Clean all your equipment thoroughly with a sanitiser or steriliser. Clean everything that is going to come into contact with your brew, however don’t get too stressed out about this. It isn’t possible to eradicate everything in a home brewing environment but good levels of cleanliness reduce the risk of infection.
If you’re worried about a brew and need any advice just email or phone us. Call 01904 791600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help with all your queries. There are home brew forums online but just keep in mind if you do go onto a forum the advice can be quite complex, with your first brews it’s best just to keep it simple.
Don’t worry if your airlock doesn’t bubble during fermentation this doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Co2 will escape from the tiniest of holes around the rim of the vessel or between the grommet and the airlock and it will always find the path of least resistance. Your brew will not become infected as a result due to the blanket of Co2 which is formed during fermentation that sits just above the surface of the liquid as Co2 is heavier than oxygen. This blanket protects the brew from any infection. To keep it intact make sure you don’t remove the lid until absolutely necessary as removing the lid will disturb the blanket. For further information on fermentation take a look at this blog post:
Use a hydrometer. This is an essential piece of equipment for home brewing, it means you can keep track on the progress of your brew. During the ferment the hydrometer reading will become lower until it reaches the end reading. These are called specific gravity readings, with the start gravity reading sometimes been referred to as the original gravity. The hydrometer floats in the brew and where the surface of the liquid meets the hydrometer this is where the reading is taken. For further information on this check out our other blog post here: https://homebrewonlinebrewblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/how-to-use-a-hydrometer-in-beer-making/
Foaming: Don’t worry if you have an extremely vigorous ferment which causes foam to escape through the airlock and sides of the lid. If this happens remove the lid and rest it on top of the fermenter rather than sealing it closed. Always make sure that you leave the fermenter in a location where if foaming happens it won’t damage anything. Foaming is caused if the temperature of your brew is a little on the high side. It isn’t a problem and won’t be detrimental to your brew.
Temperature: When starting out you will generally be fermenting wine, beer and cider at around 20 degrees C. It’s best to keep the fermenting temperature as constant as possible but don’t worry if you can’t and it fluctuates. Home brew kits are very forgiving and this fluctuation won’t affect the taste detrimentally.
Bottle rather than barrel: There are many advantages bottles have that make them more convenient to use than a barrel. They’re much simpler than a barrel and have less to go wrong with them. They can also be stored in the fridge or taken to friend’s party with ease unlike a barrel.
Don’t worry if it smells weird this doesn’t necessarily mean that your brew is off. Your brew won’t smell like it’s supposed to until it’s finished fermenting and had several weeks to mature. We recommend a month for beer, cider, lager and wine. The most common off smells are:
Sulphur (hydrogen sulphide) shows itself as a rotten egg smell during primary fermentation. This is a by product of the yeast and is common in cider and lager. If you encounter this just carry on as normal and once your brew is bottled let it mature. As it does the sulphur smell will disappear. Leave your brew for at least a month to mature.
Vinegar aromas can occur at different levels of strength and again don’t mean that your brew is ruined. If you have a slight whiff and taste of vinegar leave your brew to mature and this should disappear. It’s only when your brew smells and tastes strongly of vinegar that there may be an issue but even then it’s worth letting it mature to see whether it dissipates.
Sediment: There will always be a little sediment in the bottom of your bottles/barrel especially with beer. There is no way to fully eradicate it in beer/cider and the best method to reduce it is to syphon off into a secondary vessel before bottling/kegging. This takes the brew off the sediment bed and allows it to clear in a secondary fermenter where another less thick sediment bed builds up again. Transferring and clearing in a secondary fermenter means that your brew will be clearer. Keep in mind that you do need some yeast to be transferred to the bottles/barrel for carbonation. However if you haven’t got a secondary fermenter to transfer to, don’t worry as any sediment taken through to the bottles/barrel will sink to the bottom and the rest of the liquid will be clear. Just be careful when pouring from a bottle not to disturb the sediment at the bottom.
Regarding wine you can use a filter to make it clearer and brighter so if you would like your wine’s appearance to be improved this will certainly do the job.
Finally, the main thing is to enjoy it. Don’t worry too much or get stressed if you think something has gone wrong as 99% of the time it’s fine. As long as you follow any instructions, keep your equipment clean and don’t go too high with the temperature (over 28 degrees C) you’ll be fine.
The advice above refers to beer, cider and wine, for advice on distilling see this blog: