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Bourbon Dictionary - What...
Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice
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Our colleagues first ever...
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12-05-2018, 11:11 AM
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T500 Tap Connection
Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice
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Brew2Bottle Spirit/Liqueu...
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Bottling Your Wines
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Beer Tasting
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Pressure Barrels & Gas
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Home Brewers Conversion T...
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Specific Gravity (SG) & %...
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Making Spirits & Liqueurs...
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Last Post: Garth Vader
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  Bourbon Dictionary - What does it all mean?
Posted by: JayCowell1 - 12-13-2018, 10:07 AM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies

Homebrew is full of jargon and complex looking words, but in reality it's all quite simple! Have a look below and hopefully you can make sense of it all - We will continue to add words and phrases to this list in the near future!

Green apple aroma, a byproduct of fermentation.

Enzymes, preservatives and antioxidants which are added to simplify the brewing process or prolong shelf life.

Fermentable material used as a substitute for traditional grains, to make beer lighter-bodied or cheaper.

An organism, such as top fermenting ale yeast, that needs oxygen to metabolize.

Beers distinguished by use of top fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The top fermenting yeast perform at warmer temperatures than do yeast's used to brew lager beer, and their byproducts are more evident in taste and aroma. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale's character.

A relatively new term in America. "All malt" refers to a beer made exclusively with barley malt and without adjuncts.

Any top or bottom fermented beer having an amber color, that is, between pale and dark.

An organism, such as a bottom-fermenting lager yeast, that is able to metabolize without oxygen present.

Aroma Hops
Varieties of hop chosen to impart bouquet. (See Hops)

A drying, puckering taste; tannic; can be derived from boiling the grains, long mashes, over sparging or sparging with hard water.

Extent to which yeast consumes fermentable sugars (converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide).

A general term covering off-flavors such as moldy, musty, woody, lactic acid, vinegar, or microbiological spoilage.

Balling Degrees
Scale indicating density of sugars in wort. Devised by C J N Balling.

A cereal grain that is malted for use in the grist that becomes the mash in the brewing of beer.

A unit of measurement used by brewers in some countries. In Britain, a barrel holds 36 imperial gallons (1 imperial gallon = 4.5 liters), or 1.63 hectoliters. In the United States, a barrel holds 31.5 US gallons (1 US gallon = 3.8 liters), or 1.17 hectoliters.

Name given alcohol-containing beverages produced by fermenting grain, specifically malt, and flavored with hops.

Bitterness of hops or malt husks; sensation on back of tongue.

The perception of a bitter flavor, in beer from iso-alpha-acid in solution (derived from hops). It is measured in International Bitterness Units (IBU).

Black malt
Partially malted barley roasted at high temperatures. Black malt gives a dark color and roasted flavor to beer.

Thickness and mouth-filling property of a beer described as "full or thin bodied".

Secondary fermentation and maturation in the bottle, creating complex aromas and flavors.

Bottom-fermenting yeast
One of the two types of yeast used in brewing. Bottom-fermenting yeast works well at low temperatures and ferments more sugars leaving a crisp, clean taste and then settles to the bottom of the tank. Also referred to as "lager yeast".

The collective equipment used to make beer.

Brew Kettle
The vessel in which wort from the mash is boiled with hops. Also called a copper.

Pub that makes its own beer and sells at least 50% of it on premises. Also known in Britain as a home-brew house and in Germany as a house brewery.

Bright Beer Tank
See conditioning tank.

The stopper in the hole in a keg or cask through which the keg or cask is filled and emptied. The hole may also be referred to as a bung or bunghole. Real beer must use a wooden bung.

See diacetyl.

Cabbage like
Aroma and taste of cooked vegetables; often a result of wort spoilage bacteria killed by alcohol in fermentation.

The cam
paign for Real Ale. An organization in England that was founded in 1971 to preserve the production of cask-conditioned beers and ales.

Sparkle caused by carbon dioxide, either created during fermentation or injected later.


A cooked sugar that is used to add color and alcohol content to beer. It is often used in place of more expensive malted barley.

Caramel malt

A sweet, coppery-colored malt. Caramel or crystal malt imparts both color and flavor to beer. Caramel malt has a high concentration of unfermentable sugars that sweeten the beer and, contribute to head retention.

A closed, barrel-shaped container for beer. They come in various sizes and are now usually made of metal. The bung in a cask of "Real" beer or ale must be made of wood to allow the pressure to be relived, as the fermentation of the beer, in the cask, continues.

Secondary fermentation and maturation in the cask at the point of sale. Creates light carbonation.

A plastic like aroma; caused by chemical combination of chlorine and organic compounds.

Chill haze
Cloudiness caused by precipitation of protein-tannin compound at low temperatures, does not affect flavor.

Chill proof
Beer treated to allow it to withstand cold temperatures without clouding.

Clove like
Spicy character reminiscent of cloves; characteristic of some wheat beers, or if excessive, may derive from wild yeast.

Period of maturation intended to impart "condition" (natural carbonation). Warm conditioning further develops the complex of flavors. Cold conditioning imparts a clean, round taste.

Conditioning Tank
A vessel in which beer is placed after primary fermentation where the beer matures, clarifies and, is naturally carbonated through secondary fermentation. Also called bright beer tank, serving tank and, secondary tank.

Contract Beer
Beer made by one brewery and then marketed by a company calling itself a brewery. The latter uses the brewing facilities of the former.

See brew kettle.

Exhaustive system of mashing in which portions of the wort are removed, heated, then returned to the original vessel.

The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley. It gives the beer flavor, body, and mouthfeel. Lower temperatures produce more dextrin and less sugar. While higher temperatures produce more sugars and less dextrin.

A volatile compound in beer that contributes to a butterscotch flavor, measured in parts per million.

Taste and aroma of sweet corn; results from malt, as a result of the short or weak boil of the wort, slow wort chilling, or bacterial infection. -- Dimethyl sulfide, a sulfur compound.

The addition of yeast and/or sugar to the cask or bottle to aid secondary fermentation.

Draft (Draught)
The process of dispensing beer from a bright tank, cask or, keg, by hand pump, pressure from an air pump or, injected carbon dioxide inserted into the beer container prior to sealing.

The addition of dry hops to fermenting or aging beer to increase its hop character or aroma.

European Brewing Convention. An EBC scale is used to indicate colors in malts and beers.

Catalysts that are found naturally in the grain. When heated in mash, they convert the starches of the malted barley into maltose, a sugar used in solution and fermented to make beer.

Volatile flavor compound naturally created in fermentation. Often fruity, flowery or spicy.

Aroma or flavor reminiscent of flowers or fruits.

Conversion of sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, through the action of yeast.

Final specific gravity
Specific gravity of a beer when fermentation is complete (that is, all fermentable sugars have been fermented).

An aid to clarification: a substance that attracts particles that would otherwise remain suspended in the brew.

The removal of designated impurities by passing the wort through a medium, sometimes made of diatomaceous earth ( made up of the microscopic skeletal remains of marine animals). Yeast in suspension is often targeted for removal.

Flavor and aroma of bananas, strawberries, apples, or other fruit; from high temperature fermentation and certain yeast strains.

Tastes like cereal or raw grain.

Brewers' term for milled grains, or the combination of milled grains to be used in a particular brew. Derives from the verb to grind. Also sometimes applied to hops.

Hand Pump
A device for dispensing draft beer using a pump operated by hand. The use of a hand pump allows the cask-conditioned beer to be served without the use of pressurized carbon dioxide.

Lingering bitterness or harshness.

Hard Cider
A fermented beverage made from apples.

Heat Exchanger
A mechanical device used to rapidly reduce the temperature of the wort.

A German word meaning "yeast". Used mostly in conjunction with wheat (weiss) beers to denote that the beer is bottled or kegged with the yeast in suspension (hefe-weiss). These beers are cloudy, frothy and, very refreshing.

Cask holding 54 imperial gallons ( 243 liters ).

Hop back
Sieve-like vessel used to strain out the petals of the hop flowers. Known as a hop jack in the United States.

Herb added to boiling wort or fermenting beer to impart a bitter aroma and flavor.

Aroma of hops, does not include hop bitterness.

Simplest form of mash, in which grains are soaked in water. May be at a single temperature, or with upward or (occasionally) downward changes.

International Bitterness units. A system of indicating the hop bitterness in finished beer.

One-half barrel, or 15.5 U. S. gallons. A half keg or, 7.75 U. S. gallons, is referred to as a pony-keg.

The addition of a small proportion of partly fermented wort to a brew during lagering. Stimulates secondary fermentation and imparts a crisp, spritzy character.

Beers produced with bottom fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces uvarum (or carlsbergensis) at colder fermentation temperatures than ales. This cooler environment inhibits the natural production of esters and other byproducts, creating a crisper tasting product.

From the German word for storage. Refers to maturation for several weeks or months at cold temperatures (close to 0°C /32°F) to settle residual yeast, impart carbonation and make for clean round flavors.

To run the wort from the mash tun. From the German word to clarify. A lauter tun is a separate vessel to do this job. It uses a system of sharp rakes to achieve a very intensive extraction of malt sugars.

Lauter Tun
See mash tun.

The amount of wort brewed each time the brew house is in operation.

Skunk like smell; from exposure to light.

The brewer's word for water used in the brewing process, as included in the mash or, used to sparge the grains after mashing.

Malt (ing)
The process by which barley is steeped in water, germinated ,then kilned to convert insoluble starch to soluble substances and sugar. The foundation ingredient of beer.

Malt Extract
The condensed wort from a mash, consisting of maltose, dextrins and, other dissolved solids. Either as a syrup or powdered sugar, it is used by brewers, in solutions of water and extract, to reconstitute wort for fermentation.

Malt Liquor
A legal term used in the U.S. to designate a fermented beverage of relatively high alcohol content (7%-8% by volume).

(Verb) To release malt sugars by soaking the grains in water. (Noun) The resultant mixture.

Mash Tun
A tank where grist is soaked in water and heated in order to convert the starch to sugar and extract the sugars and other solubles from the grist.

A water soluble, fermentable sugar contained in malt.

Meads are produced by the fermentation of honey, water, yeast and optional ingredients such as fruit, herbs, and/or spices. According to final gravity, they are categorized as: dry (0.996 to 1009); medium (1010 to 1019); or sweet (1020 or higher). Wine, champagne, sherry, mead, ale or lager yeasts may be used.

Chemical or phenolic character; can be the result of wild yeast, contact with plastic, or sanitizer residue.

Tastes tinny, bloodlike or coinlike; may come from bottle caps.

Small brewery generally producing less than 15,000 barrels per year. Sales primarily off premises.

A sensation derived from the consistency or viscosity of a beer, described, for example as thin or full.

Moldy, mildewy character; can be the result of cork or bacterial infection.

Original gravity
A measurement of the density of fermentable sugars in a mixture of malt and water with which a brewer begins a given batch.

Stale flavor of wet cardboard, paper, rotten pineapple, or sherry, as a result of oxygen as the beer ages or is exposed to high temperatures.

Heating of beer to 60-79(°C/140-174°F to stabilize it microbiologically. Flash-pasteurization is applied very briefly, for 15-60 seconds by heating the beer as it passes through the pipe. Alternately, the bottled beer can be passed on a conveyor belt through a heated tunnel. This more gradual process takes at least 20 minutes and sometimes much longer.

Flavor and aroma of medicine, plastic, Band-Aids, smoke, or cloves; caused by wild yeast or bacteria, or sanitizer residue.

To add yeast to wort.

Plato, degrees
Expresses the specific gravity as the weight of extract in a 100 gram solution at 64°F (17.5°C). Refinement of the Balling scale.

The addition of sugar at the maturation stage to promote a secondary fermentation.

An establishment that serves beer and sometimes other alcoholic beverages for consumption on premise. The term originated in England and is the shortened form of "public house".

The owner or manager of a pub.

Regional specialty brewery
A brewery that produces more than 15,000 barrels of beer annually, with its largest selling product a specialty beer.

"Purity Law" originating in Bavaria in 1516 and now applied to all German brewers making beer for consumption in their own country. It requires that only malted grains, hops, yeast and water may be used in the brewing.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae
See Top-fermenting yeast.

Saccharomyces uvarum
See Bottom-fermenting yeast.

Saccharomyces carlsbergensis
See Bottom-fermenting yeast.

Flavor like table salt; experienced on the side of the tongue.

Secondary fermentation
Stage of fermentation occurring in a closed container from several weeks to several months.

Shelf life
Describes the number of days a beer will retain it's peak drinkability. The shelf life for commercially produced beers is usually a maximum of four months.

Reminiscent of acetone or lacquer thinner; caused by high fermentation temperatures.

Vinegarlike or lemonlike; can be caused by bacterial infection.

Specific gravity
A measure of the density of a liquid or solid compared to that of water ((1.000 at 39°F (4°C)).

To spray grist with hot water in order to remove soluble sugars (maltose). This takes place at the end of the mash.

Brewers' term for a square fermenting vessel.

Taste like sugar; experienced on the front of the tongue.

Reminiscent of rotten eggs or burnt matches; a by-product of some yeast's.

Taste sensation cause by acidic flavors.

Terminal gravity

Synonym for final specific gravity.

Top-fermenting yeast
One of the two types of yeast used in brewing. Top-fermenting yeast works better at warmer temperatures and are able to tolerate higher alcohol concentrations than bottom-fermenting yeast. It is unable to ferment some sugars, and results in a fruitier, sweeter beer. Also known as "ale yeast".

Any large vessels used in brewing. In America, "tub" is often preferred.

Units of bitterness
See IBU.

Reminiscent of wine.

Sherrylike flavor; can be caused by warm fermentation or oxidation in very old beer.

The solution of grain sugars strained from the mash tun. At this stage, regarded as "sweet wort", later as brewed wort, fermenting wort and finally beer.

Wort Chiller
See heat exchanger.

A micro-organism of the fungus family. Genus Saccharomyces.

Yeastlike flavor; a result of yeast in suspension or beer sitting too long on sediment.

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  Our colleagues first ever brew...
Posted by: JayCowell1 - 12-05-2018, 11:11 AM - Forum: General Chatter & Noise - No Replies

Threw our colleague into the deep end and want to share his first ever brew. Chose to do a Cabernet Sauvignon, and the end result was pretty spot on, just goes to show, anyone can learn to brew! What do you guys think of the brew process?


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  T500 Tap Connection
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:46 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


The T500 requires that the water flow to cool the Column is controlled. The best way to do this is by using the water control valve which is supplied with the machine. This allows for the careful control of water flow to the T500 column.

This is designed to fit onto a modern kitchen tap. When we say modern we need one that has an aerator on the end of it. This is normally a screw fitting which holds a piece of gauze in place  and breaks up the water as its flows through the tap creating an aeration effect. You need to take this off and try to attach the needle valve directly to the tap.

If this is not an option then we suggest that you purchase the 20mm tap adaptor which will screw into the end of the needle valve. The 20ml tap adaptor will allow you to use a washing machine fitting or an outside style tap with an external 20mm (3/4") bsp thread..  This connector will also allow for the connection onto the hozelok or similar hose fittings so giving a great deal of flexibility in your water supply. 

Failing that we only have one option and that is to use a push on Rubber Tap Connector fitting. This will simply push over your tap. The problem is that you will not be able to use the needle valve. To fit this you would think it couldn’t possibly go onto the tubing as the bore size is too small. Oh it will but you need to soak the tubing in hot water and maybe open up the internal bore by carefully putting something like a pair of scissors into the end, to expand it.

The reason the water flow is so important is we are only concerned with controlling the water temperature at the outlet point. Once we have this set if we get fluctuating water pressures it’s much easier to look at this when the needle valve is in line. Don’t worry if this is not an option all we have to do is try and run the still when other people in the house aren’t using water(like the washing machine and running a bath).

Depending upon the type of taps you have you may need to arrange a water supply connection specific to your needs.  You may be able to make use of the ‘Hozelok’ range (or similar) connectors available from DIY stores and garden centres.

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  Brew2Bottle Spirit/Liqueurs Compared
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:44 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies

Here is the Brew2Bottle guide to buying the right spirit or liqueur for you!

[Image: ae25d76a6122e0bd14bb91b1fce581f6.png]
[Image: a46a657480fda3de93dff0d161a10775.png]
[Image: 322aaa801045b0488aa4523834f82e3f.png]

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  Bottling Your Wines
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:40 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


After months of careful nurturing, your wine is ready for it's finishing touches - unless you drink it, of course. Each batch is best presented in a consistent size / shape of bottle. An optional, but lovely touch, is to finish your bottles with a professional looking label, and a coloured bottle cap. To achieve this you will need:

The corking gun is a simple mechanical device for forcing corks into the bottles, it's easier than you would think. The bottle neck caps are simply placed over the top of the bottle and held in the steam from a boiling kettle, and your wine is presented perfectly!

Set the cork level with the top of the bottle and leave 1/2 inch between cork and wine

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  Beer Tasting
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:38 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


In recent years, beer drinking has enjoyed a renaissance, with the arrival of the craft beer boom, more and more people have begun to understand what it really means to taste and enjoy beer. Rather than knock back a pint of something tasteless as quickly as possible and move onto the next pub, even young men in their early twenties are turning their noses up at mass produced beers and savouring the flavours of what some of us have been enjoying for years. 

Because of the increase in microbreweries and a broader selection of craft beers and real ales being made available, to a much wider audience, more and more people are starting to look to home brewing to re-create that wonderfully hoppy triple IPA, or that bitter sweet chocolate stout they’ve had at a local beer festival, or trendy bar. 

This article is here to help you appreciate the beer you've just made, learn about it and improve on it...in short, enjoying the craft of homemade beer.

Beer tasting is similar to wine tasting, but you don't spit it out. The hoppy bitterness is tasted at the back of the tongue so can only be sampled properly by swallowing. If you are tasting a few different beers, then a clean glass of water should be kept at hand to cleanse the palate after each beer. You should also keep a note book and pen to record you experiences. You'll find it impossible to keep a detailed record of your beers in your head, so writing it down allows you revisit and compare different beers, even the same beer at different times. You also need to ensure you have a large CLEAN glass to drink from. By that we mean, ensure after washing, it is thoroughly rinsed to remove all traces of washing up liquid and the attendant slight 'soapy' taste.

Firstly you need to ensure the beer you're tasting is the right temperature; Some beers, particularly light and wheat beers and largers are meant to be drunk cold, say between between 5°C and 10°C (41°F to 50°F). Most beers need a degree of warmth to fully release the flavours and aromas. Beer which is too warm could release unintended off flavours so aim for a serving temperature of between10°C to 15°C, 50°F to 59°F.


Home brewed beer gets much of its character from the conditioning the beer gets in the bottle, from its secondary fermentation. This inevitably creates a film of sediment at the bottom of the bottle and care must be taken not to disturb this. The sediment will do you no harm, but it does cloud the beer making colour comparisons difficult and will strengthen any tendancy to 'yeastiness'. Holding the bottle firmly down on a level wipe clean surface, remove the cap, noting the 'hiss' of escaping gas. This is the first sign the beer is live and no leakage has occurred which could have spoiled the beer. Lift the bottle and glass carefully up to eye level and view them both against a light background such as a window. Hold the bottle and glass horizontally resting the bottle neck on the rim of the glass and tilt ever so slightly so that the beer runs gently from the bottle, down the side of the glass. This will keep the carbon dioxide in the beer to maintain the sparkle and aroma (which is carried primarily in the gas). As the beer runs into the glass, slowly tilt the glass upright until its about 2/3rds full when you can move the glass away from the bottle to allow it to pour into the center of the glass from a a little height so as to form the head.

You need to be keeping an eye, at the same time on the beer itself to see where the sediment is moving towards the neck. As the glass fills, the bottle empties and the sediment gets closer....so try to stop pouring before the cloudiness enters the glass. Gentle movements are the secret to success on thisbut don;t expect to get the full bottle into your glass as some wastage is inevitable.
If you will be re-using your bottle go and rinse it out straight away to stop the sediment drying out and hardening in the bottle.
So before you dive in and down the glass full, just take time to look carefully at the brew.


You're looking at clarity and colour and these are mainly the result of the beer style. The beer should be clear, but some wheat beer and often lagers could be cloudy. There may be a 'Chill haze' caused by the beer being too cold, but this should disappear as the beer warms. The colour is best viewed against a white background and can be described in terms of light to dark with slight hues of other colours. Darker beers are generally stronger flavoured with more body although some brewers use dark malts in light-tasting beers, just to ring the changes.


You can often see the head has a slight colour of its own. The head, and not all beers have a head so its not necessarily a sign of a poor brew, should be creamy, not bubbly. The head is important for releasing the beers aroma as the gas brings the scents to the top in the form of bubbles which get released as the bubbles burst. A fizzy, 'sizzling' head which flattens quickly suggests a brew with less malt and more sugar. This can produce excessive carbon dioxide leading to a more acidic tasting beer.


As there is a drop of beer left in the bottle, you should have a space in the glass for the aroma to collect. Cover the glass with you hand and swirl it around to get the scents and smells out of the beer. Now stick you nose right into the glass and with your mouth closed, take a deep breath through your nose. Hold that aroma in your nose/throat/mouth for a while and look for specific scents... hops in bitters and pale ales, chocolatey flavours in stout and citrussy hints in lagers. You should do this a few times looking for a different theme with each breath.


Its no good doing what the wine tasters do and sucking the beer with a good deal of air into your mouth. This will just fill you up with froth, so take a small mouthful first and swirl it around your mouth to get the beer on every part of your tongue. You should get the sweet of the malts at the front of your mouth, while dry and bitter flavours come through at the back of your mouth. Look for the balance between these two...is it a bitter or a sweeter beer?. Can you detect any other flavours such as fruits, or burnt' as you swallow the beer and get the finish. The finish is that after taste which can be quite different from the front taste. Try this a couple of times looking for different flavours with each mouthful and look for the 'mouth feel'...that almost indefinable feeling the brew has whilst in your mouth. Beers with a high malt content will feel 'thicker' which is the body.

Don't forget to note your thoughts down in your notebook, then take a couple for muthfuls of water, running it round your mouth so you're ready for the next beer.

You don't need to be too artistic about this as there is plenty of drivel written about beers. You are looking for those things you like in your beer and finding out how to recognise them in other beers. So call it as you see it and ignore so called experts. Once you have your hand in (and the good news is, it can take some time and many pleasurable tastings to get there) you'll find it easier to evaluate a beer and so be able to create those brews which suit you best.

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  Pressure Barrels & Gas
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:36 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


Brew2bottle stocks two types of pressure barrel for the secondary fermentation, storage and dispensing of home brewed beer and cider, and both have their own particular advantages. 


There are several different types of barrel which use the 4” neck including the Kingkeg. The 4” neck does result in a premium priced barrel, but the cleaning and maintenance of float systems is much improved. The 4” cap is the same as used on the 25l wine fermenter.

Barrels with a top tap use a float system to ensure the beer or cider is taken from near the top surface and so prevent sediment being drawn up during pouring. 


This is generally known as the economy barrel (also known as 'WH' or 'PD') and it is the lowest cost way to start using a barrel for dispensing your beer and cider. As the name suggests, this barrel has a 2inch (50mm) diameter neck and although this does result in a slight difficulty cleaning the barrel, the use of a 15” demijohn brush will negate this. 


We generally supply the S30 type of refillable CO2 cylinder with 4” barrels, although we stock parts for converting 4” barrels to the 'Sparklets' type. In use, the cylinder is screwed onto the valve until a slight resistance is felt. At this point a small further twist allows the gas into the barrel, but turn back quickly so that no more than a 1 second burst is put in. If you allow the gas to flow for any longer you could find the valve freezing in the open position and discharging all the gas. Not only is this wasteful, it could burst the barrel. The increase in pressure forces the gas to dissolve into the beer and so improving the head and providing a blanket of gas to protect the beer or cider from airbourne contaminants which may spoil the home brew. The gas pressure also ensures a faster flow from the tap, making pouring easier. 


We generally supply the 'Sparklets type of disposable CO2 cylinder with 2” barrels, although we stock parts for converting 2” barrels to the 'S30' type. The 'Sparklets' system uses small (8gms) steel single use bulbs of CO2 which are fitted into an adaptor and screwed onto the barrel valve. The valve has a small spring steel roll pin, which punctures the bulb releasing the gas into the barrel. The increase in pressure forces the gas to dissolve into the beer and so improving the head and providing a blanket of gas to protect the beer from airbourne contaminants which may spoil the home brew. The gas pressure also ensures a faster flow from the tap making pouring easier.

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  Home Brewers Conversion Tables
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:31 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


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  Specific Gravity (SG) & % ABV
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:27 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


This section looks at how you can measure the alcoholic content of your wine, and even target a specific strength during the brewing process. Integral to this process is the measurement of Specific Gravity or SG. 


The quick answer is "concentration of sugar in water". Pure water has an SG value of 1.000, although this may be sometimes expressed as 1000 (dropping the decimal point). The more sugar dissolved in the water, the more viscous (or "syrupy") the liquid becomes. This in turn gives a higher SG reading.

Around 3lb of sugar in 1 gallon of water will give about 1.100 SG (commonly expressed as 1100). This amount of sugar represents a fairly high SG from which to start fermentation, and has a potential to give a wine of about 13.6% alcohol.

The SG that is achieved after the addition of sugar, but before the fermentation begins, is known as the Original Gravity - this phrase is common in the brewing of beer. 


After the infusion stage your fruit will have released some of it's sugar, giving a measurable SG. In true grape wine the only sugar that is fermented into alcohol is that which is naturally present in the fruit. However in a good old fashioned English country wine (non grape) it's guaranteed that sugar will need to be added, to raise the SG upto the levels described above.

Depending on the recipe, it may well just say "add 2 1/2 lb per gallon of water", and this may well produce a quality wine, however every batch will vary in terms of it's final sweetness or dryness on account of a varying amount of natural sugar present in the fruit. A more reliable way to produce a consistent wine, is to measure the SG of the fruit sugars alone, and then determine how much additional sugar to add.

Some recipes will contain a phrase such as "make the sugar up to 3lb per gallon", and that means that the natural sugars must be taken into account. For example, a decent crop of Damsons may well bring the SG up to about 1020 after infusion (this implies that there is 9 oz of sugar per gallon of water that has been provided by the fruit alone). So, in this example, the recipe needs 2lb 7oz of sugar adding per gallon, rather than an additional 3 lb.

In some other recipes, there may be an explicit statement such as "add sugar to raise the SG to 1097", implying that sugar should be continually added until the liquid attains an Original Gravity of 1097. 


The general idea is that the fermentation process will turn all of the sugar into alcohol. This represents a reduction in the SG (remember SG measures concentration of sugar). The amount of reduction in SG therefore represents the amount of conversion to alcohol that has taken place - and can be therefore be used to determine the % ABV.

The alcohol content can be estimated, at it's most simple, by taking 2 SG readings - The first is the Original Gravity (i.e. just after the addition of sugar), and the second is at bottling. The difference in these 2 readings represents the total drop in SG, and therefore the total amount of sugar converted to alcohol. For example an Original Gravity of 1100, and an SG at bottling of 1000 (implying that all sugar has gone) yields an % ABV of 13.6%

Typically, however, the final SG can be either side of 1000, if the fermentation has ended at 1005, this would represent a sweeter wine than one which ends at an SG of 1000, or even 995. The lower the final SG, the less residual sugars are present, and therefore the dryer the wine. SG readings of below 1000 are common, and this is due to a technicality - alcohol being less dense than water, which affects the reading that a hydrometer will take.

The mathematics involved in the simple calculation are: Take the difference in Original Gravity and final SG, and divide this by the magic number of 7.36 


  • Sugar is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process
  • The more sugar converted, the higher the final % abv
  • Sugars are present naturally in your fruit, but generally not enough for a decent country wine
  • SG is the concentration of sugar in water
  • Sugar can be added to the must to raise the SG
  • Your recipe will tell you how much to add
  • You may have to take into account the natural fruit sugars, to prevent over sugaring
  • The SG after the sugar is added, and just before fermentation is known as the Original Gravity
  • Fermentation reduces the SG
  • The final SG on bottling can be compared against the Original Gravity to provide a % ABV estimate
  • The magic number is 7.36

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  Making Spirits & Liqueurs At Home
Posted by: Garth Vader - 09-25-2018, 12:24 PM - Forum: Guides, Tips & Advice - No Replies


Home made spirits and liqueurs are as easy to produce as any other home brewed drink. Using similar equipment to wine making you can produce high quality, high alcohol drinks which are almost indistinguishable from their commercial counterparts and at a fraction of the price.

The first hurdle to get over is the question of legitimacy. In the UK it is not legal to distil alcohol without a licence from Revenue and Customs and this includes alcohol for your own consumption. You are free to make naturally fermented alcohol for your own use and the development of special alcohol tolerant yeasts has made the production of 'spirit and liqueur' drinks from high alcohol washes (typically 20%abv), a practical proposition. It is not unknown for some people prepared to take the risk, to make their own stills from information available on the internet. There are also some who make use of equipment intended for the purification of water or essential oils, but it must be stressed that this is illegal in the UK.

There are four stages in the production of spirits and liqueurs


The fermentation process is similar to making 5 gallon wine kits and uses the same fermenting equipment together with a specialised yeast/nutrient mix to convert glucose or sugar to a high strength alcohol and water mix known as a 'Wash'.

Its important to realise that all fermentations produce unwanted by-products known as 'congeners' which add unpleasant flavours to the product. These can be exacerbated by the use of high temperatures to speed the fermentation, or the wrong mix of nutrients and even the wrong types of yeast. It is therefore important to use a yeast and nutrient mix which minimizes the production of these congeners and to take time to make a quality wash suitable for further processing. High speed fermentation and high alcohol yeasts often require further special treatment to reduce impurities and the consequential unpleasant tastes.

In fermenting spirits and liqueurs an ordinary beer/wine hydrometer is useful.  After distillation a special spirit hydrometer is necessary.


In many countries other than the UK this is the stage where distillation of the spirit wash is carried out. Distillation is a refining process designed to remove water and other by products from the wash so leaving the desired product (ethanol) in higher concentrations. This obviously reduces the quantity of liquid available by a considerable amount, but does leave a high quality spirit for further flavouring. In some countries the use of economically priced, low temperature, low volume 'air' stills intended for water or essential oil purification, can produce alcohol levels of around 60% abv.

As mentioned above it is possible to strip out the colours and flavours from commercially available spirits, particularly the cheaper brands, using a two stage ceramic/carbon filter and then add flavouring to make genuine full strength spirits and liqueurs.


The main difference from making wine is carbon treatment which uses activated carbon to remove the impurities in the wash. Specially developed activated carbon contains pores designed to trap particles of specific sizes. Activated carbons are made with different sized pores for different applications so it is therefore very important to use activated carbon specifically designed for treating alcohol.

Spirit wash kits require the addition of carbon which can be either during fermentation or after stabilising the brew but before fining as a way to remove these impurities. This carbon is in the form of a liquid containing the activated carbon particles which is stirred into the wash to absorb the unwanted by-products.

In countries where distillation is legal, the passing of untreated washes through a still, will result in the concentration of the impurities to leave very noticeable and unpleasant tastes, so it is advisable to use carbon in the wash this stage. Carbon treatment is also necessary after distillation but it needs to be borne in mind that concentrated alcohol is a strong chemical solvent and can attack certain types of plastics unless it has been 'cut' to around 40% abv, before passing through a suitable purification filter. This type of filter is sometimes used to remove flavours and colours from commercial spirits prior to their re-use with spirit and liqueur flavourings.


Making spirits simply involves adding a flavouring to the alcohol. Most flavours are made in countries where distillation for home brewers is legal so they are formulated to dissolve best in high levels of alcohol. They are however perfectly suitable for use in Britain if more time is allowed for them to diffuse in our weaker 'non-distilled' alcohol mixes. There is a wide range of flavours available, some of which are intended to mimic commercial drinks and do so quite successfully. Some liqueur and cream flavours have to be mixed with glucose and/or cream solutions or with a pre-mixed 'liqueur bases' to truly capture the essence of your favourite drinks. Ideally when a distilled spirit or liqueur has had flavouring added, it should be left to stand for a week as this allows the flavour to infuse with the alcohol and produces a much better result.

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