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Old 04-20-2013, 09:33 PM   #11
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1.) It has a BU:GU close to an IPA (0.68)
2.) It uses darker malts (I think they've modified the recipe to use pale chocolate instead of chocolate)
3.) The recommended yeasts have a tart finish to them
4.) The burning/caramelizing of the wort sugars during the boil adds to the bitter effect (may or may not be applicable to your case)
5.) The hardness of the water you use can vary the bitterness/perceived bitterness

There's probably more but that's all I can think of right now.
That makes sense. I steeped my grains at 155 for 30 minutes, and I turned off the gas until I had stirred the lme in, but the beer does seem awfully dark, like a deep mahogany color. Perhaps the flavor I was tasting is due to burnt sugars.
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Old 04-21-2013, 02:14 PM   #12
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You're not alone, it is a very harsh and bitter beer. Especially when young. Sometimes even when aged.

Some things that I found to help:

1.) Control your fermentation temperature. Both in the primary and in the secondary. That means it has to be on the low end of the yeast temp range around 64F - 65F for the DanStar Windsor Ale during active fermentation. That's the temp of the wort not the outside of the container.

2.) Cold steep your dark grains. (Not sure this is possible with an extract kit; or even all grain; you probably have to buy all of the grains separately.) http://hbd.org/clubs/cascade/public_html/brewing/index.html

3.) Hot steep your crystal malts w/ a little base malt to eliminate residual starches (hold at 150-155 for 30 min.). http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=378.0

4.) Properly rehydrate your yeast. http://www.danstaryeast.com/sites/default/files/windsor_datasheet.pdf

5.) Your wort/beer should be held at 64F-65F for a minimum of 8 weeks. Cold crash for 2 days; Now keg and wait 4 weeks; holding it @64-65F; sampling once a week until the flavors have mellowed.

6.) Add your DME at the start of the boil (preferably to cool water while heating the water) and the LME about 10 - 15 min before the end of the boil (I think they've updated their instructions to include this.)

7.) If your finished beer is darker brown/black instead of a lighter brown then you've caramelized or burnt sugars and probably won't like the result. The color should be light brown, not dark brown or black.

8.) Cut your water with distilled water. Use half distilled (or RO) and half tap water.

I've successfully made Caribou Slobber; but I had to buy all of the ingredients myself and put the kit together such that I could do all of the above.

It is a good beer when properly made and aged (mellowed); however, Northern Brewer marketing will make you believe that you can just "make the kit" per their lacking directions and the beer will turn out great in a short period of time! Unfortunately I was also mislead by this and the amount of work and knowledge to make a good Caribou Slobber is simply beyond that of a first time homebrewer.
Awesome post guy....I am only into my second brew, but thanks to this site quickly realized that NB's "brew sheet" is WOEFULLY lacking in information and gives bad advice.

For instance "Place fermentation vessel in a WARM, dark place till fermentation begins"...what is warm? I think most people would interpret this as putting it in the warmest place in your home - the exact opposite of what you should do.
The sheet makes no mention of avoiding a too hot fermentation which is CRITICAL in making any beer.
When steeping grains, it says "for 20 minutes or until water reaches 170 degrees"...it says this after telling you to "heat 2.5 gallons of water"...what is "heat"...specifically. Again most people would interpret this as to not begin steeping until the water is heated...which at that point it is already going to be close to 170!!

I could go on...not to knock N'Brewer...they appear to sell good stuff, but damn - a guy shouldn't have to brew 5-6 beers before just beginning to get it right. You would think NB would give the best advice possible - which encourages people to keep brewing and buying their producs
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Old 04-21-2013, 02:48 PM   #13
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Awesome post guy....I am only into my second brew, but thanks to this site quickly realized that NB's "brew sheet" is WOEFULLY lacking in information and gives bad advice.

For instance "Place fermentation vessel in a WARM, dark place till fermentation begins"...what is warm? I think most people would interpret this as putting it in the warmest place in your home - the exact opposite of what you should do.
The sheet makes no mention of avoiding a too hot fermentation which is CRITICAL in making any beer.
When steeping grains, it says "for 20 minutes or until water reaches 170 degrees"...it says this after telling you to "heat 2.5 gallons of water"...what is "heat"...specifically. Again most people would interpret this as to not begin steeping until the water is heated...which at that point it is already going to be close to 170!!

I could go on...not to knock N'Brewer...they appear to sell good stuff, but damn - a guy shouldn't have to brew 5-6 beers before just beginning to get it right. You would think NB would give the best advice possible - which encourages people to keep brewing and buying their producs
I think part of what's going on here is that they're trying to create basic instructions for anybody. Then you can improve upon those in any way you'd like. Everybody seems to have their own process
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by iamwhatiseem View Post

For instance "Place fermentation vessel in a WARM, dark place till fermentation begins"...what is warm? I think most people would interpret this as putting it in the warmest place in your home - the exact opposite of what you should do.
The sheet makes no mention of avoiding a too hot fermentation which is CRITICAL in making any beer.
I think NB gives this advice because they're located in Minnesota. Getting a hot fermentation there is probably difficult. Thing is, I live in Miami, and getting too cold of a fermentation here is practically impossible. Actually getting a cold enough fermentation here is ridiculously challenging. It's kind of silly that they wouldn't just account for different climates considering that they're one of the largest online vendors of homebrew equipment and ingredients. They do give a yeast temperature range at the beginning of the sheets though.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:07 PM   #15
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a guy shouldn't have to brew 5-6 beers before just beginning to get it right.
I've thrown away *many* batches learning how to brew. Yes it's a waste of time and money to learn that you need to invest more time and money on equipment upgrades, ingredients etc.. to make better beer; only to have to buy that same damn kit again and hope to get it right this time. Not sure how to resolve this conundrum.

1.) Here's a $30 kit; go home and make your beer. Your success will largely depend on your ability to follow instruction and your environment (have a cold basement?, have good water?, sanitize properly? etc..).
2.) Here's a $30 kit and $2000 worth of new equipment; go home and make your beer. Your success will largely depend on following instructions.

What's missing from both is the knowledge acquired both from research and from actually going through the process of brewing in your environment (aka. experience). Seems to be the only way to learn (albeit expensive).

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I think part of what's going on here is that they're trying to create basic instructions for anybody. Then you can improve upon those in any way you'd like. Everybody seems to have their own process
For the most part, sure that's why they provide generic instruction, but also to convince people that the upfront investment will be minimal, and one of *their* starter kits will suffice. You'd scare away a lot of people if you told them they needed advanced items like stir plates, temperature controlled environments and what-have-you to make the kit.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:16 PM   #16
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I think NB gives this advice because they're located in Minnesota. Getting a hot fermentation there is probably difficult.
Environment has a lot to do with brewing success. Apartment or house? Have a cold basement or not? etc.. etc.. Take a look at guys like Craig from YouTube making all of those Coopers kits... he's in Canada, in his basement. I'm guessing he's got a cool enough environment with decent water to make good Coopers kits. Give one of those coopers kits to a guy in an apartment in San Antonio, TX. That'd be a different story...
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:55 PM   #17
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Environment has a lot to do with brewing success. Apartment or house? Have a cold basement or not? etc.. etc.. Take a look at guys like Craig from YouTube making all of those Coopers kits... he's in Canada, in his basement. I'm guessing he's got a cool enough environment with decent water to make good Coopers kits. Give one of those coopers kits to a guy in an apartment in San Antonio, TX. That'd be a different story...
Not to argue...but then they should give specifics. I mean...how hard is it to add "between 64-68 degrees is ideal"? And then a small paragraph of a few suggestions to accomplish this depending on your environment.

This forum probably saved my first brew from being a disaster, and absolutely is contributing to my 2nd being much better. Guys like ShootsNRoots and that Ravvvy guy - deserve a beer from all of us.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:12 PM   #18
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I think NB gives this advice because they're located in Minnesota. Getting a hot fermentation there is probably difficult. Thing is, I live in Miami, and getting too cold of a fermentation here is practically impossible. Actually getting a cold enough fermentation here is ridiculously challenging. It's kind of silly that they wouldn't just account for different climates considering that they're one of the largest online vendors of homebrew equipment and ingredients. They do give a yeast temperature range at the beginning of the sheets though.
This is a mistaken impression of Minnesota where we can expect summer temperature that exceed the hottest days in Miami. Even as far north in Minnesota as I live, days in the mid-90 are normal in the summer with an occasional day over 100. Winters are cold for sure but not our summers.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:20 PM   #19
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Not to argue...but then they should give specifics. I mean...how hard is it to add "between 64-68 degrees is ideal"? And then a small paragraph of a few suggestions to accomplish this depending on your environment.

This forum probably saved my first brew from being a disaster, and absolutely is contributing to my 2nd being much better. Guys like ShootsNRoots and that Ravvvy guy - deserve a beer from all of us.
You can make drinkable beer by following their instructions. You can make BETTER beer by controlling the temperature, making a yeast starter, cold steeping dark grains, using the right water, etc.... I think the instructions are adequate for making drinkable beer. Then as you get into the hobby and want to improve, you search for ways to improve and begin to try new things with it. But if you're having a hard time controlling the temperature, one thing you can do is sit the fermenter in a shallow water bath. Drape a T-shirt over it and put it in an area with good air circulation or run a fan by it.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:35 PM   #20
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You can make drinkable beer by following their instructions. You can make BETTER beer by controlling the temperature, making a yeast starter, cold steeping dark grains, using the right water, etc.... I think the instructions are adequate for making drinkable beer. Then as you get into the hobby and want to improve, you search for ways to improve and begin to try new things with it. But if you're having a hard time controlling the temperature, one thing you can do is sit the fermenter in a shallow water bath. Drape a T-shirt over it and put it in an area with good air circulation or run a fan by it.
ergo - why I said this forum probably saved my first batch. I indeed used the "swamp" method because I read it here. I ran across someone saying the fermentation temp. is best in the 60's...then I read another and another...I looked at the carboy...SH*T!!!...it was at 76 degrees...so I frantically searched on what to do. Thank Goodness it was early in the process.
I also steeped the grains when the water was already hot (150).
With this second batch (day 8 right now) I am following instructions from here.
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