food, Sparta

Yeast question from a newb

Greetings, homebrewers.

My husband and I just got into this hobby a couple weeks ago... we found ourselves at the local brewery supply shop and purchased a kit and a recipe box. Two days later we went back for a second 6gal glass carboy and another recipe box. This weekend we bottled our Guinness clone and the Newcastle clone; nothing has exploded yet, thank goodness.

Anyway, despite not knowing how our first attempts will turn out, we can't stop. We bought ingredients for a chocolate porter... our first time buying a la carte instead of the boxed recipes. I have a question about pitching the yeast.

Previously we followed the instruction sheet and poured the dry yeast directly into the carboy. This next time we will also be working with dry yeast, but I read about people priming the yeast before pitching it (similar to what I would do if using yeast to make bread?). Should we make a yeast slurry? What are the advantages/disadvantages?

Appreciate your help!

Beer snob?

The recent discussion about personal "best" beers raises another interesting topic; that of being a so-called "beer snob".

To an extent I can understand that term being used in a derogatory way, and there are definitely some "beer douchebags" out there, who are following trends, or "discovering" a micro and deciding it's the only beer they'll drink, while they deride the personal tastes of others.

But there's also those of us who just recognize and appreciate higher quality beers, and/or drink what suits us and our personal tastes. To me, this isn't snobbery, any more than preferring a home-grilled hamburger to a McDonald's hamburger makes a person a "hamburger snob". As long as you know what makes a certain product better (or preferable), you're merely making an educated choice. Whether you're drinking Coors or a limited edition Belgian saison, following the herd is still following the herd.

My two cents, anyway.

Delirium Dethroned

I’m guilty of too often declaring something as ‘the best’. 
As in, ‘that was the best movie ever.’
Or this past October, ‘the best World Series I’ve ever watched.’
And about a year ago at the Union Jack Pub, I emphatically declared Delirium Tremens to be the best beer I’d ever had.
Yes, Tremens was delectable, but what really forced the pious declaration was its uniqueness.  It was exclusive – only available in the most refined establishments.  It was served from a white bottle, and had pink elephants on the label.  And its name blatantly flirted with the addictive nature of alcohol, similar to Marlboro doing something as bold as marketing “tar and phlegm” smokes.  [By the way, have you seen the Dr Pepper commercial that declares its latest product as not-for-women?  That’s some bold advertising.]
But when I recently saw Delirium Tremens listed on the menu at my local movie theater, the bloom instantly fell off the rose.  The best beer in the world had gone Hollywood – and sold its soul to the devil.  Can’t blame them for grabbing the cash, but damn it, I’m now going to have to find a new best beer.  Snob that I am, I certainly can’t be declaring Tremens as the best when it’s soon to be available at convenience stores across the nation.  Where’s the uniqueness in that?
The interim “best beer ever” now hails from North College Avenue in Indianapolis, where I recently sipped a $26 glass of Brasserie DuPont Foret Organically Produced Saison.  Good luck finding that one in your local grocer.
  • cherdt

Homebrewing in the U.S. and Blue Ribbon Malt

I have a copy of Leigh Beadle's 1971 Brew It Yourself: A Complete Guide to the Brewing of Beer, Ale, Mead and Wine, which is a fascinating read on a variety of levels. One ingredient common to most of his beer recipes is Blue Ribbon pre-hopped malt syrup (now known as Premier Malt, which apparently came in at least Light, Dark, and Pale Dry varieties.

He lists 19 national grocery chains (including A & P, Acme, IGA, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, and Winn-Dixie) and 9 regional chains (including Albertson's) that carried Blue Ribbon. I wonder how common homebrewing was in 1971 that this ingredient (rendered useless by the hops for making anything other than beer?) was still so readily available, 38 years after the end of Prohibition? What happened along the way that caused malt syrups to migrate from grocery store shelves to your LHBS?

As much as I appreciate my LHBS, I think it would be great if more people were exposed to homebrew supplies incidentally on their grocery shopping expeditions.

Mead and hedgerow wines


New booze maker here. I have made v. simple things like sloe gin and limoncello before, but I have recently entered the world of fermentation with elderflower champagne. It's just amazing, if rather volatile.

I am looking to make mead as my next project, and it need to be ready for an event in early September. I know that's not exactly ideal but I reckon I can make something palatable by then! Does anyone have any recipes/tips?

Any other ideas for seasonal (I'm in London) hedgerow wines? I have a mulberry tree and a damson tree, but they're obviously nowhere near ripe yet. It looks like there's going to be a glut of fruit this year though. Being a gin lover I was thinking of making mulberry, damson and cinnamon gin, but if you have any ideas on how to use them up I'd be very chuffed. I was thinking of making some kind of hawthorn wine? IDK if anyone has tried that.


Helen x

Edit: thanks for all your advice and recipes! I'll post the result of the quick mead, here's hoping it works! I'll certainly try spiced mulberry mead as well. Perhaps an elderberry one?

(no subject)

So, on Father's Day I brewed up a 5-gallon batch of King Duncan's Holiday Porter. This was a big hit last winter, and I want to have plenty on hand to get everyone through Thanksgiving and Christmas 2011. It benefits from a longer conditioning time, which is why I brewed it in June.

So after a couple of days, things were looking great; there was a thick mess of krausen at the top, a nice yeast cake forming at the bottom, and the airlock was bubbling away nicely. I was pleased. Then, Wednesday, I didn't take a look at it. It was one of the days I go to the office first thing in the morning, so I was dashing out of the house in the morning, and fairly knackered in the evening, and besides, things were tootling along nicely anyway, so I didn't bother.

Then, Thursday morning, before I left, I had to go downstairs for something, and I checked on it, and the stopper with the airlock had blown off! I guess things got so active, more than just CO2 made its way into the airlock and clogged it and the subsequent pressure build-up blew the stopper. I found it about eight or ten feet away, which impressed me greatly.

Fortunately, I have another stopper and airlock, and as they weren't in use, I sanitized it quickly and installed it. I'm hoping that fermentation was still active enough that it was able to keep forcing CO2 out and sort of creating a barrier against any airborne contaminants. This is in an unfinished basement, where there's a higher moisture content, especially recently, with all this rain. Who knows what kinds of goobies are floating around down there?

Time will tell, of course, and I don't think anything dire happened. There's still some active fermentation going on. The airlock bubbles more slowly now, but it still bubbles. One thing's for sure; I'm going to be using a blow-off hose during primary fermentation from now on.


I've just bottled up my first batch of mead. It's taken 5 months to get to this stage and I reckon another month in the bottles before it's at it's best.

The colour of it is very pale yellow, which may put a few people off and there's a noticeable dryness to the taste, but I'm putting that down to me having used a Champagne yeast.

Overall I'm happy with the results as you can actually drink it and it packs a wallop, not sure about the final ABV, but I'm guessing it's higher than 12%.

I'm tired of glass

So what do *you* use for bottling? I'm really starting to look into stainless steel bottles. There are companies that make them (with customized artwork, no less) for conference shwag but you could easily order a small batch and use it for your own goods.

Or can you? My wife seems convinced it won't work. Specifically, her concern is twofold, both related to aging meads/wines in them:

  1. The seal may be unreliable. This would no doubt be an issue if you're trying to squirrel away something for a few years.

  2. We're not sure how the metal would react with it, long term. We know breweries/wineries ferment in them and maybe do some short-term aging, but what happens to stainless steel after it's been exposed to an alcoholic drink for a few years?

Anyone know much about the behavior of stainless steel in the brewing world?


This isn't exactly homebrewing, but the community that used to cater to wine and liqueur makers seems to have died out.   So I'm hoping for a little help here.

It's the end of lemon season, and we've been offered the remaining crop (which is actually most of the crop) on 2 large Meyer lemon trees.  After pies and lemon curd, we want to have lots of Limoncello for the summer.  Unfortunately, the Limoncello recipe I used (1 liter of vodka to 4 cups water) separated into ice crystals plus alcohol in the freezer.  I've laid in vodka and Everclear (besides lemons, another good reason to live in CA) and would appreciate hearing from anyone with experience (and a recipe) for making this drink.  Thanks!