Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Sorry I will actually update this soon, I've just been out 3 nights on the trot and am reallly feeling the effects.  So bear with me while I recover and think of something absolutely amazing to post for you guys!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Following on from the beer...WINE

First things first, I've only made a few batches of wine, and I definitely prefer my home beer.  However, I have heard that if you use your own ingredients - actual fruit, the wine tastes a lot nicer.  However, here is what I do to make wine from kits.

You will need:

A demijohn (1 gallon, as opposed to the beers 5, as wine is a lot stronger).  This is typically glass, but if you buy a plastic one they have caps and so you don't need to find a bung as well.  Tl;dr, plastic is easier, glass just looks cooler.

A demijohn cork with a hole in if you have a glass container.


Silicon tube (there are similarities with my last list haha)

6 empty (for now) wine bottles and corks

And a hydrometer, cos wine is slightly more tricky than beer.  A simple hydrometer is fairly cheap, comes with instructions and should be available from all brew shops/online/wilkinsons

Now for the actual making!

Pour the grape juice concentrate (from your kit) into the demijohn
Add ~ 3 litres/6 pints of cold water
If you have separate sugar, dissolve it in warm water.  You shouldn't have to do this with most wine kits though
Add the sugar solution
Add water to fill up to 4.5 litres/1 gallon
Pour in the yeast
Jam in the airlock (with the little inside bit half filled with water)
Keep it in a warm room or wrap it up in a blanket and leave it for about a week
Now for your hydrometer - start taking readings.  If you want a dry wine, stop at the reading .99-.996, for a sweet wine 1.009-1.018 and medium anywhere in between.
Now take out the bung, and leave the wine for a few days.  It will slowly clear, and once it looks like wine should use the tube to get it into your wine bottles.
Cork them and your done!

Like the beer, the longer you leave your fresh brew the nicer it tastes, and this is doubly true with wine.  However, even if you don't leave it, because you're a student and just want it for a party no one will remember anyway, it's fine to drink.  Enjoy!

Time for something that might actually be useful

Ok, it's time to share one of my little passions with you guys - home brewing.  I've been doing this for a couple of years now so I thought I would post a little beginners guide and help everyone out!
Right, so if you want to start your own home brew you will need:
A big ass fermentation barrel (40 pints ~ 23 litres ~5 gallons for the oldies/americans).  Easily available for less than £15.
A small airlock (like £2 max).

Some flexible tubing (just cheap, it only has to be about 1-2 metres long).

A kettle - and if you need a picture to know what this is then I pity you.
A tap that will give you water.
2 kilos brown sugar (white works too, but brown always seems to be tastier in the end).

And depending on whether or not you want to move your beer after, either a barrel with a tap - upwards of £20

      Or 11 plastic 2 litre bottles - make sure they had fizzy drink in so they can withstand pressure.  I used tesco sparkling water for about 14p a bottle.

And last but obviously not least, the ingredients. Now you could make your own, but if you are like me and a student, the easiest way is simply to buy what's called a beer kit - basically some syrup you pour hot water into and put in your barrel, it comes in tins. I find that bitters and ales work best, lagers tend to be a bit sharp, but if you want value and taste then go for a Youngs kit.

The actual method varies slightly from kit to kit, but as a general rule of thumb this works:
Stand the can in hot water for a few mins to soften it.
Boil 3-4 litres of water (6-7 pints) and pour it into the fermentation bucket thing.
Pour the can into the bucket.
Add your kilo of sugar, stir a lot - I recommend a large plastic spoon.
Add 19 litres ish of cold water/33 pints/ fill your bucket to near the top
Stir for a while
Add the packet of yeast that came with the beer
Put the lid on, put the airlock on
Leave it somewhere at room temp and DON'T MOVE IT for about a week
Now get your silicon tube, put one end in the bucket and suck it to make beer start coming out, and fill your barrel/bottles with not very tasty yet beer!
Add a teaspoon of sugar for every litre/2 pints liquid (roughly), then put all the caps on, then leave it completely alone for around 2 weeks, although the longer you wait, the nicer the taste ;).
Now, you have 40 pints of beer! Stick it in the fridge for half an hour and grab a pint, well done.

I feel I must point out that you need to thoroughly clean everything between batches - I put it in the shower and shower gel it to death.

Also, be sure to pour your beer carefully.  You will have some sediment in the bottom, and this will be easily disturbed - possibly the main advantage of a barrel is the fact that you don't have the sediment issue (buying one with a floating tap helps even more).

I found absolutely everything I needed at wilkinsons, and at a very good price (no I'm not sponsored by them, I wish I was) or the internet is always good.

I hope you enjoy this if you do try it out, and experiment - the smallest details do make a difference in the taste!


Can someone briefly explain what Stephen Hawking meant about there being no creator? I have no real views on religion - it doesn't really affect me, but he is quoted in the times as saying 'as long as there is such a law as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.'  Sorry if that's not quite word for word I'm remembering a 2 day old article haha.
Anyway the thing I don't get is before the universe there would be no 'law such as gravity' because there would be nothing, and so surely the universe could not create itself according to his reasoning? What am I missing here? Someone must know physics well enough - I've already tried all my friends!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Talking to youself? You're not insane...

I just read an article in New Scientist that I thought people might be interested in, so I immediately said to myself, 'Jack, you should post it in the blog!'  The good news is the article actually is about talking to yourself, and apparently the fact I do it doesn't make me crazy, but in fact could help develop my intelligence.  It seems that language helps people memorise things by categorising them in our memories - by saying the name of the thing out loud or even in our heads, we reinforce whatever the memory of it.

So relax, you're not getting sent to an asylum yet.

Wonderful Life

Heard this the other day, just thought I'd recommend it in case someone hasn't heard of it.  I reckon it's going to be big.


The HMS Astute...probably the most awesome submarine ever built? Seriously look it up, it shouldn't need refuelling for 25 years (and no that's not because it won't move for the next 24 years and 11 months), it's incredibly stealthy, it carries enough sigint equipment to listen to almost all of our mobile phone conversations and its got 39000 acoustic panels on its surface to hide from radar! Absolutely insane if you ask me. Of course, what really sets it apart for me is the fact that the crew hold theme nights once a week - and sunday roasts! It does admittedly cost nearly £1 billion, but someday when I make my money I'll  buy one.