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Old 08-22-2012, 04:25 AM   #3981
defalcos
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. . . a couple people weren't happy with the results. There are three possible explanations for this that I can think of:

1. You did it wrong. Read the instructions more than once. If you just follow the directions, you're going to get decent beer.

2. The kit contained old/mishandled extract & yeast.

3. Your expectations were set too high. It's not going to make a 35 point beer, but it will be decent if you follow the directions.
A few comments on the above:
1) Definitely a possibility. It's amazed me over the past 30 plus years the number of customers that have come in and bought more or less the same ingredients and yet ended up with noticeably different results. Procedure is important!

2) Possible but probably not probable. Malt syrup does get old if left on the shelf and the color darkens noticeably with age. Yeast will likely go before the syrup, but the shelf life is something like 2 years.

3) The most likely of the three IMHO. I tasted a lot of initial MB batches that customers have brought in over the years and have been underwhelmed myself. I don't think the main problem is the quality of the HME or the dried yeast provided, so much as the quantity (at least of the HME). Frankly, 1.2 lbs. of malt extract for 8 liters of beer is very light in my opinion, especially if you are hoping for import/craft beer results. Two cans will produce a noticeably better beer (unless you prefer standard domestic beer). I see that Mr. Beer is beginning to release some larger cans (1.8 lbs) and I expect that the results will be noticeably better. Replacing the booster with more malt is a good start.

Other potential pitfalls include:
4) Fermentation temperature. We're probably extra sensitive to this on the Gulf Coast, but temperatures in the upper 70's & low 80's will yield noticeably inferior results. Sometimes this is difficult to avoid in the six months of the year that we call summer down here. If possible, choose cooler temperatures (62° - 70°F). You'll be glad you did.

5) Age. Many beginning homebrewers underestimate just how much the flavor of homebrew improves with adequate aging. What tastes like crap at a week or two in the bottle may taste MUCH better at three to four weeks, and absolutely great at two to three months. FWIW I've noticed this difference is even more pronounced on homebrews with a relatively high percentage of adjuncts (e.g. sugar, booster, honey, etc.). If you use a whole package of Booster in a batch, that's 13 oz. of adjunct versus only 19 oz. of malt extract (actually, if you remove the moisture from the syrup, it would closer to 16 - 17 oz. of dried malt extract). You're approaching 45 - 50% adjuncts. Hopefully MB will move toward those larger cans and dump the Booster in the future. Better flavor, fuller-body, quicker aging. Can I have an "Amen" from the choir?

Scott Birdwell
DeFalco's Home Wine & Beer Supplies
Houston TX
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:30 AM   #3982
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Hi. Was hoping to get some info on a hop variety. I bought some rhizomes from a hop farm in Tasmania in Australia. I live in western Australia. The variety is called red earth. I cannot find any info on this variety on the Internet and the provider has got no more info other than when hops are developing they can have a red hue to them and that they have a earthy woody aroma.

Anyone got any more info on red earth hops.

Cheers
Josh

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Old 08-22-2012, 02:16 PM   #3983
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Hi. Was hoping to get some info on a hop variety. I bought some rhizomes from a hop farm in Tasmania in Australia. I live in western Australia. The variety is called red earth. I cannot find any info on this variety on the Internet and the provider has got no more info other than when hops are developing they can have a red hue to them and that they have a earthy woody aroma.

Anyone got any more info on red earth hops.

Cheers
Josh
You might get better results in the ingredients forum: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/

or maybe the hops growing forum: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/

But there may not be much out there about these. I did a google search and only found one link (http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/foru...howtopic=65327) which was a posting on another forum asking if anybody knew anything about them.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:29 PM   #3984
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As the saying goes, "To each, their own!" Seems like a lot of work for a twelve pack, but obviously it's not too tedious for you and having variety is definitely nice. Have fun!

Scott Birdwell
DeFalco's Home Wine & Beer Supplies
Houston TX
It's not work, it's fun! I'd brew every night if I could!
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:52 PM   #3985
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2) Possible but probably not probable. Malt syrup does get old if left on the shelf and the color darkens noticeably with age. Yeast will likely go before the syrup, but the shelf life is something like 2 years.

Hopefully MB will move toward those larger cans and dump the Booster in the future. Better flavor, fuller-body, quicker aging. Can I have an "Amen" from the choir?

Scott Birdwell
DeFalco's Home Wine & Beer Supplies
Houston TX
Agreed this is not the most likely of causes, but I'm thinking of the "picked it up at a yardsale" guy. I see these routinely at yardsales/fleamarkets etc...it seems a lot of people buy the kit, or receive it as a gift and then never use it. Who knows how long those have sat around and under what conditions?

Would you settle for a hell yeah?
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:32 PM   #3986
defalcos
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Agreed this is not the most likely of causes, but I'm thinking of the "picked it up at a yardsale" guy. I see these routinely at yardsales/fleamarkets etc...it seems a lot of people buy the kit, or receive it as a gift and then never use it. Who knows how long those have sat around and under what conditions?

Would you settle for a hell yeah?
That's true, especially the gift part. Every November & December we sell tons of kits that end up in the hands of people who have no real interest in brewing. It's a shot in the dark gift idea, especially for folks who are hard to buy for. Most of the other 10 1/2 months of the year, the vast majority of the kits actually get used because the people that buy them are either the end user or they were requested by someone who wants to brew. Perhaps this is one difference between Mr. Beer & typical LHBS kits: MB gets sold for a little as $30 - $40 and most LHBS kits with ingredients go for around $100, if not more. People tend to consider whether they are actually going to use the item before spending that kind of money. But, for $30 - $40, you might just buy it on a whim. Hopefully, they'll follow through. . .

The other part of this is the "abused/mishandled" aspect. If the dried yeast is stored in the garage during the heat of the summer, it is going to lose viability quickly. Meanwhile the syrup is darkening and losing all semblance of subtlety.

I still suspect that the major source of dissatisfaction is the expectation that the beer will taste just like (fill in commercial beer name here) and when the beer tastes rough with a noticeable twang (especially if being sampled too early), they're let down. As the expression goes, "Patience, Grasshopper!" It'll get better!

Scott Birdwell
DeFalco's Home Wine & Beer Supplies
Houston TX
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:12 PM   #3987
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Thanks for all the great advice on here, everyone! I finally settled on a kit from Midwest, along with a Autumn Amber ale kit. Didn't spend big money, and pretty much have what I need to get started. My best advice to other noobs is this: TAKE THE TIME TO READ THROUGH THESE FORUMS! Ask questions. Check out the websites for the various vendors you see on here (some have really great FAQ and instructional sections). I can say that it took very little time to get a general idea of what to expect, what you need, and what to do IF you do your homework first. I'll keep everyone posted on how my first brew day goes! Thanks again...

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Old 08-23-2012, 03:59 PM   #3988
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Thanks for all the great advice on here, everyone! I finally settled on a kit from Midwest, along with a Autumn Amber ale kit. Didn't spend big money, and pretty much have what I need to get started. My best advice to other noobs is this: TAKE THE TIME TO READ THROUGH THESE FORUMS! Ask questions. Check out the websites for the various vendors you see on here (some have really great FAQ and instructional sections). I can say that it took very little time to get a general idea of what to expect, what you need, and what to do IF you do your homework first. I'll keep everyone posted on how my first brew day goes! Thanks again...
So I take it you got the Starter Plus kit with the bottles and kettle? Cool. I won't say good luck, I'll just say have fun! You're gonna love it.

PM-ing you with some tips for your first batch.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:06 PM   #3989
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It looks like the full lineup of the new refill kits is now up on the Mr. Beer site. There's 3 distinct levels of kits (maybe 3.5?):

"Standard": $15.95-17.95
3.7 % ABV, single 1.87 lb can of HME; 10 varieties, ranging from light "lagers" to Irish Stout

"Craft": $21.95
5.5% ABV, single 2.86 lb can of HME; 4 varieties, focusing on full-bodied ales

"Deluxe": $19.44-25.44
Any of the above kits, with a pouch of (style appropriate) UME that adds 1% ABV to the base kit

Standard refills are available now, as they have been for some time; everything else comes online Sept 4th. I assume we'll see individual ingredients (HME/UME) for sale at some point soon after that. I imagine we'll continue to see some sort of seasonal releases as well, that focus on more than just higher ABV, since the normal range now spans from 3.7 up to 6.5% ABV already.

On the plus side: All refills are now all-malt, booster seems to be a thing of the past. These kits will probably, on the whole, make better beers than the old kits. There's more variety of off-the-shelf higher ABV beers now; ~6%+ ABV kits are no longer limited to single-run "Seasonal" specials.

On the downside: Prices have gone up. Most of the Premium & Deluxe kits aren't that far off the price you could brew a 5 gal extract batch for. Then again, Mr. Beer has never been the value proposition (Aside from initial startup cost).

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Old 08-23-2012, 11:28 PM   #3990
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Got it! Thanks, Bro!

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