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An experimental comparison

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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.

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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.

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Experiments are good.

I tried a test last year with/without yeast nutrient. Seems to me the fermentation of the nutrient beer was a little stronger and longer (based on look of bubbles) and the beer tasted a little cleaner at bottling.

I made CAL with 1/2pound Golden Light DME and 0.5 oz Citra. +/- Servomyces nutrient.

So the flavors were fairly light.

I took advantage of the current BOGO offer (CAL and American Lager) so I might just make these again - good summer beer.

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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!

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