Priming and bottling – getting up to speed

This is my third time priming and bottling my home brew (Australian Pale Ale this round), and I was getting a lot better at doing it. Here are some tips that may be of help to you.

Tip #1 Use a syringe for priming

OK, let me first say that you will not get accurate results with this, so if you’re the sort who does gravity measurement, this may not be for you. Obviously, I don’t bother to measure the gravity. I just leave the beer fermenting for 3 weeks and bottle directly. I just want my beer quick and easy. Continue reading Priming and bottling – getting up to speed

Hoegaarden beer project priming and bottling

Drawing from the experience of the my very first priming and bottling, i made changes to how i do priming and bottling for this second round of brewing. By the way, the beer does remind me of the Hoegaarden beer and seems more drinkable than the lager, which got a little boring after a while.

This is very unconventional, but i applied icing sugar into the bottle directly without dissolving it first. This introduces the problem of uneven carbonation, because i went by volume instead of measuring the exact weight of the sugar. Icing sugar tends to clump together, and there would be pockets of air when scooped up. Anyway, i don’t quite mind uneven carbonation. If there is too much carbonation (which is the case for my first beer project), just let the beer sit for a while. If there is little, well, i don’t believe it will be undrinkable.

Funnel
Funnel

Continue reading Hoegaarden beer project priming and bottling

Home brew lager beer taste test

It’s almost 10 weeks since i bottled my first home brew lager beer, and i felt it was time i started enjoying the fruit of my labour (the instructions says wait 12 weeks). I was half expecting the beer to be under carbonated, since i used less sugar for priming than recommended, and was a little unsure of how much sugar finally went into the beer. Well, all the worry proved to be unnecessary, as the beer turned out just fine! Continue reading Home brew lager beer taste test

Hoegaarden beer project kick off

I had initially wanted to taste the beer from my first project before i start another round of home brew (it’s 8 weeks since i bottled them and i will start tasting them only from 10 weeks onwards). Then i thought, what if run out of beer! So i quickly made preparation for the second round of home brew. I chose a completely different style of beer – wheat beer, just for variation. I don’t even need it to be close to the Hoegaarden beer.

In order to store the 34 bottles of beer from the first round, i bought another temperature regulator. Don’t ask me why, but i have another upright freezer at home which can hold 32 beer bottles. A chest freezer can probably hold more than 100 beer bottles, but what you place at the bottom is very hard to access afterwards. That said, i’m not suggesting that you get an upright freezer because the capacity is simply too small. Continue reading Hoegaarden beer project kick off

Amazon product recommendation – beer kit

This is my second time buying the Coopers beer kit from Amazon. As expected, I received a dented can. This is the price you pay in exchange for a 25% discount. This time round, the sachet of yeast was missing as well, which was what also happened to some other Amazon product reviewers. Thankfully the yeast and the instructions sheet wasn’t missing when I received my very first beer kit. Why did I buy a second time from Amazon, you might ask, if I knew I was going to get a dented can and possibly missing yeast? Mainly it is because it is cheaper, even if only slightly. Continue reading Amazon product recommendation – beer kit

Home brew priming and bottling

The time has come for me to prime and bottle my home brew beer. In case you don’t know what priming beer means, it is simply adding sugar to the fermented beer to kick off a secondary round of fermentation so that the beer becomes carbonated. The yeast present will completely consume the sugar and give off Carbon Dioxide, which has no where to escape, when bottled, except to carbonate the beer.

My heart was racing as I opened up the fermentation bucket for the first time since sealing it up more than 2 weeks ago. Prior to this, all I can smell when I open my chest freezer is sulphur (though not quite as bad as eggs), which is expected when brewing Lager beer. Being the pessimist that I am, I half expected things to have turned awry and ending up with 23 litres of foul smelling waste water. I held my breath and was greeted by.. Drum roll.. The sweet smell of beer!

So far so good, and I am more convinced now that making beer is really easier than it sounds. I proceeded to measure the sugar I was going to use for priming, and the digital weigh turned itself off before I managed to see the final reading. On hindsight, I should have poured the sugar into another vessel to measure proper, but I took a gamble. Too much sugar when priming can possibly result in exploding bottles when too much gas is produced. Too little and the beer may not be fizzy enough. Well, actually, i also omitted the step of taking the gravity reading (alcohol content) to ensure that the primary fermentation has completed, which, if it has not, will also result in exploding bottles. I guess in my case, I will have some gas in my beer and the likelihood of explosion is low. I am placing my bottles back into the chest freezer for fermentation and storage anyway, so the danger resulting from exploding bottles is nullified.

Sanitized bottle with aluminium foil seal
Sanitized bottle with aluminium foil seal

Continue reading Home brew priming and bottling

Taobao product recommendation – beer brewing equipment

Home brewing isn’t so popular in Singapore, but there are businesses (and I think only two) dealing with home brew equipment and supplies. As you can imagine, the equipment they sell, brought in from Australia/US/Europe, are not cheap, compared to what you can find on Taobao.

Actually, you don’t need fanciful equipment to brew beer. All you really need is an airtight food grade container with an airlock. You can easily improvise your own by cutting a hole on the container lid and sticking an airlock into the hole. The airlock is harder to DIY since it has to be silicone/plastic for contamination prevention, but it’s a small cost to get one anyway.

I’m lazy to go the DIY route when I can buy from Taobao. There are a dozens of stores dealing with home brew equipment and supplies on Taobao, not surprising since the Chinese are heavy drinkers. After scouting around, I decided to get the following items.

Stainless steel fermentation bucket

Fermentation bucket – a stainless steel bucket would be the envy of many brewers from the western hemisphere, where the cost of stainless steel equipment is prohibitively expensive. I love buying stainless steel products on Taobao, not just in the case of a fermentation bucket, because they are dirt cheap in China. Yeah, stainless steel everything. Continue reading Taobao product recommendation – beer brewing equipment

Home brew kick off

Finally took the plunge and kicked off my first home brew project. It was quite straight forward actually. I guess the fact that DIY beer kits are sold signify that it is fairly fail-proof. I followed the instructions that came with the beer kit and it went fine, mostly.

Bubbles of Carbon Dioxide surfacing every second on the third day of fermentation
Bubbles of Carbon Dioxide surfacing every second on the third day of fermentation
Temperature regulator set to 18 degrees Celsius and it maintains the temperature within the range of 17 to 19 degrees
Temperature regulator set to 18 degrees Celsius and it maintains the temperature within the range of 17 to 19 degrees

I chose the Coopers European Lager as my first brew as I really like to see if i can make the easy-drinking light blonde type of beer. Lager beer is different from other types of beer in that it is supposed to be brewed at low temperatures – 21 degrees as recommended in the instructions but 14 degrees in many forum postings. I settled for 18 degrees as my brewing temperature, so that the fermentation wouldn’t be too slow, while at the same I do believe that lower temperatures will yield better results. Continue reading Home brew kick off

iHerb product recommendation – dish soap

You must be thinking, why ship dish soap from the US when you have tonnes of choices in the local supermarket? Well, if you want dish soap made mostly of natural ingredients, then there isn’t much choices available in the local supermarkets in Singapore really. Does it make much difference you ask me, between chemical based and natural plant-derived dish soap. The answer is a resounding YES.

Better Life Dish It Out Dish Soap

I have actually been using Better Life’s Dish It Out dish soap for some time. It works really well on cleaning, and seems really gentle on my hands. It used to come in Sage and Citrus scent, which is rather strong but still pleasant smelling, to me at least. Now, iHerb seems to stock only the Lemon Mint scent, which is much more subtle and i think more appealing to most people. Continue reading iHerb product recommendation – dish soap

Home brew equipment assemble

Last week, I received both my Amazon and Taobao shipment, and I finally have everything I need to start my home brew project. Well, almost everything. I’ve decided to make do without a hydrometer, which is supposed to tell me when the fermentation is finished. From information I gathered, it is ok to just let the fermentation sit a little longer than the estimated fermentation period (typically 1 to 3 weeks) and it should be done. A non-accurate method is to observe the release of Carbon Dioxide through the airlock. Other than these items i have already assembled, I will also be getting a bottling bucket.

Fermentation bucket, Siphon with filter, bottle brush, tempertaure regulator, bottle capper, bottle caps, bottles (got these from a kopitiam), Toyogo bucket for soaking bottles and equipment in Star San sanitizer
Clockwise from top left: Empty bottle (got from Kopitiam, if you do the math you need about 36 of these for 23 litres of beer), Toyogo bucket for soaking bottles and equipment in Star San sanitizer, temperture regulator, Star San, bottle cleaning brush, siphon with filter, bottle capper, bottle caps

Continue reading Home brew equipment assemble