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Rokitman

Advice On Starting First Zombie Fest Brew

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Hello Brewers,

As the title says, I'm going to be starting my first batch of Zombie Fest this weekend. I choose this kit because of the name ~ big zombie fan here. But I'm even more fascinated that it's an advanced brew using two kinds of malt, BrewMax DME softpacks, pelleted hops and hops bags. This will also be my first advanced brew kit I've tried. So I want everything to go perfectly.

 

I'm looking for any advice or special instructions I might need to make this process as smooth and successful as possible. Are the fermentation and carbonation times the same as a typical brew? Would it benefit from cold crashing? Anything you think I might need to know to make this a memorable brew.

 

I'd also like the opinion of those who have tried Zombie fest before on it's taste and quality. What did you think?

 

I look forward to your responce. And Thank you.

 

- Dean -

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I've not brewed it just because I'm not set up to brew lagers yet.  But I plan on it once I get a fridge and temp controller.  Having said that, I can offer some advice:

-  Yep, fermentation and carbonation times should be the same.

-  I don't cold crash because I don't have the room in my fridge to do it.  But if I could, I'd do it for every single brew I make.  There's no downside.
-  Do NOT tie the muslin sacks tight around your grains and hops.  Both will expand in the water so they need some room.  I try and tie them off very close to the top.

-  I use a pair of tongs to swish the muslin sack around in the water a few times during the steep.

-  When you bring the grain water to a boil, keep an eye on it.  It can go from "almost there" to boiling over quite rapidly.

-  I've not used DME before so there are others who can offer tips.  However, I do know you shouldn't add it too quickly, stir or whisk well to make sure it doesn't clump, and know that the water vapor rising from the wort will cause the DME to clump around the opening you cut in the bag.

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23 hours ago, Shrike said:

-  Fermentation and carbonation times should be the same.

-  I don't cold crash. But if I could, I'd do it for every single brew I make.  There's no downside.
-  Do NOT tie the muslin sacks tight around your grains and hops.  

-  I use a pair of tongs to swish the muslin sack around in the water.

-  When you bring the grain water to a boil, keep an eye on it.

-  I've not used DME before so there are others who can offer tips.  However, I do know you shouldn't add it too quickly, stir or whisk well to make sure it doesn't clump.

 

Thank you, I will definitely keep all this in mind. Hoping to brew tonight.

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I wait a minute or so after turning off the flame to add my DME/LME, and stir constantly. This helps prevent the scorching of the malt at the bottom of the pot and unintended caramel flavor. Good luck -BTW, when are we invited over for a tasting?

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On 7/8/2017 at 10:38 AM, Brian N. said:

I wait a minute or so after turning off the flame to add my DME/LME, and stir constantly. This helps prevent the scorching of the malt at the bottom of the pot and unintended caramel flavor. Good luck -BTW, when are we invited over for a tasting?

 

You may want to take a raincheck on that tasting. There's a very good chance this batch will be garbage!

 

Everything went well until the point that I added the DME to the hot wort. I know I was forewarned about adding the DME too quickly. But I had no idea just how slowly you had to add it. Would be nice if there were a mention of this in the instructions. I was warned by a member here, but new brewers would have no idea in advance.

 

The first bag clumped HORRIBLY!  I was able to get most of the second bag in without too much issue. But by then, the damage was done. I stirred forever trying to melt the clumps. It would have taken an hour to melt them just stirring the mixture like this. At this point I figured the batch was pretty much toast and had little to lose. So I poured the clumpy mess into a blender and set it to high. It indeed brought the mix back to a lovely frothy goo.

 

I added everything to the LBK with the hops bag and yeast and set it in it's resting place. I'm not expecting too much from this and quite frankly expect it to be terrible.

 

So tell me, had badly did I screw this up?

 

- Dean -

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Rokitman said:

 

You may want to take a raincheck on that tasting. There's a very good chance this batch will be garbage!

 

Everything went well until the point that I added the DME to the hot wort. I know I was forewarned about adding the DME too quickly. But I had no idea just how slowly you had to add it. Would be nice if there were a mention of this in the instructions. I was warned by a member here, but new brewers would have no idea in advance.

 

The first bag clumped HORRIBLY!  I was able to get most of the second bag in without too much issue. But by then, the damage was done. I stirred forever trying to melt the clumps. It would have taken an hour to melt them just stirring the mixture like this. At this point I figured the batch was pretty much toast and had little to lose. So I poured the clumpy mess into a blender and set it to high. It indeed brought the mix back to a lovely frothy goo.

 

I added everything to the LBK with the hops bag and yeast and set it in it's resting place. I'm not expecting too much from this and quite frankly expect it to be terrible.

 

So tell me, had badly did I screw this up?

 

- Dean -

 

 

Was the blender sanitized? This is great by the way. Im sure you oxygenated that wort like a mofo. Maybe you stumbled upon the new preferred way of adding DME. If you used everything cleaned and sanitized then you might just be good. 

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Ive only used DME a few times but ive had success with added it slowly to cold water and then cranking up the heat. That and booster too. Otherwise the steam can cause the dme to get all clumpy on the bag. As with most things in life its just better to take your time and do it right the first time

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37 minutes ago, Creeps McLane said:

Was the blender sanitized? This is great by the way. Im sure you oxygenated that wort like a mofo. Maybe you stumbled upon the new preferred way of adding DME. If you used everything cleaned and sanitized then you might just be good. 

 

Yes, made sure it was sanitised before hand. Ya, perhaps I just set a beer brewing president! Do I need to get a patent? More than likely though, this will go down as one of the best beer brewing fails in history. 

 

You're welcomed for my contribution! Lol!

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30 minutes ago, Creeps McLane said:

Ive only used DME a few times but ive had success with added it slowly to cold water and then cranking up the heat. That and booster too. Otherwise the steam can cause the dme to get all clumpy on the bag. As with most things in life its just better to take your time and do it right the first time

 

I thought about that as soon as it started clumping. And according to the directions, I DID do it right. It says to add it to the HOT mixture.

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6 hours ago, Rokitman said:

 

I thought about that as soon as it started clumping. And according to the directions, I DID do it right. It says to add it to the HOT mixture.

No matter what it says, it clumps a lot less adding it to cold. But you  really have to keep stirring especially if you use booster.

Cooper's AU recipes often use hot water but they put the dry malt in the fermenter  first then add hot water and swirl it around until mixed. No clumping on the bag when you do it that way. I have not tried the sequence of adding water to the dry powder yet but I may. Sometimes the Coopers say just dissolve the DME/Brew enhancer in hot water. I don't think they usually  boil it.   http://store.coopers.com.au/brewing-info/recipes.html

 

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Also I don't think it would be a problem if you had some  clumps in the LBK. I have on occasion forgotten to add enough DME to the recipe so I have added it direct into the wort in the LBK. It worked out fine, as the DME is pretty much sterile and the yeast will stir it up as it makes bubbles.

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8 hours ago, Nickfixit said:

No matter what it says, it clumps a lot less adding it to cold. But you  really have to keep stirring especially if you use booster.

Cooper's AU recipes often use hot water but they put the dry malt in the fermenter  first then add hot water and swirl it around until mixed. No clumping on the bag when you do it that way. I have not tried the sequence of adding water to the dry powder yet but I may. Sometimes the Coopers say just dissolve the DME/Brew enhancer in hot water. I don't think they usually  boil it.   http://store.coopers.com.au/brewing-info/recipes.html

 

 

Well, All I can say is I followed the instructions specifically made for Zombie Fest Lager:
 

"8. Open the can of Brewing Extract and DME packs and pour the contents into the hot mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed and the DME is dissolved. This mixture of unfermented beer is called “wort”."

 

The only reference to heat being an issue is in step 7 where it says to remove from heat. Doesn't even say to let it cool. If there is an issue with DME clumping in hot wort, it would be extremely helpful to know this before you ruin a batch. It's not like I can return it. And I'm not going to ask for my money back since it was ultimately my fault. Even stirring vigorously while adding it slow still produced some clumping.

This might be something the brew masters at Mr. Beer might want to look into. Perhaps come up with another technique that reduces the risk of failure. At the very least, reword the instructions to give new brewers proper warning.

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I agree with you DME can be a pain. Using MR Beer LME packs is much easier and it should provide the same result - but of course if it comes with DME.....you have to use it.

The other problem I have with DME is even if it does not clump, there is a cloud of fine sugar particles that spread around and stick on everything.

But for the future,  you will know and be able to minimize the issues.

 

I think it would just be easier if Mr B. always used the LME. I am not sure of the advantage of DME except is it lighter to ship. Maybe also costs less for them.

 

From what I can see the benefits quoted for  DME are - longer shelf life - easier to measure out quantities than with sticky liquid.

Of course with Mr B, and the small LME packs this is no issue. I sometimes get 3 lb LME containers (for different malt flavors) and only part use them and this is more trouble.

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 7:35 AM, Nickfixit said:

From what I can see the benefits quoted for  DME are - longer shelf life - easier to measure out quantities than with sticky liquid.

Of course with Mr B, and the small LME packs this is no issue. I sometimes get 3 lb LME containers (for different malt flavors) and only part use them and this is more trouble.

I also buy 1 lb bags of DME (cheaper in larger bags but more difficult to manage in small quantity and keep dry.) With the 1 lb bags, it is easy to drop in 8 oz (for 1% ABV) into a brew, or smaller amounts to tweak recipes.  After partial use I expel air gently and reseal with packing tale or scotch tape folded over the cut off corner. This works well for me. (I use the same reseal method on partially used yeast packs too.)

For the LME, I am less accurate on using but go by change in container weight (after pouring some out) or rough level in container if using a lot. (Like 1 lb from a 3.3 lb tub). The 3.3 lb tubs (plastic) are screw top so easy to reclose and I dump a splash of vodka in to sterilize it after use.)

I would be interested if anyone has an EASY NON-MESSY way to measure LME out.

 

That said, the Mr B packs are much easier to use and good flavors, but sometimes I want to try a different malt. The ones I have currently are Porter, Vienna and Special Dark.

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Speaking of yeast, is there any use for all the leftover yeast packets that come with tubs of LME that are not used for some recipes? I probably have 6 of them now. For recipes that DO use them, can I add a little extra to the batch to slowly use them up, or can they be stored for an extended time?

 

So honestly, do you think this batch of Zombie Fest is going to be drinkable when all is said and done? It looked pretty sketchy going into the tub.

 

One other question. Why exactly does the yeast need to be sprinkled on top and not mixed in? What happens if the yeast is mixed.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Rokitman said:

Speaking of yeast, is there any use for all the leftover yeast packets that come with tubs of LME that are not used for some recipes? I probably have 6 of them now. For recipes that DO use them, can I add a little extra to the batch to slowly use them up, or can they be stored for an extended time?

 

So honestly, do you think this batch of Zombie Fest is going to be drinkable when all is said and done? It looked pretty sketchy going into the tub.

 

One other question. Why exactly does the yeast need to be sprinkled on top and not mixed in? What happens if the yeast is mixed.

 

 

Well Dean, I'm glad you asked. Not because I know the answer but because I wonder too. I have a similar number of Mr. Beer yeast packets looking for something to do.

 

I've seen people post about using them as "nutrients" for other yeast cultures. Don't really know how this works. The only thing I can think of is that we can get extract in forms other than Mr. Beer cans, and I guess you could just go down to your local homebrew shop and pick up one of those 3-point-something-pound containers and make up a couple of LBKs. With the full boil, you could work up your own hop additions, etc.

 

As for your Zombie Fest Lager, I'll bet it turns out great if you're able to keep it at lager temperatures.

 

And why does the yeast just get sprinkled? I think it's because the directions are written for those who might not be pros at sanitation. It's safer just to drop it and seal up than to stir and risk introducing something. Just a guess. And it's safe to say the sprinkle-and-run thing has worked pretty well. In five months reading this forum, I haven't seen one credible post saying "I sprinkled my yeast and nothing happened."

 

Jim

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11 hours ago, jasbo said:

I guess you could just go down to your local homebrew shop and pick up one of those 3-point-something-pound containers and make up a couple of LBKs. With the full boil, you could work up your own hop additions, etc.

 

As for your Zombie Fest Lager, I'll bet it turns out great if you're able to keep it at lager temperatures.

 

And why does the yeast just get sprinkled? I think it's because the directions are written for those who might not be pros at sanitation. It's safer just to drop it and seal up than to stir and risk introducing something.

 

Thanx Jim for your thoughts. I'll continue to look around to forums and see what others might be doing with their leftover yeast.

 

I currently keep my LBK's in a closet which consistently stays about 68 degrees.

 

I guess only time will tell if my Zombie Fest turns out drinkable. I'll definitely report back here when the tasting begins.

 

- Dean - 

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Yeast nutrient is not needed with dry yeast.

 

If one wants to use yeast packets as nutrient, they get tossed into the boil.

 

Yeast is sprinkled on top and allowed to sit.  It then CAN be mixed in after 15 minutes (I do), and the wort further aerated.  Mr. Beer removed this step for the reason you noted, new brewers using unsanitized utensils.

 

Spend some time reading the forum, or searching, lots of old discussions on this.

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DME is easy to use if done the correct way.  First have a whisk in one hand and the bag of DME in the other.  Begin stirring with the whisk and then very slowly add the DME.  It will take some time but if you break up any clumps as soon as they form it can be done without much issue.  Don't worry about the clumps that form on the opening of the bag, you can scrape them off into your wort when the bag is empty.  Also, pour it from at least 6 to 8 inches away from the liquid.  This will make it fan out a little and make it easier to disolve as soon as it hits liquid.

 

Save the old packets of yeast.  They are good for at least 2 years.  Depending on how your brewing progresses, you may do as stated above and progress to 1 hour boils using LME, DME or even all grain processes.  You never know when you will brew one of these batches and realize that you don't have yeast (it happens).  This yeast will be a life saver.  It can also be used as nutrient if you want by adding it to the last 5 minutes of a boil.

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23 minutes ago, BDawg62 said:

Save the old packets of yeast, but put them in the refrigerator to prolong their vitality.  They are good for at least 2 years.  

 

Modified...

 

When you receive a can of Mr. Beer extract, if you're not brewing it right away, REMOVE the yeast packets and refrigerate them.  When you are ready to brew, remove the yeast packet from the refrigerator the night before.

 

Good practice is to write the HME on the packet of yeast, because some of the HMEs use different yeast - for example Bavarian Weissbier uses wheat yeast.  Then, use them in order of oldest first, based on the date code which is the day of the year, i.e. 11116 is the 111th date of 2016.

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On 7/12/2017 at 8:17 AM, RickBeer said:

Good practice is to write the HME on the packet of yeast, because some of the HMEs use different yeast - for example Bavarian Weissbier uses wheat yeast.  Then, use them in order of oldest first, based on the date code which is the day of the year, i.e. 11116 is the 111th date of 2016.

 

Thanx for this Rick. Although it's too late to label my old yeast packets now, I'll definitely do this in the future.

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