the sugar a bit next time. But there was only just over 300 g of sugar, and about the same of malt extract, to 1.5 kg of parsnips.

nemo75 - 24 Mar 2021 08:37:05 (#632 of 663)

The hound appreciates a stout.

Hundredsand - 27 Mar 2021 09:09:35 (#633 of 663)

Nice to see this thread chugging along. I think I might still have something fermenting in the garage.

djsuggz - 27 Mar 2021 10:50:47 (#634 of 663)

I just bottled up a light red wine (made from grape juice and tea).

Will make some fruity lager for my Mrs, soon.

moto748 - 27 Apr 2021 19:14:38 (#635 of 663)

Oatmeal stout: torch behind reveals lovely ruby colour.

nemo75 - 27 Apr 2021 19:16:47 (#636 of 663)

Oooh. Looks great!

djsuggz - 27 Apr 2021 19:21:18 (#637 of 663)

That looks glorious!

moto748 - 27 Apr 2021 19:23:44 (#638 of 663)

Very pleasing, but only a few bottles left; it was only a small batch. Will definitely make some more.

moto748 - 11 May 2021 16:20:09 (#639 of 663)

Sweet cherry saison now bottled; a very fetching pink colour, will be interested to see if it clears.

moto748 - 19 May 2021 21:50:23 (#640 of 663)

I just have my first taste of it. Really pleased with it, and sure it will improve.

moto748 - 25 Jun 2021 01:02:07 (#641 of 663)

Yeah I was really pleased with. Having just read the end of the Brexit thread, I'm sure you'll all be pleased to hear that I am still re-purposing parsnips to good effect. Annoyingly, though, they are unavailable in Lidl, and I am having to travel to far-flung Tesco Expresses to obtain them.But a recent experiment in dry-hopping has added a certain je ne sais quoi.

moto748 - 15 Jul 2021 19:17:46 (#642 of 663)

Rather died a death, this thread.

djsuggz - 15 Jul 2021 19:58:50 (#643 of 663)

A bit.

I just bottled some rhubarb and Earl Grey wine, though, which I had a sip of. Not bad.

Hundredsand - 07 Sep 2021 17:13:48 (#644 of 663)

I have found a demijohn of elderflower wine made in 2019. I is very clear and I have racked to bottles. Dry, yet soft. I have been busy preparing elderberry wine and have a must started.

Had a mishap when some inebriates raided my kitchen cupboards and found a bottle containing the dregs of a 3 year old apple and grape wine which I had stored in a bottled labelled “sloe gin”. This was consumed, and no one suffered intestinally. They worked out that it probably was not sloe gin.

Tagyourit - 14 Sep 2021 16:14:11 (#645 of 663)

Anyone tried one of those Pinter kits that are being advertised on telly?

moto748 - 14 Sep 2021 18:15:25 (#646 of 663)

Is there a long pause before they're ready to drink?

djsuggz - 14 Sep 2021 19:34:03 (#647 of 663)


carterbrandon - 14 Sep 2021 20:44:15 (#648 of 663)

"I can't drink Guinness from a thick mug. I only like it out of a thin glass. I had a few sips but I couldn't finish it...."

djsuggz - 14 Sep 2021 20:46:40 (#649 of 663)

I am now well into making a lovely big batch of cider from juice I pressed from my own apples. All rather rustic and enjoyable work.

moto748 - 15 Sep 2021 14:45:00 (#650 of 663)

Good work!

I am well on with the stouts now, have brewed oatmeal stout and Irish stout successfully. The Search For The Perfect Bitter, proves, as ever, more difficult. However , I have high hopes for one loosely based on Black Sheep.

Hundredsand - 31 Oct 2021 17:18:40 (#651 of 663)

Early September I picked loads of sloes and soaked them in water until yesterday when I noticed they were beginning to ferment. So I sieved off the juice and have started in my fermenter with half dark brown sugar & white dissolved in boiled water. I added a teaspoon of good instant coffee and a stick of cinnamon. It smells very nice at the moment.

djsuggz - 31 Oct 2021 17:23:25 (#652 of 663)

Sounds interesting. Very seasonal.

I bottled my first go at Crabapple wine, yesterday.

‘Tis sharp. My yes. Summer spritzers next year, perhaps.

nemo75 - 31 Oct 2021 17:24:08 (#653 of 663)

sounds like a sex act.

djsuggz - 31 Oct 2021 17:41:12 (#654 of 663)

<Raises eyebrow>

nemo75 - 31 Oct 2021 17:42:05 (#655 of 663)


Hundredsand - 31 Oct 2021 17:45:17 (#656 of 663)

djsuggz Crabapple wine sounds great.

djsuggz - 31 Oct 2021 17:51:01 (#657 of 663)

Got a couple of trees down the end of the garden. Hundreds and hundreds of the buggers. I crushed them and put them in a muslin bag, steeped in boiling water for 24h. Plus orange slices, raisins, a bit of sugar, a couple of chemicals, yeast when it cooled and off we went. Siphoned into a demijohn and let it finish and start to clear. Got 30+ litres of booze out of the garden and neighbouring park, this Autumn.

djsuggz - 31 Oct 2021 17:53:03 (#658 of 663)

Year after next should provide me enough grapes to make my own blended red and white wines, all being well. Not lots - probably a half case of each, but fun projects.

BasilSeal - 08 Nov 2021 18:54:36 (#659 of 663)

I've got four large cider buckets going, the one o did first i added the yeast to on Thursday last week has just started to bubble out of the airlock. they seem a bit slow to start this year bu it's going well now. last years cider turned out very well, i've still got around 20 bottles and i'm going to try and save a few to see how they age.

This batch includes the last ever cider we'll make from the trees at the farm we rent next to Alton towers, as it's been bought by a brexit supporting billionaire who's kicked me off.

djsuggz - 10 Nov 2021 10:25:10 (#660 of 663)

Starting a new Winter project, later, given all the fruit stuff for the year is made and stored away to age/mature.

Coffee, dark sugar, raisin, cinnamon and orange peel mead. Half flavoured coffee (basically 2l of coffee I will let go cold with a flavouring bag lying in it) and half nice cheap pouring honey. Combine the two in a bucket for a fortnight with some dark sugar and raisins, then rack off the gunge and into a demijohn to finish and then clear. Theory says it will be 15-16% ABV, and sort of like a weak liqueur, to go with actual coffee. If it’s good, I’ll gift some in little jars.

Hundredsand - 02 Dec 2021 14:14:28 (#661 of 663)

Have I got impatient or is it taking ages for my wines to clear?

djsuggz - 02 Dec 2021 18:14:42 (#662 of 663)

Depends. If you’re using gravity, it can take months. If you’re using finings or glycerine, then only a week or two.

Hundredsand - 26 Apr 2022 16:50:18 (#663 of 663)

Bottle the elderberry.

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