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Extract Kits with the best most complete instructions?

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TsunamiMike

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I am on my second extract kit in my brewing hobby, I bought the Brewers Best Beast Kit with glass carboy and am on my second batch.

I started with the BB Watermelon wheat <3 days away from the 2 weeks of bottle conditioning> and the directions were on point and very detailed, the second kit was a BB American Cream Ale <day 3 of fermenting> which the directions were lacking some important info surrounding temperatures. Now maybe it is because of the type of beer it is or yeast it was using I am not sure but in any case the maker of Brewers Best is semi local to me and the local shops always have the kits in fresh from the manufacturer.

So I am wondering what other manufacturers you guys are using that have detailed instructions, who they are and which kits are the best? I like a ton of different styles so lay it on me.
 

jseyfert3

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I haven't brewed any beers yet, BUT I would say NOT Northern Brewer's kits. I reviewed a few of those instructions as they have them on thier website and for a noobie who hasn't read a beer brewing book they seemed like they missed steps.

I bought a Brewer's Best American Pale Wheat the other day from a local brewing store, and the instructions where much clearer than the NB instructions IMO as a noob.

I may try and brew that today as my first ever beer. The only thing I've made so far is two batches of cider, one kegged and gone in three days (I had friends helping me build a fence) and one waiting to keg still. I need to getting more things into the pipeline!
 

YaleH

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I have to disagree.... I bought a NB starter kit, and not only was it complete (Except Bottles) to include kettle, hydrometer and thermostat I felt that the instructions were right on. I just read them through several times before I actually started to make sure I could go down the list smoothly and not miss a step. Just my 2 cents!!!!
 

ChiknNutz

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I've only bought extract kits from Midwest and William's. Both were decent instructions, but I would say lacked a little bit in regards to ideal fermentation duration and temp. I looked up the specific yeast to determine what the temp should be. I think they both also speak of secondary fermentation which most folks suggest is not only a waste, but an opportunity for failure due to the potential of introducing contagions during the racking to secondary. So if it speaks to using a secondary, I suggest skipping that part.
 

Transamguy77

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I think most instructions are pretty detailed but when you refer to things like fermentation time and temperature that is dependent on the yeast. Some kits offer several different yeasts and since the instructions are generic it’s up to you to know what yeast you used and what it’s perimeters are.

And almost every set of instructions calls for a secondary, I think that is a personal choice, I have never used one.
 

The_Professor

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When I was brewing extract kits I turned pieces of the different kit's instructions and things I picked up in brew forums into my own instructions.
This would mean that all the kit instructions were lacking something.
 

JSmetalcraft

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Just entered my second week of fermentation on my first batch. I Also bought a starter kit but from Northern Brewer. It included an extract kit. The instruction included were different then if you just bought the extract kit alone. Actually both seem like step missing or incomplete. I then downloaded the instructions from other companies who also sell their version of the same beer and while all are reasonably close they seem to lack. But thatnks for forums like this and You-Tube I concluded that there is a wide range or flexibility to the steps on making beer. Clean, sanitize, and keep away from oxygen. The rest can be adjusted without large negative effects. BTW pulled sample today and tastes great making harder to wait another week before keg and carbonation.
 

jrgtr42

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Agreed that most of the instructions with the kits (and I presume you're referring to ingredient kits, not hardware?) are pretty weak a lot of the time, and are recommending processes that may have gone out of favor long ago for homebrew applications.
That said, I've had good luck with brew kits from Austin Homebrew, MoreBeer and Williams Brewing. All of them include the exact ingredients so you can replicate it later without having to buy the kit again.
 
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So I am wondering what other manufacturers you guys are using that have detailed instructions, who they are and which kits are the best? I like a ton of different styles so lay it on me.
I'm very new to the Homebrew game, therefore sensitive to quality of instructions, etc. I've brewed 3 recipe kits so far, 2 from Craft-a-Brew and 1 from NB. The first was a starter kit (1 Gallon, with necessary equipment) from Craft-a-Brew. As a novice, it worked out fine, but motivated me to read about the hobby, process, etc. (this is a great book, https://smile.amazon.com/How-Brew-E...w+Great+Beer+Every+Time&qid=1591013209&sr=8-1).

Next kit was a 5 gallon Bavarian Hefeweizen, Craft-a-Brew. At this point, I had purchased some additional equipment for scaling and simplifying the process. Overall, instructions are fairly easy to follow, but without reading about the process separately and all the various techniques to optimize fermentation, etc. you might miss something or at the very least, not "perfect" your process.

The last kit was an Oktoberfest from NB, I'd say the same for the NB kit as the previous comments. At the end of the day, I recommend reading up on the process, incorporate those items most important to you, and see what you get. I've started keeping a beer journal, on brew day I actual write out my own instructions with the kit as a guide and then incorporate added steps, variations, etc. For instance, re-hydrating dry yeast while the wort is cooling, prior to pitching. None of the instructions included this step, but everything I've read recommends it - seems to work. All of the beers have been tasty and enjoyable, no weird flavors, etc.

My 2 cents!
 

Advocatus

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For my first brew I found Northern Brewer to be pretty detailed. They also have youtube videos of them brewing. The one issue I have is they have adjusted their kits from using an auto siphon to using a spigot. I didn't feel the spigot when transferring from fermenting bucket to bottling bucket would be sanitary so I bought an auto siphon for that purpose.
 
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RevDroz

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I've only bought extract kits from Midwest and William's. Both were decent instructions, but I would say lacked a little bit in regards to ideal fermentation duration and temp. I looked up the specific yeast to determine what the temp should be. I think they both also speak of secondary fermentation which most folks suggest is not only a waste, but an opportunity for failure due to the potential of introducing contagions during the racking to secondary. So if it speaks to using a secondary, I suggest skipping that part.
I did the whole secondary fermenter for a few batches then discovered Conical Fermenters. I much prefer a conical where I drum the trub once or twice during the whole process. Definitely a time saver IMO
 

kartracer2

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@TsunamiMike First thing is check that you have what is supposed to be in the kit. The timings are the important part of the instructions. "Most" of the procedures are the same for extract brewing. Do a little reading on basic procedures or YouTube if that suits you better. Just don't take one idea and think that's the only way, I'm sure you have the saying "There is more than one way to skin a cat"
Starting volume of your wort boil can vary but the hop additions at the proper time are important and vary some by each kit.
Cooling the wort is fairly universal and top-off water depends on your end of boil volume, again by the kit.
Things like "late extract additions" can change things up a little also. Yeast? each strain has recommended temps so that changes some what also, the package generally states those.
As for secondary fermintation, I'd say no for most of your "basic" beers.
As you gain some experience you'll know what to do and when. I know that this spiel isn't a direct answer to your question but there are few things in brewing cast in stone. Well sanitizing is but that should be a priority no mater what.
I looked at the instructions for that BB cream Ale Kit and they seem to be pretty good but if you have a question please feel free to ask away. Pretty good group of ppl here and only a few of them bite but I think all have had their shots. (LOL);)
I could give you "my" process but that my not work for you and I don't know your setup so it would be sort of useless but if prodded I can share if you want.
Oh BTW, I still ask questions, some are good, some not so much.🤔
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 

wsmith1625

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I feel the brewing instructions included in most beer kits are intentionally vague because of variations in equipment, techniques, and geography. What you absolutely need to know is the hop schedule. The rest is really up to you.

Personally, I never liked the partial boil method when I did extract kits. I would start with 6 gallons of water and do full volume. Took longer to get to a boil and I used more propane, but I liked it better.
 

TeezNutz

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With the added benefit that you are sure everything is sanitary then. I know people do partial and no boil brews successfully, but the risk of something going wrong is too much for me to handle, lol.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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So I am wondering what other manufacturers you guys are using that have detailed instructions, who they are and which kits are the best?
It might be interesting to build up a scoring rubric: create a best practices process, apply weights to each item in the process, then evaluate each kit process. On the other hand, one could just brew from the best practices process. How To Brew, 4e is a good starting point for building that process. Product manufacturer web sites and blogs (e.g. Briess, Fermentis, Lallemand, ...) would also be useful.

I haven't seen @dmtaylor 's "Tips and Tricks ..." mentioned recently:

https://flic.kr/p/VnLmUR
 

davidabcd

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I've lost some perspective on whether instructions are comprehensive. In the beginning, I do remember after getting advice from a seasoned brewer, the instruction in Brewer's Best kits made enough sense. BB instructions still recommend using a secondary.
I've stolen my fair share of NB recipes with instructions and bought my own ingredients. They seemed pretty good.
 

NGD

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I started a thread about Home Brew Mart, which is owned by Ballast Point Brewing. They have one of the better instruction kits I’ve come across.

 

S-Met

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I've never brewed from a kit, but I have used kit ingredient lists as a base model for some of my brews.

My opinion is that brew instructions are similar to cooking recipes - all are relatively good guidelines but you have the freedom to vary to your needs. Hop timings are sort of important in terms of early vs late additions, but I don't get hung up on to-the-minute changes. Close enough is close enough for me.
The rest is just a general guideline. I'm hesitant to follow "time guidelines" for the fermenter: beer (and wine/cider) is done when it's done. Variations to yeast vitality and behavior as well as available sugar and fermentation temperature all factor.

Unfortunately when starting out, it is really nice to have a step-by-step instruction. I advise getting a home-brew mentor locally if possible, but I'm sure there are many here willing to help. Maybe even facetime/zoom for some of the brewday.
 
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