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The Mr. Beer Hate?

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Liftingdad

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I keep seeing a dislike for Mr. Beer, but I have not found the true culprit of the issue.

Is it the:
Malt extract, yeast, bottles, and/or fermenting keg?

I am assuming it's an issue with the first 3 as the fermenting vessel is fairly decent considering that plastic fermenter's are quite common.

I see threads that state, "My friend had Mr. Beer and it turned out bad so I told him what to get, and now he loves it".
I'm assuming the issue is in the malt and yeast, but wanted someone who has a dislike for Mr. Beer to chime in with a reasonable response. I am hoping the response has some detail rather than "It's just awful" as there's nothing to really learn from that response.
 

guitarguy6

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There are many reasons why Mr Beer or Coopers kits get a bad rap. In my opinion the 3 main reasons are:

#1: People adding a bunch of dextrose in with the kit. This really makes the beer have no body and to me tastes like apple cider or something.

#2. Fermenting to hot and not long enough. A lot of people will ferment way to hot to have the beer reach FG sooner so they can bottle it right away. I've met guys who let it ferment 5-7 days and then bottle it so they can drink it 2 weeks from brew day.

#3. The yeast that it comes with isn't good.

If you add dme or lme instead of dextrose, swap the yeast out for US-05 or similar and ferment at a lower temperature for longer the kits are drinkable. Especially if you leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks and then let it bottle condition for another month. Some of the kits like the Coopers Australian pale ale taste way better if you also dry hop.

Bottom line is that these brewcan kits will not produce the quality of beer an all grain or extract with steeping grains recipe will.
 

kristiismean

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okay, it could be that the person who is doing their brew with a mr. beer kit is new, has no help, and does not understand everything that is going on. No cooling coil, etc etc.

not saying it's this way for everyone, but I too have a mr beer kit, in my attic, never used, but have over 50 brew sessions under my belt... one of these days I will bring it down, as it might be a nice way to do a sour beer, or use it for smaller test batches (which I have a 1 gallon kit for, and it's annoying) Maybe even try it with the lme that is still in the kit lol. (kidding, i kid i kid)...

I just imagine the fermenter on a kitchen counter in direct sunlight fermenting at 85-90 degrees....

That said, I personally have no dislike or like for mr beer as I have never had one of the kits beers....
 

Morrey

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This is just my .02 so please indulge me. These kits typically (not always) appeal to beginners since the kit has it all in one box. The main problem as I see it may lie with the inexperience of novice brewer, not the kit per se. I remember my first experiences were pretty bad as I learned proper techniques for my processes and slowly added good equipment. I used extracts at first, so it was really easy for me to blame crappy beers on the extracts. As I got better in my process, my beers improved so I could make a pretty good extract beer in comparison to my first few attempts.

Maybe I am off base to say this since I have never used a Mr. Beer kit. I don't know much about the ingredients they use, but I would believe a seasoned brewer could take that kit and make something drinkable out of it. Maybe not the best...but drinkable. So I'd look at all sides of the "I hate Mr. Beer" discussion and question that some of these haters may be novice brewers and haven't gotten their skills honed just yet.
 

mredge73

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There is a very long post on Mr Beer in the beginners forum, most have positive things to say about it. I for one started this hobby with a Mr. Beer kit and have made good beer with it.
The biggest problem with it isn't the ingredient quality or vessel; it is the instructions as they do little to educate.
 

Morrey

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okay, it could be that the person who is doing their brew with a mr. beer kit is new, has no help, and does not understand everything that is going on. No cooling coil, etc etc.

not saying it's this way for everyone, but I too have a mr beer kit, in my attic, never used, but have over 50 brew sessions under my belt... one of these days I will bring it down, as it might be a nice way to do a sour beer, or use it for smaller test batches (which I have a 1 gallon kit for, and it's annoying) Maybe even try it with the lme that is still in the kit lol. (kidding, i kid i kid)...

I just imagine the fermenter on a kitchen counter in direct sunlight fermenting at 85-90 degrees....

That said, I personally have no dislike or like for mr beer as I have never had one of the kits beers....

I was making my reply at the same time as you were responding. I apologize as it appears we are saying pretty close to the same thing. Looks as if we are thinking alike!!!
 
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Liftingdad

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There are many reasons why Mr Beer or Coopers kits get a bad rap. In my opinion the 3 main reasons are:

#1: People adding a bunch of dextrose in with the kit. This really makes the beer have no body and to me tastes like apple cider or something.

#2. Fermenting to hot and not long enough. A lot of people will ferment way to hot to have the beer reach FG sooner so they can bottle it right away. I've met guys who let it ferment 5-7 days and then bottle it so they can drink it 2 weeks from brew day.

#3. The yeast that it comes with isn't good.

If you add dme or lme instead of dextrose, swap the yeast out for US-05 or similar and ferment at a lower temperature for longer the kits are drinkable. Especially if you leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks and then let it bottle condition for another month. Some of the kits like the Coopers Australian pale ale taste way better if you also dry hop.

Bottom line is that these brewcan kits will not produce the quality of beer an all grain or extract with steeping grains recipe will.
In this instance, it's NOT the vessel but the ingredients and the rush.
 
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Liftingdad

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okay, it could be that the person who is doing their brew with a mr. beer kit is new, has no help, and does not understand everything that is going on. No cooling coil, etc etc.

not saying it's this way for everyone, but I too have a mr beer kit, in my attic, never used, but have over 50 brew sessions under my belt... one of these days I will bring it down, as it might be a nice way to do a sour beer, or use it for smaller test batches (which I have a 1 gallon kit for, and it's annoying) Maybe even try it with the lme that is still in the kit lol. (kidding, i kid i kid)...

I just imagine the fermenter on a kitchen counter in direct sunlight fermenting at 85-90 degrees....

That said, I personally have no dislike or like for mr beer as I have never had one of the kits beers....
The issue that pops out here is the cooling coil. Is it that the unnamed brewer isn't cooling down fully or something else related to cooling the wort?
 

Yooper

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The problem I had with Mr Beer and the "new and improved" Beer Machine 2000 was that the extract was prehopped,so no matter what kind of beer I made, they all tasted the same and weren't very good. Not terrible or anything, just not as good as beer I could buy and want to drink. So I put it away and didn't brew for years since it left such a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak).

The Cooper's was by far the worst, and made a terrible beer following the directions (add 2.2 pounds of corn sugar and use their poor quality yeast).
 
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Liftingdad

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This is just my .02 so please indulge me. These kits typically (not always) appeal to beginners since the kit has it all in one box. The main problem as I see it may lie with the inexperience of novice brewer, not the kit per se. I remember my first experiences were pretty bad as I learned proper techniques for my processes and slowly added good equipment. I used extracts at first, so it was really easy for me to blame crappy beers on the extracts. As I got better in my process, my beers improved so I could make a pretty good extract beer in comparison to my first few attempts.

Maybe I am off base to say this since I have never used a Mr. Beer kit. I don't know much about the ingredients they use, but I would believe a seasoned brewer could take that kit and make something drinkable out of it. Maybe not the best...but drinkable. So I'd look at all sides of the "I hate Mr. Beer" discussion and question that some of these haters may be novice brewers and haven't gotten their skills honed just yet.
This seems to be a very fair response in terms of an outlook rather than an opinion. The issue seems to be in the rush of the process. I mean if Robert Irvine came over to cook up some frozen chicken, he'd totally smash the chicken compared to the average cook.
 
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Liftingdad

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There is a very long post on Mr Beer in the beginners forum, most have positive things to say about it. I for one started this hobby with a Mr. Beer kit and have made good beer with it.
The biggest problem with it isn't the ingredient quality or vessel; it is the instructions as they do little to educate.
What components are missing though in terms of the instructions?
I came to this forum to help ensure my Mr. Beer didn't suck and that was years ago when I first got into homebrewing. I'm curious of your thoughts on what improvements should be noted.
 
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Liftingdad

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The problem I had with Mr Beer and the "new and improved" Beer Machine 2000 was that the extract was prehopped,so no matter what kind of beer I made, they all tasted the same and weren't very good. Not terrible or anything, just not as good as beer I could buy and want to drink. So I put it away and didn't brew for years since it left such a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak).

The Cooper's was by far the worst, and made a terrible beer following the directions (add 2.2 pounds of corn sugar and use their poor quality yeast).
This was my experience for the most part. I did an all-grain batch just prior to putting homebrewing on an unknown pause for several years that I was told turned out fairly decent. This coming from my stepfather and uncle whom tried my beers and weren't true fans of the extract brews but enjoyed the all-grain batch.
 

GPP33

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If you take a bottle of bisquick into a chefs kitchen they'll probably tell you same thing that an AG brewer will tell you about Mr Beer. Done right you can make an edible pancake with it but if you want to make an awesome pancake you need to start rounding up the fresh ingredients. There's only so much you can do with a powder of unknown ingredients and water.
 

mredge73

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What components are missing though in terms of the instructions?
I came to this forum to help ensure my Mr. Beer didn't suck and that was years ago when I first got into homebrewing. I'm curious of your thoughts on what improvements should be noted.
Their instructions are like typical baking instructions where they tell you what to do but do not tell you why you are doing it.
Also many people do not know brewing basics; they think that they can cook this up in the morning and have drinkable beer in the afternoon like baking a cake.

The cleaning and sanitizing step does a decent job of telling you what to do but the 1-step is pretty lousy at doing it.

The supplied HME is pastured during the canning process so it does not need to be boiled; in fact it is detrimental because you boil off any flavor and aroma.
Hot water will allow it to mix better and boiling will kill anything lurking in the water itself; but it is better to just use bottled spring water and mix it thoroughly at room temperature.

After the unnecessary boil many novice brewers screw up by pouring boiling wort into the fermenter before adding water in the bottom to absorb the shock damaging the keg.
Those that do cool it will give it a sink bath; this takes way too long and evaporates hop oils further.

I don't remember any instruction on yeast hydration but should probably be done as the yeast is likely to be old and stored poorly. A novice brewer will often pitch yeast onto hot wort killing it before it gets started. A thermometer really should be supplied in the kit.

Placing the fermentor in a cool dark place isn't stressed loudly enough and it is hard for a novice brewer to just leave it alone for 2 weeks. Optional cold crash step should be inserted here to minimize unattractive "floaties" in the beer.

No tools are supplied to take gravity measurements or an airlock to observe, how is a novice to know if fermentation has completed? Plastic bottles to the rescue, they are great for holding high pressure if bottled early and don't require additional tools for capping; Mr. Beer hit a home run on these. Hopefully the novice brewer didn't loose those instructions for adding a little sugar to each bottle for carbonating. Wait, they didn't give me enough bottles :(
 

Morrey

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This seems to be a very fair response in terms of an outlook rather than an opinion. The issue seems to be in the rush of the process. I mean if Robert Irvine came over to cook up some frozen chicken, he'd totally smash the chicken compared to the average cook.
I certainly agree. One thing I remember back from my beginner brewing days was my patience level. I was on fire to crack one open well before the date I knew to wait for. When I did, I was very disappointed and blamed all sorts of things...except ME!

Now that I produce larger volumes more frequently, I have beers that are continually "coming of age" and well conditioned. I have tried young beers that were truly nothing special, but with a couple of months of aging, mellowed into awesome beers. I find my pilsners to be in this category where 2 or 3 months of lagering makes the difference between simply ok and truly outstanding.

You hit the nail on the head....."The Rush of the Process", or in contrast, the art of patience.
 

oceanic_brew

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If you take a bottle of bisquick into a chefs kitchen they'll probably tell you same thing that an AG brewer will tell you about Mr Beer. Done right you can make an edible pancake with it but if you want to make an awesome pancake you need to start rounding up the fresh ingredients. There's only so much you can do with a powder of unknown ingredients and water.

That's exactly it. A part of the flavor profile is set for you, although we all know that the procedure can bring it to life or can destroy it.

But we must not forget the spirit of home brewing and home creating here even though it's not what the op wanted In regards to information. There's another level of experience that can't be attained from using prepackaged anything. Even if I make an all-grain beer that I have to pour down the drain the experience cannot be matched with a failure in prepackaged wort kits. I developed that terrible beer from the ground up and will probably make 10 batches of awesome beer because of all the mistakes I've made however there are a lot of procedural errors one must make before you can understand why my strawberry Amarillo white IPA tasted like pen ink. That's why the Mr. Beer kits are valuable.
 

GPP33

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That's exactly it. A part of the flavor profile is set for you, although we all know that the procedure can bring it to life or can destroy it.

But we must not forget the spirit of home brewing and home creating here even though it's not what the op wanted In regards to information. There's another level of experience that can't be attained from using prepackaged anything. Even if I make an all-grain beer that I have to pour down the drain the experience cannot be matched with a failure in prepackaged wort kits. I developed that terrible beer from the ground up and will probably make 10 batches of awesome beer because of all the mistakes I've made however there are a lot of procedural errors one must make before you can understand why my strawberry Amarillo white IPA tasted like pen ink. That's why the Mr. Beer kits are valuable.
And that's the rest of it..... When everything is pre packaged we can't tinker with it. As home brewers we're generally pre-dispositioned to screw around with things to try to make it better. I know a couple guys who found a recipe they like and have no desire to deviate from it, most brewers I know however are always trying something new and crazy.
 

bruhaha

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And that's the rest of it..... When everything is pre packaged we can't tinker with it. As home brewers we're generally pre-dispositioned to screw around with things to try to make it better. I know a couple guys who found a recipe they like and have no desire to deviate from it, most brewers I know however are always trying something new and crazy.
I think I am in the "crazy" category. I almost never make a recipe exactly, but tinker with it so it is more "my" recipe. Like a dog peeing on a tree marking it as his own!
 

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I did a Mr. Beer before starting AG and, at least at the time, I thought it turned out OK. I drank all of it happily (I was a staunch BMC’er at the time, if that matters).

Brewing is a pretty robust process—you can still end up with quite good beer even if you do things or make mistakes that the internet would have you believe should be fatal. But I think Mr. Beer suffers because it represents a stacking of a few too many compromises that, in sum, results in ho-hum beer. The crummy hopped extract, the yeast, the overly-simplified instructions that detail a ham-fisted “cook book” process, the probable inexperience of the brewer, the corner-cutting needed to fit the “kit” in a single nice-sized box at Walmart… it all adds up to be a bridge too far in the direction away from great beer.

Today, I think that I could probably use the basic Mr. Beer system and make a much better product than my first attempt, by adding in my homebrewing experience and a few carefully selected enhancements in process, equipment, and ingredients. But to really get to where I’d be proud of the result I imagine I’d have to augment the process so much that it could hardly be called “Mr. Beer” anymore.

I think the commonly cited raison d’etre for Mr. Beer is that it enables one to dip their toes into the waters of brewing to see if they like it; then, if they do, they can take it from there to greater heights. I’m sure some will disagree, but IMO, this is a bit of a fallacy, almost akin to claiming “Guitar Hero” is an effective means of enticing people to learn the real instrument. Mr. Beer is carefully designed to lend the impression that, over the course of a single afternoon, a complete blank-slate brewer can “make great beer at home.” To sell, it relies upon an appeal to the desire for instant gratification, which is precisely what brewing is not. Then, when one decides to investigate what is needed to really make good beer, they see all kinds of confusing and discouraging information they need to learn, equipment they need to buy, time they need to invest… and many, I reckon, tune out. Of course, we all know that homebrewing is very doable and not that difficult to learn by those motivated to do so, but if you’re wired to be of that mindset then you probably don’t need Mr. Beer training wheels in the first place.

“But wait, you said yourself that you started with Mr. Beer.” Technically I did, I guess—I got the kit for Christmas and used it once. I didn’t, however, get into homebrewing full force until at least 5 years later, and the dive into the hobby was inspired by tasting all of the great creations being served at a local brew pub; it had absolutely nothing to do with the fading memory of Mr. Beer.
 

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I always thought it was kinda gimmicky. A lot of people start with it though. I think it's more like that plastic guitar you had as a kid, some people weren't moved by it, others were drawn in and felt the need to play better than the best out there.
 

IslandLizard

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Mr. Beer kits were created for marketing: 99% brewing illusion, 1% result. IOW, not for brewing beer!

Now, using good ingredients instead (UNhopped malt extract, real hops, good yeast, none of those were supplied with the kit) and good process (actually boil with real hops, not diluting hopped extract, ferment at lower temps) you can ferment it to a drinkable beer. But it's not the kit anymore now, is it?

Their PET bottles can be useful for packaging the real beer and carbonating it.
 
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Gerry_P

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I've never used their kits as directed, but I used the lbk fermenters a bunch of times and think they're pretty decent for small batches. Target had the bottom-of-the-line Mr. Beer kits on clearance for 9 bucks a while back so I bought a couple spares. I made a couple batches using their hopped extract with additional stuff added and liquid yeast and they turned out fine. I wouldn't buy their kits, but then again I've never bought a kit (other than what came with my first homebrew kit long ago) so I don't count. In general, I don't think Mr. Beer is a bad option but I wouldn't recommend it over a regular homebrew equipment kit + the internet to look up recipes yourself.
Something I've noticed about certain members of the online homebrewing community: on one hand there are veteran Mr. Beer people who think it's unnecessary to go any further than the Mr. Beer kits and the brown plastic mini-kegs, and on the other hand you have new brewers who think they need to buy a $3000 array of pumps, hoses, NASA-level control panels, a brew "sculpture" that would survive a nuclear blast, and boil pots fashioned from exotic materials if they want to make decent beer. Kinda funny if you think about it.
:mug:
 

kh54s10

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Mr Beer will get you that - beer....

What it seems to me (I have never done a cheap pre-hopped kit beer) is kind of like making spaghetti by opening a can of Chef Boyardee or making the sauce from scratch. They both are spaghetti... But......

Take that further, grow your own tomatoes, make your own pasta, fresh spices.......
 

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I always thought it was kinda gimmicky. A lot of people start with it though. I think it's more like that plastic guitar you had as a kid, some people weren't moved by it, others were drawn in and felt the need to play better than the best out there.
I think you hit the nail on the head here. It is very gimmicky - but a gimmick that has worked in starting the hobby off for a lot of people (sometimes inadvertently) like me. A friend of mine had tried a Mr Beer Kit that turned out like most people's first times (make any inference you'd like) - utter disappointment. However, it got us both thinking about how we could make it better (there's that tinkering thing I suppose - isn't there a thread about how many of us homebrewer's are engineers? ;)). That led us to a little HBS called Northern Brewer where we each bought a startup kit and went with the Caribou Slobber Extract kits. All of the blind rule following of the Mr Beer Kit was gone, now we had a pretty damn good set of directions and some wonderful videos to not only walk us through the process but to explain why we were doing some of the things we were doing. The beer still wasn't anything to write home about, but it was at least palatable and led to an even greater desire to make more and better beer. That second batch prompted a Google search on the subject and eventually led me right here to HBT where I've been digging myself into the hole that is this hobby ever since!

The Mr Beer Kits are certainly not wonderful, and I'm sure we could all come up with ideas on how they could better it... but the truth is, it fills a gap and fits a niche for the real beginner who might otherwise be scared off by talk of "hop additions" and "specialty grain" right off the bat :mug:
 

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I certainly don't hate them, I started with a "Mr. Beer" kit, way back in early 2000. My first West Coast Pale Ale kit I tried didn't taste to good. I remember calling the company as the date on the can was very old that was in my box. The guy on the phone was great and sent me a few extra cans of different extracts and he told me what hops were in them. The beer was not so great in my opinion. But I was totally fascinated with the yeast doing it's thing in the fermenter. I remember shining my flashlight through the side of the brown fermentor the first time I made a beer and watching the yeast churning and zipping up the sides of the fermenter as it "did it's thing". I was hooked after that. This quickly led me to higher quality extract kits without hops already in the can from online stores like NB and others, and I made much better beer after that. Then I progressed to partial mash and then all grain from there. So Mr. Beer really got me started in this awesome hobby. I don't hate them at all, but their pre-hopped cans are not the best quality......

John
 

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I didn't use it. I started out with an extract kit from my LHBS and the northern brewer beginners homebrew setup (bucket, airlock, bottle wand, etc).

I see Mr. Beer on clearance at my local Marshall's and TJ Maxx, which was the turnoff for me. I wanted to take this hobby seriously, so I did. Mr. Beer just wasn't taking it seriously, in my opinion. That and I once went to a get together at a friends place and this guy was there letting people drink it and he was all proud of it and kinda douchey beer snobby about it and it was awful beer. It was akin to a riced out honda civic hatchback type dude with like 4 spoilers, neon lights and a feaux nitrous bottle.
 

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I've used Mr. Beer to get started in home brewing. The simplicity did appeal to me but I recognized that probably came with a tradeoff for quality. I've made some good and not so good beers. Used some of their higher-end refill kits with better results. I think there is a lot of knowledge here that will help me improve (I've even bought the Coopers 34L kit now as well). It would be helpful to see what a summary of the top 5 or 10 things to improve the Mr Beer and Coopers beer. Maybe list from simplest to implement to more difficult order....just a thought. I've seen using different yeast etc. brew temperature etc. to name a few. I know I would definitely try them out. Appreciate all the good feedback
 

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Around ten years ago my girlfriend at the time bought me a Mr. Beer for Christmas because I had been talking about interest in homebrewing. Was real excited, got started with the first batch and the fermenter broke... I just remember it being super poor quality. Anyway, I woke up the very next day, drove to my LHBS and got set up with a decent 5 gal kit, an extract recipe with speciality grains and some instruction from the staff, went home and brewed my first batch of homebrew.

It left me with a bad taste in my mouth for Mr. Beer kits, but I guess it inspired me to go ahead and spend the $ on an actual extract setup and got me absolutely hooked from there. So.. f*** you Mr. Beer, but also thank you Mr. Beer.
 

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Mr. Beer was my first brewing experience back in '98 with a pale ale kit I brewed with my dad. We ended up with six or so 2 liter bottles of beer that we laid down in the crawl space to age. Less than two weeks later I snuck one out and took it to a party, ended up drinking most of it myself. It packed a buzz but it had an off flavor and gave me an incredible hangover. Needless to say I was hooked! Mr. Beer is legend.
 

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I started off with MR. Beer.... I might have stuck with Mr. Beer for more than 1 brew, but I wanted to be more involved instead of heat up some water and drop the can of goodies into it. So after the first batch i purchased a started kit from Northern Brewer.
 

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Mr Beer is fine for some people. To compare it to all-grain brewing, there are several ways to do a mash, you can do the "traditional" method with a MLT, sparge, etc; you can do a BIAB; you can buy an automated system; etc, etc. You can even do mini-mash / partial-extract.

This is just another way to do extract brewing. I started off with Mr. Beer. It was fine. It made a beer that tasted ok to my pallet and gave me confidence to try and make beer using other methods. I can certainly understand people who feel good sticking with MrB for more than a couple of batches.
 

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My brother bought me a mr beer and a few kits for my birthday in 99. I burned through those and bought a few more kits from Wally World (I think). After about 10 lackluster batches I discovered a janky lhbs (to call it that is a stretch). Selection was scarce, but knowledge was plentiful (and free).

I blame mr beer and the proprietor of that shop for sending me down that rabbit hole.

I loved that mr beer kit. Still have it, in original box.
 

Transamguy77

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2011
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Location
Perkasie
I received a Mr Beer kit for Christmas 10 years ago from a neighbor, he also bought me a 3 pack of refills so after burning through those kits I went and bought some lightly used equipment on Craig’s list to do 5 gallon batches and it was all over from there.

As far as “hate” I have none, if it wasn’t for Mr Beer myself and a fair amount of us on the forum wouldn’t be here.
 

fatslob

Active Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2020
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I loved my mr beer kit. Wish I still had the little 2 gallon fermenter keg that thing was cool. Only problem I have is they dont explain the dangers of using starsan.
 

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