Hello, everyone. I am new to brewing and look forward to being helped by and eventually helping the other members of this community. I have been reading this forum quite a lot over the last few weeks and it has inspired me to brew my first batch of beer! Now, here is the problem:
I live in China.
There are no brew shops that I know of anywhere in this entire country (great business opportunity, I know) and on top of that I can not find a place to buy hops nor even brewers yeast! Luckily, from what my wife has told me, they do have barley here. What I have decided to do is as follows:
1. Harvest a wild strain of yeast locally.
2. Buy barley seed and make my own malt.
3. Find a substitute for hops or wait until spring when I can find it growing outdoors and harvest my own come fall.
4. Sit back proudly and drink that beer which has taken so much effort for me to bring into existence.
I am at step one right now. I read through various posts and guides to try and find ways of getting my hands on some acceptable yeast. The common method seems to be finding fruit, putting it into a malt bath and letting it steep until it seems to have fermented. After that, if all smells and looks well, throw it into your mash and hope for the best. Another thing I had read into was extracting a specific yeast strain from a starter and making your own yeast bank. I decided to combine the two.
What I had planned to do was find some fruit, pitch it into sterile test tubes with growing medium and then, after fermentation, smell test them to find which seemed best. From there, I would use syringes to extract samples from various parts of the substrate and inoculate Petri dishes using a streaking method. I would then sterilize my test tubes and syringes. Afterwards, I would use the syringes to extract single colonies from the Petri plates and once again inoculate the test tubes but this time with something more beer mash-like. Finally, whichever test tube looked and smelled the best would be used as a slant for making the beer when I finally found some hops.
Here is where I am at now.
I made a substrate by boiling some potatoes with sucrose and flour. While that was boiling, I popped my test tubes and rubber stops into the pressure cooker to sterilize. After they were finished, I filtered the broth through a tea pot into the test tubes and once again put them back into the pressure cooker to sterilize:
I bought rubber stops for the test tubes so that I could use a syringe to inoculate them without contamination when it comes time for making slants.
Once the test tubes with substrate were done sterilizing, I quickly popped their rubber stops into them. I hope nothing bad got in there while I was doing this.
It is in the depths of winter at the moment here in China. I was a little worried about being able to find any fruit out and about. When to go buy the equipment I was looking at the old vines that cover the city, wondering if any of them would turn out to be hops when summer came, when I noticed some shrivelled little fruits hanging from some of them. I figured, hey, any yeast that would survive winter on these little guys would probably be able to survive my novice attempts at cultivation.
Finally, when the tubes had cooled, I popped the lids once more and threw in the fruit. I had one remaining tube so I put in the stems.
Now, I guess all that is left is to wait and see what will happen. I am so excited to be making my first brew but really have no idea what I am doing. I have tried to piece it all together and come up with a plan but, hell, the truth is that I don't even know where to get the hops.
I look forward to brewing with all of you and hope that my first experiment with all this works out ok. If you have any suggestions, criticisms, advice or anything at all, please, feel more than free to reply to this post. I welcome all the help in this that I can get!