Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Discuss making up beer kits - the simplest way to brew.
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ChrisA
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Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by ChrisA » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:26 am

I like the idea of turning a cheap kit into a tasty brew by adding enhancers such as liquid malt extracts or hops etc and have recently been toying with the idea of doubling up on the actual beer kit. For example making a brew with two of the ‘young’s definitive lager’ kits only and using one of the supplied yeasts.

If I was to do this and not add additional sugars what would happen, nothing at all, extra strong beer, off flavours?

Or would I be better to just adding a 1.2KG bag of the Mangrove Jack liquid malt extract to a single ‘young’s definitive lager’ kit?

Cheers Chris

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vacant
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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by vacant » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:04 pm

I'd do more experiment but with smaller batches. Fermenting in 5 litre plastic water containers for around £1 each or a couple of demijohns.

https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/wilko-demij ... /p/0022556

You can do proper side-by-side comparisons as the beers will be the same age.
I brew therefore I ... I .... forget

TheSumOfAllBeers
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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:45 pm

@ChrisA - big nitpick - we dont consider the addition of 'liquid malt extract' to a kit beer to be an enhancer, despite the marketing/labelling of kit manufacturers. You are just now making normal beer, rather than diluting down the malt derived extract with cheap table sugar.

Kit manufacturers have historically recommended the addition of 1kg of table sugar with each single can kit to achieve the target gravity - their customers were price conscious and quality tolerant. This advice is at the root of many problems with kit beer, such as yeast stalling, cidery flavours and overly dry/thin beer.

To answer your original question - doubling up on the hopped can of beer will risk making the beer too bitter. The kit manufacturer will have prepared it in a way that it adds the appropriate bittering units into the batch size by itself. It is meant to be used with unhopped extract.

Dry hopping on the other hand is a well known trick for easily improving many beer styles, and kit beer is very receptive to it. There are a number of other well known kit hacks that can improve certain styles, such as the introduction of tinctures like vanilla etc. into beer styles that are receptive to it.

ingo
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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by ingo » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:03 am

If you want to double the kit, with the same amount of water I assume, use the double amount of yeast.

As you are thinking about LME, why start with a kit and not mix your own with LME?

Easy variations are, dry hopping, different yeasts, maybe add a candy syrup instead of plain sugar (turn a pale lager kit into a dubbel or a mild), you can steep special malts. Biggest improvement though may be temperature controlled fermentation.

Ingo

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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by WalesAles » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:05 pm

Chris,
You can go to Infinity and beyond enhancing kits, I`ve tried a few different brews.
Best one was Coopers Stout kit with Earl Grey Tea Bags! :D
Read through `Kit Brewing` and `Enhancing Kits` for more ideas.
This was a good one too.
Stout kit with Oak Chips from a Bourbon barrel.
viewtopic.php?f=80&t=79666

Good Luck on your adventures! :D

WA

ChrisA
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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by ChrisA » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:31 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone!

I will refrain from doubling up on the kit then and instead just add the 1.2KG of liquid malt extract (mangrove jack light) instead of the recommended sugar. I also like your idea @vacant about splitting the batch down and maybe only dry hopping half.

I am assuming the 1.2KG if LME is a direct replacement for the sugar and there isn’t a ratio I should be aware?

Also can anyone confirm that LME and DME is the same thing?

ChrisA
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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by ChrisA » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:41 pm

ingo wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:03 am
If you want to double the kit, with the same amount of water I assume, use the double amount of yeast.

As you are thinking about LME, why start with a kit and not mix your own with LME?

Easy variations are, dry hopping, different yeasts, maybe add a candy syrup instead of plain sugar (turn a pale lager kit into a dubbel or a mild), you can steep special malts. Biggest improvement though may be temperature controlled fermentation.

Ingo
This may sound like a very stupid question but are the contents of a “beer kit” actually just LME with added hops?

Are you suggesting that I could get 2kg of liquid malt extract add some hops and choose a yeast and potentially make a nice brew?

Also how would you recommend the temperature controlled fermentation? I have used a heat belt in the winter which worked ok but it seemed a bit prone to high temps when the house heating kicked in.

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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by Meatymc » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:56 pm

Chris

LiquidME v DriedME. I believe LME is 20% water whereas DME is no more than 2%. I'd say therefore you get more bang for your buck with dried on a weight by weight basis. I also believe they differ in the final result although I've never tried a comparison. Think I've read you get a 'sweeter' result with LME but don't quote me on that.

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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by ingo » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:19 am

ChrisA wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:41 pm
Are you suggesting that I could get 2kg of liquid malt extract add some hops and choose a yeast and potentially make a nice brew?
Yes. It gets as good as the quality of the LME, or DME. Tot create these both, quite a lot of energy is put in the starting wort so the products will get darker than a brew from malt, LME needs more energy than DME (spray malt). Also the balance of the resulting sugars may be different. More dextrins? Yes, kits are a blend of light and dark hopped LME.

The 'simple' way to temperature controlled fermentation is a second hand fridge, a 15 W light bulb for heating and a STC-1000 temperature controller.

Ingo

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Re: Experimenting With Cheap Kits

Post by Cobnut » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:42 am

Are you suggesting that I could get 2kg of liquid malt extract add some hops and choose a yeast and potentially make a nice brew?
This is precisely what I used to do before I moved to AG. Made some decent brews.

I reckon the biggest steps to improving beers are 1) Sanitation, 2) Temperature Control.

After that it is a law of diminishing returns; yes you can improve your beers by adjusting water profiles, using liquid yeasts, etc., but if what you want it to brew decent beer (as opposed to award winning, World Class beer), make sure it's clean/sanitised, use decent quality ingredients and control the temperature.

I'll probably get Royally flamed for this by some on here, though :wink:
Fermenting: Lacons Patriot Clone
Conditioning: Mocha Stout, Single (allotment grown) hopped ale, Hazelweiss (8th edition), 'Ol 'Enry Brut IPA
Drinking: Flying Dutchman (American Pale), Voss Kveik 19th century style mild ale (what??!!), Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel, Single hopped Sussex bitter, ...
Planning: Keyworth mid-season SMaSH, Weizenbock (1100+ OG), etc.

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