Improving kits

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Tooter

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Hi fairly new to brewing 6 months or so in and looking to improve my kits not by adding more ingredients but generally improving my techniques to clean up the taste a bit I have a calibrated ispindel and temp controlled brew chamber I brew mainly wilco kits with beer enhancer or bulldog brew kits.
I generally follow the kit instructions and brew at 20c for 7 to 10days or untill gravity is stable for 2 or 3 days then add gelatine cold crash for 3 or 4 days keg and slightly force carbonate before bottling to krups torps and finishing carbing in the torps and continuing to refrigerate for a few more days.

Would I gain anything from rehydrating my yeast before pitching?
Could i benefit from increasing my fermenting temp after a couple of days in in?
Would any of these techniques help clean up the taste a little?. Any. Input welcome thanks.
 
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Would I gain anything from rehydrating my yeast before pitching? (1)
Could i benefit from increasing my fermenting temp after a couple of days in in? (2)
Would any of these techniques help clean up the taste a little? (3)
I use the 2+2+2 (*) approach so everything you do seems rushed to me.

However:
  1. Undoubtedly rehydrating the yeast before pitching is of benefit. It ensures that the yeast is still alive and active; and gets the fermentation off to a flying start.
  2. Following the kit instructions usually yields the best results. To start experimenting is fraught with danger; up to and including pouring a batch down the drain!
  3. Rehydrating the yeast gives the fermentation a head start which, in turn, will generally make for a cleaner and tastier brew.
(*)
2+2+2 = Two Weeks Fermenting + Two Weeks Carbonating + Two Weeks Conditioning, before you drink a brew!

This may seem a long time but most brews taste better if the are left to Condition for a few weeks. The secret is to reach “Critical Mass”. i.e. The point where your on-hand stock exceeds what you are liable to consume in six weeks! (In my case, a minimum of 45 pints.)
:hat:

“Patience is a virtue in brewing!”
 

Tooter

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I use the 2+2+2 (*) approach so everything you do seems rushed to me.

However:
  1. Undoubtedly rehydrating the yeast before pitching is of benefit. It ensures that the yeast is still alive and active; and gets the fermentation off to a flying start.
  2. Following the kit instructions usually yields the best results. To start experimenting is fraught with danger; up to and including pouring a batch down the drain!
  3. Rehydrating the yeast gives the fermentation a head start which, in turn, will generally make for a cleaner and tastier brew.
(*)
2+2+2 = Two Weeks Fermenting + Two Weeks Carbonating + Two Weeks Conditioning, before you drink a brew!

This may seem a long time but most brews taste better if the are left to Condition for a few weeks. The secret is to reach “Critical Mass”. i.e. The point where your on-hand stock exceeds what you are liable to consume in six weeks! (In my case, a minimum of 45 pints.)
:hat:

“Patience is a virtue in brewing!”
Hi thanks. Would do you increase the fermenting temp at any point during fermentation?
Is the 2 weeks carbing done as a secondary ferment or force carbed?
 
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Hi thanks. Would do you increase the fermenting temp at any point during fermentation?
Is the 2 weeks carbing done as a secondary ferment or force carbed?
Yes. But only if the Kit instructions were to do it.

The 2 week assumed a sugar based carving rather than a forced carving so some days can be shaved off that stage if required.

The problem is that it may be carbonated and still cloudy, unless we let “Time & Gravity” do their work.
:hat:
 
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Are you using the kit yeast? If you are looking for a cleaner taste you might like to try something different like a Safale S-04 or look at the range offered by e.g. Crossmyloof brewing (very reasonable and excellent customer service).
Personally I’d also try leaving your fermentation a bit longer after the gravity has ‘stabilised’, in order to give the yeast more of a chance to clear up after itself. I usually give the fermentation at least two to three weeks,
Finally with the equipment you have and the amount of work you’re putting in, I reckon you could easily do a simple small-batch AG, using the boil-in-a-bag (BIAB) technique?
 
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I think you're on a bit of a hiding to nothing hoping improving technique will make that much difference to those kits. They are what they are, basic kits, yes it's always worth honing your technique but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear..

If you want to make better beer consider enhancing the kits with a few ingredients: a few hops and/or a little steeped adjunct grain can make a huge difference e.g. get a golden/pale ale kit and steep/dry hop with 30-50g of one of the "C" hops like Cascade. Or go a bit further, loads of tweaking recipes on the Coopers website Recipes - Brewing info
 

Tooter

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Hi so am I right in thinking if I force carb I can skip the 2 weeks carbing step?
 

Tooter

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I think you're on a bit of a hiding to nothing hoping improving technique will make that much difference to those kits. They are what they are, basic kits, yes it's always worth honing your technique but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear..

If you want to make better beer consider enhancing the kits with a few ingredients: a few hops and/or a little steeped adjunct grain can make a huge difference e.g. get a golden/pale ale kit and steep/dry hop with 30-50g of one of the "C" hops like Cascade. Or go a bit further, loads of tweaking recipes on the Coopers website Recipes - Brewing info
Hi yer I do intend to start adding some extras to give them a boost at some point but just wanted to make sure my technique is spot on and I'm getting the best from the kits as poss before taking the next step.
 

jof

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Hi so am I right in thinking if I force carb I can skip the 2 weeks carbing step?
I don't think this is a beginner's step.
To force carb you would need to switch to storing your beer in stainless steel kegs & investing in CO2 regulators, cylinders & piping etc.

It's not something you can do if you just bottle your beer or use a plastic pressure barrel.
 

Graz

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For me as someone who exclusively brews kits...

Biggest improvement is to not buy cheap kits, I only do all malt kits perhaps with the exception of Mangrove Jacks but I always buy the pouch of light malt extract to go with. Look at Young's American, Bulldog, Brupaks, Festival, Mangrove Jacks, Munton's Flagship, Woodfordes and LoveBrewing's own range (Beerworks).

Next gain for me was temperature control, brew fridges are cheap to make and it means I can brew in my unheated garage. I have two fridges now. Sounds like you may already have this covered.

As mentioned above not rushing anything. I now leave everything for a minimum of 2 weeks before even looking at it. Some higher ABV kits or slower yeasts have been known to take up to 3 weeks for me. If the kit includes a dry hop addition I don't rush in with that either. Wait until fermentation is completely over before adding and then leave for the further 2-3 days as the kit may suggest. After that it's optional but I cold crash for a day or two as I find it just makes it easier getting the beer out of the fermenter as all the hop debris drops to the bottom.

Next massive improvement was Cornelius kegs, a keg fridge and force carbonating my brews. It allows a very precise control as to how fizzy you want your beer to be and gives much better results than adding sugar for a secondary ferment. I've ended up at both ends of the scale with that either flat beer or massively over carbonated and impossible to pour.

The conditioning thing I get but the key thing is the darker, higher ABV beers benefit a lot more from it. If I've made a hoppy IPA or Pale Ale I've sometimes gone straight from the fermenter to carbonating it and then drinking it with a few weeks. Heavily dry hopped beers are actually often better fresh, you start to lose the aroma and taste the longer you leave it. But a leaving it a month or so before drinking is also fine so long as it is stored well.
 

Tooter

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Thanks for all the input. Stupidly I forgot to mention I have 2 corny kegs and co2 with regulator for force carbing. But I tend to serve from the krups torp bottles as I don't have room Inthe house for a kegerator and it's convenient to keep the torps in the fridge in the house.
 
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I think you're on a bit of a hiding to nothing hoping improving technique will make that much difference to those kits. …….. but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
…….
Stop right there!

YOU
may make crap beer out of kits; just like some people go through the whole process of milling, mashing, boiling, fermenting and bottling something that still tastes crap.

The latter system is termed as “All Grain” and believe me when I tell you that I’ve tasted (and made) some AG brews that ought to have finished up down the drain!

Brewing AG is not the be all and end all of brewing!
:hat:
 
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The same as @Graz , I also now brew just Kits and agree with over 90% of what he recommends!

I differ in that I try not to Cold Crash and instead rely on “Time + Gravity” to clear my brews.

At the moment I only have a single brew fridge and I’ve not been brewing for two years, so I’m still getting up to “Critical Mass”. (i.e. the point where I have sufficient stock to cover my future consumption!)

The other things are that I carbonate at minimum pressure (normally 5psi) and I don’t “chill” anything.

I think drinking a brew is a very personal thing and I was weaned onto beer in the 1950’s.

This was when chilled beer was unheard of and I can’t remember a Lager being available on the pump until the mid-60’s. (At the time, Lager was a cheap drink, but tasted so bad we had to mix it with Lime Juice or Lemonade to drink it!)

The beer itself came in wooden barrels and in some pubs that didn’t have a cellar (e.g. the one at the junction of Ramsgate and Eastgate in Louth) the barrels sat at the back of the bar!

That’s probably why I prefer my brews unchilled and with low carbonation.
:hat:
 

Tooter

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I would like to thank everyone for there replies. Certainly gives me food for thought.
 

damienair

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I have been brewing for 18 months and so far I have had great results. Some kits have needed some extra time to condition and come good. I usually have 3-4 brews completed at any one time which gives me a good opportunity to let one condition for an extra month or two if I feel I need to.
I have a very basic set up, two 30 litre fermentation buckets, usual bits and bobs and a load of 500ml bottles.
I always use the 2+2+2 method. I recently did a full extract brew and the results were great, I’ll be doing more. But I also recently did a Coopers Blonde Ale with light DME and dry hopped with Mosaic and Citra hops. It turned out great and better than I had expected. I have a Mangrove Jacks Pink Grapefruit IPA in my fermentation bucket at the moment. My 3rd time to do it. Good luck.
 
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