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Everything posted by billp

  1. I've been making Mr Beer batches for a few years now and I've always wondered what (if anything) I'm missing by not doing my own hop boils etc. On the other hand, I'm a big believer in the 80/20 rule, that is, you can get 80% of the benefit of most things with 20% of the work. So I've decided to run a direct comparison experiment to see if I can figure out whether the extra work and time involved in doing the full boil results in a beer that enough better than Mr. Beer to justify the work. So here's what I did. Last week, I made a 2.5 gallon batch of the Mr Beer "Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner" using the can of HME, two packets of booster, and 1 lb. of Mailliard Malt Pilsner LME I pitched one smack-pack of Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils and put it in the fermentation chamber at 55F. O.G. was 1.053. Total ingredient cost = $28.94. Total time spent = 45 minutes. This weekend, I made a 2.5 gallon batch of Pilsner using 2.5 gallons of water, 3lbs of Briesse Pilsnen Light DME. I dissolved the DME in the water, fired up the burner and brought the wort to a boil. After the hot break, I added .75 ounces of Czech Saaz hops and boiled for 45 minutes. With 15 minutes to go, I added another .25 ounces of Saaz. At the end of the boil, I put the pot in an ice bath and got the wort down to 68F in about 15 minutes, pitched one smack-pack of Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils and put it in the fermentation chamber at 55F. O.G, was 1.058. Total ingredient cost = $21.97, Total time spent = 2 hours. I tried to get the IBUs on the two beers pretty close, but no guarantees. I do prefer lower levels of hops and bitterness so I think they'll both be good. The plan is to treat the two batches exactly the same; 3 weeks in the fermentation chamber, 72 hour diacetyl rest @ 65F, 48 hours cold-crash @ 35F, then bottle. The Mr Beer batch will have a small advantage of being a week older at each stage of the comparison, but I'm okay with that. Anyway, stay tuned and I'll keep y'all posted about the results.
  2. billp

    An experimental comparison

    Ok time for an update: I checked the gravity on the two beers last night and both were right at 1.016. That's the expected final gravity for the boiled DME batch (according to the Brewer's Friend recipe tool I'm using) after only eleven days of fermentation. The beer is clearing up nicely but its still a bit more bitter than I expected based on the hop boil that I did. Perhaps it will lose some bitterness as it gets a bit older and the hops settle out as the beer continues to clear. The Mr Beer Pils has me scratching my head a little bit. Its expected FG is 1.011 but after 19 days in the its only down to 1.016, exactly where it was when I tested it Monday. The Brewer's Friend recipe says the FG would be 1.011, but I did a "best guesstimate" to account for the Mr Beer kit ingredients. And its still a little sweet so maybe its not done fermenting yet. On the other hand, the OG was 1.053 and the yeast (Wyeast 2278) has an average attenuation of 72% which seems to indicate the yeast should eat about 38 points (out of the 53 available) of the gravity leaving a FG of 1.015 or so. Anyway, I'm going to pull it out of the 55F fermentation chamber tonight and leave it out for a diacetyl rest and see where I am over the weekend. Stay tuned!
  3. billp

    An experimental comparison

    Absolutely Nick! I'm bottling each batch in 12 ounce bottles so there will be ample opportunities for comparison. Once these two are in the bottles, I'm replicating the experiment with the Mr Beer Oktoberfest (gussied up with some Munich LME and Wyeast 2633 Oktoberfest Blend) compared to a SMASH beer made with Munich DME and an ounce or so of Hallertauer fermented with the same yeast.
  4. Hi, I was a member here years ago and got lots of good advice and made some decent beer. For various reasons involving a year and a half looking for a new house and an inability to control temperatures, I fell out of home brewing. But I always missed it and wanted to get back to it. Well now, I've got a new house, and a dedicated beer fridge with one of those InkBird digital temp controllers and this past weekend I brewed a couple batches of lager; a 1776 recipe and a Uncle Monkey's Dunkel. They're quietly bubbling away in the fridge at a cool 55F. For my next adventure, I'm thinking of finding an extract recipe with steeping grains and adjusting it to 2.25 gallons to fit in the LBK and doing my first hop boil. Any thoughts from the beer collective? I'm glad to be back
  5. billp

    Back after a couple of years away

    Shrike, I had not looked at any of those. They certainly seem to be what I'm looking for, something in the 2.5 gallon range that is a step up process wise from the "heat, mix, pour, and pitch" that I've been doing with Mr Beer. I'll check one of those out when I get a free LBK. Thanks!
  6. billp

    Back after a couple of years away

    Thanks for the welcome! I like lagers, generally stuff on the lighter (color and texture) side. Not a big fan of IPAs (too bitter). The advice I was looking for was on the efficacy of cutting a 5 gallon partial boil extract recipe in half. Will that work? Or is there some factor in the chemistry of the hop boil that is affected by halving the recipe?
  7. billp

    sugar at the bottom

    Is there really enough oxygen in that little bit of air in the headspace that shaking the bottle will cause a problem?
  8. billp

    Cider + Lactose

    Yes, the lactose added to the SG, but since it didn't ferment, it added exactly the same amount to the FG. And since ABV is calculated by the DIFFERENCE between SG and FG, and the lactose is making the same contribution to both SG and FG, it's presence is irrelevant to the ABV calculation.
  9. billp

    My First Recipe...and some questions

    Yes the IBUs are additive. For your recipe, QBrew says you'll have about 27 IBUs with a SG of 1.076, which according the ubiquitous hops graph that someone posted here (I've attached it) indicates a "slightly malty" final taste. QBrew also says you'll wind up with a FG of 1.019 and an ABV of 7.4%. I'd say this beer will take quite a while to condition, but I'm still a newb myself.
  10. How are you planning to airlock the filled bottles during secondary fermentation? You obviously can't cap them or you'll be asking for bottle bombs, and if you don't cover them at all you're asking for contamination.... I'm surprised you found batch priming so problematic. I just paid $9 for an extra LBK (I had the survey coupon) and a couple of $$ for a length of hose from the LHBS. Attach the hose to the spigot of the "fermenting" LBK sitting on my kitchen countertop, drop the hose into the bottom of the "bottling" LBK (sitting on a kitchen chair) so that it rests on the bottom, open the spigot and let gravity do the rest. Add the bolied and cooled priming solution while the bottling LBK is filling and "Bob's Yer Uncle".
  11. I wanted to make the Baby Got Bock recipe, but couldn't hold the temperature so I substituted Scotch Ale yeast from Wyest. Turned out great! My favorite batch so far.
  12. Given that both booster and BrewMax add about the same amount of ABV (1.3% v. 1.0%) and cost the same why not use the LME? Is that extra .3% important enough to offset the longer conditioning time and cidery taste?
  13. billp

    Why does anyone ever use booster?

    Huh, its still listed on the website and some of their recipes still include it. I guess they'll sell it until it runs out then?
  14. billp

    Cider and Perry is back!

    Just ordered one! Thanks for the heads up.
  15. billp

    Baby Got Bock keg activity

    This is a bottom fermenting yeast, so my understanding is that the fermentation won't look like top fermenting one. The condensation indicates some yeast activity.
  16. Some of you guys may remember me posting here a while back in a bit of a panic because of some issues with a brew of Jamaica Mon. Well, I'm back to update y'all. After 8 weeks in the bottle, the Jamaica Mon isn't horrible. There's no hint of the taste I thought was fusel when I first tried it but it never really did smooth out. I guess because of the booster. Anyway, its drinkable, but I wouldn't brew it again. Next up was Baby Got Bock. Because I couldn't hold the brewing temperature in the 50s, I brewed using Wyeast 1728 "Scottish Ale" instead of the "Bavarian Lager" yeast that comes with the recipe. Holy Smokes!! This stuff is GOOD!! And its only been in the bottles for 5 weeks! Very smooth, nice head, good body and mouthfeel. I will definitely keep a supply of this in the pipeline. I've got a case of Deluxe Bavarian Weissbier (with an additional 250g of Golden extract above the recipe) conditioning now. I sneaked a bottle out after two weeks and it wasn't too bad, not quite ready yet, but not too bad. Tonight, I bottle my fifth batch, its the 1776 Ale, with a 250g pouch of "Smooth" LME added. I was a bit leery of the added hops, but from the hydrometer sample I drank last night, its gonna be another home run!! Anyway, thanks for all the help guys and thanks for talking me down a couple of weeks ago when I got discouraged!! I just ordered another bunch of refills!
  17. billp

    Update on my brewing

    "RangerDanger" post=358851 said: "billp" post=358319 said:Next up was Baby Got Bock. Because I couldn't hold the brewing temperature in the 50s, I brewed using Wyeast 1728 "Scottish Ale" instead of the "Bavarian Lager" yeast that comes with the recipe. Holy Smokes!! This stuff is GOOD!! Good to hear. There are several lager recipes I've been wanting to try but am not confident in my ability to keep a consistent temperature low enough. I've thought about just doing it with a different yeast but wasn't sure how it'd turn out. Any other suggestions on yeasts that could be used as a substitute until I'm able to find a good method for brewing at cooler temps? If you go to Wyeasts website, they have little capsule descriptions of each yeast telling the temp range as well as its flocculation (how much it settles out of the beer into the trub), its attenuation (how much of the available sugars it converts to alcohol, and its alcohol tolerance. Really good site. http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_yeaststrain.cfm
  18. billp

    Yeast substitute suggestions??

    UPDATE I wound up using Wyeast 1728 "Scottish Ale" yeast from my LHBS and it turned out really, really well. As in the best thing I've brewed yet, well. Thanks for the advice guys!
  19. My "Baby Got Bock" recipe kit just arrived and while reading the instructions, discovered that the Bavarian Liquid yeast that comes with the kit requires a fermentation temp between 46 and 58. There simply isn't anywhere in my house that stays that cool on a consistent basis. I'm looking for some alternative to using a cooler with some ice bottles, which I fear will result in inconsistent temps. Can I use another kind of yeast that has higher fermentation temps?? The Mr Beer London ESB liquid yeast looks like it might fit the bill.... What do you guys think?
  20. billp


    Here's mine [attachment=12281]bocklabel.jpg[/attachment]
  21. Ok, so I just cracked open a bottle of my second brew, It was Jamaica Mon and it spent two weeks in the fermenter and three weeks carbing in the bottle. It has a nice flavor but a strong alcohol taste, kind of a "hotness" if that makes any sense. From reading her on the board and other places, I think it it might be fusel from a slightly high fermentation temp. But the fermentation environment never went over 74 F, so maybe its just a really strong, raw alcoholic beer. Will this condition out eventually?
  22. billp

    Will fusel condition out?

    "azmark" post=341791 said:Could be oxidation, or infection, both would get worse with time. Also might be dirty bottles. One drank early could have been cleaned and rinsed well, while others not so well. Well it's probably not dirty bottles, as these were brand new, never had beer in 'em, and I rinsed and starsaned 'em (I put the beer right in there with the foam!) before bottling, but I might be infection as this is the first batch I've returned the hydrometer sample to while it was fermenting. I thought I was sanitizing the hydrometer, the tube, even my hands and the top/cover of the fermenter, but who knows. I reckon if it gets worse, then I know what it was. If it gets better, then I"m in business, and if it stays the same, it isn't undrinkable. I guess I'm going to get me a cooler and some water bottles.
  23. billp

    Will fusel condition out?

    More information. After much reading, both on this board and others, I'm now thinking it's probably not fusel. Correct me if I"m wrong, but since fusel is a product of primary fermentation, it would have been present when the beer was bottled, right? This beer had none of the bad taste, I'm tasting now when I bottled it. In fact, we cracked one open last week (after two weeks of carbing) and it was quite pleasant, if a bit green and kind of one-note, as well as being inadequately carbed. Essentially the flavor of the beer got bad after an additional week in the bottle. Has anybody ever heard of this?
  24. billp

    Will fusel condition out?

    "Joechianti" post=341657 said:When you say the fermenting environment never went over 74 degrees, do you mean the air tmp where the LBK sat, or the actual temp of the beer inside the LBK? I've seen the temp inside the LBK get as high as 8 to 10 degrees above the surrounding air temp. I once had a batch that hit 80 degrees and that batch tasted like I poured some nail polish remover in it. I hoped it would get better with time, but after about 8 months, it was worse. I finally dumped the last of it recently. Now, yours may be lighter than mine, so only you can tell. Let it age, test one bottle every few weeks or so, and hope for the best. It was air temp and the little check mark thingee on the side of the keg. It might be time to go back to buying beer. I can't control temps that closely. :-(
  25. billp

    Will fusel condition out?

    After more research I doubt its fusel as the temp never went above 74 (I have a min/max recording thermometer) and the range in the Mr Beer instructions is 68-76. I guess its just really strong and raw.