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Adding bitterness to a beer?

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mrfocus

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First off, let me explain why: I want to use a product that my LHBS recently got (FestaBrew) which is basically 6 gallons of wort ready to ferment. I would like to do their Brown Ale: http://www.magnotta.com/Festabrew/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=220 but have read that the bitterness is kind of bland (the wort is most likely a bit old so some of the bitterness might be gone). There is nothing to boil, it's basically add to a fermenter and wait. I would like to add 10-15 IBUs to get something a little more bitter.

So, is there an easy way for me to do this?

I was thinking that maybe if I boiled 1 qt (or 1L) of water with 0.5 ounce of something like Cascade for 30-60 minutes and added that to the fermented beer (to taste) I might end up with what I'm looking for.

I've read about dry hopping and hop tea (the french press idea is great for adding aroma) but I really want to add bitterness to the beer to get it similar to a Northern English Brown Ale (about 1.040-50 and 20-30 IBUs).

I know there are limits to the isomerization of hop alpha acids (dependant on such things as volume of the boil) so I guess if anyone has some sources for me to read or some first hand information it would be great and I would be appreciative.

I have searched for this but have found nothing on the forum.
 

ohiobrewtus

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Wort in a Box... now I think I've seen it all.

david_42 is spot on as usual regarding the hops.
 

malkore

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You MUST boil the hops in wort. Water will not isomerize the alpha acids...i.e. no bitterness extracted.
 

Kai

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batesjer said:
Why not just by two cases of beer?
Also, in Canada, a case of Bud is $35. Real beer is ~$13 for a sixer! So you're still saving a heckton of cash with this wort-in-a-bag, like a wine kit.
 

blacklab

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Kai said:
Also, in Canada, a case of Bud is $35. Real beer is ~$13 for a sixer! So you're still saving a heckton of cash with this wort-in-a-bag, like a wine kit.
Jeebus! Those McKenzie brothers must have had cash! :cross:
 

batesjer

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Yeah, I'd just rather drink Bud then Wort-in-a-box. You can also make alcohol by mashing grapes with sugar, adding yeast, then distilling. It might get you drunk, just don't get the point.
 

batesjer

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Just to be clear: I don't drink Bud, don't want to drink Bud, just would rather drink
Bud then Wort-in-a-box.
 

Nurmey

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I've heard a couple folks talk about the Feistabrew making a decent brew. Any chance you could get your hands on a pound of malt? You might be able to boil up an extra hoppy mini wort to add to your brew. Of course you could take a bit of the Feistabrew wort to make you hop tea/mini wort. Just tossing out ideas!

Batesjer, no reason for you to be so snotty about this. The OP wasn't asking your opinion of his brew choice.
 

Kai

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Actually, I've tried my buddies' wort-in-a-box, and it's quite good. Far better than any of my extract brews ever were. So it is an economical way to get good beer.
 

Schlenkerla

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Kai said:
Actually, I've tried my buddies' wort-in-a-box, and it's quite good. Far better than any of my extract brews ever were. So it is an economical way to get good beer.
Good Points! - Also if it pains you buy beer in general. You have fatherly duties and other stuff where you don't have lots of brewing-time. The beer supply is low... I think this might be a viable alternative.

:mug:
 

grasshopper1917

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My buddy makes the festa brew kits 'wort in a box' all the time and they turn out great. I particularilly liked the cream ale.

Like someone mentioned earlier you can make that kit for about 40$ total for 55 bottles. Or you can pay close to 40$ for 24 bottles of domestic mass produced beer. So you you can make a batch of good quality beer (whatever style you prefer) for half the price of commercial stuff.

I guess if you like budwiser and your in the USA I understand you can get it for relativly cheap so you may be better off drinking Budddddddd.
 

conpewter

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I think there are a few good options to add some bitterness to this brew. One would be to buy some hop extract (Like I hear some of the big boys use) and add that to the wort at some point.

The other good/cheap way would be to just boil 1 gallon of that wort for 60 minutes with a good sized hop addition and then add that back to your fermenter after cooling. You'll waste some hops due to low utilization but I don't think it will be cost prohibitive.

The other option is to get some DME do a 1 gallon batch that is a fairly low gravity for most of the boil, has a large amount of hops (for 1 gallon) and then do late addition DME to get the gravity near that of your wort in a box, you'd also have boiled down some plus loss to hop trub so you'd be adding less than 1 gallon to your fermenter (this option means more beer in the end!)
 

Schlenkerla

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conpewter said:
I think there are a few good options to add some bitterness to this brew. One would be to buy some hop extract (Like I hear some of the big boys use) and add that to the wort at some point.

The other good/cheap way would be to just boil 1 gallon of that wort for 60 minutes with a good sized hop addition and then add that back to your fermenter after cooling. You'll waste some hops due to low utilization but I don't think it will be cost prohibitive.

The other option is to get some DME do a 1 gallon batch that is a fairly low gravity for most of the boil, has a large amount of hops (for 1 gallon) and then do late addition DME to get the gravity near that of your wort in a box, you'd also have boiled down some plus loss to hop trub so you'd be adding less than 1 gallon to your fermenter (this option means more beer in the end!)
You may need a larger carboy like a 6 gal or a 7.9 gal brew bucket.
 

NWernBrewer

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Hop extract - bitterness only no aroma. Calculate amount of isomerized alpha's you want and drip drip drip... although I have read that the quality is not the same, but with a wort-in-the-box a hop-in-a-drop is strangely fitting.:D
 

CEMaine

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As with canned extract, how old is it. Liquid extract losses flavour relatively fast when compared to dry. I have had a couple of cans that were at the nasty stage.
I would want it to be VERY fresh.

I agree that it seems to miss the point of brewing...
 
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mrfocus

mrfocus

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Thanks for all the good suggestions. I think I will take a half and half wort and water with DME and do a 60 minute boil

CEMaine said:
As with canned extract, how old is it. Liquid extract losses flavour relatively fast when compared to dry. I have had a couple of cans that were at the nasty stage.
I would want it to be VERY fresh.

I agree that it seems to miss the point of brewing...
Also, for those wondering why I would do wort-in-a-box:

1) Quality. This is an all-grain brew.
2) Time. I don't always have the time to spend a full day on each brew (without counting the formulation of the recipe). I am trying to get some beers ready for the spring/summer and although I do get the best kick out of homebrewing my own recipes with extract, the only shop that has LME (DME is way to expensive) is about an hour away (2 hours round trip).
3) Price. 2.5 x 24 cases of GREAT beer (Not Bud light...) for $30. To buy a single 24 pack of Newcastle Brown Ale, it would cost me $40 (or $100 for 2.5 cases, basically three times as expensive for the same amount) (Governments in Canada love taxing anything they can think of... I hear they're planning on taxing the air we breathe ;))
4) I work at the LHBS (which doesn't carry LME...) and to answer customers questions, I sort of need to have first hand experience.

I enjoy good beer but unfortunately don't always have the time to brew a real recipe.

Believe me, I really love reading "Designing Great Beers" and trying to do a style, but I have been busy with exams and such.

I've done the continental pilsner basically to please the light beer drinkers, but plan on adding a little saaz hop tea to it to get it similar to Pilsner Urquell.

I'm not gonna be as proud serving this to my friends as my ESB or Duvel Clone, but some of my friends don't like hoppy beers. If you still want to bash me, go ahead... but hopefully you understand.
 

Moonshae

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NWernBrewer said:
Hop extract - bitterness only no aroma. Calculate amount of isomerized alpha's you want and drip drip drip... although I have read that the quality is not the same, but with a wort-in-the-box a hop-in-a-drop is strangely fitting.:D
That's actually the opposite. Hop oil adds aroma, no bitterness. If you get alpha acid extract, you add bitterness with no aroma. You can get both here: www.hoptech.com.
 

batesjer

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I understand, and apologize how my previous comments may have come across. But . . . I see the beers you have listed that you are aging and those are quality brews (throw a couple of bottles of Maudite in there, fairly inexpensive) it just suprises me that you are seemingly giving away control of your final product. I understand what you are saying about it being an all grain wort, but you initially stated that you are unhappy about the bitterness in this product and the only way to change that is to take control of how the wort is bittered. Everyone is giving good advice but you have a decision to brew with this ready to pitch wort product and be unhappy with the hop additions or brew extract and not have control over the base grains. If you tell me that you think that you can brew a better beer with this product then doing extract batches I'll buy it (not purchase it :cross: ).
 

batesjer

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. . . and as long as you are drinking the Duvel clone and serving this to your friends I'm OK with it. I guess for me this is skipping my favorite step of an extract or partial mash recipe, but that's just me.

:mug:
 
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mrfocus

mrfocus

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batesjer said:
. . . and as long as you are drinking the Duvel clone and serving this to your friends I'm OK with it. I guess for me this is skipping my favorite step of an extract or partial mash recipe, but that's just me.

:mug:
Yeah, I love making recipes. I want to see how these products go and basically go all-grain in early summer (May or June).

Edit: At the same time, if a customer ever asks me how to add bitterness, I may be able to offer a solution.
 

FlyGuy

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Sorry to jump in late on this -- just spotted the thread.

First off, no-boil wort-in-a-bag kits are HUGE here in Canada. They have essentially ruined many of the good LHBS's here in Canada (Paddock Wood even just crumbled). The REASON is that some of them make outstanding beer with barely any work. Spagnol's BrewHouse kits and Magnotta FestaBrew kits are at the top of the list. They sell these kits at wine stores now, to the demise of the shops that have specialized in homebrewing.

My brother-in-law has won about 6 or 7 medals with these kits in the last year, most of them golds. He qualified for second-round NHC and MCAB this year, and took a silver at MCAB in one of the most competitive categories. All he does is use liquid yeast, doesn't use as much top-up water, and dry hops them. He can pull of an ENTIRE brew in 30 mins. I take 6 hours for an AG batch. So these kits make good beer, they are easy, and if you know how to brew, they are essentially bomb-proof.

Anyways, to the OP, lots of guys here use those FestaBrew kits. If you want to bitter it, the best way is to just do a partial- or full-wort boil. It is a fair bit of additional work, but the results are outstanding.

I used to brew with these kits all the time when I started out, and I tended to go with the BrewHouse kits because it is a concentrated wort, meaning it needs top-up water. That top-up water is great because you can adjust the volume you add to affect the FG of the beer, you can steep grains in it, and you can boil hops in it. But the FestaBrew kits are equal or better in quality IMO.

Anyways, I hope you found something that worked. Let us know how the beer turns out. :mug:
 

batesjer

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I guess I just wouldn't know what to do without the extra work, except try to find another hobby to piss off SWMBO. Oh well golf season is just around the corner, so can you repost that link to wort-in-a-box. :cross:
 
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batesjer said:
Yeah, I'd just rather drink Bud then Wort-in-a-box. You can also make alcohol by mashing grapes with sugar, adding yeast, then distilling. It might get you drunk, just don't get the point.
Wort in a box is no worse than a all juice wine kit.

Not the epitome of home brewing but no worse than a kit.
 

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