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Old 10-18-2013, 09:43 AM   #1
Chachane186
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Default Newbie questions on brewing a Woodfordes Wherry beer kit

Hi All,

I live in India and I've been brewing cider for a few months now because the ingredients are fairly easy to come by. I'm a complete newbie when it comes to beer though as I've never brewed beer before.

I recently bought a Woodfordes Wherry Beer Kit (the 2 can kit) along with a packet of Coopers carbonation drops for priming from a home brew shop in Hong Kong (so it's travelled quite a distance) and I'm a bit confused as to how to go about doing things.

Here are my questions:

1. The Kit makes 23L but I only have a 20L plastic jerry can style fermenter. Will this make a big difference if I use 19L-20L and not the original 23L? I know it will affect the SG but will the taste be affected that much? I'm a big session beer fan and I'm not big on super hoppy beers. Should I just put 13% less extract into it to match the 13% less water? Or should I just use all of the extract? and top it off to 19-20L? (I don't mind if the flavour changes, I just don't want it to become more hoppy)

2. When the fermenters are filled with 20L of liquid there is very little to no space left over between the surface of the liquid and the roof of the fermenter. Will this cause a problem with foam or anything else? Should there be more space? Should I use a blow off tube instead of an airlock?

3. I have don't have a keg or pressure barrel so after primary fermentation is done I plan to bottle the beer and carbonate using the coopers carbonation drops and then let it sit for a while to clarify. (Is this feasible?)

4. Due to the ambient temperature here in India being far too high for ale making I have to use a wine fridge that keeps the beer at 18C or 65F. Unfortunately this fridge can only hold the one 20L fermenter and nothing else. The ambient temp here is around 29C, can I carbonate in this temp or will it ruin the beer? If it needs to be cooler then what is the temp required for carbonation?

5. Once the beer has finished carbonating is it possible for me to leave it in a fridge to clarify? I've read that cold temps can expedite the clarification process. Is this true?

I want to get everything right the first time around because if I muck it up then importing new kits is quite time consuming and expensive.

I thank you for all your help in advance.

PS. On a side note: Apple Juice + Sugar + Yeast + Cinnamon sticks = Christmas in a bottle!

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Old 10-19-2013, 03:23 PM   #2
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Couple of comments/questions first.

You will need headspace.

Can you get a larger plastic bucket that is food grade? Could also be a frosting bucket or pickle bucket from a deli. Doesn't need a grommet for the airlock. You can install one yourself or do a work-a-round.

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Old 10-19-2013, 09:09 PM   #3
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Beer recipes are scalable, you can just make a smaller batch by scaling the ingredients down.

When beer ferments it creates krausen and that needs space to go. Smaller recipe or bigger fermenter are needed. I see krausen rings 1 to 2 inches above the level of the beer when I open the fermenter. Plan on at least that much space above the beer. If you don't control the temperature, the krausen will get higher.

Lots of people bottle the beer just like you asked about. It might be better to have a dedicated bottling bucket with a spigot and do batch priming but you certainly don't have to.

Fermenting beer needs the temperature controlled so you put it in the wine fridge for the initial fast ferment period, maybe 3 to 7 days. At that point the flavor is set, the esters produced, and the beer can be brought out where it is warmer. I haven't let mine get as warm as you are asking about because it is much cooler here when I ferment. The warmer temperature will carbonate the beer faster than if it was cold.

I sometimes get chill haze in my beer. A few days in the fridge and it settles out.

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Old 10-23-2013, 10:58 AM   #4
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Thank you for the help,

We don't have sealable food grade buckets (that I know of) here in Bangalore so I'm going to have to import a proper fermenting vessel for this process.

It's going to cost me far too much to import a glass carboy so I think using a plastic fermenter is the way to go. Perhaps the Coopers DIY kit with the Krausen collar?

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Old 10-23-2013, 12:19 PM   #5
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Here's my opinion, but note that I haven't run into this problem, so this is just an idea.

1 - Go ahead and use the jerry-can in the wine fridge. Sounds to me like the biggest concern is fermentation temperature, and your ambient temp won't be acceptable. Brew the whole kit in about 19 L of water; this will ensure you have some head-space.

2 - While the beer will most likely taste fine at 19 L, I understand wanting to stick to the recipe, so here's work-around. At bottling time, boil 4 L of water, let it cool, and add it to your beer before bottling. It's the same process that most of us use to add priming sugar, but just a lot more water. You'll be using carb tabs, but you can still add the water. Other people here on HBT have used similar techniques.

3 - Bottle, and you can store the bottles at ambient temperature.

4 - Yes, once carbonated, stick bottles in the fridge at least 3 days (if not longer) before drinking.

Cheers! I find it facinating hearing about how people homebrew around the world. People make slight changes to deal with the availability of materials, equipment, etc, but there's a lot we all have in common. Glad to know we have some homebrew buddies in India!

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Old 10-26-2013, 10:31 AM   #6
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Hi JR,

Thanks so much for the advice, I'm going to def. give this a shot as a work around. It seems too good to be true but the final taste test will reveal all I guess. I'm heading to the UK in a month so I'm planning on buying and bringing back some proper equipment while I'm there.

Brewing in India with our weather and lack of suitable equipment and ingredients is a bit of a pain, but truth be told there's nothing I won't do for a decent pint!

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Old 10-28-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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Great, let us know how it turns out. You'll find a few threads on HBT expressing various opinions on what equipment people deem "essential." Check some of those out before planning your shopping spree in the UK.

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Fermenting - Ned's Red (Flanders Red Ale)
Bottled - Belgian Tripel, Belgo Graf, Saison (split batch with brett), Black 13 (Graf Porter), Old Style Amer. Cream Ale, Amber Graf, Wheat Graf, Bannockburn Wee Heavy, Berry Mead
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