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this_guy

First brew here, any easy ways to jazz up my WCPA?

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Hi all, I'm getting ready to start my first brew with the standard, included West Coast Pale Ale. While I'm sure the WCPA would be drinkable with no modifications, does anyone have any suggestions based on experience how I can make this more than just a "get your feet wet" homebrew. As noted this is my first brew so I'm not looking for anything crazy. I am hop head so could I just add some additional hop pellets during the initial boil to try to make this taste a bit more like a traditional IPA? If so any recommendations on hops and time? Anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks, looking forward to getting started!

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Welcome!

Not to rain on your parade, or quell your enthusiasm, but please take this as the friendly advice it's meant to be. And I'm speaking from my own experience.

For the first four or five batches, brew them exactly according to the directions. You may want to go beyond the "getting your feet wet" phase, but you're not ready to swim the English Channel, either. You need to get the process down to where you're comfortable with what you're doing before adding anything new to the mix.

Also, while the temptation to get creative is strong, and using Mr. Beer HMEs and UMEs as a base can result in great recipes, you can't get creative with ingredients you're unfamiliar with. What does the WCPA taste like? What does Cowboy Golden Lager taste like? What UME would work will well with Englishman's Nut Brown? The only way to know for sure is to know what these ingredients do on their own. You'll progress faster if you take it slow at first, as contradictory as that sounds.

If you want more "bang for your buck", try the Premium or Deluxe Refills, or the Advanced Recipes. There are links to them on the Mr. Beer homepage.

That's my advice, for what it's worth. Sorry if I seemed like a buzzkill. I'm actually trying to do the exact opposite. I want to encourage you to educate yourself so you're making informed choices in your brewing and get more fun and satisfaction out of it.

Whatever you decide, read as much as you can, both here, and in other forums, and in brewing books. And ask questions. Everyone here is dedicated to helping everyone make the best beer they can, so don't feel shy about soliciting help.

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I'd suggest making it as per Mr. Beer instructions to get the technique down. You might either add some hops when you put the HME into the four cups of boiled water or do a dry hop addition after its been in the LBK for a week. Those won't change the brewing technique per se. I should note that my step brother liked it best just the way it was supposed to be made. He isn't a hop head, though.

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Hey guy, my VERY first brew of any kind was simple WCPA as the mr beer recipe called for. I just did that to get an idea of how to brew simply, but I was unimpressed with the beer as I too like em hoppy. So, I asked my brother to help me come up with a hoppier version to jazz it up, with what I had hanging around and could get at our local brew store. Here's what I came up with (and it was much better than plain ole wcpa). I called it Gulf Coast Pale Ale:

Gulf Coast Pale Ale

Recipe Gulf Coast Pale Ale Style Generic Ale
Brewer Batch 2.13 gal
Extract
Recipe Characteristics
Recipe Gravity 1.071 OG Estimated FG 1.018 FG
Recipe Bitterness 85 IBU Alcohol by Volume 6.9%
Recipe Color 12° SRM Alcohol by Weight 5.4%
Ingredients
Quantity Grain Type Use
3.00 lb Briess LME - Sparkling Amber Extract Extract
1.21 lb MrB. West Coast Pale Ale Extract Extract
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Cascade Pellet 50 minutes
1.00 oz Centennial Pellet 5 minutes
1.00 oz MrB. West Coast Pale Ale Pellet 5 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
3.00 unit Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast Yeast Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS
Recipe Notes Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and then remove from heat. Stir in the LME then bring back to a boil and add the hops as scheduled above. Turn off the heat then add the WCPA, stir well and cool then add wort to LBK. Cool to correct temp adn then add yeast. Let yeast sit for 5-10 mins then stir briskly to aerate yeast. Put lid on and store in a dark location in temp range 65-72 for 2-3 weeks. Bottle with 1 1/2 tsps sugar in 1 liter PET bottles.
NOTE: 1 Safale US 05 yeast can be used in place of 3 mr beer yeast packets.

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I would echo Dave's comments. It really helps to do a few brews straight up to get used to the process, sanitization, etc, before branching out. The WCPA is a basic pale ale, but very drinkable. It will give you a basis for comparison when you get into more complex recipes. I was so nervous mixing up my first batch I think I would have royally messed something up if I had tried adding DME or extra hops. By the time I started customizing on my third batch, I felt much more comfortable with the brewing process.

That all being said, it is your beer so do what you want. If you insist in customizing the WCPA, I would keep it simple. Replace the booster with 1 lb of light or amber DME, and do a 20 minute hop boil with .25-.50 oz of Cascade or Centennial hops. This will give you a hoppier Pale Ale.

Lest I forget. Welcome to the Borg.

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Thanks for all the quick replies, this seems like a really good community.

I can definitely appreciate using the first brew to learn the process as Dave suggested. I was thinking though that it could still be possible to have a simple brew to learn the ropes, while also getting a little better return than the stock WCPA.

In my mind I was hoping to find something like what docpd suggested - some simple modifications to get an upgraded WCPA without overly complicating the learning process for a newbie.

If I ordered say, the ADIPA, is that process just the same as the WCPA? Maybe I could start with that to get a better beer, than save the WCPA for some future concoction (maybe like reduno suggested)?

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I think you'd like the ADIPA more, yes. It's more full-bodied, and hoppier than standard WCPA, and the brewing process is pretty much the same. Save the WCPA for some other time, when you've got more experience and confidence, and can make a more informed choice about what you want to do with it.

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Yeah, I'd listen to "the hat" (FedoraDave). He - as well as other on here - has a lot of good helpful comments. It's good to first establish a reference point to compare all of your tweaks and modifications. For that reason, I'd brew at least the first couple batches straight up. When I started experimenting, I found that there were certain brew-adjunct combinations that I just didn't like. I wouldn't have figured this out if I had not first established a baseline.

With that said, brew on! :gulp:

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WCPA was my first brew, as many here. I was lucky and found this site before I followed MRB directions. Made OK beer.

I kept the temp under 70
Used booster, not all that bad

I recommend 2 to 3 MRB yeast. Easy mod that will improve your beer.

IF you wanted to add malt vs booster, I suggest LME or UME. DME can be very tricky. Read the posts about DME and the hot break boil over.
LME ( from supplier) or UME (from MRB) is easy to use.
But I would skip that for your first brew.

Hops - My first hop use was at flameout - dry hop. Works but not the best. You still get the hop aroma and a little taste.
Cannot go wrong with Cascadia 1/2 oz, drop in the hot wort loose, not a problem.

To much alteration can create problems. FDave says it all.

Follow the guide in the new brewer sticky
Use the 3 week ferment - If in a hurry use 2 weeks
Bottle and TRY to wait at least 3 weeks.

Go for it, make some beer. :)
R

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I would definitely invest in at least another LBK. It kinda sucks to just have one brew going. I have 2; some people on here have 3 or more always full of something. I am _still_ building up my pipeline. I imagine that I will be able to drink some of my beer "regularly" without fear of "not having anymore" in about 3 more weeks.

I wouldn't knock the WCPA that comes with the kit. It's not Bud or Miller. In fact, I had a bunch of friends over this last Easter so I offered everyone some of the fruits of "my new hobby". Each person just wanted a "small taste" at first (fearful that it would be disgusting). Everyone loved it so much, the whole batch was gone by the end of the day.

I would definitely let it sit longer in the LBK and in the bottles. I did a 2-2-2 with my WCPA which, of course, was my first brew. I took the borg's advice and ignored the 1-1 method as described in the instructions. That's pretty much there more as a marketing thing so they can put "I brewed this beer in as little as 2 weeks" on the boxes and all of their other marketing material. I had never brewed beer before but, even to my newbie eyes, that just seemed like too short of a time.

-cor-

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Well looks like your questions have been answered. Welcome to the borg and keep readng and asking questions. By the way my 1st beer was the WCPA as well. It turned out good, but I should have let it condition longer. It is always hard on your first batch to be patient, but if you can you make better beer.

Cheers!

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steep some malts, some cara and victory

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