Originally Posted by Slowe1
I have read reviews of this kit and found that it tends to be sweet. I was thinking I would like to incorporate some of the hops I grew last year, dried and have in a ziplock freezer bag in my freezer. Any suggestions on how to go about that?
But first some patronizing talk about "real brew" vs. "kit and kilo" to get some fundamental concepts across. (Sorry in advance for the school-marm mode...)
Basic concept 1: The boil and adding hops: The "kit and kilo" is meant to be a condensed instant beer that because it's got all the ingredients in it you just mix and dunk it into the fermenter.
Actual extract brewing (and meanwhile the All Grain snobs will snark at me for considering extract brewing to be "real" brewing) consists of boiling the extract and water and adding hops at various times during the boil.
Hops can serve three different purposes: bittering, flavor, and aroma. If the hops are to be bittering hops than they should boil for a a full hour (more or less). If the hops are to be flavoring hops then the should be boiled for fifteen minutes. If the hops are to be aroma hops then they should be added to the boiling wort and then immediately have the wort taken off the flame.
Those "the boil" consists of bringing the wort to a boil; add the bittering hops at the beginning of the boil. Add the flavoring hops after 45 minutes and then end the boil at 60 minutes and add the aroma hops.
If, however, you have no bitter hops, there is no need to boil the wort for the full hour. Add the flavor hops and boil fifteen minutes; add the aroma hops and turn off.
And if there are only aroma hops: Bring wort to a boil; toss in the hops; turn off.
So you need to decide how much of your hops will be bittering, how much will be flavor, and how much aroma. What types of hops are they?
Basic Concept 2: Late additions: The sugar and the extracts are fermentables. They do not need to be all added at the beginning of the boil. some can be added at the end. People often prefer to do "late additions" to avoid an overcooked or scorched taste. Also less cooking of the extract keeps it from getting dark in color. So you can add all the sugar and canned syrup at the start of the boil or just a bit (maybe just the sugar) and the rest at the end of the boil. But you don't want to add it in the middle of the boil because it will cool the boil down and disrupt the boil
So that was my patronizing, talking down to you as though I'm hot stuff, 'cause I've been brewing for a full *two months*.
So here's what you do:
Boil 2.5 gallons of water and sugar. (Why 2.5 gallons? Why not. You will be making a concentrate and 2.5 gallons is decent size.) Bring to a boil.
Set a timer for 1 hour. Add your bittering hops.
At 45 minutes add your flavoring hops.
At 60 minutes add your aroma hops and turn off the burner.
Add the syrup. Reread uniondr's advice above. S/he know s/he's talking about.
Cool your wort down quickly. Put wort in fermenter. Top up to 6 gallons. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.
I neglected to pick up the dextrose. Could I use granulated sugar or brown sugar from the grocery store and how would I do that?
Yes. Um, I think the measurements are the same or negligibly different. (Others more knowledgable than I would know). I don't know what brown sugar vs. white sugar will do.
Better than sugar would be dry malt extract though.
I don't have a hydrometer so am hoping to guess when it is done fermenting. Would take suggestions here as well.
You have a a week or so to buy one. And .... nghnhhhh...... I realize
this is sacrelege and bad advice but ... As someone whose very first beer was a Mr. Beer I followed their advise that "it'll probably be done in two weeks and will definitely be done in three. There'll be a large layer of flaky white yeast on the bottom of the fermentor and when you taste it, it will taste like flat beer and not be sweet" and that was how I knew it was ready to bottle and it was.
But no, that's bad advise. You don't need a hydrometer on brew day. You'll need one to test for readiness when fermentation is done. (Gravity will be stable on readings two or three days apart.)