Yet another Mr. Beer new brewer - longish post

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Last night I bottled my first batch of beer thanks to a Mr. Beer kit
given to me by my wife. I did the primary in the brown Mr. Beer barrel
for a week and a secondary for two weeks in a clear Rubbermaid 2 Gal
stackable water container that comes with a spigot. The Rubbermaid
container is made of the same type of plastic as the Mr. Beer barrel is.
I used the same technique that the Mr. Beer jug uses to allow the CO2 to
escape from the secondary without having to use an airlock. The local
homebrew store sold me a box of pre-owned Grolsch 16 oz bottles (22
brown, 23 green) with a bag of new gaskets and some corn sugar for $20.
My first batch filled 14 bottles and it smelled great. I put 1/2 cup of
water in a measuring cup and put the sugar in it. Then I microwaved it
for 1 minute until hot and stirred the sugar in. I then microwaved it
for another 1 minute at half power so that the water boiled for 45
seconds. I added it to the secondary after letting it cool and just
before bottling. I also sanitized the bottles and caps and gaskets
before bottling.

I just used the American Light mix with adjuncts (Booster). Since the
Mr. Beer kits already have the hops, hot and cold break removed from the
extract all I had left on the bottom of the primary and secondary was a
coating of inactive yeast on the bottom. For my next 3 batches I will be
doing all extract (I have already poured the other 3 Booster packs down
the drain).

A couple of observations:

1. The Mr. Beer kit is the perfect size for me. The standard 5 gallon
kits would be unacceptable because they make too much beer in one batch.

2. I can see that all extract or extract and specialty grain brewing
will be my destiny. I have no desire to go all grain, I am not that
hardcore and it makes too much beer in one batch. Maybe it will change
in the future, but right now it does not look likely.

A couple of questions:

1. If I am just using a Mr. Beer kit do I really need to use a separate
secondary since there are no hops or hot or cold break? I guess the real
question is: is leaving the beer on the yeast in the barrel for three
weeks bad?

2. When I stop using their kits and start brewing from "scratch" can I
just halve the 5 gallon recipes and be OK? I like malty flavored brews
with low bitterness. What kind of recipes should I look for?

Thanks in advance,


Re: Yet another Mr. Beer new brewer - longish post
I started exactly the same way several years ago. You do not really need to
secondary but it can help to clear your beer by allowing time for yeast to
drop out of suspension without sitting on top of dead yeast and
unfermentable matter. as far as recipe selection you are fine halfing 5gal
recipes. just be warned that once you get into the hobby you will find that
2 gals dissapear fast and may want to move up to larger batches. going all
grain is as much more cost effective as getting full control over your
beer's character. BTW mr beer kits tend to have off flavors due to old malt
so don't get discouraged if yours does, just get some higher quality
ingredients. Good luck.
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Re: Yet another Mr. Beer new brewer - longish post
BKBooth wrote:

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Thanks for the reply. With a family I don't have the time or money to
get an all grain setup with a mash/lauter tun and that's why I don't
forsee moving that direction. You do bring up an interesting question:
how can I tell how old cans or bottles of extract are? Mr Beer does not
list the canning date on the label. I saw some Coopers and other brands
  of malt extract at the local homebrew store yesterday. Judging by the
thick layer of dust on the cans I think they are probably not fresh ;-).


Re: Yet another Mr. Beer new brewer - longish post
I'm not sure how to tell exactly how old but your local shop should carry
bulk extract that is generally fresh. as far as AG setups go all you really
need is an ice chest and a pot large enough for a full volume boil.
rec.crafts.brewing is a much more active group.

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Re: Yet another Mr. Beer new brewer - longish post
I started brewing 2 and a half years ago with a 5 gallon "get everything at
the same time" kit.  I remember
thinking, "My god!  This is WAY too much beer."   I quickly realized that 5
gallons goes very quickly.
I usually get between 30 and 31 Grolsch bottles.  It's not that I even drink
that much of it, but that I give
 a lot of it away to family and friends.  There is nothing more satisfying
than handing out your own beer
at a family gathering.  I brew from DME kits and will never go to all grain.
I enjoy the afternoon brewing
sessions, but much two year old would never put up with me spending much
more time than that.
The only advice I have for you is, don't be afraid to be creative.  I have
purchased some DME kits and
added fruit extract to them and had great success (the wife loves them).  I
actually got coffee and chocolate
to blend nicely with a porter last year.  I'm currently trying to get
apricot nectar, raisins, Nottingham
beer yeast, and some corn sugar to ferment into something good.  Good luck
brewing.  You'll have a blast

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