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Old 06-02-12, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default Homebrewing

If you like to know where your food comes from and have a hand in the process, then you may be interested in brewing your own beer or wine. I've been brewing beer since the beginning of this year, and I find it rewarding. It's given me a better understanding and appreciation of the beer that I buy.

Homebrewing also saves money. I was able to brew a 5 gallon batch of a wheat beer for $0.30/bottle, or an IPA for $0.40/bottle. Once grapes are in season locally, I plan to brew a few batches of wine, too.

The best way to learn homebrewing is to brew with someone who has done it before. If your friends don't brew, there are also homebrewing classes, clubs, and stores. Failing that, turn to Charlie Papazian's "Joy of Homebrewing".

You'll never be as energy-efficient as a commercial brewery, because you're brewing on a smaller scale. However, if you always boil with a lid, and extract almost all of the sugar from your grains, you'll do just fine.

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Old 06-03-12, 03:06 AM   #2
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I don't know anyone who brews beer (though I plan to try in the future), but a few family members have been making wine with their grapes for many years.

And illegally making vodka is a Polish pasttime
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Old 06-03-12, 09:44 PM   #3
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I have been making beer, wine, hard cider and so on for about a decade now. I actually don't really make beer any more because it's too expensive to get the equipment for doing it properly.
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Old 06-03-12, 11:26 PM   #4
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I make hard cider because it's the most energy efficient way to store apple cider! toss $1 worth of yeast in a 5 gallon glass jug and let it sit in the living room for a few months, transfer it to the 5 gallon stainless steal soda kegs that came from the dump and carbonate it with the $15 CO2 tank from a garage sale, I currently have 7 gallons sitting in my laundry room on tap, some of it is being saved for a trade I did to get used lumber for my raised garden beds, I also traded some for 4 chickens and some goat cheese, I do drink it from time to time as well.
I've made beer but it's more work then I like, so I just get beer from the brewery down the road, growlers or kegs of beer cut back a great deal on the amount of recycling that we produce, it's also cheaper then buying small bottles.
I've tried making wine and most of it was a flop, lucky for me it was all free fruit that was being tossed, we do however have a row of black current bushes that we just planted that we might make wine from, or jelly.
I also make soda from time to time, Ginger Ale mostly, using the soda kegs, a 10 gallon batch every year for some friends who have a big summer party and from that I tend to get people wanting it for weddings as well, recently I made some rhubarb soda, 2 cups rhubarb juice, 1 cup sugar, put it in a 2 litter bottle and fill with water then carbonate, it was amazing!
On my list is Tonic Water (home made so it can have real sugar instead of corn syrup) because I really like Gin and Tonic's but would rather consume real sugar.

I'm also working out the details for a design to build a chiller so I can have something in a keg at room temp then chill it as it comes out of the keg, kind of like a jocky box with ice in it only with an electric chiller, something that can hang off the side of the keg would be ideal.
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Old 06-05-12, 03:58 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
And illegally making vodka is a Polish pasttime
. The good news is there's nothing illegal about making beer or wine, at least in the US. You are allowed to make up to 100 gallons per year (and your wife can make 100 gal, and your buddy who came over to help you brew...), but you're not allowed to sell it. Trading it for grilled food works well, though.

S-F, I hear you about the cost of an all-grain system. Though the following can be put together for $100, and it pays for itself vs malt extract after about 40 gallons of beer:

$50: hand-crank grist mill
$0: electric drill to run the above
$40: homemade lauter tun.

The lauter tun consists of three food-grade plastic pails. Drill hundreds of 1/8" holes in the bottom of one, turning it into a sieve. Nest the sieve in one of the other pails. Install spigots in the other two pails.

Place your sieve on a stool, with your brew pot below the spigot. Fill the sieve with mash. Place the last bucket on the table, and fill it with sparging water. Now you just need a means to slowly distribute the sparging water evenly across the mash. I used clear vinyl tubing that's hard at room temperature but flexible at 100C. I worked it in boiling water into a spiral shape, and drilled about 20 holes in it.

Wort chiller? I don't use one. Wort goes into the basement for a day before the yeast can be pitched. You have to be careful to keep the wort sterile during this extra step, but we haven't had any issues with our ale yet.

You could spend hundreds on a nice stainless setup, but that's not as much fun.

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