Saturday, 19 April 2014

Rhubarb Wine

My first wine of 2014 is my old favourite, rhubarb.  I have used just under 3 pounds of rhubarb and 2 and a half pounds of sugar.  I am going to boil up a pound of bananas and top up with the strained juice.  This should add some body and, hopefully, a different aroma and flavour.

Unfortunately, the lovely pink colour will drop out as the wine ferments.
I don't have a source of free rhubarb any more so had to buy 3lb for £3.  I'm not sure how this compares to the supermarket price but it's grown locally and, though not certified organic, is grown without chemicals. Add this together with 35p (approx.) for the bananas and £1 for the sugar, it works out at 72p per bottle.  Not as good as 20p obviously, but cheap all the same.
More on rhubarb wine can be found here

Thursday, 17 April 2014

King Keg Sparkler Tap

I never really got on with the standard fit drum taps on my King Kegs.

The taps seem to have 3 settings;  full on, dripping, or off.

Actually, 'off' is a harder option than it seems and you'll find yourself wrestling with the keg trying to hold it down (especially when under half full and not weighing much), all the while gripping the tap as hard as you can (usually with a towel) to turn it off that last hundredth of a turn to stop it dripping all over the floor.  By this time you've worked up quite a sweat so the beer is swiftly drunk, only then the process has to start over again.

Pouring a decent pint is hard work too as you'll end up with either a pint full of foam, or a half hour wait whilst the beer drips into the glass.

I recently purchased 2 sparkler taps, and what a difference it has made!! 

They fit the King Keg perfectly, it's a simple case of locating the tap in the original hole (making sure the seal is in place) and tightening up the nut at the back.  Then, fill the kegs with water and pressurise with co2 to check for leaks. 

Here is a video of mine in action.  The head on the beer is slightly larger than I would normally pour, I was just trying to demonstrate how quick and easy it is to pull a pint  :-)


The nozzle can be adjusted to give different pouring speeds for more/less head which is ideal as it can be adjusted to suit the lower pressure in the keg as it empties and, with the lever in the forward position, the tap will remain open.

They are easy to find, just Google 'brewgas deluxe sparkler tap for king keg' or click here

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It's Been A While.....!

I've not really made much wine or beer over the last year or so, only managing a couple of gallons of Rhubarb wine and three gallons of Blackberry (plus one Blackberry and Apple which smells delicious!)
It's a great time of year to be starting again too, with Dandelions almost ready for wine.
I have also decided to have a go at all-grain brewing and I'm just getting the gear together
to start my first brew.
There's a lot to learn and I'll keep you posted with the ups and downs of the process.
First things first;
Buy some books and read them.  Then read them again.
Visit one of the online forums like this one
This is going to be my new 'brew shed'

Over the next couple of days, I will give it a coat of paint and add some electrics.
I'll also stick a worktop and some shelves up too.

Friday, 10 June 2011

More Bitter Bitte! (This is getting silly now)

43p per pint

I thought it might be a good idea to make a second batch of Young's Harvest Yorkshire Bitter, but this time using medium Spraymalt instead of Beer Enhancer.  This raises the cost by £5.01 for 40 pints, so it will be interesting to see if there's any real difference in taste.

Look out for a taste comparison soon!!

Bitter Bitte! (Part 2)

It's been a week since the beer was left to ferment, and now
 looks this this ======>

It smells good, has kind of a flowery aroma to it.  If I was going to bottle this beer, I would check that fermentation has finished using a Hydrometer, thus avoiding burst bottles.  Seeing as I'm going to barrel the beer, it's not really necessary as the barrel has a pressure release  valve. 
The Hydrometer can also be used to define the strength of the finished beer but:
 a) I don't really care, it's usually strong enough to do the job and
b) it's a whole heap of sterilising and grief to use. 

I have got one, can use it, I just choose not to for most of the time.

It is now time to siphon the beer from the fermenting bucket into the barrel.
Warm up a cupful of water and add to it 2oz of sugar, stirring until dissolved.
This is for priming the barrel ie adding pressure.  Basically, the still active yeast in the beer will ferment on the new sugar (secondary fermentation), which creates Carbon Dioxide, which will build up pressure in the sealed barrel,  allowing the beer to flow through the tap under pressure, giving the beer a good head in the glass and also a bit of fizz on the tongue. 

Add the sugar to the sterilised barrel, then, using a sterilised siphon tube, siphon the beer off the sediment.  Note clever use of a clothes peg in the top of the picture.

Once all the beer is in the barrel, stick a bit of Vaseline round the O-ring of the lid, and screw up tight, sealing the barrel.  Give it a bit of a shake and put in a warm place for about a week, checking periodically that no beer is leaking from either the lid or tap.

This Is A Picture Of My New Float

It connects to the tap on my barrel, and the float stays on top of the beer,
so waiting time is reduced, as it's drawing cleared beer from the top (rather than waiting for all the barrel to clear, as bottom tap barrels do).  A word of warning : Be very careful when rinsing out your barrel.  See the little see-through plastic thing on the far right? That has a habit of coming loose, and if you empty the sediment from the barrel down the toilet, as I do, and don't realise that it's not attached anymore, well, bye bye, it's through the water and over the bend before you know it!!

A Handy Tip

It's a lot easier to have a straight piece of plastic tube in the beer when siphoning off, so well worth trying to get hold of one.  They are usually available from Homebrew suppliers.  A floppy tube in the beer is a right pain as it often curls round in a 'U' shape, comes out the top of the liquid and starts to siphon air, which means having to start the process over again.  The straight pipe stays put, making the whole process a lot easier, and a lot less messy.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bitter Bitte! (Part 1)

(36p a pint)

Well, not German, but Yorkshire Bitter.  Young's Harvest Yorkshire Bitter to be precise.  I haven't tried this kit before and, in addition to this, I am also substituting my usual Spray Malt for some Geordie Beer Enhancer.  A 1kg bag of enhancer costs £4.49, instead of £4.75 for 500g of Spray Malt (of which I would need 2), thus a saving £5.01. The beer kit cost £9.99.

Boil up about a gallon of water.
Put beer kit and beer enhancer into a sterilised fermenting bin.
Add boiling water, using part of it to rinse out the beer kit tin.
Give the mixture a good stir.
Fill up with cold water to the 5 gallon (40 pint) mark.
Rehydrate the yeast in lukewarm water for a few minutes.
Pitch the yeast and give the liquid a good stir, adding some air to aid fermentation.

It should now look something like this =====>
Put the lid on, leaving one part cracked open to allow
Co2 to escape (or cover with a large towel).
Leave for roughly 5 days in a warm place to ferment.
Some people recommend you scrape off the layer of 'scum'
that appears on the top after a couple of days.  I have never bothered,
and don't really think it will make any difference to the beer's taste.  
I could be wrong though.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How To Make Rhubarb Wine

(approx 20p per bottle)

Yesterday, I was kindly given some Rhubarb.

After weighing it, I discovered there was 30lb of Rhubarb, which is enough to make 10 gallons of wine.

Although I am making 2 x 5 gallon batches, the method is the same as for making 1 gallon. 

The basic recipe is 3lb of Rhubarb & 3lb of sugar per gallon, water, yeast & yeast nutrient.

Sterilise a fermenting bucket, rinsing thoroughly. 

Wipe the Rhubarb, or rinse it under the tap.

Cut or slice the sticks into smallish chunks and put them in the fermenting bin.

Cover with all the sugar and leave for 24 hours.

It should now resemble this picture ====>

It's worth getting your (clean) hand in and making sure all the sugar is off the sides of the bin and there are no lumps underneath the Rhubarb. 

Give it all a quick mush round and leave for a few hours longer if necessary.

Once all the sugar has dissolved, strain off the juice into (sterilised) demijohns or a larger fermenting vessel, depending on what volume you have made.  You don't actually have to strain the juice, just try not to let any Rhubarb into the fermentation vessel.

Once all the juice is strained off, add some water to the Rhubarb , swill it round and strain again.  Do this until you have filled your fermentation vessel with the desired amount.

Add all purpose wine yeast and nutrient to a small amount of lukewarm water, and leave for a few minutes to rehydrate.  Add this to the juice and stir.

After about 3 months, the wine will have finished fermenting.

At this stage it should be racked off into a fresh vessel, and again a couple of months later once clear.

It can then be bottled. It will be ready to drink when 9 months old but will improve if kept for a year or so.