Improving a one can homebrew??

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Leeroydavid

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Hi, I've just got got into homebrewing, I've made 2 lagers, 1 pale ale, and a fruity cider, and I've bought the premium beer kits with the 2 cans in the kit, I was just wondering if I could try cut down costs, but still get a good beer by buying a one can homebrew kit? and could I improve it by using a spray malt instead of sugar? if so, which spray malt should I go for, I think it said light, medium etc etc, and finally, would buying a better yeast make a difference? I'll be brewing either another lager, or a pale ale.
 

the baron

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As a generalisation you can improve single can kits but and this is the but you then need to start using extra dry malt extract plus other hops and short brewing to between 19-21ltrs so the price starts to creep towards the 2 can kits but still probably slightly cheaper.
It is a good way of learning the trade though so go for it the only thing I would say is you should really brew the kit without any additions other than dry malt extract to use as a control/base before you pimp them up to see what works for you
 

obscure

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One option to steep speciality grains in a couple of litres. hot water about 65°C for an hour and add the liquid to your beer, this is best for darker beers, i.e you can use roasted barley for a stout kit. My preferred option however is a tad time consuming (and isn’t for everyone) is to replace the sugar with grain.

To do this you will need a fairly large pot (12L is just about big enough but 15-20 is ideal) a grain bag (big mesh bag cost a couple of pounds from a home brew shop) and a stove. Heat about 8L water to about 70°C and put your grain bag in the pot add about 2KG of pale malt plus any speciality grains for a mild kit I just brewed this meant some chocolate malt and dark Crystal stirring as you go and try to avoid any large balls of malt, now double check your temperature it should be around 66-67°C, wrap a couple of towels around it and leave for an hour. Then heat about three litres of water to about 70°C and remove your grain bag from the pot and let as much as possible drain out, then dunk the bag int the second pot and leave for about five minutes then remove the bag and let drain out. Add the content of the second pot to the first you should have about 10-11L bring to a rolling boil and keep there for about 30 minutes.
You then add the kit to your fermentation bin as normal and start mixing with the boiling liquid, then top up with cold water as usual.

Dry hopping is also an option, as of course is using spray malt or a can of malt extract, lots of people play around with one can kits and produce excellent beers, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
 

the baron

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You should be ready to go now with all this useful advice athumb..
 

Richard Lander

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When I wanted to progress beyond tin kits, which almost always produced excellent results, but felt less "creative", I looked into the options. I tried adding a tin of malt extract instead of shop sugar, and this was also good. Then found there are umpteen varieties of hops, so I tried malt syrup and hops, also good. These options worked out just fine, but there was no economy factor, and the options were costing me extra. I liked the results, but I felt like my vanity was making life more expensive.

I checked it out, and I found that a 25kg container of malt syrup make the unit cost a whole lot cheaper. I was paying ~ £10 for a 1.5kg tin of malt, and using two tins. 25kg of malt syrup cost £72. £6.66/kg by the tin. £2.88/kg in bulk. So I took a deep breath, and ordered in 25kg, and I have never looked back.

Using this method I can make 25L of beer using 3 or 4 kg of malt syrup, ~ £10, and an endless variety of hops, sometimes mixed, sometimes single variety, sometimes extra hops, like 1 1/2 packs, under £5 per 100g pack.

Every few months I roughly measure out 3 kg of syrup, and for many more brews it feels like there is an endless supply left for next time. When feeling extra tight I could substitute some shop sugar for syrup, making it last longer. Homebrewing might be a money saving exercise, but the real fun is in the making, and you don't need to race all the way to the bottom to save every penny. I have been using all malt for ages.

When ordering bits and pieces online the postage costs stack up, making the bulk container yet better value.

I've stuck here. Sure the purists would head off to using malted grain, home grown hops, speciality yeasts, dechlorinated water, co2 flushing, cold crashing, moon phases and more, but I have been so happy with this formula, I have stuck with it.
 

chopps

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Equipment aside it doesn't get lower cost than all-grain, if that's the OP's driver here? As long as you can control the impulse to buy lots of stainless steel things and as Richard has done, don't be a purist. A DIY mash box, a home made boiler, a bag and a spoon. Pale malt is <£16 for 25 kg and that will do you for 5 brews. My cost is 45p per litre for lager including malt hops and yeast, excluding electric and water
 

clib

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One can kits can generally be improved by adding freshness. They are made with basic malt extract and a squirt of hop extract for bittering and have a pack of dry yeast attached that will deteriorate sat on a shelf in a shop. The easiest thing to do is to buy some hps and add them in the fermenter. This will make a big difference and is very easy to do. Some fresh grain will also make a significant difference. You can use malts that can be steeped like crystal malt or carapils and 200-300g will be enough. Carapils will have less flavour and colour impact. Crystal will sweeten and darken the beer.

Two easy fixes that will really improve the beer. Some kits have yeasts that do a perfectly fine job for the beer style. Others will really benefit from using a better yeast .
 

obscure

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With regards to @clib regarding yeast the other reason to swap it out is that one can kits give you 7g of yeast, (actually this is pretty common in two can kits as well), while this can be enough there is certainly a theme for stalled kits and only 7g of yeast.

Wilko yeast is Nottingham if I remember rightly you can also get reasonably priced 10g packets from Crossmyloof, I am a fan of Beoir in Mild for example.

I would actually say the big advantages of a one can kit over a two can is their is much more room for making adjustments, even taking into account when I swap out sugar for grain, switch out the yeast and add a dry hop I can still expect some change from £20.
 
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