After tasting a friends home brew that he claimed to have taken no more than 6 weeks from start to finish I ordered what I thought was a complete kit from his recommended company. However, I appear to missed an important piece - heating! On reading the instructions it say's it is very important to keep the brew at a certain heat and to use a simple heating element to do this. On checking their website this is going to cost me around 50+ euro for the element and shipping (from UK). Sounds very expensive for me - any cheaper options? Something I could buy locally perhaps? What would you experienced brewers out there suggest?
I don't use a heater but we do have a well insulated dining room that can be kept at about 18°C with a small oil filled radiator when necessary. A kit takes 3 weeks for me, 1 week for the initial brew and then 2 weeks in a plastic barrrel in the cellar.
I think the second most important factor after temperature is cleanliness, make sure you sterilise everything.
Thanks for that link David, have been looking for an alternative to shipping kits in from the UK
Thank you :)
Try this link Muntons are a good product
Excellent, thank you David, was begining to think by the time I got round to starting, the kit would be out of date! And yep, 15 degrees on a good day ;) Fabulous in summer, not so great in winter. And I am sure I can find a beer blanket somewhere. And if I get a move on, there may still be some left to drink at Xmas - or maybe I should order another kit - is there anywhere in France that is good to order from?
It'll just take longer Catherine. When I was a student many years ago I used to brew in an barely heated ground floor "flat" of an Edwardian house. i suspect the temperature raely exceeded 15. The fermentation process produces it's own heat as the yeast converts sugar into alcohol so you could always wrap your fermenting vessel in a blanket; not joking by the way. Your beer will ferment quite vigorously for about four to six days and form a dense cap of yeasty foam on the surface of your beer; It will then start to slow down and begin to clear. At this stage you siphon off the beer into a clean container trying to avoid sucking up the yeast sediment which has settled at the bottom, this is called "racking". You can then clean out your fermenting vessel put the beer back in the vessel. This may result in a brief one or two day revival of the fermentation but essentially the beer should start to fall clear and bright. This is the stage at which you bottle it in swing tops or screw tops with the addition of a half teaspoon of sugar so that your beer undergoes a slight fermentation in the bottle and produces the fizz/foamy head. Don't worry if your beer doesn't have much of a head as commercial brewers frequently add an alginate extract to produce the creamy head.
Way over my head David, I'm a 100% novice, I do like the taste of a nice beer though! On my kit (Ruby Red from st. Peters brewery) it say's at stage 3 add the hop sachet, then the yeast, cover & leave to stand for 4 to 6 day's in a warm place - between 18 to 20 degrees. Now I live in a large, rambling, non central heated, draughty, high ceilinged 'house'. I've got rooms that are sometimes at that temperature - but there isn't one room that has a constant temperature. So, what happens if the temperature falls below that? Will it be ruined or just take longer?
If you are using a kit which is based on malt extract, as most are,then I don't see the need for a heater. I never used one in England and most autumnal temperatures In France are not very different and usually slightly warmer. The only time I could see you would need a heater is if you were working from malted grain where during the "mashing" stage you need to keep a constant temperature in order to convert the starches in the malted grain into fermentable sugars to end with what is called the "wort".