How to make my beer kit stronger - sugar questions

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shearclass

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Hi

I've done a couple of kits, and I was wondering how i can make them stronger.

Obviously, using less water would do the trick, however I don't want to do this, i'd still like to get 22 litres or so to drink at the end of it.

Is the only way to achieve this to add more sugar? What about using more yeast, or yeast nutirent, or dry beer enzyme?

Dry beer enzyme costs only 60p, and i believe thsi somehow makes beer stronger. Would it radically alter the taste? Is there any drawback to using this? I like bitter beer, does bitter mean the same thing as 'dry'?

Sugar questions

If i had a 'quality' beer kit, i.e. a kit with 2 tins, and added a kilo of Beer kit Enhancer to this, how is this likely to affect strength? How will it affect the quality?

What about if i had a standard 1 tin kit, added the kilo of beer kit enhancer, then added another kilo of household sugar or brewing sugar? Would this make the beer sweet? Or would the extra sugar all ferment, making the beer stronger? How would this affect quality?

Sorry for asking so many irritating questions, i just would like to really know what I'm doing when I'm making these kits, to get the most out of them.

Cheers all
 

Moley

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Sugar adds nothing to your brew apart from alcohol, gives no body, and adding too much can throw the kit out of balance and make it taste thin.

Yeast will ferment out all of the sugars that it can, up to a point. Starting with more yeast or nutrient might mean that it gets there a little bit quicker but the end point will be the same. There are non-fermentable sugars which the yeasties can't cope with, and I believe that the dry beer enzyme converts those to something which the yeasties can use, so your final gravity is a few points lower, which also means slightly stronger. I have never used it and don't know how it affects the final product, someone else will probably advise.

Sweet/medium/dry is down to the final gravity and what non-fermentable sugars are left, bitterness comes from the hops, although I suppose that sweetness could mask some bitterness so a drier beer might taste slightly more bitter.

Yeasties actually don't like alcohol, they are swimming in their own waste, eventually it kills them. Beer yeasties may have a tolerance up to around 10% abv, so if you add too much sugar it's just going to stay there untouched.

Without knowing more about the enzyme, half a kilo of enhancer added to a two-can kit would be my choice.
 

Springer

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Remember that great old rule Shear, "you can't squeeze a quart out of a pint pot." ;) :D If it was cheap and easy to do the kit manufacturer would have done it, maybe :? Is a nice beer a combination of taste and strength :?
If its strength you want, try turbo cider and toss a load of sugar in. ;)
S :D
 

shearclass

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Great stuff moley, thanks for that.

What about yeast starters? I've heard people mention them but i don't know what they do? Do they help ferment the sugars more thoroughly, leaving less sugar unfermented?

The reason I am asking is that although i've currently got my 4th kit in the fermentation bucket, ive only been able to drink my 1st attempt as the 2nd kit was Coopers European lager, which apparently should be in bottles for 12 weeks before it gets drank, and the 3rd kit took 3 weeks to ferment, (outlined below) so this isn't ready to drink yet. Anyway, the one i am drinking doesn't seem to be very strong. Sadly, as it was my first go, i didn't know about taking SG readings before and after fermentation, so i don't know how strong it is.

I am currently conditioning a beer that i used the enzymes with. The gravity was stuck at 1.020, but after speaking to muntons they sent me some of the enzyme. I added that and the gravity dropped to 1.009. This won't be ready to drink for another 4 weeks though as I only racked it on wednesday.

I don't think i understand the difference between a dry taste and a bitter taste. Perhaps i'll have more idea after trying the beer above (assuming it's drinkable)
 

shearclass

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Thanks Springer. What is a turbo cider?

I don't particularly like cider, apart from the odd magners in summer. Never drank real cider, but i don't think it would be my thing.
 

Springer

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Do a forum search top right of screen for turbo, loads of info. You can do a trial batch in a demi john, to see if its for you. ;)
Lidel have 1.5 litres on apple juice on for 46p this weekend, not much to lose there on a batch ;)
Search yeast starter, for loads of info, again. There are recommended, but its more about the temperature where you do the fermenting that makes the difference. ;)
S
 

Beer Belly

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I added 1.5 kilos of spray malt and 500g of brewers sugar to a 2 can kit of Heavy, also added yeast nutrient and 3 packets of yeast to get the thing down bellow 1012, took a while to ferment too :D

The results were drinkable, very malty but with a strong alcohol taste. I think it finished around the 9.3% abv and the headache the morning after 3 x 750ml bottles has to be experienced to be believed, it destroyed my insides too, really bad gas LOL

I've messed around with a few kits, it was fun but now I find just mixing them 2-3 litres bellow the recommended level gives me results I like. :drink:
 

Cussword

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[quote="Beer Belly"I find just mixing them 2-3 litres bellow the recommended level gives me results I like. :drink:[/quote]

The man is right, as Springer said, if it was that easy the manufacturer would do it :thumb:
 

Aleman

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Beer is made with sugars derived from malted barley. The best beers contain a lot of 'barley extract' up to 100%. If you add sugar to this, you are diluting the barley extract for the sake of more alcohol. . .Yes its stronger but the quality is poor. . . . and you have perpetuated the myth that homebrew tastes crap and blows your F*ckin' head off

The lack of 'beeryness' in kits is one of the reasons why new brewers give up . . . Or turn away from the dark side to the jedi, and become all grain brewers.

Yes you can improve a kit by using 'Beer Enhancer' (Spraymalt and sugar), up to a point, but the manufacturers have formulated the kit to have a certain bitterness/strength/mouthfeel and body, if you add more spraymalt or sugar you affect these things and unbalance the kit. . . . Wherease in all grain brewing you can compensate by upping the other ingredients in proportion. . .you cannot do that with kits.

If you want to make a stronger kit, try brewing it short (Make 18L instead of 23) or adding an extra tin of a similar kit to a 5 gallon brew.
 

Springer

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Excellent answer A, bit more body than mine ;) :clap:
 

Robsonlodge

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:thumb: Thank you all, I was going to post the same question, as I'm brewing Muntons Conker Wood and I've put about 5oz of Spray Malt in it hoping for a little extra in the ABV department but after reading the posts may resort to taking 2 or 3 litres out of the initial set up of my next brew Muntons Smugglers Bitter. :cheers:
 

Yorkslad

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My first kit i brewed was a coopers real ale, i only filled the fermenter to 20L instead of the reccomended 23L. Im glad i did really as my ale was 5.5% when finished and had a bit of body to it.
I am now drinking a John Bull i.p.a which i filled to the 23L mark, and it lacks body. Its 5% which is okay, but the lack of body doesn't do it justice, so if i do this beer again i will only do 18-20L of it, that way it will still keep the strength but the body too. Or just use two cans of extract and half the sugar, maybe quarter the sugar. Once you start home brewing its like second nature, i could never stop now and will never buy beer again... Apart from in pubs, and the favourite ales i like from the shops. Last time i bought beer from shops was 6 weeks ago now :thumb:
 

shearclass

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Aleman, that is a terrific answer, thank you very much. I understand it better now.

I have 4 options then,

add an extra tin
use less water
add more beer enhancer but risk a reduction in quality
investigate effects of dry beer enzyme

I am not trying to make anything super strength, just the first brew i have appears pretty week. As i said (i think) I didn't take OG reading for my first brew nor did i record the FG (though i did measure it at the time) so I don't know the strength. Anything above 4.5% would be fine for me. The latest muntons kit was going to be under 4% until I added the enzyme

Thanks very much everyone.
 

happyhoppytaff

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the brew i have in the tub at the moment is a geordie bitter. i used a kilo of demerera sugar *and* i threw in a 400g jar of holland and barret malt extract. i was hoping to get a bit more strength and not lose flavour.

having read some of the replies i am bit worried this beer will be a bit on the thin side. it is taking ages to ferment, 12 days and counting-current abv is about 1.013. im hoping itll be ready soon.

once its drinking ill post here as to its quality


also, so is the dark side kit brewing? if so ive been using this forum colloquialism wrongly in other posts :?
 

Aleman

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happyhoppytaff said:
Is the dark side kit brewing? if so ive been using this forum colloquialism wrongly in other posts :?
It is as far as I am concerned . . . but a lot of brewers refer to the dark side as being all grain . . .Personally with all that shiny how can it possibly be Dark?

Perhaps I should get my Brewing Tag changed to 'Jedi Brewer' :hmm: :hmm:
 

Moley

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happyhoppytaff said:
so is the dark side kit brewing? if so ive been using this forum colloquialism wrongly in other posts :?
As far as everyone else is concerned the Dark Side is the mysterious world of All Grain, which is something akin to alchemy. Tony is the only one I'm aware of who has taken AG onto a whole new level.
 

shearclass

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In the end i bought a two tin kit wheat beer kit and added 250g sugar. If it's ruined I'll let you know, and you can all tell me "I told you so!"

However, i figured that if i don't experiemnt a little bit I'll never really know how adding sugar or generally messing with kit instructions changes the flavour of beer.

Thanks for your time and responses.
 

Aleman

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250g of sugar in a 2 can kit is well within the 10% rule that a lot of all grain brewers use when adding sugar to a recipe, it will be fine
 

metal micky

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Aleman said:
250g of sugar in a 2 can kit is well within the 10% rule that a lot of all grain brewers use when adding sugar to a recipe, it will be fine
I have brewing from kits for a number of years and found the best one for my taste is the muntons range, these usually ferment out at around 5%. Although there is a lack of body? I now mash 500grms of marris otter around 65C (but not more than 67C otherwise you may get a protien haze in the final beer) for 1-1/5 hrs then boil for 1.1/5 - 2 hrs adding approx 60 grms of hops (your choice, e.g. progress, goldings for bitter, halletau hops for lager type beers, adding 10grms of hops last 15 mins with Irish Moss. This is all done in a 5 gall container with an electric kettle heater. the liquid is then divided between 2 x 5 gall fermenters after the kit contents (1 each) are added into the fermenters with 1 kilo of sugar to each fermenter you can add spray malt if you wish. I rinse the grain through one or twice and add to the fermenters equally then top up with cold water (the water around sheffield is good straight from the tap) one packet of yeast will ferment out o.k. I get the final gravity down to 1008/1006 giving me a brew of 5.5 - 6% abv
 

metal micky

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metal micky said:
Aleman said:
250g of sugar in a 2 can kit is well within the 10% rule that a lot of all grain brewers use when adding sugar to a recipe, it will be fine
I have brewing from kits for a number of years and found the best one for my taste is the muntons range, these usually ferment out at around 5%. Although there is a lack of body? I now mash 500grms of marris otter around 65C (but not more than 67C otherwise you may get a protien haze in the final beer) for 1-1/5 hrs then boil for 1.1/5 - 2 hrs adding approx 60 grms of hops (your choice, e.g. progress, goldings for bitter, halletau hops for lager type beers, adding 10grms of hops last 15 mins with Irish Moss. This is all done in a 5 gall container with an electric kettle heater. the liquid is then divided between 2 x 5 gall fermenters after the kit contents (1 each) are added into the fermenters with 1 kilo of sugar to each fermenter you can add spray malt if you wish. I rinse the grain through one or twice and add to the fermenters equally then top up with cold water (the water around sheffield is good straight from the tap) one packet of yeast will ferment out o.k. I get the final gravity down to 1008/1006 giving me a brew of 5.5 - 6% abv
sorry - one packet of yeast to each fermenter
 
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