Originally Posted by phillyphrank
Have a few kits and have made a few. Some of the directions are the same for different beer styles. As if one boiling time, or wort temp, yeast pitch temp is fine for all their kits. And also the Yeast packet directions are different from what the Kit directions are. Anyone have any input please.
My first brew was with a True Brew - Nut Brown Ale kit...I followed the directions as exact as possible and the beer turned out awful. The 'True Brew' way sucks I can tell you that. I prefer Brewers Best kits.
Here is what I have learned, and I hope others will correct me if I give wrong info.
First thing I can recommend is to read the following thread:
Second important thing is to read: How To Brew by John Palmer.
Here is the weblink, there is a revised version of the book also in digital format. This book is easy to read and gives you the 'Why' you're doing things a specific way, and the science behind it.
When steeping my grains, I DO NOT bring the water to a boil. I bring the water up to about 160F and then monitor the temperature and adjust as needed. I then boil that water, and use it to create my wort.
Use 1 Gallon of water for every 1lb of grains you're steeping.
Steep in 150F-165F water for 20-30 minutes.
If you steep at a temp higher than 165F you run the risk of tannins leeching into your steeped water...which causes bad flavor.
Almost always boil your wort for 1 hour. (I say almost b/c there are some extract kits that are liquid malt extract only, and a package of yeast...which you only have to pasteurize for 20 or so minutes.)
During the 1 hour boil, you will add your bittering hops at the beginning of the boil, flavoring hops 40-45 minutes into the boil, and your aroma hops 55-58 minutes into your boil.
Also, if you have specialty ingredients like Coriander Seed or Orange Peel...you will need to add those around 45 minutes into the boil, unless otherwise specified.
Pitching Yeast Temp:
If the yeast package says to re-hydrate it, go ahead and do it even though the directions probably won't mention it.
True Brew recommends pitching at any temp under 80F...I found out the hard way that this is bad advice...My first batch had the worst, hot alcohol estery taste ever due to fermenting at too high of a temperature. I literally pitched my yeast at 78-80F... I had to wait months for that taste to bottle condition out, and even then the flavor wasn't completely gone.
True Brew also likes to use Muntons Yeast (the normal Muntons, not the Gold version) which has a little too much ester flavor for me. Check the recommended temperature for the yeast according to the package. If it says it's temp range is between 65F-75F then I pitch within that range.
One thing worth mentioning, is that once yeast has been pitched, and it finally hits it's peak fermentation...the actual temperature of the wort can be 5F degrees higher than your ambient air temperature...so if you pitch at 75F, you do run the risk of fermenting at 80F during the peak...which is normally out of most yeasts temp range and can result in off flavors.
True Brew recommends brewing for 5-7days. And after the final gravity is reached, it's ready to bottle.
I let mine sit in the fermenter for 2-3 weeks. This gives the yeast more time to clean up off flavors. After the 3 week mark I like to go ahead and bottle. Some people will leave in the fermenter for 4weeks or more...I've heard that leaving it on the yeast cake that long could lead to the yeast running out of food, and then cannibalizing itself which causes off flavors.
True Brew recommends filling the bottle slightly past the shoulder of the bottle. Don't do this this leaves too much space in the neck.
Use your bottling wand and fill it to the top, when you take the wand out of the bottle, it should leave a little less than an inch of air space.
I let my beer hang out in the bottle at room temperature 70F or higher, for about 3 weeks. I've found that earlier than that the beer tastes a little green or slightly unripe.
After 3 weeks I'll throw a 6 pack in the fridge for a few days so the yeast will settle to the bottom. Then I'll drink one, and if it tastes good then I'll start moving more beer to the fridge.
I think that true brew makes good kits, but terrible directions...and yeast that leaves a lot to be desired.
I'll still buy their kits, I just won't follow their directions, and I'll buy a different package of yeast if they stick me with Muntons.