with the occasional rant about tin openers...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Beer, bread and poetry?

Having run out of Homebrew tins, I thought the next best thing (after the cider) was to bake my own bread, to evoke that lovely yeasty smell I remember fondly from my last brewing session, way back in September.

I made a loaf of wholemeal bread, from a readymix packet, and that worked fine… then I made pizza bases, with normal flour and yeast etc., and you really get the smell of brewing from that, which is almost what it was all about.

favourite thingsPizza is a poor topic for discussion on a homebrew blog, granted, but while following the method in the recipe book, it instructed the baker to empty the sachet of baking yeast into a cup of warm, sugary water, and allow it to sit for ten minutes… which sounds to me like the perfect yeast starter!

I’ve been half-experimenting with different ways of pitching yeast (pitching = introducing the yeast into the wort) and didn’t really notice much difference in the quality of the brew, whether I pitched it in a sugar solution, or just sprinkled the powder straight into the wort, but I did notice a significant difference in the bread. The readymix loaf took ages to rise, and it was a half-arsed effort at that (saying nothing of the alcohol content), but the sugar solution yeast was very active within its little starter solution, and the yeast was 2 years past its sell-by as it was. The bread rose really well (even for a pizza base) and I think, from now on, I’ll be pitching all my yeasts in a sugary starter.

Though not too sugary, or we'll be confused by a cidery taste again!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Any chance of a pint?

Because I'm clean out of homebrew.

Homebrewing isn’t really happening for me at the moment. The closest I’ve come is decanting a bottle of Triple into an empty, to take it with me on the bus (to a mates house, for after a gig). It went down well, and kept most of its sparkle, though there wasn’t much to begin with…
However, as usual, when I’m not doing something, I’m reading about it. My latest home brew book, ‘The Complete Joy of Home Brewing’ by Charlie Papazian, has inspired me onto the next step; malt extract brewing. It sounds just like the kind of thing I’d be into. You still open a tin, but it’s pure malt extract, not flavoured by hops or other adjuncts like the no-boil tins. So I’d be a little freer to experiment with flavours and hops and so on. All I need is a big pan, and some way of straining the beer. But rest assured, it’s the future.

I also siphoned the cider off its lees, and really wish I hadn’t now, because in opening and disturbing the cider I may have introduced a little of God only knows what. Those white things floating on the top are good, aren’t they?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Home Brew Triple Reviewed!

My recent light-hearted capitulation of a post turned out to be true; Big Stevie Segal was on TV last night. And I drank some Triple! The prophecy was complete. Ah, the wisdom achieved off the back of home brew.

So, finally, we see an educated review of a home brewed beer on here. I’ve been reading up, and I think some of the words are:
Very malty.
Spiced and hopped.
Light smokiness (from the sugar, I think).
Not overly, but noticeably sweet.
Above all, the eagerness of double vision so soon after the first glass makes me think I needn’t have bothered getting two bottles out of the shed.

I’d like to reassure you of my determination to being a better beer blogger. Soon, I will buy myriad beers and sample them all, as my homework, in order that my palette be better next time I drink something I don’t think I’ve ever tried before.

Finally, a warm welcome to the person or persons responsible for the 36 hits from Norway this week, and the occasional visitor from Israel. Spying on you wasn’t as easy before Browser Cookies, what? Please, leave comments, so I can look good.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back to the Beer

The last post had the look of a government health warning about it (and the one before that looked a lot like a Guinness ad from the 70s…). Any similarities are purely coincidental.

Now then, back to homebrew: I’ve had another, tentative taste of the Brewferm Triple with my family. It’s mellowed since the last time, and the flavour has broadened a little. It certainly does not lack body! The strength of the flavour and alcohol come from the use of less water, and candi sugar, which has its own strong flavour, common with this type of beer. And while it went down well with my dad, it didn’t go down so well with my mum or my missus (though I thank them all for trying it). Similarly, if it were ordered at a bar, neither my dad nor myself would be drinking it all night! We were definitely in connoisseur territory with the Tripple. However, if you like Leffe etc. then I think that brewing this would be right up your... um...

I'll review the Triple properly tonight, in front of some Steven Segal or something, and I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sugar! I don't like it in my tea...

... and it turns out I’m not that fond of it in my beer!

Something I may have mentioned in the first couple of posts is the overly fruity or cidery feel to the beer I’ve been brewing. Thinking that it was the yeast that was to blame, and I’ve been looking online for different strains.

But, it turns out that the current system of one tin and one kilogram of sugar is the problem. A beer that has sugar in a ratio greater than 2 parts malt, 1 part sugar, tends towards my unwanted cidery flavour. In fact, it is recommended not to use any adjuncts to a greater extent than 20% of the fermentable sugars. For example: if I use a 1.6kg tin, I ought not add more than 400g of your ordinary everyday sugar, far less than the kilogram I've been putting in. The amount of water used would then have to be reduced, of course, to keep the intended specific gravity, but the result would be a nicer beer, I’m led to believe… though unfortunately a little less of it!

In fact, according to homebrewblog.co.uk, your everyday household sugar (sucrose) "needs to be broken down initially into fructose and dextrose [...] fructose can leave a somewhat apple-like aftertaste". Brewing sugar, which is just dextrose, doesn't. Another person, elsewhere, goes on to say the appley taste diminishes with conditioning.

I'm sure most homebrewers don't mind the taste, but this is the next step for me. Or maybe I could go further; two tins of malt, and no sugar, for 40 pints. It would push the price up to a whopping 45p per pint, but it'll be worth it.

So, there I go! I can either fork out more for my ingredients, or wait a little longer for my beer...

All this information, and so much more, can be found in Charlie Papazian’s book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

Homebrew - It's Good for You

I've been arguing this for a while now, and I feel that, being home made, Homebrew can only be good for you. And even though a lot of sugar goes in, the yeast turns it all into alcohol, and the yeast cells at the bottom can be found as a source of vitamin B in healthfood shops. In sufficient quantities, Homebrew can even help you sleep. You're doing yourself a favour, drinking Homebrew.