If you look back in the SheppyBrew Brewing Calendar for 2009 and 2010, you will see a crazy amount of brewing, all done in Mr. Beer fermentors. By my count, over those first two years, I did 62 batches of beer at 2.4 gallons a pop. I started with the super simple Mr. Beer recipes. I moved to other extracts with steeping grains and then to partial mashes. Finally, I stepped up to all-grain brewing . All of this in the Mr. Beer fermentors.
During all that time, I only made a couple bad batches of beer, and those were not Mr. Beer's fault.
I love Mr. Beer. At this point, I have not used Mr. Beer ingredients in a very long time, so lots of my love for Mr. Beer is nostalgic. They got me started and I have a feeling I never would have progressed to where I am today as a home-brewer without Mr. Beer.
|Khazad-dûm Black Lager in Mr. Beer Fermentors.|
The problem with Mr. Beer, though, is that there is a perception out there that you are not a "real" home-brewer if you use Mr. Beer. I still find myself defending Mr. Beer quite a bit. And to be fair, using a Hopped Malt Extract (HME) as your "recipe" is the absolute simplest form of brewing. You really could compare your first few Mr. Beer batches with microwaving a pre-made meal and calling that cooking. What those "real" brewers who attack fail to realize is that you can take the process whereever you want to. Most of the Mr. Beer brewers that I know don't just use the can of Hopped Malt Extract.
And actually, I know of quite a few Mr. Beer brewers who have won medals in competitions using those HME's.
And then, the other problem with Mr. Beer is that if you really end up loving brewing, you will probably out-grow Mr. Beer. Home-brew shop owners should love Mr. Beer, because it gets so many people started in the hobby, and lots and lots of these people end up upgrading their equipment to more expensive stuff. It gets people hooked.
I do have some advice for any new (or even not-so-new) Mr. Beer brewers out there.
First ... never ever EVER be ashamed of being a Mr. Beer brewer. From time to time you might have "real" brewers try to belittle you for using Mr. Beer equipment. These people are just victims of the stereotype, so don't take it personally. If you want, you can educate them, or if you want, just ignore them.
Second ... you probably don't want to use the little packet of yeast that comes with the kit. It is a fine yeast, but you don't know how long it has been sitting around and they don't really give you enough for a proper fermentation. Just as an aside, when I went to GABF with Mr. Beer (another reason I love Mr. Beer is that they gave me free tickets to my first GABF), they told me what that yeast is and it is one that I buy from my LHBS and use in a couple of my beers.
Third ... don't think you are stuck using only Mr. Beer ingredients. As I mentioned, I got all the way to all-grain brewing in Mr. Beer equipment.
Finally ... mostly maybe ... check out the Mr. Beer forum at http://community.mrbeer.com/forum/index/10-discussion-forum. I learned an incredible amount about brewing from that forum, and I would say most of it is applicable for all types of brewing ... not just Mr. Beer.
So, anyway, I am glad I got that off my chest. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments below.