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Old 05-22-2007, 08:00 AM   #1
jimboeric
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Hi, my name's Jim and I'm new to this site. I found this site in an effort to make my own brew at home. Many years ago I made some fine wines, but from reading I see that beer-making is somewhat more difficult and I need some advice before I start. I've already chosen a "starter kit" that I can afford at this link:
http://www.homebrewers.com/c=o8LOalv...Z/product/1000
I have saved about 60 cappable bottles and found a boiling pot(not provided in the kit) which is a large pure aluminum "tamale steamer" pot for about $25 at HEB. So my questions for those of you who can help me are:
1. Is this "starter kit" good? Will it ferment/etc. my beer well? Just from reading it seems to me like a good buy, and it comes with ingredients for my first batch which leads to....
2. How do these ingredients look to an experienced brewer? I want to replicate something like "Spaten Optimator", a dark beer with about 7% alcohol. That beer may be too high quality for the included ingredients to live up to, but of the choices there is a london brown that looks like a choice in the 6 or 7 options. Please someone browse this site briefly and tell me which choice will yield a darker malty brew?
3. All the "starter ingredients" to choose from yield 4.5% alcohol. Like my fav. Spatan Optimator, I want an alcohol content around 6.5% to 7.0%. When asked, the site provided no answer: "What ingredients, special yeast and/or sugar must I buy in addition to yield 7% alcohol?"
So these are my questions. I really don't want to spend more than $100 on my first kit and ingredients. Actually, if I could brew 5 gallons of something not so spectacular but still dark like Ziegenbock or Shinerbock with 6-7% alc. I will be happy. Any help is appreciated! Thanks, Jim

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Old 05-22-2007, 08:10 AM   #2
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I will tell you I have searched high and low for an OPTIMATOR clone with very little feedback except that people REALLY LOVE the brew. I am in the prosess of trying to clone that beer myself and I will tell you that it isent going to be easy. you know they have been brewing that beer for hundreds of years and its about a perfect beer IMO and as well as yours I can see. I didnt see the beer you were going to brew just the stuff to brew it on. Good luck in your venture let me know if you have any more luck
JJ

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Old 05-22-2007, 11:25 AM   #3
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G'day Jimboeric

I haven't had Spaten Optimator before, but from reading about it it sounds like a very nice dopplebock.

The kits consist of pre hopped malt extract, so if you try to make a dopplebock from an ale kit it won't taste right as it would have hops to compliment an ale.
You can simply buy unhopped malt extract in cans the same size as kits and they are even cheaper.

Most kits require you to add 1kg of dextrose. To get a higer alcohol you simply add more dextrose, or even better a combination of dextrose, corn syrup, malt extract and even brown cane sugar. Dopplebocks are supposed to be very malty, so you will probably just need to add extra malt extract.

From the reviews I've read about it at the link below it doesn't seem to be a very hoppy beer, so I don't know what advice to give you regarding hops.

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/142/99/

Here are some recipies for general dopplebocks, the bottom three are using malt extracts.
http://www.stoutbillys.com/stout/rec...0/1e642232.htm

Since the reviews for Spaten Optimator say it has spicy, plum and caramel flavours I guess you can substitue some of the malt extract for brown sugar.
To get the caramel like flavour you could boil up the wort at a high temperature for a while to caramelize some of the sugars in it.
To get the plum and spice flavours I guess you can use a wyeast belgian strain.

These are just my estimates here and I haven't tried to brew any myself, so if I'm giving bad advice please correct me.

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Old 05-22-2007, 11:44 AM   #4
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Welcome to the obsession! I understand that you like dopplebocks (I do, too, actually) but choosing a lager for your first beer might be difficult. Lagers require a yeast starter, cooler temperatures that are controlled, a primary and secondary fermentation, as well as a lagering period of 6-8 weeks at 34 degrees. That's not to say you can't do it- but maybe make a beer kit or two and get the process down and then make your "big" beer.

I would suggest making the porter or stout, or nut brown ale, and after you brew one batch, then decide on whether you want to brew another kit with the complete directions, or look in our "recipes" section and see if something there grabs you. There are literally hundreds of great beers to make and my tastes have changed so much since I started brewing. I went from loving sweeter darker brews to being a hophead!

Here's some great reading: howtobrew.com and also our wiki (link above) to describe the basic process. Sanitation is the biggest key, and patience is the second! The process itself is pretty simple and straightforward.

Again, welcome!

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Old 05-22-2007, 08:09 PM   #5
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Thanks. Optimator does sound hard to make. I think if I can get close to Ziegenbock with 7% alc I will be doing good. When I made wine I used a strain of yeast from the orient tokay(sp) yeast. It yeilded 18% alc, and I simply brought the specific gravity up with table sugar. It worked great in all wines. What I'm curious about, most used montrachet(sp) yeast which would die at about 11-12% alc. Should I buy some strain of beer yeast which can survive in a high alc environment? If so, what kind? Thanks, Jim

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Old 05-22-2007, 08:40 PM   #6
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Hey Jim and welcome.

I'm not familiar with Spaten Optimator, but you can be sure I'll be looking for it now.

As far as kits go, I made my first brew with a kit and have been purchasing individual ingredients for specific recipes since. The brewing process is the same and you have more control over the ingredients.

You can raise the alcohol level by adding sugar, but your beer will lose body. I think you would be better off increasing the amount of malt extract for a stronger brew. You will also need a starter for your yeast with a higher OG.

The kit looks good, but if they offer one with a glass carboy that you can afford I think it would be worth it.

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Old 05-23-2007, 01:09 AM   #7
jimboeric
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My thinking is Ziegenbock, not much different from Shiner bock is a fairly cheap with moderate reviews brew(same as Shiner bock essentially). I'll just get the London Brown kit and buy an extra bag of malt extract. This shoult make it darker and bring the alc. up to 6-7%. Does this sound like I'm on the right track? It's not gonna be Guiness Extra Stout or anything but should be palatable with some alcohol kick.
The only other item I need is a 5gal. boiling pot. I've found both aluminum or ceramic coated ones at HEB, usually for steaming tamales. Which would be better aluminum or ceramic coated? Thanks,
Jim

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Old 05-23-2007, 01:21 AM   #8
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Either would be fine. Aluminum has it's detractors, but lots of people use it with good results.
I've used both enameled pot and aluminum pot and think you'll be satisfied with either one.
I would be more concerned with size than material, the bigger the better.

If you come across a turkey fryer on sale they usually come with a large (30 qt) aluminum pot as well as the burner.

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