Kill the bugs

Cheese is a way to conserve milk. You add “good” bacteria to milk and they will eat all the nutrients so that “bad” bacteria cannot live in cheese. Therefore it is not really necessary to pasteurize milk. In general the rule is that a cheese is safe to eat after aging for 60 days. However, if you are not 100% sure about your milk you can pasteurize it as follows:

  • Heat the milk to 66 C. Stir the milk to prevent scorching.
  • Leave it for 30 minutes at this temperature.
  • Cool the milk as fast as you can. You can do this by putting it in ice water. If you add some salt to the water it will cool even faster.

This method is called LTLH or Low Temperature Long Hold. Another method is called HTSH or High Temperature Short Hold. The procedure is the same but in this case you heat the milk to 70-72 C and keep it at that temperature for 15 seconds.

According to the book from which I shamelessly copied this information, pasteurizing at the lower temperature is the best because some useful enzymes and bacteria can survive this procedure.




Boiled milk falls under the definition Ultra Pasteurized milk. Which is (as far as my knowledge goes) not the same as UHT because this has to be heated to 137 C.

I have never tried this and according to some websites it is not possible to make cheese from Ultra Pasteurized milk.

To make a not very long story even shorter; Don’t boil your milk.



P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


Posted in Cheese | Comments Off on Kill the bugs

The Devil is in the Details

“Where people work, mistakes are being made.” This is a Dutch saying. As a matter of fact I use this whenever I make a mistake because the opposite is also true. “If you don’t work, you don’t make mistakes”. And I made a lot during the last 10 years.

As I said before; I share my mistakes so you don’t have to make them again.

Putting beer (Or champagne) in bottles.

The last step in making beer is putting it in bottles. It is my least favourite step because it looks a lot like working.

You can do this as follows:

  • Dissolve bottling sugar in water and add the right amount of the solution to each bottle and add the beer.
  • Add the right amount of sugar to each bottle and add the beer.
  • Add all the bottling sugar to another demijohn or bucket and rack the beer to that bucket. Then put it the beer in bottles.

The last option is my favourite because you don’t need to be very precise. Instead of measuring 2,64 gm per 0,33L bottle you can measure 120 gm per 15L. I also believe that is less work. I am not 100% sure of the last part because it requires one last racking extra.

So what I do is the following:

  • I clean a demijohn and add the bottling sugar. Usually about 8 g/L for beer (or 20 to 25 g/L for champagne.)
  • Rack the beer into this demijohn. Don’t worry too much about splashing and oxygen because you need oxygen to give life to your yeast again. Also don’t worry about racking some yeast. Your beer needs it. Try to get as much beer in this demijohn as possible. There is no need to to work extremely clean because new yeast will form in the bottles anyway.
  • Shake the demijohn until you are sure that all the sugar is dissolved in the beer. (For champagne this takes a bit longer because there is a lot more sugar to dissolve.)
  • Siphon the beer from the demijohn in the beer bottles. Get this tool if you don’t have it. It is worth its’ weight in gold!


So here comes the DOOOHH!! part

I made 2 huge mistakes in these simple steps.

  • I forgot to add the bottling sugar completely. I just racked the beer in another empty demijohn and into the beer bottles. After 1 month I found that there was no CO2 at all in the finished beer.
  • I added the bottling sugar to the demijohn but did not dissolve it properly in the beer. The result was that some bottles had very little CO2 in them but other bottles had very much and they created so much CO2 that you could barely taste the beer.

Learning all the time.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


Posted in Beer, Wine | Comments Off on The Devil is in the Details

Champagne pilsner

This is an experiment. The goal of the experiment was to make a pilsner without the use of a refrigerator. Why? Well because I don’t have a suitable refrigerator and I am sure that lot’s of people like to make beer but don’t have the room for another piece of furniture.

My first thought went to using wine yeast. Wine yeast usually don’t create a lot of esters and ferment until the last grain of sugar is eaten. Unfortunately wine yeasts don’t flocculate as well as beer yeasts. Champagne yeast is the best among the wine yeasts in that aspect. It also is a very strong yeast that can tolerate high levels of alcohol.

However after some research I found that wine yeasts cannot handle the more complicated sugars in beer. Of course the internet is not a great help because I also found some sites that claim that wine champagne yeast can ferment beer to dryness. Great, all this “information”. What can you do?

I decided to try it. So I made a simple recipe for pilsner which I fermented with champagne yeast. I made some changes to improve my chances for success and suitable for my situation:

  • I used mash temperatures which started a bit lower so I would get more “simple” sugars.
  • Since I don’t have a refrigerator the fermentation was at room temperature.
  • I stopped chilling wort some time ago and did not see a reason to do this.
  • Since I like the Turkish hops I used them instead of the hops mentioned in the recipe.

The fermentation started like crazy and after 2 days it looked as if it was finished already. I always leave the demijohn in peace for at least 2 weeks and then I measured the gravity. The hydrometer stopped at 1020.

This was not great news. When you look at the table you can see that the residual sugar is 50 g/L. This is obviously very much and it means that only 3,5% alcohol had formed. After bottling this would total to approximately 3,9%.

I decided to continue and see what would happen. After a few weeks I tried the beer and it was very nice. It was not pilsner but much more like wheat beer. An aroma of bananas and a good body. Since the higher sugars don’t taste sweet it actually feels reasonably dry and fresh. The colour is rather light and it is cloudy. Probably because the champagne yeast cannot compete with beer yeasts in terms of flocculation. In a strange way you don’t have the feeling that there is only little alcohol in it. Perhaps the higher sugars also give an alcohol sensation. I should look into that.

Anyway, the recipe is as follows:

Goal (Or I should say: Unexpected result)

  • Amount 15L
  • Efficiency 68%
  • IBU 24
  • EBC 8
  • Starting SG 1047
  • End SG 1020
  • ABV 3,5%


  • 3,5kg Pils malt 3 EBC
  • 11 g Brewers gold from Turkey 9,5% for 75 min
  • 4 g Aroma from Turkey 8 % just after boiling
  • 11 g champagne yeast
  • 2 g CaCl
  • 2 g Citric acid


  • 62 C for 45 min, 72 C for 15 min, 78 C for 5 min.

Boiling time

  • 75 min


  • No chilling after boiling.



With all the modifications it is not a surprise that the beer did not turn out to be pilsner but some lessons were learned.

Champagne yeast can definitely be used in beer making. It does not create a lot of alcohol but still gives you a full bodied beer. I believe that it would be very suitable for a wheat beer.

Champagne yeast does not ferment all the sugars in beer. If you want a low alcohol beer because your friends cannot handle it, please start your own experiment.

Since this experiment is very drinkable I will start a new experiment very soon. That is what I love about making beer. It may not be what you aim for; It can still be very good!




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


Posted in Beer, Just a thought | Comments Off on Champagne pilsner

The Tsunami airlock

Fermentations can be deceiving. Look at the apple wine I tried to make yesterday. Fermentation would not start at all. I was lucky to get it going at all.

And see what happens next! When the fermentation finally started I was still a little worried because it remained a little slow. For that reason I decided to put it in the 15 liter demijohn and fill it up. Champagne yeast usually does not create a lot of foam so I did not expect problems.

Only a few hours later the weather changed dramatically. From a relaxed sunny day it turned into a hurricane. Fermentation became quite violent and I was afraid that the air lock would be filled with foam and eventually overflow and spill on the table.

A simple solution is to accept the fact that it overflows and place the demijohn in the shower so you can clean it easily. Perhaps your family will not think that this is a brilliant solution.

And they are right. A nicer solution is the Tsunami airlock. It obviously is not a high tech solution but it works good enough. And it is very easy to make.

  • Make two holes in the cap of a bottle.
  • Glue a tube in one of the holes. (The tube should fit in the hole for the air lock in the cap or bung.)
  • The end of the tube should be close to the bottom of the bottle.
  • Add water to the bottle so that the tube is in the water. (For security you can add some citric acid and sulphite to the water.)
  • Connect the tube to the demijohn.



Obviously it does not stop the foaming but the foam is collected in the bottle.

Please note that in extreme cases the bottle will be filled, so you still need to check it.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


Posted in Beer, Wine | Comments Off on The Tsunami airlock

Apple Gate

In the past I have made apple wine several times. It is a very nice base and you can combine apples with other kinds of fruits to make it more interesting. Most of the times I used apple juice from the supermarket and it always works fine. It usually needs a little bit more acid and citric acid is my favorite, but if you like you can add some lemon juice instead.

I also made apple wine from fresh apples that I got from a friend. Since it is a bit hard to get the juice out of the apples without a tool like this I didn’t make it often.

This year I was happy to make it. With my improved juicer it was fun to get the juice. Since it was not enough I also bought 4 kg apples from the supermarket.

I made a measurement of the sugar and added some to reach about 11% alcohol. I knew that the apples from my friend are very acidic and therefore I decided not to make a measurement at all. I don’t like to use chemicals to get some acid out of the wine. If it would prove to be too sour I could add some sugar just before drinking or I could blend it with a wine that is not sour. We will decide later.

So I put the apple juice and the sugar in a bucket, rehydrated the yeast and also added it. To my big surprise the fermentation sort of started, but stopped very quickly. This has never happened to me before!

There it is again; The question that I asked myself many times “What happened?”

I have no doubt about the yeast, and the apples from my friend. I have used them before and I know that yeast absolutely love apples. The only new thing were the supermarket apples. It did not take a long time before I realized that these apples are treated with some kind of poison to protect them from bugs.

So that is it! The yeast was poisoned! I could not believe that there was still enough poison in these apples to stop the fermentation. As a child we were always told “Snack healthy, eat an apple.” (Poorly translated from Dutch) I seriously have my doubts about how healthy apples really are.

Since I had 15 liters of juice I did not want to give up immediately. I decided to make a very big yeast starter to see if I could get the fermentation going. So I bought a big bottle of apple juice and made a starter. Now I had a big, big army of yeast on my side. So I added 1,5 liter very active starter to the bucket. It started to ferment but I was not happy with it. Fermentation became slow and eventually stopped again. I could not believe it. How much poison is in these apples?

So I decided to follow the advice given in some books. The procedure is as follows:

  • Make a starter with apple juice or whatever you usually use.
  • When the starter is very active add the same amount of the “not fermenting juice” to it.
  • When the starter is very active again, add again the same amount of juice. (Double as in the previous step.)
  • Repeat this until all the juice is fermenting.

Since I never tried it before I was not so sure it would work. The juice already killed an enormous amount of yeast before so why should it not kill again?

But I still wanted to try. Otherwise I had to throw away a lot of work. So I bought another bottle of apple juice and made another starter. This time I used champagne yeast. I know that it is recommended for restarting fermentations also in beers.

I followed the procedure but in the beginning I added less “poisoned juice” just to let the yeast get used to it. (Again I pretend that yeast act like humans.) The fermentation was still slow and I did not believe it would work. I thought that the yeast would be killed again when I would add more and more of the poisoned juice.




Fermenting most                   Poisoned apple juice

But I slowly increased the amount of juice and also shook the bucket several times to get air mixed in. Oxygen is important for yeast growth and they could use all the help I can give.

And to my surprise the fermentation became faster. More and more bubbles through the air lock.

Now all the juice is in the bucket and fermentation continues. No bad smells. Things are looking good.

I celebrate the victory of my champagne army!




Why the fermentation of these apples was so troublesome I don’t know. Saying that apples are poison without proper knowledge may be considered a little dramatic.


P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


Posted in Beer, Wine | Comments Off on Apple Gate