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Hi all !
Having retired I have dabbled with home brews before, but like anything I like doing it grows on me !
I don't like to make things too complicated so I just buy a simple bitter kit from Wilko's ( a can of concentated wort + dried yeast ) and experiment a bit. For example: the instructions say 1kg of sugar, but it seemed a bit bland so this time I used 1kg each of white and demmorara sugar + a jar of honey ! so I'll see what it turns out like.
My neighbour used 2kg white in his and it turned out far stronger than my first brew.
I was very lucky in befriending the landlord at my local and he gave me a proper hand pump for my home bar. I use a 5 gal. pressure barrel connected to the pump and find it pulls a very professional looking pint. I was delighted to find that the head stays with it and clings to the sides of the glass as you drink it, so I must have done something right !
I would be interested to hear from others with similar experiences, one thing I really would like to know about is how to tell the ABV of the finished product, the commercial breweries are able to state it on the label down to the decimal point.
Another thought that has crossed my mind is whether there would be any advantage in standing the barrell in an old fridge to keep the beer cool, any thoughts on that anyone ?
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Kephren

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Welcome. I'm not sure what a pressure barrel is, but the hand pump is a problem. Unless you brew in batches that you can drink relatively quickly, it's not a good idea to introduce oxygen to the beer. They don't like each other. Most of us use CO2 or a combination of CO2 and Nitrogen to push the beer.

For your second question. Aging beer is a good idea. Aging it cold is even better. I find that when I put my kegs in the fridge (usually takes a month or two to finish off a keg) the first pint is pretty good. The second to last pint is award worthy - the last pint is very disappointing, I think I'm drawing another great pint, then "phbtbtbtbt!" and half a glass of sediment! :)

Adding cane sugar to raise the alcohol content will work, but will cause a cidery flavor. It's best just to add more malt extract. Honey is popular also, but doesn't ferment very well. If you use a lot of honey, it's probably also a good idea to add yeast nutrient. Good luck!

The way to tell your alcohol content is to measure your wort's specific gravity prior to fermenting, then after fermenting. You use a hydrometer for this. Then there are several places on the web you can look to get the ABV based on these two numbers.
 

Rhoobarb

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To measure ABV, you will definitely need a hydrometer. Take an original gravity (OG) reading after brewing and before adding your yeast. Then take a final reading (FG) (before adding your priming sugar, if/when you bottle). Your readings should be at 60 degrees F, otherwise, you will need to temperture adjust. (I just pop my samples in the fridge until they reach 60F)

The formula is: (OG) - (FG) -/- 7.46 +.2 = ABV
For example, a wort with an OG of 1.060 and an FG of 1.012 would work out to be (drop the decimal points) :
1060 - 1012 = 48 -/- 7.46 = 6.43 + .2 = 6.63% ABV - (wow!).

Hope that helps!
 
OP
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Thanks guys for the replies to my first post.
I do have a hydrometer and I can tell you that the OG was 1055, it's fermenting nicely now so we shall see how it turns out !
Re the hand pump, I found no problems with it, having access to line cleaner etc., but my brews are usually drunk up within a week anyway. I often have mates coming round and when the word gets out I end up holding a noisy piss-up !
( Only mishap so far was when the cat drank half the contents of the drip tray and slept fo about 12 hours !)
Mike.
 
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Kephren said:
Welcome. I'm not sure what a pressure barrel is,
Hi !
Well, it's just a plastic keg with a tap at the bottom and a screw cap, the cap is designed to release the pressure above whatever ( I am not sure what this pressure is ) it holds five gallons and the beer is siphoned into it after fermentation, a small amount of sugar added, and the brew then matures in the keg.
Sometimes when the pressure builds up it releases and farts, usually drawing a startled saucer-eyed look from my cat !!
Mike. :p :D :D
 
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