Mr Beer Kit Gone Wrong

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alamovolcano

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Hey all - as I posted in my intro thread, I started a Mr Beer kit brew about 5 weeks ago. It's the Long Play IPA kit. It does not taste great and I'm trying to figure out why. After watching some YouTube videos, I decided to do a few things differently from the directions because, you know, when you're a beginner at something, why not make things more complicated? I tossed in .5 oz Citra hops at the boil. When I dumped the wort into the fermenter, I noticed there was a lot left on the bottom of the brew kettle. I turned off the heat and stirred well, I thought, when I dumped in the Hopped Malt Extract that came with it. I was also sure to put the can of HME in hot water to loosen it up. That water was pretty hot. The yeast I chose was the Verdant IPA from Lallemand. Other than that I followed the directions and kept the temp right for pitching the yeast and fermentation. Those are the areas I can see that might cause problems.

When I pulled a sample to check the FG, it was 1.014 giving me about 4.2% ABV. That should be higher, for sure. And it tasted like a bad coffee porter. I let it sit in the fermenter for another week, a total of 3 weeks. After bottle conditioning for a couple weeks, it still tastes like a bad coffee porter and the head on the beer is a light brown. It seems the only thing I did right was the priming sugar and bottling.

Any thoughts would be super helpful. Just thought I'd bring this up here in case there was something I did. I don't plan on brewing any more Mr Beer kits so maybe this is just a fluke that won't follow me forward in my homebrewing escapades.

Just fyi - My first all grain BIAB batch is finishing up fermentation right now, which tastes pretty good based on the sample I pulled to check the FG. So I will have beer to drink eventually!
 

Mr. Vern

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Was it an older kit? We brewed some very old kits to see what it would do... it was beer but it was not good. I didn't bother to drink it

dark could be from aged extract or other trouble in the process. Scorched etract would provide for a roasty like flavor maybe. When you cut heat the burner and kettle bottom is still holding a lot of BTU, the bottom remains very hot so LME/DME has to be stirred very well. Was there anything burnt to the bottom of the kettle?
 
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alamovolcano

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Was it an older kit? We brewed some very old kits to see what it would do... it was beer but it was not good. I didn't bother to drink it

dark could be from aged extract or other trouble in the process. Scorched etract would provide for a roasty like flavor maybe. When you cut heat the burner and kettle bottom is still holding a lot of BTU, the bottom remains very hot so LME/DME has to be stirred very well. Was there anything burnt to the bottom of the kettle?
It's been sitting around for more than a year, but in the basement which stays pretty cool and IIRC was well before its best by date.

There was more wort HME at the bottom of the kettle than I care to admit, but with the color being so dark already it's hard to tell if it was burnt. I don't remember smelling anything burnt, but the scorched extract is most likely the culprit. Unfortunately this is not very drinkable. What's worse is that I used the yeast cake to brew some cider, and now have that bottled and have some mead in there (a la Doin The Most YouTube video) and am worried the flavor will carry through. We'll find out in a couple weeks.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I agree that an older kit could be the biggest issue. In 2021 I "won" an extract IPA kit that had been left over from a event that was cancelled a year prior. The beer looked a lot more like a Brown Ale than an IPA and it had an odd "toasted cardboard" quality to it. Dry Malt Extract stores and avoids oxidizing much better than Liquid.

Also, when adding extract to the water, it is a good idea to turn off the heat and make sure the extract is fully mixed before turning the heat back on.
 
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alamovolcano

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I agree that an older kit could be the biggest issue. In 2021 I "won" an extract IPA kit that had been left over from a event that was cancelled a year prior. The beer looked a lot more like a Brown Ale than an IPA and it had an odd "toasted cardboard" quality to it. Dry Malt Extract stores and avoids oxidizing much better than Liquid.

Also, when adding extract to the water, it is a good idea to turn off the heat and make sure the extract is fully mixed before turning the heat back on.
The heat was off when the extract went in, but likely wasn't as mixed in as it should've been. That and the age of the extract is probably where the problem lies. Hopefully my first BIAB batch turns out okay so I can feel better about myself! lol
 

Mr. Vern

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There was more wort HME at the bottom of the kettle than I care to admit

That could have been your cold break / trub separating from the wort if your kettle was being chilled for a while. In this case, everything goes into the fermenter.

Scorched extract burns sugar to the bottom of your kettle, and long boil times with extract darkens the wort. You'll know if you have burned extract as soon as you empty the kettle or notice black flakes in your boil. (Been there, done that). Nothing wrong with extract AT ALL, but it can age quickly, especially liquid extract.

Most importantly, do not be discouraged by a Mr. Beer kit... the gateway drug. "that was really cool, but I think I can do better!"

Brew on!
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Without knowing the color of the extract at the start of the boil, the simplest thing (and maybe the correct thing) would be to assume the extract was old.

and long boil times with extract darkens the wort.

... but generally not enough to matter with a 45 to 60 min boil:

Reporting back on this -in the Nov. 17, 2005 episode [Basic Brewing Radio], Bob Hansen of Briess says, to paraphrase, you'll get about 0.75 to 1 degree Lovibond darkening after a 45-minute extract boil. With "reduced volume" brewing, the color darkening happens faster.

Timestamp 48:50: http://www.basicbrewing.com/radio/mp3/bbr11-17-05.mp3

There was a "light IPA challenge" in the "How do I get lighter color with IPA?" topic which demonstrated this for extract based IPAs. The beers came out with the desired / expected color.

eta: I'm open to the possibility that there are additional factors (perhaps brewing with tap water with poor mineral content) that can lead to 'darker than expected' results. But it's also strongly recommended to use no (or low) mineral water when brewing with extract.
 
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alamovolcano

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Most importantly, do not be discouraged by a Mr. Beer kit... the gateway drug. "that was really cool, but I think I can do better!"
Makes you feel better, gets you hooked, ends up costing lots of money and time, it's all you can talk about with your friends and family...yep, checks all the boxes of a gateway drug.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I'm also okay with blaming the extract and not my beginner abilities
LOL aside, over time, you may find many home brewers here mentioning that they started with extract, added the skills to brew all-grain, then went back to brewing with extract for a great beer and a shorter brew day.
 
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alamovolcano

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LOL aside, over time, you may find many home brewers here mentioning that they started with extract, added the skills to brew all-grain, then went back to brewing with extract for a great beer and a shorter brew day.
Interesting! I'm a bit of a control freak, so the thought of going back to extracts, even after only my first all grain brew, gives me pause. I'll have to read some things.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I'm a bit of a control freak, so the thought of going back to extracts, even after only my first all grain brew, gives me pause. I'll have to read some things.
So don't go back to extract (for now anyway). In the future, if you want/need a shorter brew day, the skills and techniques you perfect learning to brew all-grain recipes will be useful in brewing extract-based recipes.

Personally, I brew a mix of small batch DME+steep and BIAB (all-grain). Shorter brew days when I want, control/flexibility when I need it. For many of us, DME is just another ingredient.
 

GBRbrew

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Maybe they have gotten better, but the mr beer kit I started with made some pretty awful beer. Bad enough I didn't try to brew again for years. When I came back I went all grain and with the help of HBT am making good beer now. If you go back to extract I'd recommend different kits.

Cheers
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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If you go back to extract I'd recommend different kits.
Many people who continue to brew 'with extract' use their own recipes and find a source for fresh DME/LME.

Personally, I don't buy kits (no reason, I just don't buy them) - so I can't comment on the freshness of the ingredients in kits that the various on-line stores offer.
 
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