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Kits - Hopped Vs Unhopped

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BrewDaddy

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Hi

I've been brewing that I have always called 'kits' (Black Rock, Coopers etc) with a kilo of dextrose. The results were average, but I was saving money so didn't really care.

Now I've been reading and have learnt about steeping grains / adding hops and using unhopped extract (LME). I recently (on sunday) put down my first 'full extract' brew where I used unhopped LME and boiled for an hour adding the hops as desired.

My stove can just handle a ten litre boil, but the process takes well over 2 hours for a full boil and is a bit of a kerfuffle.

There seems to be plenty of people around here using recipes with coopers etc kits as the base and seem to be totally happy with them. This seems like much less work - maybe a small boil for 15 minutes to add some additional hops. I've got one on the go and am really enjoying it.

Is the general consensus, however, that using unhopped LME and boiling for an hour (adding hops as desired) will usually produce better results than using a kit as the base???

I'm trying to get a grip on the trade-off between quality and effort required, I might find out for myself in 3 weeks when my extract brew is ready).
 

yum beer

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A full extract brew should give better results than your kit brews but there are factors that can change that, like type and amount of extract and type amount of hops used.

You need to have an understanding of what each is bringing to the mix.

All these factors under control then yes your extract will be much better.


Effort v result will always be a factor in what way you go. Generally the more you do the better you want to get your beer and before

you know it your eyeing off mash tuns, kettles, pumps and the like.
 

petesbrew

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Using a kit & adding grains/hops/malt to it is still an improvement over using plain dextrose.
Using unhopped kits is basically allowing you to choose the bittering, flavour & aroma hops and amount of bittering of your desire.
It's the whole packet cake mix vs. using a full recipe theory.
Packet cake = easy to make and will be a good cake.
Full recipe = a bit harder to make and should be a better cake. It's all about personal touches that you add that makes it "your" beer.

The main thing with making a good beer is you need to have a good recipe to start with.

Bit of a vague response, I know.
 

FuzzyDropbear

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I've only done one unhopped extract brew, DSGA, and it turned out awesome. The boys all agree that if it were on tap at the pub, they would be more than happy to pay for a few pints.

I had the same problem you had, I did a 10L boil and it took a while for my electric stove to get a good boil going. So I'm looking at getting a 3 or 4 ring gas burner and doing the boil on gas to really help it tick along.

I've also been doing some 'kits and bits' recipes and haven't had the success that I had with the unhopped extract brew. Saying that though, I find it a bit quicker and easier to use kits as I'm trying different hops and different ingredients, so having the same base and substituting 'brew boosters' for unhopped extract, or trying different hops and grains has helped me understand the flavour contributions that different additions add to a beer. However, I'll be moving to unhopped extract brews from now on and only doing kit brews if I want to try something, or need a beers ASAP and I don't have the time to cook up a brew.

The view I have of kits (and I do like them for ease of use and they produce a decent product if done right), is that because they use iso-hops, they'll never have the same bite as if you used real hops, or pellets. Something gets lost in extracts, but it's an ease of use thing. It's like using vanilla extract vs using vanilla beans in a cooking recipe, using the real deal makes it even better.
 

BrewDaddy

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Based on these responses - I'm getting pretty pumped about tasting my full extract brew that is currently bubbling away in my wardrobe.

The kit & bits I've done recently (with steeping grains / short boils of flavor hops) have been a huge step up from the good ol' kit and kilo of dextrose I had done for years.

Good to know that i can always fall back on to a kit if i'm short on time and still end up with something pretty good.

Edit: the DSGA is next on my list
 

joshuahardie

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Is the general consensus, however, that using unhopped LME and boiling for an hour (adding hops as desired) will usually produce better results than using a kit as the base???

I'm trying to get a grip on the trade-off between quality and effort required, I might find out for myself in 3 weeks when my extract brew is ready).
Moving away from the dextrose was a good move.
If we are talking about the least effort required, maybe try a fresh wort kit. All the benefits of the all grain result, without the effort.

If you like to be a tad more hands on, try a hopped kit, and supplement it with a non hopped kit (instead of the dextrose) and try a bit of dry hopping in the fermenter to add some aroma.

If I had to make one blanket statement, when it comes to the argument of time vs quality. Spend your extra time in making your fermentation perfect. Correct fermentation temps, lagering if needed, proper yeast selection, etc etc. Don't stress about extra grains, boils, hops, until you have fermentation and yeast management under control

I can make a great kit beer with great yeast and fermentation. But I cannot make a great beer with the worlds best ingredients, and a poor fermentation

my 2c
 

FuzzyDropbear

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Based on these responses - I'm getting pretty pumped about tasting my full extract brew that is currently bubbling away in my wardrobe.

The kit & bits I've done recently (with steeping grains / short boils of flavor hops) have been a huge step up from the good ol' kit and kilo of dextrose I had done for years.

Good to know that i can always fall back on to a kit if i'm short on time and still end up with something pretty good.

Edit: the DSGA is next on my list
The DSGA is good, I had to let mine age for nearly 2 months in the bottle, I think I overdid the boil and it was quite bitter on the first couple of tastings, left quite a sharp lingering bitterness to the point where I was thinking about turfing it, but I think that was my fault with the boil rather than the recipe. At least I learnt never to throw a brew out, just leave it to age and do it's thing, can't believe how much it's changed.

Re: the saving money part, I view all homebrew as saving money. I did the sums, for DSGA, I think I spent roughly $50 on ingredients [can't remember, think it's written down at home]. From that I got 20L of beer. Now a slab of VB / Carlton 'draught' costs ~$40 for 9L, so I get 2 slabs out of my homebrew and I believe it's better quality so should really be compared against a slab of craft beer, or at least a higher quality beer, which means even more savings.

Cheers.

edit: Regarding Josh's statement above, he's correct on the fermentation temps etc. I've never had a brew that I couldn't drink, when hearing other people's stories on bad homebrewing I can only put it down to the fact that I decided that if I was going to do it, I'd spend the money and research and do it 'right' from the beginning, so I had temp control on my first brew and have always left mine for 2 weeks in the FV minimum before bottling. The only bad homebrew I've tasted (hadn't tasted homebrew until I did it) is the stuff I dug out from underneith my missus' house which was under there from the last owners, prob about 6 years old... Blech, horrid stuff. Still carbonated but yuck. :lol: Note to self, next time do not sample the random homebrewz found under houses :rolleyes:
 

pcmfisher

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Hi

I've been brewing that I have always called 'kits' (Black Rock, Coopers etc) with a kilo of dextrose. The results were average, but I was saving money so didn't really care.

Now I've been reading and have learnt about steeping grains / adding hops and using unhopped extract (LME). I recently (on sunday) put down my first 'full extract' brew where I used unhopped LME and boiled for an hour adding the hops as desired.

My stove can just handle a ten litre boil, but the process takes well over 2 hours for a full boil and is a bit of a kerfuffle.

There seems to be plenty of people around here using recipes with coopers etc kits as the base and seem to be totally happy with them. This seems like much less work - maybe a small boil for 15 minutes to add some additional hops. I've got one on the go and am really enjoying it.

Is the general consensus, however, that using unhopped LME and boiling for an hour (adding hops as desired) will usually produce better results than using a kit as the base???

I'm trying to get a grip on the trade-off between quality and effort required, I might find out for myself in 3 weeks when my extract brew is ready).

Using some specialty grain and and hops along with some dry or liquid malt will be a large improvement from just using dextrose with a kit brew. However, using unbittered malt and boiling hops at different intervals will put your beer in a different class if you ask me.
The bitterness is much smoother than the twangy isohop bitterness, plus you can control to your taste.

A 5litre boil with 500g of dry malt is all that is needed for your hop additions. Boil up the kettle a couple of times and your pot will be on the boil in no time. Easy to cool down in the sink afterwards. Dissolve the rest of your fermetables in your fermenter.

Best beer you can make short of all grain.
 

BrewDaddy

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A 5litre boil with 500g of dry malt is all that is needed for your hop additions.
This sounds like the prefect answer - however, amongst all my reading, I noticed people saying that the maximum level of bitterness you can get was 100 ibu - and if you have 5 litres of 100 ibu boiled wort, that you then dilute out to 20l, the theoretical maximum ibu your brew will have would be 25.

This is why I thought the boil size needed to increase (and why making full blown IPA's was very difficult with a partial/small boil).
 

verysupple

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A 5litre boil with 500g of dry malt is all that is needed for your hop additions. Boil up the kettle a couple of times and your pot will be on the boil in no time. Easy to cool down in the sink afterwards. Dissolve the rest of your fermetables in your fermenter.
+1

This is easier, quicker and best of all gives you a good SG for hop utilisation (~1.040). If you mix all your extract in 10L the SG will much higher and you will greatly reduce hop utilisation. As for those who say you need to boil ALL your extract for at least 10 - 15 min to sterilise it, I've never done that and never had an infection.
 

wyane

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A 5litre boil with 500g of dry malt is all that is needed for your hop additions. Boil up the kettle a couple of times and your pot will be on the boil in no time. Easy to cool down in the sink afterwards. Dissolve the rest of your fermetables in your fermenter.

Best beer you can make short of all grain.
+1 the 5L boil whether using hopped kits or unhopped extracts.
Generally speaking and certainly not a rule is to boil the malt and add hops in staged additions for between 10 - 45min if using hopped kits, 45 - 60min if unhopped.
Rest of the tin(s), bags and/or adjuncts go in from 5min to flame out.
 

Arghonaut

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Yep when doing full extract i usually boil around 5 litres of 1040 wort. Dissolve the rest at flameout.

If doing a hoppier style, no need to boil for 60 mins either. Look up 10 minute apa's, my favourite extract brew. One large hop addition at 10 mins, you can knock em out really fast. I often do one alongside an allgrain brew whilst it is mashing. The hops cover up most of the extract faults...hard to beat it for the effort needed to make it.
 

jakethesnake559

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If you want great quality beer with minimum effort, you could try Fresh Wort Kits.

Link

You can get a FWK, steep some specialty grains and hops in a litre of water, strain into the fermenter and pitch some yeast.
All fresh ingrediants and you will really taste the difference.
Gets a bit expensive though...depends where cost fits into your equation.
 

Juzdu

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If you want great quality beer with minimum effort, you could try Fresh Wort Kits.

Link
Wow, fresh wort kits, never even knew that existed. Added bonus is you get a 17l container to use as a cube for later brews!
 

pcmfisher

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This sounds like the prefect answer - however, amongst all my reading, I noticed people saying that the maximum level of bitterness you can get was 100 ibu - and if you have 5 litres of 100 ibu boiled wort, that you then dilute out to 20l, the theoretical maximum ibu your brew will have would be 25.

This is why I thought the boil size needed to increase (and why making full blown IPA's was very difficult with a partial/small boil).

That sounds like a reasonable assumption, however I'm pretty sure I have made many beers (most of them actually) with a 5 litre boil that are are lot more than 25 IBU.
 

RobboMC

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A number of thoughts in this thread:

The extract version of DSGA is awesome, best beer I've ever made.

When comparing what money you are saving with home brewing you must compare to a slab of equivelent quality beer, so a slab of James Squires as a minimum I reckon. I could make a brew of VB or Tooyees New for $15 if I chose to, that's about $7 a slab.

If making full extract brews I suggest some grain steeping is always needed. You might find a brew made just with unhopped extract and hops is a little bland, unless you like hops of course. I prefer the more complex malt tastes that come with specialty grains.

A nice short cut to minimise the boil volume and time is to use a high end kit like Thomas Coopers or Muntons straight into the fermenter and make the other 50% of the brew as an extract with specialty grains. I usually get away with about 8-10 litres in the boil allowing for some decent hop additions and the kit provides some 'easy' IBU without detracting from the overall flavour very much. The result of this method is truly good beer without a full boil. Not as good as AG of course, but not as much effort either.

Boiling anything more than about 8 litres requires, in all practical means, a gas burner.
Most household stoves are limited to 20A, you simply can't get any more energy down that little copper wire.
Even a small gas burner easily outperforms an electrical elemnt. My new triple ring seems like it can boil anything, but of course the real issue is the heating time; it seems to take forever to get 10 litres up to the boil on a small element.

One last thought - brewing extract only can get expensive; you mind find the step from there to AG actually saves you money!
 

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