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My personal (but public) notes about my homebrewing, knitting and other random stuff

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Past Brews (part 1)

From now on, I'm hoping to use this blog to keep notes of any brewing I do (BTW I'm using the term fairly broadly to include any alcoholic beverages, e.g. wine and cider as well as beer), but I thought it might be interesting to run through my brewing experiences to date.

My parents have been brewing their own beer (from kits) for years, and they also used to do wine and cider, so the idea of homebrewing has always been familiar to me. I first actually tried doing it myself in 1997 while a student at Nottingham University, when I helped my housemate Tim with a couple of beers he was brewing - a bitter and a chocolate stout IIRC (for the latter, we naively assumed that chocolate stout was just ordinary stout with chocolate added so we replaced some of the sugar with cocoa powder - it worked surprisingly well!).

After that I didn't get another chance to have a go at brewing until September 2003, by which time I'd moved into a house with a couple of apple trees in the garden and they had a sufficient yield to consider making some cider. My dad was able to find me a spare fermentation vat and a few demijohns etc. which I used to make my own first batch of cider in Autumn 2003.

The basic brewing process for the cider (I'll detail the recipe later, as I'm currently brewing another batch) is fairly quick but it needs several months to mature before it's ready to drink. Rather than waiting for the cider to be ready, I bought myself a beer kit (along with a hydrometer and the one or two other necessary bits of kit I didn't already have from the cider) and brewed that. It was a bitter kit, Cooper's Australian Bitter (I think), and worked pretty well. For storing it I decided to get a pressure barrel.

I forget exactly when I made my second batch of beer, but it was fairly early in 2004 and was a mild, mainly because they had that kit on special offer when I went to the shop intending to get a stout kit. By the time I was ready to brew another batch, i.e. when my pressure barrel was almost empty again, I discovered that my local brewing shop had closed and I had no other suppliers within easy travelling distance. Because of that, I didn't do any more brewing until nearly the end of the year when my next crop of apples were ready for making cider. Preparing this rekindled my interest in brewing, so I started searching around for a mail order supplier....

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