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Old 01-22-2013, 03:20 PM   #1
McCrackN
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Default New Brewer Needs to be Pointed in the Right Direction

Okay, so I got a Mr. Beer kit as a late Christmas present and am very excited to start crafting and customizing my own beers. I just got done brewing my first batch and I have several issues to address:

1) The price of the HME on their website is pretty much the same cost (or more) than buying beer at the grocery store

2) The Czech Pilsner I brewed came out way too sweet and I'm very disappointed... I didn't realize until I was almost done making the wort that I was out of sugar... Had to use pure cane sugar which was a big mistake

So I went back on the Mr. Beer website and was looking for solutions to my problems and I would like to use the pellet hops instead of the HME, the booster instead of sugar and just the brewers yeast that they have on the site to get my next brew to turn out right but I was wondering:

1) Are the pellet hops meant to be a substitute for the HME or are they just to add flavor

and

2) What are my options at this point. I would like to use the Mr. Beer kit but I would like for it to be cost effective. Is there a better route than HME?

Any experienced brewers out there who can help me get into my new hobby?

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Old 01-22-2013, 03:27 PM   #2
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I've never done Mr beer,but pellet hops have to be boiled to get bittering,flavor,or aroma. You'd need some plain (un-hopped) extract in a partial boil,or in your case boiling maybe 3 gallons down to 2.5. Late extract additions keep colors lighter & no extract twang.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:33 PM   #3
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I've also never done Mr Beer, but I think you're going to be hard-pressed to brew Mr Beer for cheaper than buying beer. If you want to save money on beer you need to brew a larger quantity. Mr Beer is a good gateway into 5gal or more batches.

Also...when I saw HME I cringed. That must be the PTSD flaring up. In Iraq/Afghanistan HME = Homemade Explosive which is what is often used in IEDs. Ok time for me to RDWHAHB!

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:11 PM   #4
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Mr. Beer fermenter kegs will hold 2 1/2 gallons (so I'm told) so you can just get an extract kit and halve the ingredients and make 2 separate batches but one of the first steps you probably need to do is read "How to Brew" by John Palmer. he was gracious enough to put the first edition online where you can read it for free but the next edition does have some changes that make it worthwhile to read if it is in your budget.

www.howtobrew.com

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:59 PM   #5
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I have just started brewing, as in I made a Mr. Beer batch. It isn't even bottle conditioned yet. However, I have been reading and reading and reading about home brewing. Here is what I figured.

My Mr. Beer Classic American Light ended up giving me 20 12oz bottles. I think I could have gotten a partial fill on one more bottle but I gave it up. So for 20 bottles of beer I spent 30 dollars (the Mr. Beer deluxe kit on after Christmas clearance). so $1.50 a bottle not including the time I spent on the process, around 4.5 hours. I can buy my "fancy" drinking beer (New Glarus Spotted Cow) for 13.99 a 12 pack at my local Walmart. I can always buy a 12 pack anywhere for under 15 bucks. I figure my price per 12oz bottle of Spotted Cow is at $1.22 (tax included). Say $20 bucks for a Mr. Beer refill, that makes it $1.00 a bottle plus the time cost and other bottling costs (ie. priming sugar/tabs, sanitizer, cleaner, caps)

Right there I am not saving money with Mr. Beer. If I drink High life light in a 30 pack, my per 12oz cost goes down to $0.47. So kill me, I like High life light.

What I am getting at is, you won't save money on home brewing. I think if you are looking for a hobby that will "pay you back" in some sense, this is a good one. If you are looking to make something you percieve to need for less money than you can buy it, frankly baking has a better savings potential.

So you can see where I am headed in my new hobby I will outline my recent costs and plans.

I am 72 dollars into Mr. Beer and various brewing related gear (capper, caps, StarSan, oxyclean, corn sugar/prime tabs). I plan to use my Mr. Beer today to make the White house honey ale one gallon Northern Brewer kit ($10.50). After that, I will be making EdWort's Apfelwein (search here for it) in the Mr. Beer keg (scaling down to 2.5 gallons) ($20 for materials). I just need to buy apple juice. After this, I will have 39ish 12oz servings for around $0.80 a serving (not including caps/bottles/stock brewing items). I don't know if I will like either drink, but I am willing to give it a go.

Where you may start to save money (and I still doubt you will), is in making a "house beer" from a kit, or all grain. I've had the Northern Brewer extract kit American Wheat beer, I like it. You can include it in their 5 gallon brewing kits. I actually hope to replace my "fancy" drinking beer with this. Their extract kit retails for ~$21. You could get 54 12oz. bottles from this one kit. Making your 12oz price, around $0.40. Including brewing stock stuff maybe $0.45 a bottle. I say you may save money because you are sure to buy more stuff, try different types, throw out a whole batch or whatever.

To brew a "house beer" I spent $105 yesterday on a 6.5 gallon bucket kit and 21 quart stock pot and 5 gallons of Walmart spring water (my village water taste terrible). That price doesn't include the extract kit. After I spread that cost out over many many cases of home brew, I hope to be at $0.45 a 12oz bottle, but it is going to take me a lot of beer to recover that initial cost. I won't save any money however, I have a wish list that is near $300 in brewing supplies and gear (and I have not even learned about kegging).

I sincerely hope I may have helped you, I don't intend to come off as condescending. There are many more people here who know volumes more than I do, I am sure they will be along at some point to answer your questions.

To answer your questions, let your pilsner sit in the bottle for 2 more weeks then try it. It should get better. You can use your Mr. Beer keg as a primary fermenter to make 2.5 gallon batches of beer, search around here for how to threads. HME is hopped malt extract. It is kind of a Mr. Beer thing. More commonly you use malt extract and add hops to the boil. The best cost effective route is to extract brew using a malt extract and hops recipe reduced to 2.5 gallons volume.

I want to add, I am not a shill for Northern Brewer, they are just my local home brew store.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:24 PM   #6
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"What I am getting at is, you won't save money on home brewing."

Not exactly. My friend had been brewing Mr Beer for a few years, and I thought it was relatively cheap until I looked at it and compared it to the kits offered from MoreBeer. The cost was similar yet you got a 5 gal batch and better beer. And the cost can be slightly reduced if you buy the ingredients separately.

My friend chose a kit from their $0.50 per beer section. He was paying $5 for a 6 pack of 16 oz Busch, which we'll call an 8 pack. That's cheaper than the Busch he buys.

If you "wash" your yeast or make slightly larger starters so as to have some left over you can reduce the cost a bit.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:27 PM   #7
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Gocrew, I decided early on to write off the cost of the equipment...

so when people ask, I can tell them, that I got 52 bottles of beer from my five gallon boil which cost me ~32$ (under $1.00 a bottle)

Granted, bigger beers are going to cost more...

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodwha View Post
"What I am getting at is, you won't save money on home brewing."

Not exactly. My friend had been brewing Mr Beer for a few years, and I thought it was relatively cheap until I looked at it and compared it to the kits offered from MoreBeer. The cost was similar yet you got a 5 gal batch and better beer. And the cost can be slightly reduced if you buy the ingredients separately.

My friend chose a kit from their $0.50 per beer section. He was paying $5 for a 6 pack of 16 oz Busch, which we'll call an 8 pack. That's cheaper than the Busch he buys.

If you "wash" your yeast or make slightly larger starters so as to have some left over you can reduce the cost a bit.

There is a part of my post where I talked about my plans for the house beer, I plan my cost per 12oz to be 40cents, not including standard brewing supplies. I agree you can save money, but if you do catch the bug, you will spend quite a bit in brewing hardware to make your beer at 40cents a serving. If you ignore the setup costs and have a perfect batch rate, you will be making beer cheaper than you can buy it. However, I don't know many home brewers who run bare bones to make the cheapest alcohol possible. If it was the goal, jug wine is the cheapest thing around.



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Gocrew, I decided early on to write off the cost of the equipment...

so when people ask, I can tell them, that I got 52 bottles of beer from my five gallon boil which cost me ~32$ (under $1.00 a bottle)

Granted, bigger beers are going to cost more...
I use your idea to tell the better half that my beer is going to cost less than the Spotted Cow we both love. I didn't tell her the setup cost I hope she does what I do when I see her with a new purse, be happy that there is only one new purse and not 5.

I don't normally figure out costs like this, but I thought the original poster may be helped with my cost break down. It also helps me figure out when I will "break even", but I am still massing my bottle collection the old fashioned way, buying them with beer in them. I guess I am not saving anything yet.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:04 PM   #9
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Jumped the gun. Sorry!
I don't count the cost of equipment though. Small batches wouldn't require much of anything additional if you were wanting to use your kitchen supplies and picked up free buckets from the grocery store. An air lock, hydrometer, and either a siphon or bucket with a spigot.

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...tasting a beer at 1 week, and again at 2....that to me just means there 2 less beers that are actually tasting good and are ready at the end.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:13 PM   #10
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You really can't put a price on bringing alcohol into this world, especially when you're a few batches in and you're drinking what you brewed while brewing more...it's the circle of life!

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