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Old 02-08-2005, 06:42 PM   #1
cnw
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Default Where's the kick?

Just finished off my first batch of Pale Ale in my new Mr. Beer kit - I substituted unhopped malt extract for the Booster, which is just sugar, to get a stronger brew according to their directions.

After 2 weeks of fermenting, a good shake about halfway through to get the yeast going, and almost 3 weeks of carbonation I have a nicely carbonated, great tasting NON ALCOHOLIC brew .................grrrrrrrrrrr!

What went wrong? Thanks to all.



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Old 02-08-2005, 09:02 PM   #2
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I'm kinda new to this too, but were there visible signs of fermentation i.e. rising bubbles and foam on top? If the yeast did its job and fermented completely, I don't see how there could not be at least some alcohol. And if it doesn't taste too watered down, it doesn't sound like its a measuring problem.

But if fermentation wasn't complete, or maybe if you got a poor strain of yeast then maybe that would explain a low alcohol content, but I would think it should still have some if you saw it fermenting. I recently started with MrBeer too and I'm not convinced yet of the quality of the yeast they provide.

What method are you using to judge the alcohol content: taste/consumption or hydrometer readings?

Also, please explain "nicely carbonated." Does it gush when you open or pour? Is it a mellow carbonation, or more like a soft drink? Heavy carbonation could point to premature bottling.

That's about all I can add...maybe some others with more experience might be able to help.

SP



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Old 02-08-2005, 11:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnw
Just finished off my first batch of Pale Ale in my new Mr. Beer kit - I substituted unhopped malt extract for the Booster, which is just sugar, to get a stronger brew according to their directions.

After 2 weeks of fermenting, a good shake about halfway through to get the yeast going, and almost 3 weeks of carbonation I have a nicely carbonated, great tasting NON ALCOHOLIC brew .................grrrrrrrrrrr!

What went wrong? Thanks to all.

I've never used a Mr Beer kit, but I've never heard or read anything good about them. (It's a little surprising to hear someone describe the result as "great tasting" If your beer carbonated, then you had some fermentation going on (maybe not much). Maybe there just wasn't enough malt in it to create a noticable amount of alcohol. maybe a weak strain of yeast. At what temp did you ferment? If you kept it cold, that would have stopped your fermentation.

I've never heard of anyone shaking a fermenter halfway through. I can't think of any positive effect that would have.

My only advice is not to give up on brewing altogether, but to scrap the Mr Beer. You can get a starter kit from you local homebrew store for about $50 (comes with a first batch, and usually Papazian's "New Joy of Home Brewing"). The store proprietor will be more than happy to give you all the advice you want or need (part of why they work there is to be able to talk about beer all day).
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Last edited by Uncle Fat; 02-08-2005 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 02-09-2005, 01:17 PM   #4
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A lot of people here will be quick to tell you that the Mr Beer system is crap and that you should upgrade. I have seen some posts here from other Mr Beer users who have seemed satisfied with its results. However, it does seem that most of them (myself included) have ultimately upgraded to a more standard system. I did so even before my first batch was complete, simply because I found a guy at work that was offering a great deal on his equipment. But I think most do so because they find that they enjoy the additional effort and control that comes with the more complicated system.

But, I wouldn't necessairly give up on the Mr Beer kit just yet. IMO, it has its advantages, but also some disadvantages.

The advantages are simplicity and small batch sizes. Even though I have upgraded to a more standard set of equipment, until I'm a bit more familiar with the process and the effect of certain changes, I'm sticking to the smaller batch sizes (~2.5 gal) and the Mr. Beer ingredients. This allows me to use the Mr Beer keg as a bottling bucket and bottle about 24 12-oz bottles per batch. With the amount I travel and the small amount I drink at a time, this should work out well.

The disadvantages are:
1) Booster. The use of the Booster will result in a cider-like flavor. You have already avoided that by going all-malt. But don't feel like you have to stick to the Mr Beer brand of unhopped liquid malt extract. Buy some dry malt extract and experiment with the amount. A large part of the appeal to home brewing is experimenting and finding the right mix that pleases you.

2) No provision for secondary fermenting. Secondary fermentation will clarify the beer and refine the flavor. But it's not necessary if you're happy with the result from primary fermentation alone. If you want to try this, it could probably be done easily enough by just purchasing a vessel for secondary fermentation and some siphoning equipment. You don't necessairly have to purchase an entire kit.

Bottom line - if you're mostly happy with the Mr Beer, you can stick with it. If you want a higher alcohol brew, experiment with more unhopped extract (dry or liquid). Also check out the Mr Beer website for some more advanced recipies. Maybe try using some different strains of yeast than those offered by Mr Beer. Don't think you have to totally abandon the Mr Beer. If you think you'll like a little more control over the process and would enjoy the effort and results of secondary fermentation, it may be worth it to upgrade to a more standard system.

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Old 02-09-2005, 01:45 PM   #5
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From my experience and what ive heard, if you buy a kit beer, dont use the yeast in it. Go buy some fresh yeast. You dont know how long its been sitting in the box at room temp. When i go to the HBS theirs is kept in a refrigerator and i know its pretty fresh. Plus theyre only like .75 a pack, so keep some in your fridge so you always have some if fore some reason you dont get fermentation starting in the time you expect.Then you can pitch some more yeast if needed..

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Old 02-09-2005, 02:48 PM   #6
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I have mail ordered for years and never had a problem with my yeasts........ except once it was liquid yeast that was in my fridge for like 14 months.......

Also with the powder yeast I just pitch it directly in dry and top off with water and always get bubbling within 12-18 hours.....

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Old 02-09-2005, 02:50 PM   #7
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Thanks to all - When I pour a glass the head is full and rich looking although it doesn't stick to the glass very long.

I did use dry unhpped malt extract that I purchased from my local homebrew store not the liquid kind that Mr. Beer sells.

Looks like I will have to invest in a hydrometer since I only let it ferment for just over 2 weeks without being able to measure anything except a quick taste.

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Old 02-09-2005, 03:10 PM   #8
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2 weeks isn't very long...3 weeks is more standard for us.

Those Mr Beer things seem like a waste of time from what I have read. Just get some carboys and a recipe book. You've already made good choices in modifying Mr. Beer's ingredients and using dry extract. Take it further.

There is definitely alcohol in your beer. Either it's sweet or there is alcohol. You did not brew non-alcoholic beer

There is no benefit to shaking the fermenter. It does not "wake up the yeast" or anything of the sort. The bubbling you see is the CO2 coming out of solution...just like shaking a soda. Yeast are great at doing their part without being jostled

So, if you want your beer stronger, just make a stronger recipe next time. More malt=more alcohol. Cheers!



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