Picking up home fermentation/brewing

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
672
South-Central WI
I'm starting down the path of home fermentation/brewing with some hard cider. Unless you're after a natural/funky type fermentation, the first step is cleaning and sanitizing all equipment used. In this case, I used an iodine solution for the sanitation, which has a brown color and a smell reminiscent of chlorine but "heavier".


For this cider I went with a popular recipe on Homebrew Talk, EdWort's Apfelwein. Pretty simple, just apple juice, dextrose (for extra alcohol), and yeast.


By bedtime on the 14th everything was tucked away in the basement to ferment.


Evening of the 15th the cloudiness, which had started on the bottom the morning of the 14th, had crept halfway up the bottle. A few bobbles of CO2, but not much yet.


Yesterday morning (the 16th) teh cider is cloudy all the way to the top, and the bottom is getting paler.


Unfortunately the bubbles (krausen, I believe it's called) had started building. With store juice and this type of yeast it wasn't supposed to get krausen, so I didn't have much room in the carboy.


By around 9 it was threatening to enter the airlock.


I started looking through my limited supplies and came across a promising setup with the tube from my siphon, the rigid tube from the bottle filler, and a stopper.


I cut both types of tube down to more manageable sizes, cleaned and sanitized, and stuck the end of the tube into a bucket of Iodophor (iodine) sanitizer solution.


And then, of course, it mocked me. The krausen grew, touched the stopper but did not enter the tube, and by the evening it was clearly falling away. I would have been okay with the airlock after all. Ah well.


As of this morning it's a uniform, cloudy, pale color. The rate of fermentation keeps increasing. Once it starts slowing I will switch back to an airlock.


They say a month, minimum, before you can drink it, with 6 months being more ideal. This should be a very dry, ~8.5% ABV batch. I'm planning to start a second batch this weekend that I can let age for a few months at least, since we will not be waiting months to try this batch.

A number of years back I planted pear and peach trees, moved a year and a half later. Last year I planted peach trees, red currants, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries...moved this spring. Now I've planted pears, peaches, apples, and my aunt sent me grape and black currant cuttings I'm currently propagating. More fruit, likely more cider apples along with raspberries and such will be planted next year (pool is the main project this year). Hopefully we'll be here a while, we plan to be anyway, and we'll be able to start making drinks from home grown fruit.

So yeah, I've been meaning to do this for a while. This particular batch started as I found used winemaking supplies for cheap on craigslist and got it planning ahead. Then I started musing about making cider/beer and my wife said "you've been talking about it for years and never had, I'll believe it when I see it." SO...I had a batch of cider started a week and a half later, as soon as the yeast that I ordered the night she said that arrived. :D

Besides another batch of cider that can age for several months, I'm planning on getting a couple of the extract beer making kits from Northern Brewer or similar and try my hand at homemade beer. If I like it enough I may graduate to partial or all grain brewing, but all grain brewing is definitely something I don't want to jump straight into.

Some of this beer/cider will be bottled, but I also bought a kegging system so most of it will be stored on tap in a soon to be build homemade kreezer. Pool, spa, homemade beer/cider on tap? We're going to have more friends than we know what to do with! :ROFLMAO:
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,574
Tucson, AZ
Looks nice. Maybe try your hand at Kombucha (fermented tea). The SCOBY (bacteria/yeast symbiotic colony) is pretty freaky looking and alien-like and makes a fun show & tell for friends. I like kombucha a lot and you can do all sorts of wild fruit flavors with the tea.

Now you need to get a smoker and make your own pastrami ...
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
672
South-Central WI
LOL on the stuff NOT reaching the plug :roll:
Yeah I know, right? But had I not swapped out for a tube, it would have gone into the airlock. Cause that's how that works, right?

Looks nice. Maybe try your hand at Kombucha (fermented tea). The SCOBY (bacteria/yeast symbiotic colony) is pretty freaky looking and alien-like and makes a fun show & tell for friends. I like kombucha a lot and you can do all sorts of wild fruit flavors with the tea.

Now you need to get a smoker and make your own pastrami ...
From what I've read of it, I think I'd enjoy Kombucha. I enjoy tea, both the caffeinated and herbal/fruit stuff. I also enjoy sour beers.

My brother made gingerbeer, which uses a symbiotic bacteria/yeast combo as well. That was good stuff. Not sure if he still has that going or not.

I do want a smoker, but there's a limit to the number of projects you can do at the same time...right? :LOL:
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,574
Tucson, AZ
.....but there's a limit to the number of projects you can do at the same time...right? :LOL:
Says who 🤷‍♂️

I always tell people this about kombucha - if the thought of drinking slightly alcoholic, lightly carbonated vinegar sounds refreshing ... go for it! It’s definitely a taste one must acquire and the first person to look at the alien-like SCOBY blob floating on top of the fermented brew was pretty brave (or drunk) to think, “I’m sure you can still drink that, right?? Here, hold my beer...”
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
894
Corona de Tucson, AZ
You think you went down a rabbit hole when you got a pool? Hee...nothing like brewing, cider, wine and mead making....

I used to be as obnoxious on HBT as I now am here but moving to AZ really slowed me down on brewing. Plus... My wife does NOT support that hobby at all!

I will have to post a picture of my PID controlled spa panel GFCI protected 220V electronic element brewing keggle, and my keezer... Will add them to the post shortly.

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Last edited:

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
1,498
Marrietta Ga
And by the way. If you use anything funky, like making Kombucha or sours, do NOT use that equipment again for regular yeast fermentation. You might sanitize it enough to work... Maybe... Isn't worth the risk...
Hey who needs to sterilize, moon shiners said the alcohol will kill anything. After all what’s the worse case, going blind for a week 🙀
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
894
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Actually that is not the problem. You can make (perfectly fine and safe) vinegar or nasty tasting stuff... But the vast majority of fermenting organisms will make safe to drink stuff. (Botulism is am exception here but that generally will not take hold before a more aggressive bug eats the sugar up first). Fermentation itself is a way of making stuff safe and keeping spoilage from happening.

Acetobacteria is particularly interesting as it turns alcohol into acedic acid.. It eats the ethyl alcohol...

The moonshiners had a different problem. You can make higher order alchohols by distillation that are poisonous, especially if you try to distill more than once.

The good news here is that you have to REALLY screw stuff up to make something poisonous..

So it's probably a safer hobby than.... Well.... Swimming...
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
672
South-Central WI
You think you went down a rabbit hole when you got a pool? Hee...nothing like brewing, cider, wine and mead making....

I used to be as obnoxious on HBT as I now am here but moving to AZ really slowed me down on brewing. Plus... My wife does NOT support that hobby at all!
Yeah some reading on HBT and you can go WAY down the rabbit hole on this....if you want. I also realized reading there it's quite possible to do it and not go down the rabbit hole far. Stuff like ciders, which I started with, are dead nuts easy. Heck, you can buy gallon jugs of juice, pour out a little, pour in some yeast, and slam a stopper with airlock into the jug. A month later, cider! And I know my brother has made various beers without lots of fancy equipment. Honestly there's people on HBT that seem to like the equipment more than making/drinking the beer.

But that's like any hobby, right? You usually can start cheap, and be pretty happy. You can also spend almost infinite amounts of money, if you like.

Pro for me is my wife supports it, as she enjoys drinking beer/cider. It took hardly any convincing to jump in and get a basic two corny keg setup and permission to get a freezer to make a kreezer. We'll be buying the freezer in the next couple weeks, plan is that the cider will get kegged. While I did get a basic bottle capper as I'm sure I'll want to share stuff in the future, everything I read pointed to if you have the money and space just get kegs, cause bottling sucks.

And by the way. If you use anything funky, like making Kombucha or sours, do NOT use that equipment again for regular yeast fermentation. You might sanitize it enough to work... Maybe... Isn't worth the risk...
I've seen various levels of paranoia about this on HBT. From "never brew sours (even with other gear) or everything you ever brew will be sour" to "just sanitize and you are fine." My gut feeling is proper cleaning and sanitizing will make this a non-issue. Seems a reasonable middle ground is things that are hard to clean (auto siphons/buckets with spigots/bottling wands) use a dedicated set but don't worry about things like carboys/kegs.

And notice the wood chips stored on the cart with the keggle... Definitely buy a smoker too... Best impulse buy I ever did without a doubt... Enjoy zymurgy...
What sort of smoker do you have? My in-laws (parents and sibling in-laws both) got this electric smoker. It maintains the temp automatically with an electric heater and has a spot to put wood chips to produce the smoke. Seems like cheating to someone who's never smoked...OTOH the food was good, and that's what matters, right?
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
894
Corona de Tucson, AZ
No unfortunately even the one keg that I have on tap is almost empty. I used to have four going and two in reserve. Then I moved and had a pool built! It's harder when the wife objects.

In the fall Walmart and much better stores often has Musselmans cider for the fall. It's pasteurized but has no sulfates. Meaning it's perfect for clean fermentation. That and about a cup of sugar in water above about 150 degrees (Microwave) to dry it out some in five gallons with D-47 wine yeast makes a fantastic cider in about twenty minutes of work. Six weeks later and you have to be careful drinking it because you wouldn't think that it is as strong as it is.

I had a bad day at work and in a fit of rage went on to Amazon and impulse bought a Masterbuilt analog smoker. I like simple, so I didn't get Bluetooth, etc. $130 at the time. The only downside is easily fixed. The downside is that it takes a long time to get chips adequately going in it. The fix? Get some pellets from a Trager type grill and mix in about an ounce of those into the chips. Then it's going good in about twenty minutes... There is no better way to make pork ribs...

Be really careful with those glass carboys. I will use a glass gallon jug for mead but I feel five gallon glass it too dangerous... So I use PET ones..
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,483
Damascus, MD
Brewing is a great hobby! I have been homebrewing coming up on 20 years. When I started I was all into "sanitize everything, everytime" but as I got more experience, I stopped all that and now just thoroughly clean with hot water. Haven't done more than hot water for probably 10 years. Never had an infection, never had a bad batch.

I make beer, wine and port (fortified). I have 4 summer batches planned for this week or next week. 2 Farmhouse ales, a Blue Moon clone and an IPA. Might also do a Belgian Trippel. I have 5 kegs but can only have 2 on-tap. The Farmhouse ales benefit from a few months of aging but the others are good at 2 weeks.
 
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PoolBrews

Well-known member
Oct 16, 2019
181
The Villages, Florida
Hey home brewers! Great thread! I've been home brewing for over 20 years... I have a 3 tap kegerator near my pool - always 3 on tap, and 1 in the fermenter.

Currently on tap is DarkLing, a roasted porter, Ne'Mo, a peach grapefruit wheat, and Monkey Brew, a banana brown ale. In the fermenter is Ai Yi Yi Yi, a mango habanero wheat. In the wings is a good irish red, and a tangerine wheat!

With regards to sanitizing, I would look at something like Star San - it's easier and safer to use than iodophor (I assume that is what your iodine mixture is). No chance of accidental bad tastes getting in your brew.

My best brewing additions in the past several years have been:
  1. Electric brew kettle! I used to use a propane burner, but this electric kettle accurately controls the temp, and shows me the temp when as I'm bringing it down after boil - no thermometer needed! This item alone has made brew day much easier, and saves me about an hour and a half each time.
  2. FastFerment - I used to use glass carboys, but the FastFerment with the collection ball at the bottom allows me to do primary and secondary fermentation in the same vessel - I don't have to transfer to another vessel and risk contamination.
  3. Tilt hydrometer/thermometer. Fantastic toy! Instead of measuring original gravity with a manual hydrometer, then every few days checking final gravity to see if it's done, you just drop the Tilt in your fermenter. It communicated via bluetooth to your phone - so you know original gravity right away, and can track (and chart) gravity and temp as the fermentation progresses!
 
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PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,483
Damascus, MD
Hey home brewers! Great thread! I've been home brewing for over 20 years... I have a 3 tap kegerator near my pool - always 3 on tap, and 1 in the fermenter.

Currently on tap is DarkLing, a roasted porter, Ne'Mo, a peach grapefruit wheat, and Monkey Brew, a banana brown ale. In the fermenter is Ai Yi Yi Yi, a mango habanero wheat. In the wings is a good irish red, and a tangerine wheat!

With regards to sanitizing, I would look at something like Star San - it's easier and safer to use than iodophor (I assume that is what your iodine mixture is). No chance of accidental bad tastes getting in your brew.

My best brewing additions in the past several years have been:
  1. Electric brew kettle! I used to use a propane burner, but this electric kettle accurately controls the temp, and shows me the temp when as I'm bringing it down after boil - no thermometer needed! This item alone has made brew day much easier, and saves me about an hour and a half each time.
  2. FastFerment - I used to use glass carboys, but the FastFerment with the collection ball at the bottom allows me to do primary and secondary fermentation in the same vessel - I don't have to transfer to another vessel and risk contamination.
  3. Tilt hydrometer/thermometer. Fantastic toy! Instead of measuring original gravity with a manual hydrometer, then every few days checking final gravity to see if it's done, you just drop the Tilt in your fermenter. It communicated via bluetooth to your phone - so you know original gravity right away, and can track (and chart) gravity and temp as the fermentation progresses!
Are you all-grain? I am extract I tried all-grain but it is just too much trouble!

Regards to fermentation: I stopped using a secondary after my 3rd brew I think. I just saw no reason at all to do it. I use the plastic bucket for 2 weeks and keg it. Also stopped checking the gravity after I think my 2nd brew. Again, just saw no use for this at all.

The 2 things beginners should do to make the hobby way more enjoyable:

1. Invest in kegging! Nothing more boring than cleaning and bottling 52 bottles for 3 hours! Kegging is 20 minutes and done. Not to mention waiting 3 weeks for natural carbonation. Kegging is precise and you can force carbonate in a day if you want.
2. Wort chiller! Wow! 10 minutes and you are ready to pitch the yeast! No ice baths, no waiting hours for the wort to cool down.
 
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jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
672
South-Central WI
I have a 3 tap kegerator near my pool - always 3 on tap, and 1 in the fermenter.
I considered a kegerator near the pool, but that works a lot better in Florida then it does in Wisconsin! Basically I figure our swim season is 3 months without a heater. And I don't much figure I want to trudge out to the kegerator outside in the middle of winter to grab a beer! So it seemed to boil down to maintain two seperate kegerators, or just put the one in the house and live with it! I figure if we're having a pool party I can put a popular brew into a mini-keg and put it in a cooler next to the pool for the day.

With regards to sanitizing, I would look at something like Star San - it's easier and safer to use than iodophor (I assume that is what your iodine mixture is). No chance of accidental bad tastes getting in your brew.
I intended to get Star San, but Northern Brewer was completely out of it when I ordered my other stuff. In fact, a few days after my order shipped they sold out of Iodophor too.

Luckily, I discovered that I have a LHBS only 7 minutes from my house, they are open (with curbside pickup), and their prices beat the pants off Northern Brewer for a lot of things. For example, Northern sells kegs (AMCYL) with a single metal handle for $100, or dual rubber handles for $120. My LHBS lists AMCYL dual rubber handle kegs on their website for $80. I learned about this after I had already bought Northern's 2 keg starter set with the single handle kegs, two sets of hoses with picnic taps, and a dual output CO2 reg for $320...

I like buying local if it makes sense. Buying local and cheaper prices? Heck yeah! According to their website they have Star San in stock. I need to get Star San, some more carboys and/or brew buckets (might go plastic carboys), a new siphon hose and bottle filler (chopped mine up to make that blowoff tube), proper faucets instead of those picnic taps for our kreezer build, assorted hoses and fittings, more kegs, and an extract beer kit or three...
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
894
Corona de Tucson, AZ
I do brew all grain now. Brew-In-The-Bag in the same electric keggle that I boil in. I still takes at least an hour longer than extract. What I will do here is have another task to do during mash because it can go longer than the hour you normally mash and it won't hurt anything.

Good that you have a functional LHBS. (And I think I know who it is... you are near one of my old stomping grounds) It's been very rough for that industry in the last few years. S yeah, support them when you can. For kegging stuff (especially because you are in Wisconsin) you can try Rite-Brew also. They will ship Speedee delivery to the states that have it. They are hard to beat on a lot of stuff.

I use Star-San. I have Iodophor but rarely use it. I'll use bleach first which works fine but you really have to work in washing it completely off of things.

Star-San is a 75% or so disinfectant but it is neutral tasting and harmless if the residue gets into the fermentation.....
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
894
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Hey home brewers! Great thread! I've been home brewing for over 20 years... I have a 3 tap kegerator near my pool - always 3 on tap, and 1 in the fermenter.

Currently on tap is DarkLing, a roasted porter, Ne'Mo, a peach grapefruit wheat, and Monkey Brew, a banana brown ale. In the fermenter is Ai Yi Yi Yi, a mango habanero wheat. In the wings is a good irish red, and a tangerine wheat!

With regards to sanitizing, I would look at something like Star San - it's easier and safer to use than iodophor (I assume that is what your iodine mixture is). No chance of accidental bad tastes getting in your brew.

My best brewing additions in the past several years have been:
  1. Electric brew kettle! I used to use a propane burner, but this electric kettle accurately controls the temp, and shows me the temp when as I'm bringing it down after boil - no thermometer needed! This item alone has made brew day much easier, and saves me about an hour and a half each time.
  2. FastFerment - I used to use glass carboys, but the FastFerment with the collection ball at the bottom allows me to do primary and secondary fermentation in the same vessel - I don't have to transfer to another vessel and risk contamination.
  3. Tilt hydrometer/thermometer. Fantastic toy! Instead of measuring original gravity with a manual hydrometer, then every few days checking final gravity to see if it's done, you just drop the Tilt in your fermenter. It communicated via bluetooth to your phone - so you know original gravity right away, and can track (and chart) gravity and temp as the fermentation progresses!
See, Mr. PoolBrews went further down the rabbit hole than I did! :)

Does anyone also roast their own coffee? I do, of course.....