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Starrider

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I just picked up a Muntons Mexican Cerveza kit. HBS said it was good for 2 - 2.5 gallon batch but instruction say 23 liters. Can is 3lb 5oz HME. Instructions call for adding 1kg sugar but impression from HBS was not to add anything extra. Not sure what I am missing or if I misunderstood. My fermenter is only 2 gallons so not sure if I should cut can in half or what.
Sorry for such a basic question but I don't want to waste the batch by doing something wrong and this is my first batch so no experience to go on.
Thanks for your help.
 

Greenbasterd

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basically the malt extract kit has enough sugar in it to make 2.5 gals of roughly 5%ABV beer. so if you wnted to you could add 1kg of sugar and get 5 gals of roughly 5%ABV beer. by making a small batch batch your actually doing the better thing.. i never added sugar to my kits. instead of 1 kg of sugar i would add 3lbs of liquid malt extract for a 5 gla batch. so you are doing the best thing possible with a kit by doing the small batch IMO

edit: it will effect the color a bit.. it prolly wont come out the very light cervesa yyou are used to.. but it will taste better
 

rhinoceroceros

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I would use the whole can for the 2 gallon batch, extra extract is just going to give you some extra alcohol and flavor. And as for the sugar, if it's regular old table sugar all you'll get is more alcohol. I personally never add fermentables unless they're adding flavor, so I would use brown sugar or molasses instead of regular sugar.
 
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Starrider

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Thank you for helping with your answers so quickly. That is exactly what I needed to know. Now I just need to decide if I should stay with the 2 gallon batch or add some fermentable and double the output. I seem to gravitate toward the lighter beers. What kind of impact will the smaller batch have on the taste? Will it increase the IBU's? I guess I need to get some sample sizes of some different beers so I have something for comparison as a frame of reference.
I have hardly started and am already enjoying this new hobby. Hopefully I can get my head around the different variables and put together some good stuff.
Thanks again for your help.
 

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A two gallon batch will taste just like a 5 gallon batch assuming everything is scaled. if you pitched the same amount of yeast into two gallons as for five you might notice a difference. When using a hopped malt extract kit the IBUs will be diluted roughly linearity. So if you had 20 IBUs in 2 gallons you would have about 8 IBUs in 5 gallons. Same is true for SRM color.
 

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Those are weird instructions. Doing a 2 gallon batch without sugar is going to be a LOT different than adding sugar and making 5 gallons. A LOT.

The choice is up to you. Mexican lager is pretty light, compared to the vast spectrum of beer styles. So brewing it with some sugar is not necessarily a bad thing.

Brewing with extract only is going to increase the color, body, and flavor. It will probably not turn out light a light Mexican Beer (like Dos Equis, Corona, etc.) But maybe closer to an Amber. IMO that's not a bad thing.
 
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Starrider

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I'm not sure what type of yeast came with the kit. I will have to look when I get home. I want to say it is an Ale yeast though. Based on all your comments, I am leaning on making the batch as instructed and then see how it turns out. I can then experiment with the next batch if it comes out too light or weak. I'm thinking that experimenting should come after I have a few batches under my belt. I will just need to stop on my way home and get a larger fermenting pale that can accommodate a 5 gallon batch.
I was hoping I could grab a water bottle from work but they are all the lower grade plastic #7, which I understand is no good for this purpose.
 

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True. You want #1 PET or PETE plastic. We use both kinds of plastic in the water bottles at work. or used to when we were using a different supplier.

Keep looking around and you might find one. I think the price of a large brewing bucket, like an Ale Pail, or similar is well worth it. They are like $15 with a lid. Just have to find a homebrew store nearby.
 
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Starrider

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Thanks for the information on the plastic containers. How would you know which #7 containers are OK?
I am going to pick up one of those Ale Pails tonight.
I thought about making the batch as the instructions indicate but scaled back so as to only make 2 gallons. Dividing the HME can would not be a problem but my scale is not accurate enough to weigh such a small qty of yeast. Any good tips on measuring yeast?
I may even want to pick up some more 2 gallon fermenters, seems like a good way to experiment. But now I am getting ahead of myself.
 

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Go to THIS SITE to learn something about safe bottles/containers. #1 is not necessarily the best. Unfortunately, IMO, there is a lot of misinformation that gets propagated. I may be wrong.. but, I do trust this. Also, NOT ALL #7 containers leach harmful chemicals.
That site describes only leaching chemicals from the containers, not their oxygen permeability. They also claim that #1 bottles should not be re-used, but the actual danger from that is heating the liquid, or leaving in the sunlight. Both of those things should not be happening in a fermenter at any rate.

Other than the fact that #7 plastic allows a lot more oxygen to pass through than #1, it's a very good choice for liquid storage.

I think I've read that in a lot of cases, the amount of BPA has to do with the release agents used to keep the plastic from sticking in the molds and that overall, the amount found in drinking containers has decreased in recent years as manufacturers are more aware of the problem and have looked for alternatives.

Just things I think I've read the past couple of years. I do not have a scientific study to direct you too.
 
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Starrider

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Well, I picked up an Ale Pail and made the batch as instructed. I stayed with sugar per instructions instead of using LME but only in the interest of establishing a baseline. There was nothing in the instructions about an OG but based on some numbers I saw on the net, I stopped short of the 23L mark at an OG of about 1.046. The instructions do target a FG of 1.008 so if I understand the use of the hydrometer, that should produce about 5% abv. I guess we will see in a week or two. I already hate the waiting part!
 

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I have made that kit my self, mine finished out at 5%. It is a good beer but not as light in color as u expect it to be. It is great with a slice of lime in it like Corona.


ForumRunner_20121007_081705.jpg
Sorry my pic turned out side ways but u can see what the beer will look like any way.
I made it by the directions but just used regular table sugar.
I will be doing this one again.
 
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Starrider

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Thanks for the pic. That looks like the same color I have right now. I also just used table sugar.
How long did you leave it in the fermenter? Did you watch specific gravity? Did you make the full 6 gallons?
 

unionrdr

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Ok,the op said the instructions describe it as a 23L batch. That equals 6.072 US gallons. 5 gallons is about 19L. Get your measurements straight,folks. I have a few pages of standard/metric conversions I printed out with such formulas as needed in our hobby in my brew notebook. Munton's & cooper's are both generally intended as 23L,or 6.072USG. knocking it down to 19L or 5G will make it a tad stronger ABV-wise,& give a little more body. But not world changing. More of a tweak.
That beer looks like it either needed a late extract addition,or light extract was added to an extra light one. Something to that effect. I've gotten colors like that from,say,cooper's OS draught & Munton's plain light DME. Just as an example. Cervesa should be a light pilsner color. That one looks like a more tradditional old style lager. I like the color myself...Just wanted to set the record straight on the other stuff.:mug:
 
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Starrider

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OK, here are the details of what I did. While I was sanitizing my fermenting pail, tools etc., I put the can of HME into a small pot of water on the stove and turned the heat on medium to warm up the mix. At the same time I started another pot and brought to a boil. Once boiling, I turned off the heat and added the HME. I ringed a couple of times to get everything out of the can. I then added the sugar, stirring until completely mixed. I poured the wart into the fermenter and then started adding cold water. I of course had done the conversion as well and was heading for the 6 gallon mark. When I got to about 5.5 gallons, I decided to take a hydrometer reading. I had read on some other post that this batch should start with an OG of around 1.049. The reading I got was 1.046 already so I stopped adding water and called it good. I stuck the bucket into a sink full of cold water to bring the temp down and once it reached 70 degrees I added the yeast. As of this morning, all seems well. Bubbles are appearing through the bubbler so I guess it is just wait and see.
 

nimo

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You did things pretty much the same way I did. I am not one to worry about the color of the beer as of right now I just want a good drinkable beer.
I left it in primary for about 5 days them moved it to secondary for another 5 days then bottled it.
From what I understand you don't have to secondary it can be left in primary for the entire time. I choose to secondary so I can start another batch a little quicker.
The day I move to secondary I start another brew in primary, usually the day I bottle I move what is in primary to secondary and start all over again.
 

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unionrdr said:
Ok,the op said the instructions describe it as a 23L batch. That equals 6.072 US gallons. 5 gallons is about 19L. Get your measurements straight,folks. I have a few pages of standard/metric conversions I printed out with such formulas as needed in our hobby in my brew notebook. Munton's & cooper's are both generally intended as 23L,or 6.072USG. knocking it down to 19L or 5G will make it a tad stronger ABV-wise,& give a little more body. But not world changing. More of a tweak.
That beer looks like it either needed a late extract addition,or light extract was added to an extra light one. Something to that effect. I've gotten colors like that from,say,cooper's OS draught & Munton's plain light DME. Just as an example. Cervesa should be a light pilsner color. That one looks like a more tradditional old style lager. I like the color myself...Just wanted to set the record straight on the other stuff.:mug:
I was aware when I started this kit that it is intended for a 6 US gallon batch. It makes 5 UK gallons.
I was told by LBS that I could do a 5 gallon batch with it but it would make the alcohol content higher because it would not have as much water. I personally prefer the higher abv as long as it does not taste bad.
This beer is great with a twist of lime or with out.
 
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Starrider

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This batch should be done in time for Thanksgiving festivities. I will have to stock up on some limes and let the family sample and get feedback.
 
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Starrider

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After a week, Hyd. Reading at 1.014. Target is supposed to be 1.008 so I guess I will let it go another week. May have to look at some heating options. Wort was only at 63 deg. Still in range I think but on the low side?
 
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Starrider

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I like the fermwrap by the foot idea. Inexpensive and can be controlled by a dimmer switch which I probably have laying around somewhere. What kind of temp controller has been used with these? Even with a dimmer switch it seems like you would still have to monitor it pretty closely. Anyone ever try to make their own with a thermocouple and transistors (triac)?
 
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Starrider

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My batch has been bottled. FG right at 1.008 per instructions and right at 5% abv. It's a little darker than I expected.
 
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Starrider

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It's not as dark as Nimo's, but I expected it to look more yellow like a corona . The picture is one of the clear plastic bottles I used. I have not acquired a good collection of bottles yet so I have a mix match of Grolsch, plastic pop bottles and some of the old glass 16.9 oz coke bottles.
Thinking about the next batch already and was wondering what the benefit of two stage fermenting was?
I only have one carboy (Ale Pail) right now so I couldn't do it with this batch but from what little I have read, it seems like the way to go.

image-874165643.jpg
 

Sir Humpsalot

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It's not as dark as Nimo's, but I expected it to look more yellow like a corona . The picture is one of the clear plastic bottles I used. I have not acquired a good collection of bottles yet so I have a mix match of Grolsch, plastic pop bottles and some of the old glass 16.9 oz coke bottles.
Thinking about the next batch already and was wondering what the benefit of two stage fermenting was?
I only have one carboy (Ale Pail) right now so I couldn't do it with this batch but from what little I have read, it seems like the way to go.
5-8 years ago and before, the conventional wisdom was to use a primary fermentor, then transfer to a secondary for aging. That's what all the big breweries and wineries do. The logic was to get the beer off the dead yeast cells which would be autolyzing (breaking down) and contributing off flavors to your beer. Now we understand that autolysis isn't as big of a deal for homebrewers because one of the biggest factors is the weight of the beer above the yeast. As you can imagine, 5 gallons of beer doesn't have the weight of 100 gallons, or 1000 gallons. So, in general, leaving the beer on the yeast for 4-6 weeks or so is no big deal. Temperature is also a factor. If you can't keep your beer below 72-75*F, a secondary might be a good idea. In general, beer hits its peak after somewhere around 1 month per %ABV above 3. So 2 months aging for a 5% beer. You can do that in primary without much risk... at least no more risk than infecting a batch with the transfer to a new container.

Nowadays, secondaries are generally only recommended for large fermenters, extended aging (such as for really strong beers), or when adding something in with the beer such as fruit, to allow it more time to settle out before bottling.

Your color looks pretty decent for an extract kit though. In the future, add the extract during the last 5-10 minutes of the boil. The hops need the boil to extract the bitterness. All Grain brewers need the long boil to coagulate proteins to produce clear beer. But for an extract batch, that's already been done for you. So just get it up to boiling to make sure it's sanitary, then add it right to the fermenter after cooling. The less you boil it, the lighter it will be.
 

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My ales are generally 5-5.9%,& after primary,they get on average 4 weeks in the bottle at room temp. Then 1-2 weeks fridge time. 2 weeks is better for thicker head & longer lasting carbonation. Some have only needed 1 week. You'll have to play that by ear. Some batches are ready sooner than others with average gravity beers.
 
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Starrider

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Thanks for your reply Sir Humpsalot!
That is a great explanation. I have a lot more reading to do because you have generated some more questions.
I will stick to single fermenting. This time of year I am more worried about keeping it from getting too cold. Still trying to understand what the optimum temperature range is. In the interest of marital bliss, I ferment in the basement which this time of year can get pretty chilly. I currently have a heat lamp over the bottles to try to keep the temp above 60.

You mentioned 2 months aging for a 5% beer. Is that how long I should have left it in the fermenting pail? The kit instructions indicated 4~6 days but when I measure the SG after a week, it still had not reached the 1.008 target so I left it for another week. This fit right into a 2-2-2 schedule I had read elsewhere although I didn't expect to meet the last two weeks. Probably only one week in the fridge.
 
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Starrider

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Wow Union, 4 weeks in the bottle before fridge? I better get started on another batch right away or I will continually run out between batches.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Thanks for your reply Sir Humpsalot!
That is a great explanation. I have a lot more reading to do because you have generated some more questions.
I will stick to single fermenting. This time of year I am more worried about keeping it from getting too cold. Still trying to understand what the optimum temperature range is. In the interest of marital bliss, I ferment in the basement which this time of year can get pretty chilly. I currently have a heat lamp over the bottles to try to keep the temp above 60.

You mentioned 2 months aging for a 5% beer. Is that how long I should have left it in the fermenting pail? The kit instructions indicated 4~6 days but when I measure the SG after a week, it still had not reached the 1.008 target so I left it for another week. This fit right into a 2-2-2 schedule I had read elsewhere although I didn't expect to meet the last two weeks. Probably only one week in the fridge.
my 2 months suggestion is a ballpark for when a 5% beer will be at its peak. Normally, when you start brewing, you will consume your beer considerably quicker than that and that results in the common homebrewer lamentation that "the last beer is the best." If you can brew enough and have enough supply, so that you don't have to tap into your 5% beer for 2 months (or your 6% beer for 3 months, or your 7% beer for 4 months, etc), you will find that even most average recipes will far outshine many beers that you can buy in a bottle. It's simply a matter of timing.

It really doesn't matter that much though. Your beer will be drinkable in 2 weeks, will stop giving you bad farts in 4 or 5 weeks, and will be even better at 6 weeks. But at 8-12 weeks, it will really hit its prime.

Some factors that alter the calculation are:

1. Hefeweizens taste better young, typically around 4 weeks. At 2 months, the are starting to be past their prime (but still tasty, of course!)...
2. Beers with lots of flavor and aroma hops will have more of that hoppy goodness when they are younger, so it's a balancing act. Age a 15% hoppy IIPA for a year and it will taste smoother and cleaner, but you will lose a lot of the hops flavor and aroma.
3. In my very limited experience, WLP090, San Diego Super Yeast seems like it cleans up VERY quickly. You can maybe... maybe... cut the aging time in half with that yeast. I haven't done enough experimentation to say for sure, but that's one of the selling points of that yeast, it floccs sooner and gets drinkable faster. I have a 12.8% Stout that's pretty close to drinkable after 1 month using that yeast. I'm sure it'll be better at 3 months though, and probably even longer, but we will see. It tastes promising.
 

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It sounds like you're saying a 5% beer must have 2 solid months to be any good at conditioning time. Def not true at all. 5% beers are pretty common commercially. And from my experiences,a lowly 5% beer is def ready in 4 weeks. I'm not talking stouts,dark ales,etc here,just pales,APA/IPA's,& the like. And I've done it consistently. What are you using in your recipes that takes 2 months to mellow out? Mine take about two months from BK to glass. Did you mean that,or?....:drunk:
 
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Starrider

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Here is a little different question that I haven't seen the answer to yet.
There seems to always be some yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle. Comercial beer doesn't have that though. Is there a way to eliminate it from our home brews?
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I was referring to 2 months after primary fermentation completes. Haven't you noticed that your last beer is always the best? That's probably why.

As I think I mentioned in this thread, Pale Ale are a different story. Actually anything with flavor and aroma hops is a different story because as the beer sits in secondary, you start losing those qualities so it is a tradeoff.

As for commercial beers, most of it doesn't get consumed at 4 weeks. It sits in a distributors warehouse, then on a store shelf so it gets that extra aging time and probably much much more. In the case of the big corporations that filter their beer, this doesn't apply since the beer is basically sterilized.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Starrider said:
Here is a little different question that I haven't seen the answer to yet.
There seems to always be some yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle. Comercial beer doesn't have that though. Is there a way to eliminate it from our home brews?
Commercial beer like Budweiser doesn't have it because they filter their beer and force-carbonate. Commercial beers like Sierra Nevada don't seem to have it because they wait for, or induce, more of the yeast to fall out of suspension before bottling.

If you are getting a ton of yeast in the glass, try gelatin a few days or a week before siphoning or wait an extra week or two.
 

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If I waited for my bottled PA,APA,IPA's to sit in the bottles for two months,the hop flavors would be gone. They start to dissipate at about 7 weeks or so. Now my dark ale/whiskely ale,& Burton ale were def better at a couple months. But big/darker beers are like that. Not average gravity ales that don't have off flavors.Period. anything else is a big load...
 

Sir Humpsalot

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unionrdr said:
If I waited for my bottled PA,APA,IPA's to sit in the bottles for two months,the hop flavors would be gone. They start to dissipate at about 7 weeks or so. Now my dark ale/whiskely ale,& Burton ale were def better at a couple months. But big/darker beers are like that. Not average gravity ales that don't have off flavors.Period. anything else is a big load...
Well if you think your regular ales taste better at 4 or 6 weeks than 8, more power to you.

I have already said twice that there is a trade off when it comes to hoppy beers so it is cool that you are now repeating my wisdom. :mug:
 
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Starrider

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I am enjoying the banter on this subject. If nothing else, it sounds like it comes down to preference. Since I seem to prefer the lighter beers, I shouldn't have to leave them so long. I did notice last night though as I was enjoying one of the last bottles of my first batch which was a Western Pale Ale (2gal Mr. Beer), that it most certainly tasted better than the first bottles.

I don't think the yeast in the bottom of the bottles is too bad, again, not much to compare to though. I just have to carefully pour it into a glass so as not to disturb the sediment. It also means I can't drink straigt from the bottle which will make it more difficult at parties and such. How do you do the geletin trick? How much do you add and do you just sprinkle it on top and let it gel and sink to the bottom? If nothing else, that might be helpful when getting close to the bottom that I am not siphoning yeast off the bottom of the pail.

I am hoping to stop by the HBS on the way home and get supplies for next batch. I think I want to try the same thing again, Mexican Cerveza, so I can change up and use malt or LME instead of sugar. What I am realizing now though is that I wont be able to compare the batches side by side because one of them will have had 2~3 weeks more aging time. I may have to split the batch and do part with sugar and the other with LME so they brew at the same time. That being the case, maybe I will try an IPA or something instead. Decisions, Decisions. I can never make up my mind. In order to get the 4~8 weeks like everyone is discussing, I definitely need to get another one going though or I wont have any for Christmas festivities.
 

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I wouldn't even say it comes down to preference. It comes down to a balance of several variables. Some hop heads will want to drink sooner and preserve more hoppiness, some more balanced drinkers will look for the best balance between hoppiness and maturity, still others will prefer to let the hops diminish in the bottle. But any reasonable taster will be able to see the points where one factor surpasses the next and make an educated decision as to what is generally "best"... although people with different tastes will be free to disagree. IMO those people, if they have any sophistication to their palate should recognize their preference for what it is and say, "I prefer it this way, BUT... this other way may be better if..."

To use an analogy... I prefer to hit baseballs with aluminum baseball bats BUT I recognize that wood bats level the playing field, discourage a technological race in a traditional game, and I appreciate the crack of a ball against a wooden bat more than the ping of aluminum. As a hitter, I can still prefer aluminum, but I can recognize the factors that might make my opinion less than optimal for others with a different perspective. In general, I still say 1 month for every % ABV over 3 is a good guideline. Tweak it as you wish, based on your preference and the style.

And yes.. you will have to brew more to get adequate age on your brews. Poor, poor you. What a terrible situation to be in. ;)

As for gelatin, I boil a cup of water in the microwave, add 1 Tbsp gelatin after it has cooled for just a couple of minutes (you still want it to sanitize the gelatin, but boiling/hot water will denature it... stir until dissolved, add to 5 gallons of beer.
 

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Not to argue or blow my own horn,but my method is basically a good balance between full flavors of hops & malts used. Some ales that are darker or more malt centric can sit longer at room temp without much,if any degredation of flavor. It's not a matter of preferrence,but what's best for the style of beer in question. As brewers,we have to be flexible in regard to the style in question. Not just think,"the longer I let this sit,the better it'll be". Such is not always the case,but varies greatly with style & gravity.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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unionrdr said:
Not to argue or blow my own horn,but my method is basically a good balance between full flavors of hops & malts used. Some ales that are darker or more malt centric can sit longer at room temp without much,if any degredation of flavor. It's not a matter of preferrence,but what's best for the style of beer in question. As brewers,we have to be flexible in regard to the style in question. Not just think,"the longer I let this sit,the better it'll be". Such is not always the case,but varies greatly with style & gravity.
Glad you have come around to agreeing with me. :mug:

Although it doesn't sound like you have had enough experience with high gravity beers (above 10% or so) to have really noticed a pattern.
 

unionrdr

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Haven't changed my mind at all. I think some folks just enjoy a good argument. I just tried to think of a more phylosophical way to express my beliefs. Look at all the replies I've made in this thread. I've been saying basically that hoppy styles can't sit a couple of months & be even better. Because all you'll have left at that point is whatever bittering remains from that addition.
Not so with malt forward styles. They have little bittering & flavor additions,since the malt is the star in those styles. They can be more forgiving with regard to conditioning times.
Sometimes,you have to come up with a way to express a belief in a way another can readilly understand. This seems to be one of those times.
 
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Starrider

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I love a good argument too. I love where you guys are going with this. Both have indicated that preference comes into play and while time will have an affect on the overall taste and hoppiness, the style of beer should be the greater factor. You don't need to alter the time to change the taste, alter the style and make it true to the style. As home brewers, we still have the ability and option to taylor to our own preferences. Otherwise, why home brew?
Am I getting the gist of what you guys have been saying?

Yes, poor, poor me to have to brew more!!!! You don't know my wife.
I can see this hobby getting out of control real fast. At least there is a little trade off. If I am making my own, I am not buying it in the store. And, so far, bottle for bottle, the home brew has been cheaper. This of course is not including investiment in equipment which will pay for itself in time.

How do you get a beer much past 5%? I see you talking about going up to 10% & 12% (wine territory) but my hydrometer bottoms out just below 1.000. Do you just start with a higher OG and let it ferment longer or is there more to it than that?
 

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