Well... last weekend was the first busy home-brewer weekend I've had in a while.
First, I bottled the Mr Beer Aztec Cerveza. No big concerns there, simply pulled up the recommended sugar measurements for bottling on the Mr B site, sat down with 8 bottles I had just sanitized and poured the beer in after adding the measured amounts of sugar. The only thoughts I had while doing this were 1. I really need to start kegging and 2. I may have to pick up those Coopers style carbo drops, since it's a lot easier than measuring out 2 1/2 tsps of sugar per bottle.
O.G was 1.030 and F.G was 1.006 which i believe means my abv is 3.14%
Then I (finally) bottled the Coopers Australian Pale Ale that's been sitting in the fermenter since last August, or I was supposed to bottle it last August, I can't remember which.
I had my friend Mike smell it, since my sense of smell is quite weak. He said it smelled like yeast-y bread. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but maybe I'll let him try the first bottle as well.
I had to run to the drug mart a few blocks away as I had run out of sugar to bottle with, and being Easter Sunday, all the grocery stores were closed. I also needed spring water to brew my Gigantor Quad as I had forgotten to pick that up the day before as well!
I didn't bother taking the gravity of the Coopers, as I couldn't remember what the O.G. was, nor could I remember where I wrote it down.
Then the time came.... My first home brew with hop addition.
This is where I have to mention I love the Mr Beer community! As I have mentioned before, I routinely ask what must be a thousand annoying newbie questions on the forums as well as direct message someone I consider a brewing genius and a mentor ESheppy
So I had thrown a question out to Mr Shep about what i could do for a recipe to make the can of Mr Beer Octoberfest more palatable for myself. I've made the Octoberfest 3 times now, and have never liked the malty taste, so I was hoping to maybe try my hand at an actual home brew recipe, but I'd never made a home brew recipe and didn't know where to start.
This is the part where I feel bad..... Mr Shep had taken the time to think up a recipe for me, and also used his brewing software to figure out balances and measurements etcetera and sent it to me. I was thrilled! I had a recipe that wasn't too complicated, and I could get everything I needed from my LHBS.
I drove down to the LHBS on the Saturday of Easter Weekend to get my supplies, I walked in and.... Mr Beer supplies! An entire shelf of Mr Beer refills and kits! This is the LHBS that told me they wouldn't bring in Mr Beer because it would cost them as much as it would cost me (which sounded ridiculous), and yet there it was!
Suddenly I had the opportunity to make a recipe I had previously hoped to make before I even messaged Mr Shep... The Gigantor Quad! I had found the recipe on the Mr Beer site, and had given up on making it as I wanted to make beer soon, and the only way (I thought) to get the ingredients needed would be to order them from Mr Beer and wait, but now I had the ingredients I needed right in front of me!
I quickly pulled up the recipe on my phone and started looking for the things I would need. The girl that works there helped out by showing me where everything was. Of course that was after I convinced her I didn't want to try what she thought would be good, I wanted to try the recipe on my phone. My only question was hop additions.
As some of you may know, and most may not, hops can add a variety of things to your beer... aroma, bitterness, flavour... it all depends on when you add them. In this case I was looking to add some bitterness to even out the malty-ness of the Octoberfest. However, that would require some boil time, and if there is one thing I remember from the Mr Beer community it's that you NEVER boil the Hopped Malt Extract that is in the Mr Beer cans. I can't remember exactly what it does, but in essence in spoils the extract. So I asked about when to add my hops to get the desired result, a question the girl referred to the owner of the shop. His answer.... boil the HME! He said I wouldn't get any bittering out of the hops unless boiled for at least 30 minutes. When I mentioned about NEVER boiling the HME, he replied that it wouldn't affect it that much..... I don't trust this man with my HME. He's an all grain brewer, and probably a great one at that, and has been doing it for 20-25+ years, but as soon as he said to do the one thing I KNOW I'm not supposed to do with my HME I immediately question his personal history of using HME's. So instead, I bought what I needed, as well as some extra hops I didn't, and I left.
Why do I feel bad? Because Mr Shep, a man I trust wholeheartedly with my Mr Beer brews, took the time to figure out a recipe for me, and when I got to the LHBS, I instead went with the original Gigantor Quad recipe I had originally wanted to brew. Mr Shep, if you're reading this, I humbly apologize for wasting your time. (Although I probably will still try his recipe in the future)
So.... the brew..... The recipe calls for 2 cans of the Mr Beer Octoberfest as well as a cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 oz of Saaz pellet hops. Boil the 4 cups of water, add brown sugar, remove from heat. Add two cans of Mr Beer Octoberfest HME and the pellet hops in the nylon bag. I think I screwed this part up as I put the bag of hops in while pouring in my HME, but I'm not stressing about it as it all stirred in anyways.
Funny thing I learned about pellet hops... when you put them in water, they expand... A LOT!
Add to the Little Brown Keg, that already has 4 litres of water in it, then add more cold water until it reaches the 8 Quart mark on the LBK.
Done! I did it! And it wasn't even that hard.
Now comes the hard part though..... it has to sit in the LBK for 6-9 months!!! I've never brewed a batch before that required that much time! I don't even know how long it's going to have to sit in the bottles after I bottle this brew. I know the Mr Beer community will help me out though :)
note. Orignal Gravity - 1.062
I was browsing the Mr Beer site the other day and happened to look at the Gigantor Quad recipe. At first I thought they had altered it and taken out the 6-9 months suggestion, at which point I panicked. I quickly contacted both ESheppy and another home brewer I frequently get advice from, Yankeedag. Both of them were of the same opinion.... NO brew should sit in a fermenter for 6-9 months, and by this point I was already at the 5 month mark. Both suggested taking a Hydrometer reading and then bottling.
While I was talking with them I kept looking over the recipe on the Mr Beer site, and finally noticed the 6-9 months suggestion had not been omitted, but I had interpreted it wrong. The 6-9 months is the suggested LAGERING time, not time in the fermenter, but time in the bottles. Again both of my reliable friends suggested bottling, with ESheppy suggesting maybe batch priming it and adding yeast. Problem is, I don't have the equipment to transfer the brew for a batch prime, nor did I have the funds to purchase the equipment. I did go to the LHBS however, and while looking at siphons etc, the owner came up and asked if I needed help. I told my story and she pointed out that she's heard of brews sitting for longer periods and that all I really should do is bottle prime the brew and relax.
So... I bought some Coopers carb drops, and I bottled the Quad this weekend. Now I wait. I'm going to assume for another 6-9 months. Dammit.