This is a homebrewing FAQ page for new home brewers who are just starting out learning about home brewing. It may also be helpful to seasoned home brewers who are new to Pat Mack’s Homebrewing Caps.
The FAQ section below is a collection of all the most frequently asked questions I have received about how to use Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps and other more general home brewing questions. I will constantly be adding to the content and updating whenever i receive a new question that i feel has not been answered elsewhere so don’t hesitate to send in your queries here.
Frequently Asked Questions: Home Brewing
1) Is it safe to Home brew your own alcohol? And is it Legal?
Yes it is! It is both safe AND legal to Home brew your own alcohol. However, it is illegal to distill your alcohol afterwards (but we don’t teach you how to distill alcohol so there’s nothing to worry about). It’s very safe to home brew and in some cases it is actually safer than drinking commercially made alcohol (if you’ve used organic ingredients and not used chemicals in your homebrew for example). The myths of home brew alcohol being bad for you are actually erroneous. They have stemmed from stories of people trying to extract ethanol (alcohol) from certain toxic chemical liquids, but due to incorrect chemistry they end up extracting methanol which is highly toxic to the human digestive tract. There is no chance of this happening when you home brew with Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps. The difference here is that the dangerous components come from the extraction of toxic chemicals which is not the same as home brewing at all. I hope I’ve made this clear because i think it’s very important everybody knows how safe home brewing is when it’s done the way we show you.
2) How long does a Pat Mack Home brewing Cap last before i need to replace it and buy a new one?
Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps last forever! They can be reused over and over again. Now of course it is advised that you look after them and keep them clean but they have been made with very high quality materials that do not biodegrade. So they could in fact last forever. After a few uses the cap will have an expanded bulge in the middle and the valve opening will be visible but the cap it still fully functioning.
3) Can i re-use my yeast for more than one home brew?
Yes you can. If you want to make your supply of yeast last longer then after making one bottle of homebrew you can pour the drink into another empty bottle and then pour your juice for your next potential homebrew into the first bottle. You can repeat this as many times as you want, however i would suggest limiting the amount of re-uses to about 4 or 5. The reason is that after each fermentation and completion of the homebrew the yeast grows weaker. It also begins to change in its chemical structure which to any biologists reading is called mutation. As the yeast changes so does it’s ‘behaviour’. This means that the taste of any homebrew after the 5th or 6th re-use may not taste the same as the 1st homebrew. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it might even taste better!
4) I drank some of the yeast, is this ok?
Yeast is actually very good for you. It’s high in essential nutrients and is even sold in health food shops. It’s perfectly ok to drink some. I always advise to try to remove the yeast from your homebrew before drinking but that’s simply a personal preference.
5) After making my homebrew should it be refrigerated or will fermentation start again and can it be bottled with a cork or permanent bottle cap for extended shelf life?
Fermentation is finished when: 1) All the sugar is consumed and the yeast dies of starvation. 2) The alcohol content reaches 18-22% which will kill the yeast. 3) The beverage becomes toxic to the yeast due to natural or artificial reasons (such as the addition of a Campden tablet). 4) The temperature of the beverage rises above approximately 40º C (104º F) for a period long enough to kill the yeast. Fermentation is complete when no more bubbles are rising to the surface when the beverage is at room temperature. If you place a beverage into the refrigerator that isn’t completely fermented, it will continue to ferment in the refrigerator at a VERY VERY slow pace (i.e what you use to count in days now takes weeks). If you take such a beverage out of the refrigerator, it will begin active fermentation again. It is important to ensure fermentation is complete or almost completed before bottling your beverage at room temperature. Failure to follow this rule can result in burst bottles and possibly even personal injury. I don’t use additives in my beverages but that is a personal choice . I let the yeast die naturally by letting the yeast dine until it dies of it’s own alcohol poisoning or by starvation. Bottling your beverages is fun and it allows different flavors to develop over time.
6) How long can my homebrew be stored before it goes off?
This is a good question. And the answer varies quite largely from homebrew to homebrew. It depends on many factors. These include temperature, alcoholic and sugar content of the beverage, and storage conditions. In worst conditions the beverage will last about a year, in average conditions several years, and in best conditions, several decades.
7) How do i increase the alcohol content of my homebrew?
To increase the alcohol content you must add sugar to your fermenting liquid. The yeast will ‘eat’ the sugar and turn it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. You cannot however exceed a content of around 22% because the yeast unfortunately stops working at these levels. Adding 1 or 2 cups of sugar to some apple juice can produce a cider of up to 22%. The more sugar you add the stronger the drink will be. It will take longer to reach these high alcohol levels so don’t expect 2 cups of sugar in some apple juice to create a 22% cider after 3 days. All you will have is a very very sweet homebrew cider of about 3 or 4%.
8 ) Is there anyway to speed up the fermentation process?
Yes you can. Fermentation speed is dependent upon a few key factors, such as the amount of yeast originally added to the homebrew, the sugar content of the home brew liquid, the type of juice used, but mostly, the temperature at which you are home brewing. Juice that is fermenting in a cold basement may take 10 times longer than a bottle brewing in a 25º C environment. I usually speed up my batches by placing them somewhere warm. Always remember to keep your homebrew out of direct sunlight though. Don’t think putting them in the sun will be a good idea because the sunlight will promote growth of bacteria which will ruin any home brewing batch.
9) How much yeast should i use?
I recommend using about 15-30 ‘yeast balls’. The high quality premium brewers yeast that comes with a Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps homebrew kit comes in the form of little ‘yeast balls’. If you want to use more than this amount to speed up your fermentation then you can use 40-50. In my opinion it is not necessary to use more than 15-30 ‘yeast balls’. When the yeast begins fermentation it multiplies very rapidly. It continues to multiply until it reaches a maximum efficient figure. In theory you could start with just 1 yeast ball but i still recommend 15-30. If you are going to be using a yeast that you bought somewhere else that comes in a different form other than yeast balls then i recommend about 1/8th of a tea spoon. So half of half of half of a tea spoon.
10) I followed the instructions that came with the brew kit but nothing is happening. What do I do?
If there aren’t any signs of active fermentation (bubbling, yeast residue beginning to float on the top of the liquid, etc) after 24 hours then you should add some more yeast and shake the beverage vigorously. Also it is wise to check to see if your juice ingredients list preservatives or artificial substances such as sweeteners as they can cause difficulties to the start of fermentation. If there is still no fermentation after another 24 hours, contact me for further instructions and give details about the ingredients you have added and I will try to get back to you with an answer as quickly as i can.
11) “A home brew i made last week is finished but it tastes sour and is also quite dry tasting. Can i fix this or do i have to throw it away?”
Yes you can fix this. It’s very easy too. All you need to do is add sugar to the drink little by little. The sour and dry tastes come from the fact that all of the sugar in the homebrew has been eaten by the yeast and so the drink has no sweet taste left. By adding sugar back into the drink you are effectively replacing the sugar content that was eaten by the yeast. Add it a bit at a time and remember to taste it as you go along.
12) “I recently used Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps to home brew some tropical pressed juice. The juice itself wasn’t clear, it had bits in. Now it looks like it’s curdling.”
This is common when home brewing pressed juice rather than clearer juices. It is perfectly ok and is actually the natural process of fermentation with many “pulpy” fruit juices. Don’t worry. When you clarify (refrigerate) your homebrew the pulp will settle to the bottom of the bottle and stay there. Alternatively you can sieve the pulp out after fermentation.
13) My homebrew is fermenting well but it looks like the Pat Mack’s Home brewing Cap valve is bulging out. It also has a split in the middle. Is my cap broken?
No, everything is fine. In fact it’s better than fine, the cap is working exactly as designed. The bulging rubber valve with the slit in the middle is allowing the perfectly calculated amount of carbon dioxide out of the beverage keeping the drink carbonated but preventing it from exploding. It is also keeping contaminants out so that your homebrew doesn’t spoil.
14) “I’m making my first home brew with Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps today and my cap isn’t venting! The bottle feels really hard and is full of pressureed gas, is it going to explode?”
No the bottle won’t explode. Often with a brand new cap the valve will hold pressure incredibly well (a little too well). The bottle IS full of pressure and should feel very hard but do not worry. The cap is very close to venting. Eventually all the built up pressure will outweigh the strength of the new cap and the high amount of pressure will vent out bringing the bottle back to it’s designed level of pressure.
15) “My Pat Mack’s Home brewing Cap is bulging and i can see the slit but I’m still not sure if my drink is fermenting.”
Well usually a bulging cap is a good sign of a fermenting homebrew but if you want to be completely sure then you can examine the homebrew for bubbles floating to the top. You can also try to squeeze the bottle, a very firm bottle is a sign that the homebrew is fermenting well. If you’re still not convinced then you can place your ear close to the slit in the cap and you should be able to hear gas pressure being released.
16) “I opened my homebrew after a week of fermenting and the drink shot out of the bottle like champagne and it completely soaked me, my dog and my new carpet!”
Now this isn’t strictly a question but it did make me laugh and i thought i could use it to make an important note. Although the Pat Mack’s Home brewing Cap releases a lot of pressure over the fermentation period it does still leave a lot of pressure in the bottle allowing for carbonation to take place. This means that you must be careful when opening your home brew after fermentation. It usually takes me a couple of minutes to unscrew a nearly fermented bottle’s cap. I literally mean 120 seconds! If you open it too fast you will be covered in a champagne style over flow and your going to create a great mess. I suggest refrigerating the homebrew bottle first, this usually takes away some of the pressure, but you still need to be careful and open the bottle slowly.
17) Can I use the Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps premium yeast to make beer?
Yes. However, bear in mind that each variety of yeast makes a specific flavor of beer. You use ale yeast to make ales, lager yeast to make lagers, etc. You can brew beer with Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps premium yeast but the end flavour may differ from a flavour produced by a strain of yeast specific to the type of beer you are brewing.
18) When making beer, how do you add carbonation without priming?
Unlike traditional brewing methods that produce an uncarbonated first fermentation, the Pat Mack’s Home brewing Caps brew kit will maintain carbonation during the brewing cycle, so no secondary fermentation or priming is necessary. The end result is an excellent, natural, cask-conditioned style fermentation. And by eliminating an extra step your beer will be ready sooner.
19) How do I find out the exact alcohol content percentage in my homebrew?
To determine the exact alcohol content, you need a hydrometer. They can be quite cheap (under £10). To determine alcohol content you take a reading before fermentation and again after fermentation, the difference between the two is the actual alcohol content.
If you have any homebrew questions that are currently not covered in this homebrew FAQ then feel free to send me an email through the contact page or send an email to email@example.com.