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Something a little different on the Making Homebrew blog. I’ve got a guest post! I wrote a while back about my purchase of the Deluxe Mr. Beer Kit, and I decided that it would be helpful to have somebody else brew a couple of the eight different beers that were included.

I’ve enlisted the help of friend and fellow beer brewer Travis.  What follows is a nice step by step account of the creation of a Mr. Beer beer.  Travis has brewed several Mr. Beer kits in the past, and has a few techniques that I have not yet adopted!

The following is a guest blog from Travis, webmaster of Scroll Saw Villiage

Brewing a Mr. Beer Octoberfest Vienna Lager

I’ve brewed a number of Mr. Beer kits in the past.  Its a quick and easy way to make a batch of beer, especially when you’re short on time or space.  This time, I’m making up a batch of Octoberfest Vienna Lager.  This a basic ingredient kit from Mr. Beer.  The refill kit comes with a pre-hopped malt extract, yeast packet hidden under the lid, booster, and a sanitizer.  The instructions came with my original kit.  I’ll deviate a little from the instructions provided with the Mr. Beer kit.  I just found these techniques easier.

First, gather all of your utensils.  Naturally, you’ll need your Mr. Beer keg.  You’ll also need a pot, a large bowl, a saucer plate, measuring cup (1 cup), can opener, a whisk (optional), stirring spoon, and a spatula.

The first thing I do whenever using a Mr. Beer kit is to rinse out my keg.  Dust and other debris may accumulate while in storage.  I certainly don’t want to find a dead spider in my beer.  Just a quick rinse under the faucet and a wipe-down (inside and out) with a soft washcloth does the trick.  Don’t use soap! You’ll notice that I don’t have the spigot in place yet.  I store my spigot, o-ring seal, and nut inside the keg while in storage to prevent mold.  I’ll also rinse these off separately before assembling.  I’ll also open the spigot and let water run through.  I don’t have to get too crazy, just get the dust out.

After I rinse off the pieces, I’ll assemble the spigot on the keg.  The rubber o-ring goes on the threaded end of the spigot.  The inside of the cup should face toward the spigot.   Just twist it on until it won’t go anymore.  Then put the spigot through the hole in the keg and attach the nut.  The large flat surface on the nut should face toward the keg wall and the spigot.

Now its time to start sanitizing your equipment.  The sanitizer takes about 10 minutes or so to kill any nasty bugs that will hurt your precious beer.  First, I’ll fill the keg 1/3 full of water while pouring in half of the sanitizer packet.  We’re only using  half of the sanitizer powder at this point.  The other half will be used during bottling.  I usually put the lid on the keg, then slosh the sanitizer solution all around, making sure to coat every surface.  Sloshing up and down will make a mess, but a round horizontal sloshing motion will get everything mixed up and coated pretty well.

Now the keg has been sanitized, its time to sanitize some of your utensils.  Which ones?  The ones that would potentially come in contact with the beer after the boil.  This would include the whisk, spatula, and can-opener.  The saucer plate will be used to place utensils on between uses, so that will have to be sanitized too.  Just open up the spigot and rinse the plate.  Then add a bit to the plate for awhile, just for good measure.

What about the rest of the stuff?  Well, those items come in contact before the boil.  Since boiling sanitizes anyway, there’s no need to sanitize those items.  Your sauce pan, large bowl, measuring cup, and stirring spoon can escape the bath.

OK.  Lets start brewing some beer!  With your large bowl, fill it up with the hottest tap water you can get.  Then place the pre-hopped malt extract (in the can) upside down in the bowl.  Why?  Liquid malt extract is thick!  The hot water will warm up the malt extract and will make it much easier to pour.  I place mine upside down so when I open the extract, less will stick to the bottom.  Set this aside for now.

With your measuring cup, add 4 cups of water to your pot.  Open up your booster and slowly start sprinkling in the booster while stirring.  It will clump and congeal on the bottom of the pot.  Just keep stirring and use your spoon to break apart the clumps.  As soon as it is completely dissolved, put it onto some heat.  Don’t get too crazy with the heat, because we don’t want to burn the sugar.  But we do want to bring it to a boil.  Continue stirring while the mixture comes to a boil.  What kind of boil?  Well, we don’t want a vigorous rolling boil.  That’s too hot and can alter the properties of the sugar. We’re trying to get the mixture hot enough to sanitize the solution, dissolve the sugar, and thoroughly mix the pre-hopped malt extract (next step).    So, just enough boil to break the surface.  Once it reaches this point, take it off the heat and get rid of your spoon (we won’t use that anymore).

Dump the remainder sanitizer solution from the saucer.  Remove the utensils from the keg and place them on the saucer.  Remember, once these utensils come out of the solution, they should not come in contact with anything that hasn’t been sanitized (hence the sanitized saucer).  Put the lid on the keg again, and give it another slosh or two.  Then dump the sanitizer out.

With your sanitized can opener, open up your pre-hopped malt extract.  Pour it into your pot (off the heat…not even on the warm burner) and stir with your sanitized spatula.  Use your spatula to get every bit of extract out of the can.  You may be tempted to dip the can into your solution to get some water so you can really rinse it out, but don’t.  Remember, the outside of the can hasn’t been sanitized and you’ll risk contaminating your beer.  Keep stirring with your spatula until its thoroughly mixed.  Congratulations.  You now have wort!

Fill your keg to the 4 quart mark (pre-marked on the back of the keg) with cold water from the tap.  This water will prevent thermal shock and prolong the life of the keg.  Then pour your hot wort into the keg, using your spatula to get as much wort out as possible.  Then fill the keg with cold water again until it reaches the 8.5 qt mark.  This will cool the wort mixture to the proper temperature for pitching (adding) the yeast.

But before we add the yeast, we must aerate and mix the wort.  Aerating give oxygen for our yeast friends so they can use so it can make a great byproduct called alcohol.  Put the lid on the keg, and start shaking the heck out of it.  Remember to slosh it around in a horizontal motion rather than up and down to prevent a huge mess.  Do this for two or three minutes.  This is great exercise and will burn off that beer gut.  But if exercise isn’t your thing, you can also use the sanitized whisk to do the same thing (wuss).

Open the keg, and sprinkle in the yeast.  Try to get it nice and even across the top without actually touching anything.  Put the lid back on the keg and wait for 5 minutes.  This might be a good time to get yourself another beer, or clean up your mess before your wife flips out.  After 5 minutes of rest, shake the heck out of it again for another 2-3 minutes.

Now its time to find a place for your beer to ferment.  You’ll need a dark, dry place that maintains a temperature of 68-74 degrees.  Once fermentation begins, the yeast will kick out some heat too.  So I shoot for a temp of 68-70 degrees.  Keep it out of the light, too.  Beer hates light.  Why else do you think they come in brown bottles?  I found a closet in the middle of the house that is both dark and the right temperature.  I added a separate thermometer so I can monitor the temp of the closet.  But I also keep an eye on the thermometer strip that comes with your Mr. Beer kit.

The Mr. Beer kit says it will only take 7 days to ferment.  Is this true?  Kinda.  Most of the fermentation process takes place in the first few days.  But depending on how old the yeast is, how old your kit is, and your fermentation conditions (temp), this will vary.  We want to be absolutely sure that all the sugar has been eaten by our yeast friends.  This is especially true of you choose to bottle in glass bottles.  If your beer isn’t done fermenting when bottling, it can result in exploded bottles or over-carbonated beer.  I always keep mine in the keg for 14 days.  The results are much better.

Article written for MakingHomebrew by Travis

Drinking the Octoberfest Vienna Lager

It was really interesting to compare the Mr. Beer Octoberfest with the Brewer’s Best Oktoberfest that I brewed last year. At the time, I felt like my first Oktoberfest was overly simple, and a little too boring. Funny that the Mr. Beer Octoberfest would fall into that same category. As with any of the Standard kits from Mr. Beer, the use of Booster instead of LME or DME results in a pretty simple final brew. This beer tastes absolutely fine, in fact it’s probably more to my pallet than the Cowboy Lager. My only complaint is that compared with most Oktoberfest beers on the market, both of these kits produced malty, simple tasting beers. I would like to add in some additional flavors or spices to make things a little more interesting.

I think the only other major difference is the carbonation.  I think the use of table sugar for priming gives the Mr. Beer beers a ‘harsher’ carbonation.  They need a few minutes after opening to mellow out, otherwise they can be pretty bubbly.  Almost like a soda.

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