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Nov 22, 2004
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hey all, i just ordered this:

it should be here fairly soon, has anyone used it before and is it going to be any good? i ordered the lager beer kit. will this have any taste to it or do i need to add something? does anyone have any tips for me as i have never done this before and would like to make a good batch.

p.s. i really have no idea what im doing so advice would be good, quick advice would be even better cos im pretty keen and i can see myself just ripping the packaging open and trying it, which will probably just make bad beer!
1. Buy "The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing" by Charlie Papazian
2. Read the first 40 pages
3. Make beer.
The beer kit's normally just a tin, and you put 1kg (~2 pounds?) of sugar with that. As long as you're completely obsessive about keeping everything clean it should taste great! The general method is....bung everything in a big tub and seal it air tight.

After cleaning everything real nice I put the contents of the tin in the fermenter, dissolve any sugars in ~4L hot water, put that in the fermenter and stir until its all pretty dissolved, then just fill it up with cold water and add the yeast. It's so easy! When I first started it was kind of daunting, after 2-3 brews its just...meh, lets make some BEER!
Try to stay away from any recipe that calls for pounds of table sugar. To make the best beer you want to use DME (Dried Malt Extract) to get your fermentable sugars. Also see is there is a homebrew shop in your area. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah and we have 4 of them. Who knew? Anyway, it is very helpful to go and see all of the ingredients available as well as talk to the staff about any questions. If not then ingredients can be ordered online, or even on Ebay.

I do agree though, The new complete joy of homebrewing is the homebrewers bible and well worth a read. Also check out your local library. Believe it or not, most libraries have a homebrewing section with the other cooking books.

I only brewed three batches of Kit Brew to date so we both have a lot to learn.
I found it easy to follow the instruction that comes with most kits. The hardest part was waiting for the bottle to mature.

Good Luck and Happy Brewing. ;)
on my first batch, i did some thing wrong. im not sure wich part it was, but the beer tasted like a coors with a little apple juice in it, it was awsome. the bad part is that after two of the big mr. beer quart bottles, i didnt even have a buz.
What was the recipe? And what did you observe during the fermentaion?

Have you ever considered all grain brewing? Its not as hard as many beginers think. I switched after about 6 months of brewing and never looked back. Mashing your grains only takes about an hour and then Sparging (rinsing the sugars and flavor from the grains) will take from 30-60 minutes.

If anyone is interested in switching to all grain brewing let me know and I will post an easy walk through the process. In fact, maybe this forum could use an all grain section.

By the way, it's cheaper than using malt extract!
I am very interested in an all grain walk through. When I made my last batch, it called for 4 lbs of grains, and right now with my kettle that was a lot. Most recipes I look for call for at least 2.5 times more than this so it seems that things could become difficult, messy, labor indusive pretty quickly. A walk through would be encouraging and who isn't looking for cheaper better beer!
Thanks in advance Professor.
My local homebrew guru just suggested using 150g of cracked grain steeped in hot water to enhance a beer kit rather than using all grain...but the fresher the better ;) go nuts!
Essentially, that's what your guru is advocating. It's just that your "kit" includes all the other malts and hops. What kind of grain did the guru recommend with what flavor beer mix?

I just looked at that kit that bluefoot bought. The bottling bucket looks like a five-gallon Mr. Beer!

Professor, it sounds here like Drunk was brewing up a batch of Mr. Beer and probably didn't have a recipe. If it was his first batch, it was probably West Coast Pale Ale and Booster, which is corn sugar and malto dextrin.
Ah, Indeed Richanne, indeed.

Well as promised, here is an all grain walkthrough for beginers (we can start a new thread for a more detailed discussion of all grain brewing if anyone is interested.)

The first thing to consider before making the move to all grain brewing is that the entire volume of wort (Unfermented beer) must be boiled. This means that you will need a pot that can hold 5 gallons with headspace to boil. If you do your brewing on your kitchen stove, then you can use two pots to split the volume if need be. You will also have to add 2-3 hrs to your brewing time to mash and sparge your grains.

I reccomend a single infusion mash for all beginers. This involves adding 170 degree water to your grains to end up with a mixture about the consistency of thin oatmeal. The temperature should end up at 154-156 degrees F. Using a 5 gallon picknick cooler to hold your mash is a good way to go to start out. After the grains have been in the cooler for an hour, draw a sample of liquid from the grains and test for complete starch conversion. This can be accomplished by putting the liquid on a clean surface and adding a drop of tincture of iodine. I suppose a drop of Iodine should work also.

(Caution: Iodine is poisonous so do not add to your beer or mix with food preperation utensils. I usually use the back of a white plate and then rinse it off right after use).

If the mixture turns dark or purple then you need to wait because iodine only reacts to starches and not sugars indicating that there are still unconverted starches in your beer. Wait another 15 minutes and then try again. Also you can taste the beer if you do not have iodine handy. If the beer tastes very sweet with no hint of a starchy aftertaste then you are ready to sparge (rinse your grains)

The best way to go here is to buy a "Phils false bottom" for your picknick cooler. This is a plastic strainer piece that will fit in the bottom of the cooler and allow only the Wort (Beer) to flow into your kettle. You will want to have a valve somewhere inline in the plastic tubing connected to the false bottom through the cooler valve hole to control the rate of flow. If you are getting grains coming through then reduce the flow with the valve and this should help. If you have grains mixed in with the Wort then run it throuh a strainer prior to boiling.

Once the liquid level has dropped below your grains then you will want to stop the flow to your kettle and carefully pour 170 degree water through a strainer to create a sprinking effect on top of the grain bed. The idea here is not to disturb the grain bed by just pouring in water onto the grain bed surface. You want to add about 1-2 inches of water and then begin the flow again until the liquid falls below the grain bed again. Repeat until you have enough wort to boil your 5 gallons.

From there it is just like making beer from extract.

That was just a crude overview intended to give beginers an idea of what it would take to go all grain. But I would advise anyone who is considering trying an all grain batch to do some research online and make sure you have the equipment to pull it off. If there are any specific questions related to this topic I will answer them in detail.

It may seem like alot of trouble, but itis enjoyable work and the beer is great.
Thankyou Professor! It does not sound nearly as tough as I imagined. I will definitely give this a try. I definitely have an old cooler in the garage that I could use to for this purpose. A coupld day soak in a bleach solution will be in order but it will do.

One question is what is tincture of iodine? Can you find this at home brew stores? Also I am not familiar with a Phils false bottom, can you find this at a home brew store? Does it go into the cooler first to strain the grains and then the wort flows from the cooler drain valve? And I need another valve to limit flow?

Do you maybe have a parts list and an online site for purchase? Again, thankyou in advance.
pilkinga said:
One question is what is tincture of iodine?

That is the standard iodine you can buy in any drug store or at the grocery store in the medical stuff isle.

I wouldn't let rhe cooler soak with a chlorine solution for a couple days (unless I misunderstood you), chlorine is tough on some types of plastic. An hour or 2 should be sufficient then rinse well. Mix 2 ounces of chlorine for each gallon of water.
The false bottom fits in the bottom og the cooler and acts as a strainer for the grains. The liquid flows through the strainer and out of the cooler through a plastic tube that hooks up to the false bottom. You will need to remove the spigot from the cooler. It should just twist out or these will be a plastic nut holding it on inside the cooler. You will then need to buy a stopper that fits into the cooler spigot hole with a tunnel in it to sent the tubing through. All of these items including a valve for your tubing can be purchased at a homebrew supply store/website. I have found homebrewing equipment on Ebay so check often. I know that The Beer Nut has these items on their website, but I am sure you can find them on any homebrew website. Just type "Phils false bottom" into Google and you will have your pick of where to buy. The tubing can be purchased at most hardware stores. Lok for someting food grade at temps up to 210 degrees. It should be 1/2 inch in diameter and you will cut it where you want your valve to be. Maybe buy your cooler plug first to make sure the tubing is the same diameter as the hole in it.

Let me know your email address and I can email you pictures of what you will need to give you a better idea of what to look for if you are interested.
Drunk said:
on my first batch, i did some thing wrong. im not sure wich part it was, but the beer tasted like a coors with a little apple juice in it, it was awsome. the bad part is that after two of the big mr. beer quart bottles, i didnt even have a buz.

I had/have exactly the same problem, using a coopers (concentrate) beer kit (Wheat beer). THe first stage of fermentation seemed to go well (the beer tasted like flat lager), but something seems to go wrong(?) during secondary fermentation (bottling the beer) - the resulting beer has an apple liek taste.

However, I am wondering if I am attempting to drink the brew to soon? The instructions hint at leaving the bottles to ferment for two weeks, but I've read else where it should be at least a month - would this explain the appley taste in the homebrew?

Any advice given would be appreciated, thanks in advance!
The Professor said:
Did you add any table sugar to the beer? What was the recipe/kit?

Hi, thanks for the reply.

The kit is Coopers Wheat Beer ( THe amount of sugar was 1kg (as per instructions) during the making of the kit, then a spoonful of sugar (per bottle) during the bottling stage.

The recipe recommends 8 grams of sugar per bottle (6g is a rounded teaspoon apparently), but as I don't have any scales that measure that small amount of sugar, I opted for a smaller, but heaped teaspoon of sugar per bottle.

Have'nt re-tasted beer yet, but having looked around the Internet, general concensus is that the beer has yet to fully ferment, most web sites/forums suggest 3 -4 weeks.

I suppose the problem I am having is that the timings in the Coopers instructions are based on ideal temperatures, whereas where I am located (UK) I am brewing right at the bottom range of temp's due to the somewhat cold weather we are experiening at the moment

Thanks in advance.
For anyone going to start all-grain brewing i would reccomend a batch sparge instead of the fly sparge The Professor detailed. Since i started batch sparging 6 months ago i cant tell you enough how much better it is. it is so much easier and much faster. the efficiency of the mash drops about 5% but thats no big deal. Here is a link to an article about batch sparging:
the cidery apple taste comes from the sugar. you can substitute by replacing it with more malt or cheaper "hi malt glucose". i started using the 1kg of sugar called for on the can but didn't like the effect the sugar had. i use it only for bottling now.
Never NEVER put sugar in your beer. There is not one single quality beer on the market today that has corn sugar in it (or cane sugar yech), except maybe some weird Belgians and such. So, if you want your beer to taste like beer, use beer ingredients.

I second the all-grain recommendation. It's really the only way to brew top-notch beers. The hardest part is the equipment investment. Try to find some stainless steel kegs to convert to kettle, mash tun and liquor tank.

If you do extract brews, use malt extract...never sugar. And always boil everything. One of the earlier posts in this thread said the instructions were to dissolve extract in warm water, stir, and then add cols water. If you do that many times, you WILL get an infection. The water should be boiled witht he extract in it (make sure it doesn't boil over), and if at all possible, the entire volume should be boiled so no cold water addition is necessary. Never stir anything unless it will subsequently be boiled.

yeah, i no longer use corn sugar unless it's for priming. I've notice alot of belgian beers are meant to taste that way though, they are ok, i've tried some, but not for everyday drinking, i'm making a batch of baron's canadian pilsner for my mother right now, cause we are both fans of labatts blue and want to make something similar
Drunk said:
on my first batch, i did some thing wrong. im not sure wich part it was, but the beer tasted like a coors with a little apple juice in it, it was awsome. the bad part is that after two of the big mr. beer quart bottles, i didnt even have a buz.

Sounds like your using table sugar.... Use a DME, or Rice sugar & corn sugar. You will get a buzz... It sounds like you have less than the standard 3.8 percent alcohol in your brew.

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