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Making your own beer.

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    Making your own beer.

    This is a continuation of a thread that went off topic at:

    I have a bit of an independance streak and like to know that I can do everything. My latest "thing to learn" is brewing my own beer. I brew small batches of 2 gallons/8 liters each and have four fermentors though I only use two at a time. I have just completed building a hops garden and cannot wait to grow my own ingredients (and I'm trying to figure out how to make a simple thresher should I decide to plant some barley).

    Right now I am experimenting and have not made the same beer twice. I tend to like beers with a lot of hops so I take any beer recipe and add some hops for good measure.
    Last edited by pilotdane; February 23rd, 2009, 03:26. Reason: can't spell after drinking my own beer

    Oh, I really don't know where to begin with this, Dane...maybe I'll take some pictures tomorrow...of our brewing set up....

    But I will warn can gadget yourself to death in this hobby........


      I have tried to keep it simple though I admit to stealing several things from the shop ( CO2 and oxygen tanks & regulators). 10-20 years ago I worked in breweries and beverage factories so I've seen my share of 3'000 cans/minute fillers and bottling lines. I am trying to keep it primative but I find it hard to resist the urge to add gizmos and automate.

      I built our home energy efficient, passive solar, we capture water runoff from 30 acres for irrigation, bla, bla, bla. I am trying to get back to nature and independance. I'm really stepping up my gardening efforts to grow more of our own food and brew more of my own beer. I'm not sure if it is the modern green movement or my growing paranoia but I want to have the skills to provide a comfortable life on my own.


        Wow- Dane- You are on the cutting edge of stuff! We try to be more "green" here- with Alan still trying (going on 2 years!) to start a renewable energy business (fuel from pelletized remnants of pine trees and grasses) it's in the forefront of our brains...

        I think the more each of us do- every little bit--does help. I wouldn't call it paranoia--I would call it caring and stewarding our world. It's our responsibility, as head of the "food chain" to be respectful and aware.


          I will get more pictures together of the brewing set up, but here's a photo of me from 1995

          We were one of ten finalist winners in the first Boston Beer Company "Longshot" brewing competition. We went to Boston and brewed our traditional Czech/German pilsner (Hallertauer and Saaz) in there 10 barrel test brewery. It was sold in Boston...we brought a barrel of it home (in 5 gal soda logs)....

          Oh, it was glorious.... Fun...and yes, that is me with long red hair...(I was going through a mid-life crisis???)
          Last edited by ehp; February 28th, 2009, 23:02.


            HOLLY COW! I did not know you were a brewing rock star. I still find it hard to beleive you brought home a barrels worth. What is that, 8+ Corneys?

            Oh, how I would love to have that big copper tank in my basement. I'm not sure what I would do with a 10 barrel batch but it would certainly look nice. It makes my little Mr. Beer (don't snicker) fermentors look like toys.

            Feel free to post any more beer pron pictures you may have lying about. I'd love to see how you are brewing now. I assumed you were doing traditional 5 gallon home brew batches in buckets but now I get the idea that you might have a ***y stainless steel conical fermentor.
            Last edited by pilotdane; February 23rd, 2009, 17:03.


              You should have seen the car...our 1982 Mercedes-loaded down with-yes- 8 full Corneys. Three hour drive from Boston back to our then-home in Connecticut.

              Oh, those poor shock absorbers...I don't think they ever recovered. We looked like poor white trash driving down the freeway, bumper almost scraping the road....

              Oh, all that copper is SOOO gorgeous..mash tun and steam jacketed boiling kettle. And giant 2 story conical fermenters...oh...heaven...I cried when we left the first time after brewing....


                I've been toying with the idea of growing some barley. The USDA has data for barley grown in NC but it is almost nonexistant in my county and I have not found anyplace that has seed. I might have to break down and order some. I was thinking of a two row type but I have not gotten any further as to choosing a specific strain.

                Have you brewed with rye? My neighbors plant all the fields around my house in it so I certainly have a local supply but I have not researched which type of rye might be better for brewing.


                  Rye-only as an adjunct... We once mashed 10# of 2 row with 1/2# of rye. I don't think you'd have enough starch in just the rye alone to get a good conversion.

                  You ARE ambitious--you want to grow the barley, malt the grain then mash?? Woah...... Plus I would think your friendly deer would have a FIELD DAY (literally) with the barley..I know Alan plants millet for the deer here.......

                  Gotta start thinking about brewing--it will be summer and wheat beer time before I know it!


                    I started my hops rhizomes indoors and all 8 have started growing. They have been in pots only a week and most are growing an inch (2.5cm) per day while two of them grew 4" (10cm) yestderday. I am trying to keep them inside as long as possible to keep their growth rate fast so hopefully I can get some hops this season.


                      EHP: Have you ever worked with fruit in beer? I have brewed several batches of raspberry wheat and various ciders but the fruit has been canned (sterilized). I have a good crop of blueberries and raspberries every year and am trying to figure out how to use them in a brew. I hate to take vine ripe fruit and cook or can it but I do not know how else to sterilize it. The blueberries might work with a soak in Star San or some other sanitizer but raspberries have so many nooks and crannies I'm afraid chemical sterilization will not work.


                        Yep--I've tried raspberries, blueberries and Watermelon. The easiest way to do it is to brew the beer and do a primary fermentation. Then, before you rack to a secondary fermenter....

                        Mash up the fruit. Bring the fruit (or watermelon juice, if you want to run it through a juicer-- I wouldn't bother....) up to 160° f and hold it there for 20 minutes. This pasteurizes it without destroying alot of the flavor. Put the entire mess- don't bother straining it- through a sterilized funnel into the secondary fermenter, and rack the fresh beer in the secondary. Let the beer go through a secondary ferment..although be prepared--with that much sugar, you're gonna have a BIG ferment. Trust me on this one...I've had airlocks blow off and blueberry-laced beer stains on my ceiling. You might want to use a blow off tube for the first few days. To say the ferment will be "agressive" is an understatement.

                        Just let it go through fermentation, and it will settle back out. All the "remnants" from the fruit will be at the bottom with the spent yeast, so it will rack easily.

                        Be careful not to let the fruit boil when you pasteuize it. Boiling will cause the pectin in the fruit to set, which is what you want in jelly, but set pectin will cause beer to haze.

                        I have a Watermelon Ale, and an "Abita Purple Haze" clone using raspberries that can also use blueberries. I'll send them to you if you want.

                        I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lindeman's Raspberry Lambic--but would never try to make it because of the lambic bacteria and yeast--I'd be afraid of contaminating the equipment--but I saw somewhere that making just a light American ale, and really really pushing the raspberries--something like 8 pounds worth-- then being heavy handed on the CO2 will produce the same champagne-like head and incredible raspberry color and taste. Haven't tried it yet.

                        CAN"T WAIT TO HEAR HOW IT GOES!!!!!


                          I immediatley learned how fruit and wort mix when I did my first raspberry wheat. Once pureed fruit hits wort that's been carbonated by primary fermentation... stand back. It's like Mentos in soda.

                          I would love your recipes. I still have blueberries left over from last season and this seasons crop looks to be even better.


                            Here is my hops garden. In front is our vegetable garden and in the background is the hops garden. We have a big problem with animals so everything is fenced very well.

                            At home I have room for six bines in the fenced hops garden. On the left are two cascade bines, in the middle is sterling (one died), and on the right is a magnum and nugget.

                            Here is a close-up of magnum and nugget.

                            I also have another magnum and nugget growing outside the entrance to my office so I get to see a bit of my garden all the time.



                              Wonderful as well--and oops! I "porgot" (Pryor-speak for "forgot") to send you the recipes...will put that on the list to email you tomorrow!!!! Sorry Dane!

                              Will you have to cover up your rosemary in the winter??? I don't have to here...and in four years, my plants have grown from from 4 inch potted plants to 3 feet across and 2 1/2 feet high......