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Feb 242012
 



Welcome to the wizard’s Blog

I thought it was about time to start a blog and tell you what i am up to and what we have in store for the homebrew wizard. I started this site in August after i decided to teach myself how to make a website. I decided on a homebrew site as i have been a homebrewer for a while and have made a large amount of beer, wine and cider. I learnt the art of homebrew from many different sources including the internet, you tube and trial and error. I wanted to make a site that channels alot of information for the home brewer into one place. To be honest most of my mistakes have resulted in pleasant suprises and good results, you have to really mess up to spoil a batch of beer. So i decided to make this site, as i do have a knowledge of computers but have never made a site. Using wordpress i made this site over a week or so and have been adding to it ever since.

At the moment i have around a gallon of chocolate porter left which i have really enjoyed you can find the recipe and review here. I have to finish the last eight pints to empty my keg as ive got 40 pints of guinness clone in my fermenter which should be ready in around a week. This beer is my own recipe which has a nice twist of using soured guinness in the recipe so keep an eye out for that.

I have also just bottled some youngs carbernet sauvagion which i will be writing a review for shortly, so keep an eye out for that one as well.

Going all grain

As stated above I have made numerous batches of beer, cider and wine. The method I have used has been brewing from kits and extract and steeping grains. I will shortly be going AG, taking the final step to the holy grail of beer making. I intend to publish my journey on this site, showing how to choose and make the additional equipment needed, how my first batch is made and what the resulting beer comes out like.

I will be making a plastic boiler which will be a bucket fitted with kettle elements, a mash tun from a cooler box(hopefully) and other stuff including a wort chiller. In true wizard style I will be making this equipment using the cheapest parts possible to make quaility equipment that will last for years of all grain brewing. I think i might be a bit busy over the next few weeks, keep your eyes peeled for the results.

Feb 232012
 

 Brupaks Czech pilsner.

To give the kit its full title brewers choice from Brupaks continental Czech Pilsner.

The brupaks blurb describes this kit as “A beautiful golden lager with a full-bodied, malty backround and a pronounced hop character derived from genuine Czech Saaz hops.
Brews 23 litres (40 pints). Colour; golden. Bitterness; high (EBU 38 – 42) . A.b.v. 4.5 – 4.8%.

Brupaks Brewer’s Choice are unique in that they are the first dried ingredient kits that don’t require boiling. The kits are comprised of first-grade, spray-dried malt extract, freshly crushed grains, pre isomerised hop pellets and genuine brewer’s yeast. As the hops have already been isomerised (alpha acids, the bittering substances in hops, are insoluble until they have been boiled in wort for at least 20 minutes) all that is neccessary to release their biterness and flavour is to steep them in hot water for a few minutes.

This kit is the next step to extract and all grain brewing. The kit is a “dry” kit and is made up of a bag of dry malt extract, grains, hops and brewferm lager yeast. The kit costs £19.75 but further ingredients are required. This is the beauty of this kit.
There are three choices of further ingredients that can be used which alter the type of beer produced, these are:-

1. Sugar 1kg. This will produce a light bodied beer with a pronounced hop character.
2. Dried malt extract 1kg. This will produce a beer with more body and a maltier profile, hops are still in evidence.
3. Light liquid malt extract 1.5kg. This method produces a truly commercial beer with a fuller body and a higher alcohol content, although this choice will slightly darken the beer.



Would you care to hazard a guess which method was used? You got it option 3 was used to make my beer. The can of extract cost £11.00, so the total was £30.75 which works out at 76 pence a pint.

Brewing method.

This kit is slightly more involved to make than just mixing the kit and sugar as there is an element of hop and grain additions, but more about that later.

The first thing to do as always is to sterilise everything that comes into contact with the beer, further details can be found on the sterilise page. The next step is steep the hop and grains. This is the clever bit as this kit uses “tea bag technology”. The grains and hops are in large “tea bags”. The tea bags are placed into a clean pan and are then covered in 2 litres (one kettle) of boiling water. This is then left for twenty mins to steep. the liquid is then poured out into the sterilised fermenter. This step is repeated a second and third time and the tea bags are then discarded. The malt extract is then added to the fermenter and mixed in. The next step is to add your own chosen ingredient. I used option 3 the 1.5kg of liquid malt extract. The can was heated in a hot pan of water for 15 mins to soften the contents and added to the fermenter. The can was rinsed out with boiling water to get all the extract out of the tin. While this is done the yeast should be rehydrated (as per the instructions on the packet). This is basicaly adding the dry yeast to cooled boiled water and leaving it for about 15 mins to rehydrate.

The fermenter is then topped up to the required 23 litres at a temperature of between 18-22 degrees C and the lid and air lock fitted. The beer should be left to ferment for around 5-7 days. Once the fermentation has stopped the beer should be syphoned into bottles which have been primed with dextrose or batch primed and bottled. The beer will be ready to drink in a further 7 days or so.

Conclusion and taste.

This beer is a little bit more complicated to make than a standard kit but is well worth the effort. I like the fact that the kit is flexible and can be changed to taste. I used the liquid malt extract option and it did make the beer slightly darker. The taste of this beer is quality and I would liken it to Holsten Pils. The carbonation and head retention were good. The taste was more malty than hoppy but you could taste the Saaz hops in the background. I drank this batch over christmas and enjoyed every drop. Next time I make this (because there will be more batches made) I will try the extra dry malt extract option to see if the beer is “lighter”. Conclusion – A flexible kit that is very good quality and great to drink.


Jan 162012
 

Sorcerer’s Stout (Guinness clone?)

This is my own extract recipe for a stout which I hoped would resemble my favourite which is of course Guinness.

This recipe was made using the brewpal app which can be found on the apple app store.I also added two bottles of guinness which had been soured in an open bowl for 7 days. This is supposed to give that guinness twang to the brew, if it does we shall see!

OG 1.040

FG 1.010

ABV 4.0%

Ingredients.

1kg Light dry malt extract £6.99

1.5kg Light liquid malt extract £10.25

0.5kg crystal malt £1.75

0.25kg Roasted Barley £1.75

0.25kg Chocolate Malt £1.75

113g of Goldings Hops £4.95

2 Bottles of “soured” Guinness

1 Pkt safeale Yeast £2.10

Irish Moss

Gypsum

Total cost £27.79 which works out at 70 pence a pint.


Method.

1. First heat up 2 gallons of water to 68 °c and add a tablespoon of Gypsum.

2. Add all grain mixed into bag and add to pot.

3. Steep grains for 30 mins.

4. Remove grain and add 1kg of dry malt extract, bring to boil.

5. Add 56g(2oz) of hops after hot break.

6. after 30 mins 2nd hop addition of 28g (1oz) of hops.

7. At 30 mins boil the soured guinness for 15 mins in a seperate pan.

8. At 45 mins take off heat and add the liquid malt extract, the boiled soured guinness and 1 tablespoon of Irish moss.

9. At flame out (60 mins) add 28g (1oz) of hops.

10. Cool pot in ice bath.

11 Add wort to sterilised fermenter and top up with water to 23l at 20 °c, pitch yeast.

12 Ferment and bottle or keg with 100g of light spray malt.

13. The hardest bit, let the brew age for a couple of weeks.

 

Results.


I love Guinness or any dry stout and hoped this beer would be close. Id Read on some different forums that the secret ingredient in Guinness is an extract which is soured Guinness, so thought I would try it out.
I bottled some of the beer as christmas presents to family members and kegged the rest for my self. The results were pretty good. The stout was carbonated just right, and by using malt extract to prime it with it gave the beer a similar mouthfeel, as I couldnt use nitrogen as Guinness does.

The taste was close to Guinness, but more like the original and not the draught. It did have the twang that I was after, and it is a cracking dry stout. I did taste this beer side by side with guinness and there was a noticeable difference, but they were very similar, and dare I say it the sorcerer’s stout was better!
Conclusion – a great stout , will definitely make again.


Oct 242011
 


Brew Pal App 

It was only a matter of time before someone made an app for the home brewer. I can plug my electric guitar into my phone and sound like Hendrix, I can put up a shelf  straight with the spirit level and even find my car in a large car park, all with my phone, oh I nearly forgot I can even call someone! The brew pal app can help you formulate and make your own beer recipes with relative ease and without using a program on your PC, for the tidy sum of 69 pence.

The blurb reads “Brew pal provides the all-grain or extract home brewer easy access to the most used calculations and statistics in an attractive, easy-to-use package”.

Grain Bill

Enter your grain bill (including sugars and extract) by selecting from the editable grain/extract list and quickly estimate your SRM (color), original and final gravities, as well as alcohol % given your brewhouse efficiency and yeast attenuation. 

Mash and Sparge

Calculate the amount and temperature of strike and sparge water you will need to hit specific temperatures. Supports calculations for batch, infusion and decoction with mashout. Start the mash timer, and get audible and vibrating reminders of important steps.

Boil/Dry/FWH hops

Enter your hop additions by selecting from the editable hops list and quickly estimate your IBU (bitterness). Supports dry- and first-wort hopping.

Flavor/Fining additions

Enter flavorings and finings by selecting from an editable list. Supports boil and fermenter additions.

Yeast pitching rate

Given a volume and original gravity (from your grain bill or measured gravity), get the number of yeast cells to pitch, conveniently translated into liquid packs and grams of dry yeast. Pick your yeast from a predefined list.

These are just some of the features of this App. I mostly use it for checking recipes and making my own subtle changes to taste. It is a great App and is handy to use during the brew day as its on a phone. My favorite feature is the style feature, where the app compares your recipe to BJCP guidelines for standard beers. If you want to make a stout it will tell you how close you are to the standard and you can tweak your recipe to suit. Its a definite buy if your a home brewer with a smart phone.
Brew pal by David Parker is available from the apple app store.

Oct 222011
 

Chocolate Porter

I found this recipe on askthebeerguy.com and liked the look of it. The recipe is an extract version of a show winning all grain beer made by Jon Griffin. I made the beer following the ingredients and method exactly with the only exception being i used molasses sugar instead of syrup.

Ingredients

1.4kg (3lbs) Light Dry malt extract £11.48 for 1.5kgs

1.4kgs(3lbs) Dark Dry malt extract £11.48 for1.5kgs

113grms (4oz) Crushed Chocolate malt £1.62 for 500grms

500grms (1lb) molasses sugar £1.00

226grms (8oz) Coca powder £1.79 for 250grms

85grms (3oz) Kent golding hops £4-20 for 100grms

1 packet Safeale 04 yeast £2.35

Irish Moss £2.35

Total £35.92 which works out at 89 pence a pint

OG  1.050

FG 1.016

ABV 5.05%


Brewing

I followed the method exactly as found at the link above. First i heated up 2 gallons (10 litres) of water up to 160°f (71°c) and added the chocolate malt in a grain bag. The grains were left to steep for 30 mins. The grain bag was then removed and the brew brought back to a boil. The pot was then removed form the heat and 500grms extract (250grms of light and dark) were added with the first hop addition (1oz) and the 1lb of molasses, the brew was left to boil.  The second hop addition(1oz) was added 30 mins into the boil. With 15 mins left of the boil 1tbs of Irish moss was added to the pot. With 10 mins left the Cocoa powder was added. After an hour of boiling the final hop addition of 1oz was added and the heat turned off. The pot was then left for 10 mins.

The pot was then placed in an ice bath in the sink and left to cool. While this was cooling 2 gallons of cold water was added to a sterilised fermenter. The cooled wort was then strained into the fermenter. Further cold water was added to bring the beer up to the 23 litre mark at 70°f. The specific gravity was taken at this point. The yeast was then sprinkled onto the wort and the lid put on. The fermenter was then left in my brew cupboard at 22°c and left to ferment.

The fermentation was vigorous and lasted 5 days. The beer was then kegged and primed with 100grms of dry malt extract.

Taste and conclusion

I did expect alot from this beer and boy did it deliver. The beer was well carbonated and had a thick creamy head which remained to the bottom of the glass. The taste is a classic english porter, with a nice slightly bitter taste and malty chocolate after taste. The chocolate taste is very slight which is pleasantly suprising as i expected it to be a bit heavier. At 85 pence a pint it’s not too expensive and price wise is on parr with premium kit beers.  To be honest you can see why this beer has faired well in shows, its a very nice drop. Conclusion very nice english porter with a slight chocolate tinge- well worth the effort.

A big thanks to Jon Griffin at askthebeerguy.com


Oct 092011
 

Brewfirm Kriek

This kit is a belgium cherry beer.I bought this kit purely on impulse. I have never tried the bottled version of this beer but have heard off several people that it is not to be missed. This kit is expensive as it is £25 and makes 12 litres at 5.5% abv and also requires 500 grms of dextrose at £2.10 for a kilogram. This works out at a whopping £1.23 a pint. The reason for the high price is because the kit is made using 3kgs of cherries according to brewferm. The kit come with the usual packet of yeast and destructions.


Brewing.

This kit is very easy to make. with the only exception being that following the instructions you have to rehydrate the yeast. The can is heated up in some hot water and left for 10 mins, and then emptied into the sterilised fermenter. The can is then rinsed out with hot water and this is also added to the fermenter. Then add another 2 litres of hot boiled water to the fermenter and the 500grms of dextrose, mix thoroughly. The smell of cherries at this point is amazing! The fermenter is then topped up with cold/hot water to the 12 litre mark and a temperature of 20°c. To rehydrate the yeast let half a glass of boiled water cool to 25°c and add the yeast. Let this mixture sit for 10 mins then add to the fermenter, put on the lid and air lock and leave to ferment.

Once the fermentation is complete (around 10 days) batch prime with 100grms of dextrose and bottle.

Taste and conclusion.

The beer should be left for 6-8 weeks in the bottle before it is tasted. The beer when made is a red tinged copper colour and has a fruity aroma. The carbonation is good with a decent head. The taste is very nice with a sweet cherry taste which an acidic bitter after taste. This beer is strong, after one pint it started to take affect, after two I did feel a little merry. This kit is expensive, but compared to buying an off the shelf beer it is still cheap. To be honest its not really to my taste but other people who have tried it really like and enjoy it. Conclusion- expensive but a fruity gem of a beer.


Sep 112011
 

Coopers sparking ale

Cooper’s sparkling ale is part of the premium selection from cooper’s, which is designed for the home brewer who wants to do more than add white sugar.  I made this beer quite by accident, the local brew shop didn’t have the kit I was after, so decided to make this. The cooper’s blurb reads “Thomas Cooper’s Premium Selection Sparkling Ale – The big brother of Coopers Original Pale Ale, displays fruity esters on the nose, full malty palate with a generously hopped clean finish”. The kit costs around £14, but there are a few extra ingredients needed. First you need 1.5kg of light liquid malt extract which is around £13, as well as 500grms of light dry malt extract at £4 and 300grms of dextrose which is around £2 a kilo. The total is £33 for all the ingredients which works out at 82p a pint.

 Brewing

The kit is easy to mix and all you do is as in the basic brewing pages and bung it all in the fermenter,mix with boiling water, clean out the cans with boiling water and top up with water to the right temperature, then pitch the yeast.The beer takes around 7 days to ferment. This beer is better bottled, so you can use your left over dextrose to prime the bottles. The beer was then left for two weeks to age and carbonate.


Taste and conclusion

The beer cleared quickly and when I opened the first bottle it was sparkling. The taste was more malty than hoppy and to be honest was a little watery. I decided to leave this beer for longer to age and see if the taste improved. A couple of weeks later the taste had improved, but was still more of a malty flavour. I was a little disappointed with the results of this brew as it is quite expensive with all the required ingredients. I did find this a drinkable beer, and quite strong but was below my expectations. This beer would definitely be improved with a hop addition to overcome the malty taste. I dare say that some people would love this beer as people prefer different beers to others, but for the price i prefer other brews. Conclusion- easy to make and drink, but below MY expectation.

 


Aug 252011
 

Milestone Black Pearl Irish Stout.

Milestone is a craft brewery located in Newark, Nottinghamshire in the UK. They produce and distribute fine real ales have won many prestigious awards over the years.
The milestone brewery produces real ale beer kits that are modelled on ales that are brewed at the brewery. Milestone black pearl Irish stout can be bought in bottles from the brewery or you can make it yourself. This is kit is described as “Authentic Irish Stout. Dark & Mysterious” and is made with premium malted barley and hops. This a 3kg kit which makes 40 pints of the black stuff. The kit costs around £22, which works out at 55 pence a pint. The kit is made up of two cans of extract and a sachet of ale yeast.

Brewing.

This kit is extremely easy to make. The two cans of extract were warmed up in pans of hot boiled water (the heat was removed after the water had boiled).  After five mins the cans were opened with a sterilised can opener and the contents were empted into a sterilised fermenter.The cans were then topped up with hot boiled water and stirred to dissolve any remaining extract. The water/extract mixture was then poured into the fermenter. The mixture was then stirred and topped up with cold water to the 40 pint mark. The temperature of the wort was 22°c. The specific gravity was measured with my hydrometer and measured 1040. The yeast was then sprinkled onto the wort and the fermenter lid with air lock was put on. The wort smelled really malty as did the whole kitchen and I was looking forward to drinking this stout.


The fermentation of this brew was vigorous and a large foamy head formed quickly and was pressed against the lid of the fermenter. The airlock had to be removed and changed twice as the brew forced its way out!. After 5 days fermentation was over and the FG was 1010. The beer was then batch primed see here and syphoned into my keg. The beer was left to carbonate and condition for four weeks.

Taste and conclusion.

The waiting was killing me but I did wait the full four weeks before tasting. When I opened the tap on the keg and poured the first pint I chuckled to myself. The beer smelled like a class Irish stout, and poured like one too, pitch black with a storm of white as the beer settled. The head was thick and creamy, the beer had good carbonation. The taste was rich and smooth with a good body. There are hints of liquorish and chocolate in the taste mixed with the an authentic Irish stout taste. The head remained all the way to the bottom and I quickly poured another one. This kit is highly recommended and I have made FOUR batches of this beer. Want some authentic black stuff? Look no further.


Aug 252011
 

Muntons smuggler’s premium ale

Well to give this kit its full title its a munton’s premium gold, smuggler’s special premium ale. The kit consists of two cans of extract which weighs in at 3.6kg and a sachet of yeast. The kit costs around £25 which works out at 62p a pint. Muntons blurb says “A light, malty beer balanced with choice aromatic and bittering hops. Muntons Premium Gold beer kits are produced from carefully selected and malted English 2-row barley, blended with hops supplied by England’s most renowned hop growers”. When this kit was bought  I had great expectations, for two reasons really. These were the fact that this kit is the most expensive I have bought, and any review you care to mention is a rave one.

Brewing.

This kit is another easy one to do. Empty the warm contents of the cans into the fermenter,mix with boiling water, top up with water to the correct temperature, pitch the yeast and your away. The fermentation on this baby was riotous, it started within a few hours and was off. The foam created on the brew kept expanding until it touched the fermenter lid. It stopped short of shooting out of the airlock which was a relief. The fermentation lasted five days. The brew was batch primed with light dry malt extract instead of dextrose, and syphoned into my top tap keg. After two weeks a little glass of beer was taken out of my keg, and the beer was cloudy. Two weeks further on another glass was sampled and the beer was still cloudy. The beer finally cleared the week after, so in total it took 5 weeks to clear. Not too bad I suppose, but as I have said before the hardest part of home brewing is waiting.


Taste and conclusion 

This kit does what it says on the tin , it is a premium ale. The taste is slightly bitter and malty, has a great body and is very smooth. It reminded me of some good ales you can buy off the shelf or in the pub. The carbonation and creamy head are fantastic. I will definitely be making this one again, um and again. I really was gutted when the keg was finished. Expensive, but worth it, you do get what you pay for.

 

Aug 252011
 

St. Peter’s Ruby Red Ale

This is a two can 3kg kit which is made under licence by muntons. The St. peters ruby red ale kit emulates the ale which can be bought in your local supermarket. The blurb states”  a tawny red ale with subtle malt undertones and a distinctive spicy hop aroma from Cascade”. The kit costs around £22 which works out at 55p a pint. This kit comes with 2 cans of extract, a sachet of yeast and a sachet of hops. There are two other kits in this range which are St. Peter’s Golden ale and St. Peter’s IPA. I am a fan of darker ales so i decided to try the ruby red ale first.

Brewing.

This kit does not need any extra sugar or malt extract. This makes this type of kit one of the easiest to make for the home brewer. The two cans were warmed in boiling water and added to a sterilised fermenter. The empty cans were filled with boiling water to dissolve the last remnants of extract in the cans, and this too was added to the fermenter. There was enough water in the cans to mix the brew adequately, so no further boiling water was added. The fermenter was then topped up to the 23litre mark to the correct temperature. The hops were then sprinkled onto the brew along with the yeast. The lid was put on the fermenter, and the fermenter put in my usual place in my “brewing cupboard”. I didn’t take a starting gravity for the brew, there was no point as the only ingredients were the kit.

The beer happily fermented over 7 days and the final gravity was around 1.014. The beer was batch primed with the correct amount of dextrose and added to my keg. I did bottle some in 4 bottles just to make a comparison of taste between the keg and bottle. The beer was left for two weeks to condition. The beer cleared quickly so i did have a few “testers” before the 4 weeks were up.

Taste and conclusion.

This beer tasted great! The taste is smooth with a great balance between maltiness and hop bitterness. Its hard to describe in words how much I enjoyed this beer. The carbonation on the beer was great. The head on the beer was like an ice cream and remained on the beer to the bottom of the glass. The beer looked more brown with a red tinge than pure red. The beer that was bottled was equally nice just a tad more carbonated. This kit is at the expensive end of the market and to be honest you can see why, it is a premium beer. I would of liked to compare this homebrew to the shop bought version, but I didn’t get chance. I would like to bet though the hombrew is very near the real thing. The only problem with this beer is that 40 pints goes very quickly, it is very quaffable. This is a kit I can recommend and one I will be making again. Easy to make- very very easy to polish off!


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