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Old 05-08-2017, 08:31 AM   #51
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I think you have made a very good start, each brew will improve as you learn from mistakes, but better if you can learn from other peoples mistakes so I will list my early mistakes so you don't need to make them.
1) Kits use tap water, so they need to make alcohol quickly so nothing else gets going, however your brew was a little too warm, I aim at 20°C but above 18°C and below 22°C for first few days is what you are looking for with most kit yeasts, stick on temperature strips are good, but give an average between ambient and brew temperature so in a room at 17°C the strip showing 19°C means brew at 21°C the reverse is also true room at 21°C and strip showing 19°C then brew at 17°C so they are just a rough guide. Thickness of fermenter wall will effect how accurate. Also because using tap water, you can never be 100% sure of no infection you will get the odd infection what ever you do, but rare, but also means although things need to be clean, no point in going OTT as your only using tap water. Using a sensor held against the side of fermenter under something to insulate it from ambient air, I use a sponge, will give you a much more accurate reading, it was when I started to do this that I realised about stick on strip being an average.
2) The air lock can help to see when fermenting is over, however I had to use electrical stuffing glands to stop them leaking and my fermenter has a screw lid so easy to seal, after all the work in sealing the air lock, now I don't use one, I now brew in a freezer with temperature control so a bung is enough on lid mainly as not enough height for air lock, and the stick on strip does nothing as I can't see it with freezer door closed, just use reading on the STC-1000.
3) Time to bottle needs the hydrometer to see if finished, but once you have temperature control air locks and hydrometers are only a second safety check, the brews all take same time as temperature constant so I know 20 days start to bottling for most kits. But before temperature control I have had a brew still active after 40 days, 40 pints takes a lot of heating and a lot of cooling so in my kitchen in winter central heating only runs during the day, so day time 20°C but night time 16°C as a result brew around 18°C since fermenting gives out heat at start it was around 19°C ideal, but as the fermenting reduces and so heat from fermenting also reduces the brew would be at 18°C which is just a little too cool, it did not stop, but was very slow.

I tried using an old demo underfloor heating tile 18W to warm up my brew in winter, however it was too big, so I would return to find the brew at 26°C or higher, hind sight is easy, needs around 8W in a fridge switched off outside to maintain 20°C in heart of winter, weight of heater matters, with my tile after switching off it took time to cool, so would over heat a little, using a simple 8W bulb very little weight so less over shoot, no need for huge heaters. Likely the best heater is the fish tank heater in the brew, however cleaning is a problem, better if not actually in beer, putting fermenter in a trug with water and heater not perfect but well on the way.

Problem with fridge was insulation too good, so starting a new brew at 19°C with ambient at over 12°C and brew would hit around 22 to 24°C then cool down again, so likely in your summer house in winter a trug with a fish tank heater and a body warmer with air lock out of neck will keep the brew within reason during cooler months.

I find if it starts at 19°C and first 3 days are cool enough to stop it over shooting then after that even if it hits 28°C it is not too bad, it is first 3 days that counts.

Now I use a fridge/freezer in freezer both heating and cooling in fridge only heating, so first 5 days in freezer, after 5 days I can move to fridge with only heating, actually move around day 7.

I found the kits vary with what you can do with them, Yorkshire bitter add any extra sugar and far too bitter, Scottish heavy however you can near double sugar and still OK. Having said that the two can kits are far better taste than any one can kit. However temperature matters, so again Yorkshire bitter if it gets too warm far too bitter, Scottish heavy will get away with it better, and the Coopers range seem to stand much more heat.

Since too hot seems to alter taste very like too much sugar in early days I could not work out a happy medium as temperature was not constant. Latter I started the other direction will low alcohol as it means I can drink more, however low alcohol means does not keep as well and more likely get an infection. Around 3% seems OK.

But main thing is enjoy.
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Old 08-08-2017, 05:34 PM   #52
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Another beginners question. Pouring from the tap at the bottom of the keg means the beer comes out under a lot of pressure. Massive head on the beer. Any tips to calm it down a bit?
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Old 08-08-2017, 05:57 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by Lido View Post
So just over 2 weeks since my last post and it has improved in terms of the aftertaste. Although initial flavours are a little more bitter.

Photo attached. What do you think?
Looks lovely and clear, great head, good lacing on the glass and great carbonation, I'd say you nailed it.
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Old 22-09-2017, 04:11 PM   #54
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12 weeks after transferring into the barrel and in my opinion, tasting better than ever! (hic)

I'm about to commence my second brew ready for Christmas. I drank a lovely Nebraska Nut Brown Ale in the US recently. Anybody recommend a kit that achieves a similar tipple?
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Old 22-09-2017, 05:51 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Lido View Post
I'm about to commence my second brew ready for Christmas. I drank a lovely Nebraska Nut Brown Ale in the US recently. Anybody recommend a kit that achieves a similar tipple?
In my view it's always difficult trying to clone a commercial beer, especially if you are using a kit as a basis. I have tried some kits purporting to be copies of commercial beers and they weren't anything like them.
Anyway your American Nut Brown Ale has the following description....

Our version of the classic English-style Brown Ale has a blend of six different malts and a hop schedule that results in a low hop character. The unique malt character brings to mind the taste of a blend of various nuts. Coffee, toffee, caramel tend to come to mind in this excellent session Ale.

IBU 20
Malts: Pale Ale, Aromatic, Oats, Caramel 60, Caramel 120, Chocolate
Hops: Galena

My suggestion is following based on a using a kit.....
First, if you are going to aim for about the same ABV, you could brew to 22 litres and use a 1.7kg kit can, plus 1 kg Dark DME and 350g Golden Syrup (half a supermarket squeezy bottle).
Next you want the chocolate and caramel, so a grain steep of say 50g chocolate malt and 150 g crystal malt should work. Personally I would avoid using oats unless you are going to try to mash them with Pale Malt.
The IBUs are quite low so that probably means using a Mild Ale kit one-can. Adjust the brew volume up or down to allow for different can weights.
Next Galena is used which is a bittering hop but has citrus. So you could dry hop with Columbus or Chinook which apparently are similar, but don't overdo it, say 25-30g.
In the end my suggestion might be nothing like it but at least you will have had fun in trying

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Old 26-09-2017, 12:21 PM   #56
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Thanks TerryM

I wasn't thinking of cloning, just wanted to find a kit that produced a nice brown ale.

Anybody got a kit recommendation? I've only tried one festival one so far (Razorback IPA) and that was straightforward with good results!
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