We've always had in mind that we'd like to try a bit of home brewing. Both our Dads have made wine in the past, and we have an abundance of things like elder trees and bramble bushes nearby that are good for this kind of thing. I'd also heard that beer is fairly easy to make. We'd even got a few bits and pieces (some inherited from my Dad, and a couple of demijohns from a kirk shoppie in New Deer).
As seems to have been the case with many other people, lockdown presented an ideal opportunity to give this a go. So, armed with this classic book, and this much simpler more recent one we got a starter kit from the local brewshop, including a fermenting bucket, a couple of tubes and a hydrometer (to add to the things we had already). Since then we got a bit carried away! A brief tour is below, but on the whole this all seems to have worked out pretty well. It's been good fun, and has resulted in some tasty additions to our cupboard. Well worth a go if you're thinking of it.
Off to pick some elderflowers...
The first shot ended up being a rowan flower wine - this is it going on to brew.
Careful stirring is very important.
Not all of it is alcoholic! This is elder flower cordial. Our girls really like this stuff.
The very first wine beginning to ferment. That was an exciting moment. The chemistry and experimenting parts are one of the most appealing bits of the whole process.
And of course, we can't do home brew without a bubbling airlock. Tremendous.
This was my first go at a beer. A pale ale of sorts. Most of what I've been making has been a variation on this theme, with different kinds of hops.
This view is often visible behind me on the various virtual meetings I'm in. Thanks to the computer (and my own hot air) the office is consistently warm enough to keep the fermentation going.
Bottling time. Who doesn't appreciate a syphon?
My first beer ready to go...
...it just had to stand a few days to fizz up.
Yum. The first one was a bit rough, but quite tolerable.
Rhubarb wine in preparation.
A bottle of elderflower. This (and the fizzy version of it) has been the most successful wine so far. Lovely stuff.
Another batch of ale going on. I'm up to batch 11 at of now (each has been a few bottles, and slightly from the previous ones)
A couple of times I've made two lots at once, to see the difference. This pair were looking at the difference between adding sugar and dry malt extract. (DME is easily the winner)
Bramble wine incoming.
One chore - cleaning and sterilising a lot of bottles.
I've tried harvesting yeast from previous batches a couple of times, rather than using packets.
Here it is settling out.
I was a bit optimistic with how much one demijohn could take here, so this brew spent the night in the shower.
We've had a go at cider too, but using apple concentrate as that's a good it easier than mashing them.
Using the kit does, however, mean a slightly larger batch. This is 40 pints.
Elderberry wine. A really nice red.
I've had a couple of shots at using grains instead of malt extract for the beers. A bit more fiddly, but interesting seeing it coming out of the raw ingredients.
Here's the bramble wine. Not bad either (I prefer the elderberry though)
You won't see this on camera, but this is usually the view around my feet in my office.
All jolly good fun!