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  1. #1
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    Do you make your own beer?

    If you do, do you use a kit or make it from scratch?
    Have you ever modified a kit to produce a different flavor?
    What are your favorite kits?


    I like to make different beers and modify the flavors occasionally.
    I have 3 batches on the go now for the Summer season.

    I like to make wine but we keep our house too hot for good wine fermentation.

  2. #2
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    Hi

    I thought making your own alcohol was illegal in the United States? Not too sure, so I was just asking you.

  3. #3
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    I don't know the laws in the States. I'm sure they vary.

    Here in Canada it is legal to brew your own.

    You can't however distill your own spirits.

  4. #4
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    You're assuming he's American.

    Nah, but my dad did. Not sure of the kit but the stuff tastest nice, strong as hell though.

  5. #5
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    Actually, according to this site it would appear that brewing and wine making for personal use is legal in most states.

    http://www.beertown.org/homebrewing/legal.html

  6. #6
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    Hmmm.. I am content with a Corona.. although if I could make my own that tasted similar I would call myself a god
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  7. #7
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    Originally posted by blue27
    Actually, according to this site it would appear that brewing and wine making for personal use is legal in most states.

    http://www.beertown.org/homebrewing/legal.html


    Colorado statute § 12-47-142 permits a head of a family to produce for family use and not for sale such amounts of malt liquor as is exempt from federal excise tax on such liquor.


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  8. #8
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    I have made corona kits that tasted just like the real thing.

    I'm not sure about prices in the States but here in Canada beer is outrageously expensive.
    Making it at home costs about a third of what it costs to buy at the store.

  9. #9
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    Re: Do you make your own beer?

    Originally posted by blue27
    If you do, do you use a kit or make it from scratch?
    Have you ever modified a kit to produce a different flavor?
    What are your favorite kits?
    Heheh, a little novella for Sunday afternoon!

    There are no good kits. I've never modified a kit. My first batch of homebrew was from a kit, but you'll be much happier jumping right to the next step which is to use malt extract in either canned syrup or dehydrated powder form. For hops, use pelletized for the boil and the freshest hop flowers you can obtain for finishing. Always use a kettle big enough to boil the entire wort, not just a portion that's diluted later.

    Don't deviate from those hop instructions, OK? If you can't get fresh, pellets will do in a pinch for finishing, but preferably use a recipe with a malty finish. A commercial beer (or, deity forbid, Zima) with a malty finish is MGD -- no finishing hops there, hops are only used in the boil which adds bitterness and (natural) preservatives but not much flavor or aroma.

    You'll also want the specialized roasts to 'flesh out' your concentrate. By adding roasted malt barley (carmelized to varying degrees) to the wort boil, and hops at the right time, you alter the flavor and color of the final beer. Don't worry, recipes abound which detail what I'm talking about. Kits are no fun, because all you do is boil the extract and add yeast -- the malts and hops have already been added for you, in the extract. Boring.

    If you bake your own bread, I'll bet you already have some yeast knowledge. Keep a small refrigerator for your yeast cultures, get the active cultures of the proper yeast for the beer you're brewing (they come in vacuum-sealed foil packets, just enough to make a starter). If there's a recipe you brew often, keep your yeast strain from batch to batch -- it will adapt, and your beer will progressively improve.

    If you want to be a kick-*** brewer, kräusen. Instead of carbonating your beer with CO2 like Budweiser, etc. do, the homebrewer needs carbonation to happen in the bottle or keg, which happens when the yeast converts sugar to alcohol. Since the yeast can't all be racked off, the spent yeast needs to be revitalized with a little sugar prior to bottling.

    Instead of adding corn syrup, etc. to carbonate, add a tiny bit of the wort that you kept sealed in your yeast fridge, from after the boil and cooling but before yeast was added. That's after you've given it a tiny dose of yeast -- yes, a 'starter' -- it's called kräusening. When that's added, bacteria doesn't get a chance to wreck your beer like with other methods, and you're not using an ingredient alien to the recipe. Very old-school.

    I lived in Fort Collins and Boulder for many years. Boulder is home to the American Homebrewer's Association, hosts of the Great American Beer Festival. I've hobnobbed with the brewmasters of both O'Dells (90 Schilling, anyone?) and New Belgium (ahh... fat tire) which are both internationally respected products of my hometown. The brewmasters were active in local homebrew clubs for many years before starting commercial microbreweries.

    The reason Ft. Collins (plus Pilsen and Budweis, in Czech Republic) has such excellent beers is the local availability of very soft water. Different styles of beer only turn out with the proper water chemistry. If you start with soft water (low mineral content) you can add mineral salts to obtain the proper water to brew most anything, but if you have hard water you'll not be able to make pilsners or lite beer. Where I live, it's easy to obtain water chemistry reports of the local water down at the town hall.

    When I lived on the Elk River, it wasn't convenient to use anything but river water. The Elk, North of Steamboat Springs, has discharge from many natural springs, some thermal. The water has traces of sulfur and even lithium, a high pH and moderate hardness. The Internet is awesome because I found out online that the Elk was awfully close to the River Wharfe, the water behind Samuel Smith's beers. With a magazine recipe for Tadcaster Porter in hand, "Elk River Taddy" was born.

    Of course, our cabins (small compound, six residents) had heat and hot water provided by coal stokermatics, so that beer was brewed outside on the river bank on a little blast furnace we erected out of cinder blocks, fired by stoker coal. This did add an unexpected flavor, but it was a damn fine brew. We didn't use malt extract, though.

    The only real way for a true chef to brew beer (sound of gauntlet landing) would be to mash his own malted barley instead of rehydrating a concentrate. Blue, you're certainly bright enough to grasp enzymatic breakdown of starches into sugars and the 'protein rest', plus read a thermometer stuck into a vat of ingredients too presumably, so you ought to mash your own. A sack of malted barley is always less expensive than a processed concentrate, and it's more fun to boot.

    There are two methods, infusion mashing and decoction mashing. Infusion is most widely used, except in Bohemia where I have roots, so I use decoction mashing. To me, it's also easier to add a precise amount of boiling water to a kettle, than to precisely adjust the stove under it. Your kitchen probably has all the stainless steel gadgetry necessary to sparge the mash, like using a hand spraynozzle to rinse something in a sieve. You rinse the wort out of the husks.

    My prize possessions: A stainless-steel coil tube for chilling wort. Drop it into the brewkettle right after the heat is off and start pumping icewater through it. There's a temperature range where bacteria has the upper hand on yeast, drop below it ASAP then add your yeast starter. I also have a stainless-steel strainer basket from a very large centrifugal pump. It's 24" tall and 8" in diameter with just the right size holes for mashing. I also own two 1/4-barrel beer kegs which have had their tops cut off and been fitted with handles and spigots, they each have more than one use in the brewing process but that's what I boil in. I make 10-gallon batches.

    Once you get the hang of it, and work the numbers, I believe you'll be converting your restaurant into a brewpub. Pints cost pennies to brew but dollars to buy, and draft beer always sells.
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  10. #10
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    Ah, you bring back memories, blue. Not for making beer, but wine. Growing up in an Italian household, it was an annual event to be crushing the grapes every September.

    I still remember having to go to school every Fall and explain why my hands were "purple-stained" between all the cracks...

    Vito
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  11. #11
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    Re: Re: Do you make your own beer?

    Originally posted by BigBison
    Blue, you're certainly bright enough to grasp enzymatic breakdown of starches into sugars and the 'protein rest', plus read a thermometer stuck into a vat of ingredients too presumably, so you ought to mash your own.

    Not only can I grasp it, I teach it.


    I disagree with your statement that there are no good kits.
    10 years ago I would have agreed but today you can buy 5 gallon buckets of actual wort. No need to add sugar and no concentrates.
    I have made fantastic beers just by tweeking the aromatics a little.

    I would love to be making beer from scratch but time and space don't allow it.

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by vito
    Ah, you bring back memories, blue. Not for making beer, but wine. Growing up in an Italian household, it was an annual event to be crushing the grapes every September.

    I still remember having to go to school every Fall and explain why my hands were "purple-stained" between all the cracks...

    Vito

    I would love to do some wines again Vito but we keep our place too hot. No less than 80 degrees at all times. My wife and I are both alergic to cold.

    Of course wine ferments best at high 60s low 70s.
    Maybe when I get a house with a basement I will get back into it.
    I really want to make an Amarone.

  13. #13
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    BigBison,

    Thanks for the great read.
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  14. #14
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    Originally posted by blue27
    Maybe when I get a house with a basement I will get back into it.
    Haha, we lived in a house with no air conditioning. Bloody hot throughout. However, we did have a unit air conditioner built into our basement cantena.

    Priorities...

    Vito
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  15. #15
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    Re: Re: Re: Do you make your own beer?

    Originally posted by blue27
    10 years ago I would have agreed but today you can buy 5 gallon buckets of actual wort. No need to add sugar and no concentrates.
    I did not know that, yes my last kit experience was 1989ish. My Brother in Denver and his buddies get together at a 'host brewery' which they book weeks in advance for a certain amount of money. They have professional assistance from the house brewmaster and can make 50 gallons of beer from scratch -- three 1/4 kegs and some bottles. They don't need to do setup or cleanup, sounds like lots of fun or a cool business to be in.

    Originally posted by vito
    Priorities...
    Yes, like a lagering cellar for making Düsseldorf Altbiers and other beers requiring cold finishing...

  16. #16
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    I brewed several batches of ale with my dad last year. Its a lot of fun and pretty interesting. Gave me a good respect for brewers.

    We did it from scratch, just had a book to guide us along. We still have some cans of malt extract in the house

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by blue27
    I don't know the laws in the States. I'm sure they vary.

    Here in Canada it is legal to brew your own.

    You can't however distill your own spirits.
    That's what I think it was, sorry I didn't do the research sooner. I found out later Sometimes I'm quick on the gun to reply. I did know blue27 was in Canada, assuming his signature

  18. #18
    Lol i think people making it drink it too...

  19. #19
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    I started a batch of honey/maple mead this morning.
    I will let you all know in a year how it turns out.

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