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ebiz1976

1st Timer/Novice w/ Questions before batch one

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Well, after years of wanting to try brewing all it took was Father's Day and a major knee surgery this week to finally get a Mr. beer kit.  I'd greatly appreciate having a few questions answered.

 

1)  I'm really limited on kitchen space (and the garage is really hot).  During the 2-3 week fermentation process, where would be the best location (for temp. and darkness) to keep my LBK?  Counter okay? Cupboard (if it can fit)? Garage?

 

2)  After the 2-3 weeks of fermentation, do I then bottle (or is there an advantage to letting it go longer)?  

 

3)  After bottling, how many days/weeks should I leave the beer bottled (to allow for carbonation, etc)?  I'm assuming I should store the bottles not in the fridge? (so, in same location that I end up keeping the LBK).

 

4)  Sugar in each plastic bottle or use the carbonation tablets from Mr. Beer?

 

5)  The tutorial video didn't mention the "booster packet,", just the malt extract and yeast. What's the booster?

 

6)  I'm a huge fan of amber ales (I really prefer malty over hoppy) and also like some browns, wheats, etc.  Anyone suggest a favorite in the maltier, wheatier, nuttier beers (as opposed to hoppy)?

 

Thanks in advance!

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1. Keep in the coolest place you can.  Many people put their LBK in a cooler and swap out bottles of frozen water.

 

2. 3 weeks is the recommended time as you are bound to be done fermenting in the time.  There is not any real advantage to going longer only risk.

 

3. Store the bottles in a warm location so the yeast stay active.  It shouldn't be a hot location and it should be out of direct sunlight.

 

5. The booster increases the fermentables thereby increasing your ABV.

 

6.  You will find that the Mr Beer kits are well balanced and not overly hoppy.  People increase the hops content but I've never heard of people wishing there was less.  Personally I would recommend the stout to meet your likes.

 

7. Take the time to read the forums. All of these questions are well covered.  Check out the links at the bottom of Ricks posts. 

 

 

Welcome to the fun.

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Oktoberfest (add malt if you get the standard refill), Bewitched Amber Ale (perfect by itself). Aim for 3 full weeks fermentation near 67 -68 deg F. Bottle priming with the carb drops or plain sugar results in the same amount of carbonation. Let the bottles sit 4 weeks at room temp. Pop in the fridge a couple of days before consumption, but let the bottles you are not drinking sit outside the fridge until you are ready. Good luck. 

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Not sure if there is always a significant benefit in allowing a beer to age for extended times in a bucket or or keg where there is a lot of headroom. Certainly beers with high ABV do need to be aged for months  but you want to transfer (rack) the beer into a vessel with no headroom after the active fermentation has ceased to inhibit or prevent oxidation. Moreover, if you age your beer for several months you may find that the yeast remaining is not sufficiently active to prime your beer when you choose to bottle it..

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When you get ready to brew, put together a list of all the items necessary for brew day so that you know you are not forgetting anything. Take your time, it's not a race.

 

Sanitize everything!! Even if you think it won't come into contact with your wort. And have a bucket or bowl with sanitizer available if you need to resanitize anything. Did I mention sanitize everything?

 

Most important, enjoy!! It's beer, not the cure for cancer (too bad). This is the beginning of a "Long, Strange Trip" that will be fun.

 

Oh, by the way, have a cold craft brew before you start just so you can know why you are doing this. That craft brew a few months down the road will be your brew!

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Well, after years of wanting to try brewing all it took was Father's Day and a major knee surgery this week to finally get a Mr. beer kit.  I'd greatly appreciate having a few questions answered.

 

1)  I'm really limited on kitchen space (and the garage is really hot).  During the 2-3 week fermentation process, where would be the best location (for temp. and darkness) to keep my LBK?  Counter okay? Cupboard (if it can fit)? Garage?

 

2)  After the 2-3 weeks of fermentation, do I then bottle (or is there an advantage to letting it go longer)?  

 

3)  After bottling, how many days/weeks should I leave the beer bottled (to allow for carbonation, etc)?  I'm assuming I should store the bottles not in the fridge? (so, in same location that I end up keeping the LBK).

 

4)  Sugar in each plastic bottle or use the carbonation tablets from Mr. Beer?

 

5)  The tutorial video didn't mention the "booster packet,", just the malt extract and yeast. What's the booster?

 

6)  I'm a huge fan of amber ales (I really prefer malty over hoppy) and also like some browns, wheats, etc.  Anyone suggest a favorite in the maltier, wheatier, nuttier beers (as opposed to hoppy)?

 

Thanks in advance!

 

1) Do you have a basement?  If not, the counter or cupboard is fine.  I wouldn't put it out in the garage, especially during summer.  Controlling the temperature the first couple of weeks is arguably the most important part of brewing.

2) Yes, you wait 3 weeks (ideally) and then bottle.  Do not open the LBK, or disturb it at all if you can.

3) You condition the beer for 4 weeks minimum, at room temperature.  Then you put in only as much as you are going to drink in the fridge, for 3 days.

4) Either, whatever you have and is cheapest.

5) It's basically a cheap way to add more alcohol to your brew.  Dries it out, though.  I wouldn't use it unless it already came with a recipe.

6) Try the Octoberfest.  The Bavarian Weiss is also not bad, imo.

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1-5) It looks like you already got good answers from the forum.

6) I just started drinking my batch of Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner over the weekend and it is one of the best standard refills I've had to date.  It's malty with just a hint of bitterness, a good head, and nice bubbly carbonation.  I did not use any booster.  I want to try it in a recipe at some point.

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6) I just started drinking my batch of Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner over the weekend and it is one of the best standard refills I've had to date.  It's malty with just a hint of bitterness, a good head, and nice bubbly carbonation.  I did not use any booster.  I want to try it in a recipe at some point.

 

I think the Pilsner is one of the best standard refills as well. I have a can of the Pilsner that I am going to use to brew http://www.mrbeer.com/pumpkin-spice-ale-recipe. That sound's nice for a good fall brew. :)

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Thanks for all of the great advice, you guys!  I just got done with the brewing (Czech Bohemian Pilsner).  Everything went fairly smooth and I've put the LBK into the small cupboard above the fridge.  We keep our house 69-74 degrees in the summer, so I'm hoping that temp plus the dark location produces some good results.

 

A few more questions

 

1)  Any super cool tricks to pouring the wort from the pot?  We used a funnel (sanitized), but in pouring from the big pot (into the funnel), I spilled an ounce or two.

 

2)  So, everyone suggest leaving up there 3 weeks (rather than the 2 weeks in the instructions)?  And then leave the bottled be up there for an additional 4 weeks?

 

Thanks again, everyone!  

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One more thing. I was considering picking up the Belgian Spiced Ale 2013 (http://www.mrbeer.com/belgian-spiced-ale-2013-winter-seasonal) which is on sale for $12.48.  It mentioned standard fermentation time, but 1-3 months for lagering.  Question about that.....is the lagering still something I can do with my plastic bottles (in the cupboard)?  It's all I have to transfer beer into when it's done in the LBK.

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Yes the bottles will be fine. Lagering in this sence is bottle conditioning.

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Thanks for all of the great advice, you guys!  I just got done with the brewing (Czech Bohemian Pilsner).  Everything went fairly smooth and I've put the LBK into the small cupboard above the fridge.  We keep our house 69-74 degrees in the summer, so I'm hoping that temp plus the dark location produces some good results.

 

A few more questions

 

1)  Any super cool tricks to pouring the wort from the pot?  We used a funnel (sanitized), but in pouring from the big pot (into the funnel), I spilled an ounce or two.

 

2)  So, everyone suggest leaving up there 3 weeks (rather than the 2 weeks in the instructions)?  And then leave the bottled be up there for an additional 4 weeks?

 

Thanks again, everyone!  

 

Remember that heat rises.  A cupboard up high will likely be too warm if the house is 74.  At peak fermentation, wort will increase 6 - 8 degrees.  So you want it COOLER, down low.  Some people use a cooler and rotate frozen water bottles.  A nice 65 degree spot would be perfect.

 

1) Pour TOWARDS you.  No funnel needed if you have a pot that is 3 or 4 quart.  Practice with WATER, not wort.   ;)

 

2) Yes.  3/4.  Then refrigerate for at least 3 days only what you'll drink in 3 days, leaving the rest to continue to condition at room temp.  

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One more thing. I was considering picking up the Belgian Spiced Ale 2013 (http://www.mrbeer.com/belgian-spiced-ale-2013-winter-seasonal) which is on sale for $12.48.  It mentioned standard fermentation time, but 1-3 months for lagering.  Question about that.....is the lagering still something I can do with my plastic bottles (in the cupboard)?  It's all I have to transfer beer into when it's done in the LBK.

 

When lagering is mentioned, it refers to conditioning. The PET bottles will be just fine. Keep in mind that this extract is approx. double the amount of the standard extracts. That means a higher original gravity when the wort goes into the LBK. That means that there is a greater chance of an overflow of your LBK if the wort temps climb into the 70's. This extract can really benefit from cooler fermentation temps. Just get a picnic cooler (Igloo, Coleman, etc) that is large enough to hold your LBK with enough room to fit a couple of bottles of frozen water. Some of the members here use 1 or 2 liter pop bottles. I am in the middle of fermenting this very extract and have had no trouble keeping the temps in the mid 60's using 2 standard water bottles (20oz size) swapped out once per day. If you buy drinking water from the store (24 or 36 pack), just take 4 of them (pour out about 2 inches of the water to accommodate the water expanding when it freezes) and keep them in the freezer. When the first 2 have thawed, swap them with the other 2 in the freezer. That way you always have frozen bottles at the ready. A poor mans fermentation chamber.

 

Hope this helps.

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1)  Any super cool tricks to pouring the wort from the pot? 

 

I pour about a foot above the opening of the LBK. You get a solid stream and the height really aerates the wort.

 

 :)

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All good advice above.

I  use a 4 quart pan and pour in carefully from only a couple of inches above. No spills yet in 2 years (I probably will now :-/).

IMHO if you like malty you will find the stout too bitter - from roasted barley and from hops. I can drink IPAs but I found the stout a bit much - even plain.

For Aeration beside agitating the wort you can do these also. - shake the LBK with the initial 4 qt water in it for a bit. It will warm the water up a bit but should get some air in. - When you fill the LBK from faucet, use aerator or sprayer mode if you have one.

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Here's another question (I really on have 2 options due to space, no basement, and limited cupboard space etc):

 

During the fermentation weeks, keep the LBK in:

 

A.  Cupboard above fridge (we keep the condo 70-74 with AC all summer)

 

OR

 

B.  Picnic cooler with ice bottles (in a garage that gets pretty hot....weather in the 90s all summer).

 

 

PS Day 2....I have a nice layer of foam going (quick peak).

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I think we've already answered that twice.  The cupboard above the fridge will be too hot.  You should move it NOW because you're at peak fermentation.  

 

Can't you put the cooler indoors?

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I agree with RickBeer. There's got to be some place inside that you can put the cooler. I keep mine in a downstairs closet where we keep board games and videos.

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Aeration can also be done by using a silicone whisk.  

 

I was told by a certain experienced member here that whisking isn't the same...

 

 *pokepokepoke*

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I was told by a certain experienced member here that whisking isn't the same...

*pokepokepoke*

That's funny!

(Runs and hides)

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I've whisked every batch.  1 gallon of water in the LBK, add wort, top off water.  Whisk.  Add yeast, wait 15 minutes.  Whisk again.  

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Palmer says to be careful wisking aerating hot wort.  Apparently it can lead to oxidation in long term conditioned beer.

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Had to pull a power move, you guys; I've got my 60 qt. cooler posted in the kitchen as we speak (wife's not loving it at all).  This should work for the first batch; then I'll get a better sized cooler (this one is a 60 qt. ice cube roller) and find a closet that will fit it.

 

PS the bottom of this cooler fits the LBK, but one of the two iced water bottles is touching the side of the LBK.....that OK?

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That's fine.  As long as the ice bottle doesn't touch any thermometer you use.

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Had to pull a power move, you guys; I've got my 60 qt. cooler posted in the kitchen as we speak (wife's not loving it at all).

 

Just remember to pick your battles! :unsure:  And share some your hard work (beer) with the woman who allowed you to park that bad boy in the middle of your kitchen! ;)

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I've whisked every batch.  1 gallon of water in the LBK, add wort, top off water.  Whisk.  Add yeast, wait 15 minutes.  Whisk again.  

 

I don't recall Slym naming any names? :unsure:

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Whisk.  Add yeast, wait 15 minutes.  Whisk again.  

 

I have never whisked (or stirred) after pitching the yeast because the latest Mr. Beer instructions say not to. Should I be?

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If you read the entire internet, I expect 50% will say yes.

Mr. Beer changed the directions because people put the whisk down and contaminated it in between whisking and pitching. .

Whatever you do, only whisk in a counterclockwise direction, the yeast cannot handle clockwise whisking, they get very disoriented and produce off flavors that are like old gum stuck to your shoe.

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Unless you are in the Southern hemisphere where you have to whisk clockwise only.

That is why Australian beer tastes different, and always whisk clockwise on the Cooper's cans.

 

But Mr Beer kit is made specially for Northern Hemisphere brewing, so follow RickBeer's advice on those.

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Mr. Beer changed the directions because people put the whisk down and contaminated it in between whisking and pitching. .

 

They also said to sanitize a bowl to put your utensils in. If people did that, the whisk wouldn't get contaminated.

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I was told by a certain experienced member here that whisking isn't the same...

 

 *pokepokepoke*

 

I've never whisked or stirred the yeast into the wort.  I just sprinkle on the surface.  The yeast finds the food regardless.  My opinion is that whisking it adds oxygen into the wort that isn't good.

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I've never whisked or stirred the yeast into the wort. I just sprinkle on the surface. The yeast finds the food regardless. My opinion is that whisking it adds oxygen into the wort that isn't good.

I just watched an hour long interview with John Palmer on CraigTube where this issue was addressed. OVER aerating HOT wort can cause oxidation and potentially off-flavors in beer that is conditioned for long periods. However aerating wort that is close to room temperature, i.e. yeast pitching temperature, is apparently OK, as it provides oxygen for the first stage of yeast reproduction. The yeast should consume the oxygen during reproduction; when the oxygen has been mostly consumed, the yeast goes into the anaerobic phase, and begins consuming fermentables in the wort and producing the alcohol. If my understanding on any of these issues is incorrect, I am sure someone will point it out.

--

1 LBK: Empty (for the moment)

10.5 740ml Amber PET Bottles: Classic American Light brewed 6/10, bottled 7/3, carbonating until 7/31.

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Allow me to chime in here too.

I too, got the LBK kit for fathers day.  It was a very nice surprise.

I brewed the American Ale Light that came with it that same morning. I have a small galley style kitchen, and really didn't have any problems with space.

Pouring the wort into the LBK wasn't much of a problem given the wide mouth of the LBK. I used a small pot to boil the water in.

As for storage, I placed my LBK in a cooler, then placed the cooler in my closet. My house has central air, and we keep the temperature between 72 -75 degrees.

I just bottled my batch a while ago, that was waiting three weeks of waiting to do that. Those bottles got the supplied labels applied, and those went back into the cooler and closet for carbonation . . . .  and more waiting.  :(

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The temperatures Mr. Beer says to ferment with is wort temperature, not ambient air temps. The wort, during active fermentation, can be warmer than ambient air temps, some say by up to 10 degrees, so your beer might have fermented a little warm. This can possibly cause off-flavours to occur. To be safe, putting a frozen water bottle or two in your cooler will keep temps down, you just have to change them out at least once a day.

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