In my last post I mentioned that I was going to make some Mexican Cerveza to use up the surplus of Tahitian limes that I have on my tree. Well, today was the perfect day to make beer (amongst other things). The Sun was shining and it was warmer than normal for a winters day. I had a few cans of Home brew mix in the shed, so as the home brew making workshop for the Melton Sustainable Living Group is only a week away, I needed a demo brew to show everyone how to bottle the beer. I will then make a batch straight afterwards so that they see the entire process, albeit in the reverse order.
So, after a bit of tidying up, the shed was clean enough to make beer in, I got stuck into the process. I used one of the Coopers Mexican Cerveza kit brews and their recommended Brew enhancer and added it to the sterilised barrel. I then added 3 litres of boiling water and stirred well to dissolve the sugars and malt. I topped it up to 21 litres with rainwater from the tank. The temperature needed to be between 21-27C before I pitched the yeast, however as the wort was still well below 21C I added two extra litres of boiling water which brought it up to 24C.
I then pitched the yeast, stirred well, then fitted the lid and airlock. As the night time temps have been getting down to around 5C, I needed to keep the brew at a constant temperature to ensure a pleasant finished flavour and so that the yeast wouldn't go to sleep (as it does) at night time. I had just the solution! I found an old electric blanket for a babies cot that I had stashed away and wrapped it around the barrel. I find that the lowest setting on the blanket keeps the brew at around 24C and it only uses 40 watts of electricity. I have used this method a long time ago, and this is the first time I have brewed in Winter since I restarted making beer a few years ago so I am glad I kept the electric blanket for a rainy day (in this case, a sunny one).
Now, every good Cerveza needs to look authentic in clear glass bottles, so I have been saving commercial beer bottles for the last six months. They were easy enough to clean, even though many of them had the remanents of a wedge of lime in the bottom. A good scrub with some soapy water and a bottle brush, and a post-rinse with hot water with about 100ml of white vinegar to remove any remaining soap, they look like new. Great reuse if you ask me.
I only have 46 bottles, but really need 60 for this batch. I will just have to use my normal brown PET beer bottles for the remainder. I bet you thought I was going to say that I would have to drink more beer to get the empty bottles! Got you.
By the end of the week I have to source a hand capper so I can put crown seals on the bottles when full. I didn't have any luck finding one today at the shopping centre, so will have to hunt around the city tomorrow during lunch time. I don't usually use crown seals, because the PET bottles just have a screw-on plastic like a soft drink bottle.
I am hoping that the beer is fully fermented by Saturday for the workshop, which gives it 6 days for the brew to be ready. I believe that at a nice warm temp of 24C it should brew out in 4 days and have 2 days to settle. I don't quite know how I am going to get lots of people into the shed to watch the demo, so I might have to move it all out the outside undercover area on a trestle table. Kim will be videoing the entire workshop, so we will have some footage posted up on YouTube next Sunday. I am looking forward to showing everyone in the Sustainable Living group how to make beer.
Maybe a few might even take it up as a hobby, and we can have beer appreciation afternoons. Now that would make for a fun meeting!