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I am looking for a kit for my second brew. My first was simply a can, some added DME and the yeast that came with the can, and it turned out pretty well.

My one complaint was that it wasn't quite hoppy enough, so I would like to try a kit that comes with hops.

My current available equipment is simple. Fermentation bins, demi johns, tubing, airlocks, the simple stuff.

I don't have large kettles, things for cooling, brew pots etc

Do I have enough equipment to try a kit that comes with hops?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Hops do need to be boiled to isomerize the alpha acids, so you at least need enough boil-kettle volume to boil a portion of the extract that contains hops.

Note that hop utilization actually goes down as the gravity goes up, so if you boil – say – half of your batch volume, you'll need more hops to compensate.

While you don't strictly need to, you will also want to filter those hops from the wort before you transfer into your fermentation vessel. A simple medium/fine-mesh kitchen strainer will do this just fine for either pellet or whole-leaf hops, and is a wonderful kitchen accessory besides.

A common early homebrew technique is:

  • boil 2-3 gallons of water + extract (+ steeped grains) + hops in a stockpot on the kitchen stove.
  • strain hop matter, combine with 2-3 gallons of cold water (ideally boiled and cooled sanitary water) in the bucket or carboy. (Be aware of thermal shock concerns, here: never add hot liquid to glass.)
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This is still my method of brewing. I am not a connoiseur by any stretch. I love a nice ale or stout so thats what I stick to, they're easy and delish. I will try straining my hops though, I havent yet. also, i ferment in a plastic bucket, I get 2 gallons of preboiled water nice and nearly freezing to use as a rapid cool down technique for my partial boil :) –  Ugly Dude Mar 18 at 20:02

A very simple thing you might try, which doesn't require any further equipment at all, is "dry hopping". Depending on what you meant by your first beer not being "hoppy" enough, dry hopping might be the solution. Dry hopping will not add any bitterness, but it can add a great deal of wonderful hop aroma. If you currently rack from your primary fermenter to a carboy (demi john?), you would simply add some hops (pellet or whole) to the carboy. You should do a bit of research, but typically 1 to 2 ounces in 5 gallons would be a good amount.

Even if you later get more complex with your brewing (and I definitely recommend that you do) you can't go wrong with getting some experience with dry hopping a kit beer now.

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Am I correct in thinking that this solution is not appropriate if one the issues is a lack of bitterness? –  Mild Fuzz Mar 16 at 6:25
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@MildFuzz: Yes, you are correct. –  Jeff Roe Mar 18 at 1:05

One way of adding bitterness without needing to acquire additional equipment would be to use 2 cans of hopped extract, instead of 1 can of hopped extract and some DME. That way all of your fermentables are bittered. It might be a bit hard to predict what you'll end up with -- that depends on how much DME you would have added, and how bitter the canned extract is.

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