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Old 02-16-2009, 01:17 AM   #1
SaintBrew
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Default Brand-new brewer questions.

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Okay,

So I just went out and recently purchased a "Cooper's Micro-brew Kit" from my local K-Mart (I'm Australian). For the time being I plan to stick to easy to use home-brew kits, such as the ones Coopers sells. I will one day move on to making my batches (through, mashing? partial-mashing?), but only when I have a steady grip on the fermentation process. My first brew (an Ale) is currently in its 5th day of Fermentation. I just have a couple of questions.

1) Cleaning.

To clean the kit, my friend and I used standard unscented household bleach mixed with 23litres of water, placed all equipment coming in contact with the brew inside the fermenter and let soak for 1/2 hour. After this, we rinsed EVERYTHING in boiling hot water, and let soak on a CLEAN tea-towel. Is this process okay? Any tips/advice for easier cleaning?

2) Alcohol Content.

We want to make a strong alcoholic brew to break out for my mates 19th Birthday. Basically, I've been reading that TOO much sugar can cause bottles to explode. Though, I think that's only for priming, and we aren't using priming sugar. As per Cooper's instructions we are using carbon lollies. I've also read that honey can be used to increase the... food?... for the yeast. How much honey? How do I put it in the beer? When? What is too much? And questions of the like.

TL;DR:

1) Is cleaning the fermenter and all equipment with bleach okay?
2) How can a more alcoholic brew be achieved? What can be used, what are the rules of adding more fermentables to a brew, and more-over what is the highest % you've made, and how.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:30 AM   #2
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Cleaning with bleach is fine. If you want to sanitize you may want to try some of the no rinse sanitizers out there. (starsan, idophor)

To increase the ABV, increase the fermentables in a given volume. Try to match the increase with the style of the beer. (LME, DME, Grain Bill)

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Old 02-16-2009, 01:40 AM   #3
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+1 to bleach. It works. 'Nuff said.

Now, as to increasing the ABV: Just tossing in more corn or cane sugar is a bad idea. Excessive use of non-malt sugar will yield a less-than-good beer.

Better to simply add another tin of Cooper's - that is, if you're talking about the 1.7kg tin kits. 3.4kg of the Cooper's hopped extract in 19L (approximately 5 US Gallons) will yield an original gravity (OG) of ~1.055, which should yield an ABV of between 5 and 6%. If you want more kick than that, that's the point to add a half-kilo of corn sugar.

Cheers,

Bob

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Old 02-16-2009, 01:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by antsp1 View Post
To increase the ABV, increase the fermentables in a given volume. Try to match the increase with the style of the beer. (LME, DME, Grain Bill)

Ant
Keeping in mind, I am a TOTAL beginner. I know next to nothing about home-brew other than what I've read from the Cooper's Instruction Manual.

Fermentables I assume are the sugars or honey etc; yeast food? Say I am making a 23L Lager (my next kit) normally, I'd add the wort (that's what it's called, right?) from the can, then add the 1kg of Sugar (though I'm using brew enhancer Sugar link: Homebrew, Coopers homebrew beers and ales. Mix, brew, bottle.). Are you saying that instead of just 1kg of Sugar, I'd add more?
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:41 AM   #5
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1. Bleach is okay for cleaning, but it's not the best solution. I would recommend you shell out a few bucks for some Oxyclean Free (no scents or dyes) or even some PBW - Powdered Brewery Wash. Keep in mind that your current process is only cleaning, it's not sanitizing. Any time you rinse with tap water or set your equipment on an unsanitized surface, you're introducing bacteria. Remember that cleaning and sanitizing are two different things, both important, but very much seperate. My process is to soak in PBW to clean then soak in water and Star San (only a few bucks at any LHBS or online store) to sanitize.

2. Adding more sugars for the yeast to munch on will increase the alcohol content. However, be careful here, because you run the risk of ending up with something you don't want to drink. Adding table sugar or corn sugar might give a little more kick to your brew, but it will also generally thin it out, resulting in less body and less flavor. Note that this won't cause bottle bombs (I'm talking about adding sugar in the wort, not to prime your bottles here) but it might not taste like you want it to taste. My advice, if you want a stronger beer, look for a stronger recipe so that you aren't sacrificing flavor for alcohol. Barleywine, RIS, double IPA, etc...

Note also that any fermentable sugar can and will be eaten by the yeast, and turned into alcohol. Table sugar, corn sugar, molasses, honey, even various fruit.

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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintBrew View Post
Keeping in mind, I am a TOTAL beginner. I know next to nothing about home-brew other than what I've read from the Cooper's Instruction Manual.

Fermentables I assume are the sugars or honey etc; yeast food? Say I am making a 23L Lager (my next kit) normally, I'd add the wort (that's what it's called, right?) from the can, then add the 1kg of Sugar (though I'm using brew enhancer Sugar link: Homebrew, Coopers homebrew beers and ales. Mix, brew, bottle.). Are you saying that instead of just 1kg of Sugar, I'd add more?
What he's saying is to add another can of Cooper's mix. This too is fermentable, and will result in a more full-bodied beer, as opposed to simple sugar which will thin it out. Then, if that's still not enough for you, you can add in some sugar after you've tried this.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:48 AM   #7
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Okay, this is all really helpful.

For my next Lager, I'll add another can then, and keep the same amount of sugar? Though as NQ3X said, if I want more kick I can add 1/2kg of Corn Sugar.

So with 3.2kg of Coopers Lager mix, in a 23Litre fermenter with 1.5kg of sugar (mixed brew enhancer - previously linked, and corn sugar?), what % would this yeild?

Sorry if I am coming across as a little dense, this is a whole new world to me.

Thanks for all the help already lads.

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Old 02-16-2009, 01:50 AM   #8
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The stuff in the can is called malt extract and that is what you want to add more of to increase alcohol. Adding more dextrose can cause your beer to taste thin and cidery. You can buy malt extract with or without hops, however, if you overload on unhopped your beer may be too sweet.

How about buying 2 cans of whatever beer style you want to brew and leave out the sugar completely? The sugars from the extra malt will take the place of the dextrose (or brew enhancer as they call it). This should make your beer taste better and raise the ABV.

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Old 02-16-2009, 01:52 AM   #9
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The stuff in the can is called malt extract and that is what you want to add more of to increase alcohol. Adding more dextrose can cause your beer to taste thin and cidery. You can buy malt extract with or without hops, however, if you overload on unhopped your beer may be too sweet.

How about buying 2 cans of whatever beer style you want to brew and leave out the sugar completely? The sugars from the extra malt will take the place of the dextrose (or brew enhancer as they call it). This should make your beer taste better and raise the ABV.
+1 to this. Alcohol content should always be secondary to flavor. Sure, you could dump a bunch of sugar in there to boost the ABV, but it's going to taste like cider, not beer.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:56 AM   #10
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+1 to this. Alcohol content should always be secondary to flavor. Sure, you could dump a bunch of sugar in there to boost the ABV, but it's going to taste like cider, not beer.
I agree with this, the only reason we're making this batch is for his 19th. Alcohol (good alcohol) is expensive in Australia. We have a lot of mates who will buy $5 Sacks of Wine, so for them flavour isn't a necessity.

Flavour is always going to be a priority, though this is a one of special order as it were.
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