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Old 01-21-2009, 01:41 PM   #1
yeasty
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Default why are kit instructions so horrible ?

i was reading the LONG post about mistakes folks have made brewing and still had results (it gave me hope for my under-primed brown ale). it left me wondering why my kit instructions are so crappy. you would be led to believe they want you to have a "simple" experience so you come back. BUT these instruction leave so much out that your chances of success are very low in my opinion. the first kit i used said to use BLEACH to sanitze, never mentioned anything about specific temps for wort boiling ect, never mentioned anything about aeration when transfering to bottling bucket, never said anything about the absolute importance of cleanliness (especially when using bleach). was not clear on how to read my hydrometer (still not sure im doing it right), does not talk about the CORRECT times for leaving things in fermenter .

is there an old thread someone can point me to that goes over the REAL process i should follow ?

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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Yep. Most directions are bad.

Check out the directions that NorthernBrewer.com supplies:

General Beer Kit Instructions

I found them to be just fine.

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:59 PM   #3
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Better yet, How to Brew - By John Palmer

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:11 PM   #4
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thanks guys ! i am just a little disappointed in the retailers. how hard it would it be to put a sheet of some better instructions in with the kit ??? when i called the retailer about some things i might have done wrong he said "why didnt you call me first ?" and i replied "why didnt you put better instructions in your kit ?"......it got me no where.

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:14 PM   #5
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I made sure to spend a lot of time studying the instructions, playing with the equipment, and asking questions before I actually got started brewing.

The Northern Brewer instructions were decent but I do have a couple of beefs. First, the instructions show pictures of all the equipment but nothing is labeled. For a brand new brewer like myself, I didn't know what the heck anything was so I had to go to their website and look everything up. Second, the instructions don't explain the difference between a full boil and partial boil. They only tell you how to make adjustments for the prior. Third, the basic kit instructions refer you to the instructions that came with the kit for an explanation on secondary fermenting. Well the instructions I was holding were the only instructions that came with the kit. I've got two weeks to figure out the secondary fermentation process but I'm not too worried about it.

I'm being nitpicky though. All in all, the instructions were good enough to get me through.

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:15 PM   #6
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I like the instructions that Midwest gives better than my local home brew supply. Most of their kits have you drop your specialty grains in and bring to near boiling and remove rather than steep at 155 degrees for 30 min. I'm not sure that there is a problem with that as they have turned out good beer but, I get a better feeling with the steeping for 30 min at 155 degrees.

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:27 PM   #7
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Northern brewer's instruction are some of the best...they show longer fermentattion/aging/carbonation times for each beer...up to several months.

But the answer is pretty simple, generally speaking kit manufacturers, especially kit an kilo manufacturers, are concerned with selling more and more kits NOT with the brewer making the best beer possible. They no that if they say in the instructions to wait, they may loose some people to hobbies that have more instant gratification.

They also know that the time that a homebrewer will remain buying kits is relatively short...they know that after a few kits, the brewer will either give up, start brewing extract batches from recipes in books and places like this, formulate their own recipes, or go all grain...so they want to sell as many kits as possible to the new brewer before he moves on to bigger and better things.

SO they no that even their beer will taste better if you leave it longer...but they know that in the time you wait you will be reading and learning and be less likely to buy another kit...They can sell three or four kits to you if you follow their directions in the same time frame that listening to us and waiting a month and bottle conditioning for another 3-4 weeks.

But Even Palmer says you should wait with kits...

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Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
I made great beer with brewer's best kits...I liked some of the recipes so much I brewed them with generic ingredients...I just calculated the LME for DME, and bought my hops and steeping grains ala-cart.
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:28 PM   #8
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The biggest thing I see is that Kit instructions are usually being written by someone with experience, who assumes the person reading the instructions has similar knowledge and abilities. Sometimes, they try to make it seem a little more simple, but they leave out some key steps in the process that would easily allow you to trip up if you're a newbie.

Luckily, anyone who has made it to HBT & is reading this stuff already has access to some great info & if they can use the search feature & take a few hours to read the basic steps, they'll quickly learn the necessary steps & they can just take the instructions as a general overview of the intended recipe.

I got into brewing because I enjoy cooking. Some of the best recipes I got were written by little old ladies & swiped out of Church cookbooks. They often forgot to write down some necessary steps, so if someone took the instructions literally step by step they'd never make an edible dish. However, if you knew the basic steps already, you could see the overall big picture & see the "special" ingredients being used to spice things up. I take brewing as kind of the same thing, you can find some gems of experience here & there if you take the time to know what the basic steps should be.

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:48 PM   #9
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It's also largely because all their instructions are the same for every type of beer. They have a big template with generic instructions and they just fill in the blanks.. "0.5 oz Cascade," etc. As we all know, to really get it right, the procedure will vary depending on the ingredients.

I'm sure AHS or any other home brew shop would love for you to write 2 or 3 pages of custom instructions for each of their 300 kits.

From a business perspective, it makes no sense to spend thousands of manhours on something that only noobs are going to read anyway. Not to mention, a lot of techniques are subject to individual style and equipment availability anyway, so there's always going to be people who disagree with instructions because there no way to please everyone, even if the instructions are custom made by Palmer himself.

Following instructions will make beer, plain and simple. They are for total noobs. That's all they're there for. LHBS's understand that after you make a few batches, you aren't going to use them anymore, except for the measurements.

It's like buying a Mr. Beer or whatever. It's just something to help you get off the ground.

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Old 01-21-2009, 03:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpo View Post
It's also largely because all their instructions are the same for every type of beer. They have a big template with generic instructions and they just fill in the blanks.. "0.5 oz Cascade," etc. As we all know, to really get it right, the procedure will vary depending on the ingredients.

I'm sure AHS or any other home brew shop would love for you to write 2 or 3 pages of custom instructions for each of their 300 kits.

From a business perspective, it makes no sense to spend thousands of manhours on something that only noobs are going to read anyway. Not to mention, a lot of techniques are subject to individual style and equipment availability anyway, so there's always going to be people who disagree with instructions because there no way to please everyone, even if the instructions are custom made by Palmer himself.

Following instructions will make beer, plain and simple. They are for total noobs. That's all they're there for. LHBS's understand that after you make a few batches, you aren't going to use them anymore, except for the measurements.

It's like buying a Mr. Beer or whatever. It's just something to help you get off the ground.
i understand your point but thats pretty crappy customer service from the consumer point of view. other hobbies i am involved in treat the newcomers like GOLD because they know therein lies the future of your business selling kits. if you got a bunch of noobs on the street sayin brewing your own beer is a PITA and not worth it nobody wins in the retail gig. (someone said it ...after a while you are likely to get your own ingredients because the kits are inferior, maybe that wouldnt happen if they put more care into what they are selling) i say treat the noob right and he will spread his experience to others . there is no better advertisement for a beer kit than some proud noob boasting how easy it was and talking others into trying it after they sample a taste !
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