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Everything posted by jasbo

  1. I have cold crashed every batch but one since I started doing Mr. Beers in March. The one I didn't is the Whispering Wheat I just bottled a couple days ago. I figured clarity was not an issue for a hefe. The problem I found was that, while I got just as many bottles, there was a lot more trub/sediment going into the last few bottles than usual. One of the advantages of crashing is that it helps the yeast cake settle and solidify, thus staying out of the bottles. For me, the ease of cold crashing is one of the benefits of using LBKs. Jim
  2. I'm wondering if this is a time you might want to check a little early to see if they're done. Could be that with higher temps, they finish in 2 or 2 1/2 weeks. If you're worried about off-flavors developing, less time on the yeast cake might help your cause. Or maybe I'm full of it. Feel free to correct me, everyone. Jim
  3. Hey Pete. I started this one (Whispering Wheat) almost three weeks ago and plan to bottle in a couple days. Usually I cold-crash, but I'm not sure "clearing" the beer is a big deal for a Hefe. Still, I think I'll put it in the fridge for a day just to let the sediment settle. I didn't take a hydrometer reading, since I'm trying to simplify everything in my second go-round as a brewer. P.S.: If you made no mistakes, you're one up on me. I walked away from the brewpot to check the temp of my fermenting CAL-plus-Cascades and returned to find an emerging boil-over. Talk about fun. Jim
  4. Could it be? Another Seinfeld reference? "There was shrinkage." Jim
  5. Glad to hear it. I've got my Sir Ken ready to go in the bottle today or tomorrow. BTW, your chili looks great, nice variety of beans. I guess I know what I'll be cooking next time it's my turn. Jim
  6. Live it up. Take a shot-glass sized sample before AND after cold-crashing. It's part of the educational experience. Seems to me the one I take after the cold-crash bears a lot of resemblance to the finished product. Jim
  7. That's what I do, only I use the batch number (easier to fit on the cap than BAA or something). I'll see a 7 on the cap and just know that's the Bewitched Amber Ale or whatever from my brew log. P.S. On the other hand, I do wish Mr. Beer sold peel-off, stick-on labels for their most popular extracts. Obviously, it wouldn't be cost-effective to make em for every recipe and variation, but maybe the Diablo, BAA, CAL, Mexican Cerveza, etc. Jim
  8. If you go back to the fifth post on this thread, I try to explain what happened. In a standard Mr. Beer batch, you're probably going to come in around 65 if you've started with a gallon of refrigerated water at the bottom of the LBK. In this case, there was a lot more hot liquid than usual added to the 1 gallon of cold water. Hence the total mix was hotter than usual. Jim
  9. Looks good, Andy. However, they're pretty much always going to be flat and disappointing after only three weeks in the bottle. My second beer is just now getting good, and it was bottled in mid-May. Jim
  10. I wouldn't rule out getting one some day, but there are some disadvantages. With the LBKs, I can control temperatures in a cheap cooler I have laying around and I can cold crash on a regular refrigerator shelf. Couldn't do that with the much taller Brewmax 2G. Also, those things also seem pretty expensive at $50 each. On the plus side, they're supposedly easier to clean. I would think bottling would be easier too. But the two-LBK system MrWhy suggests makes sense if you're just getting started. That way you keep the production moving and are learning the ropes pretty quickly. If you're eager to "scratch the itch" or move faster, you can do it by reading lots of old posts here. Follow links to other posts. Run searches. Also read "How to Brew" by John Palmer. Even though it goes deep for those who want it, it's also great for beginners. It's geared toward full-size batches, but lots of info carries over. By the way, did you manage to get your temperature down for the batch you're fermenting? Jim
  11. 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
  12. Hi, Joshua. My two cents on the 6-gallon setup is: Don't, not yet. You can learn plenty, make good beer and have lots of options while keeping it simple with these 2-gallon batches. Ten years ago, I had buckets and carboys coming out of my ears and just began to feel weighed down by it all. Just got burned out and buried it all in various closets. Fast forward to 2017. I decided I wanted to brew again, but just keep it small and simple. Now I'm having fun again. I actually like the smaller batches because I can control temperatures in a camping cooler and cold crash in the family fridge. If a batch turns out not so great, there's not that much of it to work through. And after a few months, you can have a nice variety to choose from. You can also grow from simple can-and-yeast brews to adding hops and extract pouches to partial mash recipes in a matter of months. Don't mean to sound like a Mr. Beer salesman, but what I'm saying is that these 2-gallon batches are a nice controlled environment where you can learn without spending a bundle. If you decide you want to go big later, you can always do it. P.S.: If you don't have one already, get a stick-on thermometer for your LBK. They're only $2 or $3 and will tell you the temp of the wort/beer, not the surrounding air. Jim
  13. Again, thanks. Temps are now fine, but I'm kicking myself because it's a self-inflicted wound. I had only one gallon of refrigerated water on hand, because that had been enough for my last two batches to mix up at about 65 degrees. I failed to make enough allowance for the fact that the wort I was pouring on top of the cold gallon in the LBK was probably about 7 cups instead of 4, because of extra water for the grains and a cup or two for a hot rinse of the grains. So I really needed another half gallon at least of refrigerated water on hand. This was further exacerbated by my brilliant idea to put the Pale LME into the boil, thinking more sugars would help the hop utilization. So that made for more viscosity in the hot liquid, making it harder to cool. Hope I didn't just make a barrel full of esters by pitching at 75. I'm pretty sure I also messed up that nice blond color I was going for by boiling the LME. Oh, well. Live and learn. Jim
  14. Thanks. I pitched it at right around 75. I plan to keep monitoring the temperatures and keeping it on a slow downward pace toward the mid-60s. Jim
  15. I'll fill in details later if anyone cares, but for now ... I have a batch of Sir Kenneth Blonde Ale in the LBK, but have not yet pitched because the wort is almost 80 degrees. I'm trying to cool it in my trusty Coleman, but it's slow going. How low do I need to get the wort temp before I can pitch Safale US-05? I see the Fermentis web site says 53.6-77 for the overall range, but I can't find a pitch temp. I'm currently thinking I should try for 75 before pitching, but I don't want to wait forever. Any thoughts? Jim
  16. I think as long as the OP is planning to boil only the water and not the Hopped Malt Extract, it will be OK. The "do not boil" edict is for the HME. Jim
  17. Thanks for the help, everybody. I'm not going to worry too much about the color. This is a past-date CAL, which may already be on the dark side. MrWhy: I know a boil of 30 minutes would add some bitterness. I was doing this intentionally to balance the added malt. In reality, I'll probably go with a half-ounce at 20 or 30 minutes and another at 5. That should be good for mostly flavor and aroma, with just a bit of bitterness, I guess. Jim
  18. Is there any reason I couldn't add an LME packet to that first 4 cups of water in a Mr. Beer recipe, then boil it for a 15 or 30 minute hop addition? All the Mr. Beer recipes call for DME when hops are being added before flameout, and I wonder why it's always DME, not LME. What I'm looking at is using a can of CAL I have with a Pale LME. To balance the malt addition, I would like to add a packet or two of Cascades during a boil. That way I'd get a little bitterness and flavor and not just the aroma we get with the flameout addition. Jim
  19. Welcome to the forum. I'm fairly new too, but have picked up a few things through lots of reading and a little brewing. First, you're lucky to have a cool room for fermenting. Still, if you have an old camping-style cooler sitting around that would accommodate your LBK, so much the better. During the first week your brew might get to 70 or above in a 62-degree room. If it's in an insulated box, you can drop in a frozen water bottle or two to get it back under 70. On the other hand, 60-62 might be a little chilly for the fermentation to finish off, so you might want to put in a bottle of warm water to get back up to 65 or so. A temperature strip on your fermenter ($2 or $3) would be useful. Second, in my brief experience, I would say 4 weeks is just a bare minimum for carbonation/conditioning. My beers so far have been more than twice as good at 8 weeks than they are at 4. So I'm now planning to not even open one (except the little half bottles you sometimes end up with) until 6 weeks. Jim
  20. I'm glad to hear this is a winner. It's going to be my fourth brew and first partial mash (at least in this decade), and I have a good chunk of time Saturday set aside for it. Is yours fully conditioned or just an early taste? Jim
  21. Greetings, cammanron. Obviously it's your beer, but from my limited experience: If you pop one at 2-3 weeks, you will (1) waste a beer, because it will be crummy now and good later; and (2) end up feeling like you/Mr. Beer/the universe all suck. It's just discouraging to drink bad beer and feel like it's your fault. I have bottled just three batches since I started my once-a-month brewing in March. The first really wasn't that good until 8-10 weeks. The second batch still wasn't very good at 5-6 weeks, although I plan to try another today at 7-plus weeks. The third is just three weeks in the bottle. I'm tempted, but will taste only the half-bottle of dregs at about a month. Jim
  22. I can hear my wife now: "Jim, maybe you'd like to take up gardening ... or painting? Or just drinking. Jim
  23. I know this thread is almost nine years old, but now that someone's revived it, I'd be curious to know what current members' favorites are. I have just one batch that's been in the bottle long enough to drink. It's a Bewitched Amber Ale that's pretty decent but still needs to mature some after two months of carbonation/conditioning. I have also bottled a 1776 Ale and the Noche del Lobo recipe. Fermenting a Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner with Pale LME and a packet of U.S. Saaz now. I have high hopes for all, but am curious what others thought of the beers they've brewed so far. So back to the OP's original question, what are your favorite Mr. Beer kits? Jim
  24. The first thing I'm curious about is did the four batches exhibit different behaviors? Was one more active than the others, something like that? We always hear that all fermentations are different, so was that your experience here? I wouldn't think the different LMEs would cause different fermentations, but who knows? Jim
  25. The recipe I just brewed, 1776 Ale, had an OG of 1.042 and an anticipated ABV of 4.2, and Mr. Beer recommended Safale US-05 on that one. It seems to me that your CAL plus LME would have similar numbers, so the 05 would not be overkill. Plus you have it on hand, might as well use it unless there's a reason not to. One other thought: If you agree with Creeps that you're likely to end up with a truckload of mediocre beer, why not throw a packet of Cascades into each brew. Might bring it up a notch above mediocre. Jim
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