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Modifing ingredient kits for more alcohol?

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NikolausXX

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All the kits I stumble upon are 4-5% alcohol. Most of the stuff I usually drink commerially is 6-8%. Are there some simple ways to raise gravity like many home recipes call for brown sugur or corn sugur in the boil. Does this increase the alcohol, and how much does it effect taste. If added to a premade ingrediant kit. I am just getting started here.
 
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What do you usually drink? Most beers are 4-5%, and increasing the alcohol content almost two-fold will definitely take them out of style and upset the balance.
 
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NikolausXX

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I usually drink porters stouts and double bocks. Usually the alcohol on the bottle is at least 5.5-8 on various Sam Adams, Red Hook, Empyrian etc, commercial porters, and stouts. Also enjoy most ales. Often enjoyed are Dark Lagers or Ales.
The kit I ordered was oatmeal stout, but directions say it will be 4-5%. Our first kit the pale ale, came out to be 4.1% its in secondary now, untill we bottle in next 1-2 weeks.
 
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Sam Adams brews usually come in shy of 5%. In particular, the Cream Stout you're drinking is listed at 4.9%. Most ordinary stouts and pale ales will check in around the 5% mark as well. If those are the beers you're brewing, you'd do well not to mess with the kits, as they come with everything you need to make a well-balanced beer.

If you want to brew something with higher alcohol content, look into styles that call for it. Robust porters, imperial stouts, IPAs, and bocks are a few that you might explore.
 

david_42

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I suggest buying clone kits of the beers you like. Beer-in-a-can kits tend to be small beers. Don't be upset if a kit for an 8% beer cost twice as much as one for a 4%. You're getting twice the materials.

Boosting small beers with cheap ingredients gives nasty results.
 

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Midwest, AHS, B3 and Northern Brewer all sell kits that clock in over 5%. I would suggest starting with the approp kit as previously mentioned.
 

sirsloop

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You can get double bock or imperial porter kits that are 8%, but don't expect them to be $25. There's TONS of malts in both, $$$$. IDK... if you just want a cheap high % brew, I suggest making some cider jacked up with 1-2# dextrose. That'll get you up to 6-8%+ real quick and it tastes great.
 

Joker

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You need more fermentables to get a bigger beer, either more extract or more grain. If you just add sugar you will get a dry nasty brew.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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It is a valid question.

The first Imperial Stout I made (8 years ago) was with a regular Dry Stout kit, that I simply added another 6lbs of sugar, some extra hops, and wine yeast. This gave me the correct OG (1.110), and IBUs. Made sense to me.

And...... it was aweful. Its hard to even describe how bad it was. No body. No head. Little flavor, poor color. Taste was very musty/mediciny/cidery. Blech.

I figured it just needed time to "balance out the flavors". Well, that was 8 years ago, and I STILL have 10 or so bottles in my basement. Still undrinkable. I don't have the heart to dump them!

But to answer his question, yes, you can certaintly use any amount of sugar you want to boost the alchohol. But it has a negative effect on the other attributes.

Others have said "Just get the right kit", but to be honest, many LHBS don't carry the more exotic kits. So you can certaintly modify an existing kit to get the results you want. You just have to know whats in the kits, and use that towards an existing recipe. Like, getting a dry stout kit, and adding more DME, more steeping grains, more hops. Then picking the correct high gravity english ale yeast, etc.

And then you will need time. Higher gravity stuff takes longer. Not much you can do about that.

nick
 

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rabidgerbil

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I would rather brew a 3.5 - 4.0 % beer that I can drink all night with friends, than brew a 8 - 10 % brew that knocks me on my a$$ after just a few. It is not unheard of for us to start a fire in the pit in the late afternoon, get some dinner going, and be downing beers for 8 hours or more by the time it is all said and done. IIPA's and RIS's, and other BIG beers are just not conducive to that, in my mind.
 

elkdog

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rabidgerbil said:
I would rather brew a 3.5 - 4.0 % beer that I can drink all night with friends, than brew a 8 - 10 % brew that knocks me on my a$$ after just a few. It is not unheard of for us to start a fire in the pit in the late afternoon, get some dinner going, and be downing beers for 8 hours or more by the time it is all said and done. IIPA's and RIS's, and other BIG beers are just not conducive to that, in my mind.
+1. I like to toss back a few while I watch a ballgame, without getting tanked or feeling too full. That's why I've been brewing lower-gravity, balanced beers (except for a Strong Ale for the holidays, for gifts). The mild I'll brew this weekend is the epitome of session ale. The variety available is one of my favorite things about brewing.
 

TexLaw

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Back on topic, it looks like the good answers are out there: Just tossing in some extra sugar usually isn't the good way to make a more potent beer. It's not at all difficult to make a beer around 6-8% ABV, but it is more expensive and it does take a little more care and planning, especially with fermentation.

If you are interested in taking on that expense, planning, and care, get a kit for such the "bigger" styles, research recipes in those styles, or look into formulating your own recipes. If you are looking into styles and other recipes, you are looking for beers with an OG of around 1.060 and greater. If you want to formulate your own recipes, I recommend Daniels's "Designing Great Beers."


TL
 

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rabidgerbil said:
I would rather brew a 3.5 - 4.0 % beer that I can drink all night with friends, than brew a 8 - 10 % brew that knocks me on my a$$ after just a few. It is not unheard of for us to start a fire in the pit in the late afternoon, get some dinner going, and be downing beers for 8 hours or more by the time it is all said and done. IIPA's and RIS's, and other BIG beers are just not conducive to that, in my mind.
I really enjoy large beers, trippels, big belgians, barleywines... the brew lasts longer because I'm not knocking back 64oz per session. It takes quite a while to knock through 12oz of a good barleywine... at least compared to 5% wit. Its not because there's more alcohol, its because the taste is very complex and takes time to enjoy. I'll sip through 8oz of Trois Pistoles compared to the usual 24 oz of wit....
 

sirsloop

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Oh, also... adding a .5-1lbs or so if dextrose will not really have a negative effect on the taste and will spike up the % a little. Its mostly fermentable too, so it will dry out the brew. If you are making a large beer with few hops, the extra alcohol can be used to balance the malt taste. Adding 6 pounds of sugar.. yeah thats thinning it out pretty good!!
 

joejaz

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I found the best tasting beers are lower gravity. For me the higher gravity ones come a little sweet. I don't think all the sugars ferment out. One of my best tasting was a Sam Adams clone that was less the 5% ABV. I got a receipe that they made a mistake and gave me an extra 1/2 quart of adjunct. It came in at
7.6 % ABV and is pretty rough --- may mellow out in time.
 

sirsloop

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to each his own... I had a 18% raspberry (I think) porter over the weekend.. it was an outrageous amount of alcohol in a beer but I swear it tasted like a 5% chocolate ale with raspberry extract. Crazy...
 

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NikolausXX said:
All the kits I stumble upon are 4-5% alcohol. Most of the stuff I usually drink commerially is 6-8%. Are there some simple ways to raise gravity like many home recipes call for brown sugur or corn sugur in the boil. Does this increase the alcohol, and how much does it effect taste. If added to a premade ingrediant kit. I am just getting started here.
Its a conspiracy... lol :drunk:
 

mrk305

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Some of the clone recipes I have done from the recipe book "Clonebrews" call for a pound of added corn sugar to boost the ABV. I have made their version of Molsen XXX and Elephant Malt Liquor from Carlesberg Breweries. The Molsen came out good, but the Elephant recipe is too strong and tastes like fussel alchahol. I have done better by adding a pound of honey at the end of the boil. I also tend to agree with some others. Six 5% tasty beers is better than four 8% jacked up beers.
 

ohiobrewtus

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I'm shocked that no one has mentioned Craig Farraway (CraigTube) yet in this thread. :D
 
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NikolausXX

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Thanks for the input. I got my oatmeal stout kit today, I think ill just make it just as came. This will be my second brew, so just wondering if anyone was adding some simple stuff to kits that isnt bad. I plan on making some apfelwein soon!
 

The Bone2

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as a nOOb, (45 gallons in since 12/1/2007), I have two goals right now.

#1. Refine my techniques on low gravity beers.

#2. Learn how to do high gravity beers.

If I want to drink a good 5-6% session beer, I can go to the grocery store and pick up many of the 6 packs of quality beer available. That is what everybody drinks:ban:

I want to make a beer with a higher alcohol content. I understand the desire, but I know have to convince my beer partner not to just add corn sugar, but to actually go to the bigger kits, as is advised.

I guess my point is that I am not really interested in doing a bunch of session brews. The cost/benefit equation is not high enough, in my opinion.
 

sirsloop

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mrk305 said:
Some of the clone recipes I have done from the recipe book "Clonebrews" call for a pound of added corn sugar to boost the ABV. I have made their version of Molsen XXX and Elephant Malt Liquor from Carlesberg Breweries. The Molsen came out good, but the Elephant recipe is too strong and tastes like fussel alchahol. I have done better by adding a pound of honey at the end of the boil. I also tend to agree with some others. Six 5% tasty beers is better than four 8% jacked up beers.
Damn... they make XXX clones??!??! Lol.. thats like 2# 2-row, 10# rice, and 1oz saaz for 90 minutes or some ****...lol... alcohol water.

ohiobrewtus said:
I'm shocked that no one has mentioned Craig Farraway (CraigTube) yet in this thread. :D
if you must.... (there was no mention of bird feathers or dust so I forgot) :D

[YOUTUBE]-msczZsLgjk[/YOUTUBE]
 

loopmd

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NikolausXX said:
Thanks for the input. I got my oatmeal stout kit today, I think ill just make it just as came. This will be my second brew, so just wondering if anyone was adding some simple stuff to kits that isnt bad. I plan on making some apfelwein soon!
Add a lb or 2 of honey to your kits. You could also buy more dme or lme to add to your kit. It raises the alc content, but it also really changes the profile of your beer.


loop
 

jester22151

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I'm relativly new to brewing myself, but someone told me that the secret to getting more alchohal in what I brew is to get a stronger strain of yeast that can handle the presence of more alchohal. That way it keeps working past the time when the more common yeast strains would be dead or dying. Is that inacurate?
 

Yooper

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Not really. Most yeasts will attenuate in the neighborhood of +/- 75%. Generally, the more fermentables in the wort to begin with, the more ABV will result.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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I think he meant that if he was using an English style yeast, that attenuates around 65-70%, he will likely boost his ABV from 5 to 5.5% if he switches to an American style "dry" yeast that attenuates 70-80%.

However, changes yeasts will change the style and flavor. Plus American "dry" style yeasts are already the most popular.

If you wanted to get above that, you could try the White Labs WLP099 yeast? It lists it can go above 80% attenuation? That might boost your ABV by 0.50 or so?

nick
 

TexLaw

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jester22151 said:
I'm relativly new to brewing myself, but someone told me that the secret to getting more alchohal in what I brew is to get a stronger strain of yeast that can handle the presence of more alchohal.
Most beer yeasts can tolerate up to about 10% ABV, so a "stronger" yeast isn't usually an issue unless you are making a big beer. Like the others said, apparent attenuation typically is more important, although you are still talking about fairly subtle differences. If you want a big change in the alcohol content of your beer, you need to brew a bigger beer (i.e., add fermentables).


TL
 

snapdragon

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Ya just add 2# of corn sugar (dextrose) to give it a good boost. I find it pretty cheap at my local health food store.
 
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NikolausXX

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I think I might experiment with some honey or corn sugar next time around. I boiled my second kit today. Made the oatmeal stout as the directions described. Im going to research more recipes and prob will mode my next kit some either with hop additions, or upping gravity.
 

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Nik, PM me if you want some help. If you let me know ahead of time, I could prolly even help you in person on brew day if you like. It's only a 10 minute drive.

Seriously, don't add straight up sugar unless it's appropriate for the style, e.g. Belgian Trippel with Candi sugar. Honey, however, is completely acceptable, just remember it ferments dry.

Other options are Molasses, which I have to say is GREAT in a porter or brown ale, or also brown sugar (not THAT much, just a half lb or so) into the boil to add some caramelization character.... Or if you buy kits from Austin Homebrew, they have a little dropdown menu that lets you add a flavorless 1% alc boost to your brew for about a dollar. That's a much safer option if you gotta cram more octane in there.

If you haven't yet, you should investigate the Lincoln Lagers, you can check out the site at http://www.lincolnlagers.com/ for the next meeting time date and place. Great group of guys with lots of varying expertise!

Best of luck with those dark brews, dude, I'm a similar fan! Porters, stouts, brown ales, wheat beers, it's all good in tha neighborhood.
 
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NikolausXX

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Good to find another from lincoln on this site. I think I have found 3 people from lincoln. I would probably be a little embarassed by our setup so far. We have a turkey fryer base, with a 4 gallon brew pot, 3 buckets and 2 carboys and all the bottling racking etc. equiptment that is basic. My best friend and I do all the brewing and are on our second kit. 2nd kit is actively fermenting as I type, we brewed yesterday around noon. We will probably modify a stout or porter kit, after making some apfelwein of course. But we can do that in any old bucket or secondary carboy. Cant wait for the 47 pale ale bottles to finish conditioning in 2 weeks or more :(
 

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I haven't given this much thought, but.... what about reducing your volume. Brew a 5 Gal kit and top it off too 3.5-4 Gallons. This process would seem to keep the balance between the specialty grains and fermentables. Hop/IBU utilization would have to be checked. I'm sure you could run it through the recipetator at Tastybrew.com or others to test and see what works best. Just a thought... anyone done it? And yes before anyone says anything... I know who wants 3.5 gals when you can have 5... just trying to add to the discussion...

Schlante,
Phillip
 

loopmd

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MVKTR2 said:
I haven't given this much thought, but.... what about reducing your volume. Brew a 5 Gal kit and top it off too 3.5-4 Gallons. This process would seem to keep the balance between the specialty grains and fermentables. Hop/IBU utilization would have to be checked. I'm sure you could run it through the recipetator at Tastybrew.com or others to test and see what works best. Just a thought... anyone done it? And yes before anyone says anything... I know who wants 3.5 gals when you can have 5... just trying to add to the discussion...

Schlante,
Phillip

You could do this to achieve the higher alc% if that is what you only want to do. Your beer will suffer for it, in my opinion. The balance between everything will be off and it won't taste very good. But you will have higher alc % by volume. There are plenty of "big beer" recipes out there that achieve what you want and have a great flavor profile.

If you want to try this, then I say go for it. It's fun to start brewing so you can do things like this. I think most of us have experimented in one way or another over the years.

Loop
 
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NikolausXX

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We went to the brew shop today and blew some coin. My friend bought a porter extract/grain kit. We talked to the shop owner and are considering some honey or molases in the boil, or possibly secondary. How much honey would give you a good honey taste and up the alcohol a point or so if done at the boil? We have also been considering the molases or brown sugar too. We got a BB porter kit.
 

enderwig

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Adding honey won't give you a honey taste, it will completely ferment out and leave your beer thin with little body. But will boost the ABV
 

loopmd

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enderwig said:
Adding honey won't give you a honey taste, it will completely ferment out and leave your beer thin with little body. But will boost the ABV
+1 yup, that is exactly what honey will do.

loop
 
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