We have added the most frequently asked questions and answers here. If you have a question which is not already covered then please submit here. Don't forget to also have a look around our forum for lots of useful tips and advice from fellow brewers.
The simple answer to this is to add more sugar. The yeast eats the sugar and that produces more alcohol. Most brewers will use dry malt extract as their sugar source because it will add more alcohol to the beer, but doesn't add a lot of sweetness to the beer like table sugar will. Keep in mind the yeast can only handle so much alcohol, so be careful on how much DME you add.
As the alcohol level rises in the wort, the fermentation begins to slow down. Adding yeast nutrients to the wort can give the yeast new food allowing for an extended fermentation period. Yeast nutrient also helps to create stronger cell walls, which make yeast less susceptible to alcohol death. Another way to increase the alcohol level in the beer is to add yeast with a higher alcohol tolerance towards the end of fermentation.
Recipe Kit add-on ingredients
- 500g. DME will add about .5% alcohol
- 1kg. DME will add about 1% alcohol
- 500g Brown Sugar will add about .9% alcohol
- 500g. Maple Syrup will add about .7% alcohol and will add flavor
- 1kg of honey will add about .7% alcohol and will add flavor
Any additional sugars should be added before the yeast is pitched.
Extract brewing uses the same basic techniques as kits but you prepare the wort from ingredients rather then using kit concentrate. Water, malt extract and hops are boiled for approx 1 hour before cooling then adding yeast as above. This method requires a large pan (10 litre minimum) and strainer in addition to the basic equipment required for kits. You choose and buy packs of extract, hops and yeast then follow a recipe. There are lots of different recipes to follow and you can add herbs and spices to create unique blends. There is also a huge range of hops which all have there own unique flavour. This method works out about the same cost as using a Premium kit but you have the flavour control and satisfaction of creating your own recipes. We have a constantly expanding range of extract recipe packs to make things easy and get you going.
Our full range can be found here
All beer kits will require basic home brewing equipment.
You will the following:
Fermentation bucket + lid (at least 25 litre)
Syphon - for moving the beer off sediment into bottles/barrel
Hydrometer - for checking the gravity/alcohol contect
Steriliser - for sterlising all equipment
Spoon/paddle - for mixing the kits
Our starter kit here contains all of the above.
Extra sugar may be required dependant on the kit. In general the cheaper single can kits require 1 kg of brewing sugar and the more expensive boxed kits don't require additional brewing sugar. Malt extract (spraymalt) can be used instead of sugar at the same rate and will give the beer more body and a rounder mouth feel.
All kits will require a small amount of priming sugar (around 80-120g) for priming the bottles/barrel, which will give the beer a slight carbonation but any sugar can be used for this.
All kits come complete with yeast.
Once the wort (unfermented beer) has been made up as per the instructions (most kits take around 15 minutes) yeast is added and the fermentation takes place. There are many factors which will effect the time this takes, temperature, amount of sugars which need fermenting (ie strength of the beer) and type of yeast but you can expect most fermentations to be complete between 7 - 14 days.
Once fermentation is complete then the beer is ready to be stored in bottles or barrel and a small amount of sugar is added (known as priming) which will then ferment again but this time the Co2 produced cannot escape and will dissolve in the beer giving the beer a slight carbonation.
Then the beer is left to clear. Again the time this takes will depend on quite a few factors - type of yeast, temperature (cooler the better) and type of container to name a few but you can expect the beer to be clear and ready to drink with a few weeks (4 - 6) and the beer will continue to mature and improve for a few months after this.
Okay, there are 3 things which are the likely cause.
1. Adding too much water. If you have added the correct amount of water then this will not be the problem.
2. Not stiring after adding all the water. This will leave all the sugars at the bottom of the fermenter which will cause the gravity to be low at the top.
3. Measuring the gravity when the pre fermented wort is too cool. Hydrometers are calibrated at a set temp, usually 20c so if you measure the gravity and the wort is cooler or hotter than this then this will effect the result as liquids become less dense at warmer temperatures.
Its more than likely that one of these is the cause. If you still have issues after checking the above then please give contact us.
18 -22 c is the ideal temperature range. Most households will be at around this but if you location is cooler then you may need a heater.
My husband is a fan of Old Speckled Hen ale and I see you have an ingredients kit. I was wondering what brew kit I would need to accompany it. We're home brew virgins so any help would be appreciated!
Hi there, Old Speckled Hen is a extract recipe pack so you will need a large pan (10 litres min) and a strainer. You will also need basic brewing equipment such as fermenter, syphon, hydrometer and steriliser.
All you need to determine alcohol content is the original or starting gravity and the final gravity. Just drop the decimal points, subtract the smaller one from the bigger, and divide by 7.5. For example, If your starting gravity is 1.055, and your final gravity is 1.010, you would have 1.055 - 1.010 = 45 divided by 7.5 = 6% alcohol.
Dry hopping is the process of adding hops, usually in secondary, to a beer to add more of a hop aroma to your beer. Traditionally the technique is used for beer styles like pale ales and I.P.A.’s, but people are doing this process in many other styles as well. You aren’t extracting any of the oils from the hops because you would need to add heat to do that, but you are adding aroma. Being that almost 75% of human taste comes from smell, then you can see why people take this extra step with their beers.
Dry hopping methods vary, so find which way gives you the best results:
- We prefer to add the dry hops with 3-5 days left before you plan on bottling, or kegging, the beer. The reason for this is because the idea is to have the hop aroma infuse with the beer without having the aroma fade. By adding the hops only a few days before bottling, you get the freshest hop aroma throughout your beer without much loss of taste.
What type of hops are the best for dry hopping?
Most of us prefer the use of leaf hops, as they are easier to deal with when you transfer, but pellet hops will work as well. As far as the type of hops itself, that is up to you. Most brewers will use the same type of hops that they used in making the beer and many modern ales use American citrus style hops like Amarillo and Cascade for interesting aroma additions.
Be careful of the quantity of hops that you use because you can easily overpower a beer by using too much. Also avoid leaving the hops in the beer for too long as grassy flavours can develop. Usually, around 25g - 50g is all you need. Start with 25g, and then see if you need to add more the next time.
Once in the bottles or barrel beer should keep for many months and in fact many beers will benefit from some extended maturing.
In theory yes as it will be harder for the yeast to ferment but this will depend on the particular strain of yeast.
We would always recommend using brewing sugar or malt extract for adding in bulk (ie more than 500g) in any beer kit or recipe.
It really depends on the region you live in as tap water quality will vary locally. If it taste/smells nice then its probably fine to use. Adding 1/2 a crushed campden tablet / 25 litres of water will remove any chlorine from the water which can help improve taste.
Alternatively most supermarkets offer own brand bottled water in 5 litre containers at a very reasonable price.
When the beer starts to ferment a thick foam will normally form on the top. This is quite normal and will protect the beer during fermentation. This should form within 24 hrs of the yeast being added. If nothing has happened within this time you may need to check the temperature of the room as it may be too cold. If the temperture is okay, leave for a bit more time. If nothing has happened after 48 hours then you may need to add yeast nutrient but have patience before taking this step.
The foam should die down after a couple of days, after which you should take a hydrometer reading. Bottle or barrel when the hydrometer readings have remained stable for a couple of days.
It really depends on how clear the beer is before you bottle it. The clearer you can get it the less sediment will be collected in the bottles as more will be left in the fermenter.
As beer is drawn from the barrel a void will start to be created as no air can get into the barrel. The beer will continue to give off co2 which will fill this void but if the beer is drawn quicker than it can create co2 then a vacuum will be created and the pressure inside the barrel will drop off so you may need to add co2 to fill the void and maintain the pressure. How much co2 will be required depends on lots of factors but you can expect to need to top up co2 on a 40 pint batch around 2 or 3 times.
There are 2 ways that co2 can be added and your preferred way with determine what type of valve you require.
S30 - This system uses the larger C02 bottles which have a deposit included in the initial price. You then return the empty bottles to any home brew retailed who sells them and purchase a refill for a reduced cost. The refill is basically a new bottle but your deposit is maintained and therefore the bottle is much cheaper. These bottles work with the S30 valves and you add c02 by screwing the bottle onto the valve until the valve opens then add co2 for around 1 or 2 second then unscrew and remove. Repeat the process is more pressure is required.
Pin Valve - This system uses the small 8g co2 bulbs. These are dispensed by using a plastic bulb holder and then screwing this onto the valve which dispenses all the gas in the bulb. The bulb can then be thrown away and more bulbs can be added if more pressure is required. There is no deposit on these making them ideal if you don't want to return the bottles for refills.
A haze or cloudiness in wine could be due to different causes. There might even be a combination of factors causing the problem.
Kit wines are usually easier to clear than wines made from fresh ingredients where there are more ‘specific’ factors, which influence the clearing.
All wines will clear naturally given time and it is important that we do give them time. However, for a wine to clear the following conditions must apply:
- The wine must have stopped fermenting.
- The wine must be free from bacterial contamination.
- The wine must be in the right environment.
The addition of fermentation stopper / stabiliser should ensure that the wine is not fermenting. Tasting and smelling the wine will detect signs of ‘off’ flavours and smells. Putting the wine in a COOL environment where the temperature remains fairly constant should allow it to clear.
The addition of a ‘fining’ agent will usually help speed up the clearing process. Sometimes extra finings might be needed, however, it is important not to over fine as this could lead to a permanent haze.
De-gassing a wine at the end of fermentation helps. The more residual gas that you can get out of suspension the better. You will end up with a cleaner, crisper end product.
‘Racking’ wine from one container to another is also helpful.
Sometimes when you cannot get the wine to clear all that is needed is a change of location. Experience shows that in a good percentage of cases the wine is simply being stored in an environment not suitable for clearing.
- Whether or not to filter has been debated by winemakers as long as there have been filters. Some winemakers feel the only way to make wine is the 'natural way', letting the wine clear on its own, even if it does take a year or so. Other winemakers filter their wines to clear them so that they can bottle much quicker, thereby reducing the chance of problems.
- Why filter wine if it will clear on its own? A clear wine is more appealing, the color is brighter. Filtering may make a wine drinkable sooner. A sterile or fine wine filter will remove most yeasts that may cause sediment and possibly refermentation. The disadvantage of filtering is the possible reduction of color and tannins, and possible oxidation.
- There are several types of filters available, ranging from an inexpensive gravity feed Vinbrite Filter, to fully closed pressurized multiple plate filter systems, like the Buon Vino Mini Jet. These systems are similar to larger systems used by high volume wineries. A big disadvantage of gravity feed is the introduction of oxygen and bacteria. The Buon Vino models eliminate oxygen contact.
When it comes time to stabilize and fine the wine, it has to be stirred vigorously enough to drive off all of the CO2 that has accumulated during fermentation, this process is known as degassing.
This is because the dissolved gas will attach to the fining agents, preventing them from settling out. You need to stir hard enough to make the wine foam, and keep stirring until it will no longer foam. Only then will the gas be driven off so the fining agents can work their magic.
The Whip Wine Degasser is the perfect tool for this.
By definition, a stuck fermentation is a fermentation that has stopped before all the available sugar in the wine has been converted to alcohol and CO2. If the bubbles in your airlock slow down before your wine has reached terminal gravity (usually 1.000 or lower), you may have a stuck fermentation.
Here's how to check:
Is the specific gravity of your wine no longer falling, or tremendously sluggish? If you take hydrometer readings for three consecutive days, and the reading remains the same and is higher than 1.000, it’s probably stuck. Is the temperature of your fermentation area between 65 and 75 °F? If it is too cold, the yeast can’t do it’s job (or does it very slowly). Fortunately, stuck fermentations are pretty rare. But when they do happen, it’s important to make corrections right away and get the fermentation going again for optimum results.
- Simply move the fermenter to an area that is room temperature, or 68-70 °F. In most cases, too low a temperature is the cause of a stuck fermentation, and bringing the temp up is enough to get it going again.
- Open up the fermenter, and rouse the yeast by stirring it with a sanitized spoon. Sometimes putting the yeast back in suspension will get it going again.
- If the above doesn't get the yeast going then Rack the wine off of the old yeast, and pitch some fresh yeast in, preferably a highly active strain such as Lavlin EC-1118.
Try the following tips to get that airlock bubbling again:
A turbo yeast is nothing like an ordinary pack of wine or beer yeast. In fact, it is not very good at fermenting beer or wine, it is usually far to fast and brutal for this, leaving nothing of the desired flavours and bouques in your brew if you try. Instead the turbo yeast is designed for the fastest and most reliable fermentation of a pure sugar/water mix, into pure alcohol.
The idea is of course to make alcohol by fermentation, up to 23% at the moment, but this limit may be pushed further. Fermenting alcohol is usually legal and tax free in most countries, with some exceptions (you are recommended to check up on this in your country before you use our products).
The finished product, pure alcohol between 14% - 23% alcohol, can then be used as a base for mixing drinks, mixing with essences to make lower alcohol versions of many spirits, or (where legal) as the perfect base for distilling into high alcohol.
Turbo yeast come in many flavours today. The typical groups are
Moderate alcohol turbo yeast - fast
Turbo's in this group are Alcotec 6 (3 day fermentation), Alcotec 48 (which does it in 48 hours, hence the name). The alcohol level is usually around 14% by volume. This is the result of full fermentation of 6 kgs of sugar in 25 litres final volume (the rest being water).
High alcohol turbo yeast - slower
The most well known turbo here is the Alcotec 48 again, but this time used as a high alcohol turbo. It's a very versatile turboyeast as it allows you to choose whether to go for moderat alcohol (fast) or high alcohol (slower). It's done simply by adding more sugar to get the higher alcohol. For a 19-20% result, simply add 8 kgs of sugar into 25 litres in total. We also have the extreme Alcotec 23% which contains activated carbons used in a clever way to take it to this high alcohol.
Speciality turbo yeast - hyper fast, hyper clean
We have the Alcotec 24 - makes moderate alcohol in only 24 hours, it is the most extreme fermentation you have ever seen. There are also a few "super clean" fermenting yeasts such as the Alcotec VodkaStar and the Alcotec Triple Still.
For a turbo yeast to work well, it needs a certain temperature range and ideally not too varying during the fermentation. The temperature is always the liquid temperature. The air temperature is only important when it changes the liquid temperature.
The more active the yeast cells are, the more internal energy (temperature) they will create. This means that during the reproduction phase, the first 24-36 hours, the wash will create a lot of "internal" heat. There is usually a peak in the liquid temperature after some 24-30 hours.
Yeast cells will die if the liquid temperature goes too high, this usually happens around 35-40 C when there is little or no alcohol present. However, should you raise the liquid temperature when alcohol is high (near end of fermentation), the combination of high temperature and alcohol will kill the yeast at a lower temperature.
Alcotec 48 is one of the best turbo yeasts for temperature tolerance.
Generally, the two main causes of problems are:
- The temperature peak after around 30 hours
- Large fluctuations in air temperature during the fermentation
If you use a normal sachet of turbo yeast to make 25 litres and follow the instructions, you should not have any major problems with temperature. If you make more than 25 litres in the same container though, there will be much higher internal heat generation and you are likely to see some problems. You will then need to monitor very closely the 30-hour peak. If you get liquid temperatures there which are too high, there is very little you can do except adjust your recipe next time (using less yeast or less sugar or both).
During stress, yeast cells produce more undesired volatiles, i.e. bad taste. So this is another very good reason for trying to keep the liquid temperature as constant as possible, ideally in the 25-30 C range. Looking at only the production of volatiles, it will be better to ferment (very slowly) at 15 C, but the difference is very small and you add a lot of time to your fermentation so it is not really worth it.
A "normal" turbo fermentation (6kgs of sugar into 25 litres total volume) will take around 3 days at 25 C, but it may take up to 14 days if you lower the liquid temperature down to 15 C and there is very little benefit. We recommend aiming at 25 C constant liquid temperature.
The basic equipment needed for brewing 40 pints beer from a kit is:
* 25 Litre Fermenting bin + Lid - this is to initially ferment the beer before you bottle or Keg
* Syphon - This is used to Syphon the beer (also known as racking) from one vessel to another, ie from the fermenting bin to keg. See Barrel or Bottle section for more info.
* Hydrometer - This is used to measure the density of the beer before, during and after fermentation so the amount of sugar that is present can be measured and therefore how much alcohol has been produced. See Measuring strength for more detail.
* Paddle - used to stir the liquid when adding the yeast.
* Sterliser - used to ensure all equipment is free from bacteria which may spoil your brew.
* Bottles or Barrels- see this section for more info.
* You will need additional equipment for brewing recipes, including a large pan and strainer. Further equipment is needed for full mash brewing. See Need to Know - Brewing Beer
* 2 x 25 Litre Fermenters & Lids (or 2 x 5 litre) for 6 bottles
* Syphon - as above
* 2 x airlocks - to provide an escape for CO2 but to prevent air getting in
* Thermometer - to measure the temperture
* Hydrometer & Testing Jar - for measuring the alcohol strength - see measuring strength
* Corking Machine - To put corks into bottles
* Corks - to seal bottles
* Shrinks - seal over bottles
* Steriliser - to ensure all equipment if free from bacteria - see sanitation section.
All our delivery charges can be found here.
You can also get a postage quote at the cart area if you enter your postcode/country.
Beer - To make 40 Pints of beer the initial equipment + beer kit will cost you about £59.99. This is for a premium beer kit ie a Woodfordes beer kit. This price can be reduced if you order a more economical kit, saving £5 - £10.
Initial cost - £1.49 perpint
For Subsequent brews you will only need the kit (or ingredients if following a recipe) and depending on what type of kit you use this will cost between £7.99 - £23.
Subsequent cost - 20p - 57p/pint
Wine - To make 30 bottles:
Wine kit £34.49
Total £90.48 (£3.10 per bottle)
Subsequent bottles reusing your equipment
Wine kit £34.49 (£1.15 per bottle)
To make 6 bottles:
Wine Kit £10.99
Total £32.94 (£5.49 per bottle)
Subsequent bottles reusing your equipment
Wine Kit £10.99 (£1.83 per bottle)
Beer - it should take approx 2 - 3 weeks for most beer kits to be ready, this will depend on the temperature it ferments at and how quickly it clears. All beers will improve with age if you can resist drinking them. We usually have 2 or 3 on the go at any one time.
Wine - most wine kits will be ready to drink within 28 days, although like beer they will improve with age, this is even more so with wine. Homemade Country wines may take a lot longer and will greatly improve with age.
Cider - Homemade cider from apples will take 10 months or so to mature. Kits take a couple of months.
Racking is the term used by brewers to describe moving the liquid from one vessel to another. Racking is used to get the liquid off the dead yeast sediment which sits at the bottom of the vessel. A syphon is used so not to disturb the yeast and cloud the liquid.
A small amount sugar or Malt extract is added to the fermented liquid when its bottled or barelled. This then ferments which produces CO2. As the liquid is under pressure the CO2 cannot escape and instead carbonates the liquid, making it fizzy. This is known as priming. See Bottle or Barrel section for more information
This will really depend on the kit. Most Budget and Midrange kits will require additional sugar or malt extract. The Premium kits do not as they already contain all the required sugar from the malt extract.
Most wine kits do not require additional sugar.
Additional sugar or malt extract will be required when bottling or barrelling any drink which is required to be fizzy.
Yes old bottles can be used for beer or wine, just ensure that they are cleaned and sterilised before use. Only use bottles that have previously stored fizzy liquid for any fizzy drinks as they will be able to withstand the pressure without exploding. You can use old coke bottles to store beer if you wish although they are not really suited to long term storage. You also need to be careful if using clear bottles as the sunlight will damage the beer or wine, this is why most bottles are green of brown to protect the drink, although white wine is uneffected by light. We favour glass bottles as they last well and look more professional but its personal choice. See Barrel or Bottle section for more information
Tip - Rinse your bottles after drinking the beer to clear the sediment before its dries hard. This makes cleaning a lot easier later on.
When bottling real ale from a kit e. g. Woodfords Sundew and bearing in mind real ale should not be fizzy, is it best not to add sugar to the bottles?
Although you may not want a fully carbonated ale, you do want some condition which will help lift the flavours in your mouth so you need to prime bottles with a small amount of sugar otherwise you will get a completely flat and lifeless beer.
A yeast starter is a non hopped wort which is used to increase the quanity of healthy yeast cells prior to pitching. They are simple to make, just make up a 10% solution of spraymalt/water (ie 100g/1 litre), boil for 15 mins, cool then they are ready for the yeast. Important - do not use sugar.
Unlike a standard fermentation, its important to get oxygen into the solution prior to pitching and also while fermentation takes place as plenty of oxygen will allow more healthy yeast to be produced. Therefore do not make a starter with an airlock on it. The easiest way to make a starter is to use a Erienmeyer flask which allows you to make up the starter, boil and cool all in the same container which avoids sterilising a seperate container.
Just simply add the yeast once cooled, cover with some foil crimped around the side and leave to ferment for around 48 hrs. Give the starter a good shake everytime you walk past it to get plenty more oxygen in it. Then once its complete, leave to settle before pitching. This will allow the yeast to seperate from the liquid, which can be poured off before you pitch the yeast.
Starters are only required for liquid yeasts where yeast counts need to be increased either due to the age of the yeast or due to high gravity worts or low fermentation temps (ie lagers).
Making up a yeast starter will decrease the lag time (gap before yeast starts working) of any fermentation and therefore it will not hurt to use a small (1 litre) starter prior to pitching any liquid yeast.
No. Although bread yeast will ferment to some extent it will not be tolerent of the alcohol produced and therefore will not ferment fully leaving a sweet, low gravity drink.
I just received my Wyeast smack-pack, and it appears to be puffed up already. Is this an indicator that it has already been activated?
If it is going to be a few days yet until you plan to brew, put the yeast in the refrigerator, which will cool down your yeast and allow it to slow its activity.
Swollen packages are almost always the cause of a small amount of sugar or CO2 being left in solution at the time of packaging. Upon shipment, CO2 can be released from solution or the yeast can consume the sugar and create a small amount of CO2.
Cell autolysis, or cell death can also be a cause of swelling packaged. However, this is only in rare cases where the yeast is exposed to high temperature for an extended amount of time.
We always encourage people to start with a small investment and proceed from there. For this we have developed several kits for the home cheese maker. Our Mozzarella/Ricotta kit is the absolutely easiest way to start because the cheeses are all soft, requiring no aging. .
The popular Basic Hard Cheese Kit is a good way to start if you would like to begin making hard cheeses. (You will need to order coatings for the aged cheeses) This kit contains a mold for forming the cheese. All you need to do is find a jar lid or plate that fits inside and a little weight to place on top. (We do not recommend that beginners buy a press until they have made a few batches this way.)
Home cheese making differs from commercial cheese making in scale and in the need to produce exact duplicate products day after day for retail markets. Commercial cheese makers employ the same raw ingredients as home cheese makers, but their knowledge and experience is much higher. If you wish to sell your cheese, we suggest you start by making simple cheeses, do as much reading as you can and visit cheese makers in your area.