Hammersmith Homebrew Supplies, Latham, NY

Joe's Helpful Tips

Preventing the Boil Over

Before starting your stock pot, fill a small pot of cold water and keep separately to the side. When you are creating your boil in the stock pot, pour some of the cold water into the boil in your stock pot. This will reduce the boil and prevent it from boiling over. 

Adding Malt Extract

Malt extract may scorch the bottom of the brew pot, and care needs to be taken to avoid that. Scorching caramelizes the malt, and this will change the flavor and color of the beer. When adding malt extract to the boiling water, turn off the heat under the brew pot. Make sure the malt extract is stirred in thoroughly before turning on the heat again. During the boil, stir periodically to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pot. Try stirring with a metal spoon so you can tell if the malt extract is sticking to the bottom of the pot. It's hard to tell with a plastic or wooden spoon, but with a metal spoon you can feel the metal-to-metal contact on the bottom of the pot. 

Adding Priming Sugar

When fermentation is complete, you are ready to bottle your beer. In a separate pot, mix 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of priming sugar. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Pour this sugar mixture into your bottling bucket before you add the beer. Transfer all the beer to the bottling bucket and mix well with the sugar mixture.

The Secret to a Successful Brew - Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize!

Often finding their way into our homebrew are unwanted micro-organisms ruining our hard work. It is always important to start the process with clean and sanitized equipment. Cleaning is the process of removing all the dirt and grime from the surface, thereby removing all the sites that can harbor bacteria. A little dish detergent and elbow grease usually takes care of this. Then, when it comes to actually ridding brewing equipment and the environment around the brewery of germs, a sterilizer must be used. Sanitizers are meant to be used on clean surfaces. Their ability to kill micro-organisms is reduced by the presence of dirt, grime or organic material present on the surface being sanitized. These organic deposits can harbor bacteria and shield the equipment from being reached by the sanitizer. So it is up to you to make sure the surface of the item to be sanitized is as clean as possible. We carry several, inexpensive sanitizers.

Think you should rinse the sanitizer off the equipment? Think again.

Rinsing the tap water actually negates any prior sanitation measures as it still contains bacteria. Most chemical sanitizers do not need to be rinsed off prior to using the equipment (Please read the packet instructions!). Brewing equipment does not even need to be allowed to drip dry if the stated concentrations are used. Simply allow the majority to drain off and then use the sanitized items. If you still feel the need to rinse, use boiled water.

Having trouble removing those pesky labels from your bottles?

Try a mixture of one half cup ammonia to 3 gallons of water. Soak your plagued bottles over night and voala....easy removal in the morning!

Cool and dark is best for storing wine.

Wine is prone to deteriorate with exposure to bright light. Therefore, maturing wine should ideally be stored in a dark, cool place whose temperature remains, constant 55-75F is ideal. What damages a wine is RAPID and FREQUENT heating and cooling. So keep it dark and cool!

Dry is good......but Liquid Yeast is better!

Liquid yeast has many advantages over dried yeast. The variety of liquid strains is much greater, but most important is the flavor profile. Most brewers would agree that beer made with liquid yeast is superior in flavor, and consistently wins medals over dried yeast in national competitions. Most liquid yeast on the market is supplied in large quantities. To make homebrewing easier, White Labs has provided us vials of liquid yeast that are ready to pitch into 5 gallons of beer. Each vial corresponds to a pint size starter, which saves the brewer 2-3 days and $1.50-3.00 in material cost. If more then a pint starter is desired for pitching (for beers over 1.070 Original Gravity, cold fermented lagers, or homebrewers wanting a faster fermentation), a 1-2 liter starter can be made in just one day. Be sure to ask us which liquid yeast you should add to your next kit!

Starting a Syphon

Drawing the first beer out of a fermentor to start a syphon is not only tricky, it is also risky, since your mouth can harbor bacteria that you really don't want in your wort. One easy way of getting around both these problems is simply to fill your syphon hose with water, carry the filled up hose to your fermenter, close off one end with a clamp or your fingers, place the open end into the wort, lower the closed end into a bucket, making sure that end is lower that the top level of your wort and when you open up the closed end, the syphon will start! Draw off the water, and close your syphon when the beer starts flowing then discard the water and place the low end into your receiving container and there you have it! To make things even easier though, we also have an automatic syphon for $9.95.

Avoiding beer-spoiling bacteria.

After boiling the wort it is important to cool the wort to 70 degrees as quickly as possible. Beer-spoiling bacteria can thrive and reproduce rapidly at temperatures below boiling and above 70 degrees. The faster you can cool the wort and pitch the yeast, the more you lessen the chances of any bacterial contamination. A sink full of ice can accomplish this cooling process in about an hour. However a wortchiller is the most effective method of cooling the wort. A chiller can accomplish this in 10-15 minutes. Please let us know if you are interested in purchasing one and we will review with you our models available.

Wine tips: Airlocks, starting gravity and after-bottling & corking

Replace the water in your airlock every month or so. This keeps the water fresh and up to the proper level.

When mixing up your kit on day 1, occasionally the first starting gravity (SG) reading will be a little low because the grape sugars have not been fully dissolved. Give the must another stir and take another test. The SG should be correct.

After Bottling and Corking, leave your bottles standing upright for 24 hours before putting them down on their sides. This allows the pressure inside the bottle to equalize to the outside pressure. You will have less leakers if you do.

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