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Old 10-11-2006, 12:25 AM   #1
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Default Beginning to Brew: Introduction and a few questions...

Greetings all!

Just wanted to introduce myself as an aspiring, new brewer and poster to these parts. I am 24 and from good ol' Pennsylvania, so if there are any locals here let me know. I'd love to pick up as much information as possible and observing may be the best way.

Anyway, I got started this past Sunday with a hand-me-down Mr. Beer kit (I know, this isn't 'real' brewing per se, that is why I said 'aspiring' in the intro, haha) and one of their standard brew kits (West Coast Pale) I found at an Outlet store in Lancaster, PA. I took the liberty of adding some (1 cup) honey to their kit to increase the alcohol content and hopefully flavor. Otherwise, I followed their directions verbatim as I hadn't done much prior research on the brewing process. Basically (after sanitation) I boiled a few cups water, dropped in their extract (liquid), their 'booster' (which is just sugar i suppose) and the honey. Then I brought to room temp by ading to cold water, and dropped in the yeast (provided with kit) while around room temp. I then aerated it by stirring/splashing it vigorously. Put the lid on and I have a little cupboard with a stable 70-74 degree temp in my basement, so I dropped it in there. About 16 hours later I checked it and it was bubbling away (quite a few bubbles actually!). Still bubbling away today.

Anyway, I guess my only concerns with the Mr. Beer mix I threw together is that I do not see a 'krausen' or whatever (I've only read about this on here recently). Just some bubbles (mostly around the edges, but also on top) and a cloudy looking beer. There is also a little bit of a 'sludgey' ring that is left above the liquid level of the beer. Should there be more stuff floating on top of my beer or no? It seems to be bubbling from all levels and even the very bottom, but there is very little stuff on top... Also, has anyone EVER made a successful beer with these kits? I have the patience, so I intend on letting it ferment for about 2 weeks and sit in the bottle for at least 4-6 weeks for the best possible flavor, however I've only read 'horror' stories about these kits on here. (Forgive the amateur questions)

The good news is I believe I'm already hooked and I'm looking for a better setup without going TOO crazy. I have a lot of other hobbies (sports cars, guitar) and a demanding job so I can't brew every week or probably even every month. Anyway, I've checked out the midwest home brewing website and plan to order this (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/produ...px?ProdID=6874) kit anyday now if the members here approve/recommend it?

I also plan on buying a turkey fryer/aluminum pot (5-6 gallon) from Target/WalMart/wherever I can get the best deal bc I want to brew from my basement and not my kitchen stove. Is this a good idea?

Anyway, any comments, criticism, or questions are welcome... Also the answer to my Mr. Beer questions might be nice. Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-11-2006, 01:01 AM   #2
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That scuzzy ring is evidence that a layer of kraeusen had formed, but you just didn't see it. Fermentations can finish very quickly, especially if the temps are warm, and kraeusen doesn't necessarily stay around the whole time.

Mr Beer makes 2.5 gallon batches, right? That could ferment out overnight if it was warm enough.

Also, I've had batches that formed hardly and kraeusen (my current porter had hardly any), some that blew out the top of the fermenter, and one that nicely kraeusened two separate times in the primary with no outside influence.

Mother Nature is an unpredictable thing.

I'm sure good beer can be made with Mr. Beer, but upgrading is always good for the soul, if not the beer.

-walker

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Old 10-11-2006, 01:22 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response! Hopefully this Mr. Beer batch is at least drinkable. I wouldn't want to wait 6 - 8 weeks for nothing. And yeah, its only 2.5 gallons...

Anyway, one more question; Would my brew still be bubbling (a lot!) if the fermentation had finished? Also, I though it would take more than a day if I added a cup of honey. Mr Beer suggests 7 days, one seems awful quick... But hey I don't know much yet!

Thanks again!

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Old 10-11-2006, 01:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilkkyBrew
Anyway, one more question; Would my brew still be bubbling (a lot!) if the fermentation had finished?
No. The bubbles are certainly a sign that fermentation is still going on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlikkyBrew
Also, I though it would take more than a day if I added a cup of honey. Mr Beer suggests 7 days, one seems awful quick... But hey I don't know much yet!
I've never used honey in a brew before, but from all that I've read it will take a very long time to ferment out. Even though you used only 1 cup of honey, it's probably more than a half pound by weight (that's a guess.) It might take a long time to finish.

However, the KRAEUSEN doesn't necessarily last as long as your fermentation does. I would expect this to be particularly true when using something that ferments slooooowly. You probably had a small head of foam on it for a short time while the malt fermented, but now you are waiting for the honey to slowly ferment and the kraeusen has had a chance to subside.

The main point is to relax. You'll have some homebrew in a few weeks.

As for Mr. Beer saying it will take 7 days... that's a safe and conservative number. If you have temps in the middle range for the yeast, it could take that long.

For reference, most of my beers are done fermenting in 3 or 4 days. Once in a while one will go fast, once in a while one will go slow.

-walker
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Old 10-11-2006, 02:07 AM   #5
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Great! Thanks for the help. I'll let her sit until the bubbles cease and then bottle her up and see what happens after a few weeks of carbonation/conditioning...

Not sure how much (by weight) the honey was, but if I had to guess I think somewhere around 9-10oz. Anyone have a clue how long this will take the ferment? Just so I don't get my hopes up for 2 weeks if its not a possibility?

Hopefully I can get the Brewers Best kit shipped here shortly and start on another batch while I wait for my little 2.5 gal. batch thats going to town.

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Old 10-11-2006, 02:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilkkyBrew
Hopefully I can get the Brewers Best kit shipped here shortly and start on another batch while I wait for my little 2.5 gal. batch thats going to town.
Remember... it's a slippery slope as you start buying more gear, so be careful. I'm finally starting to lose my footing, too. I blame this forum for most of it.

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Old 10-11-2006, 02:22 AM   #7
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Oops, thought of one more question... I'm not sure how I feel about using table sugar to carbonate my beer. Would using some corn sugar from midwest brewing be a better option? If so, would I add the same amount as regular sugar? More? Less?

What are the other options out there for carbonating my brew? Anthing I can pick up at a grocery store as opposed to ordering online maybe?

Thoughts on this?

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Old 10-11-2006, 02:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilkkyBrew
Oops, thought of one more question... I'm not sure how I feel about using table sugar to carbonate my beer. Would using some corn sugar from midwest brewing be a better option?
Absolutely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilkkyBrew
If so, would I add the same amount as regular sugar? More? Less?
This is quoted from www.howtobrew.com (a GREAT free reference, bookmark it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by www.howtobrew.com
Here's how to make and add priming solutions:
1. Boil 3/4 cup of corn sugar (4 oz by weight), or 2/3 cup of white sugar, or 1 and 1/4 cup dry malt extract in 2 cups of water and let it cool.


That's for 5 gallons. You've got 2.5 gallons, so cut the measures in half.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlikkyBrew
What are the other options out there for carbonating my brew? Anthing I can pick up at a grocery store as opposed to ordering online maybe?

Thoughts on this?
You can use any fermentable sugar you want to carbonate your beer. Cane sugar is said to leave a weird cidery taste in beer. I've never used white cane sugar, but I have used brown sugar. That leaves a VERY subtle molasses taste, which can be a good thing. Weigh about the same as white sugar.

You could use more honey, but I wouldn't know how much, and it might take a long time to condition the beer.

Maple syrup, maybe? No idea how much.
Caro Corn syrup? Corn sugar with a few extras (vanilla, and something else). No idea how much.

-walker
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:28 AM   #9
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Great response, thanks!

I will either order the corn sugar from midwest or I might even try the brown sugar option. I'd rather have a slight molasses flavor than a cidery flavor with table/cane sugar.

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Old 10-12-2006, 02:02 AM   #10
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Here's a simple one for someone to field... Is the yeast supposed to float on the beer or fall to the bottom or run about all over? It looks like most of mine settles immediately?!

In any case, my first brew is bubbling away for 3 days now... I just don't see ANY yeast floating on top of the beer? I was under the impression that some yeast should float? Maybe not?

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