Author Topic: Return of the kit  (Read 6953 times)

Offline euge

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Return of the kit
« on: December 09, 2011, 12:47:37 PM »
Over Thanksgiving I listened to JZ's show on brewing kits: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/698 and was inspired. ::)

Wednesday I urgently needed to brew but didn't want to go through the hassle of AG or a full boil. So a trip to the LHBS and while picking up some supplies a kit and extra extract were included.

My overall goal was to approach this as a first time brewer following good advice and see how the kit performs.

Munton's Connoisseur Extra Stout:

One kilogram prehopped kit to which I added 1 kilo of fresh Golden light liquid extract instead of cane-sugar. The date on the bottom of the can read BBE Jan 2012. :-\ Anyway back to the experiment.

Collect 5 gallons of RO water. Fill stockpot with one gallon of unsoftened city water. The extract is supposed to have minerals in it already but I've found the extra calcium/minerals from the city water helps in fermentation and flocculation. Bring this gallon to a boil, turn off the heat and dissolve extract into the hot water. Then the pot goes into a water bath in the kitchen sink to cool to the low 70's.

Meanwhile sanitize the fermenter.

After 30 minutes or so the cooled the wort went into the fermenter and the pot rinsed of any residual sugars with the unboiled RO water and fermenter topped up to 6 gallons and aerated/mixed with a paint-stirrer and drill.

Meanwhile the yeast... I used 3/4 cup of city water boiled in microwave and cooled to mid 75 into which the yeast packet was sprinkled. Yes- the yeast that came with the kit. The directions suggested 115F as an upper temp into which the yeast should be hydrated. This was ignored. After 15 minutes I swirled the yeast to make sure it was completely dissolved and pitched into the fermenter. The fermenter was then placed into the fermenteezer at 65F.

About 10 hours later the yeast were going at it and 24 hours from pitching the krausen is sticking to the lid of the fermenter. Good thing I sanitized it...

Total actual prep time is less than 30 minutes of labor- took me a couple hours in real time because of breaks to watch TV and I forgot to start the yeast proofing earlier. But this was dead simple. Did a Cooper's or Muntons' kit (Bitter) about three years ago by following the instructions exactly and the result was a cidery lackluster beer. Hoping this one will be different- On Wednesday I tasted a kit stout made by one of the LHBS employees and honestly it tasted great. I would never have known it was from a kit if I hadn't been told first.

Kits have such a stigma attached to them. But I think they are a great time saver and if approached properly they a good thing for the new and veteran brewer alike. If this works out maybe a kit from Morebeer or the like is in the offing. ;)

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline rjharper

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 12:58:02 PM »
I've never used one of those simple kits but I used the Brewers Best kits for a couple of years when I started, and a couple of those scored quite highly.  I'd be interested to see your thoughts going through one of those kits too.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 02:05:44 PM »
my first brew was a vienna lager kit.  it turned out well. i switched immediately to all grain, really because the kits are for bigger batches than i want to brew, and they are not cheap.  i have thought about buying bulk extract but then i worry about storage for small batches.  i still believe that nearly any fermented wort, if done at a good temp and clean will yield drinkable brew.  just depends on the style if you can tolerate it or not
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Offline euge

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2011, 01:24:15 AM »
I've never used one of those simple kits but I used the Brewers Best kits for a couple of years when I started, and a couple of those scored quite highly.  I'd be interested to see your thoughts going through one of those kits too.

So they were officially judged? My thought as of now is that if these Muntons kits are good then I want to make more of them. And the LHBS has the Brewer's Best as well.


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline euge

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2012, 01:09:08 AM »
I kegged the Muntons stout on NY eve. The excess went into PET bottles for force-carbing and tried some that night. The color and head are there. Clean and bitter with a dry acidity that I expect from an Extra stout. I detected some acetaldehyde which is a disappointment but then again the beer was only 3.5 weeks old.

Last night the beer was again sampled after a few days to settle and condition in the fridge. The acetaldehyde is diminishing so I'm attributing that flavor to young beer and not the extreme age of the near it's expiration date can. Still it could be the old yeast.

There's a nice caramel sweetness, and dark malt that finishes as black liquorice. At this point the neophyte brewer might be cursing this beer. But I see promise and a month in the keg might really put a shine on this stout.


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline Pinski

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2012, 02:24:06 AM »
My Aunt gifted me a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout Kit for my birthday last February and it turned out really well. In fact a favorite of friends and family prior to brewing an AG clone. I gave my girlfriend a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar kit for X-mas as she has been wanting to take the lead on a brew session with a non-intimidating extract brew. The kit smells wonderful and I can't wait to play assistant on this one!
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 02:28:58 AM by Pinski »
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 08:43:00 AM »
i have thought about buying bulk extract but then i worry about storage for small batches.

I buy bulk DME and have not had any problems with storage.  I repackage it in zip lock bags at +/- 4 lbs per bag.

The biggest issue I've found is that having 50 lbs of extract in the house means that I feel the need to brew more frequently.  And so I do.  And then I need to buy more bulk extract.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2012, 03:48:06 PM »
The world of homebrewing has come a long way. I started with extract kits from Midwest Supplies, the make their own, graduated to partial mash and  then all grain but that being said some of our favorite beer still comes from a kit, either extract or all grain. Sometimes it's just easier to pick up a kit and brew instead of doing everything from scratch! ;D
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 04:30:09 PM »
i have thought about buying bulk extract but then i worry about storage for small batches.

I buy bulk DME and have not had any problems with storage.  I repackage it in zip lock bags at +/- 4 lbs per bag.

The biggest issue I've found is that having 50 lbs of extract in the house means that I feel the need to brew more frequently.  And so I do.  And then I need to buy more bulk extract.

thanks for the tip. may go for it soon.
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Offline punatic

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2012, 11:04:48 PM »
If I don't have time to do an all grain batch I have been kmown to use DME and steep some specialty grains to create my wort.  The rest of the brewday follows the regular schedule.  Excellent beers with color, flavor, and hopping control, in half the brewing  time of an AG batch.
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Offline dean

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 06:19:30 PM »
As was pointed out to me a few years ago by majorvices, if you use LME you don't have to worry so much about your water chemistry.

I would use LME often if I could find an inexpensive source for good malt.  I tend to make my AG beers without enough mouthfeel IMO because I don't (but probably should) use carapils.

Offline shanhorn

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2012, 12:18:51 AM »
Hello out there in Kit land, We have our 1st kit & Deluxe starter set ready to BREW, We are excited to actually do this. I have been a craft beer fan for years, Recently asking New Belgium Brewing, Why I don't see any 'Old Cherry Ale' on the shelf anymore being as 2below got the boot??? Now we have found Northern Brewer to be our starting point, I am glad to see the variety of choices when it comes to suppliers.

Brewing begins tomorrow afternoon...Details later ;D

Offline euge

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2012, 12:36:04 AM »
That sounds great!

Be sure to document your kit experiences on this thread- if you like. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge due the fantastic members of the AHA forum. So please free to ask lots of questions- Often they can be answered quickly.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2012, 08:27:24 AM »
As was pointed out to me a few years ago by majorvices, if you use LME you don't have to worry so much about your water chemistry.

I would use LME often if I could find an inexpensive source for good malt.  I tend to make my AG beers without enough mouthfeel IMO because I don't (but probably should) use carapils.

I do sometimes use a small amount of crystal malt but mostly I get mouthfeel by mashing higher. you mentioned in another thread that you were having issues with low mouthfeel and it made me wonder if your thermo might be reading hot leading to lower than expected mash temps.
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Offline bosoxsbrews

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Re: Return of the kit
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2012, 10:01:58 AM »
I brew only extract and partial mash ( I do not have the room or time for AG just yet )  about 50% kits and 50% clones . Right now I have a Northern Brewer 70 shilling kit on deck for this weekend and their AK47 pale mild just arrived in the mail with a Copper Ale kit from Midwest Supplies on the way as well.  I have three fermenters so I will brew these as quick as I can.

I am heading to my LHBS tomorrow to get ingreidents for a clone ( not sure what I am going to clone yet ) and probally will pick up one of the LHBS kits as well ( they are very good kits ).

I have been brewing 5 gal since Jan'11 and started with Mr Beer in '10. I have been very pleased with all of the kits I have brewed my favorite so far is the Innkeeper kit from Northern Brewer  ( it is a Timothy Taylor Landlord Clone). I have had positive expierences with all of my kits so far and I am happy with the results.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 11:39:01 AM by bosoxsbrews »
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