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Increasing Alcohol Percentage Of Kit And Kilos

Discussion in 'Kits & Extracts' started by orwell_g, 1/2/10.

 

  1. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Hey guys,

    First time post, and probably a controversial one, I'm a noob brewer, and want to get into the world of brewing. Getting there slowly, have done 4 brews so far from kit and kilos and have just about finished my tempmate wiring to control my fridge (so I can brew all year round).

    Quick question, the general cooper's packs with 1kg brew enhancers will say approximately 4.2% alcohol percentage on the back of the brew enhancer.

    Now, it appears that the yeast will only consume a certain amount of sugar, and this seems to coincide with a bell curve type of scenario. The more sugar you add, the less alcohol percentage gain you get based on the yeast (I'm assuming) that is in the kit, therefore,

    too much sugar = sugary leftover that the yeast hasn't fermented

    I'm wondering, if it is possible to get up around 5% or more from a kit and kilo (and a half maybe?) to add a bit more kick to the home brew.

    If this is a stupid question, please educate me ... :p
     
  2. ivanhoe

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    Posted 1/2/10
    I believe you could get much higher than 5% if you wanted.

    Adding fully fermentable "sugar" i.e dextrose will increase your final alcohol % without leaving behind any sweetness. I'm not sure if there is a limit?

    I believe the brew enhancers have some maltodextrine which isn't fully fermentable. Adding this will result in higher final SG, some sweetness and more body to the beer.
     
  3. manticle

    Standing up for the Aussie Bottler

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Absolutely it is possible. There are several ways to accomplish it too.

    The simplest is to just add less water - instead of 23 litres, make 18 litres.
    The second is to make a brew using two kit tins instead of one

    The third is to add more fermentables (any type of sugar that the yeast can eat)

    Within reason - more fermentable sugar = more abv. You are correct in your understanding of yeast being limited in how much sugar they can consume but you can produce far more than 5% abv depending on yeast amounts and yeast health.

    HOWEVER - If you just add a shitton of table sugar to beef it up you will end up with strong but very average tasting thin beer with no head and with fusel alcohols (which may taste a bit like ethanol or methanol and contribute to hangovers). If you want to make a good beer with body and flavour above 5% you need to consider some things.

    Sugars like dextrose and sucrose are fully fermentable and will produce an increase in alcohol volume. They will provide nothing for the body or flavour of the beer which comes from unfermentable sugars. Some unfermentable sugars are contained within malt and these will provide sweetness and body and aid head retention.

    If you just add a shitton of malt you will get overly sweet, thick and possibly cloying beer. Sweetness can be balanced with bittering hops but that's another post.

    Therefore if you're smart, you can work out a balance between the two.

    You can also start using different yeasts like the fermentis range: http://www.fermentis.com/FO/60-Beer/60-11_...uct_rangeHB.asp (may need to copy and paste this link). These come in larger packets than the kit yeasts and if stored correctly (in the fridge) should be less stressed at a possible underpitching (which is what happens when too few yeast cells are fed too much sugar at once).

    Next time try this:

    1 x kit of choice (try and get one with a bit of hop bite to it)
    1 x kg dextrose
    500g dried malt extract
    Fermentis US05 yeast

    Make to 20 Litres total
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. chappo1970

    Must remember to logout of AHB on Brew Days

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Welcome Orwell

    Finally a sensible way to ask the age old question of adding more kick to your booze without making a knuckle dragger. Well done!

    As what Ivan said Dex is nearly completely fermentable. In other words it's like icecream to a 4 year old only scraps and dribbles will be left as the yeast can easily convert it. IIRC 100gr of Dex will yield 0.001 grav which when fermented will get you 0.009 % ABV per grav point. So if you wanted say 0.5% ABV more add 500gr of Dex.

    Now it's been a while but the 4.2% on the Coopers BE2 sounds right because you obtain another 0.3-0.5% AVB when bottle priming. Therefore your straight K&K would end up somewhere between 4.5% and 4.8% AVB provided your yeast attenuated the wort to specs.

    +1 on the Tempmate BTW. I still remember temp control being one of my best investments as it improved my beers 100% straight away.

    Cheers

    Chap Chap
     
  5. roverfj1200

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    Posted 1/2/10
    You can add as much ferment-able sugar as you like and boost your alcohol up to the point that the yeast will die from alcohol poisoning about 13%.

    But alcohol is part of the flavour profile too... Add about 400g Dex to lift you Alcohol to 5%..


    Cheers.
     
  6. DKS

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Orwell. How high do you want to go ? Say, 7%, is pretty high but shouldn't be a problem. Over that some yeasts may struggle a bit, over 10% and some yeasts wont cope at all.

    Simple sugars. Dextrose, sucrose will add alc easy as, but you may need to make a good size starter and if your aiming for very high alc %, keep this in mind....

    It was suggested to me by some learned locals to add the extra sugar after a few days ferment so the yeast eat the more complex maltose and don't pig out on the simple sugars then go to sleep.
    Hope this helps.
    Daz
     
  7. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Whoa! Cheers guys!! Thanks for the input, more dex it is!! Can't wait to get the next brew down, aiming for 5-5.5% to start and we'll go from there.

    Thanks for clarifying about the fermentables as well. Makes things a lot easier to consider when attempting to up the alcohol.

    Obviously I don't want 13% flat beer cordial ... ;) Maybe I could give that to someone I don't like ... :p

    I did get an ale yeast from brew craft for my next brew, which is currently in the fridge and awaiting the tempmate being wired up. Hopefully that will be a bit more gutsy than the kit yeast, but we'll have to see.

    Thanks a lot for the clarification!
     
  8. QldKev

    Brew Dude

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Another idea if you want to make a good beer in the 5%'s is

    Add your kit to a pot with about 4L water and bring to the boil. Boiling your kit will make the hops in it more bitter.
    Once you get to the boil add 1KG LDME this will balance with the extra bitterness, and say 12g hops. Hold a boil for 20mins. This will help add some fresh hop flavour.
    At the end of the 20mins turn off the heat, add 500g Dextrose and depending on beer style drop in another 12g hops.
    Chill in a sink of water with the lid on. Then add to fermentor with water and ferment normal.

    You can then start to tweak LDME/Dex and hop amounts/types as needed.

    QldKev
     
  9. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    All great suggestions! I've got some work to do now! Thanks again!
     
  10. Nick JD

    Blah Blah Blah

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    Posted 1/2/10
    In your next few brews, instead of getting stuff from the supermarket get some stuff from a homebrew shop. Grab 2kg of LDME (about $8 per kg) and 1kg of Dextrose ($3). Buy a 90g pack of hops (something like Amarillo) and some Safale US05 yeast.

    Put 3 liters of water in a pot and add 300g of dextrose; bring to boil. Add 30g of hops and boil it for 45 minutes.

    Dump your 2kg of LDME and 700g of Dextrose into the fermenter.

    Pour the pot of hop water in and don't worry about all the lumps of malt extract - they dissolve themselves.

    Top up to 23L with tap water. Add yeast. Ferment at 20C.

    ...you won't buy another can ever. ;)
     
  11. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    2kg of LDME? Wouldn't that make the body quite heavy? Excuse my ignorance, but what I got from manticle's info, is that it's the dextrose that can add alcohol easily without affecting the body. I haven't tried the above obviously, so will have to wait and see, but am I right with my assumption Nick?

    Oh and what sort of alcohol percentage are you getting from that? Sounds like a heavy beer with quite a bit of a kick!
     
  12. manticle

    Standing up for the Aussie Bottler

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Nick is talking about extract brewing.

    Essentially a kit is a tin of liquid malt extract that has been hopped. The dex in Nick's version will help hold the balance. It's not dissimilar from what I suggested but you need to add your own hops. I touched lightly on that but didn't want to confuse you.
     
  13. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Ahhhhhh, yep, got ya. There's no "kit" there, my bad! Yep, hops is going to be the next experimental phase. I want to start nice and easy and see if I can at least produce some "consistency" to my brews. Once I'm comfortable with all that, I'm going to start venturing out into the world of more complex brewing.

    Want to eventually do an all grain belgian la-chouffe type beer, but that will be a long way down the track I would imagine ...

    In all seriousness, doesn't sound too complex, but just want to reduce the amount of things that could contaminate the beer at this point ... While I'm still noob, I want to perfect my cleaning regiments etc. until I get the confidence to experiment.

    Got a way to go yet, but with this forum, I'm sure I'll get there!

    Thanks again guys!
     
  14. Nick JD

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Sounds like the plan, orwell_g. Most of us (well, me anyway) neglected temperature control for much much longer than you have. It's probably the most important factor in tasty beer followed closely by yeast choice.

    And yup - that extract recipe of 2kg LDME and 1kg Dex is bang on (for my taste) with body and Alc% in extract brewing. It's not a beer you forget you drank.
     
  15. orwell_g

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    Posted 1/2/10
    I guess (un)fortunately temperature control was my first issue. In summer I can't find anywhere in my house that is insulated enough to stay consistently below say 26 degrees ... While fermentation is going on, it's exothermic, so it's producing it's own heat internally (from what I've read approximately 2 degrees difference) which is too hot ...

    When it's a particularly hot day, say 42, the coolest place I've got in my house would be around 31-32. So the tempmate can provide me with a controlled temp, that's insulated (within the fridge) and controlled enough to brew all year round.

    Hopefully wont have to worry about the winter either with a light bulb in the fridge controlled by the tempmate, but all things still yet to be finished ...

    Thanks again for your posts guys!
     
  16. bum

    Not entitled to an opinion

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    Posted 1/2/10
    I have never seen anyone else say this. And I've read a great deal from many places. I haven't boiled a kit myself. Can anyone '+1' this?

    Kev's idea about hops, while being OT, is a very good one, orwell_g. For me, adding a whole bunch of hops is the only thing that makes a kit drinkable. If you ever do start to boil your kits you'll need to think about adding hops anyway - the boil drives off hop flavour and aroma characteristics of the kit.

    As already intimated, you might want to consider making up the extra alcohol with a mix of fermentables. Some dex for the kick in the head you're looking for then some malt to balance the way the extra dex might thin your brew out.
     
  17. manticle

    Standing up for the Aussie Bottler

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Theoretically, if there are flavour or aroma hops added to the kit then they might become bittering additions due to being boiled.

    My disclaimer is that I can't speak from experience as I never boiled a kit when I was making them and I don't know if isohop works differently or not and I don't know which kits use isohop and which use fresh/pellets/plugs.
     
  18. Bribie G

    Adjunct Professor

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    Posted 1/2/10
    Another way of making a well flavoured and strong beer is to use TWO kits plus some extra dex. Because the kits are bittered to start off with, then the resulting 'toucan' brew will be more bitter than just using one kit, so the best results are from lower-bittered kits such as Coopers Lager or Canadian.

    For example if you do:

    2 Coopers Lagers
    750 dex
    just one kit yeast

    Then you should end up with something mid to high 5 percent which is still quite balanced in flavour and bitterness. Of course you can add some late hops - such as a hop teabag from the local home brew shop - for extra aroma.
     
  19. manticle

    Standing up for the Aussie Bottler

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    Posted 1/2/10
    @BribieG

    Just interested in the 'only one kit yeast' part. Wouldn't that underpitch and potentially stress the yeast causing possible off flavours like acetyladehyde?

    Never done a toucan myself but curious. 7g seems to little for 1 can to me let alone 2.
     
  20. bum

    Not entitled to an opinion

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    Posted 1/2/10
    In terms of fermentables, straight toucan would essentially be the same as a kit tin and a LME tin, wouldn't it? I'm sure I've had beers turn out alright with one packet of dried yeast with slightly more fermentables than the recipe Bribie suggests. Not arguing that it wouldn't possibly be of benefit to pitch more, better yeast - just saying it wouldn't be the end of the world.
     

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