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Old 11-14-2007, 02:29 PM   #1
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Default From kits to recipes...

I apologize if this belongs in the beginner's forum, but since it's directly related to extract brewing (even if it's beginner questions ), I thought I should post it in here.

I started brewing this summer with basic extract kits -- the 1.9kg liquid extracts from Coopers and the like that come with a yeast packet. Add water and sugar, and done. That kind of stuff. The first was a stout, which is just about gone now. The second was a blonde beer, which has spent a week conditioning in bottles. I opened one last night, and the flavours are weak.

Up until now, I've just been using the can of extract, water and dextrose (boiled together for an hour) and then the yeast. I want to move on to extract-based recipes so I can hopefully start making better homebrews.

I've been thinking of starting by taking a kit (my next is a Canadian red ale) and adjusting it with malt extract syrup (for the red, I'm looking at amber malt extract syrup) and trying to increase the taste and bitterness with hop pellets. Basically, I want a maltier and hoppier taste.

Does it make sense to do this as a step between the kits and extract recipes? If so, what's the general rule of thumb for how much of the syrup I should add to the boil?

Chris



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Old 11-14-2007, 02:45 PM   #2
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www.howtobrew.com

Read the section on Extract brewing with steeping grains. IMHO you will get a better beer than trying to jazz up can kits with more malt and hops.


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Old 11-14-2007, 02:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewt00l
www.howtobrew.com

Read the section on Extract brewing with steeping grains. IMHO you will get a better beer than trying to jazz up can kits with more malt and hops.
I've read through much of it, but I'm a bit concerned about steeping grains at this point. Many of the recipes call for certain malts, and I'm somewhat confused as to what I'll need to do to prepare them -- or whether I'll need extra equipment like a grain mill.

If it's something simple, then no problem, but I really don't feel I'm ready to get into partial mash processes yet.

Chris
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctalbot
I've read through much of it, but I'm a bit concerned about steeping grains at this point. Many of the recipes call for certain malts, and I'm somewhat confused as to what I'll need to do to prepare them -- or whether I'll need extra equipment like a grain mill.

If it's something simple, then no problem, but I really don't feel I'm ready to get into partial mash processes yet.

Chris
Sounds like you need to read that part again... Get them crushed or crush them yourself with a rolling pin or bottle....steep, remove, brew. The grains can impart more flavor and color than you can achieve with straight extracts.


http://www.howtobrew.com/section2/chapter13.html


Partial Mash is a different beast.
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:10 PM   #5
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+1 for Extract w/steep kit. Just order one online or pick one up at your LHBS. I've brewed a few of Midwest's extract kits and they turned out great. Steeping is very simple; it's like making a gigantic pot of tea. The only thing you have to ensure is a steady temperature range.

It's very easy and you'll be surprised at how much your beer will improve over the can kits.



p.s. Most kits (at least at Midwest) come with decent instructions on how to do everything.

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Old 11-14-2007, 03:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctalbot
I've read through much of it, but I'm a bit concerned about steeping grains at this point. Many of the recipes call for certain malts, and I'm somewhat confused as to what I'll need to do to prepare them -- or whether I'll need extra equipment like a grain mill.

If it's something simple, then no problem, but I really don't feel I'm ready to get into partial mash processes yet.

Chris
It took me a lot of reading and re-reading to understand the differences here, but steeping is really very easy. As the guys say, partial mash is a further step up, and involves essentially mashing but without the full all-grain equipment (which limits the amount of grain you can mash - as far as I can make out).

I did my first extract kit with steeping grains on the weekend. Apart from adding 30-40 mins to your brew time, it's very easy. I used an Austin Homebrew Supply kit, and the grains come milled and good to go in a muslin bag. No special equipment required (not even a rolling pin). Other kits might need you to bash the grains a bit so check the kit instructions!
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewt00l
Sounds like you need to read that part again...
No argument there.

Alright, so this sounds like it should be fairly easy and should improve my extract-based homebrews tenfold over the kits I have been using. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any grain/extract kits around, so I guess I'll be choosing ingredients on my own and going from there (more reading required).

I have this red ale extract kit sitting there that I guess I'll just do as is, but I'll get my hands on some grains, malt extract syrups and hops so I can move on to the type of brewing everyone is suggesting here.

Thanks a lot for the advice.

Now back to reading...

Chris
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:45 PM   #8
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Check out the kits at Austin Homebrew Supply. They have all kinds of clones to choose from plus basic styles. Their kits are very user friendly!

When steeping make sure you keep your temperatures in the correct range. Usually 150-155F. Too high and it could really turn out bitter tasting and it isn't a good bitter.

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Old 11-14-2007, 03:57 PM   #9
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As an alternative if you do decide to make some more cooper kits in the future dont boil them. The boiling will kill some of the hop flvors making it taste taste weaker.

The second thing you may want to try is to use malt extract intead of cornsugar. Using all sugar makes it the body right thin and can lead to weak cidery tastes. I make alot of cooper kits so if you make one again message me and i'll give you some tips to make that particular style tastier.

Whatever you decide - enjoy

Cheers

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Old 11-14-2007, 03:57 PM   #10
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It sounds like you've gotten some pretty good answers already, but I thought I'd add my 2 cents.

When I bought my brewing kit the LHBS owner "built" my first recipe on the spot. It had some specialty grains for steeping and used liquid malt extract. He also provided some good directions to follow. If you can do the packaged kits, you can steep grains. I'd suggest ordering a kit from one of the big online shops like austinhomebrew.com. Their kits come with specialty grains, extract, hops and yeast. Just follow the instructions.

Steeping is pretty simple. Have the grains crushed when you buy them. You can put them in a muslim grain bag which acts just like a big tea bag. Then just soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. I try to keep the water at about 150, but the temp is not critical as long it doesn't get above 170. Remove the grains, add some more water, bring it to a boil, and add your extract and hops (per the recipe schedule). That's all there really is to it.



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