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Extra quick brew and concentrate+hops kits

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samuelm

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Hi All. I'm hoping someone has some advise for me about a particular brew I've just put on and I have 2 questions, one of timing and one of taste. I'm using basically an "upgraded" concentrate kit that includes a hops bag and some fancy brewing sugar.

Timing
I was hoping to have this brew ready to drink for a gathering on the 26th of this month. Being the 7th today, that leaves 18 full days. I've done the Coopers kits from brewing to drinking in 3 weeks before, but admittedly they do improve beyond 3 weeks.

I'm hoping that I can gently accelerate the brew without any nasty side effects. Worst case scenario, the beer isn't ready to drink, and I'll leave it in the bottle to enjoy later and buy beer for the time being.

My ideas on speeding things along were to have a good starter yeast going and to continue the brew at a slightly higher temperature. I pitched the dried yeast in about 500ml of water at 30 degrees C, with a good chunk of the fermenting sugars from the kit, and left that to sit for an hour or two while I cleaned and sterilised all the gear, and then added this to the fermenter after dissolving/diluting the rest of the sugar and concentrate. There's probably only marginal benefit to this, but it let me get my yeast going a few hours before I was actually ready to use the fermenter.

With the temperature, it's actually pretty cool in my apartment as it's winter, but I set the fermenter up wrapped in an electric blanket and kept it on a low setting for the first few hours, maintaining a temperature of about 30 - 32 deg. I'm not sure what kind of an adverse effect it would have if I keep the temp elevated. I've switched it off now as I'd rather not leave it switched on unattended, and I know usual brewing temp for a lager is around 20 deg.

Any advice on the temperature (or side effects of elevated temperature) would be great.

Taste
I used one of the concentrate kits I've had lying around for a while, a Lager kit from my old LHBS containing a "Muntons Premium Lager" concentrate, a brewing sugar they call "Blonde+" label says (Dex 66%, LDME 24% Wheat DME10%), and a Hallertau hops teabag.

The concentrate, brewing sugar and "rehydrated" yeast all went in as normal (3l or so boiling water to dissolve concentrate/sugar, add cold water to 23L at 32 deg), but I've not really used the hops bags before (at least not with any great success). For reference, I love beer with lots of floral/herbal taste and aroma but prefer the bitterness to be a bit more restrained. I decided the way to go about it was to make a hop tea (teabag in a cup of boiling water for about 1 minute) then tip the liquid and the bag into the fermenter. I've heard you can get an undesirable grassy taste by adding just dry hops to the fermenter, but not sure if making the tea first would make any noticeable improvement on that.

I've got 3 more of these type of concentrate/hop kits around (labelled fat yak, wheat beer, pilsener) so I figure I should get the process right. Any suggestions on the correct preparation for hop bags with concentrate kits, particularly to enhance flavour/aroma instead of adding bitterness?

Thanks in advance.
 

givemeamash

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Bioling hops adds bitterness so no boil, no increased bitterness. Try and maintain temp within recommended range, defiantly not 30-32 degrees. I did a few kits adding the tea bag and always thought it was beneficial to the overall flavour of the brew. If your apartment I'd cool, it is probably a good thing, just aim for consistency, as for the deadline, buy a carton of your favourite and let them rest.
 

manticle

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Usual temp for proper lager yeast is 7-12. Usual temp for ale is 17-22, depending on the beer (alt lower, saison higher).

30 is way too high for anything other than saison with a proper saison yeast. First few days of fermentation are the most crucial in terms of keeping temps low and not developing fruity, fuselly type flavours often associated with 'homebrew'.

If you want quick, you are better off looking at either a proper hefeweizen (and by proper I mean use the correct yeast) or a low alcohol beer like a UK mild.

Hop tea bags are OK as an intro into using hops but they are more expensive/less value than buying pelleted hops and are usually stored fairly badly. Hops should be vacuum packed in foil bags (photosensitive) and in cold storage (fridge or freezer).

To enhance aroma - dry hop or a quick boil with some malt extract. For the teabags, - just make a cup of hop tea and add it to your brew when ferment is nearly done. Bitterness comes from isomerising and extracting alpha acids during boiling - longer boil = more bitterness (very basically).
 

samuelm

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Thanks for the advice. I'll leave the blanket switched off and keep the temperature normal and consistent and hope for the best, as I said, if it's not ready to drink when I want it, it's not ready to drink, I'll buy a nice case and let the homebrew rest. As for the hops, I haven't really brewed enough to justify buying anything in quantity, but the bag was stored in a vacuum packed foil bag although it wasn't kept refrigerated and it was a pretty old kit (in the area of 2 years - I got homebrew lazy for a while). I gave it a sniff and there wasn't anything that resembled a cheesy smell, just a rich viney/planty smell so I think it was ok to use.

Either way, it's all a good brewing experiment, I'd had the kit lying around for ages and it's no great loss if it doesn't turn out. I've got an all grain brewing session pencilled in with my brother in law who has been brewing consistently for a long time so if all goes well I might not worry about the kits in future.
 

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