Getting ready

1.     Unscrew the bung from the fermenter (drum) and screw on the tap. Stick the thermometer on – just peel off the backing.

2.     New fermenters can have a plastic smell. You can get rid of this smell by either leaving the fermenter to air for a few days, or by filling it with water and leaving it several hours - afterwards throw the water on the garden etc.


1.  Pour 5 litres of water into your fermenter. Add a half capful, 5 mls, of Iodophor sanitiser. Put in the spoon and airlock, do up the lid and shake the fermenter so everything is thoroughly mixed and wetted. Remember the hole in the lid!

2.  Wait 10 minutes then shake again. After ten more minutes shake the fermenter and then empty it. With the lid on, leave the fermenter to stand for a few minutes then shake out the last of the Iodophor solution. The fermenter does not need to be dry. Do not rinse.

3.  During this time get your brew concentrate and a can opener. Heat two to three litres of water. You want the water hot, not boiling. You will need more water and hotter in winter, less water and cooler in summer.

4.  Empty the bag of Fifty-Fifty into the sanitised fermenter, add 500 mls or so of hot water and stir. If there are some lumps still they will break when the brew is fully made up. Take the lid off of the beer concentrate and set the sachet of yeast aside. Open the can and pour the contents into the fermenter. Rinse out the can with the hot water and pour into the fermenter. The can will be HOT so use a tea towel or oven glove to hold them.. Mix everything thoroughly.

5.  Next, top up with cold water to 22 litres. Ordinary tap water is fine. Mix everything thoroughly again. As you fill the fermenter check the temperature, you are aiming at the 20 – 23 degree range. Don’t worry if you are a little bit out. In summer pre-chill five or so litres of water to help keep the temperature down.

6.  Open the sachet of yeast and just sprinkle the yeast evenly over the entire surface of the brew, don’t stir. This lets the yeast absorb moisture at its own pace. Now do up the lid and fit the airlock. Add some water to the airlock, just enough to connect the two larger chambers.

7.  Now it’s time to take a hydrometer reading. You need a first reading to work out the alcohol content of the beer. Hydrometer readings also help answer most questions about fermentation. Using the plastic hydrometer case, take a sample of the beer from the tap. About 2/3 full is enough. Put the hydrometer in and let it float evenly. Read off the number on the hydrometer stem at the liquid level. There are several scales, use the one with the large print numbers. You should have a reading of about 1044. The hydrometer has more detailed instructions.


1.  After pitching (adding) the yeast it will be some hours before fermentation starts because the yeast must first reproduce and prepare. Expect six to twelve hours. This time can typically range from 2 to 24 hours depending on the yeast and on the conditions. For a standard (ale) yeast aim for a fermentation temperature of 20 to 24 degrees. Try to find a mild spot with a steady temperature.

2.  The first signs of fermentation will be small bits of white froth appearing on the top of the brew. They will increase and grow to eventually form a head of white foam on top of the fermenting beer. As well, the airlock should bubble as carbon dioxide produced by fermentation escapes.

3.  For the airlock to bubble, the fermenter needs to be perfectly sealed. If there are any small leaks, it will not bubble – especially at the start and finish of fermentation when carbon dioxide production is weak. Do not worry. Whether the fermenter leaks or not it has no effect on fermentation.

4.  Fermentation will reach a peak, and then ease off. Bubbling in the airlock will slow and the foam on top of the beer will break up and disappear. A brown fermentation ring, a tide mark, will form. Sediment will also collect in the bottom of the fermenter, usually about 2 cm deep – this is mostly spent yeast.

5.  Fermentation typically runs for 5 to 12 days, depending on the yeast and the conditions. When both bubbling in the airlock stops and the foam has cleared then fermentation has probably finished or is close to it. If there is the odd bubble or piece of froth that’s fine because it’s simply time to take another hydrometer reading. Record the reading. Wait another day or two and take another reading. If this second reading is the same as the first then fermentation has effectively finished. If the reading is different, that is a smaller number, then wait another two days and take another reading. Repeat until you have two readings the same. You can expect a final reading of about 1012.

6.  When fermentation has finished relax. Wait several more days before you bottle the beer. This will give the beer a chance to start clearing and maturing. Choose a time to bottle that is convenient for you. Generally the bottling can always wait until the weekend.


1.  Sanitise the bottling tube and your bottles.

2.  To each long-neck bottle add two carbonation drops, or a measure of sugar from the large end of a sugar measure. To each stubbie add one carbonation drop or a measure of sugar from the small end of a sugar measure.

3.  Fit the bottling tube to the tap, and turn on the tap. To fill, hold the bottom of the bottle up against the needle in the bottling tube. Fill each bottle just short of full. Take the bottle away and the level will drop to give the correct amount of headspace. There is no need to top up.

3.  Place a cap on the bottle and seal it. Invert the bottle several times to mix the sugar. You can also work in batches.

4.  If you have used carbonation drops (lollies), then two or three days after bottling gently invert each bottle several times. It takes a day or so for the lollies to dissolve and they need to be mixed.

5.  Store the beer upright in a mild location out of direct light. Although the beer will be ready to drink after a fortnight or so, it will continue to improve for several months.