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Hi fellow brewers.  I'm looking for ways o boost the ABV on my mix of Mr Beer Classic American lager, without sacrificing flavor and mouth-feel.  I will be starting a batch in about 2 weeks, just as soon as my mix in the LBK is finished fermenting and goes to bottle.  Any ideas?  I do have some fresh hop pellets, but I know this is not going to do it.  Thanks!

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You need some type of sugar to boost ABV.  There are quite a few options for this...but some have unexpected results on the flavor of your beer.

-  Booster:  simple and effective.  Doesn't affect flavor and mouth feel.

-  Plain sugar: will boost ABV and almost completely ferment out.  But too much can leave a "hot" flavor...from what I've read.  I've never added just plain ol' sugar.

-  Brown sugar:  will boost ABV and add a molasses character to the brew.  I do this sometimes with stouts and porters.

-  Honey:  boosts ABV, but gives a "dry" character to the final beer.  Does NOT add a honey flavor.

 

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Mic Todd,

 

Since this is your first post on the forum I am going to guess that you haven’t been involved in the hobby for a long period of time. Most new brewers want to immediately figure out how to brew a beer of 6, 7 or 8 percent because that just sounds awesome. My advice is to brew as the recipe states for at least 5 or more brews. Why do I say this?  Before you spend a lot of time and money raising ABV just because you can, you first need to get processes down. 

 

Now, if you still must raise the ABV of your next brew, I would say to add LME or DME to your initial water and do a 30 minute boil with about .25oz of hops to add some bitterness and flavor. Then add your HME and proceed. However, you first must figure out how much water you are going to loose during this 30 minutes so that can start with the correct amount of water. 

 

Brewing looks like these things are easy to do and your beers will be great. Take advice from those of us who have made the mistakes in the past.  

 

Chase flavor not ABV.

 

Dawg

 

 

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You'd be right, I just 'hatched' my first batch on Friday:  MB's Octoberfest.  I'm just gathering ideas before our next batch and what to do with the Classic American light.  Neither my wife nor I care for beers like Miller or Bud light and that's what I'm hearing the Classic is.   Ideally, I'd have some other mix, and hold off on experimenting with this one, but I'm anxious to start another 2 gallons, just as soon as I finish fementing the first one.  I guess I'm willing to try about anything reasonable but I don't just want higher ABV.  Flavor is just as important, maybe more so.  Thanks for the tips.

 

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I kinda like the idea of adding brown sugar.  Honey, not so much.  I wouldn't want anything that tastes like a mead.  I haven't yet acquired a taste for that...

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29 minutes ago, Mic Todd said:

You'd be right, I just 'hatched' my first batch on Friday:  MB's Octoberfest.  I'm just gathering ideas before our next batch and what to do with the Classic American light.  Neither my wife nor I care for beers like Miller or Bud light and that's what I'm hearing the Classic is.   Ideally, I'd have some other mix, and hold off on experimenting with this one, but I'm anxious to start another 2 gallons, just as soon as I finish fementing the first one.  I guess I'm willing to try about anything reasonable but I don't just want higher ABV.  Flavor is just as important, maybe more so.  Thanks for the tips.

 

First of all, don’t add brown sugar you won’t like the results. 

 

Second, if you can brew the classic and make it taste flawless you have perfected your processes. I understand not liking Miller or Bud Light, but this beer will show any process faults. Nowhere to hide in a flavorless beer. 

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Hmmm....ok, then that's what I'll do.  I'll just do the best job I can and see how it turns out.  Later, tho, in the future I do want to start doing some experimenting and this beer might be one to see if I can tweak.  Perhaps I'm really not ready yet, having only made one batch so far.  I thank you for your advice, Dawg.  Say, you aren't a Georgia Bulldog, are ya?  Go Dawgs.  Go Ducks!!

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In the future that is the best beer to experiment with.  There are lots of recipes on the website with CAL as the base.  Get your processes down first you will be grateful in the end.

 

Not a Bulldog, I am a Buckeye to the core.  Also a Browns fan as you probably surmised from my avatar.

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10 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

I kinda like the idea of adding brown sugar.  Honey, not so much.  I wouldn't want anything that tastes like a mead.  I haven't yet acquired a taste for that...

Honey adds a dry flavor, it doesn't give any kind of a "mead" character.

 

I've made some.tasty.beers using the CAL as the base using booster, steeped/mashed grains, and a hop schedule.  But @BDawg62's advice is good; get a couple of batches under your belt to get the process down before striking out on your own.

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10 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

I kinda like the idea of adding brown sugar.  Honey, not so much.  I wouldn't want anything that tastes like a mead.  I haven't yet acquired a taste for that...

 

Honey doesn't taste in a beer, the sweetness ferments out.  

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22 minutes ago, BDawg62 said:

In the future that is the best beer to experiment with.  There are lots of recipes on the website with CAL as the base.  Get your processes down first you will be grateful in the end.

 

Not a Bulldog, I am a Buckeye to the core.  Also a Browns fan as you probably surmised from my avatar.

 

And not a pizza delivery driver, which is quite an accomplishment for a Buckeye...

 

10 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

I kinda like the idea of adding brown sugar.  Honey, not so much.  I wouldn't want anything that tastes like a mead.  I haven't yet acquired a taste for that...

 

Honey sweetness ferments out.  Beer is higher ABV, and drier, not sweeter.  

 

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15 minutes ago, RickBeer said:

 

And not a pizza delivery driver, which is quite an accomplishment for a Buckeye...

 

@RickBeer after this weekend's showing by that team you root for, I am shocked you would even throw some smack. 

Might as well do it now while they are still in the top 25. 

 

image.jpeg.bbb4be4f255f4d4a8009f36b969ee279.jpeg

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Regardless of record, I have a report here somewhere that shows the number of pizza delivery drivers by Big Ten school, and O_io leads the pack...  😀

 

If Harbaugh doesn't produce this season, he's gone.  Patience has expired.  There are no more excuses.  

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4 hours ago, BDawg62 said:

In the future that is the best beer to experiment with.  There are lots of recipes on the website with CAL as the base.  Get your processes down first you will be grateful in the end.

 

Not a Bulldog, I am a Buckeye to the core.  Also a Browns fan as you probably surmised from my avatar.

LOL, I thought that was a Bulldog helmet.  My apologies. 

Cropped Duck.jpg

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Thanks Tim.  A member of your staff (Josh) replied by email and had some very good advice for dry-hopping.  I might add here that the 2 gallon capacity of the Mr Beer LBK is ideal, imo, for experimentation and I certainly do intend to do some of that!  So far, I love your products and feel they are a great way to get my feet wet in the brewing hobby.  Cheers!

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1 hour ago, Mic Todd said:

Thanks Tim.  A member of your staff (Josh) replied by email and had some very good advice for dry-hopping.  I might add here that the 2 gallon capacity of the Mr Beer LBK is ideal, imo, for experimentation and I certainly do intend to do some of that!  So far, I love your products and feel they are a great way to get my feet wet in the brewing hobby.  Cheers!

 

Glad I was able to help! :)

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5 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

how come this came in so huge?!!  lol

 

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17 hours ago, RickBeer said:

Regardless of record, I have a report here somewhere that shows the number of pizza delivery drivers by Big Ten school, and O_io leads the pack...  😀

 

You've misinterpreted the data. Ohioans love their pizza and Michiganders head to where the jobs are.

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Hardest part of learning to be a home brewer:  learning to leave the fermenter alone.  I find myself getting very impatient and want to start another batch right away.  It's only been 5 days!

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3 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

Hardest part of learning to be a home brewer:  learning to leave the fermenter alone.  I find myself getting very impatient and want to start another batch right away.  It's only been 5 days!

Multiple LBKs will help solve that issue. :) 

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1 hour ago, kedogn said:

Multiple LBKs will help solve that issue. :) 

Either cure it or make it twice as tempting.

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6 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

Hardest part of learning to be a home brewer:  learning to leave the fermenter alone.  I find myself getting very impatient and want to start another batch right away.  It's only been 5 days!

 

This, believe it or not, teaches the most important lesson in brewing. 

 

PATIENCE, it is a brewers best friend.

 

Wait until that first batch is in the bottle.  That is even worse.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, BDawg62 said:

 

This, believe it or not, teaches the most important lesson in brewing. 

 

PATIENCE, it is a brewers best friend.

 

Wait until that first batch is in the bottle.  That is even worse.

 

 

 

 

This.

 

When I got back into brewing a little over two years ago, I was like "What?  I'm supposed to wait four months before drinking these?  WHAT THE HELL?!?"  :) .  But once the pipeline got built up, it became no big deal.  Hell, I've tucked away a batch that needed six months conditioning before and actually forgotten about it until the reminder popped up on my phone to try one.  Next month my remaining Lock/Stocks will turn two years old.

 

I'm not a patient person by nature, but this hobby demands it...

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1 hour ago, Shrike said:

I'm not a patient person by nature, but this hobby demands it...

That never goes away if you make the jump to it no longer being a “hobby”.  Take a look at my (Best of the Festival) 🥇 Award Winning Imperial IPA. That baby had to sit 10 weeks.  For an IPA that’s hella long.  It was annoying to sit and wait, to wonder how it would be and if it would even be drinkable.  I too am not a patient person by nature and sometimes it drives me crazy. Lol. 

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Well, multiple kegs might help, tho it might also make inventory control a nightmare. 

 

Just as soon as this first batch goes into bottles, I'm cleaning the kit and beginning batch #2, the American Porter this time.  Then, when that goes to bottle I should be ready to taste test my 1st batch, give or take.  Then, immediately I start batch #3.  This one I will experiment with: the Classic American Light mix.  I already have a 'plan' on how I'm gonna soup it up and make it better (I hope):  DME, dry-hopping and a fancy trick at bottling that should either make (or break) it.  I can't wait...

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BTW, have any of you guys tried anything fancy with the MB Classic American Light?  Seems this mix would be the ideal one to experiment with.  Not only is it the most affordable mix (leaving $ left over for additives) but it'd probably be the less disastrous if I botch it since I'm not a fan of light beer.

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5 minutes ago, Mic Todd said:

Well, multiple kegs might help, tho it might also make inventory control a nightmare.

A simple spreadsheet will make that easier. :) 

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Now we're getting complicated!  Spread sheets?  That's what i'm about to do any minute now.  It's past 9:30 here

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5 hours ago, kedogn said:

Take a look at my (Best of the Festival) 🥇 Award Winning Imperial IPA. 

I would love to see the 'spread sheet' on that baby!  R U sharing recipes, or will it cost me my life if I find out???? lol

 

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2 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

I would love to see the 'spread sheet' on that baby!  R U sharing recipes, or will it cost me my life if I find out???? lol

 

Most of my spreadsheets are in my head still. I know when everything is brewed, when trub needs dropped, when it should be DH’d, moved to cooler and roughly when it needs kegged (this depends on how fast it crashes).   We do have a small dry erase board in the brewery that we use for some things, but mainly what’s on carbonation, how many #s, when it went on and when it will be ready.  Plus, we keep track of what kegs are where on it. 

 

We do have a “Brew Day” sheet that we use for every batch we brew.  We modified a couple others that we liked and put on the information we personally wanted on it.  I’ve shared that as an attachment. 

 

As for sharing recipes, I wouldn’t mind sharing some, but not my main beers and especially not the award winners... yet anyway. :)  #Eventually. 

Brew Day Sheet.xlsx

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1 hour ago, Mic Todd said:

Now we're getting complicated!  Spread sheets?  That's what i'm about to do any minute now.  It's past 9:30 here

11:15pm here now. I am still awake working on beer stuff (and reading the forums lol)  Sadly, I gotta be up at 5:15am for work, my 1st day in the office in 13 days (thanks to a work trip and combining a couple extra days off with my normal ones and the Holiday).  Then tomorrow at 6:30pm we’re being interviewed for a local beer podcast.  Gonna be a loooooooong day tomorrow. #INeedSleep  🍺

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12 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

BTW, have any of you guys tried anything fancy with the MB Classic American Light?  Seems this mix would be the ideal one to experiment with.  Not only is it the most affordable mix (leaving $ left over for additives) but it'd probably be the less disastrous if I botch it since I'm not a fan of light beer.

 

 

CAL is the HME I use to play with the most.  Here's the last one I made:  

- One CAL HME

- Two of the "new" booster packets.

- 2oz. each Munich, flaked red wheat, and two-row

 

Mash grains for 30 minutes, add booster, bring to a boil.

- 1/2oz Waimea for 30 minutes

- 1/2oz Citra for 20

- 1/2oz Citra for 10

- MRB Yeast


It came out pretty good; I enjoyed the grain combination.  The Waimea hops were overkill, though; it came out too bitter.  Next time I brew it I'll do everything the same except omit the Waimae and add a dry hop of Citra.

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-One CAL HME

-One lb of DME

-Two booster pouches

-One oz of Willamette Hops (10 min boil)

-US-05 yeast

O.G 1.069

 

I called this "Harvey Special" because it was fermenting when the hurricane hit down here.

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Wow, did it turn out?  Must have given that fact you are posting this.  One thing, tho.  What is CAL?  'One CAL HME;.  I know what HME is...

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8 hours ago, kedogn said:

As for sharing recipes, I wouldn’t mind sharing some, but not my main beers and especially not the award winners... yet anyway. :)  #Eventually. 

Brew Day Sheet.xlsx

Thanks!

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I'm not sure what one 'CAL' of DME  (dry malt extract) is but I was planning on using 1 lb of light DME to augment the Mr Beer mix of Classic American light and try dry-hopping it near the end of the process, or even waiting till the bottling stage and dry-hopping with a hop tea.  I'm not sure if I'd need to add any other adjunct than those two.

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1 hour ago, Mic Todd said:

Wow, did it turn out?  Must have given that fact you are posting this.  One thing, tho.  What is CAL?  'One CAL HME;.  I know what HME is...

CAL - Classic American Light

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oh... man, do I feel stupid...of course it does!  lol

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6 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

I'm not sure what one 'CAL' of DME  (dry malt extract) is but I was planning on using 1 lb of light DME to augment the Mr Beer mix of Classic American light and try dry-hopping it near the end of the process, or even waiting till the bottling stage and dry-hopping with a hop tea.  I'm not sure if I'd need to add any other adjunct than those two.

One pound of light DME, not one CAL of DME.

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7 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

Wow, did it turn out?  Must have given that fact you are posting this.  One thing, tho.  What is CAL?  'One CAL HME;.  I know what HME is...

It came out pretty good, but if I had to to let it condition awhile because it ended up being 6.6% ABV and it tasted a bit boozy at 1st.

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18 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

BTW, have any of you guys tried anything fancy with the MB Classic American Light?  Seems this mix would be the ideal one to experiment with.  Not only is it the most affordable mix (leaving $ left over for additives) but it'd probably be the less disastrous if I botch it since I'm not a fan of light beer.

As a new brewer, the first few batches will either break you or encourage you. How you approach them is entirely up to you. Temperature control and sanitation are of HUGE importance. Most new brewers find this forum after they brew cidery or vinegary beer. If you've conquered temperature control and your familiarity with the process increases, then you can safely begin your experimenting. Caution: Be certain to control how much you add/change so you'll know what you did that you liked and what caused a negative result. As you read through the forums you'll cross many threads discussing somebody's mad scientist performance and a plea for help.

After you've brewed a MrBeer extract as is, you'll know what you liked and didn't like i.e. too malty, too hoppy, not hoppy enough etc. The consensus around here is to add additional malt extract and hops to the CAL. CAL has been used to brew ales as well as swapping out yeasts to make a true lager. Whatever additions you eventually consider should also include experimenting with alternative yeasts for otherwise identical recipes.

As for myself, because it is somewhat bland by itself,  I use CAL as the base for a few recipes of my own.

When you make the American Porter for the first time, after 4 weeks you should try bottles one at a time. If you take a few notes for each bottle you will probably notice a different flavor profile stands out. It will give you first hand experience witnessing the flavors melding into the final product.  On your second batch, if you like porters and stouts there will be a second batch, consider adding half of a vanilla bean. It will bring out the chocolate flavors a little more.

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9 hours ago, epete28 said:

-One CAL HME

-One lb of DME

-Two booster pouches

-One oz of Willamette Hops (10 min boil)

-US-05 yeast

O.G 1.069

 

I called this "Harvey Special" because it was fermenting when the hurricane hit down here.

i have a can of CAL hanging around. will have to try that!

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3 hours ago, D Kristof said:

... if you like porters and stouts there will be a second batch, consider adding half of a vanilla bean. It will bring out the chocolate flavors a little more.

We do like Porters, we like stouts and we like IPA's, hopped up and not-so-hopped both.  Not as fond of Lagers but certainly better than pilsners and the 'lights'.  It's because we like the craft brewers in Oregon so much that I decided to try brewing my own, that and for fun.  My wife is an accomplished wine maker - this gives me a chance to see if I can rival her productions.  I fully expect to have some failures, just as she does from time to time.  As long as I don't blow the roof off the house - it's all good.  I will try a small experimentation with the CAL after I brew this 1st batch of Octoberfest and a batch of the MB American Porter - just as the mix indicates w/o any experimenting.  This is actually a heck of a lot of fun already and I'm only into day 6 of the 1st batch.  Just got some more new bottles today for batch 2 and 3.

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3 hours ago, epete28 said:

One pound of light DME, not one CAL of DME. 

Yep, BDawg set me straight - it never dawned on me CAL stood for Classic American Light.  lol  When it comes time for my 3rd batch, assuming the 1st two go right, I'm gonna try experimenting with my can of CAL.  I'll add a lb of dry malt extract, then try my hand at dry-hopping after fermentation is about complete.  See what happens -

btw, what's in those 'booster' packs Mr Beer sells, corn syrup solids?

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3 hours ago, epete28 said:

It came out pretty good, but if I had to to let it condition awhile because it ended up being 6.6% ABV and it tasted a bit boozy at 1st.

As it is, I like my craft beers (Ninkasi, 10-Barrel, Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, etc, etc) to be around 6-8% abv.  Below that, the beer seems 'light' and anything above 9 is just too boozy, like you said above.  7%+-  is an ideal for me.

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2 minutes ago, Mic Todd said:

Yep, BDawg set me straight - it never dawned on me CAL stood for Classic American Light.  lol  When it comes time for my 3rd batch, assuming the 1st two go right, I'm gonna try experimenting with my can of CAL.  I'll add a lb of dry malt extract, then try my hand at dry-hopping after fermentation is about complete.  See what happens -

btw, what's in those 'booster' packs Mr Beer sells, corn syrup solids?

you can try experimenting for sure....however, if you look at the MRB website and look at the recipes section, you can see all the recipes with any particular HME. there are 6 CAL recipes out there where the brewmasters at MRB have already done the experimenting for you. I do like the "harvey special" recipe that was posted earlier by @epete28. contrary to this forum, i generally try to boost abv a bit via booster, or honey, or LME.  I would suggest picking up some of the Winter Dark Ale HME when it's available. That is outstanding and may be to your liking.

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2 minutes ago, Jdub said:

I would suggest picking up some of the Winter Dark Ale HME when it's available. That is outstanding and may be to your liking.

i will watch for it - haven't yet used my 25% off coupon that came with my kit.  I almost wish I had another LBK or the conical brew system that I think Cooper's makes.  Tho, for me, I just like the look of and shape of the LBK from Mr Beer

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13 hours ago, Shrike said:

It came out pretty good; I enjoyed the grain combination.  The Waimea hops were overkill, though; it came out too bitter.  Next time I brew it I'll do everything the same except omit the Waimae and add a dry hop of Citra. 

 That's the kind of experimenting I want to do, eventually.  I need to learn more before I try mashing grains.  I appreciate you sharing your experiences with me - boy...can I use some of you guys' experience!

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44 minutes ago, Mic Todd said:

 

btw, what's in those 'booster' packs Mr Beer sells, corn syrup solids?

As the package says...

1536287288138.jpg

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@Mic Todd, I have a nephew who has helped me with three brewing sessions. The first session he helped with was a partial mash brew. As the starches were converted into sugars I had him take sample tastes. When we were done he understood the brewing process, what malt extracts were opening the door to discussions about the different sugars created. 

 

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9 hours ago, Mic Todd said:

As it is, I like my craft beers (Ninkasi, 10-Barrel, Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, etc, etc) to be around 6-8% abv.  Below that, the beer seems 'light' and anything above 9 is just too boozy, like you said above.  7%+-  is an ideal for me.

Once you've got a couple 3 batches under your belt to help groove your process, here's a recipe you could try.

I've only used CAL once in a recipe that's now archived called, Santa Catalina. You can find it by typing it in the MB search feature. One can of CAL, one can of American Ale, and I subbed Mosaic hops in place of Cascade, US-05 yeast, plus added 1 booster packet. It was very tasty and brewed on the cool side 63-64F, as that's a bit of HME in one batch. ABV 7.1% and your hoppy brews are best as soon as they've carbed, usually about 3 weeks after bottling.

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2 hours ago, Cato said:

I've only used CAL once in a recipe that's now archived called, Santa Catalina. You can find it by typing it in the MB search feature. One can of CAL, one can of American Ale, and I subbed Mosaic hops in place of Cascade, US-05 yeast, plus added 1 booster packet. It was very tasty and brewed on the cool side 63-64F, as that's a bit of HME in one batch. ABV 7.1% and your hoppy brews are best as soon as they've carbed, usually about 3 weeks after bottling. 

Thank you for this info.  This sounds like something worth trying to recreate.  Also, I might add that although I prefer beers in the 6-8 abv range, that doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed very tasty beers below and above those levels.  One beer in particular that I love is Ninkasi's pale ale called Pacific Rain.  I believe its abv is around 4%.  Its malts and hop are in near perfect balance.  I would love to be able to achieve that sort of balance and taste in a home brew.  

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1 hour ago, Mic Todd said:

One beer in particular that I love is Ninkasi's pale ale called Pacific Rain.  I believe its abv is around 4%.  Its malts and hop are in near perfect balance.  I would love to be able to achieve that sort of balance and taste in a home brew.  

Mic Todd,

 

You now have one of your goals as a homebrewer.  Brew a beer that taste like Ninkasi's Pacific Rain. 

 

Once you have progressed in your knowledge, as a homebrewer you can brew just about anything your heart desires.

 

Dawg

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And hopefully at a reduced price.  The Pacific Rain retails for around $11 a six pack....a six pack of 12 oz's.  (Or roughly 1/2 gallon). 

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