Brewers of STW

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  • Brewers of STW
  • have loads of MO, most of a kilo of Crystal, some perle, magnum and Citra hops in the freezer and new 100g packs of amarillo, EKG, Centennial and cascade hops.

    Whats does the STW beerhive think i can do that will be simple and good?

    you’ll need a few bits more, but try this one, it’s a cracker…
    (you may be able to substitute Crystal for the Munich, Caramalt etc, and Pale malt for the Wheat Malt & Carahell; Torrefied wheat is optional)

    Dirty Celebration Ale – an American IPA in the style of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
    OG 1057, FG 1011, ABV 6%. Colour 17.2 EBC, bitterness 66.3 IBU

    To make 10L you’ll need 13L of water in total and you should aim to have 11.5L in the pot before the start of the boil.
    You can always add bottled water if it’s too high an OG, but if it’s too low, there’s nothing you can do except boil for longer, which could affect the bitterness

    1.88kg Pale Malt
    242g Munich I
    157g Caramalt
    100g Carahell
    100g Wheat Malt
    47g Crystal
    47g Torrefied Wheat (for head retention)

    mash for 60 minutes at 67degC, boil for 60 mins

    10g Chinook at 60mins
    8g each of Amarillo, Cascade & Centennial at 15mins
    8g each of Amarillo, Cascade & Centennial at 5mins
    8g each of Amarillo, Cascade & Centennial at flame out. (Ideally chill to 80degC then add the last of the hops & then) leave to steep for 30 mins before chilling to pitching temperature

    you could also try dry-hopping with another 8g each of Amarillo, Cascade & Centennial in primary, but that could be overdoing the hops a bit…

    depending on how long you leave it in secondary before bottling, I usually add 1/2 a teaspoon of brewing sugar per 500ml bottle. I have left one or two brews too long and had to reprime later to avoid FBS (flat beer syndrome)

    Boring question here, but any good ideas for labelling bottles? Am currently using marker pen on the caps, with the date basically. Am wondering if there’s any sort of white marker that could work on the bottles and then rub off when no longer needed.

    Is an induction hob better for temperature control than a gas burner?

    I have no experience of Induction hobs but TBH a steel pot on a gas burner should be fine. If your strike water is 71deg, when you finish adding the grain it should drop to about 67-68. Put the lid on it, turn the heat off and wrap it in towels, it shouldn’t lose too much heat in 60 minutes but you can always check it every 10 and put the heat back on if it has dropped below 65. I used to use a 32L steel pan and it would only drop 1 or 2 degrees over a 90 minute mash

    I now use a 32L electric boiler with digital control so there’s no need to wrap it, the element kicks back in only if it goes 1deg below the set value. One of these:

    Boring question here, but any good ideas for labelling bottles?

    I use self adhesive labels from Staples / Tesco / A N Other stationers. A bit of fun in Paint (other drawing software packages are available) and off you go. They soak off in about 10 minutes. Except on PET bottles, that takes a bit more effort

    you’ll need a few bits more, but try this one, it’s a cracker…

    Thanks very much for the suggestion John – need inspiration for a Christmas brew so this might well fit the bill!

    In the end i brewed up an amarillo/cascade brew using the new hops and my malts – recipe was from beersmith but i can’t find it at the moment. Its due to be dry-hopped tonight so hopefully things are good. I hit the pre-boil OG (1.045) bang on, but the post boil OG was 1.070 when it should have been 1.052 ish. I can’t figure out how it inflated so much as i though boil off rates were pretty standard at 1.2l /hr

    anyway, using my new toys:

    1. the thermapen is superb – my other therms were about 1.5 degrees out. although worryingly it said my mash temp was down at 59 degrees at one point, but i dont think i was getting an accurate reading. now investigating ways to insulate my mash in the pot better 🙂

    2. the refractometer was dead easy to use and so much less hassle that the hydrometer. i calibrated it with deionised water and it seemed to be ok. wondering if there is a way of using it to measure OG after fermentation? the hydrometer is a chore to use compared to this!

    3. now seriously exploring PF’s link above about extending my brewfridge to accomodate two 10l FV’s – my current fridge can only manage one and its a waste of space really as i could have a brew on the go all the time. i’m brewing less and enjoying the product more so i’m drinking more than i’m brewing which is unsustainable! 🙂

    Premier Icon zilog6128

    now investigating ways to insulate my mash in the pot better

    I wrap my sleeping bag around it. Loses 1 degree max over the hour!

    So, pre ordering three would cost me $900. Are they having a laugh?

    I built a peltier effect brew fridge for £50.

    Nice idea, but £200 per fermenter????!!!
    Didn’t see this reply 2 weeks ago!
    Yeah it’s expensive. I reckon it’s a great solution though for those with limited space – plus I doubt your brew fridge can lager or cold crash? I did actually find someone selling a wine chiller locally but it was F rated for energy so would cost around £60 per year if it were on all the time! The BrewJackets would use a fraction of that so would probably pay for themselves after 5 years. (As you can see I’m trying to justify buying 1 or 2!)

    this badboy will hopefully help me. I’m going to do a double / triple layer and stick a zip on it for easy application. not sure what the r-value will be but should be better than nothing. will also fold flattish for storage which was a key consideration.

    When measuring mash temperature, should you be sticking the probe inside the grain bags or in the water?

    When I used a stove top pan, the bag was big enough to fit completely around the rim and sit inside the pan. Grain then goes in that, loosely, and there’s only one place I could get the thermometer – in the grain.
    my new electric boiler with digital control holds the thermocouple in the water beneath the bag.

    so to answer the question , I guess it doesn’t really matter!

    One question for you though – how tight do you have the grain bags if there’s more than one of them?

    Reason I ask is, I’d be concerned about getting all of the possible sugars out of the grain if too tight.
    I’d much prefer to see a single bag, open, draped around the rim of the pan to give the grain room to move and get completely wet

    Hmm, that’s an interesting thought.
    Using my thermapen I was able to keep the temps really stable. But my gravity by the end of the mash was still a bit lower than I expected.

    Maybe a simple change of bag could do the trick….

    if it helps, here’s the bag in the pan before I added any grain; I do not put all of the water in the pan as I’ll be using some for sparging later:

    and here it is with the grain added:

    as you can see, the grain is a very loose ‘porridge’ kind of affair. If you can do it this way, each grain has a lot more room, and therefore more chance of getting thoroughly wet, and so getting more of the sugars out

    While mashing, I clean, sanitise and rinse my fermenting vessel and a colander, which I put inside the fermenter, upside down.

    When the mash is over* I simply lift the (very heavy!) bag out of the pan and sit it on top of the colander in the FV. I sparge with a kettle or two of off-the-boil water while the bag is sat on top of the colander, and collect all the extra wort produced this way, then discard the spent grains and add the wort back to the pan, which is now coming back up to the boil.

    now for the boil:

    If you find you lose too much wort to the boil, you can either add some bottled spring water back to the chilled wort, or you can put a lid partially on the pan. Don’t completely cover or it WILL boil over, and that makes one hell of a mess

    Spent grain can be used for feeding your chickens, if you have any. But not if you add spent hops

    * turn out the lights 😉

    Premier Icon zilog6128

    When measuring mash temperature, should you be sticking the probe inside the grain bags or in the water?

    If you’re asking this because you’re using the Massive kit, my advice would be: ditch those bags, they’re shit! Search ebay for “youngs nylon bag”. I got a fine meshed one. Should be about £7. 100 times better.

    sparge temps should still be below 76’C really.
    You risk the chance of washing out some bittering compounds from the husks , plus any starchy residue might be released.
    normal practise is a 2 to 1 liquor to malt ratio, plus another 5 to 1 sparge ratio

    This might not be much use to many in here but if you’re just starting it’ll help a bit, plus you get cheap beer.

    Aldi are doing bottles of German beer for £1.79 a bottle, it comes in the brown glass flip top type bottles. I’d looked at these type of bottles before from Wilko’s and they are 6 for £8 (£1.33 each) but they are clear glass. I’m going to go buy a couple of boxes of the Aldi beer tomorrow as it only works out 46p more per bottle plus you get to drink the contents! I’d also read somewhere that it’s better to put beer in brown glass bottles as opposed to clear.

    Indeed it is

    Interesting. I have a few Grolsch bottles.

    Ordered up one of those bigger grain bags to give it a try.
    My current Black IPA is coming along nicely.
    Going to do a Citra Double IPA once I bottle the Black one and free up my fermenter.

    40 bottles filled with rather tasty German helles beer for £71.60. Once I’ve finished them I’ll get my next brew on the go, got some 2 can kit thing, can’t even find it at the minute it’s been that long since I brewed anything.

    so, knocked in brew #5 today – citra double ipa recipe

    had to substitute the warrior for magnum, not sure how that will go but we’ll see!

    still learning and tweaking though

    -had enough of my mashing bag. it fits the pot badly (too narrow and tall) so its hard to secure it to the pot. raining in grain is a three handed affair! Anyone used one of these custom BIAB makers to run up a bag? i’m using the 19l ebay pot.

    -my insulation experiments needs work – i think the foam wrap lost about 2.5/3 degrees/hour which is a bit much. needs revisited i think to get this closer to 1 degree/hour

    -hit the pre-boil og almost bang on (0.1 down) and the refractometer is just so handy for this. found myself just measuring the OG regularly through the brew to see where it was.

    -also reduced my boil off a wee bit as for some reason i was losing an awful lot of volume during the boil. this time i covered the pan slightly and using the refractometer kept an eye on the OG. in the end i think it was 0.3 over and the volume was pretty much spot on too, so hopefully this will be good.

    – need to invest in some ss bearings or something to sink hops in a hop bag, my last dry hop effort hardly touched the wort as it sat on the top of the brew:(

    anyway still learning and loving the hobby!

    need to invest in some ss bearings or something to sink hops in a hop bag, my last dry hop effort hardly touched the wort as it sat on the top of the brew:(

    no need. do you have any shot glasses lying around? one of these, sanitised as with all other post-boil equipment, in the hop bag should be fine

    for future reference, Citra works really well with Cascade 🙂

    Great shout john on the shot glass. I had some cascade hops in the freezer too, typical!

    hopefully the magnum is a decent match for the citra.

    try this one some time, it’s a cracker

    to make 23L, scale down according to your brew lengths…

    4236g Pale Malt
    484g Caramalt
    mash at 68degC for 1 hour, boil for 1 hour

    16g Citra 60 mins
    10g Citra 30 mins
    25g Cascade 10 mins
    40g Cascade 0 mins

    plus whatever clearing agent you use at 10 mins (e.g. protofloc, irish moss, etc)

    bitterness 35.5 IBU, colour 13.3 EBC. OG 1043, FG 1011 assuming 67% efficiency, 4.2% ABV fermented with Safale US05 or equivalent


    davidrussell – I’ve just done my 21st brew, so still a novice and learning/tweaking/screwing up/rescuing brews as I go, but here’s my 2p’s worth…

    had enough of my mashing bag. it fits the pot badly (too narrow and tall) so its hard to secure it to the pot. raining in grain is a three handed affair!

    The place I buy grain from sends it in big zip-lock bags – typically there’s about 2.5 to 3 kgs in each one. Stirring with one hand and trying to pour steadily from a flimsy but bulky bag is tricky. I found that it’s easiest to put the grain in a big Tupperware box first. Being rigid it’s much easier to pour it single-handed while stirring.

    If it’s just a case of needing one hand to hold the grain bag and stop it falling in, use pegs as per john_drummer’s pics.

    Anyone used one of these custom BIAB makers to run up a bag? i’m using the 19l ebay pot.

    I bought some voile material with this intention, but ended up buying a ready-made bag. The only problem is that it’s essentially the same shape as a pillow-case, i.e. rectangular. When it’s full of wet grain it tends to hang with the two corners lowest, so there are two streams of wort running off it. This can be a bit tricky to manage, as it’s chuffing heavy, and I often end up spilling a bit on the floor before I manhandle it over a pot and lift one of the corners to rearrange the grain inside.
    If I ever get round to making my own, it’ll still be a flat bag (like a pillow case) but the sewn end will be pointy rather than square – so hopefully when lifted it’ll have a roughly conical shape at the bottom.

    my insulation experiments needs work – i think the foam wrap lost about 2.5/3 degrees/hour which is a bit much. needs revisited i think to get this closer to 1 degree/hour

    I brew in a 48L electric urn. I use a big, heavy, cotton beach towel folded lengthways then wrapped around the pot, secured by a bungee strap. I then take another big heavy towel and wrap that over the first, moving the bungee so it’s now securing both towels. Then I wrap a foam camping mat round the lot, moving the bungee again so it holds the lot in place. The width of the folded towels is about the same as the camping mat, and conveniently about the same as the height of the urn. I insulate the pot from the start, so the insulation is fully warm at the start of the mash (so I don’t lose heat to warming up the insulation). Once the gain is in I put the lid on, fold another towel into a square about the size of the lid, put that on top, then finally drape yet another towel over the top to close up any gaps. It’s possibly overkill, but it’s cheap and I generally don’t lose more than 1°C over an hour, and I’m not convinced that such a small change makes any significant difference. I guess if you’re doing small-size batches then heat loss is a bigger issue due to the volume:area ratio.

    need to invest in some ss bearings or something to sink hops in a hop bag, my last dry hop effort hardly touched the wort as it sat on the top of the brew:(

    As mentioned above, pretty much anything will do – glass marble? Ss nut or bolt? (admittedly the latter two will have nooks and crannies for grot to hide in, but can be boiled for 15mins to sterilise)
    I ferment in a glass demi-john, which has a tiny neck (about an inch internal diameter). I put my hop pellets in a nylon stocking (I got the wife to buy me a multi-pack of knee-high ones), knot it and thread it into the FV. It’s suspended on a bit of mono-filament fishing line for retrieval, secured by the bung in the top. Initially it just sits on top of the wort, but it very quickly sinks as the pellets soak up the liquid. It does ‘float’, but immediately beneath the surface, fully submerged. Maybe before adding weights, try using a sanitised spoon to poke it under the surface until it’s wet enough to stay there?

    Hmm, that Citra Double IPA is the one I was going to do.

    My Black IPA smells very good. Have to crack the lid of the fermenter every couple of days to let the gas out, it’s bulging.

    Good call on the shot glass for dry hopping.


    also reduced my boil off a wee bit as for some reason i was losing an awful lot of volume during the boil. this time i covered the pan slightly and using the refractometer kept an eye on the OG. in the end i think it was 0.3 over and the volume was pretty much spot on too, so hopefully this will be good.

    Not sure whether that’s a good idea david.

    Have a read about DMS:

    “Since DMS needs to evaporate off during the boil, it is important not to cover your pot. Covering a brew kettle during the boil will prevent the DMS from evaporating and create a beer with much higher levels of DMS.”


    Presumably you’re getting less boil off because some of the water was evaporating but then returning to the kettle? If that’s the case then you’re probably adding back stuff that you want to boil off.

    A better idea might be to up your starting volume to account for your high boil off rate. When I add my grain for the mash, the water is right at the very top of the 19l pot. I’ve then got plenty of room left once I remove the grain for the boil, but using those volumes I end up with 10l pretty much on the dot.


    I’ve got a minor dilemma… I’ve currently got an APA fermenting away nicely in the garage. Everything went to plan on brew day except I forgot to add Irish moss late in the boil.

    Normally this would be just a mild annoyance – it’s not going to affect the taste, so I wouldn’t care. It might be a wee bit hazy, but normally it’s by and large only for my consumption so no big deal.

    Except this beer is being brewed for a homebrew competition at the wife’s work… so now I’m wondering what (if anything) to do –

    a) just leave it and hope for the best.

    b) after primary fermentation is done, rack to secondary, hoping that the disturbance will help proteins to drop out. But the extra exposure to the air increases the chance of infection.

    c) a day or two prior to kegging, crash chill by dropping the temp as low as the fridge will go (an old fridge with an STC-1000, no idea how cold it will get – although it did hold 2 degrees very well for a lager I did last winter)

    d) a and c

    e) b and c

    f) something else?

    I’m leaning towards leaving it in primary and crash chilling prior to kegging, unless there are any other bight ideas out there…

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager

    b) and f) – You can add finings to the secondary – I know some brewers do this with gelatine. Not done it myself, though, so can’t speak to the results first hand. Sounds like it won’t hurt.


    I’d add some gelatin to secondary and then cold crash .

    I’d be surprised if it was still hazy after that.

    Some decent info here

    I always add finings to the secondary. usually isinglass but if I’m out of that, Auxiliary Finings. But NEVER mix them.

    Thanks for the link pf, i’ll have a read when the work proxy doesn’t block the site 🙁 I had no idea that partially covering the pan could cause a prob, so thanks for the heads up.

    you have me wondering about my volumes now too, as i added a litre extra to the strike water volume this time over my last brew as it came up a bit short. re-boil vol this time was 13l where beersmith wanted 12.29, so maybe i didn’t need to cover the pot after all. I’ll need to calibrate and mark my FV i think (i have one of the wee 10l ones) so i can tell what kind of volume i’m actually putting into it – i may actually have got >10l into the FV this time, it was filled to about 1.5″ from the top.

    i definitely need to extend my brewfridge like the pics on the previous page, doing max 2 brews/month is getting a bit limiting, not to mention stocks run down quickly 🙂


    DMS is not such a big problem with UK 2 row malts, it’s more American 6-row and pale European Pilsner malts, so you might not need to worry depending what you’re using. For some reason that I can’t explain I don’t like boiling off half my wort, I know I can just replace the water but it just seems so inefficient somehow. I’ve only really used Maris Otter though, so maybe I’ve just been lucky!

    There was a comment earlier about overpitching, apparently the 11g packets are sometimes considered to be almost underpitched for a ~20l brew so I used 1/2 a packet in 5l. The primary seemed to work really well as far as I could tell, but the secondary took over a month (I was expecting ~2 weeks). I don’t know whether it was over attenuated or if I’d stressed the yeast somehow, I’m going to try again this weekend, and be a bit more careful.

    An interesting experiment in pitching rates here:


    Cheers for the advice re finings in secondary – that’s actually ringing a bell, and I’m sure I’ve got some isinglass somewhere. I’ll have to go through my records to see whether it was from my early beers or maybe the wines I made prior to that.

    Will do some research on gelatin vs isinglass.

    a starter for ten then 😉

    gelatin comes from pigs’ trotters; isinglass comes from fish

    so both no good for strict vegetarians

    the isinglass I use is marketed as “Vinclear” and the instructions refer to “the wine” but it works fine (no pun intended!) for me in beer too


    crash chilling prior to kegging

    If you’re kegging it then you have co2 available?

    This is my usual process and I get crystal clear ales from it.

    Cold crash down as cool as you can go. Blossom some gelatine a little cooled boiled water. Purge seconadary with c02 to prevent infection then add you gelatine water and rack the beer onto it. Hold it at the low temp for 48 hours then keg.


    Thanks all, will try racking to secondary and adding finings.

    If you’re kegging it then you have co2 available?

    Yep, got CO2. I normally purge my kegs with it prior to filling them, will do the same with the secondary.


    Purge seconadary with c02 to prevent infection

    To prevent infection or oxygenation?

    I purge my secondary FVs before racking to get rid of oxygen, particularly if the beer is going to be in there for a while, but didn’t think it had any effect on infection risk?

    i assume by purging an FV you are just filling it with c02 basically?



    Yes. To be honest, it’s probably not very necessary and I don’t use secondary very much anyway, but if I’m transferring something for a while (like an RIS) then I’ll fill the FV with co2 before filling with beer.

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    You only need to drop a bit of Co2 into the keg as its heavier than air so will sit on the bottom until its displaced by beer. Once you close the lid (assume a corny keg) then purge the headspace and your beer should be OK for a while.

    so, opened may latest bottled brew after 11 days in the bottle and… meh.

    it tastes a lot like the others tbh. a bit sour almost, like there is no hop aroma, just quite bitter. not undrinkable, but its not getting better. wife remarked on the smell of yeast so clearly i’m dragging a lot into the bottle and my pouring wasn’t the best. plenty of fizz with a generous half teaspoon of sugar- almost too much i think as it was lager fizzy, but at least i know a level half teaspoon is enough.

    got quite a dunt off it so i think the ABV is up there, but i wont relish drinking the rest in a hurry. i think i’ll leave this batch for a few months and retry.

    anyway, any homebrewers in the central belt of scotland? i could do with a distinguished palate to critique my brew and help decipher what the various flavours are, because after 5 brews that all tasted pretty much the same i can’t tell whats gone wrong in the process 🙁

    Sour doesn’t sound good. What kind of sour? Vinegar sour or chemical sour?
    What do you use for cleaning/sanitising?

    hard to put my finger on it j_d, definitely not a germoline / chemical smell and not obviously vinegary either. its more organic than chemically taste. aroma from the beer is almost always not as bad as the taste. head retention isn’t great on the beer either. it just tastes a bit bitter, but its a fairly consistent taste that i’ve got from all my brews.

    cleaning wise i use vwp, lukewarm water and a triple rinse. sani wise i use starsan, 1.6ml / litre or 8ml for 5l measured using a small syringe so near as dammit accurate, unless my dilution ratio is off.

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    Moar hops, David.

    Seriously, try brewing a hop monster and see how that goes. There’s a reason homebrewers go for big abus – it’s actually v difficult to successfully homebrew a light, subtly flavoured ale.

    I hate VWP. Lost loads of brews to it and the resulting phenols until I switched to beer line cleaner. Not had a phenolic brew since


    Remember that for bottle conditioning you’re effectively starting a second fermentation when you add that sugar, so after 11 days, whilst is might be carbed up, its unlikely the yeast will have finished up what they need to do to clear up the beer.

    With few execeptions, the last bottle in my batch is normally the best one.

    In my first half a dozen batches I had off flavours galore, so drinking anything in the first couple of MONTHS normally meant I was picking up those off flavours. Fine tuning in processes has removed pretty much all of those, but I’ll still occasionally open a bottle at two weeks and think “bollocks” only for it to turn out great after another month in the bottle.

    Where abouts are you David? I’m in Glasgow, more than happy to meet up and share a few. I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but have just very recently been through the same stage youre at now so might be able to help. All 6 beers I entered into the national homebrew comp all came within 2 points of each other, so at least I appear to be consistent if nothing else! 🙂

    Another thing to consider is your water. My dark beers tended to fare much better than my pales, which were lifeless and a bit meh. For £18 I got a full water analysis along with water addition recommendations for different styles. Its really tramsformed my pale ales.

    Also, I definitely agree with the more hops suggestion. Try not having any hop additions until the last 20 mins, then start adding around 100g for 10l (which will give you IPA level IBUs). No puckering bitterness, just loads of hop flavour and aroma. Kernel style

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