Friday, August 28, 2015

What to do with your old Mr. Beer stuff... YOU CAN GO ALL GRAIN!

Many of you got into brewing by means of Mr. Beer.   You probably even made some drinkable stuff with Mr. Beer.   Mr. Beer is a great way to get into this hobby.   A couple of years ago Coopers purchased Mr. Beer.   And from what I have heard the ingredients have improved dramatically.  That is great for the Mr. Beer fans.   You may have noticed I said... from what I have heard...  because I don't really know.  I have never used the ingredients,  but I do own 3 of the fermenters.

I own 3 of the LBKs (little brown kegs)  and a bunch of their bottles etc...whenever I can grab these at a garage sale or off of craigslist for cheap, I do.  They are nearly perfect for making small (2 gallon) batches of beer.  Consider:

  • Large opening, easy to clean.
  • Small size allows for stovetop BIAB (all grain) 
    • IF you are a Mr. Beer fan, I am here to tell you all grain and partial mash really do taste better... they just do.
  • Small size allows for easy lagering. 
    • The LBK fits in your fridge easily.
    • There are many, many lager strains where the primary fermentation is at ale temperatures.
      • Secondary is at 38... sounds like a fridge to me.
  • Durable construction and design.
    • The equipment is good stuff.
  • The provided bottles fit the amount of wort exactly.
  • The carbonation tablets are easy to use.  
There are of course some limitations... without a blow off tube, I would be concerned about doing really high gravity beers, anything over 1.080 I'd be cautious of brewing in a Mr. Beer.   

But now that you are an experienced enough brewer to find your way to my little corner of the world wide web,  you probably aren't using your Mr. Beer stuff anymore.  And that is a shame.  I am here to change that.  This weekend I'm brewing a beer inspired by Bell's Two Hearted Ale.  I am also brewing a lawnmower lager (partial mash) with some of the Mr Beer ingredients... I'll post the recipes and the process.   I hope it will inspire many of you to start using your LBKs again. 

Recipe for 2 Gallon All Grain Bells 2 Hearted Clone for Mr. Beer LBK
We're brewing on the stove top.  You will need the following stuff... most of which you probably already have...
  1. a large stock pot (4 gallons or more)
  2. a brew bag, you can use a 5 gallon paint strainer bag (i do all the time) or you can go get a brew bag at your LHBS
  3. a smaller bag for the hop additions, there are a lot of centennial hops in this recipe and we don't want to lose volume to hop trub...
  4. a thermometer
  5. a large spoon
  6. cleaner, sanitizer, etc... 
The recipe
The mash (based on 65% efficiency) 

5 # of 2 row brewers malt, pale malt, or irish stout malt (it's not dark)
.4 # of Cara/Crystal 60 Lovibond (6.4 oz)

Place the grains into the bag and lower them into the 156.9F H2O... 
Strike grains with 3.25 gal of water at 156.9 °F.
Mash at 152 °F for 60 min.
You should have 2.6 gallons of wort after draining.  

The Boil
Boil wort for 60 minutes total
.3 oz of Centennial Hops before it even comes to the boil
.4 oz of Centennial Hops with 20 minutes remaining
1/2 tsp of Irish Moss with 10 Minutes remaining
if you have a wort chiller add it with 10 minutes to go
1/2 tsp of Yeast Nutrients with 8 Minutes remaining
.8 oz of Centennial Hops with 5 minutes remaining


Chill the wort down to pitching temperatures (i use my small stainless immersion chiller) you can put the pot in a sink of ICE water. Bring it down to 70F or just under.   Remember to sanitize a thermometer if you want to take the readings.

Aerate the wort.   I pour it into the LBK, leaving the trub behind.   Then I rinse the pot.   I then set the LBK on the counter and open the valve allowing the wort to drain into the pot, which I have put on the floor.   I then pour it again into the LBK... at this point it is pretty well aerated.  But if you don't think it is, and you have the ability hit it with O2, or stick your aquarium pump stone in there and give it more.   I'll probably hit it with more air from my aquarium pump (dedicated to brewing only and carefully sanitized)

Pitch the Yeast.  1 package of US05,  you don't need to rehydrate your dry yeast.   But it doesn't hurt.   So if you know how to rehydrate yeast you should do that while you are chilling and aerating.   

Ferment this beer for 3 weeks between 65 F and 70 F.   With 4 days to go sanitize a muslin hop bag and add .4 oz of Centennial.   After 3 weeks put the LBK in the fridge overnight.  The beer will clear to a crystal golden color.  If not, use gelatin and clear the beer again.   I bottle this beer in the Mr. Beer Bottles.   (Pale ales and IPAs need to be drunk while fresh, so there is no risk of putting them into PET bottles).   Wait a week to 10 days before you try your beer.   It should carb up completely by 14 days.  I will probably use carbonation tablets for the bottles, 1 gallon of this will go into two 2 liter bottles for immediate consumption.  

Bells 2 Hearted Ale is almost a SMASH.  Single Malt and Single Hop
Some other Hops that work really well are...
  • Amarillo
  • Mosaic
  • Citra 
  • Columbus
  • Saaz for a pilsner lager SMASH
If you have a great SMASH or almost SMASH... let me know the hop and we can all give it a try.  

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