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  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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?
  6. 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
  7. Is there really enough oxygen in that little bit of air in the headspace that shaking the bottle will cause a problem?
  8. 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. 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. 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?
  13. 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?
  14. Just ordered one! Thanks for the heads up.
  15. 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.
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