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Austin Home Brew Extract kits???

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acesb422

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I am wanting to get my second batch going asap as everyone seems to suggest. My only question is I have been looking at the extract kits from AHS and am worried that I will not know how to do it all?? My last kit had 3.3lbs liquid malt extract, 2 lbs dried malt extract and a little thing of hops and then ofcourse yeast, but these kits are talking about grains in a muslin bag?? What would i be getting myself into with these kits. I don't do secondary fermenting because I am just beginning. Any help would be great!!
 

Yooper

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Oh, you can do the AHS kits, I promise! All the directions are provided and it's super simple and easy to do. If you can make hot chocolate from a mix, you can do an extract recipe from them. And, I've done a few of them in the past when I was brewing extracts- they are really good! The ingredients are fresh and make a great beer. You can try a "clone" kit and I think you'll be pleased.
 

TheJadedDog

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AHS kits are a piece of cake, go for it! All you do is steep some grains before adding your extract, the instructions that come with the kit give you all the details you need.
 

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My first brews have been AHS kits and I have no idea what I was doing and it has been fine. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.

You can do it. :)
 

CodeRage

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I'll sing the praises of AHB extract kits. I have done several of them and they all have been great. Follow the directions and you'll be set
 

Gammon N Beer

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I am assuming you liked the experience of your first brew that you want to continue. If that is true, then, why not take one step further into the hobby?

Steeping grain is nothing more than you would do when making tea. It is that simple.

go for it.
 

jvh261

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You'll definitely want to start steeping grains on your extract brews. Makes a world of difference. Its as easy as this:

1. Put the grains in the muslin bag (I'm sure the ones from AHS in the kit will already be cracked/milled).
2. Put the bag full of grains (tied off) in your water.
3. Heat and hold a fixed temperature for a fixed time. I'm sure the directions in the kit will specify.
4. Remove the bag of grains and let drain over your water and/or sparge. Don't squeeze!
5. Discard the bag of grains, bring to a boil and carry on as you would with your normal additions of the extract and hops duties.

My only suggestion would be to buy a floating thermometer sooner than later. Its important to hold the temp of your water to around 155 - 170 degrees when your grains are in there. Depends on the recipe and the grains used. You don't want to boil your grains or get them much higher than 170 or so.
 

mikeyc

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Another vote for the AHS kits. They are very easy to use, and make GREAT beer. Its a great way to get started. Pick a commercial brew that you like, and get a clone recipe. They yeild great results!!!!
 

AFAJ Brew Guy

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I have been wondering about this as well. Well thats makes the decision a lot easier. Thanks, off to order that irish read right now. Thanks!
 

Hogshead

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I posted a thread about a video I made that shows exactly what steeping grains are for...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=51556

I think you'll find that once you use steeping grains you'll never know how you brewed beer without them. They really are the essence of good beer. I mean you could just open a can of dehydrated mix, add water and boil... But then why not just by the beer already made? (Kidding we all know why) But steeping grains are just the next step to brewing all grain, and then you look back and say, "Wow, that was they day I became a real brewer!"

Just kidding, I won't actually think that I'm a "real brewer" till I own my own 15 gallon inverted conical fermenter! (but I need a garage first.)
 

cd2448

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+1 on the greatness of AHS kits.

the extract kits come with the speciality grains already in a muslin back - the only extra equipment (which you probably already have somewhere) is a thermometer. the added character and taste to the beer is really worth this minor extra effort!
 

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I just finished drinking a batch of their English Strong Ale, and just bottled their American Wheat and a Smuttnose Porter clone- the Strong Ale was great, and the two I just bottled promise to be terrific as well. I ordered a Mild kit from them yesterday, so I suppose I'm a walking AHS ad. As everyone has said, steeping grains are easy, and AHS makes them even easier.

Their variety of kits is pretty unbelievable as well- it makes it hard to choose. I'll probably rely on their kits until I go all-grain (this summer, I hope), and from time to time after that, since their clones are so good.
 

mikeyc

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AFAJ Brew Guy said:
I have been wondering about this as well. Well thats makes the decision a lot easier. Thanks, off to order that irish read right now. Thanks!
If you are ordering their Killians Irish Red clone it is a Lager. So make sure you have the means to lager. They do have their own Irish Red Ale kit though. Just making sure.
 

AFAJ Brew Guy

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mikeyc said:
If you are ordering their Killians Irish Red clone it is a Lager. So make sure you have the means to lager. They do have their own Irish Red Ale kit though. Just making sure.
Thanks for the heads up! Yeah it isn't the Killians, it is their Irish Red Kit.

However I didnt realize that about the Kilians clone though. Good thing I didnt get that one, I would have been very put out, no lagers for now as I simply don't have a place cool enough to lager. Soon, but not now.

Anyway, thanks again! I love this forum! :mug:
 
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acesb422

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Well I guess that answers my question. I will get that ordered as soon as i get another fermentor found. I am also wondering about the yeast fuel, to me that doesn't seem very necessity?? can't you just use sugar?? Also, I am probably going to get killed for this but my staple beer when i am not drinking something else is bud light or whatever else is in the fridge that my wife may have. Is the budwieser clone kit very good or what is maybe a better lager like that??
Again thanks for all the help this site is Awesome!!
 

fdefulvio

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I just brewed an AHS Honey Brown Ale kit last Friday and was glad I chose to go with a kit including steeping grains and hops. It was a much more satisfying experience than my first no boil all extract kit was. That kit came out good, but it was just too easy and didn't give me the feeling that I "brewed" beer. Some suggestions:

Get a thermometer since you need to steep the grains at a specific temperature. I picked up a Pyrex one with a clip to attach to the side of the pot for about $6.

Make sure you have a large enough pot. I used a 16 quart SS pot which is about as small as you want to go with for a 2 1/2 gallon boil. 20 quarts would have less chance of any boil over.

Have a timer handy so you can keep track of when to move on to the next step.

Be prepared to sit in front of the pot for an hour while watching your wort boil.

I took notes of times and what steps I completed to ensure I didn't forget anything.

Read the directions a couple of times before you get started.

I bought 3 one gallon jugs of spring water and placed them in the refrigerator over night. Adding them to top off my 2 1/2 gallons of tap water I started with for my steeping and boiling of extract took me right up to my final 5 gallons and helped cool the wort. I wasn't sure how much it was going to bring the temperature down, so next time I'll try freezing one. Just make sure to sanitize any knife you use to cut open the bottle.
 

elkdog

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acesb422 said:
I am also wondering about the yeast fuel, to me that doesn't seem very necessity?? can't you just use sugar??
You don't really need it, but it can help get fermentation going sooner and more vigorously. I don't order it. Yeast fuel is nutrients for the yeast, not sugar- they get all of the sugar they need from your beer.

acesb422 said:
Also, I am probably going to get killed for this but my staple beer when i am not drinking something else is bud light or whatever else is in the fridge that my wife may have. Is the budwieser clone kit very good or what is maybe a better lager like that??
Budweiser is a lager, so you'd need to have lagering capabilities, and it's not easy to brew, since there is so little in terms of maltiness or hop flavor to hide behind. Lagers need cooler temperatures to ferment and a longer, refrigerated conditioning period- ales ferment and condition at or near room temperature, so they're a lot easier to homebrew. Given the trouble that it is to brew and the fact that it is so cheap just to buy Bud at the store, I'd brew other stuff and keep buying Bud when you want to drink it. If you want to make something easy-drinking (and I generally do), you could try a mild, and ordinary bitter, a cream ale, or a blonde ale- all are tasty ales that are easy to brew, but none are too much like Bud. Hope this is helpful. Good luck and let us know how it's going!:mug:
 
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acesb422

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I sure will. That is perfect that you have other choices for me to try in ales. I want to try different ales but i want to sort of narrow down my search for the good ones. I know people are saying well that depends on your tastes, well I have never had a brew that i didn't like except for a pizza place in boulder but other than that I am open to good brews, that i can make at home. I guess I like just a good mild tasting beer without the bite. I like malty flavor but i just don't want the bite. And just on a side note is the main difference in brewing lagers the fermentation temp or what else am i missing??
 

elkdog

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acesb422 said:
And just on a side note is the main difference in brewing lagers the fermentation temp or what else am i missing??
Yep- Lagers use different strains of yeast, and ferment at lower temperatures. There are also a couple of extra steps in conditioning the beer, but I am not knowledgable enough to competently explain those. John Palmer's book, How To Brew, can actually be read online, and is a great resource- a lot of people learn to make beer from that book.

I'd say that any of the ales I listed before (mild, ordinary bitter, cream ale, blonde ale) would be good beers to brew. Also consider a brown ale (think Newcastle, an English Southern Brown Ale), a Scottish Ale (the lower gravity ones, like this), or an Irish Red, as all of those styles are highly quaffable, malt-oriented, and are well within your reach as an extract and steeping grains brewer- which is what I am, too. Steeping grains will open up a whole new horizon of great beers that you can make.
 

OlRed

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I was checking out the AHS website and noticed that their kits are offered in a "mini-mash" version. What is the difference in this versus the regular extract versions? It appears that the mini-mash kits just include more steeping grains and less extract. It the process of brewing a mini-mash kits the same otherwise?
 

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I was checking out the AHS website and noticed that their kits are offered in a "mini-mash" version. What is the difference in this versus the regular extract versions? It appears that the mini-mash kits just include more steeping grains and less extract. It the process of brewing a mini-mash kits the same otherwise?
For the most part, yes. You may need a bit more equipment if you don't have a current mashtun, but you can easily just sub another grain bag or two if you don't have a dedicated mashtun.
 

OlRed

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I do not have a mash tun so would I just use another nylon sack and steep the extra grains along with the steeping grains that come in the regular extract kits?
 

BurntOrngeLonghorn84

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I wouldn't order the mini-mash kits...

...it only leads to buying a bigger pot and stepping up to BIAB.

J/k. I started with the mini-mash and had no problem and certainly don't mind going back to mini-mashes if I don't want the 4 hour brew sessions for BIAB.
 

jsweet

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I've never done an AHS kit, but I robbed the recipe for their Blue Moon clone kit, and it's just about ready to bottle now -- and hot damn, it tastes exactly like Blue Moon.

+1 on doing the steeping grains. My very first brew was extract + steeping grains, it is not hard at all, and makes a huge difference in character, control, body, etc.

Partial/mini-mash I have only done once (on the Blue Moon clone, in fact) and I didn't really off the partial mash aspect -- due to a logistics error, I ended up spending most of the brew session with a 4-month-old in one arm, and eh, I had some issues. Wound up with an efficiency in the 40%s, by my calculations... but the good news is, for a partial mash, even if you screw up the mash your beer will still be pretty close because you are only relying on the mash for a fraction of your gravity points. As I said, despite having low efficiency and the OG coming out low, that Blue Moon clone tastes awesome.

I'll be doing partial mash again soon, I'm sure. But the point I'm making is that not only is it not that difficult, but even if you DO screw it up, your beer will probably be fine.
 

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I feel lucky. I got back into homebrewing a couple of months ago after about doing a couple of very mediocre batches about 10 years ago. I came across the forum just a few days ago.

I saw the references to AHS, but wasn't sure what it was actually referring to, though I figured it could be Austin Homebrew. I live in Austin and didn't realize how fortunate I was to have this place right here.

I've done 4 of the AHS recipe kits, all mini-mash. The recipe sheets they include are foolproof. For mini-mash, you're basically just soaking the grains in hot water for the specified period of time. Then you take the grains out and use the water as your starting point for using the extracts. Super simple.

A quick run-down of the recipes I've done:

- Belgian Trappist Dubbel: First batch. Three days in I'm worried the fermentation has stalled. So I pull an sg reading. All good. Next day, can't find the recipe sheet for the life of me. Oh well, don't really need it now. Three days later, open fermenter to rack to secondary. There's the recipe sheet floating in the wort! Didn't want to dump it, so I continued on. The beer actually isn't bad, but there are definitely some off flavors in the finish!
- Honey Hibiscus Wit - Want SWMBO and her friends to have their own beer? This is it. It's pink. Really. It's got hibiscus petals in the boil which makes it look like carbonated pink lemonade. SWMBO loved it and drank pretty much the whole keg on her own, so it's gone.
- Texas Kolsch - You want something close to a lager without lagering, make a Kolsch. This had a week of primary and a little over a week in secondary. I started drinking it as soon I force carbed it. It was great right off the bat and only got better until it was gone. :( This will be a staple in the keezer. The only reason I don't have another batch going is because I wanted to branch out at least a bit before repeating.
- Double Chocolate Stout - Belgian cocoa powder in the mix. Just enough to give a hint of flavor without overpowering it. Based on another thread, the next time I try this, I'm going to dry-hop with some mint leaves.

I've got replacements going now for the Kolsch and Wit. The Texas Blonde is in secondary. Based on the recommendation of the guys at AHS, I went with the all-extract kit for it. They said it turns out better than the mini-mash for this recipe. Also from them, I added some lemon grass to the last 5 of the boil. The Imperial Agave Wit, made with agave nectar, is in primary.

I'm sure I'll go all grain at some point, but with the variety, quality, and simplicity of AHS mini-mash kits (not even counting their commercial clones), I don't have any plans to do so at this point.
 

grace1760

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The Imperial Agave Wit, made with agave nectar, is in primary.
I have this beer from AHS in primary as well. Plan on bottling in 1 week, condition for 3, then have at it. I did all extract, since I've yet to jump into the mini-mashes, but I'm anxious to try it. Just need to figure out my process first. :eek:
 

dgunthert

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I have this beer from AHS in primary as well. Plan on bottling in 1 week, condition for 3, then have at it. I did all extract, since I've yet to jump into the mini-mashes, but I'm anxious to try it. Just need to figure out my process first. :eek:
I saw that in your sig. I did mini-mash. Been in primary since Sunday night. I'll leave it in primary until Monday or so when I'll keg the blonde and move the wit to secondary. Wit will get kegged the following Monday and then both will condition for a while since we'll be out of town for 2 weeks.
 

Brkstoutfeind

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Love AHS kits!!! I recently brewed the mini-mash verision of their Devil's Brew (Belgian Strong Golden Ale) with a slight mod, and it was stellar. It scored a 46 and earned a gold medal in it's category at a local bjcp sanctioned competition. I've brewed 8 of their kits (1 clone) and loved every single on of them.
 

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I just ordered from them on Saturday during the 20th anniversary sale. I picked up three kits two clones and one of their's I use two Mr. Beer Kegs for fermenting with the kits, (I find I can control the fermentation temps better with smaller volumes).

I ordered the Abita Purple Haze, Smithwicke, and the Agave Whit......If anyone can tell me does the Purple Haze come with rasberries in a can or is it flavoring extract/syrup added at bottling...? That would be greatly appreciated I didn't see it mentioned in the ad/page on their site..
 
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