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My Next Brew: Advice wanted

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I see a lot of people here who dive right in. I think that's great, but I am not by temperament one of those guys. I'm the guy who dips his toe in the water and then gradually eases in.

My first brew was the West Coast Pale Ale with booster that came with the kit. Brewed for a week, bottled for ... almost a week, and then I drank it.

It was awesome! Not because it was good (it really wasn't), but because I made it myself!

Second batch was Englishman's Nut Brown Ale with booster. Drank it too soon again, but it was even better. (This time I knew what carbonation was supposed to feel like!)

Third batch I went all malt. Two cans of Witty Monk Witbier. Tasted and looked a lot like Blue Moon (which is what I wanted).

Fourth batch I bottled last Saturday, so I haven't tasted it yet. It's Octoberfest Vienna Lager with Mellow Amber. (I left it in the keg for five weeks due to a variety of factors.)

Fifth batch I got with my second lbk this week, Cowboy Golden Lager with Booster. Still chugging away.

For my sixth batch, What I have on hand is a can of Classic American Blonde Ale and a can of Pale Export. I also have a pouch of Booster.

Here's my question: Should I go all malt, or should I add the Booster? Aside from bumping up the ABV a bit, is there any reason to add it? Is there any particular reason to NOT add it? All replies welcome and appreciated!

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I'd add the booster. I wouldn't buy booster to add it, but if it's there, I add it.

It adds ABV, but doesn't add flavor or body. It's an adjunct, so it should be used sparingly.

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I'd probably add half the package, but not the whole thing. Some guys will tell you to steer completely away from it if you can help it, but I don't think it hurts the beer if used sparing with a beer that has enough malt.

2 cans of malt + 1/2 package of booster should make a nice, medium ABV, beer.

Welcome aboard!

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+1 to what bp and mano said. And also, welcome aboard.

I think it's very much a matter of taste. In a way, there's no hard and fast rule on what to do because what might taste and feel good to one person may be not so good to another. There are important rules as to what happens if you do this and what happens if you do that. But which this and that you choose to do depends on what you personally want to happen.

Interestingly, my nature is a bit more experimental and "devil may care" than yours, but the world thrives on our differences. I say try it one way, then try it another way, and then you can decide which way you like the best. With the booster or without the booster. Neither way is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. The way you enjoy it better is the way to go.

Hopefully all that came out as clear as mud.

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.


I agree. IF...IF...you use the Booster, I'd just go with maybe half of a bag. Despite the fact that you get more flavor and depth with malt, there are advantages of an adjunct like Booster. In fact, according to the BJCP, some of the beer styles specifically point to some form of adjunct.

For example, take this from category 6A (CREAM ALE):
Ingredients: American ingredients most commonly used. A grain bill of six-row malt, or a combination of six-row and North American two-row, is common. Adjuncts can include up to 20% flaked maize in the mash, and up to 20% glucose or other sugars in the boil. Soft water preferred. Any variety of hops can be used for bittering and finishing.
Or this example from category 16C (SAISON):
Ingredients: Pilsner malt dominates the grist though a portion of Vienna and/or Munich malt contributes color and complexity. Sometimes contains other grains such as wheat and spelt. Adjuncts such as sugar and honey can also serve to add complexity and thin the body.

I would pose the question -- What do you want? when answering you in regard to using the Booster with the American Blonde HME/Pale Export UME combination. A little ABV boost and a little thinner beer will result. Also be advised that the American Blonde has 18 IBUs. In going with American Blonde/Pale Export...you're about on even/balanced (It appears that your OG would be roughly 1.040 or so). By adding the booster, you'll still have 18 IBUs, but it I believe the booster would tip the perception of the balance. Interesting fit there.

==========

Sorry, just thinking things openly.

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Hey, thanks for the advice, everybody!

I guess it's about what I should have expected -- friendly and helpful. I've been reading this forum for a while now, and this may be the friendliest one on the entire internet.

I'm going to go with the half-pouch of booster. I'll let you know in a few weeks how it came out.


One of the things that was brought up was "what do I want it to be?" That's a hard question for me. I've never really studied beer before. I just always drank it. Some I liked, a few I didn't. But I never really looked into why.

As a result, the flavor profiles (on the Mr. Beer website) confuse me. This beer has an IBU of 18, for instance. What does that mean? I don't know.

Has anyone compiled a list of these profiles for commercial beers? If I knew what the flavor profile of a beer I liked was, I could look to brew one similar to that.

(That's kind of what I did with the Witty Monk; it seemed like it would resemble Blue Moon, and it did.)

Sorry to ramble here, but I'm trying to coalesce my thoughts into a more coherent knowledge of beer.

And I learn something from every brew, so that's a good thing.

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I know I'm in the same boat boat with you. I've actually found a lot of information on the brewers website, and clone recipes (where the brewer or others have posted that it was a close match). I've also bought beers just to try them out because they use certain hops or have a certain IBU. Once you understand what contributes to the flavors in the beer your drinking, for example Nelsen Sauvin hops give a grapfruit/tropical fruit flavor to beer, you can then start to build a flavor profile towards or away from that. Realize you don't need to settle on a certain style of beer either, there are places and times for almost all styles. I may not enjoy a room temp stout after mowing the lawn, but certainly will on a chilly fall day.

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IBUs are a way to measure bitterness. But you can't look at them in isolation. You need to look at them in conjunction with the sweetness from the malt. A quick way to estimate how the hops and malt work together is to look at the ratio of bitterness to the original gravity. As a rule of thumb, a ratio of 1:2 is balanced, more IBUs are more bitter, more malt is maltier.

There's more to it than that (for example, some things that increase the gravity are more fermentable, so there's less residual sweetness and the bitterness is more noticeable), but the bu:gu ratio is a good starting point.

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Thanks again for the replies!

I didn't know what BJCP was, but I looked it up and now I do. And I don't know what my Original Gravity was, either, but I'm planning on investing in a hydrometer.

I've also started reading Palmer's "How to Brew" online, and stuff is making more sense. (I find if I approach things at my own pace they make more sense than if I try to learn at someone else's!)

Anyay, for this batch I went ahead and added most of the booster. I would have added half of the pouch, but I had trouble dividing it in half. (Mr Beer says half a pouch is one cup, but I measured the whole pouch at about 1.65 cups, so that's not the case...) And then I spilled some.

(Speaking of halves, we're always told to use half a packet of One Step. Why don't they just give us two smaller packets, and let us use a whole one each time? Just wondering.)

But the brew went very well. I'm getting the hang of it. I didn't make any serious mistakes this time (no fires broke out, that sort of thing). And now that I have two lbk's I'm getting my pipeline sorted out. I've staggered them, so I'll have a fresh batch of beer coming up every week (assuming a 2-2-2 schedule).

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I use a scale to measure all my ingredients, and as a basic rule of thumb I use 4 ounces of booster for every can or pound of Malt, depending on the style I'm shooting for. This keeps malt in the forefront, but balances the mouthfeel out nicely IMO. There are numerous reasons when you may want more or less adjunct, but that ratio has worked for me.

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