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  #1  
Old 12-06-2012, 06:07 PM
bobot bobot is offline
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Homebrewing Beer

So I have been a lifelong fan of beer, and have always dreamed of brewing my own.
The last few months have found me taking the plunge, and brewing 5 gallon extract kits. Prior to that I "brewed" about 4 or 5 Mr. Beer batches.
Who wants to talk about homebrewing?
Right now I have a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone almost 2 weeks in the bottle. I have an Extra Pale Ale in a 5-gallon secondary fermenter, with a cinnamon stick
that I soaked in vodka for 12 hours, and added about 5 days before I hope to bottle.. (...hoping that was not a sanitary mistake..).
And I have an IPA extract kit about a week in the primary fermenter. This one will be my first dry-hop in secondary.
Cheers!
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  #2  
Old 12-07-2012, 05:39 AM
bot3 bot3 is offline
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Join the Mrbeer.com forum. Very friendly people and very active.
My son and I have just brewed our fifth batch in the past two years. This last one is a holiday brew with a bit of orange and cinnamon added.
Every single brew we've done has turned out perfect. I attribute this to his extreme sanitary conditions that he is very strict about. We average 48 bottles per batch.
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  #3  
Old 12-07-2012, 09:54 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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mmmmm homebrew. I need to restart this "hobby" now that we are getting settled in our new house. Thanks for the reminder.
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  #4  
Old 12-07-2012, 10:07 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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I cannot wait to move into my own apartment so I can get all my homebrewing gear out of storage. I've got a looooong list (well, not really long, but it's going to take a while to get it taken care of) of things I'm going to make.

and re: cinnamon: Probably not a huge sanitation risk, as the vodka would have killed off the stupid bugs. If you want to do this in the future, I'd recommend using something with at least the proof rating of rubbing alcohol (140? 170?), because that's what you need to kill e coli. 'course, that'll kill YEAST, too, but you're pretty much done fermenting at that point. However, only being in the beer for a few days probably isn't going to give you much cinnamon flavor. Probably work better to just drop the stick into the brewpot about 15 minutes before the end of the boil. More flavor, fewer bugs.
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  #5  
Old 12-08-2012, 11:34 AM
bobot bobot is offline
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Thanks for that tip! I had a seasonal ale from a local brewpub a few years back that tasted like cinnamon...and I thought I liked beer before that!
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  #6  
Old 12-08-2012, 11:57 AM
panamajack panamajack is offline
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Without getting too far into the intricacies of sparging, you can do a partial mash, or just add some grain (toast it very lightly) for quite a bit of flavor.

It seems for a lot of flavors, if you want it to last, it should be quite strong at the start, as it will fade over time. For even just a note of cinnamon you'd want it to be noticeably fragrant after the boil. I brew a batch with my dad now and then. One of the more interesting flavored ones we did used honey and fresh spruce tips.
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  #7  
Old 12-08-2012, 12:48 PM
Satellite^Guy Satellite^Guy is offline
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I never pass up an opportunity to plug the (IMO) best homebrewing forum, HomeBrewTalk.com.
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  #8  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:12 PM
bobkitty bobkitty is offline
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I got the Mr Beer cider kit for the boyfriend, who was desperately excited about it. However, the results were... poor. Very, very, very yeasty-tasting, without a hint of cider flavor to it. I thought once it was near-freezing-cold that it tasted a little bit like low-brow beer. We followed the directions exactly- not hard when they literally package everything for you and you just have to sanitize the hell out of everything, mix, leave, bottle, leave, drink- but it was still a big disappointment. Any thoughts as to what went wrong?
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:44 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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There are at least as many different ways to make cider as there are people who make cider, because everybody has some things they're never going to do again. I haven't tried the Mr. Beer products and don't know much about them, but the barebones simple way to make cider yourself:

1. I'm assuming you have the ability to sanitize things, because you mentioned it in your post.
2. Buy 1 gallon of apple juice, pasteurized, no preservatives added, in a glass gallon jug that you can buy a carboy cork with a hole in it to match, and a packet of dry yeast for brewing. And a fermentation lock.
3. Sanitize a funnel, coffee cup, plastic chopstic or something else long, skinny & plastic that will fit into the gallon jug, carboy cork and fermentation lock.
4. Start the packet of dry yeast per instructions in the sanitized cup using water you have boiled and let cool, or distilled water at room temperature.
5. Open the gallon jug and pour off 1 pint of apple juice.
6. Add the yeast.
7. Stir.
8. Apply fermentation lock.
9. Drink the pint of apple juice.

Once it stops bubbling more often than once in a while, acquire eight Grolsch bottles (16 oz beer bottles with flip-top caps).

1. Sanitize the bottles, funnel, and a 1 gallon pitcher.
2. SLOWLY pour the cider into the pitcher, trying to leave as much of the sediment behind as possible.
3. Pour the cider through the funnel into the bottles.
4. Close the bottles and leave them someplace secure (i.e., inside a large rubbermaid container). You don't know at this point how much or how soon they're going to carbonate, and you want to contain explosions.
5. Every couple weeks, take one out and open it over the sink. Taste and see if it's ready.

It's really not as complicated as that all looks, and it's really simpler than beer. Cider is the single easiest thing to make, alcohol-wise.
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  #10  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:48 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Now that you have a spare gallon jug that you can fit a fermentation lock in, on your second and subsequent batch, once it stops bubbling more often than once in a while you can sanitize the empty jug & funnel, pour directly from the primary into the secondary fermenter, put the fermentation lock on it, and then let it sit until you can read a newspaper through the jug, and then bottle. Advantage: Clearer cider, slightly higher alcohol content, much less change of explodey goodness.

Note: Trader Joe's is currently selling christmas ale in 16 oz flip-top brown bottles for $2 apiece, which is cheaper than you can buy them at most home-brew stores, and these come with BEER in them already.

Last edited by Ethilrist; 12-08-2012 at 03:50 PM.. Reason: I like string
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  #11  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:52 PM
bot3 bot3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobkitty View Post
I got the Mr Beer cider kit for the boyfriend, who was desperately excited about it. However, the results were... poor. Very, very, very yeasty-tasting, without a hint of cider flavor to it. I thought once it was near-freezing-cold that it tasted a little bit like low-brow beer. We followed the directions exactly- not hard when they literally package everything for you and you just have to sanitize the hell out of everything, mix, leave, bottle, leave, drink- but it was still a big disappointment. Any thoughts as to what went wrong?
I've been told that usually the first batch turns out bad mainly because you don't know what to expect. But carefully following the directions should yield a good brew. The Mr. Beer kits are about as easy as one can get.

I never did the cider, but I know that the sanitizing is critical. But beyond that the boiling times and temps are important and when you add the various items is important. Although it seems they provide for a bit a of leeway in most cases. Don't give up. As I said in most cases the first or second attempts aren't always the best. Its a learning curve.
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  #12  
Old 12-08-2012, 07:03 PM
Kolga Kolga is offline
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I just brewed my second batch of homebrew in years (now that we finally have the room to do so). It's a lager with some lightness and hoppiness to it - it's a recipe from my friend, who calls it the Springlike Lager, for those winter days in Colorado where it's 70 degrees (like this past week).

My first batch was an English Strong Ale, which I'm enjoying right now.

Both were partial mash with dry extract addition.

Sanitize more than you think you should. Also, move beyond kits - the local homebrew store should be stocked with employees who are just DYING to share their favorite recipes with you. If not, find another one.

Hard cider is truly the easier alcoholic homebrew you can make. Ethilrist's method above is pretty much what we did for quick cider, although we'd increase the recipe to four gallons in a five-gallon carboy.
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  #13  
Old 12-08-2012, 07:53 PM
bobot bobot is offline
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The difference between extract brewing and partial mash....
Is exactly what? I'm assuming I won't have a half-gallon jug of malt extract to stir into the boil, so how much work, temp. control etc. is involved if I give up the extract?
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  #14  
Old 12-08-2012, 08:32 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobot View Post
The difference between extract brewing and partial mash....
Is exactly what? I'm assuming I won't have a half-gallon jug of malt extract to stir into the boil, so how much work, temp. control etc. is involved if I give up the extract?
If you've only made beer with canned extract and no grains, then that's like making soup or tea from a concentrate. Slightly more involved "extract" kits will also include a sack of grains which you steep in hot water for about 15 minutes. These fine-tune the color, flavor, and mouthfeel from what you can get from just the extract.

Partial mash is like making an extract beer with a LOT of grain, like, two or three times as much. You need to keep it at a specific temperature for a certain amount of time, which will usually call for more gear (another medium-large pot, at least). A really involved implementation would be almost to a full-mash setup, with an insulated brewkettle with a thermometer built into it.

I can't get to the site from work, but www.northernbrewer.com used to have recipes & instructions for their kits. Take a look at their partial mash; it might be oatmeal stout? That's the one I made, but it was a while ago, and see what the instructions are. The "extra grain" was mostly oatmeal.

Last edited by Ethilrist; 12-08-2012 at 08:34 PM.. Reason: I like string.
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  #15  
Old 12-08-2012, 09:42 PM
that_darn_cat that_darn_cat is offline
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Homebrewing can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. I've been at it about five years, these days I can do all grain batches if I want: that's starting with malted barley and converting the starches to sugars using the natural enzymes in the malt.

I've also malted my own rye, tricking viable seeds into sprouting and creating the enzymes mentioned above, then drying and kilning. I've also created my own crystal malts by mashing barley then re-kilning to carmelize the sugars. It's great fun if you like to build, tinker and experiment.

Can't emphasize sanitation too much, StarSan, a no-rinse sanitizer, is the best thing to happen to my homebrew.

Also, 2nd HombrewBrewTalk.com, a great resource. I'm freebreetomorrow over there btw.

Drinking my extract Irish stout right now, based on Charlie Papazian's recipe from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, pretty much the homebrewers bible.
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  #16  
Old 12-09-2012, 08:20 AM
bobot bobot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by that_darn_cat View Post
....
Also, 2nd HombrewBrewTalk.com, a great resource. I'm freebreetomorrow over there btw.

Drinking my extract Irish stout right now, based on Charlie Papazian's recipe from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, pretty much the homebrewers bible.
Thanks, I do participate over there in the beginner forum. Bobot, again.

For now, I like the extract kits for the simplicity. And I'm enjoying the differences I can introduce by playing around with the hop additions. Eventually I will graduate.
Thanks, everyone!
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  #17  
Old 12-09-2012, 09:26 AM
USCDiver USCDiver is offline
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I'm USCDiver on homebrewtalk.com I have been doing extract brews for a few years bt last yer I decided to make the jump to all-grain. I have the good fortune to have a father-in- law who is a professional welder. So he and I built this thing. I call it The DefibrewlatorTM
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  #18  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:47 AM
bobot bobot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCDiver View Post
I'm USCDiver on homebrewtalk.com I have been doing extract brews for a few years bt last yer I decided to make the jump to all-grain. I have the good fortune to have a father-in- law who is a professional welder. So he and I built this thing. I call it The DefibrewlatorTM
That is some fine welding, indeed! What am I looking at there? A few fermenters and a kegging system?
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  #19  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:54 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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the brews I've made using extract+steeped grain have all turned out pretty good for my tastes. good enough to where I'm not really seeing the need for moving up to partial or full mash.

As for cider, the one time we tried to make it, it ended up sour and astringent, with a noted lack of apple flavor.

huh.
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  #20  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:57 AM
USCDiver USCDiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobot View Post
That is some fine welding, indeed! What am I looking at there? A few fermenters and a kegging system?


No, for most all grain systems you need three vessels (there are variations, such as boil-in-a-bag). On the far left is the Hot Liquid (or Liquor) Tank (HLT) which simply holds hot water. In the middle is the Mash/Lauter Tun (MLT) for making your mash. On the far left is the Boil Kettle (BK) for boiling the wort with hops etc.

This system is called a Recirculating Infusion Mash System or RIMS. The mash is constantly circulated through a tube that has an electric water heater element inside. There is a temperature controller that monitors the temperature of the wort and turns the element on and off to maintain a specified temperature.

Here is a Home Brew Wiki that has a lot of great information from beginner to expert.

Last edited by USCDiver; 12-09-2012 at 11:58 AM.. Reason: In response to bobot, added quote
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  #21  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:23 PM
Regallag_The_Axe Regallag_The_Axe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satellite^Guy View Post
I never pass up an opportunity to plug the (IMO) best homebrewing forum, HomeBrewTalk.com.
This is a very good resource.

On the topic of cider, I've only made one batch. It started with unpasteurized juice straight from the orchard and it turned out sour. I think that was because we didn't do anything about the wild yeast (no boiling, no K-meta, nothing). Putting some honey in the glass before pouring the cider in makes it drinkable, so it wasn't a total loss.
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  #22  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:45 PM
that_darn_cat that_darn_cat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Regallag_The_Axe View Post
This is a very good resource.

On the topic of cider, I've only made one batch. It started with unpasteurized juice straight from the orchard and it turned out sour. I think that was because we didn't do anything about the wild yeast (no boiling, no K-meta, nothing). Putting solme honey in the glass before pouring the cider in makes it drinkable, so it wasn't a total loss.
Actually it's probably just that you fermented out all the sugar and the natural tartness from the apples is all that's left. Lots of folks backsweeten after primary fermentation to combat this, but it has it's own problems. If you sweeten with sugar or honey before bottling, you'll end up with bottle bombs. Some people do just that, then pasturize after a few days to kill the yeast after suitable pressure builds up. Can still explode that way, as one of my local brew buddies found out. 140 degree exploding glass and cider is not so much fun, at least he was outside.

Others backsweeten with Splenda or Stevia since the yeast can't ferment those. Can't stand the taste myself. The best solution is to pasteurize or kill the yeast with a campden tablet, sweeten and then keg. Since you're not reliant on yeast for carbonation, you don't have to worry about ongoing fermentation.
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  #23  
Old 12-09-2012, 03:41 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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A more complicated method is to make cyser, instead of cider (or mead).

4 gallons of apple juice (pasteurized, please...) in the carboy
4 cups of water
4 pounds of honey

Heat the water in a stock pot, add the honey so it is mixed in. Don't boil it. Purists would say to keep it at 170 for 15 minutes and skim off all of the froth, as they feel the froth is mostly wax and bee legs. If you want to be uber, add a teaspoon each of pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient and turn the heat off. Put a lid on it and let it sit in an ice bath in your sink for a while to cool, then pour it into the apple juice. Once you're sure the mix is below 80 degrees, pitch your yeast, and ferment/rack/bottle as normal.

First time I made this I ended up with something that tasted like apple juice, and went down about as easy. It was also 13% alcohol. Imagine my surprise when I ended up sloshed to the gills after only having three 12 oz bottles in an hour and a half.

Last edited by Ethilrist; 12-09-2012 at 03:42 PM.. Reason: I like string
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