Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
LivewireBlanco

Need some advice on CAL.

Recommended Posts

I have an extra can of CAL and would like to make something with more flavor and ABV than the 3.1 that this would produce.  I've read a few recipes that add a cup of honey to CAL and I am thinking of doing this. I don't have access to a local home brewing shop so any additional ingredients would have to come from a grocery store. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a big fan of upping the ABV by using honey (or sugar, or other adjuncts). It ferments pretty fully, so it thins the beer and doesn't add anything other than alcohol. I always advocate against chasing ABV. Chase flavor and let the alcohol fall where it will. If you add additional malt (HME, UME, DME), you'll add flavor and body and get additional alcohol as a side benefit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have any local access to malt and I'm not trying to spend lots of money on this CAL, I just wanted a bit more flavor and ABV. I was hoping a cup of honey would be the ticket but I'm open to adding more than just honey to up the flavor. I know that ideally adding malt is the key but if I'm going to order malt then I might as well just order a different refill. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a bunch of other things you can flavor it with other than hops too. It just depends what you are looking for. Unless you add hops though you won't get IPA - lol.

 

What ARE you looking for?

 

You can use instant oatmeal to add body and improved head retention. You can use Orange or Lemon peel. You can use cooking ingredient food and fruit flavorings. You can add spices (with caution)  You can also use breakfast cereals to add interesting flavorings. You can add plants other than hops (with understanding what is good or not) for bittering and flavor. People have done all of these over 1000s of years.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the sound of oatmeal! How would I go about adding this to my brew?

 

Nevermind, I found the search function. I'm thinking about adding oatmeal, honey and some orange peel. Sound any good? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, LivewireBlanco said:

I don't have any local access to malt and I'm not trying to spend lots of money on this CAL, I just wanted a bit more flavor and ABV. I was hoping a cup of honey would be the ticket but I'm open to adding more than just honey to up the flavor. I know that ideally adding malt is the key but if I'm going to order malt then I might as well just order a different refill. 

Where do you live? I'd be willing to bet that there's a LHBS within 20 miles of your home. I live in Utah (and in the suburbs) and I can get LME in bulk about 20 miles away. 

 

For the most part, adding adjuncts that you can get at the grocery store will work to bump up the ABV, but won't add to the taste. I've used oatmeal in a stout, along with other steeping and mashing grains, but I've never tried using instant oatmeal by itself. That would probably help to add some body (since it's going to contribute mostly starches that won't ferment) so that may help offset some of the effects of the honey.

 

You can add other things (like orange zest) if it's appropriate for the style of beer you're brewing. And I've brewed with a lot of other nontraditional ingredients (like sweet gale, juniper berries, and even wormwood), especially when I'm brewing gruits, but I always caution on going too "mad chemist" especially in the early stages. In my opinion, you should start out learning the processes and learning what the different ingredients bring to the table. 

 

If you concentrate on increasing the ABV, you're almost destined to have bad beers. One of the worst beers I ever made was one where my whole intent was to create a high ABV beer. I later brewed a beer that was much higher in ABV, but it was higher in ABV because that's how it panned out, not because I was just adding ingredients to up the alcohol content.

 

Learn what different ingredients add to the beer and craft your recipes around what flavors you want to have in the final product. Chase flavor, not ABV and you'll be happier with the end result.

 

Here's an old (but I think somewhat epic) thread that I started almost 6 years ago that really goes into a deep dive on why you shouldn't use adjuncts (and some examples of why you should). Some of the later posts get into some pretty deep technical detail, so don't stress the posts that you can't follow now.

 

I think RickBeer has links to similar (and likely more recent) threads in his sig, so you should probably read, those, as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't have much to lose just brewing as is and seeing what happens, but since even the standard CAL refill comes with a packet of Booster that's just sugar (not table sugar, though) to boost the alcohol, there's some precedent for just adding some more ferment-able sugar and brewing away. Personally, I like the honey idea. I don't have the experience to tell you that you should or shouldn't, but there are a lot of good reviews of the Horse's Ass Ale recipe that's just CAL, honey and extra hops. I've got that recipe in primary right now. 

I've bought malt syrup in the "health food" section at some grocery stores to use in protein shakes, etc. You might find something like that. Be sure the ingredients say malted barley and nothing else or you'll just be adding sweetener with malt flavoring. Seems like if you just want to beef up the flavor and ABV a little molasses might be okay, too. It's a standard ingredient in some recipes. 

 

Edited by J A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, J A said:

You don't have much to lose just brewing as is and seeing what happens, but since even the standard CAL refill comes with a packet of Booster that's just sugar (not table sugar, though) to boost the alcohol, there's some precedent for just adding some more ferment-able sugar and brewing away. Personally, I like the honey idea. I don't have the experience to tell you that you should or shouldn't, but there are a lot of good reviews of the Horse's Ass Ale recipe that's just CAL, honey and extra hops. I've got that recipe in primary right now. 

I've bought malt syrup in the "health food" section at some grocery stores to use in protein shakes, etc. You might find something like that. Be sure the ingredients say malted barley and nothing else or you'll just be adding sweetener with malt flavoring. Seems like if you just want to beef up the flavor and ABV a little molasses might be okay, too. It's a standard ingredient in some recipes. 

 

Some Asian food stores also carry maltose or malt extract. I've used these in beers and while I wouldn't recommend them as the main malt source, I'd use them before table sugar or honey in a heartbeat.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I would get a american ale hme and some hops and make the santa catalina recipe. Best use of a cal ive ever found.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boil four quarts of water and steep 4oz of CaraPils at 150-155 for 30 minutes. Then add a pound of pale DME, bring water to a boil and add half ounce of summit hops and boil for 60 minutes. At flameout add the can of CAL and a half ounce of Falconers Flight 7C's and cool wort in a cold water bath stirring in a whirlpool until wort reaches about 75-80. Add wort to LBK with one gallon cold water and airate. Pitch SafAle US-05 at wort temp of 65 and ferment at 65 for 21 days with the hops in the LBK. (optional) Dry hop a half ounce of Falconers Flight 7C's last four days of fermentation.

 

 

The CaraPils will add head retension and mouth feel, the DME will add flavor and ABV, the summit hops will add a nice piney bitterness and the Falconers Flight 7C's will add a nice tropical-fruity aroma that should play nicely with the green apple taste of the CAL. 

 

The hops, hop sacks and pale DME are available on the Mr. Beer site but not the CaraPils. Or you can order everything from any Homebrewing site for reasonable prices. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, LivewireBlanco said:

I have an extra can of CAL and would like to make something with more flavor and ABV than the 3.1 that this would produce.  I've read a few recipes that add a cup of honey to CAL and I am thinking of doing this. I don't have access to a local home brewing shop so any additional ingredients would have to come from a grocery store. 

Adding honey or any sugar to up ABV is generally discouraged, but its not a bad idea if you are making a pale ale or IPA. The honey will dry out your beer, but it will also make hop additions really pop.

 

I would only advise adding honey if you are adding at least 1/2 oz of hops as flavor/aroma additions. Citrusy hops like Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, etc. would be prefered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

15 hours ago, LivewireBlanco said:

I don't have access to a local home brewing shop so any additional ingredients would have to come from a grocery store. 

 

Are you brewing your first batch or have you gotten through some brews successfully and looking to move on to something with a little more challenge?

And where do you live. Even if you're totally in the boonies (and that's by no means a bad place to be, IMO) I'd be willing to bet that someone near you and possibly even someone you know has a little experience in homebrewing and might even have a few ingredients to loan or sell you.

I found myself in exactly the same position, having picked up several LBK kits on clearance. I didn't want a bunch of bottles of Coors Light for my troubles. Fortunately, I have a great local shop in my part of town and several friends who are very experienced brewers. It was pretty easy to procure some ingredients and put together everything needed to approximate some of the more popular CAL-based recipes for my first run. 

My limited experience is way out of date so I'm really just a total novice at this point, but I think the proper advice is to take a step back, don't try to go it alone and do your best to get a few real ingredients (and honey is a legitimate beer ingredient, too) to start with. 

Best of luck with it! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in San Angelo Texas. I was just hoping there would be a cheap way to make some decent beer with this CAL I have. I was hoping adding some honey for ABV, oatmeal for mouth feel, and some citrus for flavor but if this sounds horrible then I'll bow to the judgment of the more experienced and just save it until I come across some booster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not add oatmeal to this beer.  It would be better suited to a Stout or Porter.  You could add a couple of ounces of honey and a teaspoon of grated orange zest to the water after it comes to a boil.  Then make sure to boil for about 5 minutes to kill any nasties.  Then proceed as your directions state.  Don't worry about straining out the zest as it will end up in the trub at the bottom of the keg when fermentation is finished.

 

You will definitely get some flavor from the orange zest and possibly some from the honey.  I wouldn't add more than 2 or 3 oz of honey without more malt and hops to offset.

 

The only way to increase mouth feel is to steep some grains with this one.  If you keep the honey where I recommend you won't thin the beer too much so you won't lose the mouth feel that it will already have.

 

Remember, it is always best to chase flavor and not ABV.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Google shows a place called Zero One Ale House on Beauregard Avenue. Brewpub with house-brewed beers. I'm willing to bet money that if you went there and enjoyed a few examples of their fine offerings and struck up a conversation, you'd be able to talk to someone involved with the brewing and walk out with a small sample of hops - you need about a half ounce of Cascade or similar and a cup of honey for the Horse's Ass Ale recipe. You'll brew it and you'll drink and you won't hate it by any means and by the time you get around to even bottling it, you'll have ordered up some supplies for another batch of beer that's more in line with your ultimate goal.

 

I'll reiterate that I'm not an authority by any means, but IMO if you're looking for better beer than you can brew with CAL, you'll want to start with something other than CAL. Definitely better than trying to concoct something to add characteristics that the CAL lacks and ending up with something undrinkable.

;)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, LivewireBlanco said:

Thanks guys! I'll probably try a little honey and orange zest and leave the rest alone. Thanks guys! 

According to a brewing calculator, if you add half a pound (weight) of honey to a regular Mr. Beer batch you should boost ABV just over 1 percent. I think you'll have to add the honey and orange zest (probably not much) into the boiling water before you turn the burner off to insure that the honey is blended well and that the orange zest isn't bringing in some pathogens or wild yeast. Look at the recipe for Horse's Ass Ale or Cowgirl Honey Light for guidelines about when to do what.

Good luck!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...