On this episode of doing the most, we’re talking about our top 10 tricks, tips, and hacks for homebrewers. We’ve done that before?
Havent we? Like a few times.
Let’s cut to the chase, you’re here because you want to see 10 tips, tricks, and hacks for homebrewing.
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Let’s get into it.
#1 Milk for Labels
This one’s pretty simple. You know, a lot of folks like to make their own labels and print them on nice Avery label paper and stick them to their bottles.
But the problem then comes in sometimes that adhesive doesn’t really want to let go of your bottles.
Well, let me introduce you to milk. Yes milk. Did you know that milk is an adhesive? Well for homebrewing bottle labels, it can be. Just print your labels on some regular, a4 paper and use a paintbrush to lightly coat the back of them with milk.
It doesn’t matter what kind as long as it’s a dairy milk and has some lactose sugar in it because that sugar is what we’re relying on to keep the label stuck to the bottle.
Looking at others’ experiences on the web, it seems like the fat content of your milk doesn’t matter all the way down to skim milk as long as it’s dairy milk. So apparently we’re relying on the lactose in the milk to stick your labels on.
Whatever the case milk works as a great adhesive for labels, just paint a little milk on the back, put your label on, let it dry, and it’ll be stuck for good until you soak it in warm water where it will just fall right off.
#2 hops spider siphoning
I learned this from a colleague who is an expert Mead maker, but if you’ve got a lot of fruit pulp, you can take a hop spider like this one and dip it down inside that fruit pulp, and then siphon the liquid from inside of it.
For wines, meads, and ciders with a lot of pulp, this helps separate the liquid from the pulp. So you don’t expose it to oxygen by trying to, you know, pour it through cheesecloth or a strainer or something like that.
Basically you just stick the hop spider down in there and siphon from with inside.
Now you may have to use a mash paddle or a spoon to kind of gently scrape at the sides of it while it’s siphoning, because sometimes pulp can get stuck inside there and you can just brush it aside with the sanitize spoon to keep the liquid flowing through.
#3 siphoning through a cheese cloth or brew bag (two ways)
This one’s actually fairly simple and you can do it two ways. If you’ve got really fine particulate, you can use a piece of sanitized cheese cloth in between the cap on your racking cane and your racking cane in order to filter that stuff out as you’re transferring it from primary to secondary.
If you’ve got bigger thicker, heavier stringier particles, you can actually wrap a brew bag or cheese cloth around the outer portion of your racking hose and rack through that. Just make sure to use some sanitize twine to snug it up really tight on that hose.
Do not use a rubber band for this they’re covered in nasty chemicals. They’re literally made of nasty chemicals and you don’t want that stuff in your brew. This works great for auto siphons.
You just stuff the hose and the bag down inside of your carboy and start your auto siphon. And most of the fluff that goes through your siphon should get caught in the bag on the other end.
#4 mark your buckets yourself.
I learned this one because I once made a traditional Mead with a gallon of honey and four gallons of water. And when I looked at the markings on the outside of my bucket that had come marked from the manufacturer, I learned that the markings were wildly off by about a half a gallon.
Ever since then, if I get a new brewing bucket, whether it’s a two gallon bucket or a five gallon bucket, even if it comes marked from the manufacturer, I try to make sure to always mark those buckets on the outside.
So I know and trust where the liquid line is. Bonus tip on this. If you’re in the U S measure it out by the quart using one of these. So you are exact, if you try and measure it out using a one gallon demijohns like this, it’s not necessarily going to be as accurate as if you measure it out quart by quart.
And I know that takes a while, but it’s worth it to be accurate.
#5 etch your glass.
Etching cream is relatively inexpensive and you can make the stencils yourself for free using masking tape, or you can buy stencils online. When we’re talking about knowing where liquid lines are, etching, your glass is a great way of doing that.
And additionally, if you’re wanting to have a little fun, you can mark your glass with some fun stencils to add interesting designs to your carboys and demijohn’s.
Now, note that’s probably voids any warranty that you might have on your carboys and demijohn’s, but I think it’s worth it.
#6 pipe cleaners for your hoses.
I’m talking about like your racking tubing and things like that. You can use one of these pipe cleaners, which is just a really long pipe cleaner and create just a slight bend in there. So it fits the inner diameter of your hoses and then just run it up and clean it up.
To make it even easier to clean your hoses I recommend soaking them in some Oxyclean. I prefer OxiClean free because it’s unscented and that helps lift the stuff off of them.
And then anything else that’s in there that stubborn, you can use one of these to kind of scrape it out.
Now, make sure to thoroughly rinse all the Oxyclean off your hoses before you sanitize them and use them again.
#7 Hispanic, Latino, and Asian markets for spices.
Don’t pay full price for your spices, unless you are really committed to really bougie spices, because you can typically get relatively fresh and relatively good quality spices at an incredible discount if you visit your local ethnic markets.
We have an Asian market here in Oklahoma city called Super Cao Nguyen, it’s awesome. And I love going there. They have all kinds of interesting fruits and vegetables and spices and teas, and it’s just really a good time every time I’m in there.
And that’s where we get most of our spices. These days they’re sold in bulk and they’re sold at a deep discount compared to what you might find at your local grocery store.
#8 don’t store hops in plastic bags
The hops aromatics can permeate plastic bags. And that means things like Ziploc bags.
Always store your hops in Mason jars or other airtight containers. I learned this lesson when I went to eat a frozen waffle that tasted like Centennial hops, and I won’t make that mistake ever again, all of my hops are now stored in Mason jars.
#9 reusable straining bags.
Now I don’t recommend this for things like teas or flower pedals, because sometimes they can get gummed up in the mesh of these bags, but for things like fruit additions or whole hops cones, these re-usable straining bags are really nice.
Once you’re done using it in your brew, you just dump those fruits or hops out into your compost heap, turn it inside out and soak it in Oxyclean.
Once you’ve soaked that for four or five hours, toss that right into your laundry and wash it twice, wash it twice to make sure you get all the Oxyclean out of there.
Then instead of putting it in your dryer, hang it to dry. And I have reused these many, many times, including in my fruit press and they’re super handy and they save you a lot of money.
#10 zip ties guys, or twist ties to hold in your airlock.
You’ve probably seen this example sitting right here this entire time. Now sometimes you’ll have trouble with the airlock slipping out of the mouth of your demijohns. And a lot of folks will use rubber bands or twine to hold them on.
I like to recommend zip ties because you can really ratchet them down. But what I’ve been using lately instead of zip ties, because zip ties, you can only use once and then you have to snip them to get them off. I have been using these produce twist ties.
What’s great about them is you can also really crank them down to get them as tight as you want on there. And they don’t really slip. And of course you can take them right back off.
So they’re reusable and you can use them on the next batch and you can usually get five or six uses out of them before you start to break the little metal piece that’s on the inside.
#11 Bonus Tip
And this episode, wouldn’t be complete without a bonues top, reusing honey buckets for your grain mill. Let me, uh, let me get up and get a visual aid.
Now, many of you, particularly the beginers among you probably do not own a grain mill, and I don’t blame you because these things are bulky and not cheap, but they are also super handy. So that’s why I have one.
Basically you use it when you’re making a beer or a braggot, to mulch up your grain for your mash.
A lot of folks will cut a hole in a piece of plywood or board and attach their grain mill to that and set that on top of their bucket. And that works perfectly fine.
However, I’m a Mead maker and I have a lot of honey buckets leftover because I buy a lot of pails of honey. And honey bucket lids go back on really well. They seat back on really nicely and they hold pretty firm.
So what I did was I cut a rectangular hole to fit the mouth of my grain mill. And then I use the plastic pieces from inside that hole to bolt the grain mill to the bucket lid.
So I can put the lid of the bucket right back on top of the bucket, press it down firmly and mill my grain. No problem. I found this to be hella convenient.
So those are our top 10, or I guess 11 homebrewing hacks, tips, and tricks for this time. I hope you found that useful.
We’ve got some social media’s, they’ll be on your screen right here, including a discord server.
I would definitely recommend you join our discord server because we got lots of helpful folks on there that have a lot more tips, tricks and hacks than I do. And they are always willing to help out.
Until next time, happy brewing and cheers.