Local Shops Homebrew – Part II: Simple Brew

This posts contains 10 instructional photos.

In Part I, I showed how to make your little homebrew apparatus with equipment you can find at your local supermarket and hardware store for less than £5 (€6.30/US$8.50).

Now, I will show how to make a simple wine recipe using ingredients (yes, all the ingredients) from your local shop. Let’s just hope you will find it delicious when it’s done! I know I do!

But which recipe to try? The options are endless, so why not brew something more alternative? The recipe I chose is a low alcohol, sweet carrot wine. Yes, carrot! It has sugar in it, so let’s brew it!

Ingredients:

  1. 5L of water (which came with the fermenting bin);
  2. 1kg of demerara sugar (any sugar will do, but try using the least refined and bleached sugar);
  3. 1kg of grated carrots;
  4. Juice and zest of one lemon;
  5. Sourdough starter.

Make sure all the equipment has been sanitized!


Instructions:

  • Bring the 5L of water to a rolling boil;
  • Why? This will help sterilize the water;


  • Prepare the yeast by adding a tablespoon full of sourdough starter (), a tea spoon of sugar and a bit of luke warm water;
  • Why? The sugar solution will feed the yeast and allow it to reproduce and reach full activity. Using wild yeast for brewing? Hey, if it is good enough for the ancient egyptians to brew with it, it’s good enough for me!


  • Add the sugar to the water;
  • Why? To dissolve it. Once added, the water boil will stop for a little bit, but soon will come back to boiling;


  • Grate the zest of the lemon and juice of one lemon;
  • Why? Citric acid is very important in wine making, which will influence the colour, balance of the wine, aid vitality of the yeast and protecting the wine from bacteria. Lemon zest is rich in pectinase. Pectinase is an enzyme that breaks down pectin (a complex carbohydrate) into simple fermentable sugar and, thus, aiding against pectin haze and helping the brew clarity;


  • Grate the carrots;
  • Why? Grated carrots will have a greater surface area which will be in contact with the boiling water, thus optimizing the extraction of sugars necessary for fermentation;


  • Add the zest, juice and carrots to the boiling water for 45 minutes;
  • Why? This will extract all the sugar and, during the boil, the must (brew juice!) will be sterilized and break down any complex sugars present;


  • Prepare a funnel and filtering device of your choice;
  • Why? Remove all solids from the must prior to fermentation. Note: Wait for the must to cool down before adding to the fermenting bin;


  • After adding the must to the fermenting bin, close it and wait for it to cool down to about 20C;
  • Why? Temperatures between 18 and 21C are the optimum temperatures for the yeast to ferment the sugars. At lower temperatures, fermentation will slow down and the process will take much longer, maybe even come to a halt. At higher temperatures, different strain of yeast may be produce and aid the infection of the must or the yeast may die.


  • At around 18C, add the yeast solution to the must and close the system, with airlock. Leave it undisturbed in a dark room. Fermentation should last around 10 days.
  • Why? Moving the fermenting bin around may add oxygen to the must and bacteria may thrive and contaminate your brew. Another reason for leaving the brew undisturbed is clearing. Any solids in it will precipitate down to the bottom of the fermenting bin.

    Yeast produces CO2 and oxygen is the enemy! The airlock made with the water in the bottle allows the CO2 to be released without oxygen being allowed to enter and ruin the brew.


Phew! That’s it! Sorry for being a bit pedantic and explaining each step. In short, take the ingredients, boil, cool it, add yeast and wait… ok!

Local Shops Homebrew – Part I: Equipment

So many people have asked me how difficult it is to homebrew. For some reason, everyone thinks it is a huge, complicated process that requires a lot of fancy and specialized equipments etc. Well, no! Everything you need to have a nice homebrew is available at your local shop and hardware store.

Here the equipment you need:

  1. 5L bottle of mineral water (for the water and container);
  2. About 1 metre clear tube;
  3. A rubber washer to fit the tube (this is unnecessary, I will expand at the bottom);
  4. A bottle (any bottle whatsoever).


Instructions:

  • Using a hot knife, make a circular hole through the middle of the 5L bottle cap. Make it so that the plastic tube fits very tightly. If you manage this, place the tube in and air seal with glue. O made the hole too large accidentally, so I needed to look for a washer, which I found at my local hardware shot quite easily;


  • This is roughly what the set up should look like!


  • The random bottle should be filled up half way up, this will act as an airlock.


  • Place the other end of the tube into the bottle…. and that’s it! You have your fermenting bin ready for action!


This will give you just under 5L of homebrew when it is time to brew. It’s a very simple process, the only “difficult” is to make a hole in the cap! The rest is simple assembly. The whole set up will cost you a maximum of £5 and it is made of plastic, so if you take good care of it, it can last for a very very long time.

This is a very good way to get into the basics of homebrewing, getting used to the set up, the function of each part of the equipment at a very small scale. If your recipe works for 5L, it will work for 100L down the line (if you take things to the extreme)! The really cool thing is that homebrew is linear, i.e. multiply everything by the same number if you want to brew more!

Let’s try a quick recipe the, shall we? Part II is coming soon!

Toodles!

DISCLAIMER: Be careful when trying do it this! Using a knife is no joke. Only attempt to do this if you are comfortable using a knife!