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How can I easily spice up a light beer recipe?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by x37x, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Hello, I'm about to homebrew on my own for the first time. I have an all-plastic Mr. Beer kit, and it came with a "Classic American Light" hopped malt extract. Now, light lagers aren't my favorite beers in the world :rolleyes:, so I was wondering if there was a good way to add some "oomph" (flavor, not necessarily ABV) to the beer, keeping in mind that I want the process to be very easy (remember, I'm a n00b). Bonus points if I can get something at any old supermarket, but I understand if I have to try and locate a homebrew store. Thanks in advance, guys. :)
     
  2. tngolfer

    tngolfer Aficionado (200) Tennessee Feb 16, 2012

    What do you like? Hops, malt, sweetness, etc.?
     
  3. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    Well first off I'd like you to realize that Mr Beer CAN come out very well. I have a friend who made his first three batches of Mr Beer and they were all quite good, even if not world-class. Mind you they were all drank very quickly and were well liked. So start this with a positive attitude.

    Second, water is important. My first attempts at Mr Beer were NOT so good, because my water had chloramines in it, but I didn't know this. Tasted like band-aids. Otherwise they worked, they just didn't taste good. Solution: use bottled spring water (worked for me). Many municipalities use chloramine, if you're not sure, use bottled water.

    Third: Spicing up a batch of Mr Beer? I might say "add more hops." Get an ounce of hops from a local homebrew store (LHBS). I'd suggest cascade, but other varieties would work too. Cascade are medium intensity and pretty universally liked. Add 1/4 of the pack at 15 minutes (left in the boil) and the rest at flameout.

    It's an "American light" but probably isn't a lager. It's an ale. The fermentation temperatures will be the giveaway. Nobody starts a noob off with a lager, they're too complicated and require unrealistic times and fermentation temperatures. It will make a light beer (albeit an ale) that's quite drinkable and isn't likely to offend any bud drinkers. It should be fine with a little extra hops.

    This all being said, get a batch going and then start reading. How to brew by Palmer is a good one. For a bit lighter reading, the joy of home brewing is also good. Read forums, this one is excellent but others are also good (I like the AHA forums). Post questions.

    Read blogs. There are many fine blogs. Even I have a blog. Others may be better but I happen to like mine quite a bit. :D I write about commercial beers and homebrew. I have posted a lot of procedures on my beers which may be helpful when you move up.

    You'll move beyond Mr Beer quickly if you are serious. This is more likely to happen if you have a good experience with Mr Beer. I still use my Mr Beer keg thingie for special purposes. Once in a while I still even use the bottles when I need an extra and I'm out of glass. They work fine.

    I for one hope that your first attempt at making your own beer goes well. Feel free to ask questions and learn before you do.

    Most importantly, don't worry, relax and have a beer. :D
     
  4. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    I didn't specify because I was under the (false?) impression that there would be very few options available that would (a) work well with this light lager hopped malt extract I already have and (b) be easy to do and hard to screw up. But to answer your question, I like hops and love Belgians.
     
  5. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Honestly, if this is your first time brewing I suggest followingthe directions to a t. My first brew day was pretty intimidating annd a little rushed and confusing. By throwing in your own twists and turns you may not focus on technique. If you turn this brew out okay then personalize your second brew instead. And, of course, check out www.howtobrew.com and read up before jumping in too deep. RDWHAHB
     
    HokiesandBeer and MrOH like this.
  6. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    You could not possibly screw this up by adding one ounce of cascade hops as I outlined above. It would make it closer to a pale ale than an American light, but wouldn't fundamentally change the recipe.

    I cannot help you with turning Mr Beer American Light into a Belgian tho. :rolleyes:
     
  7. tngolfer

    tngolfer Aficionado (200) Tennessee Feb 16, 2012

    I'd find a beer you like, see what hops were used in it and then add some of those to your brew if you want to add some extra flavor.
     
  8. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Thank you for the warm welcome, Mr. Capone---may I call you Al? :)
    Since I don't know what to expect, it's easy to think something will go terribly wrong, so I'll try to get into a positive, optimistic mindset and not freak out. I do expect to read up on homebrewing and as questions when I have them.
    As for the water, yeah, the Mr. Beer instructions says you should use bottled water, and the tap water where I live is barely drinkable, so that is a no-brainer.
    I figured "hops" was the answer, but I did need that bit of info about when to add it, how much, etc.
     
  9. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Pitch some brett brux into the party pig? ;)
     
  10. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Following instructions to a 't' is exactly how I'm wired, so that won't be a problem for me. If anything I'd be too anal about following the instructions. The problem is if I just make a light beer, that won't be enjoyable for me, so I was jw if there was an easy way to improve the recipe by making only a minor addition to the process.
     
  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Following the set recipe gives you the ability to ttroubleshoot any off flavors or other problems you may encounter when its all said and done. Adding some hops would help add dimension to the beer, as well as steeping specialty grains prior to boiling your wort. Lastly you could change up the yeast you ferment with. Really, that's about all you can change short of aging on fruit or something along those lines. Check out the section on steeping grains at www.howtobrew.com . That can really change the dynamicof your beeer without getting too crazy.
     
  12. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    Most people do. :rolleyes:
     
  13. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    You are a sick and twisted individual. I like that in a person. :cool:
     
  14. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    After hearing that DFH used to use an old vibrating football game to add the hops for the original 120 min IPA I have decided that all bets are off. I reckon he could just leave the lid off and see what happens...
     
  15. MrOH

    MrOH Savant (465) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    Or just pitch T-58 instead of the yeast that came with the kit.

    I know. I'm a party pooper and my Mr. Beer lbk is full of party poop.
     
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  16. Use coconut instead of hops.
     
  17. I second this. Just brewed my first batch yesterday and figured I was probably more delicate than I needed to be in following the details to a T but decided that as it was my best batch I had better try to keep it as close to the instructions as possible.
     
  18. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (445) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I lean towards a Keep It Simple, Stupid approach for newbies. I don't know much about your background in brewing (possibly with others) or cooking. If you're the type that could burn the house down trying to boil water, you shouldn't be trying to make a complicated beer. Bad process + a complex recipe = bad beer. As said above, maybe pick a favorite hop and add it to the late boil (last 10, 5 or 1 min of boil). Maybe a simple dry hop (hops go in just after fermentation is complete). Hops can lend a citrus, pine, earthy, or spicy flavor depending on the variety. Welcome to the obsession.
     
  19. You could make a berliner weisse relatively easy. Just get a vial / smack pack for
    Wyeast or white labs. Little to no hopping needed, low abv, temp not an issue ( I find that warmer temps makes it more tart) excellent on a warm day.
     
  20. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Update: Went to the nearest homebrew store and got a 1oz package of Cascade. How much of that should I add to the late boil, all or some?
     
  21. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    I say add all of it with 5 minutes or less left in the boil to keep things simple.
     
  22. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Okay, I brewed it today, now to wait 2 weeks to bottle it! I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  23. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Just bottled today, and from what I could tell by a sip, it's gonna turn out good! The Mr. Beer instructional dvd says to bottle condition for one week, but he recommends two weeks to ensure carbonation. So should I wait out the 2 weeks or is 1 okay? Also, I should probably store it in a place around 65 degrees fahrenheit, not in a place that's 72 degrees, right? It doesn't say to put it in the fridge until after the 1-2 weeks are up.
     
  24. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (750) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    72F will carbonate faster than 65F. Don't put it in the fridge until it's done carbonating. The only way to tell is to sample and see.
     
  25. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Thanks! When the dvd said "cool, dark place" I know what dark means, but cool is more relative. So it seems 72 is cool enough...
     
  26. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    if it's in the big mr beer bottles wait two weeks till trying
     
  27. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Yeah, they look like 1L bottles. I'm gonna try one bottle 1.5 weeks in, because I'll be away the following week. I'll probably take half the bottles with me, leaving the rest in my roommate's care. Would travelling with them be a no-no? For the ones I'm not taking, is there a downside to letting them condition out of the fridge for three weeks (should I instruct my roommate to put them in the fridge after two)?
     
  28. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    I had plans with friends today so last night I picked a firm (carbonated) bottle to put in the fridge to share with them. Perfect carbonation, and it came out a pale greenish-yellow with a tad bit of sediment on the bottom of the glass I poured it in. The flavor of the hops overwhelms the near-undetectable malt profile (although a tad wheat-y), but I think the hops were a great choice -- it tastes like an IPA. And it tastes pretty good! I'm satisfied with how my first attempt came out. Thanks again for your help, and I anticipate brewing again in the near future. :)
     
  29. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Savant (385) Virginia Nov 10, 2010

    1 - No worries. The MrB recipe won't make a light lager. You'll get a somewhat reasonable approximation of a pale ale.

    Ferment two full weeks where the ambient air temperature is in the mid-60s.
    Carbonate two full weeks at room temperature (at least 70°F)
    Cold condition two full weeks.
    Best results come w/six or more weeks in the bottle.

    2 - This is your 1st foray into home-brewing.
    Best advice: follow the directions...as is...when making the wort...before going rogue. Crawl...walk...run.

    3 - Best ways to improve beer made w/MrB products...altho same holds true for other extract products...are adding a) steeped grains to the wort...b) more malt to the wort...and c) 'dry' hops...none of which can be helped along by the local grocer.
     
  30. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Herb, thanks for the advice but I already made the brew. And like I said in the post before yours it came out great.

    However, I woke up today (the morning after trying it) with abdominal cramps that have persisted all day. No gas or diarrhea or anything, just cramps. I looked it up online and it is probably a result of the yeast. Like I said, the beer tasted good, so is it just a matter of waiting a couple weeks longer and letting the yeast settle? Or is there another potential reason things went wrong? Also, how can I relieve my cramps? Please let me know if I should try it again in a couple weeks or drainpour and not risk more cramps, and any other relevant advice.
     
  31. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    it is unlikely your beer has anything to do with your cramps, unless you simply drank too much.
     
  32. MrOH

    MrOH Savant (465) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    Probably not the yeast, since that usually manifests itself as gas. Probably something else you consumed. If a healthy crap doesn't take care of it, see a doctor.
     
  33. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    It feels too coincidental to not be b/c of the beer... I haven't had cramps like this before. I trust you guys, though. I doubt it's food poisoning either b/c no upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. Anyway, I will definitely see a doctor if it continues to persist.
     
  34. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (790) Texas May 21, 2010

    Beer just doesn't harbor pathogens. Yeast might give you gas but otherwise is full of B vitamins and is good for you. If you beer made you sick there's got to be a chemical leaching into it from somewhere. It just doesn't seem like a very likely scenario. I'd drink another one and see if it makes you sick again. I doubt it will.

    Correlation does not equal causation. It's a very hard concept for many people to grasp. but it remains true. Many things correlate but it turns out to be a coincidence. And when N=1, significance = Zero.

    If you drink another one and immediately get sick again, then you might be onto something (and I'd skip the rest of them, and try to pinpoint the source of your ills). It's not going to be the yeast tho.
     
  35. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Savant (385) Virginia Nov 10, 2010

    DOH!
    Din't notice the original thread's zombie time stamp.

    Zombie threads and homebrew FTW!
     
  36. x37x

    x37x Aficionado (150) Wisconsin Oct 21, 2012

    Just an update on my health, I am almost completely better; the cramps are going away. :)
     

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