New to homebrewing/bad first batch

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by henshawb, May 11, 2013.

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  1. henshawb

    henshawb Initiate (124) May 4, 2013 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    So I have been looking into homebrewing a lot. I bought a book about it and my girlfriend bought me a Mr. Beer to get started. Im guessing Mr. Beer doesnt really count as legit homebrewing, but I think it is a safe way to get started. But my first batch was a czech pils. It turned out sweet and tasted awful. Any idea what went wrong so i dont make the same mistake twice.
  2. JebediahScooter

    JebediahScooter Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2010 Vermont

    It could be a number of things...folks can help out better if you provide more specifics (recipe, yeast, fermentation time, etc).
  3. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (680) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    The conventional wisdom is that you can make decent beer with Mr. Beer...just don't use their ingredients...maybe HerbMeowing can offer more insight.
  4. Tebuken

    Tebuken Disciple (324) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    Please, give us a detailed descripton in regards your procedure to brew this beer.
  5. EdH

    EdH Initiate (0) Jul 27, 2005 Utah

    Or their instructions.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  6. bigk84

    bigk84 Initiate (194) Jun 2, 2011 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Lagers do NOT hide flaws and you need temperature control, your best bet is to find a local homebrew shop and pick up a beginners equipment/recipe kit. Fresh malt extract, hops, yeast, a couple buckets, kettle for the stove top and you should be good to go. Personally don't worry about a "bad batch", pilsners are more of an advanced style anyway, if you want to keep the Mr. Beer kit go find an IPA or pale ale kit, the hops can hide/mask any brewing flaws/techniques. Don't give up, it's a really fun hobby, just try again and your beer will get better the more you brew.
    Mothergoose03 and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  7. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (680) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm sure their instructions say to use their ingredients...but, yes, it's an adequate fermentation vessel in the right hands : )
  8. GeckoPunk

    GeckoPunk Initiate (163) Jul 29, 2012 Connecticut

    Not enough information and don't know where to begin...
    There are just so many things that can cause a "bad first batch".
    • Water, water pH, and water additives (city/well water, gypsum, calcium chloride, etc...)
    • Yeast (type, flocculation, pitching temps, etc...)
    • Grains/Malt/Extract used (expired extract, old grain, etc...)
    • Sugars/Honey/Syrup/Additional Fermentables
    • Full boil/Partial boil (Duration of boil, water added, temperatures)
    • Specialty grains (what temp steeped at and for how long?)
    • Sanitation throughout the entire process
    • Hops and hop additions
    • Fermentation (Too warm/cold, too much light, too short of a time left in primary/secondary, etc...)
    • Racking (oxidation of beer, stirring up too much yeast when racking)
    • Bottling (clean & sanitized bottles, oxidation, clear or green bottles vs brown bottles...)
    • How long the beer was conditioned for and how it was conditioned...
    • Note-taking and recording of all procedures and ingredients/additions.
    We need more information to find out how to better help you brew a better batch of beer.

    Please provide all the information above including the process you went through, and we can go from there...
  9. kjyost

    kjyost Initiate (0) May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    First, if you made this kit from Mr. Beer you made an Ale, not a lager. You can make a clean pager that is pils like, but until you get good at making ales don't expect to make a good pilsner...

    The fact you said it was sweet sounds like it didn't attenuate (amount of fermentation of sugars in the beer) how you would have wanted it to. Why not? It could be the extract. It could be the boil. It could be the yeast crapping out. You have to know that yeast even when healthy don't eat all the sugars in beer, as they are too complex so what likely happened here is that there were more complex sugars in the wort than expected.

    Oh yes, and you should read How to Brew ( is the first edition & free online!)
  10. EdH

    EdH Initiate (0) Jul 27, 2005 Utah

    So is any other food grade container... Including a $13 "Ale Pail".

    No one ever said the "keg" is the problem with Mr. Beer.
  11. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (343) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    Which book? Did you read it before brewing?
  12. henshawb

    henshawb Initiate (124) May 4, 2013 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    I read most of "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing"

    I used all Mr. Beer ingredients and equipment. The beer I was making was Mr. Beers Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner.

    I sanitized all the equipment with a no rinse cleanser. I then boiled water, removed from the heat and added the hopped malt extract and stirred. I then filled the keg with store bought water and mixed in the water and HME mix. I added the yeast packet and applied the lid. I put the keg on a shelf out of sunlight and let sit for two weeks. After the two weeks were up I sanitized the 1 liter bottles and added 2 1/2 teaspoons of white granulated sugar to each bottle. I then filled the bottles from the keg and capped. I put the bottles back on the shelf and let sit two weeks. The bottles were hard when I squeezed them and appeared ready. I refrigerated them and when I tried one it seemed sweet, did not taste good at all, and had very little carbonation.

    I also have ingredients for a Mr. Beer Mexican Cerveza which Im hoping to get right before I consider buying real homebrew equipment.
  13. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (680) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Well, some people who want to brew small batches claim it (the vessel) works just fine.
  14. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (267) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Back in the day...MrB's ingredients left a lot to be desired. To his credit...the MrB roduct line has improved recently now that the extracts are produced by Coopers.

    Brewing with MrB's ingredients is just like home-beerification with any other brand of extract except it cost more per unit volume. The convenience of a small-batch size comes with a cost.

    If the OP's premier batch of homebrew turned out like sweet carbonated puke...chances are it wasn't the equipment or the ingredients. Upgrading to 'better' equipment may simply end up producing more of the same.
  15. EdH

    EdH Initiate (0) Jul 27, 2005 Utah

    Repeating myself here, but: No one said it won't adequately contain sugar water while yeast ferments it (as would a lot of other containers). But people who get the kit are going to use the things that came with the kit; that being the whole point of a kit.

    I have some 2-liter plastic bottles that you could use to turn sugar, water and yeast in to alcohol. Do I deserve a pat on the back for that? You could even use a "Boosterâ„¢"!
  16. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    For a 2-gallon Mr Beer sized batch, you could simply use 2 lbs of light or extra light dried malt extract, an ounce of cascade at 10 minutes (left in the boil), and an ounce of cascade at flameout (with a steep for about 20 minutes before cooling), use US-05 dry yeast, and I bet you'd have a tasty IPA / pale ale.

    It's not the Mr Beer keg itself that's the problem, it's usually the procedure used by the would-be homebrewer (and possibly might be the ingredients used, but as has been mentioned, they are better these days). The Mr Beer kit instructions don't bring home all the most important variables, and how they affect your final product. You need to control some key variables, including sanitation, water, pitching temperature, fermentation temperature, aeration of wort before pitching yeast, minimizing oxygenation after fermentation, proper priming, etc.

    I've seen and tasted Mr Beer, with their ingredients, used to make good beer (it's not going to be great beer, mind you, but the kits can make a decent brew if done right). So if your beer came out poorly, check the mirror first, then review your procedures. If you have the joy of homebrewing you should have more than enough information to make good beer, but you have to read and apply what's in the book.

    Detailed answers on sites like this one come with detailed explanations of exactly what your ingredients and procedures were.
    scurvy311 likes this.
  17. Kraeusen

    Kraeusen Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2012 Maine

    No boiling of the extract, just added to hot water?
  18. fuzzbalz

    fuzzbalz Disciple (315) Apr 13, 2002 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    You don't won't to boil hme, it will increase the ibu's and change the intended flavor profile.
  19. GeckoPunk

    GeckoPunk Initiate (163) Jul 29, 2012 Connecticut

    Did you dissolve the sugar prior to pitching it in the bottles, or did you just throw in the sugar?
    I am also safe to assume you used plastic bottles for conditioning and carbonating your beer, correct?
  20. HopNuggets

    HopNuggets Disciple (306) Oct 8, 2009 Connecticut

    Had Mr. Beer did about a handful or recipes and then stepped up to 5 gallon homebrewing. Mr. Beer makes drinkable beer but not the BA standard for good beer. Jump to 5 gallon brewing before you waste any more money on Mr. Beer.
  21. henshawb

    henshawb Initiate (124) May 4, 2013 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    I didn't boil the extract, I just added it to the hot water.

    I just threw in the sugar.

    I used plactic bottles.

    Im sure it was something I did wrong without realizing it and I am just going to have to be more careful with this next batch.
  22. fuzzbalz

    fuzzbalz Disciple (315) Apr 13, 2002 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Try, chilling then aerating the wort before pitching the yeast, then leave in the fermentor for three weeks in a cool spot in your house or in a cooler with frozen water bottles, then bottle as you did before and leave your bottles at room temp for 3 to 4 weeks, then put in the fridge for a few days to chill before trying one.
  23. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (343) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    Read "How to Brew" then try brewing again.
  24. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (680) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    As fuzzbalz suggested above, you don't want to boil pre-hopped extract much...if at all....this is how a lot of homebrew use to get made...homebrewing has come a long way (full-circle)
  25. 2Xmd

    2Xmd Devotee (464) Apr 19, 2013 New York

    Would give it another few weeks and try it again. Maybe it wasn't ready yet. Especially since u said little carbonation. Or like another poster said the wort wasn't chilled enough and aerated. I tried A Northern Brewer 1 gallon kit for my first try, a honey porter that was ok. My friend went right to the 5 gallon kit and his tasted great. Keep trying, Mr. Beer is a good way to learn but have never heard that the end result was a good tasting beer.
  26. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Mr Beer can make fine beer, but for a beginner's kit, they provide very little information to help you actually reach this goal. More importantly, they don't provide certain critical information that's likely to make the difference between tasty beer and a failed first attempt. You simply can't instruct someone how to take what they give you in one of these kits and make good beer out of it by reading the small pamphlet provided with the kits. And what is in the pamphlet doesn't include some of the most critical information you need to be successful in homebrewing. We see this over and over on these forums.

    Short version: if beginners would read how to brew first, the initial success rate of Mr Beer would skyrocket.:rolling_eyes:

    An experienced brewer could do just fine with Mr Beer. But by the time you're "experienced," you already have a five gallon kit, and don't use hopped malt extract anymore. However, the keg can be used as a small fermenter without using the commercial kits. I'm about to start brewing small batches with it at home, to supplement the full batches I make with my brother at his place. I have full confidence my beers will come out fine.
    HerbMeowing likes this.
  27. joaopmgoncalves

    joaopmgoncalves Champion (849) Dec 17, 2012 Portugal
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I homebrew as well and I think I made the same mistake as you on my latest pils. My error was on quantities of sugar that I've used to make the beer carbonated - That phase when the fermation is over and you have to put sugar in the beer/bottles so you have carbonated beer. We thought that by putting more sugar it'll could only blew up the bottle or just get more carbonation on it. A few weeks ago we noticed that some of that sugar didn't evolved into carbonation. Just sugar, making the beer sweet and awful... :slight_frown:

    "2 1/2 teaspoons of white granulated sugar to each bottle". Isn't that too much?
  28. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (267) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    One tsp table sugar per liter will carbed 'lightly.'
    Two or more would be 'highly.'

    1 1/2 tsp per liter would be a good starting point.
    joaopmgoncalves likes this.
  29. Duwayne

    Duwayne Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2014 Kentucky

    You used store bought water and reverse osmosis was likely used in the processing of the water. I'm pretty sure the yeast needs water with minerals to perform it's job properly. If you have good tap water chill it and use it. I get my water from the water dispenser on the fridge. It's chilled and filtered. I am fortunate that our city water comes from deep wells and is good straight from the tap. Hopefully this is the case where you come from.
  30. Duwayne

    Duwayne Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2014 Kentucky

    Depends on the size of the bottle. 2 1/2 has always worked for me. It's not too much for a 1 liter bottle. Just let it sit for two weeks at around 70 degrees. The yeast will eat the sugar which creates Co2 which carbonates your beer. Even if the bottles are hard(assuming your bottles are plastic) after 7 days continue to let them sit for the full two weeks. The pressure will force the Co2 down into the liquid.
  31. Duwayne

    Duwayne Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2014 Kentucky

    Somebody said that table sugar is awful and to use corn sugar. Not sure that yeast really cares if it eats table or corn sugar. Once the beer is fully carbonated and the yeast has consumed the sugar it will no longer be sweet. I don't really know for sure if the sugar used in carbonation actually affect the beer's taste. Hmmmm.
  32. OddNotion

    OddNotion Devotee (478) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    It makes no difference, especially in priming quantities.
  33. mesatrin

    mesatrin Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I have use tap water rather than store bought for every batch I have done. In Pittsburgh our water is a little high in PH and chlorine but you can let it sit out for 24 hours before using it and the majority of the chlorine will be removed. To speed this process you can airate the water and the chlorine will be removed quicker.

    I have never used MrB specifically but I also always thought you wanted to add the priming sugar to the whole batch not each bottle to get a more even distrobution, preventing bottle blow ups or flat beers. More consistentcey in each bottle.
  34. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (1,783) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Supporter Subscriber

    OP, you never mentioned what temperature the wort was when you pitched the yeast, nor what the ambient temp was where the fermentation occurred. Both temps, if not in a good range, could have adverse effect on the yeast's health and the success of the fermentation. Did you have an airlock and did you observe good activity? Some of the sweetness that you're tasting could come from sugar in the beer from incomplete fermentation.

    Also, what method did you use to transfer from the barrel to the bottles? Siphoning or filling via a tube to the bottom of the bottle is the preferred method to minimize any oxygen getting introduced into the beer while bottling, and too much O2 will add an oxidation flavor to the finished product.

    The important thing here is not to get discouraged. :slight_smile:
    FeDUBBELFIST likes this.

    FeDUBBELFIST Meyvn (1,074) Oct 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

    From the outline of the OPs procedure, my guess is that there was a yeast apocalypse upon pitching into recently boiled wort.

    Seconding MotherGoose's questions: what temp was the yeast pitched at and was there any signs of fermentation?
  36. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Disciple (347) Feb 28, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    OP is going to need some good notes to respond to the new questions. Hopefully they have had many successful batches since May 2013. My first clue was HerbMeowing did not berate them or respond with a haiku so I knew this had to be from awhile ago:wink:
    HerbMeowing and Mothergoose03 like this.
  37. Wanda

    Wanda Initiate (157) Nov 23, 2006 North Carolina

    As I understood it table sugar is a disaccharide while corn sugar is a monosaccharide and yeast prefer the mono kind so you'd need to boil the table sure into a simple syrup (equal parts water and table sugar) to break the molecular bond and make it a mono.
  38. fastenoughforphish

    fastenoughforphish Aspirant (218) Nov 14, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    My advice. Keep reading about homebrewing and keep brewing. My first batch was awful, and just like you I asked this forum. Even after plenty of friendly help I haven't a clue why it was so awful. But like anything after anpther try or two it was better. I would say upgrade if this a hobby you'd like to persue. You are going to make good beer very soon. Oh and don't make lagers on your forst try. RDWAHAHB.
  39. jae

    jae Initiate (188) Feb 21, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    I drank/gave away ALOT of shitty beer, for YEARS, until my beer started to be better. Now I hoard it.
  40. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    You should also of course boil your mono-saccharide sugar if you use corn sugar (to sterilize it before adding to your beer). You don't need to make it into a syrup tho, but obviously you don't want to add more water than you need to.

    And OP, everyone makes drainpour ale eventually (although it's more often early in their brewing careers). Read, learn, brew again.
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