Balliihoo Homebrew
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Q) Can I make wine with my beer making equipment?

A) The quick answer is YES, most kits can be used to make beer, cider or wine. Many wine recipes will use demijohns but a food grade bucket will do the same job, the main difference being that you will require a second container as wine will need to be "racked off" often more than once. With most beer kits you will ferment in the bucket and then syphon straight to barrel or bottles, with wine you will rack off leaving sediment behind and may need to repeat this several times so you will need more than one food grade bucket or demijohn.

Q) Can I re-use my Screw Top Wine Bottles?

A) Yes, you can re-use Screw Top Wine Bottles by using Novatwist Screw Caps (pack of 12) Fits most screw top wine bottles with a 30mm diameter top. Simply push on and screw to seal. No extra tool needed. The shroud is tamper evident and remains on the bottle when the cap is unscrewed.

Q) Can I use Wine Corks in screw cap wine bottles?

A) Not recommended as screw cap bottles have thinner glass around the neck. The force used to insert the cork may crack the bottle plus the necks of these bottles tend to be slightly wider resulting in a poor seal and potential wine spoilage.

Q) How strong will my beer be?

A) As with any home brew kits, the percentage of alcohol is determined by the quantity of ingredients in relation to the quantity of water.
So if you make a typical 1.7kg single tin beer kit and 1Kg Sugar up to 40 pints, you will achieve approx 4.5 % abv, regardless of the variety.
If you would like this stronger, simply add more sugar/enhancer, decrease the amount of water, or a combination of the two.
If you were to make this kit to 32 pints with an extra 1/2 kilo of sugar, you should achieve around 5.5% to 6% abv.

Q) How strong will my wine be?

A) As with any home wine kits, the percentage of alcohol is determined by the quantity of ingredients in relation to the quantity of water.
So if you make a typical wine kit and follow the instructions, you will achieve approx 11% - 12% abv, regardless of the variety. If you would like this stronger, simply add more sugar or Grape Juice Concentrate, or decrease the amount of water, or a combination of the two.

Q) How to insert my Balliihoo Traditional Champagne Cork?

A) These mushroom shaped Champagne Corks are designed to be inserted into most standard Champagne Bottles with a 17mm - 19mm top diameter by either pushing them in by hand or gently tapping them in with a rubber mallet. They can be secured with the champagne cage/wire. Champagne Foil Capsules can be added for a truly professional finish.

Q) What is Brewing Sugar?

A) Brewing Sugar is Dextrose (often called Dextrose Monohydrate) It ferments easier than regular Granulated Sugar (Sucrose), and so increases yield and gives cleaner flavours.

Here's The Technical Part! - Household Granulated Sugar is Sucrose (which is a Disaccharide) Brewing Sugar is a (Monosaccharide - so only has one molecule of Glucose) - Whilst both are 100% fermentable, because Brewing Sugar only has the one Glucose Molecule, yeast can go straight to work fermenting, whereas with the Household Granulated Sugar (2 Glucose Molecules) the yeast has some additional work to do first, in breaking down the bonds of the sugar molecules, which it does using an enzyme called invertase.

Q) Can I Freeze Glass Bottles And Jars?

A) We do NOT recommend the use of glass bottles or jars for freezing, this is because whatever you have inside your jar or bottle will swell and increase in size during the freezing process, and the glass can then be prone to breaking. If you must freeze glass, it is essential that you leave a large enough gap (certainly well below the shoulder of your jar or bottle) 

Q)  What equipment do I need to start homebrewing?

A)  To start homebrewing, you'll require essential equipment, including a fermenter, airlock, siphon, sanitisers, bottles or a pressure barrel.
The Balliihoo Homebrewing Starter Kits are the most convenient way to obtain these as they include all the equipment necessary to begin Homebrewing.

Q) Can you explain the basic steps of the homebrewing process?

A) The homebrewing process involves several key steps. For those using beer kits, the process typically begins with mixing the extract from the tin with water; followed by fermentation, where yeast is introduced to convert sugars into alcohol; conditioning; and finally, bottling. Each step is crucial in shaping the beer's flavour and using kits simplifies the brewing process, making it more accessible for beginners.

Q) How do I choose the right type of beer to brew as a beginner?

A) As a beginner, it's advisable to start with beer styles like pale ales or stouts as these styles are forgiving and allow you to become familiar with the brewing process. However, if you enjoy drinking beer, it’s advisable to choose a beer kit that you’ll enjoy! Experimenting with different beer kits will help you discover your preferences.

Q) What ingredients are essential for homebrewing beer?

A) Essential ingredients for homebrewing beer include malt extract, hops, yeast, and water.
Many of our Beer Kits include all the ingredients necessary to brew beer in one box! 

Q) How long does the homebrewing process typically take from start to finish?

A) The homebrewing process usually takes between 2 to 4 weeks, depending on factors such as the beer style and fermentation conditions. Patience is essential for achieving a well-developed and satisfying flavour. Bottling a beer before fermentation has finished can have some very undesirable effects! You have been warned!

Q) What are some common mistakes to avoid in homebrewing?

A) Common mistakes in homebrewing include issues with sanitation, inadequate temperature control, bottling/barrelling before fermentation is complete and not following recipe instructions. Follow the instructions to the letter! Keep everything as clean as possible! The hydrometer is the only surefire way to know that fermentation has been completed. Just because the airlock has stopped bubbling doesn’t mean that it has finished fermenting, likewise, if it isn’t bubbling it doesn’t mean there is no fermentation taking place!

Q) How do I control the fermentation temperature during the brewing process?

A) To control fermentation temperature, a brew belt or heat pad is the most useful piece of equipment to raise the fermentation temperature in the winter. In the summer, consider brewing in the coolest room in your house. Every Balliihoo Fermentation Bucket has a temperature strip on the side so you can easily check on the temperature of your brew!

Q) What are the differences between beer kits and all-grain methods?

A) Beer kits simplify the process by using malt extract, making them suitable for beginners. In contrast, all-grain methods involve mashing grains for more control over the brewing process. Kits offer simplicity, while all-grain brewing allows for advanced customisation. We would advise that beginners get comfortable with brewing from a kit before moving on to all-grain brewing.

Q) What is the cause of off-flavours in my homebrewed beer?

A) The main causes of off-flavours in homebrewed beer can include poorly sanitised equipment, impure water, and fermentation in too hot, or too cold environments. With Chlorine and Sodium metabisulphite-based sterilisation solutions, it is important to thoroughly rinse before brewing to avoid impurities. No Rinse Steriliser is also available.
With regards to impure water, using bottled supermarket water instead of tap water can make a difference, also water treatment solutions such as Harris Pure Brew can be helpful. 

Q) Where can I find recipes for All Grain Brewing?

A) Recipes for All Grain Brewing can be found in books such as  Brewing Beer like those you buy by Dave Line, and  Real Ales for the Homebrewer by Marc Ollossen.  Alternatively, the Grainfather App (which doesn’t require owning a Grainfather) is extremely useful when it comes to finding all-grain recipes. 

Q) What's the significance of water chemistry in homebrewing, and how can I adjust it?

A) Water chemistry plays a crucial role in homebrewing, impacting taste and overall beer quality. You can adjust water chemistry by using additives such as Harris Pure Brew or choosing pure water sources such as supermarket water instead of tap water. We also sell PH Indicator Paper so you can ensure your water is neutral and suitable for brewing.

Q) Are there any specific sanitation practices I should follow during the brewing process?

A) Maintaining good sanitation practices is important before beginning to brew. There are three types of sanitiser: Chlorine-based (VWP and Vinclasse Cleaner Steriliser), Sodium Metabisulphite, and Sodium Percarbonate (Vinclasse No Rinse Steriliser)

Chlorine-based Steriliser is usually the cheapest option but requires careful rinsing to not contaminate the brew. Sodium Percarbonate is more expensive, but requires no rinsing and is incredibly safe to use (it is often used to sterilise baby bottles).

Q) Can you recommend a good yeast strain for a traditional British ale?

A) For a traditional British ale, consider yeast strains like Vinclasse Premium Beer/Ale Yeast, Safale S-04, or Lallemand Danstar Windsor and Nottingham Yeasts These strains contribute to the characteristic flavours of British ales.

Q) How do I carbonate my beer effectively after fermentation?

A)  After fermentation, effective carbonation can be achieved by adding half a teaspoon of priming sugar, or 2x Carbonation Drops to each bottle of beer whilst bottling, or between 80g and 130g of sugar before barrelling.  This sugar creates a secondary fermentation producing carbon dioxide, creating natural carbonation.

Q) What are the key considerations when designing a homebrew recipe?

A) When designing a homebrew recipe, consider factors such as malt and hop selection, yeast choice, target gravity, and desired flavour profile. Having experience following several different recipes will give you a general sense of flavour and quantities and experimenting with different combinations will help refine your brewing skills.

Q) Is it possible to brew a gluten-free beer at home, and if so, how?

A) Brewing gluten-free beer at home is possible using gluten-free grains like rice or millet and select gluten-free yeast. Harris Glut Gone can also be used to significantly reduce Gluten levels to below 20 ppm in Beers brewed with barley and wheat. Ensure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned to avoid cross-contamination.

Q) How do I scale a recipe for a smaller or larger batch of beer?

A) Scaling a recipe involves adjusting ingredient quantities proportionally. In my experience, the Grainfather App is the best free tool to allow this, as it will scale any recipe automatically for any brewing equipment. 

Q) Can you share tips on creating custom labels for my homebrewed beer bottles?

A) Creating custom labels for homebrewed beer is all part of the fun of brewing (apart from drinking it!). Balliihoo A4 Dry Gummed Label Paper allows you to easily design labels on your PC, either using the website, or on any word processor or desktop publishing program. The paper is large enough to print 4 wine labels, or 6 beer labels, and once cut out, can be stuck onto the bottles with just a dab of water (similar to the old style stamps).