Tips for Good Beer and Best Results using Mr. Beer!

My main goal here at Cryptobrewology is to introduce people to the wonderful world of craft beers and home brewing, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t explore the possibilities for those who just want try making their own beer at home once or twice, and don’t necessarily have the intention of taking it to the next level. In this case, I’m talking about the hobbyist who might give a Mr. Beer home brewing kit a whirl, just for fun.

In many conversations that I’ve overheard, or have been a part of regarding Mr. Beer, the comments are pretty much the same, usually something like “it tasted bad.” Sometimes, when they give something a try and it doesn’t turn out as expected, people are all too willing to blame the product or the system they used, and not evaluate their methods, or take a little more time to wait for the result.

Mr. Beer home beer making kits sometimes get a bad rap. Prior to sitting down to write this I actually tasted a Mr. Beer West Coast Pale Ale I had made, and it tasted pretty good. Not yeasty, not sour, or sweet. It was mildly bitter, with a fruity and slightly floral hop nose. It had all the hallmarks of a commercial ale that I may have bought at the store. No kidding.

The key factors that led to this great tasting batch of Mr. Beer are proper cleaning techniques, yeast pitching temperature, fermentation temperature, water quality, and patience. Ignore these and you’re destined to make a lousy brew, so don’t blame Mr. Beer!

Key Factor One: SANITIZE

I can’t stress it enough, clean, clean, clean! Make sure your kitchen counters are clean, use Clorox Wipes to clean the place up! Make sure your hands are clean, and make sure you use the One Step no-rinse cleanser — included with every kit and refill — to clean the keg and your tools. Before bottling make sure you follow the directions and thoroughly clean the bottles.

No rinse means “NO RINSE!” There is absolutely nothing left behind by One-Step that can harm you or your home made beer. If you rinse with tap water you risk contaminating everything you have just cleaned. Don’t rinse, just drain.

Key Factor Two: PITCHING and FERMENTING TEMP

The Mr. Beer instructions advise us to use cold water in the fermenter prior to pouring in the wort, and then topping off with cold water before pitching the yeast. There are three reasons it is done this way:

1) The wort is very hot and you don’t want to compromise the plastic, PET, keg fermenter, so put cold water in first, as a buffer.

2) The yeast should not be added to the keg until the temperature is just about 70 degrees fahrenheit. 85 is not just about 70. You can monitor the temperature with a clean Thermometer, that’s what I do, or buy a Brew-O-Meter from Mr. Beer that sticks onto the fermenter. If the keg feels warm to you it’s too warm for the yeast!

3) Topping off with cold water brings the brew up to the full fermenting volume, which will yield about 2 gallons of finished beer.

After topping off and pitching the yeast place the keg somewhere out of direct sunlight, and where the temperature is consistent, somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees fahrenheit. Temperature is critical for proper yeast performance. Too hot or too cold and you can kiss your beer goodbye.

Key Factor Three: WATER

Bottled water or filtered tap water are recommended because they are filtered to remove contaminants and will ensure a decent quality beer. I watched in horror as a YouTuber demonstrating Mr. Beer demonstrated how to top off the keg with cold water using his sink sprayer! Aside from not being cold enough to bring the wort temp into the proper range, unfiltered tap water from a sink sprayer can contaminate the beer. To be safe, it’s better to just buy a few gallons of bottled water and stick them in the fridge.

Key Factor Four: PATIENCE

Cleanliness, temperature and water quality are critical components to producing a good batch of Mr. Beer — well, ANY home brewed beer actually — but another important factor, something many of us DIY-ers struggle with, is patience.

Sure, you can have drinkable beer in as little as two weeks with any home brewing process. That’s because the fermentation process is usually complete in about 7 days, and it only takes 7 days for the beer to carbonate after bottling. It’s drinkable, but it can be a lot better.

What make beer better is proper aging. Beer left alone in the fermenter for two weeks, instead of just one, will settle and clear out a lot more, minimizing the yeast sediment in the bottles. After bottling, keep the bottles in a cool, dark place, and let them sit another two weeks before putting them in the refrigerator to chill. They may still improve after this point as some chemical processes are still ongoing in the bottle.

Patience is a must! Don’t pour out your beers after only giving them a couple of weeks to mature. Most commercial craft brewers let their beers rest, or age, in the bottles for three or four weeks before they hit the market. The full flavor of the beer needs that much time to develop.

To summarize, don’t knock Mr. Beer. You can get good results making your own beer. Do it right, do it clean, and be patient. You’ll find that the product isn’t the problem, it’s technique and patience.

* I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to chill the beer to halt carbonation, but if the beer has fermented fully before adding priming sugar and bottling, the yeast should have only enough to carbonate and will stop on its own. Also, this trick might work for ale yeast but lager yeast will continue to ferment at lower temps if sugar is present.

About The Author:

A member of the American Homebrewers Association, Drew has been home brewing since 1999, with extracts as well as all-grain experience. He enjoys researching and writing about beer. He has a background in graphic design and web design, and is also a songwriter and musician.

Comments

10 Responses to “Tips for Good Beer and Best Results using Mr. Beer!”

  1. If you have another packet of Mr. Beer yeast lying around you can add that just in case, at least then you’ll know you’ll get a full fermentation. The wort may have been too hot for the yeast, but there is a chance that it’s okay. Were the raspberries cold by any chance? :) If you add more yeast make sure to wait an additional 10 days or so from that point, just to make sure it’s fully fermented before bottling. You can let it settle a little longer if you’d like.

    Good luck. Keep me posted and let me know how it turns out!

  2. Andy says:

    Drew, great videos.
    Question: Can I save my beer?

    I screwed up and pitched my yeast, prior to adding topping off to the 8.5 quart mark with Cold Water. I remembered about 20 minutes later, topped off with cold water, re-mixed vigorously , but I fear that I might have killed my yeast.

    Recipe: “Raspberry Wheat” (Whispering Wheat + 1 can of raspberries).

    Basically I added the wort, added the raspberries, mixed it up, sprinkled on the Mr. Beer yeast, waited 5 minutes, mixed well. 20 minutes later, I realized my mistake, topped off with Cold water, re-mixed.

    I made this error three days ago March 5th 2011.
    Any suggestions ways to salvage the beer, or do I just see how it turns out?

    Thanks
    -andy
    Cumberland, WI

    B

  3. Corn sugar and cane sugar, at the same amount, will allow the yeast to carbonate the beer, and there won’t be any noticeable difference in flavor of the beer. In the carbonating stage there really is no great addition to flavor or ABV due to the sugar added. I have used confectioners’ sugar in place of corn sugar for priming, as well as white cane sugar. Some brewer’s prefer to use dry malt extract that was actually used in the brew, but with Mr. Beer that’s not really an option. So yes, brewers’ corn sugar would work just fine. Brew on!

  4. Andy says:

    Drew this article really helped but I have one question can you use Brewers sugar when bottling Mr Beer?

  5. Frans says:

    I loved this article, I’m in the process of making my first batch with Mr. Beer. (WCPA) So far so good, I tried the beer before I bottled and the flavor was a decent one and that’s only after 10 days in the fermentor. Can’t wait to try it in 4 weeks for carbonating and conditioning.

  6. Good points. Definitely not a bad idea to sanitize the cans, at least the lids. Just wiping them with a sponge dampened with sanitizer would do the trick I suppose. I’ve been using the Brewery cleanser to clean all of my brewing equipement. It’s similar to B-Brite I think, I’ve used that in the past as well, works great.

    Pre-cooling the wort before pouring it into the fermenter is a good idea, but if the water poured into the fermenter first (as well was the top off water) is cold enough it should drop the temp considerably. I’ve done that too though, but I just use cold water in the sink, immerse the pot so the water comes a little over halfway up the sides, then stir the wort gently to allow the heat to transfer out through the metal side of the pot. The stainless steel pot really cools down quick, and I can have the wort to pitching temp in just a few minutes. It’s almost like the reverse flow chiller effect. I have an immersion chiller for my larger brewpot, but it’s totally overkill for Mr. Beer brewing. Typically the cold water in the keg is sufficient.

    They definitely are expanding to accomodate the brewers that like to step up to the next level. I was impressed when I browsed the site while putting the videos together, lots of stuff there that even experienced brewers can take advantage of.

  7. Bill Schomer says:

    I loved the videos. One thing I do slightly differently is to cool the wort in and Ice bath in the sink prior to dumping to the fermentor. I also tend to heat the DME in more water than you showed (goes a bit faster).

    Finally, since we sanitize the can opener, probably not a bad idea to sanitize the can prior to opening (or exterior of liquid yeast packs). I use dilute bleach a lot, but sanitizer or IPA (Not Beer – Isopropyl alcohol) will also work. Just make sure it evaporates before you open stuff up.

    I like the addition of the Brewery cleaner. Did not know they had this until I saw your video. They seem to be expanding more and more to allow brewers to grow while sticking with their kits. Nice (I like the small batches and have even used their kegs for all grain brewing).

  8. Hi David, glad the videos could be of some help to you. I’ve gone above the recommended fermenting range on a batch or two of my beer in the past as well, with no ill effects. The range is recommended to avoid any potential off flavors due to fermenting at too high a temp. I had an ale successfully ferment at almost 80° believe it or not, but, even though it tasted okay to me, the flavor was probably a little different from what the recipe would have produced at, say, 70°F. Too low a temp would result in stuck fermentation or slow starts.

    I stick my fermenter (both Mr. Beer keg and my larger 6 gallon carboys or buckets) in the basement where it’s consistently around 61 – 65°. The actual temp of the liquid will be a few degrees higher due to the yeast activity.

    Pitching temp and sanitization are the most critical aspects of brewing, but that fermenting temp is pretty key too.

    Which ones have you brewed? I’m having a Sticky Wicket Oatmeal Stout as I type this. Pretty tasty. I also want to do the Belgian Trippel again, that one is excellent.

  9. David says:

    I have brewed 2 batches of Mr. Beer and have bottled my third (I’m new to brewing)
    I have been patient with all – actually waited 3 weeks in the keg, 3 weeks in the bottles, then drank them. They have all been really good.
    And I have been picky about cleanliness.
    Strangely enough I have not stuck with the temperature range recommendations (68-76) and they have still turned out great.
    Thanks for the videos on Mr. Beer. I did discover one thing that I need to pay more attention to in the future – pitching temp

  10. Greg says:

    Can’t stress the need for patience enough…I went through similar steps, that is, thinking the beer was bad because I wanted to drink it too soon. Now I wait (mostly by staggering my batches) at least 5 weeks as sugested here. Makes a HUGE difference on taste. Thanks for the great article!

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