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Last post Author Topic: Homebrewing  (Read 13959 times)

Renegade

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Homebrewing
« on: July 12, 2014, 07:50:31 PM »
So, to continue a chat about brewing your own booze at home...

Spinning off from the recipe thread here:

http://www.donationc....msg359199#msg359199

Also thinking of trying for a honey-ginger mead...hmm...

I'm thinking about adding in some organic honey that hasn't been filtered to death for my next batch of ginger ale. The more complex sugars aren't so easily broken down and should mitigate the extreme dryness that you get when making ginger ale like I described in the post linked above.

I've not used honey in anything like this before. Honey adds a distinctive flavour, so you need to be careful.

I mentioned the dryness of ginger ale to the fellow at the brew store and he mentioned using stevia, but stevia has a very strong after-taste and I'm not very fond of it. I tried it in coffee before, but it's just not very nice (malt extract is nicer as it has a smoother taste compared to the sharper stevia flavour). He also mentioned honey, which is certainly more agreeable than stevia.

I also picked up a "Chimay Blue" kit the other day. It uses 2 cans of malt extract, which is quite a bit.

One other thing I'm thinking of trying is just using the regular malt extract that I buy at the supermarket to create a beer. Lord knows how it will turn out, but it's worth a shot. I like the idea of using non-specialty ingredients or commonly available ingredients.
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mouser

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2014, 08:01:43 PM »
Back in the 1980s I made a ton of beer and mead.  I have to say that the mead was the most satisfying -- only because as good as the beer was, and as fun as it was to make, it didn't rival the best store bought beer.

But the cranberry mead I made felt like something really special.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 10:06:46 PM by mouser »

Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 09:42:28 PM »
I have to say that the mead was the most satisfying -- only because as good as the beer was, and as fun as it was to make, it didn't rival the best store bought beer.

Really? I'm pretty shocked.

I brewed up a white beer and drank it raw because it was so good even at that stage. Warm. That good. Mind-blowingly good. No bottling or secondary fermentation.

I find most beer from the store is pretty poor in comparison to what I can do at home (from my limited experience). But, I have a high tolerance for sediment too.

But the cranberry mead I made felt like something really special.

Hmm... cranberry... I love fruity drinks! :D (Living in SE Asia was heaven!) You've got me wondering if I can pull off some simple fruit batches. I wonder what a durian drink would be like...

I'm going to have to have a go at brewing some mead. I really never considered it until both you and 40hz mentioned it. Mead I find rather sweet, and I tend towards a more moderate sweetness with a rich texture, e.g. stout or brown ale.

Now I'm wondering if I can do it in a very small batch of just a few bottles... should be doable... Cheesecloth over the bottle with a rubber band...

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Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2014, 08:08:07 AM »
Got a batch started today of a Chimay recipe. Tomorrow I might get a batch of ginger ale going. Still mulling over whether to do it with an ale or a champagne yeast...
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sword

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2014, 05:03:27 PM »
Small batch processing is easy using a gallon jug or several champagne bottles. Use a fermentation lock for best results or some plastic tubing from stoppers at the top all going to somewhere under some water in a container. Champagne yeast is foolproof and excellent for every fruit I've tried. Vierka (German company) had a very good yeast but I have not used it in years. If you have access to a brewing supply store, there are many gallon concentrate cans that are excellent. Corn sugar works well.

mouser

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2014, 05:17:42 PM »
I want to tell you a story about my early days of homebrewing.

This was back in about 1986-1988, that range.

I was walking around the house distracted and not looking where i was going, and our cat ran in front of me and i stepped on the cat.

A cat owner's worst nightmare then occurred -- I heard the cat's bones break under my feet.   I looked down to see blood on my foot and my stomach tightened up and I felt physically ill and started to panic about what had just happened.
Then I saw the cat out of the corner of my eye, and it was just sitting there looking at me, in no apparent pain.
Then I looked down again at my foot, and I saw what had happened.  That damn cat had finally figured out a way to get the glass fermentation lock+stopper off the 5-gallon beer fermenting in the pantry, and had been dragging it around with her and she dragged it right under my foot.  Sure enough I had cut myself on the fermentation lock.

So learn from me: Do not let your cats go near your brewing containers!

40hz

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2014, 07:24:37 PM »
So learn from me: Do not let your cats go near your brewing containers!

Or your servers, or your laptop, or your guitar amps, or keyboards, or your basket of clean clothes, or... ;D

40hz

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2014, 08:07:57 PM »
I have to say that the mead was the most satisfying -- only because as good as the beer was, and as fun as it was to make, it didn't rival the best store bought beer.

Really? I'm pretty shocked.

Me too! :tellme: I've found most decent homebrews are better than 90% of what you can buy. About the only exception is Guinness. If you like Guinness (I do) there is nothing that really quite matches the taste or texture of that brew - which is what makes it Guinness.

Quote
I brewed up a white beer and drank it raw because it was so good even at that stage. Warm. That good. Mind-blowingly good. No bottling or secondary fermentation.


There are many brewers who like a sample of their bathes "raw." And sweet wort is like candy before it's hopped. Even non-beer drinkers like it. I'm surprised nobody bottles it for sale.


Quote
I'm going to have to have a go at brewing some mead. I really never considered it until both you and 40hz mentioned it. Mead I find rather sweet, and I tend towards a more moderate sweetness with a rich texture, e.g. stout or brown ale.

Now I'm wondering if I can do it in a very small batch of just a few bottles... should be doable... Cheesecloth over the bottle with a rubber band...



I'm an ale/double-bock/porter/barley wine type myself. I like my quaff complex tasting but with a touch of sweetness (like a good Scotch ale), amber or darker in color, and with a goodly amount of body. If a spoon almost stands up in it, it's perfect. And if any pond life is swimming around in it, it's a real plus in my book!

FWIW I try to make things you can't get (or get easily) in a store. Why duplicate what's available when there are so many good craft beers available for sale? I go for the more exotic brews when I'm cooking something up for bottling.

As far as small batches go - I'm a believer. I've found smaller batches are easier to make and more reliable in outcome since it's hard to control temperatures accurately on the average home stove when boiling and hopping. And also tricky to sterilize a lot of bottles at once. I think 5 gallons is the absolute limit - and I've found about 2 to 3 gallons is the ideal batch size for a single brew project. I'm also not a big drinker - nor do I have a lot of available cellaring space. And I like to have two or three different brews available at any given time. So I try not to make more of a single brew than I and my fellow homebrew lovers can consume in a reasonable amount of time. If it's something I really like, I'll just make it more often.

But everybody has their own ideas and ways to do it. So take all of this with a sip of ale. ;D

I'd also suggest taking a look at the American Homebrewers Association. They have a wealth of solid information. And you don't need to be a member to get good info from them - although a membership is inexpensive and gets you full access to everything they have. They even have a beginner's mead how-to here.

They just published an 'official' mead recipe (August 2 is Mead Day!) that looks good. I notice it uses Lalvin K1V-1116 Montpellier yeast which is found in a lot of grape-based recipes I've seen. I haven't used this particular yeast myself, but I've heard other local brewers sing its praises. It supposedly produces a drier brew in fairly short order - so if sweet isn't your thing in a mead - maybe this recipe and yeast is worth looking at. If you start it about now you can crack it for Christmas - although I've found the type of meads I prefer need a good year of racking before they're really worth drinking.

 :Thmbsup:

 :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: July 20, 2014, 08:23:03 PM by 40hz »

Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2014, 08:13:25 PM »
Small batch processing is easy using a gallon jug or several champagne bottles. Use a fermentation lock for best results or some plastic tubing from stoppers at the top all going to somewhere under some water in a container. Champagne yeast is foolproof and excellent for every fruit I've tried. Vierka (German company) had a very good yeast but I have not used it in years. If you have access to a brewing supply store, there are many gallon concentrate cans that are excellent. Corn sugar works well.

I've only got the 1 fermenter, and I didn't want to buy bungs & locks as we'll be moving in the near future and they'd just get thrown out. At the moment it is gurgling nicely. :)

So.... the current plan is to simply cover the bottles with cloth & a rubber band. Not ideal, but it should do well enough.

I'm not sure what brands the yeasts are - I simply got what was available at the brew store on a recommendation from the shop keeper.

I probably should have picked up a clarifying agent, but, meh... I'm ok with sediment.

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40hz

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2014, 08:20:42 PM »
I'm not sure what brands the yeasts are - I simply got what was available at the brew store on a recommendation from the shop keeper.

If you have a good store in your area, it's smart to ask their advice. I do at mine. They haven't steered me wrong yet. And why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?  8)

However, if you're really into it, at least keep a notebook. It's a big help. Trust me.

I probably should have picked up a clarifying agent, but, meh... I'm ok with sediment.

It's ok by me too. I'll just leave half an inch in the bottom of my glass - and dump it if it's too sludgy. I can always get another glass if I want more.

Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2014, 08:48:08 PM »
There are many brewers who like a sample of their bathes "raw." And sweet wort is like candy before it's hopped. Even non-beer drinkers like it. I'm surprised nobody bottles it for sale.

Very! I had a taste of it before hopping yesterday. "Candy" is an appropriate description.

In bad news, the local supermarket has dropped malt extract from the shelves... sigh... my coffee just isn't the same.

I'm an ale/double-bock/porter/barley wine type myself. I like my quaff complex tasting but with a touch of sweetness (like a good Scotch ale), amber or darker in color, and with a goodly amount of body. If a spoon almost stands up in it, it's perfect. And if any pond life is swimming around in it, it's a real plus in my book!


Hahaha! "Pond life!" :D


FWIW I try to make things you can't get (or get easily) in a store. Why duplicate what's available when there are so many good craft beers available for sale? I go for the more exotic brews when I'm cooking something up for bottling.


I'm still in the learning curve, but eventually I'll figure it out well enough so that I can just go crazy and brew exotic experiments.

I do look forward to experimenting with fruit though. I love fruit juice, and living in SE Asia was heavenly. Soursop, pineapple, coconut, mango, star apple, etc. etc. I can imagine making some very tasty drinks!


I'd also suggest taking a look at the American Homebrewers Association. They have a wealth of solid information. And you don't need to be a member to get good info from them - although a membership is inexpensive and gets you full access to everything they have. They even have a beginner's mead how-to here.

They just published an 'official' mead recipe (August 2 is Mead Day!) that looks good. I notice it uses Lalvin K1V-1116 Montpellier yeast which is found in a lot of grape-based recipes I've seen. I haven't used this particular yeast myself, but I've heard other local brewers sing its praises. It supposedly produces a drier brew in fairly short order - so if sweet isn't your thing in a mead - maybe this recipe and yeast is worth looking at. If you start it about now you can crack it for Christmas - although I've found the type of meads I prefer need a good year of racking before they're really worth drinking.

Ah! Thanks for the links! I've read through some recipes and whatnot, and have a few more answers to things I was wondering.

For now I'm being fairly conservative in my beer brewing. The ginger ale is all just one big experiment though. My first batch was really, really, really dry. Like, Sahara dry.
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Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2014, 08:54:48 PM »
If you have a good store in your area, it's smart to ask their advice. I do at mine. They haven't steered me wrong yet. And why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?  8)

I'm an info-leech. :) They know a heck of a lot more than I do, so, might as well pick their brains!

There's one good store relatively nearby... not close, but... driveable.

http://www.liquorcraft.com.au/

There may be more, but Brewcraft seems good. They've got all kinds of goodies there! :)

However, if you're really into it, at least keep a notebook. It's a big help. Trust me.

Once we finally move, I'll start keeping track better.

It's ok by me too. I'll just leave half an inch in the bottom of my glass - and dump it if it's too sludgy. I can always get another glass if I want more.

When I bottle, I try to get a variety of different amounts of sediment in the bottles. Makes life a bit more interesting. e.g. Oooh! I wonder what this will be like! :)
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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2014, 10:09:26 PM »
Quote
I have to say that the mead was the most satisfying -- only because as good as the beer was, and as fun as it was to make, it didn't rival the best store bought beer.

>Really? I'm pretty shocked.


you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.

Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2014, 10:21:37 PM »
I want to tell you a story about my early days of homebrewing.

This was back in about 1986-1988, that range.

I was walking around the house distracted and not looking where i was going, and our cat ran in front of me and i stepped on the cat.

A cat owner's worst nightmare then occurred -- I heard the cat's bones break under my feet.   I looked down to see blood on my foot and my stomach tightened up and I felt physically ill and started to panic about what had just happened.
Then I saw the cat out of the corner of my eye, and it was just sitting there looking at me, in no apparent pain.
Then I looked down again at my foot, and I saw what had happened.  That damn cat had finally figured out a way to get the glass fermentation lock+stopper off the 5-gallon beer fermenting in the pantry, and had been dragging it around with her and she dragged it right under my foot.  Sure enough I had cut myself on the fermentation lock.

So learn from me: Do not let your cats go near your brewing containers!

That kind of stuff just makes me cringe.

Quote
I have to say that the mead was the most satisfying -- only because as good as the beer was, and as fun as it was to make, it didn't rival the best store bought beer.

>Really? I'm pretty shocked.


you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.

Guinness is tough to compete against. Kilkenny as well. There are a few store-bought beers that are really, really good. But the majority just don't compare to what you can do at home.

I certainly would love to know how to brew something better than Guinness...

But it's not hard to brew a beer that you can drink warm. That's really a solid test of a great beer - can you drink it warm? Guinness is fine warm. Bud Light? Not so much. :)
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Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2014, 10:33:09 PM »
you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.

Oh... 1 other angle... The current batch that I'm brewing will cost about 1/10th as much as it would cost in the store. So, there's that angle. How good is it compared to how much it costs?

When comparing costs, I think you have a much stronger case for homebrewing rather than store-bought beer.

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IainB

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2014, 04:10:20 AM »
...you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.
Tricky. Home-brewers don't have ready access to what would (for them) probably be a relatively expensive nitrogen infusion process.

Renegade

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2014, 08:47:26 AM »
...you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.
Tricky. Home-brewers don't have ready access to what would (for them) probably be a relatively expensive nitrogen infusion process.

Well, you learn something every day! I did wonder how Guinness got that rich head, and I did wonder a bit about widgets, but never really enough to bother looking it up when I could simply taste it. :)

But it appears that it's not really all that expensive. Yes - more than pocket change, and certainly an investment, but not unaffordable.

Looks like they can be had relatively cheaply (under $300):

http://www.kegoutlet...w-nitrogen-kits.html
http://www.homebrewi...g-Systems_c_413.html

But, there is other equipment that you need to use with those. So, doable if you're into it that much.

I won't be trying it out for a while though. We'll be moving, and I'm avoiding buying anything that I'll have to transport that I don't have to have 110%. I would love to give it a spin though. Sounds like fun!

...you show me how to brew a beer better than a pint of Guinness poured from a bar tap and I'll eat my hat.

Does that include home bar taps? ;D
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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2014, 12:57:20 PM »
Since war stories seem to be in order and you're going back to the "old" days there are caveats you should be aware of.
Back in the old, old days, during WWII, I was a teenage high school student. Money was hard to come by and a case of 24 bottles of beer was $3.00, as I recall. Bootleggers and home brewers were trying to quench the thirst of a gang of "deprived" teenagers and the usual indulgers in the area.
It came New Years Eve........ of course we had a party planned!
My girlfriend was the barbers daughter, the barber made beer and wine. His oldest son was also a barber and he made beer.
The son lived, and worked, in a town about 20 miles away. This was up on the Canadian border and it was New Years Eve! The snow was butt deep to a tall Indian and with the Northern Lights and all, it was a beautiful night for a party.
Us teenagers pooled our money, headed for the country market where the guy would sell alcohol to minors, spent what we had pooled on "long necks" of Ballantines and pressed on to the son's home some 20 miles away.
Long story short.......... we finished what we had purchased long before New Years arrived leaving us the only alternative of sampling the almost 15 gallons of home brew that my girlfriend's brother had brewing. He informed us that it wasn't quite ready but we were welcome to try it!
Coffee cups were produced and we started dipping into the five gallon crocks he used for brewing vessels.
He was right...... the beer wasn't quite ready but it was drinkable, we had nothing else, and it was New Years Eve.
Several hours later and following the consumption of all the home brew we could drink, the party broke up.
As we stepped outside someone noted the fact that it had snowed several inches while we enjoyed drinking Hermie's beer.
Inches of new powder on top of several feet of old snow. Everything covered with fresh snow..... cars, trees, bushes, driveway.
A beautiful night!
BUT!
As we chatted away, heading across the snow covered porch, Hermie's wife, standing in the open doorway, flicked on the porch light to light our way to the car. Hermie hadn't given it a second  thought when he installed one of those yellow "bug lights" in the porch light. When the light came on it seemed to light up a half acre......... of MUSTARD!
All that snow was the color of French's finest mustard........... tons of it! As we looked around someone exclaimed "MUSTARD" and it was like somebody just uncorked that home brew.......
Home brew goes a long ways when spread over fresh snow, especially when mixed with chips, peanuts, various dips and chunks of cheese. The landscape changed in an instant................ and I'll never forget it!
So beware my friends, and never drink "not done" home brew. It may result in memories that you "can't" forget.

 ;)

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2014, 01:10:09 PM »
As much as I love Guinness, if I were to start brewing, the first target on my wishlist would be a German pils like Wernesgruner. I can already get the real thing (at Aldi) for barely more than Budweiser would cost. As a result I've never been particularly motivated.
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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2014, 01:41:10 PM »
I always thought of home-brewing as being about making a bottled beer (but maybe I'm wrong). Good Guinness on draught is a drink I grew up with and love, but bottled beer is simply a different world - there's such an incredible world of variety out there.

Tom

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2014, 04:12:36 PM »
http://food-hacks.wo...isnt-enough-0156372/

There's a couple of posts about beer at wonderhowto written by a "girl"!
Do girls know anything about beer???

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2014, 06:00:17 PM »
...a case of 24 bottles of beer was $3.00

A case! The cheapest beer here is $3.00 a bottle on sale! A bottle of Chimay is $25.00 for 1 bottle. 1. One. A single.  :o

But, the vintners here are very good, and much better priced, so, I primarily drink wine when I pick up something at the store.

I always thought of home-brewing as being about making a bottled beer (but maybe I'm wrong). Good Guinness on draught is a drink I grew up with and love, but bottled beer is simply a different world - there's such an incredible world of variety out there.

I've seen a few vids on kegging homebrew, so making your own draught beer is an option. I don't have a keg - just bottles, so I won't be trying that out for a while yet. But, draught beer really is a lot nicer than bottled. And whoever thought that putting beer in cans was a good idea... well, maybe for a few specific purposes, but cans just suck... Even for regular soda cans suck. Glass has a neutral flavour.

http://food-hacks.wo...isnt-enough-0156372/

There's a couple of posts about beer at wonderhowto written by a "girl"!
Do girls know anything about beer???

From the article:

Quote
However, if you're serving bad beer, you might want to get it as cold as possible—almost like a slushy. That way you're less likely to get complaints because no one will be able to tell.

If you can drink it at room temperature, it's goooood. :)

When I was a kid, the father of a close friend of mine was a senior grand master wine maker, and we spent a good deal of time with him getting an education on the finer points of wine and the like. He completely spoiled my pallet for wine - his wine's were simply so good that there was no point in trying to buy a wine in the store any longer unless you wanted to be disappointed. But... backstory aside... I remember him once talking about how coldness masks low quality in beer. It's true - try drinking Bud warm... it's like drinking warm piss. Oh... got a story about that, but, maybe later. :P
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Cuffy

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2014, 07:02:33 PM »
..." I remember him once talking about how coldness masks low quality in beer. It's true - try drinking Bud warm... it's like drinking warm piss. Oh... got a story about that, but, maybe later."

I got to go skiing in the alps and stayed in various hotels in Switzerland back in the early 60's (military assignment in southern Italy) In the hotel dining rooms there always seemed to be several older guys drinking beer and their steins always had a container that looked much like a Cuban cigar case, made of aluminum, with a little clip on the side. The waitress was continually dumping that little tube of water and refilling it with hot water from her teakettle.
I was a big beer drinker in those days and the thought of putting an aluminum container full of hot water in a glass of beer was positively revolting. A look around convinced me that they were permanent residents of the hotel and were perhaps demented or alzheimers  patients. At the time I had no idea that warm beer was quite common in Europe............. yeakk! :down:




Stoic Joker

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2014, 11:45:10 AM »
it's like drinking warm piss. Oh... got a story about that, but, maybe later.

You got a story about drinking warm piss?!? O_o ...Was this during a trip to Brazil by chance??

40hz

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Re: Homebrewing
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2014, 02:15:22 PM »
it's like drinking warm piss. Oh... got a story about that, but, maybe later.

You got a story about drinking warm piss?!? O_o ...Was this during a trip to Brazil by chance??


I soooooo do not want to hear this story! :P