Brewing Cerveza

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!


  1. says

    @ Dixiebelle,

    I am making cider on Saturday from a kit if that takes your fancy. It should be on the video that I post on Sunday

    @ Mike

    It doesn’t stay in the bottle long enough to go off!

    @ Brenda

    Should give it a go, it is fun and easy to make

    @ Debbie

    Do you still make beer?

    @ Dad,

    Where do you think I got the skills from, old man? I remember your version of Real Ale, it was always great to drink


  2. john (dad) says

    looking good gav. im sure youll have some for me to taste when we come your way.i brewed beer for 20 odd years and it was good fun.

  3. says

    The big downside of PET bottles is that air does find its way through the walls of the bottles, so shortens the shelf-life of your beer. Then, too, I like the re-usability of glass 😉

    Hmmm… time to brew again!

  4. says

    Add brewing to the list of skills we wish to learn!! Though might have to be ginger beer for my coeliac husband… but for me, aah, a nice cold beer on a hot afternoon after gardening and working all day, THAT is the goods!

    Limes also go well in an ‘Aussie Mule’ cocktail (vodka, ginger beer and lime on ice) or Pork & Lime patties go great on a BBQ too!! (Bring on Summer!!)

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