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  1. Best thing you can do is keep the temperature consistent, but if it's consistently cool (and this yeast likes it at 67*-68*), I would suggest warming it several degrees toward the end of fermentation to help the yeast metabolize their sweat. You'll have a better finish and fewer off flavors that way, but again, wait until the krausen is falling to raise the temp. If you can't control your temps very well, you'll still make beer. Just know that if you really decide to make brewing a serious hobby, temperature control is one of the most important factors in making beers that can win awards.
  2. What he said. Just leave 'em alone. The sugar WILL dissolve, and the yeast WILL metabolize it into alcohol and CO2. The only thing shaking or agitating will do is possibly oxygenate your beer, which will make you sad.
  3. Just be aware that liquid malt extracts begin to degrade pretty much from the moment they are packaged. This can manifest itself with an unpleasant flavor known as "extract twang", which is frequently misdiagnosed as acetaldehyde. The latter can condition out with time. The former never will. Not saying that you WILL experience this, only that you may. FWIW, if you find that you do have such a problem, I have found that the flavor of extract twang is largely offset by drinking it while eating very spicy (as in hot) food.
  4. Whoever wrote that dry bakers yeast and ale yeast are the same was misinformed. That said, you can still make beer with bakers yeast, it just won't have the same flavor characteristics that most people are looking for in a beer. FWIW, I take issue with the argument that fermentation is occurring if there is trub. Trub is a mixture of settled proteins, dead (and dormant) yeast, and hop residue. You will have all of those things settling to the bottom of your fermentor whether there is fermentation going on or not. It is true that the rapid reproduction of yeast that occurs before the yeast really get going heavily into metabolizing sugar into alcohol will contribute greatly to the settled yeast in the trub, but since that is not the only thing trub is composed of, it's not really a reliable indicator of yeast activity. I have never brewed a beer that did not have a krausen or visible agitation from yeast activity, which is not to say that it can not happen; but if you aerated your wort well, it is very unlikely that you will see no activity at all. A hot fermentation can come and go before you even know it, if you can't check on things fairly often, but that's another topic, and a quick taste will tell you if that has occurred.
  5. I agree. As a new brewer, it can be very educational to taste the beer at every step of the process. You'll learn which flavors change, which ones condition out, how the character of your beer changes from wort, through the fermentation and then bottling stages. Since natural carbing is a secondary fermentation, you will notice a definite progression of flavors as the yeast produce and reabsorb their various by products. Anything you do to know your beer better will make you a better brewer. I also agree that you want to use smaller bottles. Some of the early beer won't be very special, and you don't want to waste any more than you have to.
  6. Try a mix of about 2/3 corn sugar to 1/3 maltodextrin if you want to make your own. I like to say that Booster has its uses, but I haven't used it in years. Since the idea is to bump up the alcohol without changing the character of the beer, you might find it handy at times, but most beers really don't need added sugar, unless you are wanting to thin out a higher gravity beer. The addition of sugar can make what would otherwise be an overly malty beer much more palatable and easy drinking. More "digestible" as the Trappists say. I like to use it my "Imperial" beers so they don't have the chewiness of a Barley Wine.
  7. Try using a dry malt extract. It will require you to boil your own hops (usually). Some of us, myself included, are very sensitive to the taste of extract "twang" from liquid malt extract, which starts to degrade as soon as it's made. Were it not for the fact that I used DME for my third beer, I would probably have quit brewing, due to the fact that I found the taste of my HME beers unpleasant, and very similar to each other. DME keeps for a very long time, is easy to use, and with the right steeping grains can replicate most beer styles.
  8. Liquid malt extract starts degrading from the moment it's packaged (albeit slowly). An old extract is much more likely to give you a beer with extract twang. It's not a certainty, but don't let it surprise you if it occurs, and it's a rather unpleasant taste (to me at least).
  9. You can also simply enter in the amount of sugar listed on the label by weight. All of the simple sugars ferment pretty completely, so you really won't see an appreciable difference between them. Your fermentation and yeast will have a much bigger impact upon the final result, than say, the difference between sucrose and fructose.
  10. I would echo Diane. I just fold and tape the top of the yeast packet and try and use it within a month. Lately, my attenuation with the US-05 has been inconsistent. I only got slightly less than 65% with it recently in a low gravity pale ale, but the resultant beer just won a silver.
  11. You bet it does. Controlling fermentation temperatures is one of the most important things you can do to make good beer. And a vigorous fermentation can get a lot warmer than you want it to pretty quickly. Try and keep the temperature at the yeast's stated comfort zone, then raise the temp a few degrees once it no longer wants to get warm. Temperature maintenance when the yeast is most active prevents estery off flavors. The raise at the end helps ensure complete attenuation and allows the yeast to better re-metabolize the undesirable compounds they poop out earlier.
  12. You should be okay with yeast. My concern with Gopher6's reply is that adding more malt can knock the BU:GU balance off, and give you too sweet a beer. Check the IBU's that the MB recipe gives you. If it's on the low end for the style, you might do better to up your ABV with booster. This is a beer style that is easily thrown off by changes. Download a shareware brewing program like BrewMate http://www.brewmate.net/ or QBrew http://www.usermode.org/code.html if you want an easy way to keep your beer properly balanced, and a reasonably good reference for style guidelines. For most other beers, Gopher's reply is a very good one.
  13. While it's not the same as smoking, you can roast the peppers on a grill (for that matter, I'm sure you could smoke them as well). I've tried that and was not terribly enamored of the result. The roasted pepper flavor was overwhelming. I've also found that removing the pith and seeds of the pepper leaves pepper flavor, but little to no heat. I'm a fan of pepper beer, and like it zippy. My last couple five gallon batches have used a half dozen each of jalapenos and habaneros, quartered lengthwise WITH pith and seeds. Depending on the size of the pepper I may cut it into eighths. The result is a pretty zippy beer whose heat fades very quickly. For reasons I have not determined, the heat doesn't last or build upon itself the way it does in food. It has its fans, but it's definitely not for everyone (scored a 42 in one competition and a 22 in another, within a couple weeks of each other. Both sets of judges scored it based upon their liking, or not, of the pepper addition). Wash your fermentor well afterward. The flavor WILL carry over to your next beer if it is not thoroughly cleaned with a product like PBW. One-Step or Oxyclean free should work as well.
  14. Awesome! Only a matter of time before you're spending a bundle on kegging equipment. ; ) That's a nice looking chiller. Not as long as the one I got as a gift, but it looks a heck of a lot better made.
  15. I'm thinking that you would be better to measure your sugar. If the MB drops are the same as Coopers drops, they will give you pretty high carbonation, which would be appropriate to the style, in a 12 ounce bottle.
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