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Okay, who brews?

This is a seriously, seriously expensive country to be a lush in. To ease the burden, one of my goals this year was to get some hootch production going. I got Uncle B to buy me some basic gear for my b’day — containers, siphon hose, thermometer, hydrometer, and like that.

I started with elderflower champagne. It’s a pleasant tipple, but very low in alcohol. How low, I couldn’t say, as apparently I am too retarded to operate a hydrometer without poking an eye out or setting fire to myself.

Next, beer from a kit. That has probably finished fermenting about now, ready for bottling when I get a chance. I know, I know…a kit. Lame. But I figure I’ll start easy and learn as I go along.

After that…ummm…pass. I have very poor sense of taste, so the world is my crustacean. Probably a fruit wine, as we’ll soon be up to our eyeballs in elderberries and blackberries.

I figure some of you bastards probably homebrew. Any recommendations? Recipes? New forums to hang out on?


Comment from Elphaba
Time: July 15, 2010, 11:12 pm

We’ve talked about making our own hooch, ‘specially since Obama and his lameass congress have voted to raise taxes on booze as one of their myriad ways to pay for Obamacare. HA!

I have friends who make mead…they “accidentally” let it freeze, then OMGosh…toss the ice (frozen water) that forms on it. It leaves some mighty strong booze behind. Of course, you may end up with diabetes or liver disease after consuming too much of it, but hey. Die happy, right?

I’m more of a wino, myself.

Comment from Wiccapundit
Time: July 15, 2010, 11:17 pm


Check out The Winemaking Home Page at


More than you’d ever want to know about making wine, including bazillions of recipes (one of which is for a red wheat wine that, aged for a year, is supposed to taste like a fine sipping bourbon).

I am in the process now of saving up wine bottles now to start my winemaking venture. Tough job, emptying those wine bottles…

Whatcha gonna call it? “Stoaty Stout?”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 15, 2010, 11:24 pm

I have some experience (and family recipes!) in the distilling area. But as I have no desire to get my ass deported with prejudice, wines and beers it is.

You can get yeast now with a very high tolerance for alcohol, giving much higher yields than was previously possible — on the order of 20%.

Hmmm…lots of blackberry wine recipes there. Thanks!

Comment from Allen
Time: July 15, 2010, 11:45 pm

Ahem… Darkhorse Vineyard, says so right there on my label. Weasel, there are many fine wine and beer kits available that do really well. I alwasy use E.C. Kraus as my supplier. I grow Sangiovese, Barbera, and Cabernet grapes, but for anything else I go to EC. I’m sure there is a supplier in Jolly Olde.

You really can make some good stuff from their kits. I have purchased grapes from other growers, of different varietals, and have found the juice from some of those kits to be uniformly better. The beauty of it is you can make different batchs then blend your own favorite. Take good notes while doing this, you will not remember it… Hic!

Comment from Elphaba
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:13 am

Stoaty, re my friends, keep in mind that the freezing is always a terrible accident, and it would be SUCH a shame to let the recipe go to waste. Plus, it is only for personal consumption. And to share with friends. Uh huh. Yup. *wink-wink-nudge-nudge-sayNOMORE.*

Comment from Armybrat
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:14 am

Husband and I began home brewing shortly after we got married…because we were poor lushes. This was 26 years ago…in Kansas. We brewed for over 20 years. Only from kits. The big book of brewing is a good book if you want to progress to grain brewing. Frankly, these days kits are so good that I see little reason to fuss with grain. Search the web. Some great recipes out there for combining kits, utilizing different hops and should you desire, combining kits and grains. Use your google foo. Look for home brewers clubs on line. FAB resource.

Comment from Wiccapundit
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:24 am

Stoaty, I’m not suggesting that you delve into producing the “shine.” Just that the red wheat WINE supposedly tastes like bourbon. I’ve yet to try it.

But, on this side of the pond you can get a Federal permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for the distillation of ethanol. For fuel.

Fuel. Heh.

Just sayin’.

Comment from AndyOH
Time: July 16, 2010, 1:14 am

Stoat Stout ? … Weasel Wheat ? … I’d buy those. Brand name recognition.

Comment from Mark
Time: July 16, 2010, 1:25 am

Ya might wanna try making some fine English cider. I understand that’s an acceptable beverage over there, and if you put a wine bubbler:
on a jug of unpasteurized apple juice, it does its own thing quite nicely. The “freeze it” suggestion above works quite nicely to enhance the concentration, if that’s what yer after.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 16, 2010, 1:44 am

I’ve been brewing beer for a couple-three years. Not sure what you mean by ‘kits’. Is it all prepackaged and contained stuff? I can’t do all-grain brewing because of a lack of space.

I mostly just brew a couple of easy recipes that I know will work well. Haven’t got that excited about being a blue ribbon winner with scientifically precise recipes and exotic ingredients. And I still can’t figure out what my hydrometer is good for.

After you get the process sorted out, beer making is stupid simple. The hardest part and the most time consuming, and the part I hate is the dishes. There is a non-ending amount of things to wash and sanitize and do it again.

There’s one beer supply store in my city. It’s stuffed to the rafters and looks like your grandfathers garage. The owner is a 300 pound Grizzly Adams type character that sits in his lopsided barcalounger next to the grain bins, cussing at customers. I love it.

My favorite recipe is Lawnmower Ale:
(shameless plug)

If you throw in a half-handful of juniper berries it gives you a wonderful mountain-fir air to it.

Stoaty! You would be GREAT at designing beer labels!

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 16, 2010, 2:14 am

gotmead.com. Go there and you will not be sorry!

Comment from Anonymous
Time: July 16, 2010, 3:04 am

No distilling?

It ain’t that hard for small batches – just sayin’


Comment from scr_north
Time: July 16, 2010, 4:29 am

Well, I’d say you use the siphon to tap your neighbour’s beer and wine casks. At about 3:00 A.M. Use the hydrometer to prop open the door.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 16, 2010, 5:09 am

I’ve been homebrewing off and on for about 30 years.

This last month I ran two batches, ending a drought of about five years.

I’m drinking the first batch; the second was bottled last night.

All the supplies I used, including the yeast, had been sitting around for that five years.

Yet the first batch is at least drinkable, which shows how forgiving the process can be.

Britain is the motherland of homebrewing, and anything you need you can get there fresh and reasonable. The Dutch also make some good stuff – I’ve had good results with Laaglander malts.

Munton and Fison malts and Edme yeasts have worked for me too.

Hops – I used Hallertau a lot for some reason. Cascade is aromatic. Chinook is high-bittering. But the latter two are American types. In England, just go for Fuggles or Goldings, which should be local and fresh. I use Willamette or Kent “finishing” hops. Kent is of course local for you.

I’ve never done my own malting – pre-made malts work just fine.

Precautions: sterilize your fermenter thoroughly.

“Start” your yeast while preparing your wort (beer) or must (wine). That is, put the dry yeast culture in an airlocked bottle with water and a small amount of malt or grape juice or sugar for several hours. Then when you “pitch” the wort or must, the yeast hit the ground running.

You can buy specialty fermenters, but a five-gallon water bottle works fine (it’s harder to clean, though).

Clean bottles thoroughly. When cleaning a bottle that has been used for homebrew, drop a length of fine base-metal jewelry chain into it, and swizzle the chain around the bottom. This will remove any deposits, and is far less awkward than brushes. Also, when one has emptied a homebrew bottle, either wash it at once or run some water in it. This prevents deposits from drying out and “setting” at the bottom.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 16, 2010, 6:08 am

Oh, and I’m not a bastard. My parents were quite properly married before I was conceived, let alone married. Hmmmpf.


Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 16, 2010, 8:00 am

Elphaba, that is how you make applejack, by letting the hard cider freeze, and removing the ice.

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: July 16, 2010, 11:55 am

You wouldn’t want to drink the stuff I know how to make. We called it Jungle Juice, and its only advantage over antifreeze was that it wouldn’t kill you immediately.

Comment from Blast Hardcheese
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:23 pm

For the beer portion of the spectrum, I started out with The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian. It goes through the whole process, starting from kits and, if you’re feeling adventurous, mashing your own malts. Lots of good recipes too. Here’s Charlie’s website:


Have fun, and experiment lots!

Comment from surly ermine
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:49 pm

I highly recommend the Charlie Papazian Homebrewing books. Good reads with lots of science stuff (but not too much). Don’t be too hard on yourself for making a kit. Most homebrew suppliers put together nice kits that yield great homebrew. In general, ales are easier than lagers. I like them better anyway (nothing like a good porter).

If you have a local source of honey give mead a try. I find it easier than beer plus it benefits from aging. That way I can do a whole lot of nothing while a batch is maturing and still feel like I’m accomplishing something.

Great, its 9am, I’m at work and now I’m thirsty for beer. 🙂

Comment from surly ermine
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:51 pm

Oh yeah, please post the labels. You know you’re gonna make some sweet-ass labels for ’em. I get way into making my labels.

Comment from tawny
Time: July 16, 2010, 1:15 pm

OT, there’s badger related turmoil in Hampshire

Comment from Bob
Time: July 16, 2010, 3:44 pm

I come from a looong line of ‘shiners and bootleggers.

Here’s a good book to get you started:

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: July 16, 2010, 8:14 pm

Mmm blackberries. Is Weezl Bier what weasels make when they drink a lot of water?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 16, 2010, 9:20 pm

It’s true, tawny…. Poor old Bert 🙁

Comment from Dawn
Time: July 16, 2010, 10:45 pm

Just get you a couple of bawdy French hookers and you’re a regular Benjamin Franklin.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 16, 2010, 11:48 pm

Weezl Bier…

How about Stoat Stout?

I echo the endorsement of Charlie Papazian. I’ve relied on his book for years.

As to the dead badger in the middle of the road – I’ve seen a photos of similar dead animals, one with the stripe going right over it, and the other with the stripe making a outline loop around the carcass.

These painters seem to have been sensible. I could see some sanitary issues with relocating a putrescent corpse, which they would not be equipped for. Skipping the obstruction is the obvious way to go; meanwhile call in the problem to the relevant branch, who should deal with it right away. They didn’t, which is their problem.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 17, 2010, 12:45 am

I also recommend Charlie’s books–especially the first one if you’re starting out.

And I guess I should mention that I checked on two of my meads today, the lingonberry and the lucuma, both will be ready for bottling once I get home from Norway and get the first few weeks of school under my belt. Visitors to Nina Manor are cordially invited to come and get a bottle if they’re in the vicinity (Northern CA), and if you’re in the vicinity early November, come to the mead tasting party that I will organize later this summer. Visitors to Nina Manor are also welcome to bring interesting honey with them when they do. 🙂

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: July 17, 2010, 3:37 pm

I could see some sanitary issues with relocating a putrescent corpse, which they would not be equipped for.

Geez, it’s a road pizza, not a hazmat spill. You’d figure they still have sticks in England…

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 17, 2010, 8:53 pm

Yes, but they’re not allowed to use them as they could possibly be used as weapons.

Which evidently only muslims can use in England these days.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: July 19, 2010, 12:43 am

My only contribution to this thread –

So, the very polluted Chicago River, which began in St. Louis and ended in Lake Michigan at Chicago, which operated as Chicago’s sewer and sewage disposal venue, really stunk up Chicago. Chicago wanted to find a way to have the water move away. So, through some engineering I have yet to grasp, Chicago reversed the direction of the Chicago River.

St. Louis was not happy. So they bottled the water and sold it to Chicago as beer.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:15 am

Muslihoon: “the very polluted Chicago River, which began in St. Louis and ended in Lake Michigan at Chicago…”

Surely you know that there was never any drainage from the Mississippi at St. Louis into the Great Lakes?

The watershed between the Lakes and the Mississippi passes just west and south of the head of Lake Michigan. The Chicago River drained the 40 km strip east of the watershed. This included all the sewage from Chicago, so it was messing up the Lake.

So they cut a channel through the watershed, from the headwaters of the Chicago to the Fox River (which flows via the Illinois to the Mississippi). The channel is at the level of the Lake. This reversed the flow of the Chicago and sent all of Chicago’s waste down the Mississippi. It’s treated first, so the rivers aren’t total sewers. The flow from the Lake is controlled by locks, and is limited by a multi-state agreement.

(And so I could go swimming in Lake Michigan last Thursday.)

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