Frankly, we can't wait until Propane is discovered...

Equipment You Will Need

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HEALTH WARNINGS:

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Ensure all plastic items you use - buckets, tubing etc. - are made of food grade plastic. Some plastics which are NOT food grade have carcinogenic properties. Avoid like the plague.

Take great care when using the outdoor burner. Keep the gas tank well away from the heat source and keep kids, pets and inquisitive neighbours at a distance too. Keep an eye on the burn - even a brief gust of wind can extinguish the flame.

All costs and prices, where mentioned, were accurate at the time of writing (March 2007) and because it would be incredibly nerdish to do so, I will not be constantly amending this site to reflect inflation!

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Introduction

How To Use This Site

Equipment You Will Need

DIY Corner

Materials You Will Need

Water Treatment

A Walk Through A Brew

A Few Recipes

Creating Your Own Recipes

Danger - Quicksand!

Frequently Asked Questions

Links and Further Reading

What Is Sensible Mole?

Contact The Head Brewer

A cheap or old bath or beach towel no one wants anymore - this goes on the kitchen floor to soak up the inevitable drips and spills.

Three fermentation buckets with lids - each capable of holding 25 litres.

A long handled spoon - metal is best as plastic ones tend to bend when you're struggling to stir several kilograms of wet grain.

Kitchen weighing scales - capable of weighing anything accurately from 3 grams to 5Kg. Ask The Boss, she may already own a set you can borrow.

A thermometer - capable of giving accurate readings in divisions of one degree Centigrade from about 20 to 100 degrees. A floating thermometer is the best but the most expensive option.

A mash tun - if this sounds complicated don't panic, there's a brilliant ready made one available at a homebrew supply shop near you, or online.

Mash tun insulation - this is simply some stuff to wrap around your mash tun to retain as much heat as possible during the 90 minute long mash. Brewers use anything and everything, from old quilts and coats or blankets, to loft insulation, silver foil, polystyrene, and /or a combination of these things. You're not entering a Fashion Show here so appearance doesn't matter - effectiveness is all. I've used lots of different materials over the years but currently I'm happy using two lagging jackets for a cold water tank which I picked up from a DIY store's Bargain Corner for the princely sum of £3.

A couple of 2 litre jugs - buy your own and keep these exclusively for the purpose of brewing. They only cost a couple of quid and if you rely on using a jug that's already knocking around in the kitchen, Sod's Law dictates that just at the very moment you need to use it, it will be sitting in the fridge, full of custard.

A home made recirculation sprinkler - (See 'DIY Corner' for how to make this).

A home made sparging jug - made from an ordinary plastic jug and a length of food-grade syphon tubing about 8mm in diameter. (See 'DIY Corner' for how to make this).

An enormous pan - capable of holding substantially more liquid than the amount of wort you'll be boiling (because a robust rolling boil produces lots of splashes and you don't want very hot stuff shooting all over the place). These pans can be quite difficult to track down. For some years now I've used a 63 pint (35 litre) capacity Bourgeat Excellence Stockpot and lid from Nisbets, a company specialising in catering equipment. It set me back £101. Not cheap but it's a solid piece of kit that will never need replacing and will come in handy if I ever get into cannibalism. Some brewers insist on buying boiling kettles that have taps in the bottom as they believe opening a tap to extract the boiling wort is safer than what I do, which is jugging it out by hand. Each to their own, but a tap works on a gravity system which means having 25 litres of boiling wort (a) high up somewhere, and (b) splashing into a receptacle from a height ... doesn't sound very safe to me so I prefer my little jug thank you!

 

 

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1903 advertisement which appeared in an American Football game programme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large stockpot - capable of holding about 15 litres.

Outdoors propane gas burner, gas bottle and rubber hose connection - basically you need to get 25 litres of wort to a vigorous rolling boil quickly and keep it there for 90 minutes, so you need an awful lot of heat - hence the need for an outdoors burner. My burner has an output of 11Kw and this is more than sufficient. Just like the enormous pans, these burners used to be hard to source but more and more homebrew supply shops are stocking them. I found mine in a shop that sold eccentric manly things such as sheets of canvas, stout rope and crane hooks. The owner ran the shop as a hobby and consequently only opened when he felt like it and certainly never on a weekend. If he liked the look of you he would regale you for an eternity with tales of how he bartered with the natives to buy redundant gas cylinders from shops in Romanian back streets and bring them back home to Blighty, safe and sound. Unfortunately I have to report that he liked the look of me.

Home made wind shield for gas burner - (See 'DIY Corner' for how to make this).

A large fine straining bag - available from the wine making section of your home brew supply stockist.

An immersion wort chiller with the relevant hose connections - again, this sounds complicated but your home brew supply shop has one waiting for you. (See 'DIY Corner' for details of the relevant hose connections).

A 2 metre length of food-grade syphon tubing - about 8mm in diameter.

A converted Cornelius Keg and CO2 gas cylinder (Optional - you can always bottle your beer instead of having it on 'draft') - Although your home brew supply stockist will be happy to sell you a converted 'Cornie' keg, there are problems with buying CO2 gas cylinders unless you physically turn up at the shop and take them home with you. Most (possibly all) carriers do not like handling gas cylinders so you'll have trouble trying to buy them online or via mail order; and because the cylinders are heavy it's very expensive for customers to post back the empty ones. If you have to travel several miles to go and buy a gas cylinder, as I do, then why not make a day of it - take along a few friends and have a pub crawl, a meal, followed by a few more pints. Just don't forget why you got on the train in the first place!

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A bottle filling stick, brown beer bottles, crown caps and a bottle capper (Optional - not every brewer likes bottled beer) - there’s all sorts of exotic cappers on the market, just buy a sturdy plastic one around the £11 mark and you’re sorted. A fellow brewer once rang me to ask where he could get brown beer bottles from. I told him his local off licence sell them. Not too quick off the mark this bloke, there was a long silence while he took this information in. "Really?" he said, "I never knew they sold empty bottles!" I had to explain to him that they don’t, they sell bottles which come full of beer and in order to use them, the conscientious brewer has to drink the contents. It’s a dirty job but someone... Alternatively have a word with the landlord of your local pub, and ask him if you can rummage around his brown glass recycling bin and take away the contents for your own purposes. A strange mix of disgust, horror and pity will cloud his features before he gives permission. Two points to consider if you take up this course of action: one, never rummage around the bin in the dark, there’s broken glass in there you fool! And two, be warned, the stench emanating from that bin, especially at the height of Summer, is something not even Edgar Allen Poe could do justice to... hold your breath as you go in. Better still, send a friend.

Hydrometer (Optional) - A hydrometer is only needed if you want to get anal about how strong your beer is or if you feel you need to be sure the primary fermentation has ended. Finding and recording the ‘accurate’ strength of your beer seems to be a uniquely British trait as evidenced by the many folk down your local boozer who actually believe there’s a substantial difference between an ABV of 4.1% and 4.3%, for example. A perfectly adequate rule of thumb is to add up the total weight of grains being used in the brew - 3½ Kg will produce, as near as dammit, a beer of 3.5%ABV. 5Kg and you have 5%ABV, more or less. Admittedly this is a rough guide which will be affected by the efficiency of your particular brewing set up, but is there really any need to be accurate? If so, why? As for wanting to be sure the primary fermentation has ended, this is normally a situation arrived at by brewers who THINK primary fermentation has ended by the end of the third day but AGONISE over whether to wait another few hours before transferring the wort over to secondary fermentation. So they take repeated hydrometer readings over a few hours. Whoa, get a life! This problem is solved by making sure the primary fermentation lasts a week; hey presto, you can be sure it’s all done and dusted by then and there’s no need for a hydrometer. (No harm will befall your beer by extending primary to one week, and in fact many American recipes insist on the primary ferment to be much longer than this.)

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