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jme0909

A few clarifications for a beginner....

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Hi all, after watching the videos and reading the instructions I jumped in quickly and brewed a few batches of beer with the 2 LBKs I got as gifts recently. So a few questions I wanted to clarify to improve my brewing process in the future:

 

1. What is the proper fermenting period for beers? I tried per instructions for both batches - 7 or so days for the basic light LME and 10 or so days for the Bewitched Amber Ale LME. I let the Bewitched go an extra 2 days to boot. I figured it was better to wait a little longer, but how much longer?

 

2. How much sugar should be added when bottling? The Mr Beer instructions say 2.5 Tbs for the 1 liter bottles...so I estimated about 1 Tbs for the 12 oz bottles. But on several forums I've read people suggest 0.5 Tbs is sufficient for 12 oz bottles. If too much sugar is added during bottling, how will this effect the beer?

 

3. I got a bit more creative on the 2nd batch with Bewitched and added 3 sets of hops to it. I started a 60 minute boil with just 1 set of hops, then LME, then added a set of hops at the 30 and 45 minute marks. My wort smelled sufficiently hoppy when I poured it into the LBK to begin fermentation. But unfortunately when I bottled it, it did not smell hoppy at all. My first thought was I didn't use enough hops (a total of 1.5 oz of Cascade and Centennial). Is it still likely it will have some hop taste in a few weeks even if the aroma wasn't present during bottling? Or should I have let it ferment longer? Does longer fermentation affect hop smell/taste?

 

4. And related to #3, when adding hops is there a set of basic steps to follow? Hops then malt? Malt then hops? Both at the same time? I've watched youtube videos of people who boil the hops separately to make a "hop tea" and then add the LME after a 10-15 minute hop tea boil. I've seen videos of people boiling the LME and then adding the hops. I imagine it's "to each his own", but as a beginner it'd be nice to start with a basic hop recipe plan.

 

Thanks in advance.

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First, welcome.  This is a great place to ask questions, and you'll get some answers from some experienced brewers (as well as some Mr. B employees).

 

1.  A good, safe, conservative timeline is three weeks in the fermenter, then four weeks conditioning in the bottle.  If you have a hydrometer, you can tell for certain when the beer is ready.  IMHO, a hydrometer is the best $8 investment you can make to your brewing arsenal.  If you don't have one at your disposal, then 14-21 days usually will suffice.

 

2.  I like to use TastyBrew's batch priming calculator to carb to style, but in a general sense, I used to use the 2.54g Domino's Dots back when I bottle primed.  One per 12oz and scale up for bigger bottles.

 

3/4.  You got little to no hop aroma from that recipe because all of your hops were front-loaded in the boil in the bittering phase.  This chart gives a good idea of when to add hops for different characteristics...  Generally, 45-60 min in the boil for bitter, 15-20 min of boil for flavor, and 5-10 min of boil for aroma (and also dry hopping).  Both the 60 and 45 min drops were almost purely bitter, while the 30 min drop is a nice mix of bitter and flavor.  But none of those will get you much in terms of aroma.  

In terms of adding malts before or after hops...  you just need some malt in there with the hops in the boil.  You can add a portion at the same time as your bittering hops and add the rest of the LME/DME late in the boil if color is a concern, but also for better hop utilization.  You can get real precise on how much malt will bring the most hop characteristics out, but in general, I'd just add some of your LME/DME with the bitter, and then the rest late.  
 It's best in a utilization perspective to boil your hops in low-gravity wort.  Something like a 1.020 gravity wort will do, so I tend to think 20% of the LME/DME early, and the bulk of the extract at the 5 min mark, but that's just me spitballin'.  Of course, you should always add the HME (pre-hopped extracts...  i.e., Mr. Beer extracts) at the end of the boil.  I'm unclear from your description if you were adding the Bewitched to the boil for 60 minutes?  If you do, you'll likely lose much of the flavor/aroma hops that are built into that extract.  

 

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I also recommend using QBrew or BeerSmith or something similar to know what hops to drop when and to make sure your beer is what you want it to be from a recipe perspective.  Knowing your recipe instead of adding hops with no regard to balance will get you closer to what you want.  Reading other recipes online is a great way to start, and analyzing your beer balance for your style is important as well.  I like this chart in that regard, as it compares how big your beer is (in a gravity or ABV perspective) to how hoppy the beer should be (in an IBU perspective):

 

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Welcome to the community! Spend some time reading in the forums, ask questions and you will be brewing great tasting batches in no time.

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Welcome.

 

swenocha's reply is solid.  You may need to read it a couple of times and digest it before you fully understand it.

 

"I figured it was better to wait a little longer, but how much longer?"  It is better to wait longer, especially if you don't have a hydrometer/refractometer.  3 weeks is what you'll see recommended absent that tool.

 

"If too much sugar is added during bottling, how will this effect the beer?"  Extra bubbly.  If you added way to much, you could in theory create a bottle bomb.

 

"Or should I have let it ferment longer? Does longer fermentation affect hop smell/taste?"  Hops aren't really affected by the duration of fermentation.  Just duration.  The amount of hops you used should have been more than enough for a Mr. Beer sized batch.

 

Hop tea is something people do, but I've never done it so I can't speak to that.  You'll normally want to place hops in malt, not plain water, for the boil.

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Thanks for all of the responses. Definitely helped make things clearer for the next batch

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.

 

Hop tea is something people do, but I've never done it so I can't speak to that.  You'll normally want to place hops in malt, not plain water, for the boil.

 

Hi Bluejaye... What is the reason for wanting to boil hops with the malt rather than in plain water? Is it because you need the sugar to utilize the alpha acids or the lower pH of the water? If the former, worts with higher gravities result in less utilization of available alpha acids.  Does that not suggest that a gravity closer to 1.000 (water) would enable you to utilize more of the alpha acids? If the issue is acidity then what is the preferred pH of the water for hop utilization?  I ask because I wonder if the need to boil hops in the wort was done simply out of efficiency - since you need to boil the wort anyway, then boiling hops with the wort means you need far less fuel when you do all the cooking once and in one kettle.. but if you are making beer from extract and if the extract has already been boiled then boiling that extract for another 60 minutes would seem to have little to do with any need the beer has - and may (IMO) detract from the flavors and colors you are aiming for...

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