Brewing diary Part 1a: Clean, Sanitize, Mix, and Wait

June 13, 2013

So, this wasmy first foray into brewing, so wanted to keep this as simple as possible before moving on to more exciting mixtures, and potentially getting my own recipes together. Also, as this could all end in tears, I went for a cheaper homebrew kit from the famously cheap chain 'Wilko'. Opting for golden ale, and having purchasedthe equipment I figured I would nee, I headed home ready to begin the coming Monday.

This sounded simple, and as though nothing could go wrong, but then I came to read a few online articles, andlook into the instructions. A haze of confusion started to come before my eyes. I have a pressure barrel, but what's all this C02 injector nonsense? How do I sanitize a barrel? Where do I store my barrel?

Whilst there are many forums to help on this, the posts are scattered around, and the answers are generally a little specific to each use case (which wasn't my case), so what I am going to do here, is post my setup/kit, go through the steps I found, and ultimately note down how it all goes.

p.s. I will mention the pressure barrel more later, but ultimately, unless you are making fizzy drinks, you are supposedly good without it (the ale creates c02 to fill the gap). Although, if you are going to drink your ale fast, you may need to add c02 to correct the pressure, else nothing will come out. Based on this, I may get the adaptor as we will have the barrel at a few group barbecues, and it would be aweful if we couldn't get to the beer.

Tools:

  • Wilko golden ale kit
  • White plastic pressure barrel
  • White brewing tub
  • A BIG spoon
  • A thermometer
  • Some boiling water
  • Some hot water
  • Some cold water
  • A bathtub (with shower hose) - for cleaning location
  • Thin bleach
  • washing up liquid
  • sponges
  • thermometer

Step #1: Clean the equipment

Easy step this, get some hot(ish) water and clean everything you need today with some anti-bacterial cleaner. Choose incented if possible to reduce the risk of tarnishing your awesome beers flavour.

Step #2: Sanitize the equipment

This was the first confusing step for me, so many blogs say to go to special brewing shops and spend a small forture. Neither of which were really possible in the time and budget I had allocated for my first brew. Luckily for me I fell onto a particular post which suggested that thin bleach would do the job just fine so long as you:

  1. don't leave it on for more than 15mins (it can affect the plastics)
  2. you rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Step #3: Prepare the tins

This was fairly simple, you just follow the instructions, boiled some water, filled some mixing bowls, and dropped the jars in. I ended up covering about 2thirds of the jars, which I think was enough, as allowed me space to lift the cans out using a kitchen towel.

Step #4: Mix it all together

This is fun, yet very tiring. Pour the cans into the large mixing container, add boiling water to the cans to help clean them, and pour that in, add the required amount of boiling water, then top up with cold water to the line. Give this a thorough mix (I tested by lifting the spoon and checkin it was clean, the jar mixture is very gooey), then add your yeast to the top, and cover with the lid - ensure you open about a 1/4 of the lid, just enough to let the gases out, bit prevent flies and bugs getting in.

Step #5: Store for 6 days

I originally put this by our door, but it was swiftly noted on twitter that the tub was very light, meaning sun would get in, and affect the brew. Also, adding a rug to cover it would alter the temperature, which is a fairly important part of the process (keep in region of 18-20degrees). Ultimately, I moved this into the office, and put underneath my desk. Seemed the most obvious place for it to me, I could keep an eye on it, and it was hidden from the direct sunlight.

More to come over the weekend, which will involve hydrometer fun, and maybe even some moving into other vessels.