Amber ale

 

_20170501_131855This is my favorite home made beer. You could use the same recipe and vary the flavour by using lighter or darker malt extract, to suite your own taste. I can’t always get the same hops, so vary what I use, but I generally stick to Fuggles or Goldings, if I can.

Check out my blog on the basics of home brewing before you start here.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 500g coopers amber malt extract
  • 35g fuggles/Goldings hops
  • 375g sugar
  • 12 pints of water
  • 1 teaspoon Young’s super wine yeast extract

Method:

Put the hops into a large pan and cover with 6 _20170501_124027pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put your sugar and malt extract into a fermentation bin. Strain the hop water through a colander into the fermentation bin.

Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and malt extract. Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir.

Check your gravity, it should be around 1040.

Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 3 weeks.

Whilst a lot of recipes state much shorter times I find the beer benefits from this _20170501_212318extended time.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.
Add a level teaspoon of sugar to each bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.

The beer should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

 

Mead

IMG_20170411_184954_036This has to be my favorite drinks. Great chilled in the summer, or warmed in the winter. Its probably one of the first ever alcoholic drinks ever made and is mostly out of fashion these days. It due a resurgence!

For years I was reluctant to make mead, due to the high cost of obtaining honey, I was always worried that if it went wrong it would cost too much. Luckily I overcame this fear, as I now make a very good mead, that proves popular with many. I have even converted non-mead drinkers to it.

Due to the aging process this is best made in regular bulk, to avoid disappointment of it all being gone!

Check out my blog on the basics of home brewing before you start here.

Ingredients:

  • Clear honey – 2kg for sweet/1.7kg/for medium/1.4kg for dry
  • 4.5 l water
  • 2 teaspoons of citric acid (or the juice and rind of 2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon of wine yeast (I use Young’s super wine yeast compound
  • 1 campden tablet (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)

Method:

Put the honey into the bucket with 2 litres of boiled water and stir until dissolved.

Add the citric acid and 2.5 litres of cold water.

Make a note of the gravity.

When the liquid has cooled to room temperature, add the yeast. Leave to ferment for 3 days.

_20170501_212145Strain the liquid into a 5 litre Demijohn, fit with an airlock and leave to ferment until it stops bubbling – this depends on the general surrounding temperature.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already, and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Finally, siphon the mead into bottles and cork. Age for a minimum of 3 months before drinking.

The basics of homebrew

 

FB_IMG_1493570193695​I love making my own booze, it’s great fun and the results taste fantastic. There are a few basic rules that you need to follow. I won’t go into too much detail here, as there are plenty of books out there that do it better, and I really want this to be as simple as possible so that brewing doesn’t seem daunting.
The first rule of making any kind of brew, is to make sure you sterilise everything. Buckets, bottles, siphons – everything that comes into contact with your brew. You can buy sterilising powder in home-brew shops, Wilko’s or online. Follow the directions on the packet and clean everything thoroughly.

Once clean, rinse the equipment well.

The next thing is to make sure you have a hydrometer. These are cheap to buy and will help you to know when your brew is finished fermenting. It will also enable you to estimate the alcohol content of your finished brew.

  • Take a reading before you add your yeast. This is known as the Original gravity or OG
  • Take another at the end. This is known as the Final gravity or FG
  • Using a simple formula, (OG – FG) x 0.13 = %, you can then figure out the alcohol content of your finished brew
  • For example if your original gravity is 1080 and your final gravity is 1000, then using the formula (1080 – 1000) x 0.13 = 10.4% alcohol content

The original gravity of most wines and meads should start at around 1050 – 1100

The original gravity for beer should start at around 1040

The higher the number, the higher the potential alcohol content of your brew, however this is also limited by the type of yeast used.

Your brew will either finish fermenting when the yeast runs out of food (sugar) or when the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to live in.

When your brew stops bubbling, or slows to less than 1 bubble a minute, use the hydrometer to see if your brew is finished fermenting. Move your brew somewhere warm and check the gravity over a period of 3 days and if the reading doesn’t change, fermentation has stopped.

At this stage there are a few optional things you can add to your brew. Not everyone does, but I like too. The first 2 things are fermentation stopper, and campden tablets. These are generally added at the same time to wine, mead and cider, and help to stabilise the alcohol by killing off any yeast that might still be hanging around. They also help to prevent any bacterial growth during the ageing process. Add these as per the packet instructions, usually you’ll need to stir your brew daily for 3 days after adding, which will also help to remove any trapped co2.

The next thing is bentonite. This is a naturally occurring clay that draws particles from the alcohol and settles it to the bottom of your container. This clears the alcohol, so you can siphon your liquid into a new container or bottle to prevent a hazy wine.

Ginger wine

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This one is super easy to make and great on a cold winter evening by the fire. I make 5 gallon batches as it never seems to last long enough!

Check out my blog on the basics of home brewing before you start here.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g root ginger
  • 1.5kg granulated sugar
  • 100g raisins
  • 2 tsp of citric acid (or the juice and rind of 2 lemons)
  • 4.5l water (boiled)
  • 1 tsp of wine yeast (I use Young’s super wine yeast extract)
  • 1 campden tablet (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)
  • 350ml brandy

Method:

Grate the ginger into a bucket, add the sugar, raisins, citric acid and 2.5l boiled water and stir well.

Mix in 2 litres of cold water and finally add your yeast. Check and make a note of the gravity.

Cover loosely for 1 week before straining into a demijohn with an airlock.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew!

Finally, share the brandy between your bottles,  siphon the wine in and cork. Age for a minimum of 6 months before drinking.

​Rosemary and bay Beer

FB_IMG_1493750865085This one is based on Andy Hamilton’s recipe, found in the book ‘Booze for free’. It goes down really well and is one of my most popular home brewed beers.

Before hops were common in beer brewing, herbs such as rosemary and nettles would have been used, so this is a nice throwback to our ancestors brewing techniques.

This beer usually comes out at 4.5 %

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 rosemary sprigs
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 500g amber malt extract
  • 375g sugar
  • 12 pints of water
  • Beer yeast (or Young’s super wine yeast extract)

Method:

 

Put the rosemary and bay leaves into a large pan and cove_20170502_193250r with 6 pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put your sugar and malt extract into a fermentation bin. Strain the rosemary and bay water through a muslin cloth into the fermentation bin.

Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and malt extract.

Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir. Make a note of the gravity, it should be around 1040.

Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 3 weeks. Whilst a lot of recipes state much shorter times I find the beer benefits from this extended time.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you FB_IMG_1493750173247haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Add a level teaspoon of sugar to each beer bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.

The beer should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

 

Pumpkin beer

_20170501_211255Every October I make a big batch of this to see me through the winter. It makes a lovely dark ale, with a slightly sweet tone from the pumpkin.
I have varied the flavour quite significantly by using different types of squash. Butternut with a light malt extract works well to give a nutty flavour to the beer.

This beer usually comes out at 4.5 %

 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg pumpkin
  • 35g hops
  • 500g dark malt extract
  • 375g sugar
  • 12 pints of water
  • Beer yeast (or Young’s super wine yeast extract)

Method:

Cut the pumpkin into fist sized pieces and roast _20170501_211524for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
Put the pumpkin into a large pan with the hops and cover with 6 pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put your sugar and malt extract into a fermentation bin. Strain the pumpkin water through a muslin cloth into the fermentation bin.

Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and malt extract.

Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir. Make a note of the gravity, it should be around 1040.

Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 3 weeks. Whilst a lot of recipes state much shorter times I find the beer benefits from this extended time.

FB_IMG_1493570217789Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

 

Add a level teaspoon of sugar to each bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.
The beer should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

​Elderberry and blackberry wine

 

_20170502_203133

This recipe is great heated, but not boiling, with a jar of honey, a few cloves, some grated nutmeg, ¼ pint of water and the juice and rind of a lemon. Add half a small bottle of brandy before serving. Drink whilst still warm.

We drink this every Christmas when family visit and we always run out!

You can also make this one with just elderberries or just blackberries.

Ingredients:

  • 800g elderberries
  • 800g blackberries
  • 4.5l water (boiled)
  • 1.5 kg granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp of red wine yeast
  •  1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 campden tablet (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)


Method:

Put all the berries into a large bucket and crush witha rolling pin. Add the sugar, pectic enzyme and cover with 4.5l boiled water. Stir well.

Once cool, make a note of your gravity.

Add your yeast and nutrient and cover loosely for 1 week before straining into a demijohn with an airlock.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Finally, syphon the wine into bottles and cork.

Age for a minimum of 6 months before drinking, but a year is better.

Sloe gin

FB_IMG_1493750822545September is one of my favorite times of the year, as I get to spend a lot of time outside foraging for fruit. I use this basic recipe for various flavoured liquors. You could also try blackberry whisky, crab apple vodka or rose-hip vodka using the same quantities.
Ingredients:

  • 350g Sloes
  • 175g granulated Sugar
  • 700ml gin

Method:

Wash your fruit and pick out any leaves, twigs, or insects.

Put them into a Kilner jar and cover with the sugar.

Pour over the gin and put the lid on.

Shake the jar to mix in the sugar. Shake once a day, for a few days, until the sugar remains dissolved.

After 3 months decant into bottles through a funnel lined with a muslin cloth.

Whilst you can drink this straight away, it does benefit from ageing for a year or more, if you can wait that long.

Blackberry whisky

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Considered by some to be superior to sloe gin, this is a must make for me every summer. Keep the blackberries to use in a pudding, apple and blackberry crumble is delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 350g blackberries
  • 175g granulated Sugar
  • 700ml whiskey (Scotch or Bourbon – depending on your preference. I think Scotch is better)
Method:

Wash your fruit and pick out any leaves or twigs.

 

Put them into a kilner jar and cover with the sugar. Pour over the whiskey and put the lid on.

 

Shake the jar to mix in the sugar. Shake once a day, for a few days, until the sugar remains dissolved.

 

After 3 months decant into bottles through a funnel lined with a muslin cloth.

 

Whilst you can drink this straight away, it does benefit from ageing for a year or more – if you can wait that long!